Margot Adler

Margot Adler is a NPR correspondent based in NPR's New York Bureau. Her reports can be heard regularly on All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition.

In addition to covering New York City, Adler reports include in-depth features exploring the interface of politics and culture. Most recently she has been reporting on the controversy surrounding the proposed Islamic Cultural Center near Ground Zero. Other recent pieces have focused on the effect of budget cuts on education, flood relief efforts by the Pakistani community in the United States, the military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy, and the battles over the September 11th memorial as well as the continuing human story in New York City in the years since the attacks. Her reporting has included topics such as the death penalty, affirmative action and the culture wars.

Adler did the first American radio interview with J.K. Rowling and has charted the Harry Potter phenomenon ever since. Her reporting ranges across issues including children and technology, the fad of the Percy Jackson books and the popularity of vampires. She occasionally reviews books, covers plays, art exhibitions and auctions, among other reports for NPR's Arts desk.

From 1999-2008, Adler was the host of NPR's Justice Talking, a weekly show exploring constitutional controversies in the nation's courts.

Adler joined the NPR staff as a general assignment reporter in 1979, after spending a year as an NPR freelance reporter covering New York City. In 1980, she documented the confrontation between radicals and the Ku Klux Klan in Greensboro, North Carolina. In 1984, she reported and produced an acclaimed documentary on AIDS counselors in San Francisco. She covered the Winter Olympics in Calgary in 1988 and in Sarajevo in 1984. She has reported on homeless people living in the subways, on the state of the middle class and on the last remaining American hospital for treating leprosy, which was located in Louisiana.

From 1972 to 1990, Adler created and hosted live talk shows on WBAI-FM/New York City. One of those shows, Hour of the Wolf, hosted by Jim Freund, continues as a science fiction show to this day. She is the author of the book, Drawing Down the Moon, a study of contemporary nature religions, and a 1960's memoir, Heretic's Heart. She co-produced an award-winning radio drama, War Day, and is a lecturer and workshop leader. She is currently working on a book on why vampires have such traction in our culture.

With a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of California, Berkeley, Adler went on to earn a Master of Science degree from the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York in 1970. She was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 1982.

The granddaughter of Alfred Adler, the renowned Viennese psychiatrist, Adler was born in Little Rock, Ark., and grew up in New York City. She loves birding and science fiction.

She had three apartments on New York's Fifth Avenue, all filled with treasures worth millions, not to mention a mansion in Connecticut and a house in California. But the enigmatic heiress Huguette Clark lived her last 20 years in a plainly decorated hospital room — even though she wasn't sick.

Beer makers Guinness and Sam Adams withdrew sponsorship from New York and Boston's St. Patrick Day parades, respectively, over the exclusion of openly gay, lesbian and transgender participants.

A plan in New York state to eliminate all wild mute swans there by 2025 has drawn protests and petitions on all sides. While some see elegant white birds gliding across the water, others see a dangerous aggressor destroying the local ecosystem.

One of the world's most beloved books is The Little Prince by Antoine Saint-Exupery. Published in 1943, almost two million copies are sold every year, in about 250 languages.

If asked where you think the book was written, you might say Paris. You'd be wrong. Try Long Island — as in Long Island, N.Y.

When the late Nikos Kefalidis bought the house on Beven Road in Northport, Long Island, in the late 1970s, he knew that 30 years before, Saint-Exupery had written and illustrated part of Le Petit Prince in that house.

In this encore report, we hear about a small museum in an elevator shaft in lower Manhattan. It's only six feet square, and only about three or four people can enter it at a time. The exhibits document the weird and wonderful of modern life, including prison contraband made from bread. (This piece originally aired on Jan. 2, 2014 on All Things Considered).

New York is one of the only states in the Northeast without a medical marijuana program.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was opposed to medical marijuana, and attempts to create a law have failed to get through the state Senate for years.

Now Cuomo has reversed himself, proposing a medical marijuana research program run under exacting federal guidelines that would be the most restrictive in the country.

Strictly For Research

Imagine a museum that's only 6 square feet. It's called, simply, Museum and it's housed in an old elevator shaft in an alley near New York City's courts. It has some odd exhibits on 18 small shelves, and only about four people can fit into the space at a time.

At the end of this month, Michael Bloomberg ends his three terms as mayor of New York City. Assessing Bloomberg's legacy, a man who went from Republican to Independent, is not a simple thing to do. His 12 years in office were groundbreaking, locally and even globally.

But at the same time, many New Yorkers found him arrogant and insensitive to the poor. It's a vein that was tapped successfully by Democratic Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, who described New York as a city of haves and have nots. But the changes implemented by Bloomberg will impact generations of New Yorkers to come.

Transportation officials are investigating what caused a Metro-North Railroad passenger train to derail along the Hudson River in New York on Sunday morning. The crash left four dead and injured dozens more.

Starbucks, which revolutionized the coffee industry, is now taking on tea. It has opened its first tea bar, and it's creating mixed tea beverages, some even more complex and customized than the coffee beverages we all know.

This first store, on Madison Avenue in Manhattan, has minimalist decor: gray soft seats, charcoals, chestnut browns. Teavana teas line one wall. Beakers filled with colored liquids greet you at the entrance.

Imagine buying a genuine Pablo Picasso painting valued at $1 million — and paying only $135.

That's the prize if you win the "1 Picasso for 100 Euros" raffle Sotheby's is currently putting on. It's the first time a Picasso has been offered as a raffle prize, and while 100 euros (about $135) isn't cheap for a raffle ticket, at one in about 50,000, your chances of winning are a lot better than the megalotteries a lot of people enter.

The sexting scandal surrounding former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner has been fodder for comedians, punsters and those who love double entendres. Now it's the source material for a play, The Weiner Monologues, coming to off-off-Broadway's Access Theatre Nov. 6 through Nov. 10.

'Found Texts' (You Finish The Joke)

I'm walking through Times Square, the crossroads of the world. Just when I reach the line for cheap Broadway tickets, I see it: a giant billboard with the word "capitalism" in bright white lights and the words "works for me!" in cursive below. There's a podium and two buttons where you can vote whether the statement is "true" or "false."

Peggy Demitrack, a tourist from Cleveland, is adamant when she pushes the "true" button. She says capitalism works for anyone who strives and educates themselves.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And in other business news, Marc Jacobs is packing his bags. The fashion designer is leaving Louis Vuitton after 16 years. He is expected to focus on an eventual IPO for his own Marc Jacobs brand.

NPR's Margot Adler reports.

MARGOT ADLER, BYLINE: There was a sense of foreboding at Marc Jacob's spring fashion show in Paris. First, the music.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

On a gorgeous night, some 4,000 people, dressed all in white, have come to dine in a public, yet secret place in New York's Bryant Park.

They have come for Diner en Blanc, an unusual pop-up event that takes place in 20 countries. The guests eat in splendor at a location they only learn about minutes before they arrive. The thousands wave white napkins to signal the beginning of the event.

By 10 a.m. Tuesday, several hundred people had already gathered in Manhattan's Zuccotti Park to mark the second anniversary of the movement known as Occupy Wall Street.

With many people coming and going, heading for actions like a McDonald's protest or a march on Washington Square Park, it was difficult to assess actual numbers. Much like Occupy itself, groups changed and reformed all morning.

The Renaissance Garden at the New York Botanical Garden, a re-creation of a 16th-century medicinal garden, is so lush and colorful, it takes only a stroll through to absorb its good medicine.

The garden, part of a summer exhibit called Wild Medicine: Healing Plants Around the World, is a small-scale model of the Italian Renaissance Garden in Padua, Italy, Europe's first botanical garden.

Started in 1888 by suffragettes like Susan B. Anthony, the National Council of Women of the United States still exists today in a small office near the United Nations.

On the organization's 125th anniversary, it teamed up with the University of Rochester to open an old safe painted with the words "Woman Suffrage Party." No one knew what was in the safe or when it had last been opened.

When I found out that one of my cousins — now 88 — had hidden from the Nazis in Amsterdam, just like Anne Frank, it was a revelation. It made me want to know more about my cousin's life and story.

"I like to analyze what happens and to put it in writing; that gives you neatness in your head, and that is what I'm after," says my cousin, retired Judge Suzanne Hoogendijk. She was 87 at the time, and was talking about why she loved being a judge. But delving into her personal past was another matter.

Closing arguments are set to take place Monday in the federal class action trial involving New York City's stop-and-frisk policy. The trial has been going on for two months in Manhattan.

Plaintiffs in Floyd v. City of New York claim the New York Police Department, its supervisors and its union pressured police officers to stop, question and frisk hundreds of thousands of people each year, even establishing quotas. They argue that 88 percent of the stops involved blacks and Hispanics, mostly men, and were in fact a form of racial profiling.

In the bustle and craziness of New York's Times Square on a busy afternoon or night, you will see scores of costumed figures: Batman, Elmo, the Statue of Liberty.

But for more than a dozen years, arguably the most original of these is the Naked Cowboy. His fame has now spawned a franchise, with eight different cowboys and cowgirls.

Almost anytime you go to Times Square, you will see the original Naked Cowboy in a white cowboy hat, white boots and white underwear briefs, with the words "Naked Cowboy" written across his butt. That's all he's wearing.

You expect to find great trees in city parks and botanical gardens. But you might not expect to find ancient or unusual trees in the inner city or smack dab in the middle of a highway.

Benjamin Swett has a love of trees so deep that he's written pamphlets about them, created photo exhibits and now has a new book, New York City of Trees. His book has pictures and stories of some 60 trees in the city.

I took a walk with him to some of the great trees, often in unexpected places.

Try to put him in a box and he'll find his way out. Still working at nearly 85 years old, William Klein has gone rogue in at least four different fields: abstract painting, photography, filmmaking and commercial copy writing.

Klein now lives in Paris but I caught up with him in New York City — the place where he was born, but no longer has much affinity for. He's just here to promote a new book, William Klein ABC.

When I ask him what he thinks about the city, he says:

Police officers testifying at a federal trial challenging New York City's stop-and-frisk policy say they were ordered to increase their number of arrests, summons and 250s — the code for stop, question and frisk.

Some 5 million street stops of mostly black and Latino men have taken place in the city in the last decade.

Maryland is about to become the 18th state to abolish the death penalty.

A bill has passed the state Senate and is expected to pass the House of Delegates easily with the governor's ardent support. The strongest advocate to end the death penalty in Maryland is Kirk Bloodsworth, who was convicted of murder in that state in 1985 and was the first person in the U.S. to be sentenced to death row then exonerated by DNA evidence.

Union membership is at its lowest point since the 1930s. New figures show a drop, and only about 11 percent of workers belong to unions today.

But these numbers don't deter the New York City Labor Chorus, which has been singing in praise of unions for more than 20 years.

Jana Ballard, the choral director of the labor chorus, is one of the youngest in the group. She's 38. The average age of the 80 members is about 65.

More than 200 houses of worship damaged in Superstorm Sandy have applied for aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But given the separation of church and state, it's unclear whether federal funds are available to them.

The sanctuary of Temple Israel of Long Beach, N.Y., was flooded with more than 10 feet of saltwater in some places, says Rabbi David Bauman.

"Roughly 5 to 7 feet [of water] in most, and there were surges — particularly in our mechanical room — that went upwards of 12 to 14 feet," he says.

When compared with its neighbors Coney Island and the Rockaways, Manhattan seemed hardly touched by the waters and winds of Superstorm Sandy in late October. But almost three months later, areas of lower Manhattan are still laboring to recover.

Earlier this month, a museum devastated by Sandy finally reopened. About 800 people packed the lobby and upstairs galleries of the South Street Seaport Museum in lower Manhattan as Mayor Michael Bloomberg addressed the crowd.

The days leading up to Christmas are typically bustling in Newtown, Conn. But given the depth of grief in this community since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, preparations for the holiday began very late.

Local shopkeepers say Saturday was the first day many people came out for holiday shopping since the tragedy. Tamara Doherty, owner of the Wishing Well — a shop filled with local crafts, Christmas ornaments, pottery and potpourri — says her business is finally picking up.

The New York borough of Staten Island was hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy. Almost two months after the storm hit, many residents will not be back in their homes by the Christmas holiday.

One organization is trying to make the season a bit brighter for uprooted families with a free toy store on the island. This all-volunteer effort looks like a real toy store, but it feels more like a community of neighbors.

The shop boasts shelves filled with toys like model cars, Monopoly, dolls, craft supplies and books — almost everything you would want in a regular toy store.

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