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28 Notes

Looking Back: The NYC Nomad

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2 years ago, I wrote the first blog post of my nomadic travels in NYC. At that time, I thought I might live with different people for a couple of months while I “figured things out.” It turned into much more than that, an indelible experience on my life with images from the people and places of New York City.

I lived in a different neighborhood, with different people, every week for nearly two years!  Towards the end of my project, I realized that as soon as I stopped I’d look back on it and ask “How did I ever do it?”  And now, after month-long sublets in South Williamsburg and Greenpoint and 6 weeks in my new, permanent home in Alphabet City, I’ve reconsidered just that:  How did I do it? How did I move almost every week since March of 2010?

You can get used to anything, and I got used to moving. Almost Every Sunday, I packed everything I owned into four bags and moved to a new neighborhood of NYC. I thrived on meeting new people and seeing new places – on getting to know this city in a truly unique way. I was constantly aware that seeing any place for a week is not enough, but when you know you only have a week, you see a lot more.  You also talk to people a bit more, and through my SoundCloud fellowship, I met and interviewed people who know a far different New York City than I ever will.  (Bernie’s been in Stuytown since the 40’s!)

It’s quite hard to encapsulate this project in a single blog post.  I had over 100 roommates and lived in everything from a tiny studio to an 8 person loft, from a Park Avenue doorman building to the South Bronx.  I even camped one week in Brooklyn.  I stayed with people from the age of 8 months to 80 years old (my 80 year old host was still flying planes) and in 52 unique neighborhoods across the 5 boroughs (map here).  

None of this would have been enabled without some amazing friends and supportive family, friendly acquaintances, and welcoming strangers.  I’m still overwhelmed by the willingness of people who shared their apartments and lives with me. I learned so much, a great deal of which is still being processed.  I’m similarly overwhelmed by the number of offers to stay with people around the world (especially Brazil!).

I want to say thanks, and I’m having a party at my new place so feel free to stop on by if you’re in the neighborhood.  Here’s some more info on the party.

I’ll end this how I ended my first blog post for the NYC Nomad and say that I hope to see you in your neighborhood!

19 Notes

A week on the northern tip of Manhattan in Inwood

Inwood is another one of those neighborhoods I felt like I just had to get to on the road to 52.  The very northern tip of the island always fascinated me and I only ever made it up to the Cloisters on bike rides in the past.  After spending a week with Bronwyn and Matt, my instinct about Inwood proved correct.  The neighborhood plays host to some unique aspects of the island of Manhattan including the only “road” on the island (Indian Road), the only old growth (read: original forest) on the island, and the site of where Peter Minuit is said to have purchased Manhattan for the famed 60 guilders and some trinkets.

My hosts for the week were Bronwyn and Matt, who fall under the category of strangers.  Bronwyn and I couldn’t quite figure out how we had connected but we think it was originally through Tumblr and then through Project Hope, New York’s annual survey of the homeless population.  If you’re interested in participating, details can be found here.  I didn’t have any connection to Matt, but he was cool with having a random guy on the couch.  They have a nice two bedroom place where you can literally fall out of bed and into the A train.  This is uptown, uptown, uptown though, and you’re hopping on the subway at 211th street.  Didn’t realize that existed?  Well, it goes up to 218th street, but don’t confuse it for the Bronx.  One bartender in the neighborhood is known to say that Inwood is “not the f#@%*$# Bronx.” It’s not far though, and I’m kind of disappointed I didn’t get a chance to say hi to Leslie in Riverdale and revisit Wave Hill Park.

The weather was (is) pretty fantastic for the time of year and I ran through Inwood Hill Park, the highest natural elevation in Manhattan.  We had drinks at a great beer garden in the neighborhood, and amazing brunch at Indian Road Cafe.  As Matt said to me, Indian Road cafe is the only place that has figured out how to do coffee, beer, and a restaurant all at the same time.  This cafe and a walk in the park is worth jumping on the Express A train for an hour or so.

Inwood is one of those neighborhoods where you can feel the pride of its residents.  It’s quiet, people seem to look out for one another, and I felt like I was on an island more than I do in other parts of the city.  There ‘s also a great farmers market all year round - a plus for any NYC neighborhood.

I have a few posts to catch up on as I write from Brooklyn Heights.

Happy Holidays!

7 Notes

From 50 stories up in midtown.  #nofilter #nyc #manhattan #aerial #iphoneography #iphone4s  (Taken with instagram)

From 50 stories up in midtown. #nofilter #nyc #manhattan #aerial #iphoneography #iphone4s (Taken with instagram)

4 Notes

The Most Interesting Person in Midtown East - Chicken Delicious

"Chicken" puts on one of the more entertaining and creative acts I’ve seen at a restaurant / bar.  He incorporates his 350 flags into his custom designed costumes and will play music relating to your nationality once he figures it out - the night I was there he played German, Armenian, and Iranian music and had flags for each country which we waves as the music is played. The bar is close to the United Nations so there is always an interesting mix of people.

He says of his act, “I never know what’s gonna happen.”  

The Most Interesting Person in Midtown East - Chicken Delicious at Mimi’s Cafe by thenycnomad

Here’s “Chicken” as Marilyn Monroe.

9 Notes

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Langston Hughes, whose old house is down the block from me this week in East Harlem

8 Notes

A group of four of us met up at Nurse Bettie for a burlesque show. It’s a fun place on the LES and was busy on a Wednesday night.

Don’t take flash photography like I did (mistakenly). You’ll get yelled at by the MC in front of the whole bar. Luckily I didn’t capture the full interaction in this SoundCloud, but you can here a piece of it :) She says, “here’s a little tip. you, right there with the flash.”


BedStuy Sounds

I wondered deeper into BedStuy on a Friday eveninng and came across a concert put on by Order of the Feather in H Von King Park.

BedStuy Beats by thenycnomad

Speaking with the guy sitting next to me, he told me what a positive impact the Order of the Feather had on his life.

Here’s more about the Order of the Feather and the show:

The fraternity was founded by H. Von King and the program is being held in his honor. There will be a candlelight ceremony in recognition of H. Von King. There will be a step show performed by the probates, old members and one of the sororities. Currently, there are chapters in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. The center will be hosting the event. This event will be held in the Von King Amphitheater.

7 Notes

The roughly triangular island is 13.9 miles long and 7.5 miles wide, 2½ times the size of Manhattan, and ranks third in area among the City’s boroughs.
Norval White Elliot Willensky with Fran Leadon, AIA Guide to New York City (Oxford University, 2010), Kindle edition.