Flophouse: Life on the Bowery

Flophouse: Life on the Bowery

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Overview

Flophouse: Life on the Bowery by David Isay, Stacy Abramson

For several years, Davis Isay, a recipient of this year's prestigious McArthur Fellowship and an award-winning documentarian, his collegue Stacy Abramson, and photographer Harvey Wang visited the remaining flophouses in New York City: the White House, the Palace, the World, the Andrews, the Prince, the Providence, and the Sunshine. Painstakingly, they recorded the stories of the men who call these places home, many of them for decades now. In its heyday, close to one hundred thousand men found shelter each night in flophouses along America's largest and most infamous skid row, the Bowery. Today, only a handful of "flops" are left, their tiny five-and ten-dollar rooms home to fewer than a thousand men, mostly long-time students. In a handful of years, because of changing policy, this world will be gone.

On August 18, 2000 Random House will publish Flophouse: Life On the Bowery, an extaordinary valedictory in words and images to this vanishing world. In Flophouse, fifty men from four of these "flops," men from all manner of backgrounds, all classes, tell the stories of their lives in their own words, with candor and intimacy. Proceded by a short history of the flophouse and surounded by Harvey Wang's haunting photographs, each chapter stands as a portrait of a unique community.

As a social document, Flophouse is electrifying. Together, these men represent the variety of ways the bottom can fall out of people's lives in late-twentieth-century America. Because of new laws, the Bowery flophouses will soon vanish along with so much of the rest of Joseph Mitchell's New York. This book will be the abiding testament to that world and the human beings who inhabit it.

Flophouse tells the history of the Bowery, and thus the history of America's urban dispossessed, its lost souls, in a viscerally powerful way–by channeling it through the stories of these individual lives rendered with dignity, humor and good spirit. Flophouse is already being called, rightly, the Let Us Now Praise Famous Men of the urban dispossessed.

About the Authors:
David Isay won a McArthur Fellowship in 2000. He is the Executive Producer of Sound Portraits Productions, an independent production company dedicated to creating radio that brings neglected American voices to a national audience. Isay is a regular contributor to National Public Radio's news-magazines, including "All Things Considered" and "Weekend Edition." Over the past ten years his radio documentary work has won almost every award in broadcasting, including two Peabody Awards, two Robert F. Kennedy Awards, and two Livingston Awards for youung journalists. Isay has also received the Prix Italia (Europe's oldest and most distinguished broadcasting honor), and a Guggenheim Fellowship (1994). His is the author of two previous books. Holding On with Harvey Wang and Our America: Life and Death on the South Side of Chicago.

Stacy Abramson is a producer at Sound Portraits. Her early production credits include, A Letter to Butchie, and Charlie's Story. In 1999 she produced The Jewish Giant, a audio portrait of the life of Eddie Carmel, which aired on All Things Considered. She is currently co-producing a documentary called "Witness to an Execution" a collection of interviews with men and women who have witnesses or participated in many executions in Huntsville Texas. Stacy is also the Education/Outreach coordinator at Sound Portraits, currently spear-heading an educational project, in which Sound Portraits will be teaching juvenile offenders how to record and edit oral histories.

Harvey Wang is a professional photographer living and working in New York City. His work has appeared in numerous magazines and books, including Rock Wives and Holding On. His book, Harvey Wang's New York, is a classic.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375758317
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/28/2001
Edition description: 1ST TRADE
Pages: 176
Product dimensions: 7.62(w) x 8.12(h) x 0.36(d)

About the Author

David Isay is the executive producer of Sound Portraits Productions, an independent production company dedicated to bringing neglected American voices to a national radio audience. His radio documentary work has won almost every award in broadcasting. He lives in New York City.

Stacy Abramson is a producer at Sound Portraits. She lives in New York City.

Harvey Wang is a photographer and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker. His work includes Harvey Wang's New York and Holding On.

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