Just Kids from the Bronx Telling It the Way It Was: An Oral History

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2015-03-03
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
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"A down-to-earth, inspiring book about the American promise fulfilled." -President Bill Clinton

"Fascinating . . . . Made me wish I had been born in the Bronx." -Barbara Walters

A touching and provocative collection of memories that evoke the history of one of America's most influential boroughs-the Bronx-through some of its many success stories

The vivid oral histories in Arlene Alda's Just Kids from the Bronx reveal what it was like to grow up in the place that bred the influencers in just about every field of endeavor. The Bronx is where Michael Kay, the New York Yankees' play-by-play broadcaster, first experienced baseball; where J. Crew's CEO Millard ("Mickey") Drexler found his ambition; where Neil deGrasse Tyson and Dava Sobel fell in love with science; and where local music making inspired singer-songwriter Dion DiMucci and hip-hop's Grandmaster Melle Mel.

The parks, the pickup games, the tough and tender mothers, the politics, the gangs, the food-for people who grew up in the Bronx, childhood recollections are fresh. Arlene Alda's own Bronx memories were a jumping-off point from which to reminisce with a nun, a police officer, an urban planner, and with Al Pacino, Carl Reiner, Colin Powell, Maira Kalman, Bobby Bonilla, Mary Higgins Clark, and many other leading artists, athletes, scientists, and entrepreneurs-experiences spanning six decades of Bronx living. Alda then arranged these pieces of the past, from looking for violets along the banks of the Bronx River to the wake-up calls from teachers who recognized potential, into one great collective story, a filmlike portrait of the Bronx from the early twentieth century until today.

Author Biography

Arlene Alda (born Arlene Weiss in the Bronx, NY) graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Hunter College, received a Fulbright Scholarship to study clarinet in Germany, and became a clarinetist in the Houston Symphony, under Leopold Stokowski. She then married the actor Alan Alda and after their youngest daughter started school, Alda pursued her interests in photography and in writing. She is now the author of 17 books, including bestselling, award-winning children’s titles as well as books for adults.

Table of Contents

Foreword    XV

A. M. (“Abe”) Rosenthal    3
Carl Reiner    8
Martin Bregman    12
Leon Fleisher    15
Lawrence Saper    19
Mary Higgins Clark    22
Jules Feiffer    26
David Yarnell    33
Milton Glaser    36
Mildred S. Dresselhaus    42
Regis Philbin    46
George Shapiro and Howard West    51
Mark Cash    58
Arlene Alda    61
Michael Brescia    67
Emanuel (“Manny”) Azenberg    71
Avery Corman    75
I. C. (“Chuck”) Rapoport    79
Colin Powell    83
Lloyd Ultan    87
Dion DiMucci    92
Barbara Nessim    97

Al Pacino    103
Robert F. Levine    107
Suzanne Braun Levine    111
Steve Janowitz    114
Margaret M. O’Brien, S.C.    117
Joyce Hansen    121
Robert Klein    126
Julian Schlossberg    131
Anonymous    135
Rick Meyerowitz    138
Joel Arthur Rosenthal (JAR)    142
Millard (“Mickey”) S. Drexler    146
Andy Rosenzweig    149
Kenneth S. Davidson    152
Daniel Libeskind    155
Valerie Simpson    161
Arthur Klein    165
Dava Sobel    169
Robert F. X. Sillerman    174
Maira Kalman    179

PART THREE | All the News That Fits, We Print . . . The Gift in the River
Sam Goodman    185
Chazz Palminteri    193
Daniel (“Danny”) Hauben    200
Louise Sedotto    204
Steve Jordan    207
Neil deGrasse Tyson    211
Michael R. Kay    216
Melvin Glover (Grandmaster Melle Mel)    221
Jaime (“Jimmy”) Rodriguez Jr.    225
Luis A. Ubiñas    230
Bobby Bonilla    235
Sotero (“BG 183”) Ortiz, Wilfredo (“Bio”) Feliciano, and Hector (“Nicer”) Nazario (members of Tats Cru)    239
Majora Carter    248
Carlos J. Serrano    252
Renee Hernandez    258
Ruben Diaz Jr.    262
Jemina R. Bernard    268
Amar Ramasar    273
Gabrielle Salvatto    277
Erik Zeidler    282

A Map    286
Biographies    289
Acknowledgments    309

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