December 15, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — nicoleg @ 10:12 am


Reflective Thinking

Filed under: Uncategorized — nicoleg @ 10:09 am

I cannot believe this class is over already, the fifteen weeks we had flew in like a breeze. Looking back from when I first stared this class I was unclear what exactly it was going to be about and how it would be approached. I vaguely knew any thing about Whitman, but now I am saturated by him where ever I go. I see him in every street, every bar and every part of the city I am in. Whitman influenced so many things around us that no one even knows, hence I am happy I have taken this class because now I know what some do not know.
Professor Gold is the teacher I wish I had in other schools, I have never seen some one as passionate in something. He helped and shared his knowledge; he made this class much more interesting than it could of been. The only problem is, I wish the class was longer so that I could have explored more with him and the class about Whitman.
I think never mind the class has ended, I will still be looking for Whitman, I have the blog and in a way the class it self has not ended, but has it’s own continuation. I came as an empty glass and now I am half way filled. I am truly happy I took this class, it surpassed the other 6 classes I am taking. The uniqueness and the passion about Whitman made this class a pleasure to be in.

December 8, 2009

Where Nicole Found Whitman.

Filed under: Uncategorized — nicoleg @ 12:01 am

After reading Franklin Evans I was shocked and in some ways proud of this book. I enjoyed it! It was interesting and it made me think a lot about how we as New Yorkers drink sociably and enjoy life. Some of us drink more wisely than others, but alcohol is a big part of our lives. It keeps our society in the city more sociable, connected, and networked. I think if Franklin Evans (Whitman) came to the city in this era he would have a different experience, he would have seen a different side of consumption. I do have to say alcoholism has a bad influence to our society. It has destroyed families and corrupted many lives.
Some of us in this generation are very aware about alcoholism and the consequences it can have on our lives, but I believe our generation is also more in tuned with life, technology and trends. I am not trying to ignore the matter, but simple state how I see this glorious city with alcohol. As a New Yorker, living in Manhattan I guess I see alcohol differently. Around my neighborhood there are bars on most corners which are full of life, happiness and energy. Most of my friends and family drink to enjoy, celebrate and have a good time. It is not depressing to me because my friends and family do not drink to hide problems or to drink their sorrows away, but to celebrate. I think Whitman would have seen the city through happier eyes; he would have been free to express and write the way he wanted to. In Whitman’s poetry he always expresses himself as united with his surroundings. He seemed to write about the city with expressions of love, and disparity for those who were helpless. He seemed to be the voice of those who were prisoners and slaves,( a little bit like himself at times). There was always a tone of patriotism in his voice when reading his work. In Franklin Evans, Whitman’s view of his city is a total opposite to Leaves of Grass.

“The novel is of Franklin Evans who is the country mouse who comes to ruin in the wicked city. Led astray by evil companions, he takes one swig of wine in a tavern and sets himself on the downward path. As wine bibbing leads to harder stuff, the hapless Evans becomes a puppet of the demon rum. His forays into low dives and dance halls cost him his job, wreck his marriage, contribute to his saintly wife’s death, and quickly bring him to a life of petty crime.
Evans is a maddening protagonist, utterly lacking in will or initiative; he’s a sort of moral polyp afloat in a bottle. Even so, the course of his downfall isn’t completely predictable. As if to show how low drink can bring a man, Whitman has Evans move to Virginia where he falls in love with Margaret, a “creole” slave whom he marries but comes to hate. In her “swarthiness,” Margaret embodies sheer animal appetite; she personifies Evans’s own thirst for drink. Interestingly, she’s the only character who pulses with a semblance of life. Maddened by jealousy, “the wretched Creole” poisons the genteel Mrs. Conway, a luscious widow whom Evans wants to take as his mistress. These are the ugliest chapters in the novel, made more distasteful by Whitman’s shameless attempts to play on race for sensational effect. But this is, of course, a tale of redemption. Evans takes the temperance pledge. He ends up inheriting a fortune from a benefactor. Whitman’s moral is clear: Sobriety isn’t just virtuous, it can be lucrative too”. on 12-08-09

The stanza I chose has ran with me through-out this class, from the first time I read this stanza and I fell in love with it. I did most of my projects surrounding it as well as this. I did two videos in different rooms reading the same part of the poem. The reason I chose this location to read my poem is that I felt very alive and happy at this location. It reminded me of little scenes which I saw while reading Franklin Evans. The part with me in the bathroom I felt signifies me celebrating who I am and how times have changed. Whitman always spoke of “ I Am, You” which brought the reader closer to him, but after reading some of his work and biography, I felt as though in some ways he was not being true to himself and who he was. Franklin Evans seemed to be a part of him that he never spoke about, a part that never came out (unconscious part). Being in a stall was liberating, I felt a little like Franklin Evans experiencing alcohol. Just in a better way. The second scene was in a velvet dining room while having dinner and drinks, it reminded me of a reading we did of Charles Dickens when he came to NYC and spoke of it in terrible ways. The remembrance was of the ladies in their bright clothing, the red velvet room felt like that, it was like an evil room of uncertainties. Just like Franklin’s experiences in the city.
My video may be a little different due to the location, but this is where I found Whitman.

Where Nicole found Whitman! In a stall while having dinner.

nicole | MySpace Video

December 1, 2009

A Day At Fort Greene Park

Filed under: Uncategorized — nicoleg @ 3:02 pm

A reading of Whitman’s work.

nicole | MySpace Video

This tour of the park and of Brooklyn was such an inspirational day. Living in NYC I never knew  Brooklyn was filled with such rich history.

This was such a great day for learning being inspired. The music and the lyrics added more adventure to my day in Brooklyn.


nicole | MySpace Video


nicole | MySpace Video

The song “Freedom” by Nicole J. Mitchell


November 10, 2009

Brooklyn Historic Society

Filed under: Uncategorized — nicoleg @ 10:23 am

Nicole Gajadhar for November 10th, 2009

The Brooklyn Historical Society was founded in 1863 as the Long Island Historical Society.  During this time  in Brooklyn, the borough was considered  the cultural center of Long Island.  During the decades the building has changed, during WWI the auditorium was changed into a Red Cross area and then in 1926 the auditorium space was divided and rented out as retail space to bring in an income.Now this Beautiful building is a museum, library, and an educational center which helps inform and preserve  400 years  of Brooklyn and the city’s history.

BHS has the most comprehensive collection of Brooklyn-related materials in existence. In 1993, the U.S Department of Education designated its library as a “major research library” under Title II-C of the Higher Education Act. As one in seven Americans can trace their family roots to Brooklyn, the BHS collections represent an important national resource. Inquiries received each month reflect the nationwide interest in the borough and its relevance to many family histories.( retrived on Nov.9.2009)

On Tuesday November 3rd we visited the Brooklyn Historical society which was located on Pierrepont St and the corner of Clinton Street. This trip was very interesting because I never even knew this building existed, especially in Brooklyn.

During this trip we were given our new assignment into this wonderful project. Our new assignment is very interesting, it requires a lot of digging and a lot of research, but it does seem very interesting. Each of us choose an address which Walt Whitman lived briefly in. We are doing something like a timeline of the address from Whitmans period, to our present time. Some of the addresses no longer exist, some of the building numbers have been changed, streets are added, high ways are added and buildings have changed. I believe this is going to be a challenge. However the libarian Liz is fantastic at finding out the hidden past.

October 20, 2009

Whitman’s New York

Filed under: Uncategorized — nicoleg @ 11:44 am

Nicole for October 20th, 2009

New York then and New York Now. While reading Whitman Biography, as well as our readings I taught about how similar people taught about things then and now, as well as how our lives in the 21st century can translate to that period in time.

  The burdens of life, the unimaginable childhood Whitman endured. the relation-ship with is mother who passed away in 1883, the animosity he probably had towards his drunken father and the sibling diversity in which he had to be an older brother and a stand in male figure.

Today in our lives we still see this, siblings raising siblings, children becoming more mature faster than they should as people would say. But then I sit and think; are we becoming mature faster? because in Whitmans’s time by 14-15 he was already a man with a job. Is time repeating itself like fashion, are we as a society seeing the norms of our past and present lives.

In Whitmans poem Mannahatta he says ” Immigrants arriving, fifteen or twenty thousand in a week, The carts hauling goods,”. This verse can translate to now, there are so many immigrants still coming in to the city( like myself) from near and far everyday. They come, they want that dream to live, to have a “better life ” to hopefully appreciate our city, our colours, and to become one of us. As an immigrant with family and friends coming aboard to start a new , they always want to go and see attractions in the city. The main one is the Statue of Liberty. It stands for everything when moving to this country, and it has not changed much since it was erected in the 1860s.




Walt Whitman

I was asking for something specific and perfect for my city,
Whereupon lo! upsprang the aboriginal name.

Now I see what there is in a name, a word, liquid, sane,
   unruly, musical, self-sufficient,
I see that the word of my city is that word from of old,
Because I see that word nested in nests of water-bays,
Rich, hemm’dthick all around with sailships and
   steamships, an island sixteen miles long, solid-founded,
Numberless crowded streets, high growths of iron, slender,
   strong, light, splendidly uprising toward clear skies,
Tides swift and ample, well-loved by me, toward sundown,
The flowing sea-currents, the little islands, larger adjoining
   islands, the heights, the villas,
The countless masts, the white shore-steamers, the lighters,
   the ferry-boats, the black sea-steamers well-model’d,
The down-town streets, the jobbers’ houses of business, the
   houses of business of the ship-merchants and money-
   brokers, the river-streets,
Immigrants arriving, fifteen or twenty thousand in a week,
The carts hauling goods, the manly race of drivers of horses,
   the brown-faced sailors,
The summer air, the bright sun shining, and the sailing
   clouds aloft,
The winter snows, the sleigh-bells, the broken ice in the
   river, passing along up or down with the flood-tide or
The mechanics of the city, the masters, well-form’d,
   beautiful-faced, looking you straight in the eyes,
Trottoirs throng’d, vehicles, Broadway, the women, the
   shops and shows,
A million people–manners free and superb–open voices–
   hospitality–the most courageous and friendly young
City of hurried and sparkling waters! city of spires and masts!
City nested in bays! my city

October 13, 2009

My Whitman Look-a-Like

Filed under: Uncategorized — nicoleg @ 1:03 am

Nicole for 13th of October2009

Last night I was in a bar with some friends, my eyes immediately where drawn to this old grayed man sitting at the bar by himself having a pint. I kept looking at him trying to figure out where I knew his face from, then it hit me, he looks like Walt Whitman. He was tall slender with a grayed beard and full long gray hair. I then went over and told him that I taught he looked like him, he laughed and then said in his soft husky voice  maybe it’s a writers thing, we all look mad! I asked my friend the bar tender if he was a writer and she said yes.

Last week we discussed Charles Dickens, I was not very amused by his description of New York when he visited. He depicted New-Yorkers as pigs, he explained how they are self- contained, it felt as though he looked down on the society in time  in which Whitman lived. As a New Yorker, while reading this I felt very threatened. Never mind what time period it is in time NYC has always been a Metropolis, it has always stood its grounds, small or large it has always been a strong city. And since the 1800’s when Dickens visited, sure the city was in slums, it was filthy, and disgusting, but that’s how it was, new immigrants, and a newly developing down town.

New Yorkers are care free roaming people since the beginning, we adapt to situations around us and will walk the streets in the brightest colours, and sing and talk to ours selves not worrying about the others around, but we also come together in time of need. This is what Charles Dickens did not get. It was the slums! what did he expect! it was not England, but I assure you parts of England was pretty much the same. Every country has there slums. Here he saw  and found evidence of England’s superiority of class.

Unlike Whitman who embraced NYC, he loved every thing about it.  This is where he grew up, this was home, and this is what he grew to. He did not see any thing wrong with the ladies in bright colours nor depict his fellow man as a pig. He saw New York as Home, a place where he connected with man, woman, child and his city.

five points

This is the place [Five Points], these narrow ways, diverging to the right and left, and reeking everywhere with dirt and filth. Such lives as are led here, bear the same fruits here as elsewhere. The coarse and bloated faces at the doors have counterparts at home, and all the wide world over. Debauchery has made the very houses prematurely old. See how the rotten beams are tumbling down, and how the patched and broken windows seem to scowl dimly, like eyes that have been hurt in drunken frays. Many of those pigs live here. Do they ever wonder why their masters walk upright in lieu of going on all-fours? and why they talk instead of grunting?

Charles Dickens, American Notes for General Circulation (London: Chapman and Hall, 1842), 101, at Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library.

Courtesy of the Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library.

The Great Fire

Filed under: Uncategorized — nicoleg @ 12:17 am

Nicole for the 6th of October 2009

The great fire in 1835 was one of the worst tragedies to happen in NYC, this fire took place in lower Manhattan. It is said that the fire was a conflagration which destroyed the New York Stock Exchange back then. The fire began on the evening of December 16 in 1835; it started in a five story warehouse around 25 Merchant Street, this street is refereed as Beaver street now, and was at the meeting of Pearl and Hanover.

During this time of year it was one of the coldest days, the temperatures where below -17* F. It was so cold that the East River was Frozen solid. The fire was so intense that it basically destroyed between five hundred and seven hundred building, it covered 50 acres of lower Manhattan. Since the river was frozen the fire men had to cut hole in the river to get water, unfortunately it was so horribly that the hoses and pipes started to freeze. The cooper and metal shutters in building started to melt in to liquid and stream down to the river.

This was such a horrific sight that the glimmer of the fire could be seen miles away, Fire men from Philadelphia came in to NYC to help. Sadly two people where killed.

Walt Whitman “Scenes of Last Night” [April 1, 1842]

This is how Whitman describes seeing the after math of this fire.

Women carrying small bundles–men with heated and sweaty faces–little children, many of them weeping and sobbing–met us every rod or two. Then there were stacks of furniture upon the sidewalks and even in the street; puddles of water, and frequent lengths of hose-pipe endangered the pedestrian’s safety; and the hubbub, the trumpets of the engine foremen, the crackling of the flames, and the lamentations of those who were made homeless by the conflagration–all sounded louder and louder as we approached, and at last grew to one deafening din.

It was a horrible yet magnificent sight! When our eyes caught a full view of it, we beheld a space of several acres, all covered with smouldering ruins, mortar, red hot embers, piles of smoking half burnt walls–a sight to make a man’s heart sick, and keep him awake at night, when lying in his bed.

We stood on the south side of Broome street. In every direction around, except the opposite front, there was one compact mass of human flesh–upon the stoops, and along the side walks, and blocking up the street, even to the edge of where the flames were raging.


This is Stone Street today. Most of the buildings on today’s Stone Street were built in the immediate years following the fire, Greek Revival-style countinghouses that are refitted for modern times as taverns and restaurants. It’s also one of the few cobblestone streets still around in the Financial District area.


September 29, 2009

Fugitive or Runaway

Filed under: Uncategorized — nicoleg @ 12:04 am

Nicole for  the 29th of September, 2009

In our last class session we discussed many different topics pertaining to Whitman’s choice of words and the technicality of his writing, however one topic caught my interest; the run away slave passage, when it was described by Professor Gold  it caught my interest. I have read that passage many times since the class started and it never stood out in such a way.

The question was how it would be different if Walt Whitman used the word “fugitive “instead of runaway slave.

Well for one thing run away sounds much better. When we think of a fugitive what comes to mind! Bank robber, criminal on the loose, someone who broke out of jail and is on the run. Well this is the reason this word responded so well to me.

What is a fugitive?  What is a runaway?

The definition of fugitive is:

(a.) Fleeing from pursuit, danger, restraint, etc., escaping, from service, duty etc.; as, a fugitive solder; a fugitive slave; a fugitive debtor.

(n.) One who flees from pursuit, danger, restraint, service, duty, etc.; a deserter; as, a fugitive from justice.

(a.) Not fixed; not durable; liable to disappear or fall away; volatile; uncertain; evanescent; liable to fade; — applied to material and immaterial things; as, fugitive colors; a fugitive idea.

(n.) Something hard to be caught or detained.

The definition of runaway is:

(n.) The act of running away, esp. of a horse or teams; as, there was a runaway yesterday.

(n.) One who, or that which, flees from danger, duty, restraint, etc.; a fugitive.

(a.) Accomplished by running away or elopement, or during flight; as, a runaway marriage.

(a.) Won by a long lead; as, a runaway victory.

(a.) Running away; fleeing from danger, duty, restraint, etc.; as, runaway soldiers; a runaway horse.

(a.) Very successful; accomplishing success quickly; as, a runaway bestseller.

Now the meanings are similar, almost or are the same. One of the definitions which is the same in both words except for the word justice

“One who flees from pursuit, danger, restraint, service, duty, etc.; a deserter; as, a fugitive from justice”

If Whitman used the word Fugitive I believe his theory or his belief in his writing would be different, Whitman was a believer in equality for all humans, his words expressed what he stood for.

The word” runaway slave” gives us that descriptive image in our minds of a slave literally running away from down south all the way to NYC. Walt gives us that image, that moment to process his actions with that slave in our taught and minds. If Whitman used the word “fugitive” well I bet most of us would imagine something differently, I know for a fact the first thing would be “criminal” to me. The truth is, the both words have the same meaning, but they both are viewed very differently from each other.

How can a man be a fugitive if he has done no wrong? Well he is running a way from danger of another man, and the restraint of another man whom actually owns him and him a man is described as something hard to be caught or detained. A Runaway Slave.

Section of Stanza 10

The runaway slave came to my house and stop outside,
I heard his motions crackling the twigs of the woodpile,
Through the swung half-door of the kitchen I saw him limpsy and weak,
And went where he sat on a log and led him in and assured him,
And brought water and fill’d a tub for his sweated body and bruis’d feet,
And gave him a room that enter’d from my own, and gave him some coarse
clean clothes,
And remember perfectly well his revolving eyes and his awkwardness,
And remember putting plasters on the galls of his neck and ankles;
He staid with me a week before he was recuperated and pass’d north,
I had him sit next me at table, my fire-lock lean’d in the corner.

September 21, 2009

Crossing Brooklyn Ferry

Filed under: Uncategorized — nicoleg @ 11:22 am

Nicole for 22nd of September, 2009


When reading “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”, I taught about Brooklynites still using the ferry to cross the river today, well maybe not the ferry, but the yellow water taxis. Never mind we have the all mighty 150 year old Brooklyn Bridge which took 14 years to build and finished in 1883, we still relay on the boat to hoover us across the river.

Crossing Brooklyn Ferry was one of Whitman’s  pieces, which was written before the Civil War, however there still is that sense of depth that Walt expresses in  most of his work. He speaks about the Barriers between us; referring to the process of  the almighty land of the free which was going to be divide into rivals.

The poem as I mentioned has Walt’s depth and sensuality but, it again holds everyone to Whitman, he connects to everyone on the boat, never mind he stands on his  spot on the boats deck ,he’s in a trans crossing the East River.

Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky,
so I felt,

Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one
of a crowd,

Just as you are refreshed by the gladness of the river,
and the bright flow, I was refreshed,

In one excerpt of the poem he starts each sentence with ;

Flow on

Frolic on


Cross from

Stand Up

Bully For You








These words really stood out to me, they give the papragraph a story and adds an energy to the surroundings.

The poem also has a feel as though Whitman is on a Journey of some sort, from Manhattan to Brooklyn not really a journey! but journey of his soul. He captures every essence of his surroundings, and again he speaks of gods as he is part of  that whole.

My river and sun-set, and my scallop-edged waves of

The sea-gulls oscillating their bodies, the hay-boat in
the twilight, and the belated lighter;
Curious what Gods can exceed these that clasp me
by the hand, and with voices I love call me
promptly and loudly by my nighest name as I
Curious what is more subtle than this which ties me
to the woman or man that looks in my face,

Which fuses me into you now, and pours my meaning
into you.

Brooklun Bridge in 1883, Lithograph  by Currier and Ives

Brooklyn Bridge in 1883, Lithograph by Currier and Ives

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