The Boston Citgo sign, all 3,600 square LED feet of which has served as the backdrop to Red Sox games since 1965, is now officially a "pending landmark."

Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dalí spent much of the 1940s in the U.S., avoiding World War II and its aftermath. He was a well-known fixture on the art scene in Monterey, Calif. — and that's where the largest collection of Dalí's work on the West Coast is now open to the public.

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The middle of summer is when the surprises in publishing turn up. I'm talking about those quietly commanding books that publishers tend to put out now, because fall and winter are focused on big books by established authors. Which brings us to The Dream Life of Astronauts, by Patrick Ryan, a very funny and touching collection of nine short stories that take place in the 1960s and '70s around Cape Canaveral, Fla.

When the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union last month, the seaside town of Port Talbot in Wales eagerly went along with the move. Brexit was approved by some 57 percent of the town's residents.

Now some of them are wondering if they made the wrong decision.

The June 23 Brexit vote has raised questions about the fate of the troubled Port Talbot Works, Britain's largest surviving steel plant — a huge, steam-belching facility that has long been the town's biggest employer.

Solar Impulse 2 has landed in Cairo, completing the penultimate leg of its attempt to circumnavigate the globe using only the power of the sun.

The trip over the Mediterranean included a breathtaking flyover of the Pyramids. Check it out:

President Obama is challenging Americans to have an honest and open-hearted conversation about race and law enforcement. But even as he sits down at the White House with police and civil rights activists, Obama is mindful of the limits of that approach.

"I've seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change," the president said Tuesday at a memorial service for five law officers killed last week in Dallas. "I've seen how inadequate my own words have been."

Mice watching Orson Welles movies may help scientists explain human consciousness.

At least that's one premise of the Allen Brain Observatory, which launched Wednesday and lets anyone with an Internet connection study a mouse brain as it responds to visual information.

The FBI says it is giving up on the D.B. Cooper investigation, 45 years after the mysterious hijacker parachuted into the night with $200,000 in a briefcase, becoming an instant folk figure.

"Following one of the longest and most exhaustive investigations in our history," the FBI's Ayn Dietrich-Williams said in a statement, "the FBI redirected resources allocated to the D.B. Cooper case in order to focus on other investigative priorities."

This is the first in a series of essays concerning our collective future. The goal is to bring forth some of the main issues humanity faces today, as we move forward to uncertain times. In an effort to be as thorough as possible, we will consider two kinds of threats: those due to natural disasters and those that are man-made. The idea is to expose some of the dangers and possible mechanisms that have been proposed to deal with these issues. My intention is not to offer a detailed analysis for each threat — but to invite reflection and, hopefully, action.


How's 'Koch' Doing? Years Later, Still All Right

Jan 31, 2013
Originally published on February 1, 2013 10:35 am

Editor's Note: This review was edited and published before news of Koch's death broke. The headline has been updated to reflect that news, but the text of the review is unchanged.

A little Ed Koch goes a long way — and particularly from 1978 to 1989, as he served his three terms as mayor of New York City, there was more than enough to go around. Neil Barsky's documentary Koch captures the essence of this very big personality — though if the film were even two minutes longer, it might constitute Koch overload. Luckily, Barsky knows when enough is enough, even if his subject doesn't.

That's not to say Koch can't be a charmer, in his own self-aggrandizing, no-baloney way. In Koch, even those who railed against his abrasive and sometimes blinkered policies during his reign — among them the activist minister Calvin O. Butts, just one of the many community leaders and journalists interviewed here — pretty much concede that he was the quintessential New York mayor of their lifetime.

Koch's New York was a broke and broken city at the beginning of his first term, and by the end of his scandal-ridden last, it had begun its climb back toward being a reasonably safe and — for those with enough money — fairly decent place to live. Koch's record may not be perfect, but it sure isn't lacking drama or color.

Barsky, formerly a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, tells the story of Ed Koch — and thus the story of 1980s New York — through a mix of vintage and contemporary footage. In the older clips, we see a spry, balding, overgrown elf striding through the somewhat dilapidated streets of the city, cheerfully asking no one in particular, "How'm I doing?" (even while making it clear he doesn't really care to know the answer). Barsky deploys all the expected visual icons of the era — shots of crowds gathered at Studio 54, subway cars covered with swaths of graffiti — using them in an artful way that captures some of the dangerous energy of the period.

And while Barsky doesn't shy away from some of the bigger blots on Koch's record — including his willful ignorance of problems facing the black community and his slowpoke response to the AIDS crisis — he's a little less clear about Koch's potential involvement in the municipal corruption scandal that broke toward the end of the mayor's third term.

Barsky may be a little dazzled by his subject matter, but admittedly it's hard not to be. Koch could be a borderline-racist crabapple one minute, but the next he'd be taking swift action to build affordable housing, or jovially falling into step with cranky New Yorkers forced to hoof it to work during the painful transit workers strike of 1980.

The Koch of today, as Barsky shows him, is maybe more a brand than a real human being, a winkly-twinkly old coot who still loves the spotlight and who continues to milk it for all it's worth. (Barsky also asks Koch outright about his sexual orientation, and the response is simultaneously cagey and direct.) But overall, the portrait Barsky paints is both affectionate and clear-eyed.

Ed Koch, years after leaving public office, still has a line of goods to sell, and somehow it's hard to resist buying. The man we see in Koch is one who dearly loves New York City, almost as much as he loves himself — but not quite.

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