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Posts Tagged ‘Upper West Side’

Brief Encounter

April 1, 2016 | by

“Polite New Yorker”

Guess who I ran into this morning? Three guesses. And if you guessed Jacob, my neighborhood friend, you’re right! 

I was enjoying a toasted, buttered bialy, a coffee-cart small, and a newspaper on a traffic island, when who should sit down on the bench opposite but my old comrade-in-arms! He was looking very natty in a bright green fedora and tweed jacket. On his lapel was a button that read POLITE NEW YORKER.Read More »

Recurring Characters

June 3, 2015 | by


Maruyama Ōkyo, Peacock and Peahen, 1781.

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 »

Booksellers Week

May 11, 2015 | by


Carl Spitzweg, Kunst und Wissenschaft (detail), ca. 1880.

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 »


January 7, 2014 | by


Film still from The Wolf of Wall Street, 2013.


“There is a new hotspot for heavy petting on the Upper West Side,” declared the West Side Rag, awesomely, some months ago. Widely considered the dirtiest, crummiest, saddest, and generally worst movie theater in Manhattan, the Loews Eighty-Fourth Street transformed itself in 2013 into an amorous teenager’s paradise, instituting luxurious, fully reclining seats and removable armrests. Reported the New York Post,

The new loveseats are a huge hit with teens. Upper West Sider Richard Velazquez, forty, was seated in the same row as an enthusiastic teen couple at a World War Z showing last month. “Even before the previews started, they were going at it,” says Velazquez.

“She was not entirely on top of him, but a quarter of the way there. When the movie ended, they were still at it. I was thinking, ‘Get a room already,’ but the theater was their room!”

I don’t know if this gamble—or whatever it is—has paid off. Did anyone want an unsanitary multiplex with business-class seats? Who knows? All I know is that the Love Theater is my local, a mere five-minute walk from door to door. They don’t often show films I want to see—I guess the lineup is more geared toward the tastes of the heavy-petting demographic—but yesterday I crossed Broadway to see The Wolf of Wall Street, my thinking being that a comfy seat might come in handy in watching a three-hour film. Read More »

A Week in Culture: Richard Brody, Part 2

July 1, 2010 | by

This is the second installment of Brody's culture diary. Click here to read part 1.


10:19 A.M. WQXR: Schumann, Three Romances for Oboe and Piano, op. 94, played by Heinz Holliger and Alfred Brendel. One of the great chamber-music recordings.

11:05 A.M. The Genius and the Goddess: “Mailer satirized the homespun Miller as ‘the complacent country squire, boring people with his accounts of clearing fields, gardening, the joys of plumbing (“Nothing like taking a bath in water that comes through pipes you threaded yourself”).’”

11:55 A.M. Tag Gallagher’s superb biography of Roberto Rossellini—remarkable to learn that Italian critics hated Germany Year Zero.

2:10 P.M. Village Voiceinterviews with the directors Lena Dunham, Aaron Katz, and Matthew Porterfield (the director of two great movies, Hamilton and the forthcoming Putty Hill), about BAMcinemaFEST.

5:30 P.M. I Am Love, which opens June 25. Operatic, for those who don’t like opera; Viscontian, for those who don’t watch Visconti; erotic, for those who like to watch.

8:10 P.M. The Genius and the Goddess: “In February 1959, when the seventy-four-year-old Danish author Isak Dinesen—wasted, skeletal and ravaged by syphilis—expressed a desire to meet them, Carson McCullers invited the actress and playwright to lunch at her house in Nyack, New York.”

8:30 P.M. Mozart K. 497, Malcolm/Schiff on Mozart’s own piano from around 1780. Reminds me that my favorite recording of this masterwork of symphonic scope, a Nonesuch LP of it, performed by Robert Levin and Malcolm Bilson, is unavailable on CD. Haven’t heard it since I sold my LPs in 1995. Wonder how it would sound now.

9:30 P.M. Watched Jonathon Niese complete his one-hit shutout; saw bits and pieces of the last few innings. Pessimistically expected that, pitching into the ninth inning, he’d lose both his one-hitter and his shutout—I was wrong.

10:00 P.M. Clifford Jordan and John Gilmore, Blowing In from Chicago, a Blue Note recording from 1957. The cut “Blue Lights,” composed by the alto saxophonist Gigi Gryce.

10:25 P.M. Erica Morini, Mozart, Violin Concertos 4 and 5. Morini: a Viennese immigrant (born 1904) with a mellifluous tone, who speaks Mozart as her mother tongue. These are privately-made live recordings, from concerts with a local orchestra, from 1965 and 1971, and a document of the vast cultural enrichment of New York that resulted from the desperate emigrations of the nineteen-thirties and forties.

10:57 P.M. I notice a strange Heisenbergian aspect to this diary—the nocturnal chunks of time usually devoted to reading are, this week, instead go into filling out the up-to-the-minute account of the day’s cultural doings. Am reminded of what one great rabbinic scholar said to me about another: I read ten books and write one; he reads one and writes ten. Nonetheless, I am learning something else about my own cultural life: that it’s weirdly regimented, by day and time.
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