HAVING A BALL: Guests at Sam Roberts’ Tuesday night book party the Bard Graduate Center had plenty to jaw about, but that didn’t inhibit them from bouncing pink Spalding rubber balls midsentence. The “Spaldeen,” as the New Yorkers in the crowd referred to the freebie, was among the items featured in Roberts’ book, “A History of New York in 101 Objects.”
A bit of a fixture in The New York Times newsroom himself, Roberts, urban affairs correspondent, had no shortage of well-wishers, including Roger Morgenthau, Lucinda Franks, Max Frankel, Jim Dwyer, Russ Buettner, Gay Talese, New York 1’s Tom McDonald, Kevin Baker, Michael Kramer, Hilary Ballon and Emily Rueb.
Roberts took a minute — 68 seconds to be more precise — to show his gratitude. “Thanks to my Times’ colleagues, I appreciate your encouragement. You were there at the very beginning. And thanks to all of you because you are particularly going through a painful period right now. Bob Bender at Simon & Schuster for transforming ‘101 Objects’ into an elegant and provocative book. My wife Marie and my family,” he said. “Russell Baker, the former Times columnist said that objects can scientifically be classified into three major categories — those that don’t work, those that break down and those that get lost. I think I demonstrated that there are maybe 98 other categories and I hope that you enjoy them in this book.”
Mary Morgan Rockefeller has her own reason to be thankful. Planning to review the final cut of her new documentary “The Gene Myth: The Origin of a Dangerous Idea” on Dec. 4, she said the project was nearly eight years in the making. “It’s about genetic determinism in the American dream, eugenics and the whole concept of the gene and how that’s affected social policy in this country, and the complexity of heredity and how we’re not determined by our genes. A longtime environmentalist who is interested in genetic engineering and agriculture, Morgan (her surname of choice) said she decided that she needed to get down to the heart of the matter to understand what the gene is.”
She continued, “There is no discrete entity that is in charge of hereditary. When I began to see how social policy was affected by this concept, coming out of Mendel and Social Darwinism, then I was really blown away. I felt it needed to be talked about as a cautionary tale. There were a tremendous number of people in this country who were sterilized under this whole concept of the gene including [under] Nixon in the Seventies after the Holocaust. It is quite an amazing tale — controversial for sure.”
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