Tag Archives: New York City

Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations Book Review

A memoir has the potential to tell a good story. It also has the potential to appear to the reader that the writer is all about me me me.

Last month, writer Mira Jacob published her memoir in graphic novel form, Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations. Currently living in New York City, Ms. Jacob is the daughter of Indian-American parents. Growing up with dark skin and immigrant parents, she was often faced with questions that are uncomfortable by nature. The questions became even more complicated when she married her Jewish filmmaker husband and brought her biracial son into the world.

What makes this book standout for me is that it is written in graphic novel form instead of being written in the traditional format for a memoir. In other memoirs where uncomfortable topics such as race and immigration are talked about, the writer may have the tendency to preach or write in a dry, academic style. In this book, Ms. Jacob writes in a way that makes these topics feel approachable and more importantly, talk-able.

I recommend it.

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The Village Review

When you live in an apartment building, your neighbors hopefully become more than your neighbors. They become friends and by extension, family.

This is the premise of the new NBC series, The Village. Set in an apartment building in Brooklyn, the series follows the lives of the residents.

Sarah (Michaela McManus) is a nurse and single mother raising her teenage daughter.  Gabe (Darren Kasagoff) is a young lawyer who has the most unexpected of roommates: his grandfather Enzo (Dominic Chianese). Ava (Moran Atias) is an immigrant who is raising her son alone when ICE comes calling. Nick (Warren Christie), is the newest resident of the building and a veteran. Ron (Frankie Faison) is the super whose passion for his social worker wife, Patricia (Lorraine Toussaint) is as strong as the day they married.

I’m not really a fan of schmaltzy television. When a show goes over the top with drama, I am usually turned off. But I liked The Village. I liked it because it’s my world. As many of you know, I live in New York City. To have a house of one’s own is a luxury. Most people either rent or own their apartment.  I understand these characters and familial bond that goes with living in an apartment building.

I recommend it.

The Village airs on NBC on Tuesdays at 10:00. 

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Movies Celebrating Anniversaries- The Graduate (1967), Annie Hall (1997) and A League Of Their Own (1992)

There are some movies that are, for lack of a better term, so forgettable, that you walk out of the theater almost immediately forgetting that you saw the film.

Then there are some films that are loved and cherished, that decades after their premiere, they are still being talked about. This year celebrates the anniversaries of three memorable and loved films: The Graduate (1967), celebrating its 50th anniversary, Annie Hall (1977), celebrating its 40th anniversary and A League Of Their Own (1992), celebrating it’s 25 year anniversary.

The Graduate (1967)
Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) is a young man in his early 20’s just trying to figure life in general, as many of us do at that age. While dating Elaine Robinson (Katharine Ross), he is sleeping with her mother, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft).

What makes this film brilliant is that Benjamin Braddock speaks to all 20 somethings who are just trying to figure out life in general. Included in the recipe for a film that stands the test of time is the immortal soundtrack by Simon and Garfunkel and a narrative that would have never even seen the light of day ten years before. The Graduate represents a small, but important change in not just Hollywood, but the overall cultural shift that was slowly changing the world.

Annie Hall (1977)

Annie Hall is the romantic comedy. Ditzy Annie Hall (Diane Keaton) is dating neurotic Alvy Singer (Woody Allen). That is until they break up and Alvy is reminiscing about their relationship.

I love this movie for a number of reasons. It is one of New York City’s most iconic films. I also love that neither Annie or Alvy are the ideal romantic comedy leads and the ending is not the typical Hollywood/fairy tale ending. Instead of a glossed over, predictable narrative, Allen and his co-screenwriter, Marshall Brickman write about a real relationship and are not afraid to show the bumps in the road that sometimes occur in a romantic relationship.

A League Of Their Own (1992)
During World War II, while the men are away fighting the Axis powers, the woman occupy the roles the men left behind. Sisters Dottie (Geena Davis) and Kit (Lori Petty) join the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, a baseball league made entirely up of female players. While the league gains fans and popularity, a rivalry erupts between the sisters.

A League Of Their Own originally hit theaters when I was a kid. I loved it 25 years ago and I still love it today. I love the quotable dialogue, I love the complicated and real female characters (which today are still not seen as often as they should be) and I love that these women paved the way, in their own small way for the success not just in sports, but in life for future generations of women. I also have a little bit of an obsession with music from the 1940’s, the soundtrack of this film makes me very happy.

The films above were meant to stand the test of time. Many films are forgettable, these films will live forever in the minds of fans and critics as films that will always be watched, talked about and cherished.

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13 Signs You’ve Lived in (or Visited?) NYC Too Long

All of that and more.

almostfreeNYC

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New York Transit Museum

One of New York City’s greatest cultural assets is our museums. The sheer number of them is incredible.

Today I had the opportunity to visit the New York Transit Museum. Located in a defunct train station in Brooklyn Heights, the transit museum is not the traditional museum. Perfect for kids and families, it is the history of the New York City transit system that is told in a fun and accessible way.

My favorite part of the visit was going through the various incarnations of the subway cars. Each train car is as it was during it’s own time. I half expected to see actors dressed in period costume to come through the doors and interact with each other. The advertisements in the train cars, told the story of the era that the car was used in, if one used those as the only reference of that specific era.

Compared to other museums, the price to get in extremely reasonable. Non senior citizen adult admission is $7.00, admission for children ages 2-17 is $5.00, senior citizen admission is $5.00 (it’s also free for people over 62 if they visit on Wednesday), and member admission costs nothing.

I highly recommend this museum, especially for kids. They will have a blast.

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Dear Mr Bratton: An Open Letter to William Bratton, NYPD Chief

Dear Mr. Bratton

I understand that you are presently caught between a rock and a hard place.

Your boss is Mayor de Blasio. Your staff consists of the men and women of the New York Police Department.

Two weeks ago, Officers Wenjian Liu  and Rafael Ramos were killed execution style. Their only crime was being in the police department and doing their jobs.

You have asked your staff to respect the mayor.

Let me tell you a story.

I worked for a private company for a number of years. As the years progressed, it became clear that the owners lost sight of the real reason for starting the company and began to only see dollar signs. I lost respect for them and because of that, I began to look elsewhere for employment.

You have good men and women working under you. They only want to do their jobs and serve the citizens of this great city of ours. But when it becomes clear that upper management has lost the respect of their staff, that is a problem. In your case sir, when the mayor’s office and the NYPD leadership allows public opinion to sway them away from supporting the men and women who keep New York City safe, that is a problem.

I recognize that middle management, especially in your case, is not easy. You have a boss over your head who needs certain things, but you also have staff under you who need your support.

I recommend that you find a middle ground, because if you do not, like your boss, you may be out of a job come the next mayoral election.

Sincerely

A citizen of New York City

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Inheriting The City Book Review

New York City has everyone from everywhere.  You can walk down the street, hear multiple languages and eat in restaurants of many different nationalities.

Inheriting The City: The Children Of Immigrants Come Of Age casts a very interesting light on the children of the most recent immigrants to make the Big Apple their home.  The subjects come from four very different ethnic groups: Chinese, Russian Jews, African-Americans who come from the West Indies and the Caribbean, and several subgroups within the Hispanic community (Puerto Rican, Dominican, etc).

It is a very academic book. Not completely dry, but not meant for a light beach read either.

Did I enjoy it? In a way I did. I come from immigrants, but my family has been in this country since the early 20th century. It was interesting to see the different views and lifestyles of these first generation Americans.

Do I recommend it? Sure, but only in an academic light.

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Not One Red Cent

The MTA is raising the fares, again.

I get it. The MTA needs to pay their bills and their employees. The trains and buses run 24/7/365. You can get on the train at Coney Island and ride all the way up to the top of the Bronx on one fare. There are very few public transportation systems in the world than run all day, every day and you don’t need to pay based on your destination.

The people who run the MTA know that we need them. New York City would become paralyzed, on multiple levels without the trains and buses.  The MTA  is the the lifeblood of this city.

I wouldn’t mind a fare hike if the service was improved somehow. Or the buses and trains were cleaner. If they are going to raise rates, I need to see that the money I pay them to get me around town is going toward something useful.

But if they are going to raise their rates because they can’t control their finances,  that is not my problem and I should not have to pay more to fix their problem.

Not one red cent.

 

 

 

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Keep Your Kid In The Seat: An Open Letter To NYC Parents

Dear New York City Parents

I an aware that parenting is a challenge.  In this crazy,  always on the move, 24/7/365 city that we call home,  parenting is even more complicated.

I do have one request of NYC parents, especially if they have young kids and rely on public transportation to get around: teach your kids that the train car is not a playground.

I was on the train yesterday afternoon. A woman with a little boy, around 4 or 5 years old, got on with me. This little boy preceded to use the train car as his own personal playground.  The mother did next to nothing to keep her child in a seat. Now this is not the case every day. There are plenty of parents who can keep their child entertained and sitting while traveling on public transportation.

Imagine if this little boy had gotten hurt. The only person at fault would be the mother who did not keep her child in a seat while traveling on a moving subway car. Not the city, not the MTA, but the mother.

In conclusion, I ask that you, the NYC living, MTA riding parent, teach your child to stay seated while on the train. For your sanity and for mine.

I thank you for your time.

A fellow rider of the NYC MTA

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Time Stands Still

At first glance, New York City seems to always be on the cutting edge of modernity. Buildings made of steel, glass and concrete fill the skyline. It is the city of concrete dreams that Alicia Keys referred to in the song “Empire State Of Mind“.

But there is another New York City. One that is older, that represents previous generations who left the lands of their ancestors for the freedom and opportunity that the United States offers.

The Eldridge Street Synagogue and Museum  on the Lower East Side is a marvel of architecture, hope and opportunity.

Eldridge St 3

Built in the late 1880’s by Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, they flocked to the Lower East Side and to this synagogue.

It has been renovated extensively over the past two decades.

Eldridge St 1 Eldridge St 2

Walking into the main sanctuary feels like time has stood still. It looks very much like it did to those immigrants who made this synagogue their second home. I felt like I was walking into Hester Street.

I recommend the Eldridge Street Synagogue and Museum  for both tourists and locals.

 

 

 

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