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At Home on the Church Steps

by 02/08/2013
Neighborhood: Upper West Side

On a blustery December evening on my way to a friend’s dinner party, I stopped in front of a jumbo cardboard box on the steps of the church around the corner. “Jim?” I called out. A moment later a hand emerged and gave a little wave, followed by a head with tousled, graying hair. “Hi,” […]

Doormen For Romney

by 10/25/2012
Neighborhood: Upper East Side

September 2012 - In anticipation of an Occupy Wall Street march up Park Avenue, I am polishing the brass poles of the canopy and humming The Internationale. Although my employers, the bankers and traders who live in this elegant pre-war co-op, are hostile to OWS’s call for higher taxes on the rich, I am among the […]

New York Is Oakland

by 09/08/2012
Neighborhood: Featured, Financial District, SoHo, Union Square, Zuccotti Park

Two days after the Occupy Oakland police raid, where an Iraq War vet was shot in the head with a police projectile and hundreds more were sprayed with tear gas while they were sleeping, I get a text from Denise as I’m wrapping up dinner with some friends at Teresa’s Diner in Brooklyn Heights: Show […]

The Clerk, the Librarian, the Hobbit and the Cop

by 01/08/2012
Neighborhood: Zuccotti Park

“This,” I realized, “I’ve got to see."   In and out of grass-roots politics my entire adult life, I’ve marched, demonstrated, phone-banked, written letters and e-mails, signed petitions, sold buttons, attended meetings, gone on the radio, made documentaries, and helped with organizational duties. Early this October, I had joined in one Occupy demonstration in Washington […]

Bearded Strangers Unite!

by 01/08/2012
Neighborhood: All Over

I was sitting on a bench on the Lower East Side, waiting for an appointment with my barber, when a homeless lady came shuffling by, dressed in black rags. These were particularly witchy rags, it seemed to me, like she’d bought them at a store as part of a Halloween costume. Like in addition to […]

Talking Back: My First Encounter with the Human Microphone

by 12/31/2011
Neighborhood: Financial District, Uncategorized

I first visited Occupy Wall Street on a chilly evening in the middle of October. A few hundred people were gathered near the eastern steps of Zuccotti Park for the nightly meeting of the General Assembly. On the steps a young man was shrieking inaudibly. A few yards away, a jackhammer was being applied to […]

The Lucky One

by 08/16/2010
Neighborhood: Lower Manhattan, Manhattan

I celebrated my 60th birthday and my 25-year job anniversary the same year my employer accepted billions of TARP money. And then, on a bright July morning, I was laid off. I could pretend that it was because business was changing, as the notice letter said, or that there was a need to make more […]

A Fan’s Statistics

by 03/15/2008
Neighborhood: Jamaica, Queens

Two times per year the New York State English Regents Exam visits the high schools of our fair city, four comprehensive essays over a period of two days, and this January’s results are in. In my building, preparation for the exam begins in the ninth grade and continues right until the students enter class to […]

Brookti & Me: 3 Years On

by 02/10/2008
Neighborhood: Tribeca

[For earlier Brookti & Me, check here and here . --eds.] ** I’ve been reading a lot recently about our new “post-racial” world, where we have “transcended race,” where a black man is running for president and white people are actually voting for him. I’m wondering, if we have transcended race so successfully, why are […]

I Am Not a Crook!

by 02/10/2008
Neighborhood: Brooklyn

It was Richard M. Nixon who said it best when he uttered those immortal words: “I am not a crook!” For the record, he also said, “I have never been a quitter,” just before he resigned the presidency back in 1973. So go figure. I have always thought of crooks as cartoon burglars wearing Lone […]

Nature, or: Having Dinner with Four Men on a Saturday in February

by 06/01/2006
Neighborhood: West Village

They are like a set of bees fighting over a flower. The waitress waits as long as she can before taking our orders because she knows there is an order to everything, that I was the sort of homecoming queen who slept with half the football team before a Saturday night game. Used as I […]

Memoirs of the Kerry Administration

by Thomas Beller 11/04/2004
Neighborhood: Uncategorized

A friend of mine had a screaming fight with his father a couple of weeks before the election. The subject of the fight was politics. The father supported Bush. The son supported Kerry. The fight was heated, and eventually the son slammed down the receiver. He hung up on his father. Days passed. The phone […]