Schwarzman Agonistes

Sitting in the New York Public Library does not make you smarter or more focused. (Declining the free WiFi does both, but you knew that already.)

What it really offers is the opportunity to practice your bad habits with seven generations of Astors judging you from their portrait frames.  That and access to the collected wisdom of civilization so far, but if you read over a random sampling of shoulders in the Rose Reading Room, count on seeing more Facebook than Freud.

I guess this is why libraries are in trouble–their greatest assets are becoming less relevant to the people who spend time there.  If it closes one day, they can go to Starbucks and use the internet there.  They’re not checking out books, so they’re not paying late fees, and they’re certainly not buying the $8.50 pens in the gift shop.

The sustenance is only coming now in giant wads from moneybags like Stephen A. Schwarzman, who got his name on the main building.  But how effective is a blood transfusion through a high-pressure firehose?  A slow, steady drip is what will get the patient on her feet again.

And I need a new pen.  Can I borrow $10?

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