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Bearded Strangers Unite!

by 01/08/2012
Neighborhood: All Over

I was sitting on a bench on the Lower East Side, waiting for an appointment with my barber, when a homeless lady came shuffling by, dressed in black rags. These were particularly witchy rags, it seemed to me, like she’d bought them at a store as part of a Halloween costume. Like in addition to […]

Bear Patrol

by 07/19/2011
Neighborhood: Midtown, Park Slope

The door to Karen’s office was open and I waved a little hello as I entered, indicating that I would only be a second. Karen was the creative director at the magazine publisher where I was freelancing as a copy editor. I thought there was something cozy about her, something very motherly, in a distracted […]

The Slow Death of a Magazine

by 12/15/2010
Neighborhood: West Village

For seven years, I worked at Energy Saver’s News, a trade magazine that reported on commercial and industrial energy conservation. Six of those years were at the old Fairchild Publications building on East 12th Street near Fifth Avenue. It was a great neighborhood to work in: We were near both Stromboli Pizza and Ray’s Pizza, […]

Bloody Angry

by 12/15/2010
Neighborhood: Prospect Heights

I had my first paying job, making deliveries for the local butcher when I was twelve and in the eighth grade. I was not yet eligible for working papers, but the butcher on Washington Avenue, two blocks away, didn’t require them. I knew how to ride a bike and was from the neighborhood—my mother bought […]

Found in Translation?

by 10/26/2010
Neighborhood: Midtown

“Je m’a…,” I’d stuttered to Aristede Mezondes, the serious young man in a grey wool overcoat, standing before me with ramrod posture. “Je m’appelle Dr. Ofri.” There. I’d gotten it out. The language of Descartes, Voltaire, and Balzac had clearly vacated my cortex. Despite those years of French classes and one brief visit to Paris, […]

A Small Part at The New York City Opera

by 02/26/2010
Neighborhood: Upper West Side

The only thing I never liked about performing at Lincoln Center was the fake snow. During the years I worked at New York City Opera as a “supernumerary,” or stage extra, the tiny bits of confetti used for winter weather effect bugged me. I would be acting away, as much as possible without lines, while […]

The Case of the Slacker Private Eyes

by 12/25/2009
Neighborhood: Midtown

By the third day of working on the case with Ray we were comfortable enough around each other to drop our professional facades and start slacking off a little. At first neither one of us knew how career-minded the other guy was so we kept using industry terminology relevant to the case. It was really […]

Turds Fall Within Pepe’s Bailiwick

by 08/16/2009
Neighborhood: Across the River, Bronx

Someone pooped in the cabinet today. It wasn’t the first time the staff bathroom had been despoiled. It happened once before but I’d completely forgotten about it in the general whoosh of activity around the clinic. The bad part is we don’t know if it was a patient passing by or a staff person. That […]

Working His Way Up

by 08/06/2008
Neighborhood: Upper East Side

Roberto is giving Vince the usual changing-of-the-guard rundown: who has dry cleaning, who’s expecting guests, who left keys for the housekeeper, etc. When he’s done, Vince shakes his hand and says, “Good luck.” What’s that about? “I gotta get my pengé fixed,” he tells me. He has prostate cancer. It is in times of crisis […]

Manhattan Elevators: They Have Their Ups and Downs

by 01/27/2008
Neighborhood: Upper East Side

I return from my break to hear Vince screaming in Maltese. It seems two women, a real estate broker and her client, had been getting a little impatient waiting for the elevator and gave the button several long pushes. This would infuriate the most mild-mannered of elevator operators. Vince is not mild-mannered. “Who the fuck […]

Window Washer Thrill Comedy

by 01/06/2008
Neighborhood: Across the River, Manhattan

One of the pleasures of living in a ranch style home is that I can clean all of the outside windows while standing firmly on the ground. Here is why that’s important to me. 219 Audubon Avenue Once each season in my growing up years in the 1940s and 50s, my mother would wash the […]


by 01/04/2008
Neighborhood: Midtown

Driving along the West Side Highway in New York City, there is a sign that reads: Intrepid Museum returning Fall 2008. And every time I’ve seen it these past two years, I think, “By the time the Intrepid returns, my book will be finished.” I first saw the USS Intrepid in 1999, not as part […]