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Life and Death in Chinatown

by 11/22/2020
Neighborhood: Chinatown

I didn’t know Chuen Kwok, an 83-year-old homeless man bludgeoned to death last year while sleeping in the entryway of a Chinatown store. Chances are, I wouldn’t have, since I speak neither Cantonese, Fujianese nor Mandarin. I am one of a growing cadre of non-Chinese moving into the neighborhood and contributing to the area’s gentrification. […]

Sublet on Thompson St

by 11/15/2020
Neighborhood: Caroll Gardens, Featured, West Village

  A friend from high school told me about a sublet on Thompson Street. It was a perfect location for a student at NYU.  Norman Fayne, a heavy man with stringy hair and wire-rimmed glasses, showed me the apartment on the second floor. It was the one just above the barbershop with the large, sun-faded […]

Stalking Woody Allen at the Carlyle Hotel

by 10/18/2020
Neighborhood: Upper East Side

It’s silly really. It’s just this picture I took on the stairs outside my apartment building five years ago of a black Remington typewriter with a blazer and skirt below it, like a body. And coming out of the typewriter was a headshot of Woody Allen. Five o’clock. I was putting on my stockings. The […]

Never Mind the Notes

by 09/27/2020
Neighborhood: Gramercy Park, Murray Hill

“If you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know.” – Louis Armstrong At the time I fancied myself a budding talent, though I’d have been hard pressed to say at what. Singer-songwriter was my latest label, only I sang mostly in the shower and once toweled dry  could never quite manage to make […]

Am I Still A New Yorker

by 09/23/2020
Neighborhood: Upper West Side

One morning not long ago, from a bedroom in suburban Maryland, I called the Upper West Side. I sat, hunched down, knees up, on the area rug at the foot of the bed. I like being on the floor when I make calls that make me nervous. The phone rang, and I felt not only […]

How is Your Mother?

by 09/06/2020
Neighborhood: Greenwich Village, West Village

“How is your mother?” they’d ask with a friendly smile. The stationery store manager with the club foot from whom she bought her cigarettes, the Eurotrash guy at the shoe store with whom she spoke German, everyone at the Jefferson Market. The shopkeepers up and down Sixth Avenue loved her. She made them feel special, […]

Bad Date

by 08/30/2020
Neighborhood: West Village

  (photo credit: Elizabeth Schoettle) Sometimes it seems New York will get hotter and hotter until the greenhouse glass breaks and we are all dead. But this was the winter of 2006. The night was cold, bitter, the swelling sky would not let loose, hair hit my face, and my coat blew open before I pressed […]

Nothing is Certain: Death and Bagels

by 08/09/2020
Neighborhood: Upper West Side

My very first marriage proposal came from the guy behind the counter at H&H Bagels on 80th and Broadway. I was around twelve and realize now he was most likely just looking for a tip or playing with the shy girl who was only recently allowed to go out from her school to buy her […]

Michael Jackson’s Father

by 07/04/2020
Neighborhood: Bowery

When my son and I moved to the Bowery in the late 1970s, we took our place alongside the slow-marching parade of men and women who moved through those streets like ghosts. Some were devoid of identity and shape and earthbound spirit; others were vivid and sublime.  A black man, a vagabond who trolled the […]

Central Park Saves the Day, Again

by 06/14/2020
Neighborhood: Central Park

I’ve been spending some jobless time in Central Park during the pandemic with other New Yorkers, where we are, seemingly, at times–aimless–roaming the park’s eight hundred and forty-three acres. What are we doing here, I often want to blurt out. We should be in our offices, attending boring meetings, typing away at our computers, picking […]

Dinner with Dad

by 05/31/2020
Neighborhood: Upper East Side, West Village

“Hi Jim, it’s Dad, just touching base to see how everything is going and how you’re feeling and how everyone is today. Looks like the first day of spring, the weather is horrible, I’m sure you agree. Give me a ring, let me know how things are going?” My Dad, Bill, spoiled me for fine […]

Nostalgia for the Norm

by 05/10/2020
Neighborhood: Greenwich Village

Observations in the Vale and Vector of the Virus It’s late. And again, I survey the silence, inverting wakefulness and sleep. Again, in place of dreaming, I listen to the refrigerator humming. The construction site that had been growing like a giant metal bean stalk outside my window, down the block, has suspended activity, its […]