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The Laughter of the Maestro

by 03/09/2014
Neighborhood: Featured, Fort Greene

Last week I was walking home through a snowstorm. Turning the corner toward Fulton I called Cecil Taylor, who lived in the last unrenovated brownstone on that street. We knew each other from back in the 70s. The jazz pianist’s manager James Spicer had been a mutual friend, until the silver-haired impresario ripped off my […]

Fighting For What

by 07/01/2013
Neighborhood: Bowery, Featured

Everything happened quick in CBGB's subterranean toilets. The release of body waste was rivaled by magic-markering a band’s name atop the thousands of previous honorees in the toilet’s hall of fame and while the inhalation of cocaine or heroin in the stalls was more popular than shooting up dope or speedballs, sex within the battered […]

The Dress

by 06/18/2013
Neighborhood: All Over, Greenwich Village, SoHo, West Village

For thirty-five years its posture has been folded into a deep curtsy, dormant over a hanger, as if waiting for a curtain call. After that one moment in the spotlight, it’s never been worn again. Unless we consider fleeting fantasies of varying scenarios I’ve had over the decades that flash-forwarded to, well, the age I […]

Dreams of Taylor

by 06/18/2013
Neighborhood: Featured, Midtown

The term ‘generation gap’ was coined during the tumultuous Post WWII years, as the focus of the American media swung from the conquerors of the Axis Powers to their spawn, the Baby Boomers. Bing Crosby gave way to Elvis and the King was deposed by the Beatles, as each succeeding wave of teenagers attempted to […]

What’s in a Name

by 05/06/2013
Neighborhood: Bronx, Midtown

Sitting in the second row of the balcony at the New York City Center ballet, I, sixteen, entranced by the melodies of Swan Lake, watched a tall, muscular sun-god pirouetting and jeteing on the stage. As he soared, I gasped at the height of his jumps and his sure-footed landings. But I had not come […]

School Spirits

by 03/20/2013
Neighborhood: Featured, Jamaica

I’ve been teaching Writing and Literature in New York City’s public school system for almost nine years. This spring, my former building will graduate its final class just shy of reaching the century mark. The school’s phase-out process followed the usual script that no ‘education reformer’ cares to discuss: a decent school declared dangerous, unable […]

Ellis Island

by 02/03/2013
Neighborhood: Ellis Island

The following sonnets are excerpted from Robert Viscusi's forthcoming book, Ellis Island, which will be published in March 2013 by Bordighera Press. Random arrangements of lines from the 624 sonnets that comprise this epic work can be discovered via the Random Sonnet Generator at ellisislandpoem.com. This is the first time these poems have appeared as written […]

From Ditmars Blvd. (the Last Stop)

by 02/03/2013
Neighborhood: Astoria

N train I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing. N train, two dollars and twenty-five cents. N train; go fuck yourself with your Sunday Schedule. N train you are making me lose my mind. You will never be angelic N train, 40 minutes to Queensboro Plaza! N train you are full of excuses. We […]

A Dark and Stormy Night

by 01/07/2013
Neighborhood: Uncategorized, West Village

Three days after a storm that could have easily been called Gidget or Bob in keeping with the unintended frivolity of its real name – Sandy, two people are sitting on a bench in a dark chaotic lobby of an artists’ residence on the west side of Manhattan. One, a sculptor, is waiting for her […]

SMASHING KNIVES

by 12/28/2012
Neighborhood: Brooklyn, Midtown

In the Greater Depression the employment opportunities for a man my age were limited in New York. No company wanted to pay my worth, for a younger man will do the job for a third the wage and his knowledge of labor resistance is zero. However my absolute willingness to work has overcome most obstacles […]

Letting Go of My Faux Boyfriend

by 11/13/2012
Neighborhood: All Over, Citifield, Midtown, Tribeca

Last week I officially let go of my faux-boyfriend. The moment of truth happened in a lavender room with a gray sofa and wooden lectern at the Office of the City Clerk on Worth Street. Jamie and Tomoko said, “I do,” and smiled. They kissed each other and thanked the clerk. I waited for something […]

Doc Pomus

by 10/03/2012
Neighborhood: Upper West Side

My songwriter friend Robin called me with an opportunity to make some easy money, fast. She gave me the name and address of a friend of hers and, although I was pretty busy kicking drugs and booze, I jumped at the chance of making some money. I hopped the number two express on Seventh Avenue […]