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Showing posts from July, 2012

If it's not one thing, it's another: Not tonight, General Tso. I have a headache.

The first in a semi-regular series about observations of New York, If it’s not one thing, it’s another takes a wry, sometimes sardonic, piercing and illuminating (but always modest) look at the snippets of life around us.

Not tonight, General Tso. I have a headache.
Not a train, bus, or airplane runs on time as expertly as the lunch specials in some restaurants in my part of town, which is uptown Inwood. Even the Movado clock across the street from Lincoln Center is off by a few minutes. But you can set your watch by the timing of the 11:30 to 3:30 pm lunch specials at these models of efficiency. Sauntering in at 3:40 at my favorite restaurant is done at your own risk.             “But my watch says 3:35.”             “But I’m a regular here.” “But I was just across the street,” I plead. “Doesn’t count. 3:30 is 3:30,” says the boss, two telephones and a Styrofoam takeout box in hand. “Why?” I inquire. “This is America. Everything runs on time. The bank closes on time. Time is money.” …

It's about Time - Malachy McCourt

Fourth in a series of conversations with New Yorkers about time, writer and actor Malachy McCourt noteshow slowly time passed while growing up in Ireland, and how time has changed him. 
Before I go on, yes, he is the brother of Frank McCourt, the author of Angela's Ashes. Malachy was born in Brooklyn but raised in Ireland. He has acted on stage, in soap operas, and movies as well as hosted his own radio talk show, written best selling books, authored quite a few articles, and ran for governor of New York on the Green Party ticket, losing by a narrow margin to Eliot Spitzer. 
Malachy has a great deal to say here and I'm happy to share it with you. Enjoy!

It's about time - Anita Velez-Mitchell

Third in a series about time, Anita Velez-Mitchell, who was born and raised in Puerto Rico, talks about her life as a dancer, poet, short story writer, editor, director, choreographer, playwright, mother and grandmother.

Now 96, Anita performed on the Ed Sullivan show and at Carnegie Hall. She danced for Xavier Cugat and her legs were so prized that she had them insured. She was shot out of a cannon while working for Ringling Brothers Circus, the experience which she recounts in It's about time. Her vitality and passion for life and poetry can be found in this fascinating conversation. Enjoy!

The Perfect Criminal

If most crimes in New York City were committed by average looking white women of a certain age and proportions, women who look like me would be stopped and frisked from sunrise to sunset.  But most women who look like me aren’t dealing drugs or committing robberies or burglaries or shooting their neighbors or cocaine dealers.

So I’ve never been stopped and frisked. Why would I? Men of color commit the majority of crimes in this city. And their victims are most often, people of color. I can’t help but feel that the two sides of the stop and frisk experience will never view the world and each other the same way. The young men who are subjected to stop and frisks and the cops who patrol the city travel in two concentric circles. As a writer who recorded cops in action for more than two years and wrote two non-fiction books about their lives on patrol, the saddest part is that the hardworking people who are most often victims of crimes get swept up along with the worst and most dangerous …

It's about time. Artemio Colon

Second in a series of interviews with New Yorkers of all ages, It's about time features 91 year old Artemio Colon, who arrived in New York City from Puerto Rico when he was 25 years old. He is the founder of the Westside Boxing Gym in Manhattan's Washington Heights, located on 163rd Street and St. Nicholas Avenue.

Artemio Colon or simply, Colon as most people call him, was one of the first people I met when I began my career as a journalist. He and his family practically adopted me, and I spent many hours photographing and interviewing his fighters, traveling with them to amateur bouts, and learning the ropes. He always dreamed of having a world champion but time and circumstance, fate and a good fighter never came his way.

A companion video, My Hands Talk for Me: A Boxing Journey, is also included in this post since it features a fighter from Colon's gym. The journey of a prizefighter from his first fight to champion of the world is a long one. Alfredo Rodriguez of Manhat…

Baghdad on the Hudson: Celebrating the Fourth of July in Upper Manhattan

During the midnight hours of July 4th, the night sounded like a war raging outside my windows. What was supposed to be a celebration of freedom turned out to be a desecration of our national holiday and a trashing of the upper Manhattan neighborhood of Inwood.
This is what a war correspondent must hear, I mused, except that I was safe inside of my rent stabilized apartment as streets were bombarded by professional grade fireworks that went off until three in the morning. This wasn’t the far away land of Afghanistan or Iraq or Syria where living is precarious and danger is very real. In Inwood, where blocks of apartment buildings, businesses, and our park were under siege, the symbolic takeover of our streets lasted for more than twelve consecutive nights and culminated in deafening explosions and the shelling of firecrackers, sparklers, and M-80s all around us.
I’m all for celebrating our national holiday, and the last several years have been quiet up here, except for a pop or two o…

It's about time.

Announcing the launch of the ongoing video series

It’s about time. Conversations with New Yorkers about time.
Time passes quickly, doesn’t it?
I’ve made an attempt to capture it on film. In a captivating series of documentary interviews, New Yorkers face the camera to talk about how time has passed in their lives. In these conversations, they share insights and anecdotes that range from philosophical to poetic, humorous to bittersweet, prophetic and wise. 
You'll meet a cross-section of people and personalities, including my first subject,veteran New Yorker Stephanie Arcel, an actress, fashion executive and the wife of famed boxing trainer Ray Arcel, who discusses her love for life, poetry, and her late husband.
Upcoming interviews include:

Boxing trainer Artemio Colon talks about his love of boxing and how quickly time passes;
Poet and playwright Anita Velez-Mitchell reveals how she watched time pass as a young girl and what it feels like to be shot out of a cannon;
Writer Malachy McCou…