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There Really Was a Mafia on the Upper West Side

by 11/03/2019
Neighborhood: Featured, Upper West Side

In the early 1960s, as a recently married City College professor the closest I’d come to the Mafia was in movies and newspaper articles. Back then, New York City was rocked by Mafia scandals as investigations revealed that the police and other municipal unions were cooperating with mobsters in numbers rackets, loan sharking, business shakedowns, […]

Interlude

by 10/27/2019
Neighborhood: Washington Heights

In the midst of a particularly grueling winter, I met Wren on OK Cupid.  Unlike my slim, brown-skinned fiancé who had deserted me the week before Christmas, Wren was bulky, with a ruddy complexion and pale blue eyes like my father’s. The day after my third date with Wren, my father died of congestive heart […]

MR. BELLER’S NEIGHBORHOOD READING SERIES 

by 10/27/2019
Neighborhood: 3 Bleecker Street

__________________________ At Von on November 7 at 7:30 FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC Von is located at 3 Bleecker Street: phone: 212 473 3039 ABOUT THE SERIES: Author Thomas Beller founded mrbellersneighborhood.com in 2000. The site has been publishing non-fiction stories that take place in New York City for 20 years—slices of life, portraits […]

Roommates

by 10/19/2019
Neighborhood: Astoria, Corona, Crown Heights, Ground Zero, Harlem, Hell's Kitchen

I’ve spent time in over 20 countries and at least 40 US states. In my travels, many people have told me that though New York City might be a nice place to visit, it’s certainly not a place for a person to live. But thank God there is a New York.  One of the best […]

Yorkville Summer 1965

by 10/06/2019
Neighborhood: Yorkville

    Summer 1965 in Yorkville, two street rides would begin to show up at night after dinner: the Bumper Cars and the Half Moon.  Each ride sat on a flat-bed truck, whose driver doubled as the ride operator. He’d park at a hydrant opening. The admission for each ride was a dime. My daily […]

Detours Through Dreams and Nightmares

by 09/08/2019
Neighborhood: Lower East Side

Twenty New York blocks gets you a mile. Back in “our time,” a motley crew of urban youth crossed the Manhattan landscape with that formula in our heads. We understood distance. We got time. We lived the algebraic formula of Time x Speed = Distance. If we started peddling our bikes at the top of the […]

Riding the A

by 07/28/2019
Neighborhood: Washington Heights

One way or another, everybody needs to get on the A train. I’m leaning against the back wall of the car, in that tiny corner beside the conductor’s compartment, still managing to read despite all the other people crammed in around me. It’s the afternoon rush hour and you don’t need a watch to tell. […]

From New York to New Orleans

by 07/21/2019
Neighborhood: Manhattan, New Orleans

Wandering Two Cities, a Youthful Diary   Edward Hopper once said that he identified all the places he’d known according to their architecture.  I used to be the same way.  I noticed people as backdrops to overblown dramas in light and shade.  I looked past them toward ogee roof and filigreed transom; I marveled at […]

The World’s Most Developed Man

by 07/14/2019
Neighborhood: Flatiron District, Manhattan

  If 115 East 23rd Street in Manhattan’s Flatiron district rings a bell, you’re probably of a certain age.  From the 1930s through the 1960s, the address was plastered in thousands of comic books and magazines. The 12-story building, constructed in 1913, housed the offices of Angelo Siciliano, better known as Charles Atlas. It was at […]

Chelsea Clinic, October 3, 1995

by 06/23/2019
Neighborhood: Chelsea

It took two weeks for my first HIV test results to come back. Naturally, as I waited, I thought I was going to die. For two weeks, I ate Ben & Jerry’s and sang along to a Discman on the streets of Manhattan. I spent each night on a different barstool and serenaded strangers about […]

Ashok’s Shop

by 06/09/2019
Neighborhood: Midtown

For twelve years there was a convenience shop I frequented in the Manhattan office building where I work. It was a cramped place, essentially a hole in the wall with a door attached to it, at the back end of the lobby. The sign on the door said Headline Newsstand, but as newspapers gradually disappeared […]

Patches

by 06/02/2019
Neighborhood: East Village, Lower East Side

  I’ve been accused of many things, but never of false modesty. You’d have to be pretty old to remember the catchy TV ads that the long departed Braniff Airways used to run. They hired celebrities like New York Jets star quarterback Joe Namath to recite one line: “If you’ve got it … flaunt it! […]