Access is a way of life for me.
Publications: I am the author of the following 3 books:
· Learning to Live Again; My Triumph Over Cancer, published by Holt, Rinehart & Winston
· The Politics of Food, published by Sierra Club Books and distributed by Random House·
Handbook for Commissioners, Housing and Redevelopment Officials, published by the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials
I have published dozens of articles in my own name for such publications as The New York Times, The New Republic, The International Herald Tribune, and Information Week (http://www.informationweek.com/534/34uwfw.htm) and have contributed to the Time-Life Books series on computers.
Because architects, engineers and the construction industry generally have failed us, we Baby Boomers will have to design the world we live in one human-made building at a time
Joel Solkoff’s Column Vol. V, Number 3
Architectural Column Vol. V, Number 3 by Joel Solkoff, PA, USA
Writing on architects plus their role in the imminent/now-already-here global Baby Boom housing crisis
Architecture scandal rocks New York City
As I resume my column on the bleak last days of December 2019, the AEC community in New York is rocked by a major scandal with international consequences given that the AEC community, most especially in the developed world is global in nature.
The scandal concerns the unveiling of a $42 million plus building of Queens, one of New York’s five boroughs. The architect is Steve Hall, a NY City based firm that boasts of its international projects. The architecture firm and the library itself are being sued in federal court for violations of the Americans with Disability Act. In the public mind, the ADA is a powerful tool, but the reality is that the ADA is something of a paper tiger.
The court could rule that the ADA does not prevent the library and the City of New York from refusing to provide wheel chair access to disabled children to having stories read to them. Only children who can walk are currently being served in this brand new $47million plus building. If the case looses in court, I am convinced Congress will renovate the ADA so it is effective.
Here is the story in a local Queen newspaper:
“Disability rights advocates have filed a class-action lawsuit arguing that the brand new Hunters Point Library in Queens prevents people with mobility issues from “full and equal access” to the branch.
“The lawsuit, filed in Brooklyn federal court by the Center for Independence of the Disabled New York (CIDNY), argues that the Steven Holl Architects-designed library violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). After two decades of planning, the $41 million branch opened in Long Island City this September to glowing architectural reviews, but soon came under fire because sections of the library are inaccessible to wheelchair users and others with limited mobility.
“Disability Rights Advocates is handling the lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiffs and claims that “inaccessible features pervade” the new branch, and calls out three levels with bookshelves, a reading and small-group space in a children’s section, and a rooftop terrace for featuring accessibility barriers that prevent “full and equal enjoyment” of the library.”
Hunters Point Library hit with lawsuit over accessibility issues
The new building, designed by Steven Holl Architects, has been criticized for its lack of accessibility
“A building should not stand out. It should fit in.” —Lewis Mumford, architectural critic, The New Yorker Magazine. (See footnote 1)
2. “Nothing about us without us.” Theme of the international disability rights movement (2)
3. “The Devil is in the details.” Popular English language expression
4. “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”
Theme song: “Time is on my side” by the Rolling Stones
Correction required for you in the AEC community
For the past five years, Joel’s column has been urging architects, engineers and others in the construction industry who are part of the AEC to prepare for the retirement of the Baby Boom generation.
Consider by contrast to those days over 50 years ago, climbing on the outside of Low Memorial Library entering the office of the university president through the epeindow because the door was blocked to us demonstrators.
My current 2019 situion: I am now 72 year, old paraplegic unable to walk or stand by myself for 25 years.
End of aside
“The German student movement (also called 68er-Bewegung, movement of 1968, or soixante-huitards) was a protest movement that took place during the late 1960s in West Germany. It was largely a reaction against the perceived authoritarianism and hypocrisy of the West German government and other Western governments, and the poor living conditions of students. A wave of protests—some violent—swept West Germany, fueled by violent over-reaction by the police and encouraged by contemporary protest movements across the world. Following more than a century of conservatism among German students, the German student movement also marked a significant major shift to the left and radicalization of student activism.”
“Prague Spring and Human rights movement in the Soviet Union
In what became known as Prague Spring, Czechoslovakia’s first secretary Alexander Dubček began a period of reform, which gave way to outright civil protest, only ending when the USSR invaded the country in August. In August the 25, anti-war protesters gathered in Red Square only to be dispersed. It was titled the 1968 Red Square demonstration.”
We at Columbia University’s Morningside Heights campus at West 116th Street in New York City ( two blocks from the Hudson River and 24 blocks from the heart of Harlem) led the world as the initiator of the Spring 1968 anti-War youth movement
The Paris demonstrations were in April. By then I was a veteran demonstration having spent nearly a week living in the office of the President of Columbia University— which had been Columbia University Oresidet Dwight David Eisenhower’s office immediately before he went to his White House Oval Office.
“Beginning in May 1968, a period of civil unrest occurred throughout France, lasting some seven weeks and punctuated by demonstrations, general strikes, and the occupation of universities and factories. At the height of events, which have since become known as May 68, the economy of France came to a halt. The protests reached such a point that political leaders feared civil war or revolution; the national government briefly ceased to function after President Charles de Gaulle secretly fled France to Germany at one point. The protests spurred movements worldwide, with songs, imaginative graffiti, posters, and slogans..”
In the spring of 1968–two months before the Paris demonstrations streamed above—Columbia University became the global leader of the anti-Vietnam War Movement whose international dimensions reached impressive demonstrations not only Paris, but….
Note well. The Paris Revolution was in May. Ours was in April. The Paris student movement ( as was the case with a desperate assortment of student movements—real or pretend—in China, Poland, Cuba ER centers poured money into the Columbia arise fund which had trouble spending the money. I was just hanging around the Strike Committee in Ferris Booth Hall when a Committee member shouted to a group of us, “Does anyone want this airline ticket to Lincoln Nebraska. The plane leaves from LaGuardia at eight tonight.
I had never been to Nebraska. Why not?
Views of New York City parochial and otherwise
See New Yorker cartoon posted immediately above or link here.immediately
It was in the SUMMER of 1978 that the Russians invaded Czechoslovakia. In April of 1968, hundreds of New York City police officers stormed Columbia’s architecturally distinguished McKim Meade and White campus kicking off a wave of demonstrations that tore our country apart.
In was in the summer of 1968 at the Chicago Democratic Convention that keynote speaker Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii condemned me and my fellow Columbia University students for kicking off a wave of demonstrations that threatened our country’s future.
“As soon as I wake up, regardless of the pain, for a moment I smile: I am 19 again at Columbia’s 1968 demonstrations against the War in Vietnam.”
.The medieval European notion: “We sit on the shoulders of giants”applies applies to the student youth movement ( in addition to our brand of selective pacifism— which included but was never distracted from its anti War anti-racism.
Our presence as the dangerous representatives of a major youth movement had as our slogan “Never trust a man of 30.”
The Free Speech Movement (FSM) was a massive, long-lasting student protest which took place during the 1964–65 academic year on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley. The Movement was informally under the central leadership of Berkeley graduate student Mario Savio. Other student leaders include Jack Weinberg, Michael Rossman, George Barton, Brian Turner, Bettina Aptheker, Steve Weissman, Michael Teal, Art Goldberg, Jackie Goldberg, and others.
“With the participation of thousands of students, the Free Speech Movement was the first mass act of civil disobedience on an American college campus in the 1960s. Students insisted that the university administration lift the ban of on-campus political activities and acknowledge the students’ right to free speech and academic freedom. The Free Speech Movement was influenced by the New Left, and was also related to the Civil Rights Movement and the Anti-Vietnam War Movement. To this day, the Movement’s legacy continues to shape American political dialogue both on college campuses and in broader society, impacting on the political views and values of college students and the general public.”
Until the spring of 1968, my generation’s university leader in our Revolution ( we did indeed call it a revolution) was the Free Speech Movement at the University of California in Berkeley—radical chic Berkeley then is still radically chic Berkeley today where automobile and truck access to the university and the community is strictly limited. Architects, engineers and members of the construction (AEC) community who regard themselves as city planners ( although populated in large part by those who do not have a though of their own) study Berkeley then and Berkeley now as the way to go in a building a society where the dangers to living well are institutionalized by freeing us from dependence gas-guzzling vehicles.
[I]n the first place, New York was a metropolis, and perfectly aware that in metropolises it was not “the thing” to arrive early at the opera; and what was or was “not the thing” played a part as important in Newland Archer’s New York as the inscrutable totem terrors that had ruled destinies of his forefathers thousands of years ago.
Wharton was friend and confidante to many gifted intellectuals of her time: Henry James, Sinclair Lewis, Jean Cocteau and André Gide were all her guests at one time or another. Theodore Roosevelt, Bernard Berenson, and Kenneth Clark were valued friends as well. Particularly notable was her meeting with F. Scott Fitzgerald, described by the editors of her letters as “one of the better known failed encounters in the American literary annals”. She spoke fluent French, Italian, and German, and many of her books were published in both French and English.
In 1934 Wharton’s autobiographyA Backward Glance was published. In the view of Judith E. Funston, writing on Edith Wharton in American National Biography,
begins the formal portion of Isaiah which I am scheduled to chant in Hebrew on Saturday September 28th, the day before Rosh Hashana. .
This is the Hebrew:
שׂ֧וֹשׂ אָשִׂ֣ישׂ בַּֽיהוָ֗ה
This is how the first three verses of this Isaiah portion sounds when Sarah Leah, my sister, sang them to help me prepare.
What follows are these verses in Hebrew and English.These are the first verses from the Isaiah haftorah  reading on the day before Rosh Hashana, the Jewish calendar New Year Year .
Later, I will discuss the considerable age of the Hebrew text which by tradition was dictated to Moses on Mount Sinai. This text has been handed down in written form for hundreds of years by and from generation to generation. The original draft contains occasional errors which are not corrected lest the instinct to correct might lead to unwanted consequences. Instead, when a mistake does appear it’s correction appears immediately afterward in brackets. Here is an example from this haftorah.
[Insert example here.]
The Jewish Publication Society is responsible for the English translation. My mother Dr. Miriam Pell Schmerler helped in the Jewish Publication Society’s historic efforts in the late 1950s and early 1960s to produce an historically accurate translation of the Old Testament incorporating modern archeological findings and Biblical scholarship.
When was the last time you exalted? Or even used the word “ exalt?” This is the most beautiful and sophisticated poetry I have ever read in any language. Reading these words causes me to exalt. Learning the musical notes is hard sledding.
How should I begin?
Ancient Eastern wisdom suggests one should begin as one would proceed. My goal here is to invoke in you the sense of beauty and awe the prophet Isaiah invokes in me as I prepare to read/chant it at my new and wonderful synagogue Congregation Ohev Shalom ( lover of peace) here in my new home of Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
In February, I moved here as a refugee from Addison Court, a de facto nursing home in State College. For over 10 years, this was the view from my apartment.
[Editorial note: In the course of producing this posting, I must use multiple computers for reasons Marshall McLuhan might understand. As a result, it is easier for me “publish” this now with the firm intention of returning and completing. Hurry back, now, hear.]
1. Haftorah. Wikipedia:
“The haftarah or (in Ashkenazic pronunciation) haftorah (alt. haphtara, Hebrew: הפטרה; “parting,” “taking leave”), (plural haftoros or haftorot) is a series of selections from the books of Nevi’im (“Prophets”) of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) that is publicly read in synagogue as part of Jewish religious practice.
“The Haftarah reading follows the Torah reading on each Sabbath and on Jewish festivals and fast days. Typically, the haftarah is thematically linked to the parasha (Torah Portion) that precedes it. The haftarah is sung in a chant (known as “trope” in Yiddish or “Cantillation” in English). Related blessings precede and follow the Haftarah reading.”
My reading/chanting from Isaiah follows a reading from Deuteronomy, the last of the five Books of Moses.
I believe in God. Specifically, I believe in the God who appeared to Moses in the form of the burning bush. Moses asks: “Who are you?” God says: “I am who I am.”
As a mystic, not much more can be said about God with this exception. God is not a He nor a She. God is genderless. Given my contrarian nature, I have taken to refer to God as She in no small part because doing so upsets some people. E.g.:
One of my heroes is Edward R. Murrow. The great North-Carolina-born journalist instituted a series of radio programs ( which on NPR continue to this day) on what prominent people believe.
I am not prominent, but I am old (71j and am so dyed-in-the-wool Jewish that what I believe is equivalent at least in my own mind to what Judaism is or ought to be.
I can readily trace the conceit of my own rectitude to my mother who was an impressive woman and educator. Despite a lifetime of self-doubt, Mother never doubted that to be a proper Jew one must do what she insisted upon.
For me, my belief in God is the least import aspect of being Jewish. I would argue it is irrelevant to what truly matters; namely, “If I am for myself alone, what good am I.”
One consequence of my going to Israel to fight in the Six Day War ( where I arrived at Lodd Airport on Day Four) was that despite the Israeli government’s understandable 1967 assertion (that the impending War was the 1948 War of Independence all over again) was my surprise upon being asked by the military official in charge of the airport,” Why are you here? “ My response (after kissing the tarmac and saying the requisite bracha):
“Whatever you want.”
Had it been 1948, I would have been handed a Stenn gun and sent to the Syrian front where the IDF troops scaling the Golan Heights suffered the worst deaths of the War.
Instead, being untrained naive and young, I was sent to a dairy farm in the South where I was badly needed to shovel the manure that had been built up while the farmer I had partially replaced was off in the Sinai reinventing tank warfare.
My Israeli experience as a migrant agricultural worker resulted in my becoming an agricultural policy expert ( of sorts):
Most recently, my “expertise” has resulted in my efforts to affirm Eli Weisel’s insistance that being a Jew ( surrounded as I had been in the 1950s by tattooed survivors of the Holocaust) requires us as Jews to end genocide of whatever form; specifically in Yemen, the Mayanmar region of what used to be Burma, Venezuela ( most especially on the Western border in Colombia) the Sudan, and ….
Here is the book I am most eager to complete and publish:
DEVELOPING A BLUEPRINT FOR FEEDING THE 20 MILLION PEOPLE IN THE WORLD WHO ARE STARVING TO DEATH
Here is a relatively recent expression of what I regard as my primary life’s work:
Fortunately or unfortunately my rotten health ( which is to blame for my not being in shul yesterday) has required me to pay attention to a pressing reality(intervening in what I regard as my primary work).
For the past two years, I have been suffering from one of the many consequences of radiation treatment that cured me of two of the three cancers I have survived and which resulted in my losing the ability to walk and stand 25 years ago.
The radiation has badly damaged my GI tract which has resulted in an inability to swallow, required that I relearn how to eat, and which most recently is manifesting itself in a severe cough. Last week, I was seen by the Digestive Diseases clinic at UPMC and with any luck I will receive surgery in June to put me on the road to recovery.
In February, by impulse or necessity, I moved to Williamsport after over 15 years in State College. Here I am receiving medical treatment unavailable in State College. And here, as a result of Larissa Simon’s efforts, that of Ohev Shalom and you, I have been rescued. Details available.
How I am able to write and write and write despite the failures of my body surprise me. The image that comes to mind is that my mind is in fifth gear; my body in second.
Clearly, it is time to stop this seemingly endless e-mail but I must first mention the following Yiddishkite issues of importance to me:
1. The revival of the Hebrew language. Eliezer ben Yehuda and Bialik, Bialik, Bialik.
2. The understanding that the killing of Jews in Pittsburgh and Southern California makes clear that, as Jabotinsky expressed it, in the Diaspora even the rocks are anti-Semitic.
3. The shameful way in which the elderly and disabled are treated in our society.
4. My reverence for the late Rabbi Heschel, Professor of Mysticism and Theology at the Jewish Theological Seminary who marched with Dr. King as did I.
Tomorrow Manic Monday President Donald J. Trump will be arriving here in Williamsport–center of Pennsylvania’s Alabama–to waste everyone’s time. A special election will take place on Tuesday for the seat vacated by Tom Marino, the worst member of Congress ever to have served in the House
Marino, who initially was elected on a term limitations platform, resigned on January 23rd after being elected to his sixth term in November. Previous to Congress, when Marino had left the office of the U.S Attorney in Philadelphia, the best that could be said of him was that there was not enough evidence to indict him.
President Trump called Marino his god of thunder because of his support. After Marino’s abrupt resignation ( where he announced he was going after the big bucks in the private sector), the local Republican party nominated a fascist member of the Commonwealth legislature.
Fred Keller is running on a support the Second Amendment platform in a town where the Williamsport Sun Gazette published on page six the release of the Muller report (when every respectable newspaper in the world had the story on page one).
Immediately below is tomorrow’s story today: “The event [Trump’s Presidentially visit] is being held for Fred Keller, who is seeking a vacated seat of Tom Marino. His opponent is Democrat Marc Friedenberg.”
Fred Keller, who will certainly win on Tuesday, cannot bait Nancy Pelosi, whom he calls a socialist, into wasting precious money and resources, into having the national Democratic Party into supporting the local Democratic candidate who will certainly lose.
Marc Friedenberg, the candidate of Centre County’s delusional very local Democratic Party, lost in November with 34 percent of the vote against Rep. Marino. [In 2016, Hillary Clinton’s State College headquarters in Centre County was not wheel chair accessible.]
Almost certainly, you have sinned in your lifetime. If you are capable of sitting through the next 55 minutes of a meaningless debate where hell will freeze over before the Democrat wins on Tuesday, your sins will be erased.
One might think the President of the United States has better things to do (e.g. on Friday our Commander in Chief expressed the hope we will not go to war with Iran this week) than clog up Williamsport’s streets and waste the time of an estimated 10,000 admirers . Trump’s local admirers are thrilled that Trump loves the other Alabama which has decided to deprive women of their Constitutional right to an abortion (even in the event of rape.)
Bottom line: Trump would rather make a pointless trip to Williamsport than do his job.
Given this reality or what passes for reality, I suggest that Trump consider using as the text and lyrics of his speech tomorrow evening the following material broadcast on Saturday Night Live.
The two joined-at-the-hip Alabamas; one in the state of Alabama, the other in PA
“Twenty-two years ago, as a Democratic strategist working on a gubernatorial race, [James] Carville described the state as Paoli (a suburb of Philadelphia) and Penn Hills (a suburb of Pittsburgh) with Alabama in between.
One fact that unites the two Alabama’s is that their leading pro-Trump politicians do not care about preserving life after birth, This is not a joke; it is a sin. Consider the infant mortality rate in the US: the highest infant mortality rate in the developed world.
The infant mortality rate consists of the number of babies and children who die within the first year of being born. In the US, six babies of every thousand born die every year. In Spain, the figure is half that.
in Alabama, these 25 state senators who have the power to lower the infant mortality rate ( I can cite specifics on how that can be accomplished) who pretend to be pro-life are responsible for the state’s 9.3 infant mortality. That means that in Alabama, if the state senators who passed the law which would ban legal abortion ( and endanger women’s lives who would use illegal means to do so [ coat hangers]. The New Yorker points to a recent study that regardless of whether an abortion is legal or not, the number of abortions stays constant.
In the Orwellian world of the 25 state senate, pro-life is pro-death in a state where every year three additional babies die each year than do so on average in the US. Pro life my ass.
Here in PA’s Alabama, the county infant mortality rates are shockingly higher than the US national average.
Trump’s support of pro-life means that our President is pro-death.
What follows is a superb video taking you inside the neonatal ward of a hospital where babies die at great cost right before your eyes. The principal cause of infant death is low birthweight. The principal cause of low birthweight is anemia. If every woman in the US received pre- natal care ( even if it were only administered by a nurse or physician’s assistant and if every woman with anemia were treated properly with low-cost iron pills, the number of babies dying in the US would decrease considerably and health care costs would plummet. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pond of cure.
I dare you to watch this video without weeping. I weep every time loudly and out of control.
“Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”
—The Golden Rule 
Join me on October first for at the Lycoming County zCourthouse, Courtroom 3, for an existential demonstration that for the District Attorney in Williamsport PA, justice is a meaningless word .
The issue involved is not on the docket.
Tradition has it that a scoffer challenged Rabbi Hillel the Elder to summarize the essence of the Bible while standing on one foot. Over the years the Hebrew “al regel achot”  translated ( or even inserted into an English sentence in the original— as my maternal grandmother did frequently— means getting to the point.
This posting concerns the efforts of the chief executive officer of the Pajama Factory to discredit me in my efforts to make the Williamsport PA’s offices, residences, and shops wheel chair accessible and otherwise convenient for the elderly in this community to use.
Notice to readers
Coming soon. The deep skinny. Come back now, hear. Don’t touch that dial.
“Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”
—The Golden Rule 
Scene of the crime
“Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”
1. All major religions subscribe to the Golden Rule. As a card carrying member of the Jewish Religion, Rabbi Hillel (circa 110B.C. to 10 A.D.) the greatest of our rabbies, emphasized its importance anecdotally. Legend has it that a scoffer