Michael Greenberg


Michael Greenberg is the author of Hurry Down Sunshine and Beg, Borrow, Steal: A Writer’s Life. (April 2014)

  • The Stunned Days of Sandy

    December 10, 2013

    The pictures of Hurricane Sandy on display in the exhibition “Rising Waters” confirm that photographs and words can convey the spirit of the catastrophe more truthfully than moving images.

  • How Different is de Blasio?

    September 23, 2013

    If Bill de Blasio is elected mayor of New York, what can reasonably be expected to change? The issue that most contributed to his victory in the Democratic primary was his strong opposition to the NYPD's stop and frisk program.

  • After the Storm

    December 11, 2012

    In the neighborhoods of Edgemere and Arverne, residents wandered the streets, dazed and broken, in mismatched boots, donated woolen overcoats, and hats with dangling ear-flaps. Some pushed what appeared to be all their belongings in shopping baskets and carts, followed by children and derelict dogs.

  • Occupy Wall Street Turns a Corner

    November 18, 2011

    At around 1 AM Tuesday morning, police arrived to evict the occupiers from Zuccotti Park. It was a surprise attack, planned with impressive secrecy, and launched from Peck Slip, a relatively desolate stretch of the city, under the FDR Drive between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. For more than a week, hundreds of blue-shirted police officers--the force’s proletariat rank and file--had been receiving training in crowd control. Monday night, they were told to report to lower Manhattan with “hats and bats”--riot helmets and batons--without being informed why.

  • Four Weeks on Wall Street

    October 11, 2011

    At 7:30 PM, near the people’s library, the General Assembly convened. There were about five hundred of us and, as far as I could tell, we were all members for as long as we hung around. From their perch atop the wall on the northeast section of the park, two young women moderated the meeting. “Mike check!” one of the women cried, and with a unison roar the crowd repeated her words. This was “the people’s mike,” used in lieu of bullhorns, megaphones, or other amplification devices that were prohibited because the protesters had no permit. When the crowd has to repeat every word, it shows; for example, during a speech by the Nobel Prize economist Joseph Stiglitz, things slowed down. But in the large crowd the repetition created a kind of euphoria of camaraderie. It also put you in the oddly disturbing position at times of shouting at full voice something you neither agreed with nor would ever have thought on your own.

  • Salinger

    February 12, 2010

    Rereading J.D. Salinger after his death on January 27, I am struck by an improbable connection between his work and that of Jack Kerouac. Both were writing in the late Forties and Fifties, from opposite ends of the social spectrum, but with a relentless ethos of non-conformism at the center of their fiction. Salinger, however, has none of Kerouac’s easy American Romanticism, much less his patriotic celebration of the open road. Salinger’s world is one of constricted New York spaces: bathrooms, restaurants, hotel rooms, buses, a tiny obstructed table in a piano bar where one barely has room enough to sit down. The high cost of not conforming is far more palpable in Salinger than in Kerouac. For Salinger’s characters, to be different isn’t a choice but a kind of incurable affliction, a source of existential crisis rather than social liberation.

  • Georgia's Shrunken Hopes

    November 20, 2009

    More than fifteen months have passed since war broke out between Georgia and Russia. The war lasted five days, the amount of time it took for the Russian army to rout Georgia’s tiny, American-trained defense forces. It was the most serious military conflict in Europe since the Balkans. And yet, although tens of thousands of people are still displaced, and Russia is posing an increasing threat to Georgia’s oil pipelines, both the EU and the US may be powerless to prevent further threats to the country.

  • Rising Waters

    October 29, 2013 — March 2, 2014

    Images of Sandy—photographs snapped on cell phones, film, digital cameras or whatever else happened to be at hand.