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B-Man: The Next Door Neighbor From Hell

by 05/27/2004
Neighborhood: Harlem

I live next to the neighbor from hell. B-man is about 5/10, slim and dark skinned. He always wears a black kango and one of his old black suits. I can tell they’re so old because of all the wrinkles in it,cand besides that its faded. On the east side of Harlem on 129th Street […]

Spare Change with Bullets

by 01/31/2004
Neighborhood: Harlem

A slightly built African-American man in a standard-issue beige trenchcoat murmured as we passed on the street. “Say, you wouldn’t mind giving the time of day to a Black man?” “What can I do for you?” “Well, I’m just here at St. Luke’s, you see, for the methadone program, and I have to get home, […]

Grant’s Tomb

by 01/30/2004
Neighborhood: Harlem

The garden in Riverside Park is fragrant and full of kids playing, but only several hundred yards away Grant’s Tomb maintains its atmosphere of austerity and stillness. The sign on the plaza outside the Tomb, under the sycamores, reads NO ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES. And immediately one thinks of whiskey and of the General in his Union-blue […]

Do Black Children Scare You?

by 01/30/2004
Neighborhood: Harlem

I sit in a tree with pen and paper in hand, planning to writing a letter. The branches under me are smooth and rough in patches, warped like an elephant’s trunk. The shade of the tree, the cool breeze and warm sun make me feel good, and calm, and in control. An elderly man stands […]

On the Anniversary of Not Seeing Her Again

by 01/30/2004
Neighborhood: Harlem

Manhattan is the capitol of the unexpected encounter. There are no dogs barking to warn you of the unexpected, no dust being kicked up on a long curving dirt road as a stranger approaches. So it was that I found myself standing in Nussbaum & Wu, wishing that her presence had kicked up a little […]

Ghetto Superstar Maurice Ashley (He Plays Chess)

by 01/30/2004
Neighborhood: Harlem

Eliot Majors, age 9, slides his queen diagonally across the chessboard, then inexplicably halts one square short. Check. Several watching youngsters groan. “Nooo!” cries one, clutching his chest, and falls to the ground in dramatic disbelief. Maurice Ashley, age 34, removes his dark sun glasses and his leather jacket. “You sure you want to do […]

Harlem on My Mind

by 01/30/2004
Neighborhood: Harlem

Melting orange popsicles, dripping ice cream cones, slushy cherry ices and candy all day long–all reminders of lazy summer days spent growing up in Harlem. A day that began for me not long after dawn. Peering out of my living room window, I see that the Harlem world is just beginning to stir, but I […]

Taking Orders (Next)

by 08/06/2003
Neighborhood: Harlem

I can remember one Saturday evening, a nice and beautiful day in April. It was about 70 degrees and everyone was happy, showing smiling faces and enjoying the weather. I was at work on 125th Street between 7th & 8th Avenues at McDonalds and it was busy as usual. Then a maniac came inside the […]

The Red Light

by 08/06/2003
Neighborhood: Harlem

One March afternoon, I was at my neighbor’s house on the balcony. I was excited because it was a nice sunny day, and there were a lot of people outside having fun and listening to music. At the time my neighbor and I were listening to Elvis Crespo, Suavemente, eating nice juicy mangos. She was […]

Violins at School

by Thomas Beller 11/14/2002
Neighborhood: Harlem

Roberta Guaspar Tsavaras purchased fifty violins in 1978, while married to a naval officer stationed in Greece. She assembled her collection piecemeal, from stores in Athens and neighboring towns. “The idea was that I would teach violin at schools and when he was transferred to a new base, I would take the violins, show up […]

Riceman

by 11/08/2002
Neighborhood: Harlem

When you walked through the door that first time in September, you became a Riceman …always a Riceman … never a boy, kid, lad, young guy … just a Riceman. Founded in 1938, and in 1940 relocated to a six story red brick building on the corner of what was Lenox Avenue and 124th Street, […]

Inside the Tenenbaum House

by 10/09/2002
Neighborhood: Harlem

Just east of Amsterdam Avenue, in a section of Harlem called Hamilton Heights, a newly poignant obsession of mine was given life. I had spent my week with the DVD of Wes Anderson’s third movie, The Royal Tenenbaums. I sang along with the quirky soundtrack songs (Nico, The Clash, Paul Simon); listened to the director’s […]