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The sounds of the city.

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I am not one of those people who is in love with all things New York City.

I’m gradually learning to appreciate the place, though, and maybe by the time I’m 80 or so I’ll have made the leap and become a fan.

Tonight I am reveling in the online archives of public radio station WNYC. I’ve found an un-freakin’-godly number of interesting, curious and unique audio clips from the past … and it seems there’s no better way for a website to hook me in nowadays than to offer sounds from the past.

A few samples of what’s on hand:

A 22-minute audio clip from 1946 featuring the voice of hero-of-the-blog Rod Serling, then an unpaid WNYC intern.

A 1947 recipe for tamale pie presented by Frances Foley Gannon, the city’s Deputy Commissioner of Markets, who reached out to millions of New York-area women each day with menus that attempted to combine thrift, good taste and seasonal produce.

(Along the same lines: A clip from the fall of 1946, during post-war food shortages, giving several recipes for main-dish soups.)

A couple of English-language clips from Radio Moscow, aired during the mid-1960s in an attempt at cross-cultural understanding.

A daily subway traffic report from 1967, delivered in a charming New Yawk accent.

A recording of homeless men from the Bowery singing Christmas carols in 1961. (I don’t find this recording nearly as touching as the blogger seems to, but maybe I’m just hard-hearted.)

A riotous clip of calypso music from 1941. (As the owner of a Wilmoth Houdini compilation album, I know a very little about calypso; it seems like about as much fun as you can have while relying on a single set of chord changes.)

Twenty-four minutes of electronic music compositions created at Queens College in 1973-74, along with some interesting history on the challenges of creating computerized music back in the days of punch cards.

A 1981 tribute concert to composer Edgard Varese, emceed by perhaps Varese’s most famous admirer, Frank Zappa.

A 1970s walking tour of Central Park, produced by Pan Am. Worth clicking on if only to see the ingeniously simple covers of the various city guides also produced by the airline.

Twenty-plus minutes of Mets manager Casey Stengel holding forth in his incomparable style on July 22, 1965. (Only a few days later, Casey would fall and break his hip, ending his career as a big-league manager.)

A story about lightships and lighthouses in New York Harbor, back when they were manned. (If I could pick any job in the five boroughs, it would be lighthouse keeper. OK, I guess Mets starting pitcher would be fun too. So might subway driver.)


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