In honor of the 50th Anniversary of the 1964-65 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, author Joseph Tirella has been invited to read from his new book Tomorrow-Land: The 1964-65 World’s Fair and the Transformation of America; a book The New York Times called an “unsparing history [that] explores the contrast between the purported idealism of the 1964 World’s Fair and the conflict and compromise that surrounded the event” and which Slate.com called the “literary lovechild of Robert A. Caro’s The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York and Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America.“
In an epic narrative, Tirella’s Tomorrow-Land shows the astonishing pivots taken by New York City, America, and the world during the World’s Fair, which was headed by Robert Moses”New York’s famed “Master Builder.” The Fair fetched Disney’s empire from California and Michelangelo’s La Pieta from the halls of the Vatican; and displayed flickers of innovation from Ford, GM, and NASA”from undersea and outer space colonies to personal computers. It housed the controversial work of Andy Warhol (until Governor Rockefeller had it removed); and lured Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters across the nation on their famous LSD-fuelled road trip.
Meanwhile, the Fair”and its house band, Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians”sat in the musical shadows of the Beatles and Bob Dylan, who were redefining rock-and-roll and youth culture in New York City at the same time; and would usher in rock n’ roll golden age with two historic concerts in Queens in the Summer of ’65. And as Southern civil rights efforts turned deadly, and violent protests also occurred in and around the Fair, Harlem-based Malcolm X predicted a frightening future of inner-city racial conflict. World’s Fairs have always been collisions of eras, cultures, nations, technologies, ideas, and art. But the trippy, turbulent, Technicolor, Disney, corporate, and often misguided 1964-65 Fair was truly exceptional.
The reading will start start at the Museum’s cafe in sight of the majestic Unisphere built by U.S. Steel for the Fair, and will then continue in our new exhibition Andy Warhol’s 13 Most Wanted Men and the 1964 World’s Fair, which explores how Warhol was chosen to be part of a prominent set of public commissions for the Philip Johnson-designed New York State Pavilion’s exterior. Warhol chose to enlarge mug shots from a NYPD booklet featuring the thirteen most wanted criminals of 1962. Forming a chessboard of front and profile views, Thirteen Most Wanted Men was installed by April 15, 1964, and painted over by Fair officials’ direction with silver paint a few days later. When the Fair opened to the public, all that was visible was a large silver square. Tirella will read from a chapter in the book that gives you the inside scoop of why the work caused a minor scandal and how the decision was made to remove it. Weather permitting the final reading might take place at the ruins of the NY State Pavilion, adjacent to the Museum, before concluding with a book signing at the Museum shop.
About the Author
Joseph Tirella, a graduate of Queens College, is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Vibe, Rolling Stone, Esquire, People, and Reader’s Digest among other publications. A former senior editor at Fortune Small Business, he is currently the Associate Director of Media Relations at Herbert H. Lehman College of the City University of New York, where he is also an Adjunct Lecturer.
Tomorrow-Land: The 1964-65 World’s Fair and the Transformation of America, published by Lyons Press in January 2014 was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. The Kirkus Review called Tomorrow-Land: “Top-notch popular history”; Library Journal said the book was “a model of accessible narrative, showing the author’s immersion in archival research”; The Daily Beast named it a “Hot Read” and The New York Times called Tomorrow-Land an “unsparing history [that] explores the contrast between the purported idealism of the 1964 World’s Fair and the conflict and compromise that surrounded the event” noting how the “Kennedy assassination, Vietnam, rising urban crime and racial strife provide the backdrop for Tirella’s detailed history.” Slate.com said Tomorrow-Land was the “literary lovechild of Robert A. Caro’s The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York and Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America.”
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