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A Taste for the Big Apple

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 11 September 2011

On this tenth anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Centre, the veteran writer and broadcaster Irma Kurtz shares her memories of living in New York City in "A Taste For The Big Apple". These include sleeping under newspapers in Washington Square Park and frequenting the famous 'White Horse Tavern' on Hudson Street where Dylan Thomas drank, James Baldwin worked behind the bar and the Beat poets dropped in.

Her final memories on the programme concern the events of 9/11. On that day she was staying with her mother in New Jersey, idly watching the television when in front of their eyes the towers shook and crumbled, billows of smoke unrolled against the sky and they saw the silhouette of a man falling from the top of the towers.

A terrible silence ensued as the traffic in the surrounding streets stopped. When public transport was reinstated she caught the train to Manhattan and found streets full of smoke and dust and poignant messages pinned on public walls: "Have you any information, please...?" Then she saw a man selling t-shirts printed "I survived 9/11" and youths breakdancing in Herald Square and thought that despite the worst that could be thrown at it, New York was still alive and kicking.

The programme includes writing by Allen Ginsberg, Dorothy Parker, Harvey Shapiro and Damon Runyon.

The readers are Kim Cattrall and Peter Marinker and the producer is Ronni Davis.

Producer: Ronni Davis
An Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Music Played

9 items
  • Image for Antonin Dvorak

    Antonin Dvorak Third Movement from Symphony no.9 "From the New World"

    Performer: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

    Symphony No. 9 “From The New World” American Suite, Virgin Classics, 7243 5 62492 2 6

  • Image for Ella Fitzgerald

    Ella Fitzgerald Manhattan

    Composer: Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart

    A Portrait of Ella Fitzgerald, Stylus Music Ltd, B004551PPK

  • Image for Stephen Sondheim

    Stephen Sondheim Another Hundred People

    Performer: Pamela Myers

    Company: A Musical Comedy, Columbia, CK 3550

  • Image for George Gershwin

    George Gershwin Rhapsody In Blue

    Performer: George Gershwin, Paul Whiteman and his Concert Orchestra

    Nipper’s Greatest Hits: The 20s, RCA Records, B000002W36

  • Image for Frank Loesser

    Frank Loesser Fugue for Tinhorns

    Performer: The 1992 Broadway Cast

    Guys and Dolls: 1992 Broadway Cast Recording, RCA, B000003FBL

  • Image for Miles Davis & Bill Evans

    Miles Davis & Bill Evans Blue in Green

    Performer: Miles Davis & Bill Evans

    Kind of Blue, Columbia, B001O1ADFQ

  • Image for Billy Joel

    Billy Joel New York State of Mind

    Performer: Billy Joel

    Billy Joel: Greatest Hits Volume 1, Columbia, B004TOC8HQ

  • Image for John Adams

    John Adams On the Transmigration of Souls

    Performer: New York Philharmonic, New York Choral Artists & the Brooklyn Youth Chorus

    On the Transmigration of Souls, Nonesuch, B0002JNLNM

  • Image for Suzanne Vega

    Suzanne Vega Anniversary

    Performer: Suzanne Vega

    Beauty & Crime, Blue Note Records, B000Q66KOS


    Title: The New Colossus (from The Poems of Emma Lazarus: Volume 1: Narrative; Lyric & Dramatic)
    Author: Emma Lazarus
    Publisher: BiblioBazaar
    ISBN-10: 0554082136

    Title: The Wallpapers Lament (from The Penguin Dorothy Parker)
    Author: Dorothy Parker
    Publisher: Penguin Books ltd
    ISBN-10: 0140044515

    Title: New York Notes (from The Sights Along the Harbor)
    Author: Harvey Shapiro
    Publisher: Weslyan University Press
    ISBN-10: 0819567957

    Title: A Piece of Pie (from Broadway Stories)
    Author: Damon Runyan
    Publisher: Penguin Books
    ISBN-10: 0140230114

    Title: My Mad Self (from Selected Poems 1947 – 1995)
    Author: Allen Ginsburg
    Publisher: Harper Collins
    ISBN-10: 0060164573


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