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Spa Day

by 09/06/2014
Neighborhood: Coney Island

The massage was about three-quarters of the way through when Galina stopped what she was doing and disappeared, leaving me face down and naked on the table, without a word of explanation. Galina? Bafflement gave way to blessed relief that her thumbs had, for a moment, ceased bullying me into a state of relaxation. I […]

A Picnic in Eden

by 09/01/2014
Neighborhood: Brooklyn, Williamsburg

“No, it is not only our fate but our business to lose innocence, and once we have lost that, it is futile to attempt a picnic in Eden.” — Elizabeth Bowen There’s a man across the street. He’s seventy-five, maybe eighty years old. He comes out of a red door in the apartment building kitty-corner […]

I Just Want to Stay In and Get High and Watch Netflix

by 07/20/2014
Neighborhood: Bushwick

I was not where I wanted to be. This was because I was out. I was out at a bar called the Narrows in Bushwick–or East Williamsburg if you’re a real estate broker. The bar is called the Narrows because the building is very narrow. But really every building in New York City is narrow. […]

Vesuvius Ave.

by 05/08/2014
Neighborhood: All Over, Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island

May and the city rejoices in spring, in light and color, in the sheer goodness of life and its improvements. Spring shows us that things do indeed get better; it’s not all decline — old buildings sparkle, trees quiver in green, mundane streets are remade as pageants. However, let’s not get carried away. Sure, it’s […]

Rejoice for the Winter that Was

by 03/28/2014
Neighborhood: All Over, Brighton Beach, Central Park, Union Square

Long lines at Whole Foods in Union Square again. It feels like the Russian bread lines, but no, it’s another snowstorm shopping spree. I’m not the only one anxious about running out of food—even though the streets are always plowed before my stomach growls uncomfortably. Everyone is complaining. Too cold, windy, snowy, sleety, Too much […]

Sliced Tomatoes

by 03/16/2014
Neighborhood: Boro Park

In the Jewish neighborhoods he was “Morris, the Maven of Tomatoes.” The orthodox women hardly talked to him, except to call out their orders in Yiddish, enough of which he understood, or to haggle about his high prices or to complain about the accuracy of the scale that hung from the side of his wagon. […]

The Laughter of the Maestro

by 03/09/2014
Neighborhood: Fort Greene

Last week I was walking home through a snowstorm. Turning the corner toward Fulton I called Cecil Taylor, who lived in the last unrenovated brownstone on that street. We knew each other from back in the 70s. The jazz pianist’s manager James Spicer had been a mutual friend, until the silver-haired impresario ripped off my […]

Real Estate Rhetoric: A User’s Guide

by 03/02/2014
Neighborhood: All Over, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bushwick, Chinatown, Harlem, Hell's Kitchen, Williamsburg

 Affordable housing. For most New Yorkers the term is an oxymoron. Niklas and I moved to the West Village when we got married a few years ago, a romantic notion if not an especially realistic one. In the beginning we joked that we could live on love. But a sandwich is also nice sometimes. As […]

The Hedges

by 02/16/2014
Neighborhood: Farmingdale

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 […]

On the Train in Winter

by 02/08/2014
Neighborhood: Across the River, All Over, Brooklyn, Carroll Gardens, Downtown Brooklyn, Gowanus, Greenwich Village

I have always lived near subway stations that are above ground, meaning that many of my days have begun by standing in the cold for a few minutes waiting for the train to roll in – the 1 at 125th Street, then the F at Fourth Avenue and Ninth Street in Brooklyn. During the winter […]

No Slices

by 02/04/2014
Neighborhood: DUMBO, Union Square

Pizza had been on my mind that summer. Who could forget the ever-present sensation of melting? Our skin like sweating cheese, like crusts toasted to a golden brown. We stank, all of us — the garlic you had for lunch, everyone could smell it in the subway car, hiding behind a juicy fragrance. Even nature […]

Just Another Night

by 01/12/2014
Neighborhood: Fort Greene

Last night was New Year’s Eve. My redheaded poetess friend Irene phoned to invite me to a 20-something party in Bushwick. “You’ll be the oldest man there.” Irene was going solo. “Almost three times older.” We were just friends. “I think of you as 16.” She had seen me being silly on more than one […]