Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Do-it-yourself spiral kits

Toni Schlesinger has a charming piece at the New York Observer on the fortunes of spiral staircases. Go and take a look, it's full of interesting observations but it's also got that lovely Schlesinger diction:

There are still some spirals leading to basements in illegal landlord-carpeted purgatories in Queens; some in Brooklyn brownstones; also the two famous French-library ones in the penthouses of the 367-369 Bleecker Street Condominium, formerly the two townhouses of Pierre Deux Antique owners Pierre LeVec and Pierre Moulin, who had two of everything until they died. (They met working on the Marshall Plan in Paris.) Gunther Moses, Soho’s foremost electrician since the early days, thinks there is still one in his ex-wife’s loft.

But then there are all these mothers now, and they are wagging their fingers, and architects for mothers are advocating regular stairs. “Buyers with children find spiral stairs to be hazardous,” Corcoran agent Suena Williams said.

(Also of interest: Matthew Schuerman's piece on Columbia president Lee Bollinger and the projected Manhattanville expansion.)

On a related note, I must say that I am fond of the Observer's books coverage--they only publish two or three reviews each week (though there's some additional coverage in other sections of the paper), and not all of the books interest me, but the quality of the writing's very high and it also passes my test of sensibility: you get the feeling that there's a distinct taste at work behind the selection and assignment of books for review, a quirky but nonetheless subtly coherent set of interests. Another paper that has this quality (I'm afraid it's rare these days) is the Financial Times; I always read that book review section with great enjoyment.