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Selected Observations on Urban Fauna

by 05/15/2022
Neighborhood: Greenwich Village, Manhattan

Insects The following is a contemporary take on the medieval bestiary, featuring descriptions and characterizations of the actual and apocryphal creatures that share our constricted urban space. This second installment is devoted to insects. Stomped, smoked out, asphyxiated, and trampled underfoot, they elicit a degree of fear and disgust disproportionate to their size. Quietly going […]

Mickey Mouse in Manhattan

by 05/08/2022
Neighborhood: Featured, Manhattan

Around two years ago, I’m walking down Broadway and once again I encounter Mickey Mouse. (Not the actual Mickey—he’s either passed on to the rodent afterlife or is living in a fancy retirement resort on a golf course in Nevada). This version of Mickey I’m talking about (which disappeared during Covid) was a very large […]

The Many Mysteries of Love

by 05/01/2022
Neighborhood: Lower East Side

A little boy sits on the wood floor. In a small room with a rocking horse in the corner. A stuffed teddy bear is on his pillow. There is a small soft blanket, the one he holds at night, in a chair. The smell of the room is comforting.  Twenty years later, standing in the […]

School Lunch Is Killing Me 

by 04/10/2022
Neighborhood: Upper East Side

“Lefty, what did you do with the hard boiled egg?” I worked the words out of the side of my mouth. I was Jimmy Cagney in “White Heat” and I wanted to take this place apart.  “It’s in my pocket, and what’s with the Lefty crap?” John said. “Lefty, we’ll know more in a few […]

Shelby Said

by 03/27/2022
Neighborhood: Manhattan

Yesterday, there was a café and now, suddenly, there isn’t. Life disappears while we sleep. The homeless live on many corners. Shelby plants a mattress and pillowson the corner outside the nearby Duane Reade.  Neighbors donate sheets, pillowcases, a woolen blanket and a warm winter coat to help Shelby, as she takes yet another night […]

Moving to Queens

by 03/06/2022
Neighborhood: Morningside Heights, Sunnyside

I lived in Manhattan for most of my considerably long life, until moving to Queens four years ago.  In my early adulthood, Manhattan was still affordable, so affordable that the people who worked the jobs that sustain city life—cops, teachers, garbage men, hospital and transit workers—could afford to live in certain areas of it. So […]

Manhattan Street Locator

by 02/27/2022
Neighborhood: Manhattan, Midtown East

In the Manhattan telephone directory “white pages,” there used to be a page that came just before alphabetical listings of names, addresses, and phone numbers. Along with a list of Post Office addresses and a map of City zip codes, it featured the Manhattan Address Locator.  A simple looking table, it performed a kind of […]

The Literary Life

by 02/20/2022
Neighborhood: Lower Manhattan, SoHo

The Literary Life: NYC 1982 I recall distinctly The famous author Standing over me As I scraped the plaster Off her bathroom floor Left behind by Workers renovating The building The first time I talked to her She called me up To express her Indignation About the bathroom I felt I’d done Something wrong Like […]

Broken Glass

by 02/13/2022
Neighborhood: Upper West Side

Last January, days before I was due to return to New Orleans from New York, a fire broke out in my parents’ apartment building on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I had come to the city in the midst of the pandemic to repopulate my life, albeit temporarily: the first week belonged to my […]

Shoveling Snow

by 01/30/2022
Neighborhood: Upper West Side

Out early yesterday morning after the big snowfall. The streets are being cleared. God, it’s been years since I did any of that. Now I have no car to dig out, no store to clear the street for; nothing special to worry about (save for not slipping on the ice and cracking my old bones).  […]

A Trio in Search of a Blech

by 01/16/2022
Neighborhood: Lower East Side

As my plane landed at JFK, the third day of Hanukkah gave way to the night before Christmas. Wise men and Maccabees, manger and menorah, holy night and holy light all merged on the taxi ride to Brooklyn for a winter holiday vacation visit with my sister Rivka. Fortunately, there was room at the inn; […]

Shop Around

by 01/09/2022
Neighborhood: Gramercy Park

My mama told me, “You better shop around, (Shop, shop)Oh yeah, you better shop around” (Shop, shop around)— Smokey Robinson & Berry Gordy, Jr. The store on East 23rd was my favorite Salvation Army Thrift Store, although there were several I visited often.  Most Saturdays I spent the whole day walking the streets of the […]