Category Archives: New York City

Books That Speak to the African-American Experience

It has been said that we can never know how another person sees the world until we walk a mile in their shoes. But books have a way to providing that perspective.

As our country and our culture once more grapples with racial tension and the troubled history of our mutual past, books may be one of the keys to bringing us together.

The Yellow House by Sarah Broom

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Proud: My Fight For an Unlikely American Dream by Ibtihaj Muhammad

Joshua: A Brooklyn Tale by Andrew Kane

It may be simplistic to say that reading the books listed above or any book will help to solve our issues. However, I believe that by at least beginning to understand another’s perspective, the doors to communication, understanding, and diversity may truly start to open.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, History, Jane Austen, National News, New York City, Politics, Pride and Prejudice

New Amsterdam Character Review: Lauren Bloom

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series New AmsterdamRead at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

Addiction and mental health issues weigh heavily on the lives of millions around the world. It is easy to pretend that these issues don’t exist. But the reality is that until one is able to see that they need help, they will never begin to move on.

On New Amsterdam, Lauren Bloom (Janet Montgomery) is the head of the Emergency Department. Smart and efficient, she has the ability to manage a very busy staff while ensuring that the patients are looked after. But underneath her professional abilities, Lauren is facing the two-headed demon of addiction to Adderall and the unhealed emotional wounds from a traumatic childhood.

She is forced into rehab when her colleague and friend, Helen Sharpe (Freema Agyeman) notices that something is off with Lauren. Rehab forces her to confront her troubled past and deal with the addiction that has hindered her ability to emotionally recover. But life is not all sunshine and roses when Lauren returns to work.

After bringing Georgia Goodwin’s (Lisa O’Hare) daughter in the world, Lauren has a different recovery ahead of her when she survives a car wreck. Well aware of how easily she can slide back into addiction, she turns to Helen and Zach Ligon (JJ Feild), her physical therapist, and sometimes hookup partner for support.

In the end, Lauren is able to put her past behind her, but not without some serious soul searching and hard work.

To sum it up: There are two ways to deal with problems. The first is to pretend that nothing is wrong. The second is to admit that you need help. Though it is infinitely harder to admit that you need help, the payoff is worth the risk. In admitting that she has a problem, Lauren shows that she has the strength and courage to move beyond the demons that have plagued her for far too long.

That is why she is a memorable character.

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Filed under Character Review, Feminism, Mental Health, New York City, Television

New Amsterdam Character Review: Vijay Kapoor

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series New AmsterdamRead at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

Life gets busy. We have work, we have school, we have families, etc. But what happens when one dominates the other and we begin to lose touch with what is important? On New Amsterdam, Vijay Kapoor (Anupam Kher), is the head of Neurology. Though he is a respected member of his field, his personal life is as much of a mess as his professional life is clean.

A widower with a grown son, Vijay has not had a relationship with Rohan (Vandit Bhatt) since his late wife’s passing. After plunging himself into work, Vijay tries to rebuild his relationship with his son. But even with all of the effort he puts in, the tentative new bond with his son fades. But there is one thing that will always keep the door open.

His son has a brief relationship with Ella (Dierdre Friel), who works in the hospital cafeteria. Ella is pregnant, but Rohan is nowhere to be found. Though his attempted romantic relationship with Ella died on the vine, Vijay recognizes the opportunity he has with his future grandchild. When her finances begin to run dry, Ella takes him up on his offer to move in together. They have some initial issues (as new roommates sometimes do), but in the end, Ella and Vijay come together, knowing that a new life will soon come into the world.

To sum it up: Ideally, we would all be able to maintain a work/life balance. But that is not always possible. Especially when emotions and complicated family dynamics come unto play. A man like Vijay would find it easy to bury himself in work and use it to mask his personal problems. But the fact that he is willing to face his past and learn from it shows that he is capable of moving forward.

That makes him a memorable character.

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How to Deal With Racism in America: Christian Cooper vs. George Floyd

America is built on the ideals of freedom. But this ideal has a flaw. The flaw is called racism.

Like many problems, racism can only be solved we are able to look it in the eyes and admit that it is an issue. But after 400 years of built in prejudice against Americans of color, this problem may not be so simple to resolve.

On Monday, bird enthusiast Christian Cooper was walking through Central Park. He noticed that Amy Cooper had let her dog off the leash an in area in which dogs are required to remain on leash. Christian is African-American, Amy is Caucasian. Her response to his reminder of keeping her dog on the leash was to call the police.

After millions of views online, the video reached the eyes and ears of Amy’s bosses. She is no longer employed and she is known as a racist. Good luck to her on finding another job.

Also on Monday, in Minneapolis, George Floyd was arrested by police, accused of forgery. Instead of just taking him to the precinct and letting the justice system do it’s job, one of the officers put his knee on Floyd’s neck. After several minutes of complaining that he could not breath, Floyd took his last breath. The officers were fired for their actions. But firing is not enough. The officer who held Floyd down should be tried for murder.

The difference (as I see it) is how both cases were handled. Amy Cooper got what was coming to her. The officer who killed George Floyd has yet to receive what is coming to him.

May the memory of George Floyd be a blessing to those who knew and loved him. RIP.

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Is NYC Truly Ready to Re-Open?

New York City is known as the city that never sleeps. There is always something to do or see, regardless of the time of day or night it is.

That is, until Covid-19 struck.

Yesterday, there was an editorial in the New York Post declaring that it was time to re-open the city.

In theory, I agree with the writer. Stores and businesses with the exception of those that are considered necessary are for all intents and purposes closed. Millions are out of work and relying on unemployment to get by. Schools are closed, forcing students and their parents to learn virtually. The number of New Yorkers who are now going to food banks and charities to ensure that they can feed themselves and their families have gone up exponentially.

But in reality, I don’t quite agree with him. As of earlier this afternoon, there are nearly 194,000 cases in the city with over 50,000 hospitalized. More than 20,000 New Yorkers have died. My concern is that if we re-open too soon, we are opening the door to a second wave of Covid-19 and erasing the gains that have been made in stopping the disease.

Like all of you, I am more than ready to re-enter the world. I am ready to go back to the office, to go to the beach, meets my friends for a drink, etc. Especially with summer unofficially starting this weekend with Memorial Day. But there is also a risk of getting sick or getting someone else sick. I’m not sure that is a risk I am ready or willing to take at this moment.

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New Amsterdam Character Review: Ignatius ‘Iggy’ Frome

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series New AmsterdamRead at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

I’ve often talked about mental health and my own battle with depression on this blog. But what happens when the person with mental issues is also the doctor helping others with the same illnesses? On New Amsterdam, Dr. Ignatius ‘Iggy’ Frome is the head of psychology. In short, his job is to help his patients heal emotionally from whatever is holding them back. But while he is helping his patients, Iggy has his own issues to deal with.

Married to Martin McIntyre (Mike Doyle) and raising their three adopted children, Iggy’s life seems to be perfect. He has a loving husband, healthy children and a satisfying career. But as anyone dealing with mental illness can tell you, you can have it all and still feel like you have nothing.

Living with Disordered Eating, Iggy will bounce from eating junk all day to eating nothing at all. Affecting both his physical and mental health, the disorder begins to take a toll on him. He is also living with a negative self image that is only able to reveal itself in an intense therapy session with his husband. But this therapy session comes only after his marriage is on the brink of collapsing.

When he gets a call that another child is up for adoption, Iggy agrees to take the child without consulting Martin. When Martin finds out, he is naturally furious. They are only able to hash it out when the hospital is on lock down and there is no choice but to put it all out on the table. In the end, Iggy and Martin’s marriage returns to the stable place that it was in, but not Iggy shows a part of himself that few are able to show.

To sum it up: When you have a problem, the first step is admitting that you have a problem. But that first step is the hardest step to take. When Iggy takes that first step and admits that he has a problem, he can finally begin to heal and accept himself.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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Filed under Character Review, Mental Health, New York City, Television

What The F*ck Don’t They Understand About Staying at Home?

In a time of crisis, logic often secedes into emotion and chaos. While this secession is completely and understandably normal, it can lead to actions that would not otherwise be taken.

As many of my regular readers know, I live in New York City. Anyone who does not have their head in the sand is aware that NYC is one of the Covid-19 hot spots in the United States. Since March, those of us who live in the city have heard the same three words countless time: stay at home.

Unfortunately, there are some fools who are putting their lives and the lives of others at risk. Over the last few days, there were three incidents in which I have to question if the participants truly understand what we are going through.

  • Incident #1: In Bedford-Stuyvesant, a Yeshiva (religious school for Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox Jews) was still open in spite of the order from the city to close all schools. Neighbors contacted the local police precinct when they saw students and teachers exiting the building. I am all for education and religious instruction (especially from my coreligionists), but would it hurt to use a little common sense?
  • Incident #2: A party in Canarsie was broken up by police. After two months of staying home nearly 24/7, I am more than eager to see another set of four walls and my friends. However, there is a little thing going around called Covid-19. This virus attacks and kills its hosts indiscriminately. That last thing I would ever want on my conscious is knowing that I may have been the one to give Covid-19 to someone else.
  • Incident #3: The weather this past Saturday was perfect. Last year at this time, I would have gone out for a drink without question. But not this year. According to news reports, several bars on the Upper West Side had a full house. Some patrons hung out on the sidewalk, unable to find seats inside. I am all for meeting my friends at a bar to relax after a long week, but not with the threat of Covid-19 hanging above us.

What the f*ck don’t they understand about staying at home?

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Filed under National News, New York City

New Amsterdam Character Review: Floyd Reynolds

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series New AmsterdamRead at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

Life, if nothing else, is a series of choices. While we may not be fully aware of the outcomes of our choices until they come to pass, the choices will forever play a part in the paths we take. On New Amsterdam, Floyd Reynolds (Jocko Sims) is the head of Cardiovascular Surgery at the fictional New Amsterdam hospital in New York City.

Like all of us, Floyd has made many choices. Some have ended well, some have not. When we meet him, he has been newly promoted to his new position. He is also still in the will they or won’t they stage with his ex-girlfriend and colleague, Lauren Bloom (Janet Montgomery). While still unsure about his relationship with Lauren, he starts to develop feelings for another colleague, Evie Garrison (Margot Bingham). Ironically, it was Lauren who set them up in the first place.

If this was not enough, Floyd is unsure if he should stay at this hospital while his boss, Max Goodwin (Ryan Eggold) has a meltdown. Though he chooses to stay at the hospital, the decision is not an easy one. Eventually, he does leave New Amsterdam. Evie, who he is now engaged to, has gotten a job at a hospital in California. In spite of the fact that his mother dislikes her and knowing that he is leaving his professional family behind, Floyd follows Evie to California.

To sum it up: Floyd is an interesting character because of the choices he makes. He chooses to be in a relationship with Lauren and then with Evie, knowing full well that he may not receive the approval he is searching for . He chooses to go to a new job and a new life in California, not knowing what lies ahead for him.

That is why he is a memorable character.

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New Amsterdam Character Review: Max Goodwin

The next group of characters I will be reviewing is…the characters from New Amsterdam.

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series New AmsterdamRead at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

Life is all about balance. Most, if not all of us have a lot on our plates. It is merely a choice of what to prioritize and what to put on the back burner. On New Amsterdam, Max Goodwin (Ryan Eggold) has more than enough on his plate.

As the medical director of the fictional New Amsterdam hospital in New York City, Max has to deal with the needs of the patients vs. the sometimes bloated and arcane bureaucratic hospital system. He is also married to Georgia (Lisa O’Hare), who is carrying their first child. On top of all this, cancer is ravaging his body.

Max’s trademark question within the hospital is “How can I help?”. This question often leads to unorthodox methods of doing business, which riles the feathers of those who hired him. As work ramps up, his relationship with his wife and his need to treat his cancer suffers.

After Lisa dies in birth, Max adds two more things to his plate: raising his daughter alone and dealing with his wife’s unexpected passing. After his grief passes, he briefly gets involved with Alice Healy (Alison Luff). Like Max, Alice lost her husband very early into her daughter’s life. Though the relationship does not last, it provides the emotional jumping point for Max to move on with his life.

To sum it up: Finding a balance for everything in our lives is difficult. In an effort to maintain that balance, one or two things may end up being inadvertently dropped. But, in the end, we find that balance. Max finds that balance, but not without some heartache and tough decisions.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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Filed under Character Review, New York City, Television

Bill de Blasio, the Hypocrite: Williamsburg vs the Rest of the City

For the last two months or so, social distancing has been the norm.

Last week, I wrote about the antisemitic accusation that New York City Bill de Blasio leveled at the entire Jewish community of New York City for breaking the social distancing rules. While the specific synagogue at the center of the brouhaha has apologized for their lack of forethought, this does nothing to nullify the Mayor’s statement.

This past weekend was absolutely perfect weather-wise in the city. It was everything one would ask for a weekend in May. If we were not living through the Covid-19 pandemic, no one would be thinking twice about getting out. But we are living through a pandemic and that requires us to think twice about leaving the house for anything but basic necessities.

Across the city, many took advantage of the warm weather.

I don’t have a problem with people getting out. If I had not already had plans, I would have done so myself. What I do have a problem with is the lack of sweeping prejudicial generalizations of those who were outside on Sunday. Where was the literal nagging finger, accusing city residents of ignoring the social distancing rules?

There was none.

Bill de Blasio is a hypocrite.

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Filed under National News, New York City