November's Editor's Letter

Article
Editor's Letter
22 November 2016

One of my favorite things about Prince Street is that, in the end, it’s all about listening. After the stories are chosen, assigned, written, recorded and edited amongst our team, there’s only one more thing for me to do: slide on headphones, close my eyes, (maybe pour a drink first), and truly listen to what our guests said.

Month after month what's striking to me is how much you learn about a person by listening to them for just ten minutes. In this episode, our eighth, centered around the idea of community, Griffin Dunne reveals his affection, rooted in memories with his father and daughter, for a kind of New York restaurant and community that is dying out. Jonathan Franzen, debating the merits of his simple diet with fellow author Bill Buford, talks about his compassion for an even larger community, the natural world; he made me pause to consider what’s at stake every time a bird is eaten. Just in time for Thanksgiving.

Communities require and are defined by listening. Food communities thrive where information is exchanged, recipes shared, and arguments raised and resolved. Your own Thanksgiving table is one example. And on this episode, we hear how the men on the night shift at the world's largest wholesale food market, Hunt's Point in the Bronx, many of them related, fight, blame and make up, all while making sure millions of pounds of produce make it to the right people before the city wakes up. We even hear them mediate, which, I admit, after this past election cycle, remains a hard concept to identify. Still, it’s refreshing to hear. Even if it’s only about apples.

Genuinely listening can yield surprises, too. For my story, I interviewed the formidable German architect Ole Scheeren. We met in the immaculate penthouse of Manhattan’s Edition hotel, a custom fragrance in the air. Outside, the sun hit the Flatiron district with such intensity the concrete seemed to turn white. Scheeren was all business. Crisply dressed, concerned with the time. I asked my questions. He gave his answers. But when I listened to our interview I heard something I'd missed when I was talking, too: there's real soul, he has deep feeling for what he was describing. It’s a fast food concept (for Dean & Deluca, the sponsor of our show), but one he’s envisioned with empathy: how other people will experience it, how other people will feel in this new space he's designing.

There’s something moving both about his process and about the fact that I didn’t entirely get it until I had a chance to stop, tune out the distractions and actually hear him.

And there’s so much more listening to do.

Howie Kahn
Editor-In-Chief

Photo by Michael Halsband.

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