Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2014

Only a Smile is Free at the Post Office

My visit to the main post office on 33rd and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan on Saturday afternoon netted this exchange after I handed the clerk, a friendly woman who expertly weighed and added postage stickers to my manila envelope. Service at this branch was fast and efficient with at least five clerks on duty. My late aunt Peggy of Oak Ridge, Tennessee is the only person I know who had better service: The front door of her house was left unlocked and the mail carrier used to open the door, call out her name, and sit down for a cup of coffee at the kitchen table. In this part of town, everything is locked, packages are left outside of my apartment door, and coffee? Fugheddaboutit. Clerk: Would you like to add insurance, stamps, (another six items here) and American Express gift cards?
Me: Only if they're free!
Clerk: The only thing free is my smile.
Me: Not even a pen?
Clerk: Pens? The Post Office doesn't give us pens. We get our pens from TD Bank.
(I actually found one on the counter…

Save Cafe Edison

Putting business before sentimentality and matzo balls, the owner of the Hotel Edison has decided to end the run of the Cafe Edison before the end of the year. A another piece of New York City gone. 
Replacing the Cafe Edison, replete with its handprinted signs, matzoh brie, corned beef and coffee served at the bustling counter, with a high-end polished restaurant with a top chef isn't just about brick-and-mortar and dollar bills. An entire community of New Yorkers - from struggling actors to more successful ones, producers, stagehands, writers, folks from the neighborhood and other New Yorkers, out-of-towners sitting down for a comfortable meal in a place without pretense - will be displaced. Finding that atmosphere in a Starbucks is hardly the same or inspirational. I know. I've tried. And it isn't the same.
Cafe Edison was founded in 1980 when Harry Edelstein was invited by the real estate developer, Ulo Barad, to open in its current space on 47th Street. Barad and Ede…

The Queen of Carrot Cake

Celebrating the life of Renee Mancino, the Queen of Carrot Cake. In this unedited interview from the fall of 2012, Renee talks about her love of baking, how she started out in the cake business, and her love of Inwood. Her two bakeries - Carrot Top in Inwood and Carrot Top in Washington Heights - were renowned for carrot cake. Renee died on Tuesday, November 12.

The interview is part of a larger project and Renee only had one line to say. But her personality and her role in the community was too important to leave at just that. So here she is.

Vanishing Spanish Harlem: From the Selfless Selfies Exhibition at NoMAA

Spanish Harlem becomes smaller and smaller every year as the Puerto Rican population is replaced by the all-too familiar gentrifiers. The faces of neighborhood residents, from Pepe and Margo, an older married couple, to Lucia, a mother and grandmother of many, can no longer be seen. These photos were shot using black and white film, echoing the vanishing world of non-digital photography. The four women and one man portrayed here were among the first wave of Puerto Rican immigrants who arrived in New York City's El Barrio with dreams of street paved with gold. With each passing year, the Puerto Rican community of Spanish Harlem/El Barrio/East Harlem slowly disappears as the older population passes away, while families move to the suburbs and other parts of the country. 
Here is a link to the New York Daily News story that includes information about the photographs and the exhibit. And a link to a story in The Manhattan Times.
Exhibit extended through January 16.

Requiem for a Good Man: Kevin O’Rourke

Wedding of Rabbi Herschel and Raiza Malka Hartz

Rabbi Herschel Hartz, named as one of America's most inspiring rabbis by the Jewish Daily Forward, is the founder and executive director of Inwood Jews. Services are held in the basement of Dichter's Pharmacy & Soda Shoppe and in other Inwood locations. While not a member of the congregation, Herschel invited me to his wedding which took place in Crown Heights at the end of June. What a lively and joyous ceremony!