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106 posts tagged nyc

Paris Review |€“ Love in a Cold Climate

i didn’t want to like this but it was just all so familiar - the crappy greenpoint apartment, remembering the neighborhood as always winter, (all that asbestos siding slick with ice, snow gathered on stoops and wrought-iron, the sky always low and grey, industrial smokestacks rising above the rooftops, the greyed asphalt turned a dirty white with salt), the dollar donuts at peter pan (best in late afternoon, sitting at the counter dunking a slightly stale cake donut into equally stale coffee, the windows of the shop fogged up from the cold outside)

things that make you feel like a Real Adult in NYC

• Having a friend come to visit and showing them the bathroom and realizing that for the first time in years you don’t have to explain any hazards or quirks about the bathroom

(Previous examples include but are not limited to: absence of sink; no hot water; too-hot water; hot and cold water taps being switched; oddly placed showerhead; bathtub, but no showerhead; leaks, ceiling-related; leaks, sink-related; excessive plants cultivated by roommate; broken window which necessitates a piece of wood to prop it open but, like, don’t push on the window too hard or the whole thing will pop out into the fire escape; no window; un-frosted window facing a very public direction; roaches; rodents; toxic mold;  misc toilet flushing issues; misc toilet structural issues; cracked tiles; tiles which have been known to collapse on one whilst one is in the shower, twice, thanks to a landlord’s botched attempt at fixing; doors that don’t lock; doors which will lock you in forever if you lock them; temperamental light fixtures; no light fixtures; etc)

For whatever reason I’ve been sort of not super jazzed up on fashion lately? Maybe it’s winter blues (no snow but I still have to wear tights and 47 layers every day!? what is this!?) or maybe it’s that I’ve been busy with 18 other projects — but the good ole “fashion blogging universe” has just sort of been not keeping my attention super well this past month or so.

But! Let’s not be depressing! So instead of talking about my irritation at this (lies, I’ll just talk about it parenthetically! check it out! a bunch of old white dudes and a few token black guys and a lady or two! how interesting! and by interesting I mean “god how depressing is everything ever” but ANYHOW) let’s feel enthusiastic about lady photographers and how much I love New York, right?! As if I don’t post about these things enough!  But these people seem obvious to me but maybe you have not encountered them before, so.  Berenice Abbott!

Berenice Abbott’s “Changing New York" — her exhaustive collection of photos of New York in the 1930’s, the archives of which now live over at the NYPL — is awesome for all of the reasons we always love photos of New York in ages past, right?  It’s part “Oh snap! That’s the Starrett Lehigh building! Once I totally bombed an interview at a studio there!” and part fascination at the things we don’t recognize; something both familiar and bittersweet about the things that are both the same despite the things that are different, like the persistent stark contrast of poverty and wealth, of new and old, that seems in so many ways to define this city.  

There’s also the fact that while Abbott was known primarily for her photographs of New York (and a bunch of boring science stuff, like photographing balls in motion yaawwwwnnnn) those of us in on the joke can deduce pretty quickly what “lived with Djuna Barnes in the Village for a while” probably means.  (Unsurprisingly, some of her photos are in that Hide/Seek show at the Brooklyn Museum that I still haven’t gone to because I suck but I’m going Thursday I swear!)  Abbott’s portraits — of herself, of Barnes, Janet Flanner, Gertrude Stein, Edna St Vincent Millay, Betty Parsons, and more — can be read also as a not-so-subtle but still-unspoken record of queer identities in her era in New York and Paris. Cool!


A Cathartic Meditation On Things Currently Wrong With My Apartment, Which Is The Nicest One I Have Ever Lived In And Which I Still Genuinely Consider To Be “A Really Great Situation”

OR, Notes On Sense Of Place To Characterize “Post-Collegiate Recession Life In Brooklyn With A Low-Paying Job In Some Glamorous Industry” In Future Thinly Veiled Autobiographical Short Stories Which I Will Never Do Anything With

I. Things we are optimistically working to independently resolve due to unresponsiveness of landlord and superintendent, OR, ongoing self-improvement projects

  • Moldering wall due to Leak #1: living room pipe and window, and the aftermath of the notorious Irene-induced pustulent wall-blister situation
  • Caulking cracks in bathroom and floorboard; expanding foam around pipes and major holes. See also: roach situation which we are certain comes from neighbors
  • Leaky kitchen sink; now fixed thanks to the various merits of Having A Handy Girlfriend
  • Trivial and easily resolved inconveniences including but not limited to: lack of storage, poor lighting, uneven paint jobs, etc.

III. Things I am unable to fix, but on which the landlord and superintendent remain unresponsive, OR, ongoing struggles for attention

  • Bedroom ceiling blister (roughly human-head sized) and concomitant rust stains due to Leak #2: unidentified source, presumably radiator related (occurs only when heat is on)
  • Lack of hot water after midnight
  • Lack of functional hot water tap in bathroom sink, cause unknown
  • Major Electrical Problem #1, current duration 15 days, potentially due to a Hairdryer Sisyphus Ghost who is damned to use a very high voltage hair dryer for all eternity without their hair ever drying, somehow on my apartment’s circuit, resulting in permanent brownout with constant flickering and related problems, including occasional difficulties with using stove or oven due to electric ignition; inability to use microwave, hotpot, flat iron, or other devices requiring a steady current at all; interruption in wireless internet broadcasting; fridge at room temperature due to lack of sufficient electricity for constant cooling and the consequential Rotting Of All Our Food And Condiments. But! At least I am not doomed to flip my head upside down and have it remain permanently damp for all eternity like the Hairdryer Sisyphus Ghost who has caused this whole thing, and for whom I have nothing but great pity.
  • Major Electrical Problem #2, duration usually five minutes to five hours, mostly self-resolving due to seasonal nature: building-wide blackouts due to circuit overloads mostly on days over 95 degrees. Superintendent’s solution: “Don’t use the air conditioning,” despite the fact that we do not have air conditioning.

III.  Things my landlord has fixed in the past and estimated delay in action from first to second or third hysterical phone calls and eventual resolution, OR, things to restore my faith in either humanity and “the system”

  • Replaced broken stove (1 week)
  • Fixed entire wall of bathroom tile which collapsed mid-shower (5 days)

IV. Things I consider real perks about my living situation, OR, things I have been told are not actually considered perks elsewhere and are either “things to take for granted” or “things which are not normal” but which I cling to, desperately, as major perks

  • Almost 400 square feet for less than $1200 a month
  • Location less than two blocks from train!
  • Lack of bell or intercom, but location on third floor means running downstairs to let people in is not unnecessarily difficult
  • At least 12 restaurants which deliver to my location
  • Numerous bodegas nearby, including an option of “the ones that sell Newman-O’s and organic peanut butter” and “the ones that sell Oreos and Kraft Mac N Cheese” within a three block radius
  • Landlord and superintendent with at least conversational command of the language I speak
  • Thugs who hang out on stoop are relatively benign; sell only marijuana, do not attempt to peddle residents their wares, do not hit on me or make lewd comments, even when I am wearing Possibly Inappropriately Small Running Shorts
  • Windows which face courtyard/alley permit decent light but protect from weather and street noise
  • Neighbors have repeatedly ripped alarm and lock off door to roof, permitting roof access with Actually Amazingly Nice View of Manhattan
  • No mice, probably partially due to really cute building kitties!

Part one of this ongoing meltdown can be found here.

danny lyon | brooklyn, summer 1974

How wonderful are these photos of Brooklyn in the summer of 1974, from photographer Danny Lyon? For the unacquainted, as always: Lyon, along somewhat more widely acclaimed contemporaries Mary Ellen Mark, Robert Frank, and Larry Clark, was among the photojournalists known for their focus on imperfect reality and on the photographers’ involvement with their subjects’ lives, rather than striving for well-composed, technically perfect images from a physical and emotional distance.  

Lyon’s deliberate choice to embrace imperfections — most of these photos are ill-exposed, crooked, blurred, or interrupted by a too-close body or object — belies his empathetic intent: the heat and energy and constant buzz of the city comes through here in ways that “better” photographs don’t permit.  The images here call to mind Helen Levitt, Walker Evans, and a grittier, less “fashionable” version of Bruce Davidson’s Brooklyn Gang.  Also: restraining myself from gushing again about the warmth and grain and depth of fields of old film photography but that horse has been dead for ages so I’m only going to passive aggressively mention it in passing (o see what i did thar?)

Plenty more of these after the jump, but also worth noting are Lyon’s images of Chicago motorcycle gangs in The Bikeriders, which put LIFE magazine’s documentation of motorcycle gangs sorely to shame.

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More things we know by now: I am, it seems, a completely incurable nostalgist for all things New York and something of a weird local history fetishist,. (Wait! We need to point out some greatest hits of my obsession! The jail on Ludlow for suffragettes! Lady pirates of the Hudson! The dangers of petticoats in snow! My undying love for Bruce Davidson’s Brooklyn Gang!)  Naturally, the sketches, prints, and etchings of Australian-born artist Martin Lewis (apparently a friend of Edward Hopper, whom I’m always weirdly drawn to for similarly NYC-biased-reasons) cater pretty directly to that weakness.  

Lewis’ drawings and etchings appeal to me so much, I think, because despite being from the 1920’s and 30’s, they still look so familiar to me — the stylishly dressed midtown crowds pushing against the wind, the angles of the street corners, the open fire hydrants on hot summer days — streetcars and cloche hats aside, this still looks pretty much like every day to me.  But mostly I think it’s something about the quality of light and shadow he captures — on streets still busy at night, during a thunderstorm, at dusk on a fire escape — which I don’t really have much to say about other than that is is exactly how it looks here and this is how I think of this city, as mostly grey with extremes of light and shadow. Am I too grossly romantic? Either way, the images are pretty awesome.

More after the jump, but you can also find a plethora of them online from the Dia and at the Brooklyn Museum.

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• "Yeah, the last place I was subletting was a railroad and we didn’t have a sink in the bathroom and the entire kitchen ceiling collapsed this one time because the alcoholic upstairs fell asleep in his bathtub and flooded the apartment and it took the landlord over a week to fix it and there were bedbugs in the building, but we never got them in our apartment and we only had to pay $800 a month each!" Not that I know anything about that personally, you know.  Now I pay less than $600 a month and I don’t have any closets and when all the tiles fell off my bathroom wall, my super fixed it within five days!

• Mariachi bands on public transportation.  Accordion players on public transportation, possibly covering Lady Gaga songs. Ukelele players on public transportation. That guy who dresses like a peacock on Seventh Ave in midtown; the guy with the cat on his head who wanders around Flatiron a lot

• People defecating or pleasuring themselves (or both? we have yet to hear of it, though we’re sure it has happened) in public

• That thing where you get a coffee at a bodega, and they put it in a paper bag, with napkins of top of it? 

• That thing where you get a soda at a bodega, and they put it in a paper bag, with a straw?

• Six dollar well drinks; fourteen dollar cocktails; the concept of “bottle service”

• Workplace condoned or encouraged alcoholism; workplace condoned or encouraged drug use

• Daily encounters with rats the size of small dogs. We’ve started thinking of them as pets, really.

• That thing you do where if you pretend like you didn’t see the cockroach, it clearly doesn’t exist.

• That thing you do where if you pretend like you didn’t see the homeless person, nonprofit street fundraising canvasser, guy who is following you shouting about your ass, celebrity, or person you slept with three years ago that you just passed on the street, they clearly don’t exist. 

• 104 degree summers with suffocating humidity for which you have one flimsy window fan (well, if you’re lucky enough to have a window) to keep you from literally melting overnight and you’re like, oh, whatever, the subway platform this morning was way worse.

• Two seasons: cold, and hot and smelly. 

• SLOWWALKERS, or, alternately, the irrepressible rage directed at them

• "Hey! I saw your posting for a sublet in the East Village on Craigslist for $1200 a month.  Just want to make sure — that window in the room actually faces, like, outside, right? Not a hallway or air shaft?"

• Having a friend who got paid like $100 a day just to take some rich lady’s son to and from school on the subway; having a friend who babysat some child on the Upper East Side who at the age of three wanted to play “chef and sous-chef” and not just “let’s make pie out of this mud”; large groups of children chained together via leash wearing matching shirts on the subway; children doing un-children-like-things in general

• The availability of cheap and greasy takeout food at all hours of the night, all days of the week

• "You want to get dinner in Chelsea? Sorry, I haven’t been north of 14th Street in like nine months."

• Coffee shops that close at 6 PM and don’t have Wi-Fi

• "Why would I have a driver’s license?"

• NYU, in general; the Meatpacking District; the Lower East Side

• Your intern casually mentioning his or her yacht/trust fund/inheritance; your intern’s online shopping habit which involves receiving boxes on a weekly basis, the contents of which are worth approximately your monthly pay

• Storing hair dryers/flat irons with the kitchen supplies since there’s never any outlet in the bathroom; people who keep their shoes in the oven; people who keep books in the fridge

compiled via g-chat in collaboration with The Rejectionist ; your input also welcome