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.

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 International Labor Organization, the U.N. agency that deals with labor issues, has released a report on the growing number of domestic workers around the globe, and their lack of legal and worker protections. There are almost 53 million domestic workers and 83 percent are women. They have often been ignored by policy makers.

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.

On Friday, Sotheby's is putting up for auction 44 letters and 35 drawings from Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts, to a young woman he was courting.

The letters were written during an eight-month period starting in 1970 when Schulz's first marriage was deteriorating and before he met his second wife. During this time, Schulz, 48, wrote Tracey Claudius, 25, poignant, funny, even innocent notes in pictures and words, often using Charlie Brown to stand in for himself.

Hurricane Sandy's effect on the nation's unemployment figures was less pronounced than expected. The reasons are complex, but one thing is clear: Thousands of victims are still struggling to rebuild their lives and get back to work.

Danielle Siekierski was tending bar at a restaurant in Manhattan's Meatpacking District before Sandy hit. When the restaurant was damaged in the storm, the workers were told it might be a week before it reopened.

Every day I walk down Fifth Avenue on my way to work. I pass glittering holiday store windows, the Salvation Army ringing its bells and the sparkling tree at Rockefeller Center.

But for months I've noticed a mystery: Only one store has huge lines outside before it opens: Abercrombie & Fitch.

Perhaps 90 people stand on line every day before opening, rain or shine. It's been going on for years and not just during this season.

Fast-food workers staged protests Thursday at restaurants in New York. The workers said their low wages need to be raised. But with the economy still slow, restaurant managers are determined to hold down labor costs so they can offer dollar foods.

New York City lost almost 10,000 trees from the winds of Superstorm Sandy and the nor'easter that followed. That's far more trees lost in the city than in any other storm for which tree damage was recorded.

Walking through Central Park, Ken Chaya peers past a stone arch, observing the damage and uprooting of about 800 trees. He knows more about the park's trees than just about anybody else; he created a map that charts every single one of the roughly 20,000 trees.

NPR's Margot Adler is covering the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in New York.

I walked out of my apartment at 5 this morning in a part of Manhattan -– the Upper West Side — that never lost power. Still, I skirted around downed trees on my way to the subway. Across the street, a car was crushed by a tree. Almost no one was on the street.



From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


I'm Audie Cornish. And we begin this hour with Sandy by the numbers. At least 39 people on the East Coast have died, as a result of the massive storm.

SIEGEL: Sixty-nine are dead in the Caribbean.

CORNISH: Eight-point two million people, in the U.S., are without power.

SIEGEL: And while it's too early for an accurate tally, insured losses alone are estimated at 5- to $10 billion.



You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.


The storm on the East Coast is making a devastating impression on New York City. Storm surge coupled with a high tide have swelled the water to record levels in some places that includes Battery Park, and now, reports of flooding in the subway and in automotive tunnels.

NPR's Margot Adler joins us from New York with more details. And, Margot, what can you tell us about these reports of flooding?

While much of America was watching the second presidential debate, about 2,000 people — many of them between the ages of 20 and 40 — were doing something very different. They had gotten a rare and prized ticket to the only U.S. appearance by J.K Rowling, as she promotes her new book for adults, The Casual Vacancy.

The crowd was huge but happy — double the number originally planned, forcing the organizers to change venues. Attendees got a ticket to the Lincoln Center event and a copy of the book, which Rowling would later sign.

The first book in the All Souls trilogy, A Discovery of Witches, was a tour de force, an artful and unusually skilled blending of hard science, history and the supernatural. Deborah Harkness, a historian of science at the University of Southern California, was the perfect person to pull off a mix that some readers called "Harry Potter for intellectuals."

Enter the glorious Rose Reading Room on the third floor of the New York Public Library on a weekday afternoon, and you'll find almost every chair filled.

Scholars and researchers still submit their book requests on slips of paper and wait for their numbers to appear on two large boards.

The stacks, filled with some 3 million volumes, are closed to the public, so books are retrieved from seven floors of shelving below. Still other volumes are stored off-site.

Claude Monet's garden in Giverny, France, draws half a million visitors a year, but for the next several months, you won't have to travel farther than the Bronx to get a taste of the artist's green thumb. The New York Botanical Garden has recreated Monet's horticultural work for an exhibit that includes photographs, videos, rare documents and two of the impressionist's paintings.

I'm standing in the Manhattan office of Andrew Farnsworth, a research associate at Cornell University's ornithology lab. Farnsworth is using meteorological data, radar data, crowd-sourced eBird data and acoustic data from the flight calls of migrating birds to predict where birds are going and when they'll be there.

It's perhaps the most reproduced piece of art ever created. It has adorned key chains and coffee mugs, and the cover of Time magazine. Andy Warhol used it, and now one of the four versions of The Scream, Edvard Munch's iconic work — the only one outside Norway — is coming up for auction at Sotheby's in New York. Sale estimates are as high as $80 million.

There was news this week that Ernest "Chick" Callenbach had died. His 1975 cult-classic, Ecotopia, was beloved by environmentalists and science fiction fans. Originally self-published, it went on to sell more than a million copies in many languages. The utopian novel, which imagined a new nation made up of Northern California, Oregon and Washington state, is told from the point of view of a visiting reporter from the United States.

About 20 million people in the United States practice some form of yoga, from the formal Iyengar and Ashtanga schools to the more irreverent "Yoga Butt."

But some Hindus say yoga is about far more than exercise and breathing techniques. They want recognition that it comes from a deeper philosophy — one, in their view, with Hindu roots.

Many forms of yoga go back centuries. Even in the U.S., the transcendentalists were doing yoga in the 1800s.

It's fitting that in an election year, we would be bombarded by presidential thrillers. Even presidential vampire thrillers. I previously reviewed Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth, which follows the story of a secret vampire agent who is bound by oath to every president of the United States since the 1860s. That novel already has a sequel, The President's Vampire.

Groups within the Occupy Wall Street movement are trying to overhaul the banking system and even dream of creating a new kind of bank.

Occupy isn't in the headlines so much these days, but work continues behind the scenes. The Alternative Banking Group of Occupy Wall Street meets weekly in different places. Members are older than some might think — in their 30s, 40s and 50s — and many work or formerly worked in the financial industry.

These days, hotels aren't just looking to hire bellhops, concierges and housekeepers. What the industry really needs are digital bloodhounds: people who understand how to use new technologies to track — and attract — potential guests.

One of those newfangled workers is Greg Bodenlos. At 24, he's just a couple of years out of Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration. His official title is digital marketing strategist at The Mark Hotel, a luxury hotel in New York City.



Today, Justice Department officials meet with family of Trayvon Martin. The unarmed African-American teen was shot in Florida by a neighborhood watch volunteer. Last night, Martin's parents joined a rally in New York's Union Square, and NPR's Margot Adler attended.

MARGOT ADLER, BYLINE: There was rage, sadness and also the feeling of a prayerful community gathering. When the parents of Trayvon Martin spoke, the crowds pushed closer to get a look and shouted words of encouragement. Tracy Martin, the teenager's father, spoke first.

For people who watch TV news or read newspapers, the Occupy movement might seem to be in hibernation.

Most of the encampments are gone, and diminished numbers take part in protests.

But there's a lot of ferment behind the scenes — at least at Occupy Wall Street.

Check the Occupy Wall Street website and you'll see at least 15 events every day: meetings by working groups on arts and culture, alternative banking, media, security.

'Pop-Up' Protests

When the New York Hotel Trades Council ratified a new contract for hotel workers last month, much of the media coverage focused on "panic buttons." Coming after the sexual assault allegations against former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the idea of housekeepers wearing a badge that could call for help was all over the news.

The New York Knicks have won seven games in a row after struggling all season — and some would say they've struggled for years.

Point guard Jeremy Lin, the man few knew a week and a half ago, scored a 3-pointer in the last seconds to win Tuesday's game against Toronto. Wednesday night, Linsanity returned to New York City and Madison Square Garden.

I confess, I had never heard of Jeremy Lin until three days ago. Yet watching this Taiwanese-American from Harvard during the last quarter of the Knicks game, I, like everyone else, was blown away.

If you live in the Northeast, this has been a wacky winter: It has been deathly cold in Eastern Europe, as flowers bloom in New York City and temperatures rise to the high 40s and even 50s.

I went in search of flowers in bloom and was not disappointed. There were bushes of red camellias, and gorgeous yellow flowering Adonis. Kristin Schleiter is the acting director of outdoor gardens at the New York Botanical Garden. She took me to an outdoor test garden.

Coney Island Bialys and Bagels claims to be the oldest bialy bakery in New York City. Founded in 1920, it's faced hard economic times and changing neighborhood demographics.

Now, the shop has been rescued by two Pakistani Muslims — and they're keeping it kosher.

If you live in New York City, you will often see the Orthodox Jewish ambulance service known as Hatzolah on the street. Hatzolah has some 1,200 volunteers — all men — in New York City and is known for its quick response time.

Now, a group of Hasidic female EMTs wants to create a women's division within Hatzolah, to help deliver babies in emergencies.