Posts Tagged ‘New York’
November 6, 2013 | by Susannah Hunnewell
The New York City Marathon has come again, awing, baffling, and intimidating the more sedentary among us with its pursuit of voluntary physical punishment. In a downtown studio a few months ago, another marathon of sorts took place. Ruth Irving was filmed for three hours by the artist Jan Baracz writing the passive present conjugation of the Latin verb “to punish” (punio, punire). I am punished, you are punished … The camera was positioned over Irving’s shoulder as she dipped her calligraphy pen in the inkwell, tracing the words over and over until the page was covered. They had agreed she would just keep writing, creating layers of script on script. Jan looked nervously on, asking her occasionally in his absurdly thick Polish accent if she was okay, which she found irritating after awhile. Her own forced awareness—she couldn’t look away or she would lose her place on the page—was exhausting enough. She had imagined that the difficulty would be at least partly physical—hand cramps or parched throat. But the worst part of it was that she couldn’t stop, sit back and look. As an illustrator, calligrapher, and former architecture student, that’s what she did instinctively, or compulsively. The surveying pause of the artist before the brush lands on the paper. But she was working blind. That was true punishment.
Last fall, Ruth met Jan at a potluck thanksgiving in Brooklyn. They had an immediate, inexplicable rapport in the way only true odd couples can. Five foot ten, pale with raven-black hair, Ruth is from Melbourne, Florida, the daughter of conservative Christians. One of five children, she was homeschooled, wore long skirts, and was not allowed to listen to “music with rhythms.” She describes the environment as “a radical, defy-the-man mixture of religion and hippy anarchism.” She was pulled out of first grade just as she was just learning cursive. “I only knew half the cursive alphabet. It was something I was kind of embarrassed about.” As a result, two years ago, at age twenty-nine, she decided to teach herself to script. “Being homeschooled and being separated, it’s easy to cherish and hold on to, but at the same time it’s really painful,” she says. “Reality is so different from that precious bubble. I wanted to work on communicating with people. Now I’m scripting like everyone who went to school.” She became so adept at it that she was able to find work writing invitations and addressing formal envelopes. Read More »
September 17, 2013 | by Angela Serratore
“When one leaves the hurry and roar of lower Broadway and walks southward through narrow Washington-st., the average New-Yorker of Caucasian descent might easily believe he was in the Orient. A block to the east roar the trains of the elevated. A little further eastward are the rushing throngs of Broadway. In the midst of all this tumult and confusion is situated the quiet village of Ahl-esh-Shemal.”
And so, in 1903, the New-York Tribune endeavors to take its readers into Little Syria. Concentrated on Rector and Washington Streets in the lower parts of Manhattan, Little Syria in 1895 was home to an estimated three-thousand residents from modern-day Syria and Lebanon (nearly all Middle Eastern New Yorkers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries would be referred to as Syrian or Arab, regardless of religion), most of whom had fled persecution under increasingly harsh Ottoman rule. Missionaries, dispatched to the Holy Lands to spread the Christian gospel, told tales of a city made of opportunity, ready and waiting to receive immigrants dedicated to hard work and moral living.
September 5, 2013 | by Amy Grace Loyd
I tried not to look. The couple couldn’t see me but I could see them, day and night, if I chose, and often enough I did. It’s a benefit or drawback of urban living that our sight lines in the tight geometry of New York City drive us into the lives of others, into private moments not meant for spectators, if we do not pull the blinds, if we don’t look away or past what’s on offer.
I lived in Brooklyn Heights, as I still do, but at the time I found myself on the third floor of a jumble of an old building on the main drag, Montague Street. It’s a street more plaintively commercial and less pretty than the rest of tony Brooklyn Heights; it is more alive with neon and the coming and going of chain stores, salons, restaurants. And with noise, too—from the meals eaten, booze served, and the resulting high spirits, and then those ancient garbage trucks, circling and circling, their brakes screaming.
I stayed too long in that one spot probably, but the rent was affordable, the Greek landlord fatherly, a friend who often treated me to dessert and stories, and I felt safe then in what I described as a garret but was merely two small rooms that vibrated from the ventilation units from the restaurant below.
The front of my apartment looked out onto Montague. The rear faced an accidental courtyard, the back of the restaurant, Mr. Souvlaki, featuring a fountain that usually didn’t work, a small fenced-in patch of scattered plantings, and the backside of a few apartment buildings. The buildings were close, less than fifty yards from what was my combined kitchen and living room, and the apartment in which I came to see so much was slightly higher than my own, so my vantage allowed me to peer up and in, as if that one living space directly across the way was up on a pedestal.
I can’t say when the couple moved in because when they did I’d been in love and my eyes were diverted inside me, charting the ways in which I felt discovered, opened up, prized, or to the moments I’d be near him again, inside the gold of his skin, the wiry lengths of his arms, or to the future of more love and his lips on the back of my neck and shoulders, his tongue writing messages there, everywhere, reaching inside my insides. And there was the pull of his intoxicating smell and even of his home, not in Brooklyn or in New York state, but further north in a place by the Atlantic dotted with sea roses and overrun with green so dense, during the season I met him, that it seemed in revolt, poised to take over. Read More »
August 29, 2013 | by Nikkitha Bakshani
“I’m embarrassed to be on this line,” says a woman in exercise clothes, bending forward to undo her ponytail and swirling it back into a limp bun. It is 6:15 A.M.. Given our errand, I am struck by the number of people in workout gear.
We are on the fabled cronut line. For those who have been spared the media blitz: every morning, hundreds of people queue up under the gingko trees near Dominique Ansel’s Soho bakery for the instantly iconic donut-croissant hybrid. Ansel patented the name after other bakers—from Fort Greene to Jakarta—began frying ring-shaped croissants, forcing them to fumble for alternative nomenclature: zonuts, frizzants, cronies, doissants. The cronut has, famously, paved its own black market; those who want to avoid the line can by them on Craigslist for an 800 percent markup. Want twenty delivered to you by professional line waiters? That’ll be $5,000.
The idea of braving the line arose during a conversation in the hologram-like stage of a new friendship. It would be cool to get to know each other while we wait on line, right? Right? Initially, I naively envisioned something akin to the line outside Magnolia Bakery in 2009; curling just around the block, the commitment of a few minutes. A brief Internet search quickly informed me otherwise. Still, without too much reluctance, we decided to go anyway; partly for the story, partly for the taste, largely just because we could.
“We’re only here because we were jet-lagged,” says the Canadian tourist in front of me, adjusting her Lululemon groove pants.
“Oh, me too,” the bespectacled older woman in front of her chimes in, clutching a newspaper to her chest. “I woke up in the middle of the night to get water, but tripped on my husband’s suitcase.” She points to her apartment’s window, above a bistro with a French name, where men in baseball caps are unloading boxes from a Naked Cowboy Oysters truck. “I couldn’t go back to sleep so I came here.” Read More »
August 14, 2013 | by Michele Filgate
My name is Michele Filgate, and I am a book burner.
The first thing you need to understand: I love books. I’m the kind of girl who volunteered at the local independent bookstore when I was in middle school, just so I could get the staff discount. I come by this honestly; my grandmother was fired from her first job because she was caught reading behind the clothing racks. While some girls spent hours playing house and naming their dolls, I whiled away entire play dates alphabetizing my personal library with my best friend. Nowadays, I’m a fan of marginalia—but I cringe at the idea of even dog-earing a page.
In 2007, I was young and naive and penniless. My first job out of college was one of those typical sixty-to-seventy-hour-a-week gigs that so many new-to-New York dreamers end up in. Specifically, I was a production secretary, and later a broadcast associate, at the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.
July 26, 2013 | by Lorin Stein
This essay may sound strange, read by a man—it is very specifically a woman’s essay. But Dombek’s voice is so powerful, every time I read “Letter from Williamsburg,” I hear it in my head. It’s like a song I want to sing along to. In fact, I remember reading the first two paragraphs to our Southern editor, John Jeremiah Sullivan, over the phone, before the rest of the essay was written. I wanted him to hear how beautifully Dombek modulates her tone from the sublime to the mundane. I only wish I could do justice to the music on the page.
Read the full essay in our Summer 2013 issue.