Lead Editorial Innovator, Vocal. Author, critic, friend, parent, cook. New book: Chief Engineer: Washington Roebling, The Man Who Built the Brooklyn Bridge. Twitter: @EricaWgnr, Insta: @ericawgnr
His name is Yip — and it's one you won't forget
Paddy Crewe’s debut novel is set in northern Georgia and the mountains of Tennessee in the early years of the 19th century. My Name Is Yip is an adventure story, a tale of struggle against great odds, a paean to the power of friendship. Its narrator is unable to speak — and so he learns to communicate with slate and chalk. “My name is Yip Tolroy & I am a mute,” his account begins. “I have made not a sound since the day of my birth, October 2nd, 1815. I will say that my life has been something of a trial but such is God’s wish & so I must tell my story here on the page.”
Top Gun: The Lost Pilot
Who doesn’t want to be Maverick? In Tony Scott’s Top Gun Pete Mitchell was the epitome of the glorious warrior, as skilled as he was wild. Who doesn’t want to question authority, live beyond the rules, fly too close to the Sun? That’s the catch of course: Maverick is also Icarus, Maverick is Achilles, the hero felled by his own flaw — though it’s his best friend, Goose, who falls from the sky. Cruise, it’s worth noting, has wondered whether a contemporary studio would tolerate Goose’s death, if the movie were made today. “Can you imagine? Today, you’d have a hard time killing Goose,” he has said. “There would be a lot of discussion about killing Goose. You’d go to test screenings, and they would tell us, ‘They hate it when Goose dies! He’s such a likeable character! You’ve got to cut that out of the movie.’”
110 Years of Titanic Tales
“Then suddenly he felt a curious motion break the steady rhythm of the engines. It was a little like coming alongside a dock wall rather heavily. He glanced forward—and stared again. A windjammer, sails set, seemed to be passing along the starboard side. Then he realized it was an iceberg, towering perhaps 100 feet above the water. The next instant it was gone, drifting astern into the dark.”
Joining Creatd, Inc. and crossing a bridge...
The first time I visited the offices of Creatd, Inc. — two years before I joined the company as Lead Editorial Innovator — I walked across the George Washington Bridge to get there. I was staying in Manhattan, where I grew up; I took the A train to 177th Street and headed west, towards the Hudson River, towards the narrow path that switchbacks up towards the great steel span of the bridge.
Learning to fly
Heading towards Tower Bridge today in the rain, the light changed to amber just as I was reaching the approach to the span. I pulled my bike out in front of the traffic, waiting while a bus, a truck, passed in front of me on the Highway. I used to work near here – years ago now – so this neighbourhood always has a resonance for me, an echo of another life; but this morning I was thinking not about those vanished years but about the time, only four months ago, when waiting for the light here, being anywhere near here, made my heart pound with fear, with the certainty that I was bound to be knocked off my bike and flattened by a ton or two of moving metal. Four months ago I wasn’t a cyclist. Today, I am.
The spicy delights of a Bloody Mary
Hemingway thought it was “worthless” to make less than a pitcher of Bloody Marys. While I agree in spirit – pun intended – in practice I make do with a glass. Why did lockdown call up a craving for a Bloody Mary? Maybe because I could tell myself it was almost more of a snack than a drink (and healthy at that! Tomatoes! Celery!) but maybe because a Bloody Mary makes me think of my Mom, who loved them and taught me to drink them. I lost her over a decade ago, my dad a couple of years before that; but they are present to me whenever I’m in the kitchen, and as I mix my Bloody Mary I can hear my mother’s ice clink in her glass.
The world is your oyster
It's an hour before noon in Cancale, on the coast of Brittany; head down to the edge of the sea — the port is called La Houle — in the chilly sunshine and wait, perched on a stone wall. Soon, you see them come into view, the little oyster boats, chugging into shore with their morning's catch.
A hawk in my heart
I was cruising toward Blackfriars Bridge, south to the beckoning Thames. I rise early for my permitted “one form of exercise a day” — cycling seems the best way to keep 2 metres apart and so I discover I am becoming a more confident cyclist. Disquieting, however, to feel proud of my improving skills, knowing they are thanks to the streets eerily emptied by COVID-19. Ordinarily the City would be thick with cars and trucks and buses, but not this morning, not any morning now.
Beigel Bake Bliss
A beautiful spring morning on Brick Lane, in East London. The sky an astonishing blue, unmarked by the white contrails of airplanes; even in this ultra-urban setting, you can hear birdsong. Thanks to COVID-19, many of the shop are shuttered, but not Beigel Bake, which has been serving the community here since 1974. Only three people are allowed in the shop at a time now, thanks to social distancing; we all behave ourselves as we wait for our breakfasts. When it’s my turn, Fiona — one of the stalwart women who work behind the counter here, and keep this place running day and night — fills the giant steel teapot from a hissing tap of boiling water. She swirls the bags to let them steep and despite the tough times, gives me a big smile, for we are old friends. I’ve lived nearby for 25 years, and have come here nearly daily, if only for a cup of tea and a chat.
A virtual walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
This is a public service announcement. Good morning! Good afternoon! Good evening! I really hope you’re well, and that everyone you love is well. This is tough stuff. It’s a pain to be stuck inside. It’s hard to worry about people and worry about the world. You’re in lockdown. You're self-isolating. You’re social-distancing. You feel cooped up, stir crazy and maybe a little scared. I know I am; I’m there with you. So: I’d like to invite you to take a walk with me, a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.
Down about Warren? Think of Mantel and Atwood, and cheer
A person could become pretty despondent about – well, about nearly everything, these days. But let’s focus on one thing: Elizabeth Warren dropping out of the Democratic primaries, leaving Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders as the clear front-runners in the presidential race to come. Make no mistake, she was the one responsible for pushing Mike Bloomberg out of the race: at the primary debate in Las Vegas last month, she called him out as a “billionaire who calls women fat broads and horse-faced lesbians”. He withered beneath her intelligence and ruthlessness, and that was the end of that.