Books: Robert Moses and "A Geography of Time"

Khare (
Wed, 10 Jun 1998 21:04:47 -0700

_The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York_
Robert Caro, 1974, Random House, $24 (reprint)
"six decades of backroom urban politics in all their venal glory." Even
that Scottish salt Mulholland can't hold a candle to his later avatar --
Moses redesigned New York, practically created the Tri-State area, and
stands in my book as one of the most fascinating acts of willpower in the
engineering record -- and he didn't do it by merely spending his own

I have a soft spot in my heart for Moses as an infra-junkie, but I suspect
this volume might disillusion me of part of it -- but that only makes his
reputation stronger, perversely.

Ob trivia: the Third Water Tunnel for Manhattan, with all its superlatives
for length, volume, cost, schedule, and so on, is depressingly consistent
in one way: after a century of tunnel building, Mother Earth still swallows
an average of one burrower per mile. 35 or so down, five more to go by the
turn of the century, the Grim Reaper right behind.

The Big Dig in Boston, in contrast, is eerily casualty-free so far.

_A Geography of Time_
Robert Levine, 1997 BasicBooks, $24
"Levine has learned loads about how different tempraments and societies
beat, obey, or outright ignore the clock. He's got a funny,
self-deprecating way with a travel anecdote; his run-ins with Japan's showy
industriousness and Brazil's maddening langour help the pokier pages fly
by." He tests how long it takes passerby to pick up a pen or postal workers
to man a desk, and distills out a notion of the fundamental clock-cycle of

I'm interested to see if this book sheds light on my own skewed perspective
on time.

I'm offline right now, but I should still dig up Amazonian URLs for these.
[found 'em flipping through a year-old copy of EW Adam gave me for its
article on the 22-plex across from the 30-plex in Ontario, CA]