Rochelle Gurstein

  • Acting Up

    At the end of the summer of 1892, three young and feverishly idealistic Russian immigrants, whose hopes for living in a free and just society had been crushed by their experiences in the Lower East Side slums of Manhattan, were operating a successful ice-cream parlor in Worcester, Massachusetts. They wanted to save enough money to return to Russia, where they believed revolution was imminent.

    But they shifted plans when they got word of pending labor unrest in Homestead, Pennsylvania. After three months of failed negotiations over a wage increase, the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel

  • culture June 03, 2011

    Liberty Oaks: The Case Against Using Plants as Monuments

    As we headed toward the Cherry Esplanade at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden so that we could take in one of the great joys of spring in New York—cherry trees in full, glorious bloom—we entered a path between a double row of youngish oak trees that were now beginning to attain the height and fullness that will eventually give them the stately architectural elegance of an allée.

  • Origin of the Specious

    Denis Dutton is a man with a mission: Against cultural anthropologists, art historians, critics, and aestheticians who have advanced the idea that taste is relative and socially constructed, he wants to demonstrate that there is an “instinct” for beauty, skill, and pleasure. As proof of the universality of this instinct, he offers descriptions of its “spontaneous” emergence in children, along with ethnographic reports of its existence in “preliterate hunter-gatherer tribes that survived into the twentieth century, since their ways of life reflect those of our ancient ancestors.” The second part