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The Saint of Linden Boulevard

by 04/19/2022
Neighborhood: Queens

*** Editor’s note: This is a true story. It happened in 1995. The protagonist lived in St. Albans. The church where he worshipped was in South Jamaica. M. A. Istvan Jr. was raised in Beacon, New York, in the 80s and 90s where, in addition to the soft bigotry of lowered expectations, a decades-deep tide […]

St. Patrick’s Day

by 03/14/2022
Neighborhood: Park Slope, Rockaway Beach

I was born in South Brooklyn in 1947. As a teenager I did not experience the Italian – Irish conflict that my parents, children of Italian immigrants, did. The fighting between Irish-American and Italian-American teen gangs had basically stopped. (Sadly, newer common enemies were found.)  Locals continued to tag walls and store gates with graffiti […]

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 […]

Together at Jacob Riis Beach

by 07/18/2021
Neighborhood: Jacob Riis Beach, Queens

It was my first time going to Jacob Riis Beach and it was with you.  We’d been together for two years. The first year, we were too new, and I felt a last minute anxiety about shedding my clothes in front of you and lazing in the hot sun, an anxiety that I hadn’t felt […]

The Irish Riviera

by 07/11/2021
Neighborhood: Queens, Rockaway Beach

On a muggy summer morning in 1961, with my parents still asleep, I crept into the kitchen and turned on the oven. I was seven years old. I closed the living room window to let the heat build in the apartment. After it did, I turned the oven off to let the metal cool and […]

The Cemetery Exercist 

by 11/01/2020
Neighborhood: Brooklyn, Ridgewood

A cemetery was never a place I imagined myself doing squats. But in late March, when New York City shut down gyms and public parks and braced itself for a deadly COVID-19 outbreak, I found myself at the gates of Evergreens Cemetery in Queens, sporting black leggings and a pink hoodie, ready to sweat. Like […]

Haunted House

by 07/19/2020
Neighborhood: Flushing

In the beginning, it was an ordinary house on an ordinary street in Flushing, Queens, just around the corner from ours. There was an older girl, Mary Ann, who was our sometime babysitter, and a younger boy, Johnny, who was several years older than I.  A cherished childhood memory of mine concerns an afternoon (though […]

We Stand Together

by 07/12/2020
Neighborhood: Astoria

As I approached Astoria Park, I was struck by a wave of incongruities. It was a gorgeous day—the trees lush with leaves, a nascent summer sun beaming from a clear blue sky—but I had to keep it at a distance. I wore a mask for protection from the pandemic, which still loomed despite it being […]

Gone to Flowers, Every One

by 04/12/2020
Neighborhood: Ridgewood

“Okay, so now whatta my gone do? Phone won’t charge. Can’t read another word. Thirteen hours sleep. Chocolate’s gone. Weed guy disappeared. Seen everything on Netflix—twice! Corona’s a stone bitch, is what it is.” Sound familiar—maybe one or two nouns changed? It’s the plague—Poe’s Masque of the Red Death, or Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, or Neville […]

Dust to Dust

by 03/15/2020
Neighborhood: Middle Village, Sunset Park

I blame Basquiat. He’s where my whole Trump grave fixation started, unlikely as that sounds. It was right after the holidays—January 2, 2018, to be exact (It’s nice of iPhones to keep track of photo dates isn’t it?)—that Carolyn and I first went to Green-Wood Cemetery. Generally we were there to explore: ostentatious tombs, towering […]

The Baby Jesus Miracle

by 12/22/2019
Neighborhood: Woodside

The red felt blanket hung over the kitchen doorway. It looked like Swiss cheese from all the dog bites. Somehow it kept the heat from the stove in the kitchen. I sat on the dirty linoleum floor, looked out of the frosted window and saw that it was dark.  As my last eight of spades […]

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 […]