In my time

by Radio Somewhere

BBC Radio 3 Essays are sometimes like In Our Time With Melvyn Bragg on steroids — even if each episode is only 15 minutes long. They cover history, philosophy, arts and sciences — and everything in between.

I will probably give the series on Wagner a miss.

But today I have been captivated by Trip Sheets, a series of recollections of a wannabe actor driving a taxicab in New York city during the tumultuous years of the mid-1970s, when he was able to rent a 3-bedroom apartment in the East Village for $300/month.

He picked up Andy Warhol once. And he did get to do a bit of acting. But it’s the descriptions of the city that are compelling — as New York City found itself on the verge of bankruptcy and entire neighborhood of the Bronx and Brooklyn burned and emptied after essential services were discontinued.

A few years ago, I discovered the late radio host Jean Shepherd, who was on the air, in one form or another, in New York for more than twenty years. Recordings (most of them supplied by fans and so not always of the best quality) are available at iTunes as The Brass Figlagee podcast. Broadcasts from the mid-1970s refer often to the city’s fiscal meltdown.

An amazing glimpse of recent history (while I was in high school.)

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