I spent several days at Bialoweiza Forest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that spans parts of Poland and Belarus. Since the Polish government endorsed logging in its portion of the forest – just outside the UNESCO site – the forest has become a flashpoint in the worldwide clash between conservative nationalists (who see logging as a way to assert national autonomy) and progressive multiculturalists who value international community (and who see logging as an environmental crisis and a threat to rare wildlife).
A reddit user in Madrid DM’d me to say he would like to help. He and I continued the conversation through email and he offered to work his connections among season-ticket holders to get a pair of tickets. He found a friend who couldn’t go and actually bought the tickets. Even before I sent him money through Paypal (no charge for exchanging dollars to euros!).Read More
No love for the stability-ball sitters huh? Tryna to work on their posture and core strength as they analyze the shit out of some hardcore customer data. Blastin those key demos, thrilling that high-value client, gunnin for that promotion, turbochargin that LinkedIn profile, snatching that bonus and splurging on those ankle weights like a salesforce superstar.Read More
Several distinct soccer cultures converge in Ridgewood, a little triangle along the Brooklyn border hemmed in by the industrial zone north of Metropolitan Ave and the freighter tracks to the east. Yesterday, I saw a guy walking on Fresh Pond Road in a Lewandowski jersey (representative of the neighborhood’s large Polish population) and a little kid in a Barcelona SC kit – the yellow one cluttered with more ads than an XVideos page – kicking a ball against his garage (an example of the Ecuadorian set). Meanwhile, my Albanian landlord is obsessed with Real Madrid, Serie A, Albanian SuperLiga and seemingly every other world league. There are also Romanian-American cultural and soccer centers, minivans decked out in Chivas paraphernalia and a growing footy hipster contingent who visit local bars to brunch with the Premier League.Read More
Hey Yankee fans, Vote GG for the final spot in the Major League Baseball All Star Game presented by Carfax !
happy fourth of july
from a hundred-year-old, parapet-less rooftop where we're all pretty high and hammered up here holding our flaming sticks while lighting explosives in the dark watching drunk neighbors fly remote control helicopters – henceforth known as drones – at roughly eyeball level to get a better Instagram story of the professional fireworks only slightly further away.
A group of young artists working with the Bronx's DreamYard are painting a mural on the Step Street near East 165th St. and Third Ave yesterday afternoon.
According to the Dreamyard website, the organization "collaborates with Bronx youth, families and schools to build pathways to equity and opportunity through the arts."
The young people told me this mural, which will feature a honeycomb design, represents the Blue Winged Warbler, a BX native.Read More
The MTA rolled out dark blue, accordion-style articulated buses equipped with wi-fi a couple months ago and already I've seen themall over the Bronx, Brooklyn and Northern Manhattan. They look better than the older white ones and they can fit more people, but change – especially in urban design – scares people because of what it represents. To at least one guy I met today, the bus, it seems, is a symbol for a city changing too fast and leaving people like him behind.Read More
Ever since I began working in the Bronx last year, I have been eager to learn as much as possible about the daunting Step Streets, the most conspicuous example of pre-ADA urban planning in New York City.
The often steep staircases pose an insurmountable obstacle for anyone in a wheelchair or with other mobility issues. They seem a quirky anachronism, but a lot of people really have to go out of their way to maneuver through the Bronx topography.Read More
In Winter 2009, I was napping after a long day following a long night and thought it wouldbe funny to start a blog about sitting on things. So I sat at my computer and started a blog called Sit On Things – a bizarre, kinda funny site that used 'sitting on shit, mundane and weird" as a vehicle for riffing on politics, religion, pop culture and some other stuff.
Commitment really terrified me – or at least triggered some serious energy-sucking anxiety – back then so I stopped updating the blog after a few months. But I loved that weird website and quitting it has nagged me for MORE THAN EIGHT YEARS so a few weeks ago, I resurrected Sit On Things.
Here are my three modern posts so far:
Paranoia, paranoia everybody's coming to get me: On Pole sitting, pillar hermits and Harvey Danger
Sittin on a bee can get you killed out here: On Ferdinand the Bull
You'll need to sit down for this: On cliches
I briefly visited the Charleston, SC- area last weekend and parked my rented F-150 on Calhoun Street across from Marion Square, a former parade ground surrounded by several monuments in the middle of downtown. My friend and I walked across the grassy field to a short obelisk honoring Wade Hampton III, one of the South's largest slaveholders and a Confederate general turned post-Reconstruction governor who unleashed violence upon African Americans and white Republicans throughout South Carolina to suppress votes.
At this monument to a real American stain, we encountered a small group of well dressed men and women discussing the statue and South Carolina's history of white supremacy.
We need to tell the whole story about these guys. Yes, they were important, but they were also 'racist SOBs,' said a white man with a tan suit and white hair.Read More
Broadway, Manhattan's longest street, traverses the entire length of the island. Its varied religious sites reflect the character, culture and history of the diverse people and neighborhoods all smushed together inside the world's greatest city.
From Inwood at Spuyten Duyvil Creek and the Bronx, the famous street heads south through Washington Heights and Harlem before pivoting east at the tip of Central Park, cutting through Times Square (briefly becoming the Great White Way) and terminating near Wall Street and the Staten Island Ferry.
I recently walked South along Broadway to document the religious sites as a way to represent neighborhood change and demographics. Some sites, like the imposing Downtown churches, reflect the city's colonial history, while others, like the storefront iglesias and botanicas, represent the city's Spanish-speaking residents. The African Burial Ground National Monument honors the men, women and children subjugated and oppressed even as they built this new society. Even the Atheist stencial in SoHo captures some smart-ass New York rebellious.
There are several religious sites – including mosques, temples and churches – on side streets right off Broadway. I chose to focus on the 28 sites accessible from Broadway.Read More
Woke up looking out the window into Queens and all those pleasantries:
Woodhaven Woodside Ridgewood Sunnyside;
Beaches, Points, Parks, Gardens, Hills.
The lead paint chipping off the factory cross the street
trickles into the sewer with the rain.
Everyday there's a new mattress blocking the sidewalk at the bus stop.
The sad old man bar has a slot machine
that's 'sposed to be for fun.
Just ask the gambling addict.
I first met Queens idling in line outside the Shea parking lot.
Lotsa deconstructed cars, you know?
There's a junkyard in a forest on toppa a mountain in my hometown
and I always thought, this is here to stay forever, huh?
Just because one hoarder couldn't get enough carburetors
and so he 'ccumulated several acres of doorless car carcasses.
People mock real estate developer spin:
East Williamsburg, Something or other Heights
Do you know that "Blissville" in Queens
Borders a toxic creek? It's just poison factories
And a crowded field where formaldehyded beings
How do we know if a building fits the aesthetic and culture of a neighborhood? Who's to say? Seems like it's up to the people of the neighborhood. Not some developer who trumpets hollow talking points about abstract cultural influences. Not the new arrivals for whom the building was built and who, yeah, might think a building fits the area's aesthetic because it fits the only aesthetic they've ever known – they didn't experience the brick townhouses before the introduction of glassy prefab slabs. They have no memory and little stake.
In neighborhoods choked and sabotaged by derelict governments and ignored by private investors, we hail modern, somewhat radical buildings that serve the community – for example, some of the funkier supportive housing developments for formerly homeless adults and families like Breaking Ground's Boston Road. The new apartments feature foreign colors and materials or tower above the old, but people tend to consider them progressive and as indicators of investment (which they are).Read More
For almost ninety-years, a wedge in the uptown grid at the quirky intersection of St. Nicholas Avenue and Convent Avenue, designated a park by the Board of Estimate in 1909, sat misused, abused or neglected.
Initially, the triangle contained a gas station until the Parks Department discovered its rights to the rare patch of land and razed the pumps there in 1985. A group of neighbors then developed the first iteration of Convent Garden, but after the city uprooted their landscaping to remove the underground gas tanks, weeds grew and trash accumulated in the triangle. The chain link fence around the perimeter began to collapse and police officers from the nearby 30th Precinct commandeered the lot to stash seized vehicles or park their own cars.
In 1998, Juliette Davis, who lives on the fourth floor of a building across the street and who neighbors call Miami, decided to rejuvenate the so-called garden. Today, the .13-acre park, full of flowers, trees, a gazebo and an assortment of decorations donated by friends and neighbors, stands out as a colorful oasis amid the Sugar Hill brownstones and a testament to Davis’ determination.
“You can sit around and wait for days and months and years for somebody to do something for you and never get it done, but maybe with a little knowledge you can do it,” Davis said as she sat in the shade beneath a rosebud tree near the garden gate and reflected on the history of Convent Garden and her neighborhood. “I just started doing the work. I started cleaning the place up and doing things myself. I cleaned off this entire lot because my first thought was, ‘I want grass.’ It was like the wilderness here. Garbage. Weeds growing up above your head.”Read More