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An Education on Avenue B

by 03/23/2014
Neighborhood: East Village, Featured

In 1971, when I was 11 years old, my world was turned upside down when my parents decided to send me to a Jewish Day School on the Lower East Side. From grades 1 to 5, I’d gone to the Downtown Community School, or DCS as it was called, on East 11th Street. It was […]

The Hedges

by 02/16/2014
Neighborhood: Farmingdale, Featured

I don't know when it happened exactly, but it happened. I have become a cranky old man, closed and rigid and fixed in my ways, despite the fact that in my youth I’d resolved never to grow up, never to become like all the grown ups who lived in my world when I was growing […]

That’s Mad Creepy, Bro

by 01/01/2014
Neighborhood: Greenwich Village

I’m on the E train and a child who isn’t mine is leaning her head on my left shoulder. She is sleeping and I don’t quite know what to do yet. Her mother is to her left daydreaming, completely unaware that her daughter’s head has shifted onto a stranger. I decide to let her rest. […]

On Avoiding the Clipboard

by 06/06/2013
Neighborhood: Greenwich Village, Uncategorized, West Village

It was my second time on the NYU campus (I will pause here, long enough for some self-important student to roll his eyes: “We don’t have a campus,” as if the word is a smarmy, sordid curse); it was my first time there alone, and I wore the trademark face of an awed tourist. Open-mouthed. […]

Scaffolding

by 04/18/2013
Neighborhood: Featured, Financial District

Once upon a time, when I was a teenager working as a bike messenger, I would stop midway across Central Park, somewhere along the North side of the Great Lawn, and take a break to regard the skyline along the park's southern edge. I was always hoping to see signs of new construction. This would […]

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 […]

The Dirty Side Of A Car Wash

by 03/15/2013
Neighborhood: Bronx

I believe my father owned one of the first automatic car washes in New York City, located on Bruckner Boulevard in the Bronx. It was around 1950 and I can still recall a TV blip of him driving into the car wash and the newscaster, John Cameron Swayze, making note of this distinct new type […]

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,” […]

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 […]

Revo, like Revolution.

by 01/30/2013
Neighborhood: Bedford-Stuyvesant

I met a man at the corner bodega by my brownstone in Bedford-Stuyvesant on Friday. The conversation started like this. “Hey, man. What’s going on?” I said while heading to the beverage coolers. “Not much, how are you?” “Can’t complain. Just a lazy Friday. What do you think, Colt 45 or Olde English?” “Colt 45 […]

Starry Night

by 12/04/2012
Neighborhood: Downtown Brooklyn

“If stars are lit...” - V. V. Mayakovsky Had the receptionist been Dante Alighieri, he might have strung a banner along the wall of the windowless waiting room advising visitors to “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” But the person who pointed me in the direction of this circle of Hell was no Dante--nor […]

Bensonhurst Nicknames ca. 1966 – 1980, Annotated.

by 11/12/2012
Neighborhood: Bensonhurst, Featured

[This list contains all the nicknames of kids I can remember from my childhood (age 7 - 21, approx.) in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.  See explanatory notes for each nickname below.] 1. Angelo Head 2. Rabbit 3. Ape 4. Frankie Airlines 5. Joey All-Star 6. Vinnie Barbarino 7. Turtle 8. Tortoise 9. Harry O. 10. Frank Asshole […]