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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!

56 Notes

Listen to my quest to find the most interesting person in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. It was tough, but ultimately I found Igor.  Like many others in the neighborhood, including Anna (interview below), Igor swims when most people don’t even think of going near the beach. He swims almost every day of the year.

Anna - Swimming in Brighton Beach by thenycnomad

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42 Notes

The NYC Nomad in Brazil

Well, I’m not there - at least not yet.  But here’s an article that ran in an airline magazine last month.  So far I have multiple offers from Sao Paulo and an offer to go to Rio and the capital, Brasilia.

NYC Nomad Brazil TAM Airlines

27 Notes

Brighton Beach boardwalk

Brighton Beach boardwalk

15 Notes

Julia has lived in SoHo for 81 years. She says the block (where I lived for the week) on Thompson between Prince and Spring is the best block in all of New York City. You can find her “sitting out” at the Porto Rico Coffee roasters shop, which has been around for over 100 years and one of last remaining vestiges of this historic neighborhood.

She says, “even if they gave me a mansion, I wouldn’t leave my apartment.”

36 Notes

I found Moses Josiah playing the saw in Atlantic Terminal on my way to Atlantic Antic, the largest street fair in New York City.

Moses is from Guyana and has a permit to play under the Arts for Transit program.

Pretty awesome - he’s actually playing a regular carpenter’s saw.  If you click thru to the SoundCloud link, you can see a video as well.

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.

7 Notes

George is the district manager of Community Board 11, which serves East Harlem.  Listen for some interesting stories and stats about the neighborhood with the most public housing in the United States.

Music by Delirata on SoundCloud

10 Notes

Wilfredo Roldan is a teacher, actor, musician, and martial artist.  He told me stories about Alphabet City that are hard to believe.  Listen to his experience growing up in this neighborhood when the letters of the streets (A, B, C, and D) stood for acid, booze, crack, and dope.