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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!

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.

3 Notes

The NYC Nomad in Spuyten Duyvil, Riverdale (the Bronx)

Sundays are generally moving day, but I haven’t arrived on a Sunday in a while. And the Sunday I was supposed to move to the Bronx was Superbowl Sunday so when Leslie warned me that she knew nothing about football and probably wouldn’t even be watching the game, I extended my stay in TriBeCa an extra day.

The Bronx marks my fourth borough, although some would contest that Spuyten Duyvil, which is a part of Riverdale, isn’t really the Bronx (I’m happy to stay places that people really consider the Bronx, so email me).  But geographically it is.  Four boroughs down, one to go (Staten Island) and its on the calendar for the 2nd week in April.

Leslie had emailed me as a result of the NYT article.  She is a bit of her nomad herself, having lived in four of the five boroughs (she missed Staten Island) and India in a calendar year.  She emailed me and said:

Riverdale is “a little bit country and a little bit rock n’ roll.” Easy access to parks, quiet neighborhoods, a little bit of a “downtown” area and just minutes from Manhattan with the public transportation to get you there.

Leslie’s offer came with a twist.  She had a ten month old named Phoenix. I’m sure many people would say Leslie was crazy to invite a stranger who is a man to live with her and her infant child, but we emailed back and forth quite a bit and I think its safe to say that after 9 months of doing this and reading the testimonials one can get a sense of who I am and what this project is about.  Plus, she and Phoenix had heard about the nomad’s juggling abilities.

For me, Leslie just sounded interesting and on board for the project.   She had traveled all over the place including doing part of her MBA in India.  She is also the recently appointed director of Columbia Business School’s entrepreneurship program.

I was excited to go live with a family, but I’d be lying if there was not apprehension when I left TriBeCa.  I had a “wait, why is she inviting me into her home?” moment, but reassured myself by reading an email about all the fun things we could see in the neighborhood.  I spent the hour long ride on the 1 train enjoying music and a book rather than worrying about my week in the Bronx.  From the 1 train, I connected to the Bx10 bus and then walked to the Linden House on Henry Hudson Parkway.  The building is huge and old with two separate wings, and you can tell it was at one time quite grand (its still very nice).  It was built sometime in the 1930’s and looks out oddly onto a circular driveway which used to look out onto a farm and a view of the Hudson.  I’d love to see an old photo of the view.

It was social media week, and I went to a few of the events and also had the opportunity to go to the Moth at Cooper Union.  I didn’t get home before 11:30 on Tuesday through Thursday, but Leslie and I enjoyed pizza on Friday night at Salvatores of Soho (Gorgonzola, red onion and asparagus a.k.a the Mama Lisa) and we had a drink at An Beal Bocht.  We also commuted in a variety of manners which I’ll post about separately.  Phoenix, Leslie and I went to Wave Hill on Saturday morning.  I will most definitely return to that park in the summer.  It’s beautiful.

NYC Nomad in Riverdale

Then Leibman’s Jewish Deli for pastrami sandwiches in the afternoon.  

NYC Nomad in Riverdale

It was kind of a perfect Saturday.  I took a nap, slowed down, watched a movie and stayed in on Saturday evening.  

Phoenix is a cool little guy and a hit with pretty much everyone he interacts with, including me.  Here is a photo.  For more, you can visit my flickr set.

NYC Nomad in Riverdale

On Sunday, I moved to Fort Greene leaving behind incredible aromatic ribs Leslie was preparing.  I was accompanied by a Brazilian journalist for my move. 

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3 Notes

The NYC Nomad will be LIVE on WNYC with Leonard Lopate!

Please tune in to WNYC (NPR) this Tuesday, January 4th for the Leonard Lopate show. The stations in NYC are FM 93.9 and AM 820.  You can also stream it live from the WNYC website. I’ll be going on starting at 1pm EST for about a 20 minute interview and preceding none other than Roseanne Barr!

For those unfamiliar with the Leonard Lopate show, he has hosted some amazing guests over the years including Barack Obama and Henry Kissinger. I’m excited to meet him and for my radio debut.

There is also this from Wikipedia about the show:

Lopate’s talk show airs on WNYC from noon to 2 pm every weekday, as well as on XM Satellite Radio Channel 133 every weekday from 4 pm to 6 pm (EST). Segments of the show are available as podcasts found on iTunes and on the station’s website.

The show’s format typically consists of four interviews ranging from twenty to forty minutes in length and covers a broad range of topics including jazz and gospel music, food and wine (winner of two James Beard Awards), literature, the arts, science and history. Lopate has interviewed politicians, poets, painters, novelists, filmmakers, actors, dancers and more than a few Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners.

If you want to listen to some of his other shows over the past 25 years, here is a link.