Dear NYC, I Love You: Why I Decided to Run the New York City Marathon

By Nan Pang

July 23, 2012—that’s the oldest record that I can find in the running app on my phone. Distance: just under two miles. Back then, I could probably never have imagined that I would be running the 26.2 miles of the New York City Marathon three years later.

Running was never my strongest suit. In college, I only ran a few laps around where I lived because my primary care physician told me to. Usually after I hit two miles, I was quite exhausted. Running was nothing but a chore and losing motivation was the obvious consequence. So I had become accustomed to running two miles at a time and never thought about running more. One day, I noticed that somehow I managed to complete my chore run without losing my breath. “Oh, maybe I can run longer,” I thought.



From that day, three-mile runs became my routine. When I moved to New York after college, I started to run in Central Park. It was a rather eye-opening experience. Since then, running in Central Park has become my addiction. Things like the sunrises over the reservoir, the summer fireflies in the twilight, and countless other fellow runners have kept my motivation high. It did not take me long to feel that I wanted to do something more; so, that year, I signed up for a three-mile race for the first time.

Fast forward a year. I now had a bunch of 5-10K races and several half-marathons under my belt. I won a spot in the New York City Marathon, via the lottery. Entering the New York City Marathon was partially due to my sheer spontaneity and recklessness. Actually, I was not confident at all that I could run the entire 26.2 miles, but I thought why not give it a try. Perhaps I wanted to prove something to myself that I could. Because from what I heard, running through all the five boroughs of New York City was supposed to be an unforgettable experience; and it really was.

On marathon day, I left my apartment on the Upper East Side at 5:30AM, wrapped up in my friends’ warmest words of encouragement. Nobody was on the street, but from the moment I stepped inside the subway station, spotting my fellow marathoners was not too difficult. A guy who probably was coming back from his Halloween party asked me if all the express trains were running local. I said yes. Then he asked me if I were running a marathon. I said yes again with a nervous nod.

“I could never do that! Good luck!” he said. “Thank you, Mr. Indiana Jones,” I thought.

I was supposed to take the 6:15AM Staten Island Ferry. Obviously, the terminal was packed with hundreds of runners and I had to wait to take the next ferry. I had taken the ferry a few times before, so I decided to skip being a tourist and sat in the corner to catch up on some sleep.

“Hey, are there any outlets on your side? Need to charge my iPod.” the guy next to me asked. He was probably around my age. I couldn’t find any outlets, but then we started chatting. “I’m Garrett, by the way” he said.

Garrett and I had different start corrals but it was pretty comforting and relieving to have company. It was quite a wait from the time I entered the designated corral to the starting line, but the time eventually came.

“So it’s finally starting,” I thought.

While I walked to the starting line, I suddenly got somewhat nervous and overwhelmed by the number of runners, but my nerves quickly diffused as I discovered that I was filled with anticipation for what I would discover and experience for the next three hours.

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Diwali: India & Beyond

By Sarala Kal

Home to twenty-two different languages and seven different religions, a festival is always being celebrated somewhere throughout the Indian Subcontinent. Diwali, however, is one of the few unique holidays celebrated by everyone in the country, regardless of region, religious belief, or caste. Also called Deepavali, the festival is not only celebrated in India, but also in Singapore, Malaysia, Fiji, Suriname, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Mauritius, Myanmar, Trinidad & Tobago, and Guyana. Though the historical significance behind the festival differs across each region and religion, everyone sanctions and celebrates the triumph of good over evil in splendor and grandeur. Communities also take this time to reflect, meditate, discover their inner strength, absolve any sins, and create a new beginning filled with light, love, and peace.

Ian Brown_Wikimedia Commons

Days and weeks before the festive day of Diwali, lights are hung around houses, office buildings and retail centers. Above is a retail center with trees and shop fronts in festive lights.

The historical significance of Diwali originates from the many grandiose myths, legends, and folklore of India. The polytheistic nation believes that each god or goddess signifies a particular role to ward off evil and offer protection and solace. With wide-eyed enthusiasm, children of the south learn about the indestructible demon Narakasura whose head is cut off by Lord Krishna, and the celebration of peace ensued named Deepavali. The northern parts of India offer their salutations and reverence to the Goddess Kali whose strength and energy epitomizes the battle between creation and destruction. Her defeat over the forces of destruction is celebrated as Diwali.

Because most people in India follow the lunar calendar, the exact date of Diwali depends on the position of the moon and falls in either October or November of each year. The festival lasts from three to five days and is celebrated with an abundance of sweet treats and dazzling decorations. Some practice fasting as a process of cleansing, some perform rigorous prayers, and others allocate more time towards their loved ones. It is customary for everyone in the household to purchase new clothes or jewelry, for children to receive money and presents from friends and relatives, and for everyone to enjoy decadent food. It is a time for married people to renew their vows, siblings to give each other gifts, and extended families to come together and cherish the love of being together. Lamps are lit with sesame oil in every part of the household to ward off negative energy, and preserve the purity welcomed in. Dancing commences early after dinner and continues throughout the night with people of all ages coming together and enjoying the melodic music. The vibrant colors and mellifluous sounds of power, purity, light, and love ring throughout the country.

We live in a world in which we are faced with challenges every day, witness pain and suffering, and learn of a multitude of acts committed through anger and hatred. The ultimate message of Diwali is universal and resonates with everyone around the world. It presents a uniting theme that is embodied by those who choose to look past the negativity, and focus on progressing with a pure and bright spirit. It is a time to reflect and remember to give and forgive, to rise and shine, to unite and unify, prosper and progress, and illuminate your inner self with positive energy.

Digging Into That Juicy and Tasty Steak…

Some Valuable Facts about Meat    

By Guadalupe Astorga

This October 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared red meat and its processed derivatives a threat to human health, namely for its carcinogenic risk. Twenty-two experts from ten countries in the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded that processed meat is “carcinogenic to humans” (Group 1, as with tobacco smoking and asbestos), while red meat is “probably carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2A). This classification is based on the strength of scientific evidence rather than on the level of risk. Daily consumption of 50g (1.8 oz) of processed meat increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18% (as a reference, the meat in a hamburger can easily surpass 200g or 7 oz). Find more details in the WHO Q&A about this topic here.

JeffreyW / CC BY

JeffreyW / CC BY

Now, let’s get into more digestible terms:

Processed meat is meat that has been transformed by the food industry through salting, curing, fermenting, smoking, or other processes used to enhance flavor or improve preservation. This includes hot dogs, ham, sausages, corned beef, beef jerky, canned meat and meat-based preparations and sauces, and even the meat in your beloved hamburger.

Now, what is the reason for the risk in unprocessed red meat? In this case, it is the way you cook it that can be problematic. High-temperature cooking, as in a barbecue or in a pan, produces carcinogenic chemicals including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heterocyclic aromatic amines.

Is raw meat safer? If you really want to eat raw meat

you must consider that eating it carries a separate risk related to microbial infections. Although some of them are resistant, cooking kills most bacteria in steak.

In the end, is there a real health risk to eat red meat? Similar to alcohol, the risk depends on the dose. A good alternative is to steam your meat or cook it in the oven. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) offers a recipe for a low-cost sausage variation made from vegetables and fresh, unprocessed meat that you can easily prepare to enjoy a delicious homemade natural product. Learn more about processed meat products and find a homemade alternative at the end of this article.

Knowing these facts about the potential effects on human health is terrific, but what about the real risks derived from the production process?

Unlike the European Union, in the United States there is still a significant use of antibiotics in livestock farming. Because these drugs are also used in humans, when we consume meat we acquire a strong antibiotic resistance and this can drive up health care costs. In 2009, the total cost of antibiotic resistant-infections in the United States was estimated to be between $17 and $26 billion per year. Read more in this governmental health bill.

The environmental consequences of meat production can be even stronger than its health risk.

We normally think about global warming as being produced directly by human activity through carbon emissions. Surprisingly, industrial livestock production, including poultry, is one of the biggest sources of methane (CH4, released as a digestion byproduct) and human-related nitrous oxide (N2O), which has 296 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide (CO2). Find more information about the role of livestock in climate change in this article from FAO. If you want to read a detailed study of livestock and climate change from FAO go to this link.

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New York State of Mind

Features, Isaiah Curry from The Laboratory Safety and Environmental Health department

By Melvin White

NYSOMHow long have you been living in the New York area?

All my life. 63 years “young.”

Where do you currently live?

Yonkers, New York. But most people say Rockefeller University, ha! “1 tostado Plaza!”

Which is your favorite neighborhood?

I’ve lived in Harlem, three different parts of Queens, now I am in Yonkers. But I have to say Harlem. I grew up with some great people. I love the Rucker games. And even though they had gangs and violence, my mother raised me right so those things never influence me. I like to say “it don’t make no difference”.

What do you think is the most overrated thing in the city? And underrated?

Overrated? I think cleaning the bus stops, I think it’s a waste of water. Underrated? Water! People waste a lot of it.

What do you miss most when you are out of town?

If I EVER leave, Home sweet home…

If you could change one thing about NYC, what would that be?

People who cross the street with headphones in their ears, not paying attention. Especially when I am driving.

What is your favorite weekend activity in NYC?

I love my DVDs. Karate movies. The best martial arts action-packed film was Expendables 3. It had everybody in it. Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, Sylvester Stallone. Man, I would have to lend you the DVD. Anything with action gets my attention.

Has anything (negative or positive) changed about you while living here as a New Yorker?

My Sensei, Jose Santos. Because of him I am still teaching exercise classes at Rockefeller. He taught me discipline, and the right way of life. He’s the reason I am the way I am today. Negative? NOTHING! People always see me smiling through the hallways all day long and ask how I do it? How do I always stay happy and smiling? I say “It’s healthy for you. You should try it.”

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Henry IV

By Alyssa Luong

The waiting crowd is hushed at 7:24 p.m. under the dim lights and high ceilings of Brooklyn’s St. Ann’s Warehouse on a windy night in early November. A man in a security uniform bellows for us to step aside, “Inmates coming through! Please step aside.” Furrowed eyebrows are relaxed and smiles slowly appear when we realize it is part of the show. We hear the jangling of metal chains and see the imprisoned women all in uniform grey sweatshirts and sweatpants, with their eyes looking indifferently at the people who’ve come to see their production.

Donmar Warehouse and St. Ann’s Warehouse presents the American Premiere of William Shakespeare’s Henry IV in the context of a women’s prison, directed by Phyllida Lloyd. The all-female cast initially feels like a gimmick in response to the history of all-male Shakespearean casts, but soon becomes irrelevant as the inmates begin Part I among children’s kitchen toys and tiny chairs and tables. It almost feel voyeuristic, watching upon playful props and sleepwear robes-turned royal. “Perhaps this is too personal for us to see?,” I thought.

The prison setting proves effective as we see how the roles are played, inferring that the inmates may be true representations of their characters. The most commanding performance comes from Harriet Walter, who plays King Henry. Her presence brings a simple, unwavering intensity.

Another burst of energy comes from Jade Anouka, who plays Hotspur, living up to the nature of his name. The overall atmosphere is well-balanced, taking us through comic relief delivered by Falstaff, played by Sophie Stanton, and Clare Dunne with a crescendo of development as the maturing heir, Hal, to King Henry.

The ensemble is led through a musical cover of Glasvegas’ “Daddy’s Gone,” led by Lady Percy, played by Sharon Rooney. It’s a delicate aspect of the play that offers a light melody, dueling with the rebellion and national conflict.

Lloyd succeeds in weaving the prison backdrop through the play, exposing the layers of the story with an abrupt incident when the Hostess, played by Zainab Hasan, runs off the stage in response to offensive language that has been directed at her. The lights came on and the prison guards came out, reminding us of the setting. Then, at the end, when Hal is crowned King, an uproar develops that triggers alarms and the guards emerge to end the play.

This strong cast with bold performances make the play worth experiencing. It’s a stimulating layering of stories in which we have privy.
Henry IV runs through December 6, 2015
Runtime: 2 hours 15 minutes
St. Ann’s Warehouse, 45 Water Street, Brooklyn

For Your Consideration – Ones to Watch, Vol. 3 Edition

By Jim Keller

There’s a reason why I always conclude this three-part series by covering the Best Supporting Actor and Actress races: with the exception of the frontrunners, they are very unpredictable. Hence, I am going to shake things up a bit this year and change the discussion format. Instead of laying out each actor’s accomplishments and why I would, or would not, bet on them for a nomination, I have broken down below the different circumstances these actors find themselves in and how that narrative may or may not grow to influence Oscar voters. In a few short weeks, groups such as The New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC), the National Board of Review (NBR), and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA) will announce their respective winners, thereby revealing a consensus of nominees, as we march forward to Oscar nominations on January 14th. These announcements, along with those of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (Golden Globes), signal the start of the Oscar race’s second leg.


Here is how the actors discussed last year fared:

Best Supporting Actor:

-J.K. Simmons — Whiplash: Nominated and won

-Edward Norton — Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance): Nominated

-Mark Ruffalo — Foxcatcher: Nominated

-Ethan Hawke — Boyhood: Nominated

-Josh Brolin — Inherent Vice: Not nominated

Last year’s fifth nominee was Robert Duvall for The Judge.

Before we begin, please note the following regarding the supporting actor and actress races:

Everyone loves a two-fer: Often the same film will have multiple supporting nominees. The precedent was set back in both supporting categories in 1939 when Hattie McDaniel competed against Olivia de Havilland for Gone with the Wind and Harry Carey and Claud Rains were nominated for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. For the ladies, this has occurred twenty-nine times, whereas it has only happened sixteen times for the men in the eighty-seven years the Academy Awards has existed. Further, the phenomenon last occurred in Supporting Actor for 1991’s Bugsy, which saw nominations for Harvey Keitel and Ben Kingsley. Conversely, it last occurred in Supporting Actress for 2011’s The Help, which yielded a win for Octavia Spencer and a nod for Jessica Chastain. One might attribute this difference to the lack of female roles in Hollywood, i.e., there weren’t enough supporting roles for women in Hollywood films to nominate the performance in a fifth film in those years.

Ride Along: A Best Picture nomination can often yield supporting nominations for the film’s actors (e.g., Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver in American Hustle).

Category fraud is alive and well: In a year where the best actor and actress categories are an embarrassment of riches, look for voters to vote lead performances as supporting and vice versa just to get the actor(s) a nomination.

Beware the newcomer: Oscar voters love to swirl around newcomers and anoint them the prom king/queen (e.g., Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave).

A Tale of Two Reporters

Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton (Spotlight):

Thomas McCarthy’s drama is based on the true story of how the Boston Globe “Spotlight” team uncovered the massive child molestation scandal and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese. It is one of the year’s best reviewed films, it has a 93 Metacritic score, and is, therefore, a serious Best Picture contender. It has already won the Gotham Jury Award for Ensemble Performance at this year’s Gotham Awards and shows no signs of slowing down as the Oscar season accelerates. At its core are the supporting players: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, and Liev Schreiber, who play the members of the Spotlight team. Ruffalo once again imbues the film with tenderness and has the best scene. It would be his third nomination in this category after having been nominated for 2010’s The Kids Are All Right and last year’s Foxcatcher. On paper, it seems that should be the story, but there is a groundswell opinion, among Oscar pundits, that the Academy will nominate Keaton since he lost Best Actor last year to Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything). As ridiculous as this sounds, it could very well be. Look for one of them to get in alongside these other contenders:

The “It” Factor

Robert De Niro (Joy): He won Best Supporting Actor in 1975 for The Godfather Part II and Best Actor in 1981 for Raging Bull. He has been nominated four times for Best Actor: Taxi Driver (1977), The Deer Hunter (1979), Awakenings (1991), and Cape Fear (1992), and most recently, for Supporting Actor for Silver Linings Playbook (2013).

Bradley Cooper (Joy): He earned his first Best Actor nomination alongside De Niro for Silver Linings Playbook (2013) and has been nominated each subsequent year: American Hustle (Supporting, 2014 and American Sniper (Lead, 2015).

Joy is directed by David O. Russell, whose last three films have been nominated for Best Picture and have yielded three supporting actor nominations combined.


Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies): He was nominated this year for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Movie for Wolf Hall and won the Best Actor British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) TV Award for The Government Inspector in 2006. He is also widely known for his stage work, having won three Tony awards.

Tom Hardy (The Revenant): He won the Best Actor LAFCA last year for Locke and was nominated for the Best Actor BAFTA TV Award in 2008 for Stuart: A Life Backwards. His film is directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, last year’s Best Director winner for

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).

Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation): He won the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television in 2012 for Luther, a role that netted him two other nominations in 2011 and 2014. In those same years he was nominated for the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Primetime Emmy. Last year he was also nominated for Best Actor by the same body for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

Regardless of nominations, Beasts will go down in history as the first feature-length, original film from Netflix. The idea of a content streaming titan churning out films frightens the big studios and challenges the idea that the Academy does in fact award the best films. It is one of the best films of the year and it is likely that Hollywood will snub the film, but will throw it a bone in the form of a supporting actor nomination for Elba.

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Natural Selections wants your art!

Whether you can’t stop drawing while waiting for the bus, or taking a walk around the city; if photography is your passion, or if you’re more of a painter, this is your chance to share your art. Beginning in 2016, Natural Selections will publish a picture of the art we receive every month. To take advantage of this opportunity, email us your work with a title, a brief description, and your name. We’ll make sure to include it in a future issue. We hope to receive several images to create an open space for art! We’ll be delighted to receive your artwork, please email hi-res jpg files to :<>

Photo by Nan Pang

Citi-zens United

By George Barany, Christopher Adams, John Child, Charles Flaster, and Brent Hartzell

George Barany is a Rockefeller alum (1977), currently on the faculty of the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities. Christopher Adams is a graduate student at the University of Iowa, John Child runs a business in Nepal, Charles Flaster is a retired school teacher in the Philadelphia area, and Brent Hartzell is the finance director for the City of Allentown, Pennsylvania.  For more about this specific puzzle, including a link to the answer, click here. Also, try more Barany and Friends crossword puzzles.puzzle


  1. One of the “Three Bs”
  2. One who crosses a line
  3. Go-to ballplayers, colloquially
  4. “Bull Durham” transportation
  5. Like Citi Field when 122-Across’s Yoenis Céspedes goes deep
  6. End of a palindrome about Napoleon’s exile
  7. Bagel, e.g.
  8. Lady’s man, briefly
  9. 122-Across’s ace Matt’s favorite drink?
  10. Pitcher with a big mouth?
  11. From 1962-1987, spring training site for the 122-Across, informally
  12. Potpourri
  13. Aida or Spartacus, e.g.
  14. Berberian and Parseghian
  15. Marine killer
  16. Nighttime ball, perhaps
  17. Out in left field, to 122-Across’s rookie phenom Michael?
  18. One to the left of the curve?
  19. What 122-Across’s pitcher Niese has, that his teammate Colón does not?
  20. Glandular opening?
  21. The “f” in f-stop
  22. Site of the 2014 season opener (Dodgers vs. Diamondbacks)
  23. Paraphernalia for 122-Across’s third sacker David?
  24. “Saving Private Ryan” landing craft: Abbr.
  25. Steve of “Family Matters”
  26. Categorize
  27. Like some traditions
  28. Org. that let Barry Bonds walk in 2015
  29. Bologna bones
  30. Agcy. spawned by the Manhattan Project
  31. Figure of interest?
  32. Something used by 122-Across’s manager Collins to wipe the sweat off his face?
  33. “Steal a base when nobody’s looking,” according to 122-Across’s sudden slugger Daniel?
  34. “___ bit of common sense”
  35. Airline’s home base
  36. Athena’s breastplate: Var.
  37. Classified ad abbr.
  38. Dodge Viper engine, e.g.
  39. ___ great catch (dazzle the fans)
  40. Suburb of Minneapolis-St. Paul (crossword constructor Tom Pepper is its Finance Director)
  41. Abbr. with a ring to it?
  42. Roll out the red carpet for 122-Across’s rookie southpaw Steven?
  43. Plea made with one’s hands up
  44. Desi of Desilu
  45. Jordanian World Heritage site
  46. Scatter?
  47. Strengthen
  48. What 122-Across’s ace DeGrom uses to get high?
  49. Roman romances
  50. Dry, like Spanish wine
  51. One driving in the winning run, e.g.
  52. Worked undercover
  53. Winter Olympics event
  54. Single-celled microorganisms
  55. 10-point Q, e.g.
  56. Cry of recognition when 122-Across’s closer Jeurys starts to warm up?
  57. ” ___ Tu” (1974 hit)
  58. Beatles in Shea Stadium, e.g.
  59. Fastball down the middle, e.g.
  60. Colorado resort
  61. Part of 122-Across’s rookie phenom Syndergaard’s routine
  62. Milton Berle sidekick Arnold ___
  63. Sources of taxol
  64. Miracle team, once (and perhaps twice!)

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Life on a Roll


The Diocletian’s palace is a truly amazing heritage site from the Roman Empire. It is located in Split, an important Mediterranean harbor city in Croatia. I was completely in awe, standing at the center square of the palace, feeling like a dwarf looking up at the magnificent palace pillars. The Gregory of Nin statue at the north gate carries an admirable and amiable charisma, and whose big toe through years of touching by visitors (for good luck), has become discolored and shiny, like on a roll 1

life on a roll 3life on a roll 5life on a roll 4 life on a roll 2

The History of the Thanksgiving Holiday in America.

By Aileen Marshall

The weather has turned pleasantly crisp recently. It turns our thoughts to sweaters, leaves turning colors, apples and pumpkins. Along that line comes the Thanksgiving holiday. Most Americans today think of it as a day to have a turkey dinner with family, along with pumpkin pie and watching the parade and football. We decorate with dried ears of Indian corn, various gourds and cornucopias. It wasn’t always that way. Various forms of the American holiday go back almost 400 years.

Central Park

Picture by Nan Peng

When the Pilgrims first came to this country in the 17th century, it was a new experience for them, trying to survive in a completely undeveloped environment. They didn’t know what or how to hunt or plant for food. The winters in the colony of Plymouth, Massachusetts, were a lot harsher then they had encountered in England or the Netherlands. During their first winter of 1620-21, 46 of 102 Pilgrims died. They encountered the Wampanoag tribe of Native Americans. They established communications with them and befriended one called Squanto. The Wampanoag showed them how to plant corn and squash and other vegetables, and how to hunt for wild game and fish. They were so grateful for a plentiful harvest in the fall of 1621, that they invited the tribe to celebrate with them. They feasted over three days. That first dinner included corn, cranberries and pumpkin, venison and fowl. The turkey is native to North America, but it is not known if the fowl included turkey. The act of thanksgiving was a part of their Puritan religious tradition, to celebrate what they saw as an act of divine providence. The Native Americans also had a tradition of celebrating the harvest. Edward Winslow wrote in a journal called Mourt’s Relation, a record of the Plymouth settlement, “Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that we might after a more special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the Company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some 90 men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”

There are other claims of a first Thanksgiving. Virginia, Florida and Texas all have claims to an earlier event. But historians say that our current tradition came out of the Pilgrims celebration in 1621. The other claims were not known until the 20th century, and it was common practice in those days to hold a celebration in thanks for some fortuitous event.

From the time of the Pilgrims, until the Civil War, Thanksgiving was celebrated by different states and on different dates. Each state or colony would pass a declaration for its own celebration. At first it was considered a New England holiday. But it slowly migrated as the country grew. In 1777 the Continental Congress declared a national Thanksgiving for all thirteen colonies. This continued until 1784. In 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation for a national Thanksgiving. Only Presidents Washington, Adams and Madison made Thanksgiving declarations. This tradition continued until 1815, after which, the individual states still declared a Thanksgiving holiday. By the 1850s, almost all states had an annual tradition of having a Thanksgiving holiday. Although it would be on different dates, it was mostly celebrated on the last Thursday in November.

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Tree of Codes and the Park Avenue Armory

By Paul Jeng

The first exhibit I attended at the Park Avenue Armory was in the spring of 2012, Tom Sachs’s SPACE PROGRAM: MARS, an expansive, irreverent rendition of an imaginary expedition to Mars. From the beginning it was clear that the exhibit was designed with active audience engagement in mind. Visitors at the entrance were directed by a hand scripted sign to view a series of short, PBS-style video lessons on the rules of the Mars enterprise before entering the main floor to observe reproductions of a Mars Rover, mission control station, Lunar lander, and others. The large installation pieces–crafted by sculptor Tom Sachs from modest materials such as plywood, duct tape, foam tubes, and exposed bolts–were deliberate in their oxymoronic simplicity, as if the blueprints to impossibly complicated technologies were stolen from the belly of a NASA engineering laboratory and fed to a local Home Depot instead.

"Audience members walking to their seats before Tree of Codes". Photo credit: Paul Jeng

“Audience members walking to their seats before Tree of Codes”. Photo credit: Paul Jeng

At face value, the concept behind crudely reproducing sophisticated machines seemed only to offer trivial amusement, yet I found the painstaking craftsmanship and earnest appreciation for space exploration underpinning the exhibit to be very affecting. However, to me the success of the show was rooted in its contextualization within the exhibit space itself, a 55,000 square-foot former drill hall with a soaring, barrel-vaulted roof girdled by arched iron supports. The massive hall, one of the largest unobstructed spaces of its kind in New York City, was only dimly lit above the ground level, creating the sensation of actually hovering within the abyss of space. The whole experience felt good-naturedly absurd, encouraging the viewer to delight in the cognitive dissonance of challenging an infinite void with flimsy wooden ships. As a relatively new consumer of installation art at the time, I was amazed by the power that a venue could exert over the visitor’s relationship with its art. In SPACE PROGRAM: MARS, Tom Sachs wanted to explore contrasts–exotic machines made from household materials, bright colors under dark skies, feelings of simultaneous awe and amusement–and the Armory itself was central to the impact of his message.

The Park Avenue Armory was originally constructed in 1880 to serve as the headquarters for the 7th New York Militia Regiment. The building, a national historic landmark since 1986, occupies the entire Park Avenue block between 67th and 68th streets, intersecting the otherwise homogeneous rows of gray apartment buildings with its distinctive red brick and Gothic revival-style towers. As stewards of the building since 2006, the non-profit Park Avenue Armory Conservancy has sought to showcase “unconventional work that cannot be mounted in traditional performance halls and museums.” In that respect it has been remarkably successful, playing host to an extensive variety of shows during the tenures of artistic directors Kristy Edmunds (2009-2013) and Alex Poots (2012-2015), including lecture-series, Shakespeare, and immersive audio/visual musical performances.

Since 2012 I’ve attended several more of these uniquely curated programs at the armory, all of which felt as if they naturally gestated within and sprouted out of the walls themselves. In Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller’s The Murder of Crows, a room full of speakers projected an auditory installation which utilized the echoing cavern of the armory to create haunting, shifting soundscapes. Anne Hamilton’s The Event of a Thread saw an enormous, silk white sheet hung on the rafters of the Armory’s halls, billowing at the will of audience members who controlled its movements with large wooden swings. Even the relatively guileless annual Art Show by the Art Dealers Association of America, a modular exposition of art hung in cubicle-like booths, felt infused with an air of grandeur under the brooding Armory ceiling.

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Twenty-four visits to Stockholm: a concise history of the Rockefeller Nobel Prizes.

Part XIII: Albert Claude, 1974 Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

By Joseph Luna


An International Equipment Corporation, Model B size 1, circa the mid-1930s, of the type used by Claude for cell fractionation. RU historic instrument collection, accession number 342. Photograph by the author.

On December 7, 1970, the moon-bound crew of the final Apollo mission swiveled their camera toward earth, some 28,000 miles distant, and took a picture. Three weeks later the resulting photograph revealed a delicate blue orb suspended in space, painted with swirling clouds above the African continent. When released to the public in time for the holiday newspapers, this picture became instantly famous, serving as a visual capstone for humanity’s sojourn beyond our planet, which appears simultaneously majestic and intimate. It is perhaps for that reason that this picture was dubbed “The Blue Marble,” and is among the most iconic scientific photographs known.

I wonder what our next three prize-winners thought of the Blue Marble photo that winter. Whereas astronauts helped make the world small with spectacular portraits of earth, by the 1970s our next three Scandinavian visitors, Albert Claude, George Palade, and Christian de Duve, had been using images for over 25 years to show that microscopic cells were organized worlds unto themselves. Starting with the first electron microscope image of an intact cell in 1945, these three (and many others) helped launch the modern discipline of cell biology. For a comprehensive history of cell biology, particularly at Rockefeller University, I refer the reader to “Entering an Unseen World” by our very own Carol Moberg. For the next three installments of this series, we’ll specifically profile how each of these three men contributed to found a field as a distinct RU creation. And we’ll begin with Albert Claude.

Claude’s early life was difficult, and a bit momentous. After losing his mother to breast cancer at the age of seven, Claude moved around with his family before dropping out of school to care for an ailing uncle. He never finished high school. He worked in a steel mill during World War I, and volunteered as a teenager to aid the British Intelligence Service. By the war’s end, Claude was a decorated military veteran, and his first lucky break came when Belgian education authorities made it possible for veterans to pursue higher education without a diploma. This made it possible for Claude to go to medical school in 1922 and he graduated six years later.

It was then that Claude turned his attention to the cancer problem. At the time, The Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research (RIMR) was an epicenter for the debate on the origin of cancer. On one side was Peyton Rous, discoverer of the first transmissible sarcoma in chickens that bears his name, as the chief proponent for a viral origin of cancer. On the other side was James Murphy, who in short believed that a chemical or environmental insult was responsible for inducing cancer in otherwise normal cells. What exactly the Rous sarcoma agent was could only be speculated, since few had tried to purify it. Claude, freshly read up on the subject, wrote to then RIMR president Simon Flexner and proposed isolating the sarcoma agent. A year later Claude found himself in Murphy’s laboratory in New York, charged to do just that.

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Culture Corner

Reading Ancient Texts: The Campaigns of Alexander in the Landmark series

By Bernie Langs

“Alexander returneth to dust, the dust is earth, of earth we make loam—and why of that loam, whereto he was converted, might they not stop a beer barrel? Imperious Caesar, dead and turned to clay, Might stop a hole to keep the wind away. Oh, that that earth, which kept the world in awe, Should patch a wall t’ expel the winter’s flaw!” – Hamlet, Act V.I


Arrian’s The Campaigns of Alexander in the Landmark series edition

Shakespeare wrote several plays featuring heroes and heroines from ancient Greece and Rome and often, as in the quote above from “Hamlet”, waxed poetic on the myths and history of the ancient world. The idea that there is much to be gleaned, through a serious approach, from the empires of Greece and Rome was the impetus behind Italy’s surge in the arts, literature, and study during its Renaissance. In addition, a look at handwritten monastic Medieval texts from across Europe quietly exuded such curiosity centuries earlier as well.

From up high upon the perch of our world today, we have a wide chasm to cross back to the ancient world, divided as we are by not just time itself, but the changes in culture and mores in the millennium in between. When reading Cicero’s or Seneca’s letters or Livy’s histories or Plato’s dialogues, one of the initial shocks is that the conversations, philosophies, and the general tone is not at times so very different in how we write, think and converse today. It is my contention that such familiarity is partially a mirage and an attempt to cross the years back to the very day in which these texts were written and try to “see” with the eyes of the ancients the world in which they lived, is to experience an exhilaration on par with a mystery wine-soaked celebration honoring Dionysus.

The actual physical artifacts, wall paintings, architectural ruins, sculptures, vases and so on, are on display in the countries of the ancient world, locally in New York City museums, and grace the pages in photos in countless books. These are the essential supplements to the study of books from past epochs. The Landmark series is publishing a handful of ancient texts accompanied by detailed maps, photos of the lands discussed and other artifacts of interest, and extremely helpful footnotes and sidebars to further elucidate the details of the written word. I am just starting the patient endeavor of reading the series’ “The Campaigns of Alexander” written by the ancient Roman Arrian hundreds of years after the time of Alexander. The edition is edited by James S. Romm, translated by Pamela Mensch, and the series editor is Robert B. Strassler. While reading, I try my best to visualize the mind-set and the times of the Roman world where Arrian stood as well as the Greek and Asian lands where Alexander trekked – no easy task of course and only, at best, a loose subjective experience.

I am reminded that the French philosopher Michel Foucault wrote how a time period is experienced as if its culture is gleaned in collective moments that have been created by historical forces converging from a vast multitude of varying directions. Alexander is often dissected and analyzed in terms of his military strategy, but he also took time to honor the gods in the tradition in which he lived. The way we stand in a forest and look and experience nature is not the very same way that a soldier or general of the ancient world would have seen it. The stars, sky, heavens and earth were in their minds as living breathing forces with real implications for how their lives would unfold. A constellation, for example, would reflect a tradition of myth deeply embedded in the soul of the individual and the collective consciousness (and unconsciousness) of their time.

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Quotable Quote

george-washington-carver-154536_1280“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these. “

(George Washington Carver, 1864 – 1943)

Fast Ball

By George Barany

George Barany is a Rockefeller alum (1977) currently on the faculty of the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities. He still remembers a watershed moment at the interface of American culture and sports that occurred fifty years ago … October 6, 1965 to be exact. For more about this specific puzzle, including a link to the answer, visit More Barany and Friends crosswords are at


  1. With 19-Down, October 6, 1965
  2. Passion
  3. Breathlesspuzzle
  4. Sch. attended by Reggie Jackson and Barry Bonds
  5. Prepare for winter takeoff
  6. Catchphrase
  7. El ___
  8. Pitcher on October 6, 1965–not!
  9. 10,000 square meters
  10. Birth control method, for short
  11. Movie promo
  12. Stretch out
  13. Word with up or off
  14. Geezer
  15. Stable staple
  16. Mythical beast that was turned into a peacock
  17. Vegan’s protein source, sometimes
  18. First Bond flick
  19. Kvetch
  20. Promise
  21. Categories
  22. LAX postings
  23. Little foxes
  24. Some babies’ first words since gay marriage was legalized
  25. Family room
  26. Spare parts?
  27. Dale and Tim, to Yogi
  28. Prepares potstickers, perhaps
  29. Heartbreaking headline
  30. Leo the ___ (Durocher nickname)
  31. Originating country for much spam
  32. Pitcher on October 6, 1965
  33. Fingers, e.g.
  34. “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” playwright Edward
  35. Surmise
  36. UFO crew
  37. Escort, for appearance’s sakes
  38. Heaps kudos on
  39. Like a wallflower

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Life on a Roll

By Elodie Pauwels

The building of the Louis Vuitton Foundation, in Paris, France, was designed by Frank Gehry (who also designed the IAC building and 8 Spruce Street in Manhattan). This boat made of glass was inaugurated in 2014. The building itself is worth a visit as its 12 huge panels of glass, sails of a peculiar sailboat, will make you dream of vastness compared to your tiny person. And if you ever come back to reality, go visit the contemporary art museum located inside!

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Halloween in New York

By Aileen Marshall

Dave Bledsoe/FreeVerse Photography

It’s that time of year again, goblins and ghouls abound, the real and the fictional. If you are too old to go trick or treating, what is there to do? Luckily, you live in New York, where there are always options for something to do.

The most iconic New York Halloween celebration is the Village Halloween parade. It was started in 1974 by puppeteer Ralph Lee. In that very first year, people on the street got caught up in the mood, and jumped into the parade. It has grown over the years from 1500 revelers marching from West Street to Washington Square, to the present day parade of sixty thousand marching along Sixth Avenue from Spring Street up to 16th Street. This parade is known for its elaborate and outlandish costumes.

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Dave Bledsoe/FreeVerse Photography

Besides the costume contingents, there are floats and bands and large puppets. People tend to compete to have the most noticeable and impressive costumes. Sometimes they will coordinate and march as a group of a certain character. (How many Elvises can you fit on a block?) Since the parade is at night, people often incorporate some sort of lighting in their costumes. Anyone wearing a costume can enter the parade by waiting at the staging area on Spring Street. Each year the parade has a theme. The theme this year is “Shine a Light”.

The Village Voice gave it an award the first year to encourage it to continue. Now the parade committee works with the city, Community Board 2 and the NYPD. In 2001 the theme was a phoenix rising from ashes as a tribute to the victims of the World Trade Center attack. The only year it didn’t run was during Hurricane Sandy since lower Manhattan had no power. The parade this year starts at 7pm.


Dave Bledsoe/FreeVerse Photography


Dave Bledsoe/FreeVerse Photography

There are a number of haunted houses in the city. There is the reputed kind, considering the city is over 300 years old, and there is the entertainment kind, for your Halloween fun. The best known is Blood Manor. Located at 163 Varrick Street, it is a 5,000 square foot maze of gore and freights. Blood Manor is reported to go through 37 gallons of fake blood each night, hence the name. Tickets are $30 online or $35 in person. Be warned that this attraction is known for its long lines. For more information, go to Another entertaining haunted house is Times Scare, located at 669 Eighth Avenue, the only haunted house open all year long. Tickets are $27 but the associated Kill Bar is free. There are also various theatrical performances such as magic and burlesque shows. Go to for more details. The Jekyll and Hyde Haunted House is located at 91 Seventh Avenue South. The famous story is performed while you wander through the house. There is also a restaurant attached. Their website is

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US Open Tennis Women’s Surprises

By Susan Russo

US OPEN NanThe women’s final of the US Open Tennis tournament on Saturday, September 12th was almost anti-climactic. The exciting confrontation took place in the Arthur Ashe stadium in the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, Queens. Many of the spectators in packed stands had not followed the careers of the two Italian singles opponents. Flavia Pennetta (ranked at 26 in the US Open Women’s Singles program) and Roberta Vinci (ranked 43). Together, they had won many women’s doubles matches world-wide, but neither was known for her singles play. The crowd of the rafters-filled stadium applauded with equal enthusiasm for each of the women. Both women were fierce in play, but graceful, and clearly enjoying the match, since seemingly neither expected to be in the final of one of the major tennis tournaments. One of the commentators remarked that she had never seen such joy shown by both players in their ultimate meeting. After the battle, the two warmly congratulated each other and thanked their “teams” and the crowd for their support. Three more surprises were to come. One was the presence of Fabio Fognini in the stands. Fognini (Italy) (ranked 32) had lost in a very tight match in the 4th Round to Feliciano Lopez (Spain) (ranked 18), and returned to Italy. But he flew back to New York to see Flavia Pennetta, his fiancée, in the final. Also watching the match from the President’s Box were the Prime Minister of Italy and a delegation of cheering dignitaries who had flown in just for that match. And then, after Ms. Pennetta had exuberantly accepted the winner’s trophy, she announced that she had decided before the tournament that this would be her last professional tournament.

This was the year that Serena Williams (USA) was predicted to complete the “Grand Slam” of world tennis in singles. If you don’t follow tennis, the Grand Slam denotes winning at the “Big Four” tournaments in Melbourne, Australia, in Paris, in London, and in New York. The fact that Serena Williams (ranked number 1 in women’s singles play) was bested by an Italian player, Roberta Vinci, was a shock to herself and to the tennis world. Ms. Vinci, at 5 feet 4 inches and 132 pounds, would seem to have been slightly at a disadvantage to Ms. Williams’s height of 5 feet 9 inches, and the serving power of her weight of 155 pounds. However, Ms. Vinci used her doubles skills of quick movement and unexpected play against the harder-serving but slower-moving Ms. Williams. Ms. Williams seemed to be undermined by Ms. Vinci’s apparent calm during play, while Ms. Williams’s frustration was evident, and seemed to diminish her usual confident play.

Ms. Williams’s “draw” (the arbitrary matching of two players for each round of the tournament) were, in order, two unseeded players; 19th-ranked Madison Keys (USA); and her sister, Venus Williams (USA), ranked 23. Ms. Vinci’s opponents were two unseeded players; and Kristina Mladenovic (France), who had beaten the 13th seed, Ekaterina Makarova (RUS); however, Ms. Vinci had an unexpected “breather” during the tournament, when the unfortunate Eugenie Bouchard (Canada, ranked 25) was sidelined by a concussion before the Third Round of play. I leave it to the experts to evaluate what factors led to the unexpected conclusion of the women’s singles match.

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Twenty-four visits to Stockholm: a concise history of the Rockefeller Nobel Prizes

Part XII: Stanford Moore and William Stein, 1972 Prize in Chemistry

By Joseph Luna

Original rotating fraction collector used by Moore and Stein for analysis of RNAse. RU historic instrument collection, accession number 105.

Original rotating fraction collector used by Moore and Stein for analysis of RNAse. RU historic instrument collection, accession number 105.

“RNAse-free.” To most any molecular biologist working with RNA, these two seemingly unrelated words are as sweet sounding together as “passion-fruit.” This is because ribonucleases, those small hardy enzymes that chew up RNA, can be found everywhere, are more invasive than the tiniest bacteria, and can utterly ruin an experiment. Seeing an “RNAse-free” label on one’s reagents is often a mark of trust that experimental results are on firm footing. But the story of RNase is a fascinating one, particularly at Rockefeller, for it is a story intricately wrapped in two names as tightly bound and harmonious together as “RNAse-free”: those of Stanford Moore and William Stein, or “Moore-n’-Stein”.

What can be considered one of the greatest life-long collaborations in biochemistry began simply, when Moore and Stein met as post-docs in the laboratory of Max Bergmann in 1939. Bergmann had fled Nazi Germany five years prior and took up a position at the Rockefeller Institute to continue his research on protein chemistry. A once long-time collaborator of Emil Fischer (who coined the term “peptide”), Bergmann and his lab were focused on finding ways to isolate and analyze proteins. By the mid 1930s, all twenty of the primary amino acid building blocks had been discovered, but it was unclear how they were put together to make a functional protein. What’s more, each protein that could be isolated appeared to have a different and unique composition of amino acids. Before one could get a grasp on protein structure, what was needed was a reliable way to determine how much of each amino acid a particular protein contained. This was the problem Moore and Stein first tackled.

They started by mixing together eighteen amino acids at known concentrations and asking if they could invent a method that could both separate and individually measure the concentration of each amino acid in the mixture. It was a daunting task, a bit like trying to uncook an egg. An early form of chromatography using starch columns eventually solved the first problem. Moore and Stein discovered that each of the eighteen amino acids passed through these columns at unique speeds, and so by adding the mixture at one end of the column and collecting fractions at the other, the mixture could be separated in a defined way: phenylalanine came out first, then leucine, then isoleucine and so on. And because standing around collecting fractions drop by drop was simultaneously laborious and boring, they invented a mechanical lab technician to precisely do the work: the automated fraction collector. The second problem, to measure the concentration of amino acids in the fractions, was solved by turning to a well-known chemical reaction known as the ninhydrin reaction. Chemists had discovered that in the presence of ninhydrin, amino acid solutions turned a bluish-purple with each amino acid giving off a unique, if unstable, hue. Moore and Stein figured out ways to stabilize the reaction such that the amount of blue could help determine both the identity of the amino acid, and its concentration.

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Culture Corner

J. M. W. Turner on film and Jan van Eyck in The Smithsonian Institution

By Bernie Langs


“Mr. Turner poster” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia

Lord Kenneth Clark, the eminent late art historian who often graces the pages of “Culture Corner”, felt that life’s meaning can best be found through the study of paintings, which later bled into his world historical view of “civilization” that encompassed architecture, sculpture and even the theories of how economics shape cultures and move the masses. In the past, I have read as much of Clark’s works as I could and I now recall his discussion of how certain artists cannot be easily categorized, so unique are their works. He boiled it down to cases of an almost divinely-touched sense of an individual physical vision. Joseph Mallord William (J.M.W.) Turner was one such painter discussed by Clark. Turner’s ability to “see” and then paint with accuracy or imagination (or both) the sea, its foam and waves, the detailed bubbling of turbulent waters hitting hard wooden ships, the shapes and phantoms rising from terrific storms, remains unequaled to this day.

In the film “Mr. Turner”, written and directed by Mike Leigh, the life of J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851) is presented with all the harshness of his times along with a contrasting and almost Dutch-like pristineness. Details, for example, of particular drawing rooms with their cinematographically well-lit furniture, basins or candlesticks, and striking or muted colors make “Mr. Turner” a wonder of a movie. Timothy Spall plays Turner in a marvelously strange and complex manner, often difficult to watch, as he grunts and barks with a near-Cockney biting, graveled voice. By contrast, Spall played a conniving Rosencrantz to Kenneth Branagh’s vengeful Hamlet smoothly, and his take on Turner seems to combine his roles as the rat-like villain Peter Pettigrew (“Wormtail”) in the Harry Potter films with his amusing characterization of Winston Churchill in “The King’s Speech.”

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“The Annunciation” (and detail) by Jan van Eyck (National Gallery of Art; photos by B.L.)

The roughshod Mr. Turner makes his sketches as often as he can, but it only seems obsessive at the end of the film, when he is compelled to leap from his deathbed to run outside in his bedclothes to draw “from life” a woman’s dead body washed up on the shore near his seaside home. I kept trying to reconcile the idea of Clark’s notion of a visionary with the hard-as-nails reality that Mr. Leigh bludgeons us with throughout this movie. But don’t misunderstand me, the movie is fantastic and the genius of Turner’s inner world is there for the taking if you look for it. The key scene, where Lord Clark’s Turner is on display, is when during a stormy sea voyage, Turner insists on being tied high on the ship’s mast, like a latter day Ulysses, in order to see the raging waters about him to gain a first-hand knowledge and vision of nature’s mighty torrent. The nitty-gritty Turner meets the soulful artist in that moment and Spall plays it masterfully.

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