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Big Eric

by 01/13/2023
Neighborhood: Greenpoint

Big Eric is an alcoholic. I know this because he talks to me about his life when we work together. He’s 40-years old, and he tells me he’s feeling stressed and alone, and that the only time he feels peace is when he drinks. He lives around the corner from the café and sometimes in […]

Carroll Street

by 12/18/2022
Neighborhood: Gowanus, Park Slope

In 1979, when my boyfriend Bob bought the house, Park Slope had not yet exploded in a frenzy of gentrification. But change was on its way. Young professionals from Manhattan, starting families and priced out of Brooklyn Heights, were establishing themselves, transforming 7th Avenue with upscale specialty stores and busily renovating neglected brownstones with woodwork […]

The Price of Inclusion

by 10/01/2022
Neighborhood: Chelsea, Fire Island, Greenpoint, Meatpacking District

I didn’t get invited to go to Fire Island this year, which makes me feel like a gay pariah. I’m painfully aware of this after watching the movie, Fire Island. I loved it, but it reinforced my feeling that I lacked a queer community, and notably, one with a summer share in the Pines. My […]

MINKIE’S TUCHUS

by 08/21/2022
Neighborhood: Crown Heights

There was no sex in Brooklyn in the late 1940s. If desire affected my crowd (the 15 some odd members of the Gems Social and Athletic  Club, with whom I hung), it had to do with the Dodgers and urging Jackie Robinson to steal another base, or imploring Rex Barney to throw some strikes, or wishing Pete Reiser […]

Louie and Me

by 08/14/2022
Neighborhood: Downtown Brooklyn

“Mr. Hamm, this is Detective Scarcella. You’re the guy who only said one nice thing about me–that I’m ‘fit.’ ” “It’s true!” I replied.  “You were the big guy in the back, correct?” he said, referring to the Brooklyn courtroom where he testified in mid-May.  “You could say that, sure,” I said, taking his jab.  […]

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

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 […]