Posts Tagged ‘City Life’
June 16, 2015 | by Sadie Stein
One morning, I stopped by a Greenwich Village kiosk to buy a newspaper for my commute. When I would’ve walked away, the vendor’s voice stopped me, and I looked up to meet merry, twinkling eyes. “You,” he said roguishly, “are the most beautiful customer I have had all day!”
This seemed unlikely. True, the day was young. But I was looking particularly awful: the night before I’d attempted an “extraction” on a pore that, in a magnifying mirror, I had deemed clogged, and now it looked like I was suffering from either a bad allergic reaction or from some kind of strange bug bite. I hadn’t bothered with makeup. I was also wearing a cavernous sweater of my boyfriend’s. But what did I know? Maybe this guy’s other customers were a real bunch of dogs.
“Uh, thanks,” I said, not wanting to be ungracious in the face of such gallantry. Read More »
June 3, 2015 | by Sadie Stein
I was settled with my papers, my coffee, and a cheese Danish at a bench on a Manhattan traffic island when someone sat down next to me. I glanced up and recognized a now-familiar face. It was the same elderly man I’d first seen in a local supermarket, berating a clerk; last week, I’d encountered him again on Amsterdam Avenue and attempted to buy him a pineapple. He was ubiquitous—or I was. I gave him a cautious nod of greeting.
“Hello,” he said, smiling warmly. “It’s a beautiful day!”
“Yes,” I agreed. He didn’t seem to recognize me. Read More »
May 26, 2015 | by Sadie Stein
Yesterday, I was walking down the street, enjoying the warm weather and the city’s relative emptiness—a lot of people had gone away for the long weekend—when I saw someone who looked familiar, an old man on a bench outside an empty asphalt playground. How did I know that face?
It came to me all of a sudden. It was the old man I had seen some months ago in the supermarket, yelling at the cashier and accusing all and sundry of elder abuse. Back then, his face had been contorted with impotent rage and the terror of senility.
Now, as I stared at him, arrested, he met my eyes. “Can I have a few pennies?” he said. “A few pennies for a pineapple?” Read More »
May 21, 2015 | by Lee Bob Black
In cities, trends come, go, and come again; causes rise to prominence, fall by the wayside, and emerge repackaged; neighborhoods flourish or fall out of favor. Condos, cupcake shops, and bike lanes become signifiers; shady buyouts and racist landlords fuel arguments about whether communities are being renewed or decimated.
The word gentrification is in the subtitle of DW Gibson’s most recent oral history, but the author has trouble with it: it’s too broad, he writes, to adequately capture a wide variety of experiences, contexts, and meanings. Several interviewees in his book also seem at odds with the word. One says gentrification doesn’t describe anything in the real world. Another says he doesn’t need to be able to describe it because he knows what it feels like.
To mark the release of The Edge Becomes the Center: An Oral History of Gentrification in the 21st Century, I spoke with Gibson, a journalist and documentary filmmaker, about bringing the human touch to the page, viewing a book as one long panning shot in a film, and the importance of using all the tools at one’s disposal, including cute daughters.
How do you make gentrification something people want to read about?
Most of the books out there are academic or have an academic feel to them. I think the way you get people to care about gentrification is to write about human beings. My goal was to show the human fabric of gentrification. People relate to people, to stories. Read More »
May 19, 2015 | by Sadie Stein
I was anxious about the doctor’s appointment. Not because I thought there was anything much wrong with me, but because I knew they’d want to do “blood work” as part of the “workup,” and that the moment they brought out that thing they use to tie you off, and I saw the vials, my vision would blur, my extremities would tingle, and I’d faint like a neurasthenic fool.
Pull yourself together, I thought. That was the old you. Now you’re a grown-up woman of the world who’s not ruled by her neuroses. To prove it, I added a silk scarf to my ensemble; I draped it in a fashion I’d recently noticed on a hypersophisticated, unneurotic mannequin. Read More »
May 11, 2015 | by Sadie Stein
One of the few remaining bastions of character on New York’s Upper West Side is its smattering of sidewalk booksellers. Up and down Broadway—displaying wares by American Apparel, blasting Bach, and hawking signed Roth novels in front of Zabar’s, dressed in velvet by the Eighty-Sixth Street Uptown 1—these are the folks who keep the neighborhood alive.
Over the weekend, I was perusing the stall of a certain bookseller when another customer—a “character” in a many-pocketed fishing-tackle vest—strode up and began barraging the mild-mannered proprietor with questions. Read More »