Wednesday, October 18, 2017

On Some Strange Mornings: world premiere at the Big Apple Film Festival, Thursday, Nov. 2

On Some Strange Mornings, my short film about a man living with Alzheimer's who cares for his mother with dementia, makes its world premiere at the Big Apple Film Festival on Thursday, November 2nd at 9 pm.

The film tells the story of Leo Pieter, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic who struggles to preserves his words through writing poetry and prose. Born in the Dominican Republic, he lives in the Inwood neighborhood of Manhattan and attends Riverstone Senior Life Services' Memory Center in Washington Heights.

Produced and Directed by Arlene Schulman
Post Production Sound Mixing by Oscar Winner Tom Fleischman
featuring a haunting score by Javier Mendez

Please visit the Big Apple Film website for more information about tickets and other stories told on film. 

And visit One Some Strange Mornings on Facebook for news and updates.

A thank you to our generous sponsors : 809 Bar & Grill * Mike Saab of C-Town, Inwood * Riverside Car and Limo Service * Washington Heights & Inwood Council on Aging (WHICOA) * Frank Hess * Brendan Straw * Nathan Schulman * New Heights Realty * Tonnie's Minis * Compton Eye Associates * Jason Minter and Indian Road Cafe * Dichter Pharmacy and Soda Shoppe * Tryon Public House and Tubby Hook Tavern

(a Spanish version is also available)

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

On Some Strange Mornings (trailer)

On Some Strange Mornings tells the story of Leo, a man living in upper Manhattan's Inwood neighborhood who has been diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer's. He cares for his mother who lives with dementia. Losing this words is a race again time. Shot entirely on location in Inwood and Washington Heights. 

For more information, please contact Arlene Schulman at

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Arlene Schulman: The First 100 Years

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

NYPL: Bridging Our Stories - Detective Thomas Troppmann of the NYPD's 34th Precinct

Meet Detective Specialist Thomas Troppmann of the 34th Precinct, which covers Washington Heights and Inwood.

Detective Troppmann has spent his entire 30- year career on patrol in uptown Manhattan, a  rarity for one officer to remain on patrol for that long AND in the same precinct. He was a rookie police officer the same year his new partner, Detective Specialist Edwin Rodriguez, was born. These two have partnered up for the NYPD's newest community based policing program, Neighborhood Coordination Officers, a more high tech and targeted brand of beat cop.

In this wide-ranging conversation, Detective Troppmann talks about  the changes he's witnessed in "MY neighborhood", how he feels about body cams, changes in technology since he came on the job,  his relationship with his partner Rodriguez, being mistaken for Police Commissioner James O'Neill, corruption, getting older, and how the jocular relationship of the locker room evaporated into a silent, sad stillness following the death of Police Officer Michael Buczek in 1988.

Click on this link to listen:

Please note: NYPL Oral Histories are not edited. There's an extra question after the thank you at the end so keep listening. The interview is not yet searchable on the NYPL but we're getting there!

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Saturday, April 15, 2017

Take Me Out to the Ballgame - My Year (or so) with the New York Yankees

From The Huffington Post:
After the last out was announced by Bob Sheppard and the parking lots were empty, the last millionaire left work for the day, and even the ghost of Babe Ruth had gone home, there were three people left, three people who walked wearily out of the stadium. The oldest shuffled slightly in baggy pants and looking a bit grim, the second a big-bellied red-faced cop in his late fifties who moved as if he were still walking the beat, and the third, a young woman with red hair, jeans and hand-painted sneakers who clutched a large pocketbook filled with a laptop, notebooks and pens. The trio crept up to a lone Ford with a few dents and a blurry windshield, riding across the 155th Street Bridge into Manhattan, the old man always remarked, “I used to go with a girl on Nagle Avenue.”
And the young woman asked each time, “Do you remember who that was?”
Click here to read more and to see more photographs:
New York Yankess Clubhouse Man Pete Sheehy

New York Yankees Oufielder Rickey Henderson

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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Gentrification. Thanks to Peter Minuit

In my neighborhood in Inwood, soy used to have only one meaning: I am.

On the west side of Broadway and in some corners of the east, with migration and eating habits changing, soy has a more ominous meaning: One can purchase almost a full spectrum of soy food products, including pet food, in the C-Town and Fine Fare supermarkets on Broadway.

Soy is a symbol in the gentrification debate. And when it replaces the fried pastelitos stuffed with beef, crispy to stones, and tacos smothered in pico de gallo sold on the street or in Dominican restaurants, then the transition will sadly be complete.

Gentrification is a dirty word around town, particularly here in New York. The real culprit? Dutch trader Peter Minuit.

Featured in the Huffington Post. To continue reading, click here.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Another Generation is Already 'Woke'

My love for words was shared with just over a dozen high school students from around the city in a college readiness program this past year as they wrote essays about who they are, who they would like to become, and why they would like to travel to far off places like Chicago and Maine for their education. My role was to help them understand--no challenge them--to discover the power of language, of description, and organization to elevate their writing.

Some are first generation New Yorkers with roots in West Africa, South America, and the Caribbean, while others are African-American. All are heading off to college this fall, a first for many in their families. These teenagers translate language and popular culture for their elders and are often caught between the old world of traditions brought over from...

Featured in The Huffington Post. To continue reading, click here:

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Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Every Gift of Flowers Tells a Story: Two Lives Remembered in East Harlem

The building looked familiar on Christmas Day but then again, buildings in every housing development across New York City look the same. But this one in East Harlem - also known as Spanish Harlem or El Barrio - is different.

More than a decade ago, before chain stores, fashionable restaurants, co-ops, and new high-rise buildings replaced tiny eateries, crumbling buildings, local bars, and methadone clinics, I was introduced to Pepè and Margo who lived in the Carver Houses.

And this is where I found myself, delivering a hot meal and gift to seniors in East Harlem as a volunteer with Citymeals on Wheels, looking up at the windows of the apartment where they once lived.
To commemorate the lives of those most of us don’t see, here is a story of two people I met and wrote about, a long time ago.

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Friday, November 11, 2016

NYPL: Bridging Our Stories: Mike Saab

Meet Mike Saab, second generation owner of C-Town on Broadway in the upper Manhattan neighborhood of Inwood. In this conversation for The New York Public Library's oral history project covering Washington Heights and Inwood, Mike talks about what it takes for a supermarket to survive with his competition from supermarkets and bodegas in the neighborhood, a nearby Target that undercuts his prices, and online competitors including Whole Foods and Trader Joe's.

His secret? Customer service.

Mike and his cashiers and floor managers make it their business to know their customers, some who have been shopping at C-Town for decades. When it comes to the elderly, they've learned their names and routines, likes and dislikes, and offer a helping hand in putting away groceries and opening jars and bottles. And when they don't turn up on their regular visit, Mike  calls or sends someone to check on them.

You'll also learn about how food preferences and prices have changed in Inwood over the years, from basic carbs and Krasdale products to organic and gluten-free items, and from standard pet food to organic selections for the four-legged members of the family.

And Mike, the father of five daughters, talks about the early days of his father's food businesses after emigrating to New York City from Jordan and his most recent real estate venture, developing an apartment building on Seaman Avenue on 204th Street in Inwood, just a few blocks from C-Town.

Listen to the interview here:

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Arlene Schulman: The First 100 Years - Photographs

A selection of images from the exhibit, 
Arlene Schulman: The First 100 Years.

Arlene Schulman started photographing the people of New York City when she was an eight year old living in Brooklyn. Using an Agfa 35mm camera handed down to her by her father who taught her how to shoot, develop, and print black and white film, she acquired her sharp eye for detail and an uncanny ability to demolish the wall between subject and camera to reveal the truth of who we are.

Ms. Schulman’s extraordinary body of work—immortalized in books of majestic photographs and in films and photographic essays—illuminates facets of New York City that the majority of us never see: gritty city living, boxing gyms, baseball dugouts, police officers on the beat. Capturing the heroes, colleagues, and neighbors among us in gritty, straightforward, large format images that celebrate and ennoble the human condition, Ms. Schulman brings her life’s work together for the very first time. 

“Arlene Schulman: The First 100 Years” is a unique vision of life in New York City as she has lived it and a foreshadowing of what she—and we—may see during the next “100.”

Reception sponsored by Schnipper's Quality Kitchen and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.

Empty space transformed to...

a cast of characters, from boxing to baseball to 

the New York City Police Department

Rome Boxing Club, Bronx, NY

A series of women, including my great-aunt Esther Nachman

and my grandmother Anna David and Queen, a woman from Harlem

From the book, Cop on the Beat, featuring Steve Mayfield of the NYPD's 34th Precinct

A detective from the 23rd Precinct as he was leaving the scene of a DOA in the  housing projects

From Cop on the Beat

Bird along the Seine

The Prizefighter and one of world champion Roberto Duran's hands (Una Mano de Piedra)

Two important guests, Cynthia Wellins and her husband, Gil

Yankees clubhouse man Pete Sheehy looking over the shoulders of his daughter and grandson

Two famous opera singers Pamela Lloyd and Andrew Costello chat with Steve Mayfield

Food courtesy of Schnipper's

Steve Mayfield

World champions Azumah Nelson and Hector Camacho

From 23rd Precinct: The Job and the NYPD's Steve Bonano

A cop and his friend and world champion Archie Moore

The view from the hallway

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Monday, October 03, 2016

Arlene Schulman: The First 100 Years: Video

Arlene Schulman started photographing the people of New York City when she was an eight year old living in Brooklyn. Using an Agfa 35mm camera handed down to her by her father who taught her how to shoot, develop, and print black and white film, she acquired her sharp eye for detail and an uncanny ability to demolish the wall between subject and camera to reveal the truth of who we are.

Ms. Schulman’s extraordinary body of work—immortalized in books of majestic photographs and in films and photographic essays—illuminates facets of New York City that the majority of us never see: gritty city living, boxing gyms, baseball dugouts, police officers on the beat. Capturing the heroes, colleagues, and neighbors among us in gritty, straightforward, large format images that celebrate and ennoble the human condition, Ms. Schulman brings her life’s work together for the very first time. 

“Arlene Schulman: The First 100 Years” is a unique vision of life in New York City as she has lived it and a foreshadowing of what she—and we—may see during the next “100.”

Reception sponsored by Schnipper's Quality Kitchen and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.

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Friday, June 05, 2015

NYPL Oral History Project: Bridging Our Stories: Ed Lehner

And here's ED LEHNER, the former judge and local assemblyman who initiated the pooper scooper law in 1977. Listen to him talk about the origins and impact of the law; growing up in Washington Heights, where he still lives; and his baseball card collection. And no, he does not own a dog.

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Monday, April 27, 2015

NYPL Oral History Project: Bridging Our Stories: Edith Prentiss

Meet EDITH PRENTISS, New York City's champion for people with disabilities. She lives in Washington Heights and was recently interviewed for the New York Public Library's Uptown Oral History project, Bridging Our Stories. 
Edith talks about her experiences as a social worker with Holocaust survivors living uptown, why it is so important to be a visible and vocal voice for people with disabilities, and the upcoming Disability Pride Parade.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

NYPL Oral History Project: Bridging Our Stories: Milton A. Tingling

IN CONVERSATION with MILTON A. TINGLING for the NYPL's Oral History Project, Bridging Our Stories:
A longtime resident of Washington Heights, Milton Tingling currently serves as New York County Clerk. He's the man whose signature appears at the bottom of the your jury duty summons. The first African-American to hold this position, he succeeded Norman Goodman who retired after 45 years. 
As a State Supreme Court Justice, Milton Tingling struck down Mayor Bloomberg's proposed ban on large sized sodas. In this comprehensive interview, he talks about growing up as the son of a judge and public school teacher, his former "careers" as a cab driver and MTA token booth clerk, the impact of growing up in Washington Heights, and as an "exclusive," what kind of soda he drinks.

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NYPL Oral History Project: Bridging Our Stories: Eric K. Washington

RAISING THE DEAD: Meet Eric K. WashingtonUptown's brilliant historian and tour guide who is interviewed for NYPL The New York Public Library's Oral History Project, Bridging Our Stories. 

In this conversation, Eric talks about transitions - the folks living in the neighborhood, those buried in Trinity Cemetery, and the impact of gentrification. He talks about neighborhood boundaries and how porous they can be and the ghosts of former neighbors who once lived in his apartment building, boxing heavyweight champion Jack Johnson and famed saxophonist Coleman Hawkins.

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Lessons from Bill Heinz

W. C. Heinz, simply called Bill by friends, family, and colleagues, was perhaps the lesser known of a literary cannon of sports journalists: A. J. Liebling, Red Smith, John Lardner, and Grantland Rice, but the most influential. A craftsman of the written word whose use of detail plucked the reader into the middle of a story whether he was writing about boxing (The Professional), football (Run to Daylight with Vince Lombardi), the war from the frontlines or a surgeon during the Korean War (he wrote the novel M*A*S*H under the pseudonym Richard Hooker), Heinz brought a descriptive, personal feel to his writing, influencing generations of writers, journalists and novelists, including David Halberstam and Jimmy Breslin. Ernest Hemingway wrote that “The Professional is the only good novel about a fighter I've ever read."

Bill Heinz and boxing trainer Ray Arcel remained close friends since the days when Heinz began pounding the keys of his Remington (one loaned to Hemingway) 50 years ago. Arcel, the legendary trainer of more 2,000 fighters and over a dozen world champions, handled so many of Joe Louis’ opponents he given the nickname “The Meat Wagon.” Two years before his death in 1994, Arcel and his wife, Stephanie (Steve or as Bill referred to her, Stevie), suggested that I write to their old friend. The advice from a master whose keen eye for detail and reflective modesty holds its own as a standard for writers. Bill Heinz died at the age of 93 on February 27, 2008.

Postscript: Stephanie Arcel, who died in 2014, would have loved this new book, The Top of His Game, by Bill Littlefield, and I have no doubt that copies purchased for friends would send this book into a second or even a third printing. To commemorate the book, I've added this postscript and two photos - one of a small collection of Bill's books, ones that have been read to pieces when I covered boxing and after - and the newest collection. Thankfully, he and his work have not been forgotten and hopefully, he'll pick up a few more followers along the way.

July 17, 1992

Dear Arlene Schulman,

Naturally I'm pleased that you find something of substance in the product I have been turning out of this Remington portable since 1932. I don't know what help any advice from me will be, but I'll try by the numbers (which relieves me of the task of building those paragraph bridges which are so important in giving a piece of writing its flow).

1. It has been said that writing is like painting, I guess--can't be taught, but can be learned. Hemingway said he learned by reading the greats he admired and studying what they did to create the emotion, or emotions, that moved him. In other words, the science precedes the art.

In my own growth process I derived much from reading John O'Hara's short stories for dialogue, and Hemingway for scene setting, the placement of the characters in it and, of course, the dialogue that identified and distinguished them.

2. Writing is show-and-tell, and "show," when possible, is far preferable than "tell." Anything anyone tells is suspect, while if the readers is brought to believe he has seen and heard it himself, he is a believer forever. Too many writers get between the subject and the reader, so whenever possible the writer should get out of the way.

3. Back to role models: A half century ago I used to ski, and found that when I followed the instructor down the slope my form flowed much better than when I was on my own. I think that in trying to find one's own style, one should find in one's reading the style, or styles, with which one feels most comfortable, and then follow that as I followed the ski instructor. Of course, at the beginning, one will be just an imitator until gradually one's own self emerges in one's own style. Critics like to sneer at this, but the French impressionist painters all borrowed from one another and learned from one another in finding their own way.

4. When, at the end of WWII, Milton Gross was given a sports column by The New York Post, he asked Red Smith for advice. Red said: "Be there." Being there means not only being in attendance, but with eyes and ears at the ready. Too many writers don't really look or really listen. Look and listen for the distinguishing ingredient. Many years ago Stevie Arcel, in talking about "The Professional" mentioned (in the opening chapter) the flower pots on the tenement fire escapes, the yellowed leaves of the Easter lillies and the pink foil still around the pots a long time after the shouldn't be there any longer. She said: "That tells the whole story of tenement life." Of course. That's why I put it there. Now, Stevie may be the only reader who caught that, but I caught it and every good writes first for himself or herself.

5. The space problem: I know what you're going through, and I don't know any answer except to write as tight and right as you can. Even now, when every couple of years or so and I do a piece for The New York Times sports section, they'll call and say: "We've got to take out six lines." My reaction, although I can't say it, is: "Take it out of the white space around the goddamn drawing." So, you see?

6. Grammatical note: The proper verb form is to "try to" and not "try and." Anyone who ever tried and put it in the past tense got a sentence like this. Don't feel badly. Some of the highest priced heads talking heads on TV make the same error. Somewhere here I've got three or four single-spaced typed pages of grammatical errors made on the networks by their reporters, anchor people and commentators. When I was doing an occasional piece for TV Guide I sent them the casualty lists and asked for suggestions as to how it might be made into a piece. They said their readers wouldn't care. The point was that they didn't care.

7. Sometimes the dice come 7 and here I am. In closing, I can only say that whatever I have to say is in my work, and if you can find Once They Heard the Cheers you'll find a lot of "how-to" there. To you and your work I send my

Very best wishes,

Bill Heinz

Originally posted on April 26, 2008

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Saturday, March 07, 2015

NYPL Oral History Project: Bridging Our Stories: J.A. Reynolds

MEET our neighborhood treasure, MR. J.A. REYNOLDS, through Bridging Our Stories, the New York Public Library's Oral History Program focusing on Washington Heights and Inwood.
Mr. Reynolds, who is 91, spoke about he helped transform Isham Park from a garbage strewn dump into the beautiful park it is today; the life and loss of his son, Port Authority Police officer Bruce Reynolds, during 9/11; the cultivation of neighborhood teens and Bruce's Garden; his experiences with racism in the community; his life as a social worker and performer; and how he hopes to be remembered.

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NYPL Oral History Project: Bridging Our Stories: Dave Hunt

MEET DAVE HUNT, one of the owners at Coogan's on 168th Street, through Bridging our Stories, the NYPL's Oral History Project. 
Listen to Dave reminisce about growing up on Cooper Street in Inwood, playing basketball with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then Lew Alcindor), his friendship with writer Jim Carroll (The Basketball Diaries), the influence of his Irish-born parents and the community, and tales from the world-famous restaurant, Coogan's.

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NYPL Oral History Project: Bridging Our Stories: Obie Bing


The New York Public Library's Oral History Project, Bridging Our Stories, kicked off its project with an interview with Washington Heights' very own Obie Bing. Obie spoke about the migration of his parents and grandparents from the south, growing up in Washington Heights where he still lives, and the tremendous impact the neighborhood has made on him. And for you sports fans, Obie is a first cousin of Hall of Fame basketball player Dave Bing (Detroit Pistons, Washington Bullets, and Boston Celtics).

The photograph was taken by me. The calendar was produced by my friends, Steve Simon and Vivian Ducat, to benefit the Riverside Oval Association. This year's calendar includes a photograph of the apartment building that Obie grew up in.

To listen, click on this link which will take you to the interview:

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey - Uptown

Take two!

Uptown's version of Fifty Shades of Grey takes place on set at Riverstone Life Services Center on 163rd Street and Fort Washington Avenue in Washington Heights. The space was formerly the home of Delafield Hospital, which was converted into affordable housing for seniors through the New York City Housing Authority, and Riverstone Senior Life Services

Because - #SeniorLivesMatter.

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