Summer 2004

The world on your boulevard

Crossing the BLVD: Strangers, neighbors, aliens in a new America

By Warren Lehrer & Judith Sloan
Norton, 35 US Dollars

Warren Lehrer and Judith Sloan are no strangers to book design or performance art. Lehrer pioneered what might be best termed ‘typographic performance’ in his (Massin-inspired) 1984 book / play French Fries, a hot metal cacophony of word and image that is today considered by historians one of the linchpins of the deconstructionist era in graphic design. Sloan, his wife, is an actor and audio artist / documentarian who has performed on stage and for public radio. Together they have produced this multimedia book which explores the difficult and joyful relationships, intersections and dislocations, between a remarkable group of ethnically diverse immigrants who have settled around Queens Boulevard, the dangerous twelve-lane roadway that cuts through various lower middle and middle class neighborhoods in Queens, New York – a borough that over the past half century has become the proverbial American melting pot. While the book can be viewed as an astute urban sociological study (Margaret Mead meets Jane Jacobs), more importantly it highlights the richness (as well as a little darkness) of a poly-cultural critical mass representing the sights and sounds, customs and mores of ‘new’ New York. It is eloquent, poignant, and smartly designed.

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