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Wat is the Wat

by 12/31/2006
Neighborhood: Bronx, Outer Boroughs

One thing Sambath Suen can’t abide is the cold. Until four years ago, Suen lived in Kandal, a Cambodian province that borders on Vietnam. Before that, he lived in Vietnam, where he earned his diploma, and before that he had lived in his native village, about thirty knots downriver from Phnom Penh, where he spent […]

Men Threw Balls To One End, Then Back Again: Scientology

by 06/15/2006
Neighborhood: Clinton

Jake’s girlfriend broke up with him, so he started driving and turned up eleven hours later at my apartment. We were the kind of friends who’d been close once but who didn’t speak often anymore, owing not to any particular falling out, but to the passage of time and a mutual inability to put any […]

Super Bowl XL & Chinese New Year: The Weekend in Review

by 02/09/2006
Neighborhood: Uncategorized

Super Bowl XL was just a few days ago, and Detroit and its suburbs did their best to present a great image. Visitors did not see our homeless, as they were tucked away in various city and suburban warming centers or temporary shelters . . . Manna House, South Oakland Shelter, Most Holy Trinity Church, […]

The Price of Freedom

by 02/09/2006
Neighborhood: West Village

A psychic stopped me on the street today after having accidentally looked into my soul. “I see something in you,” she told me. “Something in your past!” “Be careful looking back,” I told her, concerned. “. . . Should you turn into a pillar of salt.” “I want to talk to you.” I felt compelled […]

Mr. O’Brien’s Legacy

by 01/26/2006
Neighborhood: Letter From Abroad

I learned a lot from my grandpa, John Francis O’Brien, a native of Cork city (Ireland) and an immigrant to America. He used to always say that he was closest to God when he was connected to nature. Grandpa was quite an unusual character in our working class neighborhood on Detroit’s West Side, just a […]

The Surprise Visit

by 01/05/2006
Neighborhood: Uncategorized

Where do I begin? On Christmas Eve 1999, I was doing the usual stuff… Following my family’s long tradition of going from one home to the next, delivering Christmas presents and cookies, eating and eating some more, singing carols, and sharing midnight mass together downtown. This year, my brother needed a ride back to his […]

My First Kreplach

by 01/05/2006
Neighborhood: Midtown

1. If one peers through the storefront windows of the National Jewelers Exchange on West 47th Street, past the hundred or so feet of bustling merchants and shoppers and side-by-side display cases filled with gold and silver, all under the harsh track lighting suspended on cables from the 20-foot ceiling, one can just make out […]

Christmas in New Orleans

by 01/05/2006
Neighborhood: Letter From Abroad

Sprouting out of the ground, just south and east of New Orleans, is Christmas. It is a bizarre sort of nativity scene which bears the fruited colors of the season: green and red. Absent are the Magi bringing frankincense, myrrh or oil. Rather, what is present, green on the outside and red upon being split […]

Christmas Envy

by 12/15/2005
Neighborhood: Upper East Side

Because I’m Jewish, my Christmas decorating habit started small. Creating yards of silver sparkle, I drizzled hundreds of tinsel strips on hanging plants spanning my living room window, which overlooks 77th Street near First Avenue. I clustered evergreens in vases too. Although my husband David came from a more observant family than mine, he didn’t […]

Milton: Alternative Abuses for the Yarmulke

by 09/29/2005
Neighborhood: Boro Park, Brooklyn

1973. Marvin was the photo editor at the Brooklyn College student newspaper. I liked him a lot, and when, in 1997, after I had an op-ed piece published in the New York Times, he saw it, and trying to locate me, called my mother, he described himself as an “old friend.” Yet I recall hanging […]

The Conduct Slip

by 09/15/2005
Neighborhood: Uncategorized

“Kneel. Sit. Stand. Kneel. Sit. Stand. Kneel. Sit. Stand!” Sister Mary Angelina bellows these words to a congregation of frightened eighth graders at St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church in southwest Detroit sometime in the mid-1980’s. Almost twenty years later, those angry commands from the most powerful nun known to the class of 1985 have not been […]

My Name in a Book of Matches

by 07/30/2005
Neighborhood: Brooklyn

I have lived in Brooklyn my entire life, but my name and number appear on little black books of matches all across the city. No, I’m not a slinky sultry hot babe whose name and number decorate bathroom walls and little match books in bars. You don’t “Call Sairy for a Good Time.” On the […]