Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood’s Greatest Hits: A Truncated Retrospective

by The Editors

06/09/2006

270 Lafayette St., NY, NY 10012

Neighborhood: Multiple, SoHo

Hello. The 6th Anniversary of Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood is here, and the time has come to pay tribute to the site’s past. So many pieces are coming in all the time, piling up on the surface of the site, that it’s easy to forget how much terrific work has accumulated in the deeper layers of MBN’s very own geological record. We have decided to take a minute to go spelunking and spotlight some classic work from the site’s past.

No such retrospective would be complete without a look back at the year 2000, when the dot com boom was still jumping, and Snooder Greenberg contributed this affecting story about a woman who wanders into his life, takes it over, and disappears, only to reappear again and again. Greenberg sketches the character so well, you would think she were crashing on your very own couch.

Abigail A. Frankfurt has a question: Why do so many male subway riders insist on spreading their legs as wide as they can, when there is so little space to go around? Frankfurt has fun with their “Cro-Magnon sense of entitlement.”

In 2001, many pieces appeared about 9/11, too many to be able to give all of them their due in this small space. One that might be especially worth going back to is Bryan Charles’s minute-by-minute reconstruction of his last day of work in the Morgan Stanley office at Two World Trade Center.

Elizabeth Grove contemplates the memory, months later, as time insists on pushing forward.

It wasn’t long thereafter that the runup to the Iraq War began, another topic that many great pieces on MBN have addressed. In just one example from 2003, Saïd Sayrafiezadeh encounters bitterness and the murky beginnings of hope during a wartime visit to Duane Reade.

Soon enough, however, the 2004 Republican National Convention pulls into town. Debbie Nathan goes on an excursion with the GOP delegation from Texas.

Mass arrest tactics, on the other hand, require Patrick Gallagher to spend the RNC under even less enjoyable circumstances than Nathan does.

Yet life has to go on, then as now. Rachel Sherman’s chronicle of a 2004 visit to a Korean Japanese-style hair-straightening salon in Flushing, Queens focuses on a deceptively small part of everyday life with wit and intelligence.

As 2004 further unfolds, Stacy Pershall pays a visit to a hospital in Brooklyn when she runs out of medication. The author calls this humane but frightening account “a fine example of a bipolar brain off drugs.”

The sun rises on 2005 and Mr. Murphy sheds light on the arcane system of customs and mores that makes life hell for a doorman at an upscale Manhattan building.

Margaret Wilkie marvels when she encounters tourists in Detroit who are actually there on purpose, and she wonders what it means for the city’s future.

The ‘Hood gets a lot of pieces like the below, in which Kate Angus recounts how she skates the edge of the abyss following an exceptional breakup. This one, from Fall of 2005, stands out for its vivid emotions and amazing style.

That’s quite a selection, but it still feels awfully truncated compared to the total number of pieces to be found deep within the site. In any case, thanks again for continuing to read and submit. We can’t wait to see what you come up with next.

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