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The White Cadillac and Erasable Tattoos

by 06/19/2022
Neighborhood: Babylon, Williamsburg

Red leather and chrome trap my eyes. I could be in the kitchen washing dishes or helping my mom cook dinner. Maybe walking home from my best friend Lynda’s house or reading a book in the backyard. When I think about the white Cadillac, I feel happy. When the Cadillac is parked in the driveway […]

A Pool Grows in Crown Heights

by 06/05/2022
Neighborhood: Brooklyn, Crown Heights, Featured

It was the start of another 90-something degrees day. The sixth floor bedroom I shared with my seven-year old brother and five-year old sister on Empire Boulevard in Crown Heights was sweltering. Our apartment was on the top floor directly under the building’s roof, which drew in the sun’s heat with a vengeance, through its […]

Subway Stories

by 05/22/2022
Neighborhood: Downtown Brooklyn, Lower East Side, Prospect Heights

Cars and Crimes and Trains My wife (we weren’t yet married at the time) had a fairly new ’81 Toyota Starlet stolen in Brooklyn. We took a city bus to the police precinct to report it stolen (no over the phone reports back in those days). Halfway there, we insisted that the driver stop the […]

Good Friday Procession at St. Barbara’s in Bushwick

by 04/15/2022
Neighborhood: Brooklyn, Bushwick

In the 1970’s a group of mostly Puerto Rican parishioners, connected to the growing Catholic Cursillo movement, introduced a livelier more personal liturgy to their Italian-American and Irish-American fellow congregants at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church on 21st Street. The highlight of this group’s active devotion was their annual reenactment of the passion […]

Brooklyn Pizza

by 03/24/2022
Neighborhood: Midwood, South Brooklyn

On St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2022, it might have been easy to let slip the New York Times obituary of an Italian-American octogenarian. But I sat up straight when I saw the name Domenico DeMarco, the legendary pizza maker who founded Di Fara’s Pizza on Avenue J in 1965. I had read about him […]

St. Patrick’s Day

by 03/14/2022
Neighborhood: Park Slope, Rockaway Beach

I was born in South Brooklyn in 1947. As a teenager I did not experience the Italian – Irish conflict that my parents, children of Italian immigrants, did. The fighting between Irish-American and Italian-American teen gangs had basically stopped. (Sadly, newer common enemies were found.)  Locals continued to tag walls and store gates with graffiti […]

Ash Wednesday: Brooklyn

by 03/02/2022
Neighborhood: South Brooklyn

February 13, 1975 Yesterday shot a roll of people leaving Ash Wednesday church. Should be good. Since the front entrance was locked due to snow, only exit available was small side one. The walk is only about four feet wide, but only two feet were shoveled. So…people had to go by me. I swear, after […]

Of Ghouls and Gratitude

by 10/30/2021
Neighborhood: Park Slope

This time a year ago there was talk of canceling Halloween in New York. Though I am a parent of two children, I was unconcerned. Up until that point, Halloween had been a minor event on our family’s calendar.  The parent listservs, however, were abuzz with ideas on how to make Halloween happen. The problem […]

Glory Days: Crown Heights, Brooklyn, 1948

by 10/24/2021
Neighborhood: Crown Heights

“We’ll have tables for each of your epochs,” Judy brimmed. “One for your elementary school friends, one for your high school friends, one for your college friends, one for your law school friends, and one for your now friends.” She was planning a 70th birthday party for me and was on a roll. “It’ll be such […]

The Fence on Madison Street

by 09/05/2021
Neighborhood: Williamsburg

On a blistering August afternoon in 2012, I visit my childhood neighborhood in Williamsburg after a 50-year absence and approach a teenage girl who sits on a wooden shipping crate in the front of a house on Madison Street.  I’m standing in front of a wrought iron fence that forms a boundary between us. She […]

Abandoned Car

by 08/29/2021
Neighborhood: Caroll Gardens

I’m a 54-year-old New Yorker who lives three blocks from the Brooklyn row house I grew up in. The last 18 months have brought a lot of changes to my neighborhood. Storefronts on Carroll Garden’s Smith Street are boarded up, the sidewalks are lined with restaurant lean-tos, and street parking is more unattainable than ever. […]

The Boys of Crown Heights

by 08/08/2021
Neighborhood: Crown Heights

Dr. Schpahl looked like a Nazi out of central casting. A thin mensur crawled down his right cheek, across his pock-marked face, to below his mouth. He spoke in clipped, accented barks, most of which were expressions of severe disappointment. That he was a Hebrew teacher and not a camp commandant may have been a […]