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Barrios, bloques y basura: Una historia ilustrada y poco convencional de Nueva York

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En 'barrios, bloques y basura', Julia wertz nos lleva a la parte trasera de ese nueva York que crees que conoces. No es el nueva York turístico la estatua de la libertad hace apenas una breve aparición y el Empire State building no sale en absoluto, sino las entrada, los lugares más secretos de esta ciudad que nunca duerme. Con magníficos y divertidos dibujos y cómics, wer En 'barrios, bloques y basura', Julia wertz nos lleva a la parte trasera de ese nueva York que crees que conoces. No es el nueva York turístico la estatua de la libertad hace apenas una breve aparición y el Empire State building no sale en absoluto, sino las entrada, los lugares más secretos de esta ciudad que nunca duerme. Con magníficos y divertidos dibujos y cómics, wertz nos agasaja con paisajes urbanos en los que descubrimos el «antes y el después» de muchos de sus rincones más seductores. Desde bares, panaderías y libretas hasta carritos de comida, limpiadores de calles y apartamentos minúsculos o grandiosos, 'barrios, bloques y basura' Es un viaje salvaje en un taxi-máquina del tiempo desde la ciudad actual hasta la de antaño.


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En 'barrios, bloques y basura', Julia wertz nos lleva a la parte trasera de ese nueva York que crees que conoces. No es el nueva York turístico la estatua de la libertad hace apenas una breve aparición y el Empire State building no sale en absoluto, sino las entrada, los lugares más secretos de esta ciudad que nunca duerme. Con magníficos y divertidos dibujos y cómics, wer En 'barrios, bloques y basura', Julia wertz nos lleva a la parte trasera de ese nueva York que crees que conoces. No es el nueva York turístico la estatua de la libertad hace apenas una breve aparición y el Empire State building no sale en absoluto, sino las entrada, los lugares más secretos de esta ciudad que nunca duerme. Con magníficos y divertidos dibujos y cómics, wertz nos agasaja con paisajes urbanos en los que descubrimos el «antes y el después» de muchos de sus rincones más seductores. Desde bares, panaderías y libretas hasta carritos de comida, limpiadores de calles y apartamentos minúsculos o grandiosos, 'barrios, bloques y basura' Es un viaje salvaje en un taxi-máquina del tiempo desde la ciudad actual hasta la de antaño.

30 review for Barrios, bloques y basura: Una historia ilustrada y poco convencional de Nueva York

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dave Schaafsma

    Julia Wertz, the maker of endlessly self-deprecating and always wryly amusing diary comics turns to this an illustrated love letter to the New York she called him for several years. I love her diary comics, but this is a serious departure into a view of New York seen through its buildings, storefronts, signage. Not a tourist’s guide, but a New Yorker’s passionate goodbye to her city, as she moves back to California. Wow, it is impressive to look at! This is not a fun story, though there are comi Julia Wertz, the maker of endlessly self-deprecating and always wryly amusing diary comics turns to this an illustrated love letter to the New York she called him for several years. I love her diary comics, but this is a serious departure into a view of New York seen through its buildings, storefronts, signage. Not a tourist’s guide, but a New Yorker’s passionate goodbye to her city, as she moves back to California. Wow, it is impressive to look at! This is not a fun story, though there are comics in it sometimes. Mainly it is a book of buildings with little commentary. The diary comics are all her, of course; this huge ambitious book is about her City. You want to read other books that are love letters to cities or reveling in architecture? Here’s a list, and I have reviews of all of them and more in this category: Cheap Novelties: The Pleasure of Urban Decay, Ben Katchor (a good pairing with Wertz’s book) Building Stories, Chris Ware (though he has many about or based in Chicago). Here, Richard McGuire A new one I have yet to read: Going Into Town: A Love Letter to New York, Roz Chast Also: 750 Years of Paris, Vincent Mahe The End of Summer, Tillie Walden Cleveland, Harvey Pekar The Bind, William Goldsmith See the City: The Journey of Manhattan Unfurled, Matteo Pericoli

  2. 5 out of 5

    Terri

    “You haven’t lived until you died in New York.” - Alexander Woollcott A fun, quirky book, a love letter from this charming 28-year-old graphic novelist to New York City. You can't help falling in love with Julia Wertz and the way she looks at the world especially her new city. She moved to NYC from San Francisco several years ago and is obviously quite taken with the place. It seems she wants us to see just how much she is besotted. This is a young fresh-eyed history of NYC. Julia Wertz, who is al “You haven’t lived until you died in New York.” - Alexander Woollcott A fun, quirky book, a love letter from this charming 28-year-old graphic novelist to New York City. You can't help falling in love with Julia Wertz and the way she looks at the world especially her new city. She moved to NYC from San Francisco several years ago and is obviously quite taken with the place. It seems she wants us to see just how much she is besotted. This is a young fresh-eyed history of NYC. Julia Wertz, who is also an amateur historian and avid urban explorer began writing comics about NYC history for The New Yorker. She draws much of her humor from the underbelly of New York City's neighborhoods ; the funky bars, Jewish bakeries, cluttered bookstores, theaters and deserted buildings in Staten Island. Born in the Bay Area, Julia got into comics during her last year of college when she was diagnosed with Lupus. Being sick at home, she started reading pages of comics and it seemed to make sense to her. Inspired, she tried creating her own and found her calling. Wertz launched her website in 2005 and is the author/illustrator of the autobiographical graphic novels “The Fart Party vol 1 and vol 2”, “Drinking at the Movies,” “The Infinite Wait and Other Stories” and “Museum of Mistakes: The Fart Party Omnibus.” Four wonderful stars.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Julie Ehlers

    I was a rather unlikely reader of Tenements, Towers & Trash, in the sense that I liked but did not love Julia Wertz's Drinking at the Movies and I'm generally not that interested in New York City (sorry, New Yorkers!). But my interest was piqued enough to take this out of the library, and I'm really glad I did—the art was BEAUTIFUL, and a lot of the history was so interesting. For some reason I particularly loved the section that focused on different types of apartments. The depictions of variou I was a rather unlikely reader of Tenements, Towers & Trash, in the sense that I liked but did not love Julia Wertz's Drinking at the Movies and I'm generally not that interested in New York City (sorry, New Yorkers!). But my interest was piqued enough to take this out of the library, and I'm really glad I did—the art was BEAUTIFUL, and a lot of the history was so interesting. For some reason I particularly loved the section that focused on different types of apartments. The depictions of various blocks, decades ago contrasted with the present day, were also very striking. Of course I also loved the drawings of, and stories about, various independent bookstores. Not everything was so fascinating—I didn't particularly care to hear about Dead Horse Bay or all of the areas that have become disgusting trash heaps, and I also thought Wertz came across as a bit hipper-than-thou (which was my major issue with Drinking at the Movies as well). Overall, though, I really learned a lot and the pages just flew by. Recommended!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Garden

    On my deathbed I will say, “I’m so glad Julia Wertz drew a thousand tiny windows.” This book is perfect.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    This was just the most awesome thing. The most "me" book to ever exist, I think. Such a great showpiece to have on display and flip through, but 100% worth taking the time to read and savor. The cityscapes are gorgeous, and the random facts and behind-the-scenes info about NYC is just too good to pass up. I want to get up, go out, and walk forever around the city to take it all in. I kept flagging things to check out (the Spite Triangle, all the Ray's Pizzas, Ideal Hosiery, weirdly, the 15-mile This was just the most awesome thing. The most "me" book to ever exist, I think. Such a great showpiece to have on display and flip through, but 100% worth taking the time to read and savor. The cityscapes are gorgeous, and the random facts and behind-the-scenes info about NYC is just too good to pass up. I want to get up, go out, and walk forever around the city to take it all in. I kept flagging things to check out (the Spite Triangle, all the Ray's Pizzas, Ideal Hosiery, weirdly, the 15-mile walk -- CHALLENGE ACCEPTED, the excellent list of books and resources at the end, and SO many more). Julia Wertz's books were some of the first "real" NYC stories I read. Stories about the beauty and mess and the grossness and the misery and the ebullience. The Julia stories interspersed here are so true to her original work and energy, which is a really awesome and welcome interlude in the cityscapes and factoid sections. I remember reading about when Julia was kicked out of her apartment, and I felt a strange sort of sadness, like this mythological place had been destroyed. This book is a great tribute to Julia's time in NYC, and a great tribute to the greatest city. A worthy purchase for locals, dreamers, and adventure-seekers.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Oriana

    My god this book is so splendid. I love Julia Wertz, and I love Julia Wertz's New York, and it was just so marvelous meandering quirkily through it with her. What a treasure. Here's what we ate at book club! Bodega eggcreams, plantain chips, homemade cinnamon rolls, spinach-artichoke dip, and on and on. My god this book is so splendid. I love Julia Wertz, and I love Julia Wertz's New York, and it was just so marvelous meandering quirkily through it with her. What a treasure. Here's what we ate at book club! Bodega eggcreams, plantain chips, homemade cinnamon rolls, spinach-artichoke dip, and on and on.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin M

    Julia Wertz has concocted a book that's irresistible if you’re into New York City and its lore, old and new. Written from the point of view of someone who moved to the city as a young adult, fell in love with it, and spent a lot of time exploring its odd corners and its ghosts, Tenements, Towers & Trash is personal, discursive, and opinionated, all of which are qualities in its favor. Told through prose and detailed black-and-white drawings. the book is stuffed with then-and-now streetscapes; co Julia Wertz has concocted a book that's irresistible if you’re into New York City and its lore, old and new. Written from the point of view of someone who moved to the city as a young adult, fell in love with it, and spent a lot of time exploring its odd corners and its ghosts, Tenements, Towers & Trash is personal, discursive, and opinionated, all of which are qualities in its favor. Told through prose and detailed black-and-white drawings. the book is stuffed with then-and-now streetscapes; collections of of-a-kind establishments past and present (apothecaries, bakeries, theaters, food carts, bars, and indie bookstores, to name but a few) that figure in New Yorkers' daily lives; and with deeper explorations of people, places, and things both well known and not that make up the fabric of the city, from a nineteenth-century abortionist, graveyards for boats and once-banned pinball machines, trash collecting, and the subway, to the Village Voice and recent institution Kim's Video . Even as Wertz celebrates the old architecture that still stands and the historic businesses that endure, her then-and-now illustrations show the city New York is becoming, beyond the inevitable churn of time: The familiar shift from independent neighborhood businesses to chain drugstores and Verizon outlets; the buildings torn down and replaced by luxury apartments for the well-heeled, gentrification pushing longtime, economically and ethnically diverse residents out of their neighborhoods. This can be depressing (if not exactly new information to those who’ve followed the news in recent years), but these portraits sit alongside others that show farther-flung neighborhoods populated by an array of small businesses serving the needs of still-diverse communities. Like Julia Wertz, I’m a Northern California native who moved to New York City in my mid 20s and lived there for a decade, though I left around the time she arrived. So Tenements, Towers & Trash brought with it a certain amount of nostalgia for me. It entertained me equally with history I was familiar with and that which was new to me; it evoked memory with illustrations of places I’d walked by hundreds of times and businesses I’ve patronized, and it took me to many neighborhoods and corners of the city where I’d never ventured, and without even showing me people frequently gave me a sense of who once lived and now lives there. Wertz’s project isn’t meant to give a comprehensive look at the city; as she explains, she wrote a book about things that interested her as she explored her adopted home. The breadth of what she does cover is wide, and often enough fascinating. The book’s large size (think coffee-table dimensions), quality paper, and sewn binding make it a pleasure to read, giving space for the reader to explore the detail and density of the illustrations and letting the occasional text-heavy pages breathe.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Peter Derk

    You know that piece of shit, Here, that everyone is always talking about? THIS is the book, people. It presents a similar idea in a way that's more entertaining, the art is better, and it's so much warmer. There's a history of NYC in here, so there are pages of storefronts and streets as they appeared in the 20's and as they appear now, which is the Here-like part. Then there are some sketches of the interiors of some different dwellings in NYC. Then there are some more personal things, like Wert You know that piece of shit, Here, that everyone is always talking about? THIS is the book, people. It presents a similar idea in a way that's more entertaining, the art is better, and it's so much warmer. There's a history of NYC in here, so there are pages of storefronts and streets as they appeared in the 20's and as they appear now, which is the Here-like part. Then there are some sketches of the interiors of some different dwellings in NYC. Then there are some more personal things, like Wertz's favorite bookstores and a favorite walking route. Why is this better than Here? For starters, the title. Here? That's like IT. It's so hard to talk about something with a one-word title like Here. Here has no personality. It's like an unobtrusive observer. I get the idea, but it's just so cold and articficial feeling. It's a little like...I know this shit is made up, so why am I watching it? Who is the person behind the idea of putting all the same shit in this one spot? TTT (see, the name can be shortened!) has personality. And the author knows when to step in and provide some personality and when to step back and let the shit speak for itself. The art in TTT is never flat. You've got these detailed, Chris-Ware-esque architectural drawings, and you've got these...I guess Chris Ware also draws cartoon-y characters, but whatever. The art is beautiful and intricate in places and cartoon-y and expressive in others. Here is just one style, all very flat. There's big stuff, like Fresh Kills on Staten Island, and there's small stuff, like the use of pneumatic tubes in Manhattan. The mixture is great and gives the book a variety of textures, big and small. Sometimes I hate books about NYC. Some people have a little bit too much of a boner for the place where they live. It's like they wrote a book with a sub-agenda of proving that NYC is the greatest place in the world, which is like, "WOW, big thesis there! Maybe next you'll do something SUPER brave and write about how L.A. is weird!" TTT is pretty fair. I think there's a love for NYC, and I think there's also a recognition that some of the things that happen in NYC are stupid. And that the city is so fucking expensive. So, so fucking expensive. I think my big pet peeve from New York people is complaints about tourism. I mean...if you'd lived there since 1965, I guess? But how long has it been since NYC has been a HUGE tourist destination? Do you really think something like Broadway can exist if it's just like a fun, local thing? If there weren't a shitload of people coming from out of town? I'd be fucking annoyed too, believe me, I get annoyed when the population in my city increases somewhat when the college is back in session. But it's not like, "Fucking college students make this place suck." It's just like, "I wish there were less people around when I really need to get somewhere." Anyway, rant over. You can read this one and enjoy it without having to get an I heart NY tattoo on your bicep.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Raina

    The story around the edges of this book is melancholy in tone. In the foreword, Wertz reveals that after being illegally evicted from her apartment, she was forced to leave NYC and move in with family on the west coast. She finished this book in the years immediately after leaving the city. That sadness and nostalgia colors the book. It's an impressive enterprise. Large size, many pages... The content alternates between Then & Now-style depictions of specific blocks or businesses in NYC, and sho The story around the edges of this book is melancholy in tone. In the foreword, Wertz reveals that after being illegally evicted from her apartment, she was forced to leave NYC and move in with family on the west coast. She finished this book in the years immediately after leaving the city. That sadness and nostalgia colors the book. It's an impressive enterprise. Large size, many pages... The content alternates between Then & Now-style depictions of specific blocks or businesses in NYC, and short nonfiction pieces about various people, events, and inventions. I like obscure history, and I really like Wertz' autobiographical work, so I was into it. Read with: Ramshackle by Allison McCreesh for a serious sense of place Photobooth: A Biography for the aesthetic and niche historical stuff Tokyo on Foot for the illustrated city idea Syncopated: An Anthology of Nonfiction Picto-Essays for short-form NF goodness

  10. 5 out of 5

    Keith Schnell

    The world needs more books, and especially more illustrated / graphic books, like Tenements, Towers & Trash, because there really isn't anything that I can think of that's quite like this. Probably the closest thing would be Harvey Pekar's Cleveland, like this essentially a love letter from the author to a city that became a muse. But Pekar was handicapped by the fact that his readers needed a lot more of the basic history of his more provincial city in order to understand why it is the way it i The world needs more books, and especially more illustrated / graphic books, like Tenements, Towers & Trash, because there really isn't anything that I can think of that's quite like this. Probably the closest thing would be Harvey Pekar's Cleveland, like this essentially a love letter from the author to a city that became a muse. But Pekar was handicapped by the fact that his readers needed a lot more of the basic history of his more provincial city in order to understand why it is the way it is, leaving less space for him to weave his own life into the narrative or to tell awesome Cleveland stories. Fortunately for Julia Wertz, New York needs no introduction, so she can focus on what she does best: stunningly detailed streetscape illustrations combined with obscure, hilarious stories and anecdotes full of local history and trivia, told through the lens of her own experience as an artist in the City. Some of the best material here -- the long stories about the Pinball Prohibition and the World's Fair -- were previously published in The New Yorker, but as is always the case that's never an excuse not to read them again; there are also new stories along the same lines. The fascinating streetscapes were mostly, as far as I can tell, never before published, and I spent hours poring over them in detail, looking at the storefronts of different eras and trying to imagine living in that world, which was clearly the whole point of the book and is the real reason to pick it up.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth A

    Most of us tend to read the usual travel guides when we visit a new (or old) place, but there is something really wonderful about micro histories that focus on things that tourists, or even locals for that matter, don't read about or see. This large and heavy book is a lovely illustrated micro history of New York City. There are pages of and pages of drawings of buildings and street corners then and now. There are quirky bits of history and comics woven in throughout. Sure, there are some tourist Most of us tend to read the usual travel guides when we visit a new (or old) place, but there is something really wonderful about micro histories that focus on things that tourists, or even locals for that matter, don't read about or see. This large and heavy book is a lovely illustrated micro history of New York City. There are pages of and pages of drawings of buildings and street corners then and now. There are quirky bits of history and comics woven in throughout. Sure, there are some touristy spots thrown in, but this is not your usual tourist guide to a city. You get a sense of the history, of the changes in architecture over the years, and the transience of it all. A love letter to the city that was the author's home for about ten years. A wonderful book for new and long time fans of NYC.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Meh.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Peter Landau

    TENEMENTS, TOWERS & TRASH: AN UNCONVENTIONAL ILLUSTRARTED HISTORY OF NEW YORK CITY by Julia Wertz opens with an E.B. White quote: “There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who wa TENEMENTS, TOWERS & TRASH: AN UNCONVENTIONAL ILLUSTRARTED HISTORY OF NEW YORK CITY by Julia Wertz opens with an E.B. White quote: “There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something....Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion.” I disagree. It’s not passion, but mythology that those coming to New York City bring, which all but obliterates the reality of the place. Julia Wertz isn’t a native New Yorker, but she comes to town with a wide-eyed appreciation of the dirt behind the iconic arclights that blind one to the real city. It’s history, not the narcotic of New York City’s iconic pull that draws her. And she draws out the past still present, even when its been razed to make way for chain stores. With a mix of comics and archeticual drawings, she explores the ephemera of New York City, the history it sweeps aways, the garage it buries. It’s a beautiful and funny book, full of great stories and detailed images of streets past and present. Wertz was priced out of her beloved metropolis and wants to return, but her book shows how New York City changes, and recently those changes are not good. There’s still remenants of the past and even hope for the future, but New York City has entered a new era, one in which it no longer leads, but follows. It looks more like a suburb, or maybe all the suburbs stacked on top of one another, unable to wake up from a dream of its own making. I love New York. I love Wertz’s book. If only New York loved people like Wertz and gave them a space, even a fucking outer-borough studio, in which to make their art, then, maybe, the creative capital of the city wouldn’t be in default, like New York City nearly was back when in the 1970s, when it was cheap and artists could stake a claim.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Maggie Gordon

    Tenements, Towers and Trash is an illustrated art book of New York. You get some history and a few comics, but the real beauty of this book is the in-depth drawings of New York, both past and present. It's a fascinating way to look at the city through the details and forgotten bits rather than just the main tourist spots. I learned a lot about the city and where I will probably want to visit when I finally go, and I enjoyed the little historical stories (and accompanying humour!) along the way. Tenements, Towers and Trash is an illustrated art book of New York. You get some history and a few comics, but the real beauty of this book is the in-depth drawings of New York, both past and present. It's a fascinating way to look at the city through the details and forgotten bits rather than just the main tourist spots. I learned a lot about the city and where I will probably want to visit when I finally go, and I enjoyed the little historical stories (and accompanying humour!) along the way.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Virginia Su

    So. good. Whenever people ask me why I love this dirty, rat-infested city, I always find it difficult to put into precise words. This book has so beautifully captured the unique essence and personality of NYC that I struggle to explain. Many pages contain no words or phrases but I can still understand what the author is trying to convey. I love it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    The history is mostly good, and its well written, and the subject matter is interesting, but the comparison pieces - where the author does side by side illustrations of a particular street from two different eras - are a subject matter that works much better in a photographic format. Drawings, however technically skilled, don't have the captured weight of history behind them and seem to blend together. The history is mostly good, and its well written, and the subject matter is interesting, but the comparison pieces - where the author does side by side illustrations of a particular street from two different eras - are a subject matter that works much better in a photographic format. Drawings, however technically skilled, don't have the captured weight of history behind them and seem to blend together.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Juliana

    I saw this huge hardcover graphic novel in the window of a local comic shop and after the owner pulled it down for me I had to have it. Did you love Richard Scarry books as a child? Walking? Urban exploration? Old and new architecture? Then and now photography? Then you will also want this illustrated book. Julia Wertz has illustrated the buildings and street corners of New York, the subway stations, the pizza parlors, tenements, and along the way tells you stories about her urban exploration and I saw this huge hardcover graphic novel in the window of a local comic shop and after the owner pulled it down for me I had to have it. Did you love Richard Scarry books as a child? Walking? Urban exploration? Old and new architecture? Then and now photography? Then you will also want this illustrated book. Julia Wertz has illustrated the buildings and street corners of New York, the subway stations, the pizza parlors, tenements, and along the way tells you stories about her urban exploration and the history of New York.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Shannan

    Great find by my partner in crime! Loved paging through this one, especially as I’m gearing up for a trip to NYC in a couple of weeks.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Serene

    Wertz's taste for the delightfully mundane and obscured artifacts of NYC grabbed my attention and filled up a new list of things I want to check out on my next trip. She gracefully weaves odes of beautiful buildings and blocks, stories about terrible people, and personal narrative about her decade in Brooklyn. Also, as a long-time fan of hers, it's cool to see how her style has matured in many ways, but she still hasn't lost her misanthropic and sarcastic sense of humor. Wertz's taste for the delightfully mundane and obscured artifacts of NYC grabbed my attention and filled up a new list of things I want to check out on my next trip. She gracefully weaves odes of beautiful buildings and blocks, stories about terrible people, and personal narrative about her decade in Brooklyn. Also, as a long-time fan of hers, it's cool to see how her style has matured in many ways, but she still hasn't lost her misanthropic and sarcastic sense of humor.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Fascinating deep dive into a wonderful view of NYC epicly and masterfully rendered with impressive care.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Blue

    A great, rambling book with intricate and meticulous drawings of insides and outsides of buildings, little histories of things like trash, the subway system, Kim's Video, "then and now" pictures of blocks in all five boroughs, and collections of places like bakeries, bars, and bookstores. Word in Greenpoint is also my favorite indie bookstore in all of NYC! I was recently at the new park being built on trash in Staten Island (though not open to public, NYC Audubon Society is awesome and they hav A great, rambling book with intricate and meticulous drawings of insides and outsides of buildings, little histories of things like trash, the subway system, Kim's Video, "then and now" pictures of blocks in all five boroughs, and collections of places like bakeries, bars, and bookstores. Word in Greenpoint is also my favorite indie bookstore in all of NYC! I was recently at the new park being built on trash in Staten Island (though not open to public, NYC Audubon Society is awesome and they have a local Staten Islander who leads birding trips out there; we saw 47 types of birds, including a few rare ones, and many other critters, like a huge stag and a scared snake). I loved Kim's Video, the mecca of hard-to-find, foreign and art house DVDs and VHSs before the age of internet shopping and Amazon. And, like Wertz, I'd love to visit the Brother Islands (though probably not a healthy choice). I'd have liked to see Wertz's take on Governor's Island, it's new rubble humps and abandoned cinema, Y (pool and all), and officers houses, the hammocks and fancy food trucks, and trapeze stuff, Billion Oysters Project, the goats, the piles of compost, and of course, a huge colony of red-winged black birds. And how about the public bath houses; especially because the last one to close in Brooklyn (1960, I think?) was in Wertz's neighborhood, on Huron Street in Greenpoint. While Wertz just shows most of the stuff, when she does write, she comes across with strong opinions, that are at once funny and, well, judgmental. She is very good at passing judgement, actually. Though she seems to point out that New Yorkers hate change, she herself is overly critical of newer buildings and architecture, preferring the old, decrepit, and weird remnants of the past. Like most New Yorkers I have talked to about the trash (Dead Horse Bay and Staten Island), she seems not at all curious of just where the trash is now going (The US pays many "developing" countries to take its trash and bury it in their landfills, like countries in Africa...) I learned some new things and had a lot of fun reading Tenements. It will be a valuable addition to my library! Recommended for anyone who likes weird beaches, dirty pigeons, Ray's Pizza, secret entrances, serial killers, tokens, keys, and hot dogs.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    Julia Wertz’s Tenements, Towers & Trash is the kind of book that makes you appreciate libraries. It’s a book full of comic-style illustrations, but the most comical thing about it, if you ask me, is that someone would pay $30 for it. It’s really bad for three reasons: its feint to history, its curation of trivial subjects, and its grounding in an aged-out hipster view of the world. In no sense is the book a work of history, unconventional or not, even if we were to define ‘history’ as a sixth gra Julia Wertz’s Tenements, Towers & Trash is the kind of book that makes you appreciate libraries. It’s a book full of comic-style illustrations, but the most comical thing about it, if you ask me, is that someone would pay $30 for it. It’s really bad for three reasons: its feint to history, its curation of trivial subjects, and its grounding in an aged-out hipster view of the world. In no sense is the book a work of history, unconventional or not, even if we were to define ‘history’ as a sixth grader might. Much of Wertz’s material appears to be sourced from internet websites and online historical photographs; she even invites her “kind readers” to let her know of errors that arise from “the unreliable nature of the internet.” Though she claims to have consulted a few mafia books, there’s no indication whatsoever that she’s done any serious archival work. If not history, then, what exactly is this book? Think Atlas Obscura—a website that recently headlined: “Unboxing a Roly-Poly the Size of Your Head”—but with actual wasted ink. Lots of it. In fact, if there’s anything to admire about Wertz’s book it’s the sheer determination that it must have taken to see such a pointless project through to its bitter end. Wertz herself admits it wasn’t easy. In a sob story of a prefatory letter she writes, “it was an absolute f#@king torture drawing and writing” the book from the attic above her mom’s garage in California. For someone in her mid-30s whose comics appear in The New Yorker, it’s a surprising admission. Let’s (generously) assume the so-called history was an invention of the marketeers needing to sell the book and turn our attention to its entertainment value. I admit to checking it out (quick shout out to the amazing New York City Public Library) after having seen one of Wertz’s detailed illustrations posted online. Her art, full of patchwork bricks, old-timey signage, and unpeopled sidewalks, presents an alluringly sanitized picture of the Big Apple, as if the ghost of Alice, of Brady Bunch fame, haunts its streets. If any single one of Wertz’s drawings can be called alluring, hundreds of them taken together can only be called numbing. The detail tires the eye until suddenly the emptiness of the images takes shape as a grand metaphor for the emptiness of the project as a whole. It’s an emptiness that Wertz tries valiantly to fill with kitsch and quirk, from discarded (“ugly as f#@k”) lampposts to a typology of street sweepers to “New York City hotel keys of yore.” Imagine a dimly-lit curio cabinet in the corner of a large drafty pre-war room otherwise devoid of furnishings. The problem with Wertz’s sampling of subjects is not that some of them are uninteresting. Her fixation on a one-time prohibition of pinball machines is mildly amusing and I did learn a thing or two about the failure that was 1964-65 World’s Fair in Queens. The problem is that the majority of her topics are completely banal. The “Made in New York” section is one of the worst offenders. And then there’s the question of what she's left out. Why not illustrate the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, an architectural wonder with an interesting history if ever there were one? Or Pier Luigi Nervi’s George Washington Bridge Bus Station? Or the Kingsbridge Armory? One suspects that the latter didn’t make the cut because it’s in the Bronx. The borough, despite the fact that it is home to one out of every six New Yorkers, gets exactly four mentions in the entire book, and only three illustrated spreads, all tucked neatly away near the end of the book where’s it’s clear Wertz was trying to fill space. Does she have something against the Bronx, I wonder. I suspect the answer is no and that the real reason for the Bronx’s neglect is that Wertz’s world view is deeply shaped by hipster values. And this brings us to the final, and most regrettable, limitation of her book. You’ll doubtless recall Saul Steinberg’s New Yorker cover from four decades ago, “View of the World from Ninth Avenue,” which parodies the way in which the parochial denizens of New York City see the rest of the country. If you were to draw its analog today, depicting the parochial hipster view of New York City itself from Greenpoint Avenue, you’d see from left to right brownstone Brooklyn, the towers of Lower Manhattan and their maligned younger siblings in Midtown, a few trees in Central Park, and a little bit of the ethnic salad that is Queens. If the hipster is constrained geographically, she’s also constrained in her ideologically tidy worldview. Wertz, who doesn’t seem to have made the successful transition from hipster to yuppie, embodies all the worst stereotypes. There’s the hipster disdain for mass-appeal products as expressed in her enmity for the flash-in-the-pan sensation that was the Cronut in 2013. There’s the glorification of cultural touchstones that put a figurative finger in the face of ‘The Man’, mafioso and drugs are ‘edgy’ and ‘hip’. This is why we get three full pages on Ray’s Pizza. Then there’s her fascination with the buildings that once housed cinemas. Certainly there are a few worth depicting, but a focus on their facades only misses what is often most grand about them, their interiors. If there were no interiors illustrated in the book, maybe we could understand the negligence. The interiors we do see, however, reflect another aspect of hipster existence, the longing for a better flat. As such, Wertz takes us on a tour of some of the most elegant and storied apartments in the city, as well as a handful of its less exalted ones. The apartment tour would be more interesting were not so much of it couched in a pathetic stance of real estate envy. What interests me most about the figure of the hipster in popular urban culture, though, is how she manages to elude the highly applicable tag ‘reactionary’. Wertz playing demographer writes, “By the 2000’s, New York City was overpopulated and showed no signs of slowing growth.” She then goes on to admonish nefarious real estate agents for pulling the wool over the eyes of the apartment buying public by trying to sell “micro-unit” condos. Perhaps I’m mistaken, but I tend to give credit to anyone who’s about to spend several hundred thousand dollars on living space to know their own interests, and to not assume they are being taken. Wertz doesn’t. In her surety that the real estate industry is bad she fails to acknowledge that, from an environmental perspective alone, micro-units are universally positive in that they allow people to live closer to their workplace and use less energy. Wertz gives no indication that she’s able to think critically and one can only assume that, as a California girl, she holds true to the values of space as status, sprawl as safety that define most of the country, but not New York itself. Her insistence that New York City is overpopulated reveals the mind of a provincial who, once she has a place of her own, will likely be the first to raise in menace the NIMBY pitchfork of resistance to change. If Tenements, Towers & Trash is a paean to New York City, it’s a crude one. It’s the work of an author who, at least in her writing, has adopted wholesale the persona of the angsty young hipster blind to her own privilege. In many respects she is the embodiment of upper middle-class white privilege, someone who raises her voice in supposed sympathy to progressive values but then acts in a way entirely commensurate with the social status that she’s inherited. What makes it most sad, though, to read and look at her work is that we’re left with the impression that she’s really unhappy with her lot in life. There’s an emptiness in the hipster view of the world that’s precisely reflected in Wertz’s empty, unthoughtful, $30 pile of obscura. (C). Jeffrey L. Otto, October 4, 2018

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kristin MB

    Fairly repetative and oscilating between being fascinating, annoying, and dull. I appreciated the history lessons that were more in depth. The "then and now" features were interesting at first, and may be interesting in small doses, but became painful when read in larger ones. I also often found the author's side commentary to be adolescent and grating at times. I imagine these are more personal preference and others would love both the commentary and the whole of the contents of this book. Also Fairly repetative and oscilating between being fascinating, annoying, and dull. I appreciated the history lessons that were more in depth. The "then and now" features were interesting at first, and may be interesting in small doses, but became painful when read in larger ones. I also often found the author's side commentary to be adolescent and grating at times. I imagine these are more personal preference and others would love both the commentary and the whole of the contents of this book. Also, if I were a resident or former resident of NYC, I think I would have enjoyed it much more. As I am not, I often found it losing my interest. I believe this book was quite well done, and would recommend it to people who share in the author's preferences. It just wasn't for me.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

    Brilliant renderings of NYC then and now. Frequently hilarious. Endlessly fascinating. It served as a reminder of how much I love that city and why it will always be an intriguing place of discovery. Recommended to anyone who continually falls in love with cities. I can't wait to check out some new (to me) spots. Pro-tip: Don't read the digital version. The hardcover is gigantic, impossible to tote around, and invites readers to stain its pristine pages, but you absolutely can't appreciate the sc Brilliant renderings of NYC then and now. Frequently hilarious. Endlessly fascinating. It served as a reminder of how much I love that city and why it will always be an intriguing place of discovery. Recommended to anyone who continually falls in love with cities. I can't wait to check out some new (to me) spots. Pro-tip: Don't read the digital version. The hardcover is gigantic, impossible to tote around, and invites readers to stain its pristine pages, but you absolutely can't appreciate the scope otherwise.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    This is a fascinating take on New York City history, in comic form. Which I know sounds crazy, but I swear it's actually really good! I learned a lot of interesting facts by reading this and I appreciate the detailed, beautiful illustrations. Just be warned that this is kind of a long read. I don't think you necessarily have to have read anything else by Julia Wertz to enjoy this. This is a fascinating take on New York City history, in comic form. Which I know sounds crazy, but I swear it's actually really good! I learned a lot of interesting facts by reading this and I appreciate the detailed, beautiful illustrations. Just be warned that this is kind of a long read. I don't think you necessarily have to have read anything else by Julia Wertz to enjoy this.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Hirsch

    I was a fan of comics when I was younger (mostly the bloody ones put out by the "Dark Horse" imprint) and there was a time when I was somewhat interested in the "comix" that proliferated in the 60s (especially those drawn by R. Crumb), and I even read some classics by the likes of Will Eisner and Basil Wolverton. I didn't know what to expect going into this collection (aside from what the title and cover make obvious) but I found myself thoroughly pleased and am glad I stumbled onto this eye-catc I was a fan of comics when I was younger (mostly the bloody ones put out by the "Dark Horse" imprint) and there was a time when I was somewhat interested in the "comix" that proliferated in the 60s (especially those drawn by R. Crumb), and I even read some classics by the likes of Will Eisner and Basil Wolverton. I didn't know what to expect going into this collection (aside from what the title and cover make obvious) but I found myself thoroughly pleased and am glad I stumbled onto this eye-catching book where it was sitting on the shelf. Ms. Wertz takes the reader on a guided tour of New York, contrasting storefronts and tenements of the past with the glass-skinned condos and characterless big box stores of the present; she never belabors her point or adopts a hectoring tone about gentrification, everyone's go-to bugbear when it comes to the development of cities. She merely lets the (well-drawn) images speak for themselves, and lets the reader make their own conclusions. This isn't to say, though, that she doesn't inject her personality, her opinion, and her biography into the work, but the comics don't have that overly-precious indie/solipsistic quality that so many artists have adopted in a post- "Ghost World" landscape. Wertz is humorous, tough, intelligent, and above all (and most importantly) infinitely curious about her adopted home of New York, down to the smallest crack in a brownstone cornice or what kind of copper was used on a tap in an old speakeasy. The whole thing comes off as a labor of love that, while painstaking, isn't alienating or exhaustive. It takes a lot of work to try to give an overview of the Leviathan that is New York, but the author/artist pulls off the trick neatly. My favorite parts dealt with all kinds of vehicles, old Police Gazettes, and signage from a bygone era. This stuff is presented by itself on the page (rather than integrated into the various scenic backdrops and neighborhood tableaux, as in other parts of the book), which reminds me in a way of the old Richard Scarry books I read as a kid. Conversely, there are some cool cross-section drawings that lay bare the interiors of some insanely expensive co-op buildings so exclusive that even the uber-rich sometimes don't make the cut when applying for a place to live. This sort of "x-ray" view of the Naked City reminded me more of Steven Biesty's intricate and garish cross-sections I used to pore over as a kid. Sidebar thumbnail stories about various rogues, criminals, serial killers, and even near-invisible crustaceans (!) only added to the obsessive-compulsive's delight that reading this book was for me. Highest recommendation, in any event.

  27. 5 out of 5

    JTRyan

    Yes, an unconventional illustrated history of NY because it's one person's experience with NY and this is a passion project of sorts. There isn't much reason beyond this is what I saw/experienced and wanted to document. It earns four stars because the illustrations are impressive and attempt to include all the boroughs even if the places have closed or are debatably significant. It was especially entertaining to read this now because it's heavy and I can't just get up and go wherever I want. Thi Yes, an unconventional illustrated history of NY because it's one person's experience with NY and this is a passion project of sorts. There isn't much reason beyond this is what I saw/experienced and wanted to document. It earns four stars because the illustrations are impressive and attempt to include all the boroughs even if the places have closed or are debatably significant. It was especially entertaining to read this now because it's heavy and I can't just get up and go wherever I want. This was like taking a walk, led by someone who had their own biased love/hate for the city. It didn't earn five stars because she sure liked to say *sshole and it was constantly tinged with the bitterness of someone who lived here for a while, left and wants to carry that badge forever (while we natives give the city its "solidity and continuity" (left handed compliment from E. B. White) because the transplants can't fathom a NY that is as vibrant without them and their temporary input. Ok, you got me, I'm a native. I've made many friends that have shared this experience. To them I say, I miss you, I hope you are safe and well wherever you went. We're still here. I don't kid myself that the city will stop when I'm not here. It keeps on, that's part of its magic.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Eric Piotrowski

    I've been a huge fan of Wertz's "Fart Party" comics for many years. I didn't leap at this book when it first came out, because metropolis history doesn't generally interest me very much. How foolish was I? This is a fascinating — and, more than anything, a fun — collection of stories about a galaxy of topics, from serial killers to "micro-living" to abandoned boats to the author's long walks. By turns ancient and recent, the facts and minutiae are engrossing and enjoyable. I bet this lady could w I've been a huge fan of Wertz's "Fart Party" comics for many years. I didn't leap at this book when it first came out, because metropolis history doesn't generally interest me very much. How foolish was I? This is a fascinating — and, more than anything, a fun — collection of stories about a galaxy of topics, from serial killers to "micro-living" to abandoned boats to the author's long walks. By turns ancient and recent, the facts and minutiae are engrossing and enjoyable. I bet this lady could write about intestinal parasites and make it interesting. (She actually does include a bit about microscopic crustaceans that live in NYC water.) The "then and now" imagery was less interesting to me, but I appreciate the artistry and attention to detail. I feel like this is a book most suited for people who love (or live in) New York City; but it's eminently worthwhile for everybody else too. Wertz's art style is resolutely fun to look at, and I'm really glad she's enjoying the attention she deserves from the world of publishing. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to re-read all of her other books again.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Amazing. If you ou have never visited New York. If you live in New York. If you have heard of New York, this is the book for you. It sounds odd, but I poured over every drawing, in this book, every short story she wrote, and illustrated. The subhead of the book sort of says it all An unconventional illustrated history of New York City This is very different from her other books, such as Fart Party, Drinking at the Movies and the Infanite wait. But, as one musician said to me, when brining out an alb Amazing. If you ou have never visited New York. If you live in New York. If you have heard of New York, this is the book for you. It sounds odd, but I poured over every drawing, in this book, every short story she wrote, and illustrated. The subhead of the book sort of says it all An unconventional illustrated history of New York City This is very different from her other books, such as Fart Party, Drinking at the Movies and the Infanite wait. But, as one musician said to me, when brining out an album which was completely different from anything she had ever done "that is why I do it. If i wanted to do the same thing again, I wouldn't release a new album." It is 282 pages of amazing drawings, of New York, then and now, and it makes me wish she would take the time to do this same loving treatment to other cities that I love, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    I’m not sure how I heard of this book and I didn’t give it the time required to really be considered “read.” It is quite long at 284 pages and much of it appears the same. I paged through looking at the many black and white drawings of New York City streetscapes and storefronts and buildings, many of them juxtaposing an earlier look with a more recent look. This is obviously a work of love about New York and its history and neighborhoods. There is no story or narrative but there are interesting I’m not sure how I heard of this book and I didn’t give it the time required to really be considered “read.” It is quite long at 284 pages and much of it appears the same. I paged through looking at the many black and white drawings of New York City streetscapes and storefronts and buildings, many of them juxtaposing an earlier look with a more recent look. This is obviously a work of love about New York and its history and neighborhoods. There is no story or narrative but there are interesting (or not so interesting, depending upon the reader) investigations/explanations/depictions of apartment styles, history of street sweeping, doorways, etc. While it is mostly full page drawings, there are transitional interludes in comic book panels featuring the artist’s rendition of herself and friends. And there are also occasional historical interludes such as the two I read about Typhoid Mary and the Village Voice. This would be a nice gift for someone with a strong New York City connection.

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