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The Silent Minority

by 07/12/2007
Neighborhood: Jamaica, Queens

In the divorce papers filed by my ex-wife, the second one I mean, she said I never paid attention to her. While we were still living in the same house she also said, “You never listen to me.” “What?” I generally responded from the other room. For the record, I am, in fact, a great […]


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

Early March 1954, in a Woodside apartment overlooking the # 7 Subway El and the Long Island Railroad station below it, two express trains crisscrossed, one rattling over the other. “Bob, please get me some food.” Patricia pleaded from the kitchen to the living room. “There’s plenty of food,” Bob answered as he played with […]

To Every Dog Its Bone

by 12/31/2006
Neighborhood: Lower East Side

I felt like I owed him something, even if I couldn’t say what. It wasn’t money. I closed my eyes like a dead man and gave those coins to the nuns on the corner. My brother is a music publisher. I’m not really sure what this means, but I’m proud. People always ask about it. […]

What Should We Speak at Dinner?

by 12/16/2006
Neighborhood: Brooklyn, Flatbush

“What should we serve for dinner?” often translates, for me, into, “What should we speak at dinner?” My household is the confluence of five languages. I’m French and my husband is Haitian and Italian. Our older son married a young woman from Taiwan while our younger son’s fiancée is from Trinidad. This mélange of native […]

Lobbying for Adventure

by 12/08/2006
Neighborhood: Brooklyn, Park Slope

“It’s not like I am going to die or anything.” My ten-year-old daughter Liza is begging me to let her walk alone to her school bus stop three streets from our Brooklyn apartment. She is as persistent as a lawyer in court, who, sensing that victory is at hand, refuses to let up on the […]

Finding Fred: Death and Ice Cream

by 07/19/2006
Neighborhood: All Over, Brooklyn

I was riding in our friend’s red, rattling car. The car that had been filled with balloons to celebrate my last birthday—the time we traveled to visit Mom. Now my wife and I were going to inform my forty-five year old brother of her death. To inform, support, and console my kid brother—the brother who […]

Tour Guide to the Real New York City

by 06/30/2006
Neighborhood: East Village

I have no kids and never wanted any, so I was a bit anxious about playing tour guide for my 14 year old niece, Shannon, on her first visit to New York City. But my brother John said she could not wait to see Manhattan. It was quite a trip for an eighth grader from […]

In Search of a New Season: For the Knicks and the Rest of Us

by 06/15/2006
Neighborhood: Greenwich Village

Since my boyfriend, Alexis, injured his shoulder playing pick-up basketball, he’s been watching games from the sideline. Usually he’ll just stop for a couple of minutes, en route to wherever he—or we—are going. If a pick-up buddy says, “What’s up?” he’ll sometimes give them one of those street-hugs, where they grab each other’s hand and […]

My Only Regret

by 04/27/2006
Neighborhood: Bronx, Outer Boroughs

Arriving before the engine, with fire blowing out two windows on the third floor and people in the street yelling, “There’s two kids in there” our asses are about to be kicked and there is nothing we can do about it. It’s 1977, and Lieutenant Annello leads the way as usual. He is simply the […]

Asking For Love

by 02/16/2006
Neighborhood: Financial District

An “incident” had occurred at the group home where my younger brother lives with five other men and three women who all have mental retardation. His supervisor, more amused than upset, followed procedure by notifying me and beginning an investigation. Fred, a 103 pound, 5’2” 52-year-old man, was discovered standing with his roommate of two […]

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 […]