As “Carlo” walks around New York City, his gentle manner, warm smile, and crisp button-down shirts do nothing to betray that he has some $10,000 in illegal drugs stashed in his pockets.
In his 30s and from the Upper West Side, Carlo is a high-end dealer in some of New York’s purest narcotics. His current best seller is the chemical compound MDMA, popularly known as Molly. Each of the capsules he sells at $20 a pop gives a customer a four-hour euphoric high. On any given weekend, Carlo’s product is consumed by hundreds of New Yorkers. He clearly takes pride in his role sparking dance-floor romances across the city. One of his frequent clients calls him a “chemical cupid” and says Carlos’s MDMA is the most potent she’s ever experienced. With good-quality MDMA fast becoming one of the most sought-after drugs, Carlo has a prime spot in a very popular distribution pyramid.
During the evenings I spent accompanying Carlo on his rounds, I learned that his customer base included people of all walks of life. Within one four-hour period, I saw Carlo cater to NYU students, lawyers, artists, bankers, and a college professor—all ordering drugs to their apartments as casually as if it were Chinese food.
Read more. [Image: DEA/Reuters]
Three extreme-skydiving enthusiasts accused of parachuting off the One World Trade Center tower last fall were arrested Monday, authorities said, in a second criminal case in two weeks arising from surreptitious stunts at the nation’s tallest skyscraper. Read more
Beware of vertigo.
The Move NY plan remains in its formative stages and open to change, but some of the basics are in place. Its first goal will be to distribute bridge and tunnel traffic more evenly and dissuade bridge shopping on the East River. To that end, all the eastern crossings, including the currently free bridges, will cost the same price: $10.66 round-trip for E-Z Pass users, $15 cash. Those increases will be counter-balanced with toll reductions on the outer bridges of as much as 50 percent.
That takes care of commuters entering the island from everywhere but the west. (The outcome of Bridgegate aside, the plan does not involve the Port Authority bridges and tunnels that carry travelers from Jersey for various logistical reasons.) Next the plan takes aim at congestion in Manhattan itself. A toll cordon would be placed at 60th Street to charge drivers heading into the part of the city with the greatest demand: the midtown business district.
Those are the broad strokes; now for some of the finer details. Drivers will be encouraged to pay with a transponder (like E-Z Pass); those without one will be captured via license-plate cameras. Cars will pay the tolls each pass, but commercial vehicles will only have to pay once round-trip in a 24-hour period, to limit the burden on businesses. Yellow cabs will pay a surcharge south of 96th Street — the idea being that they contribute to congestion but in theirquasi-transit role shouldn’t pay the full cordon price every time.
All told the plan could generate up $1.5 billion in net revenue every year. The MTA would manage the money (under the terms of the plan, the agency would lease the four free East River bridges from the city, though the feds might have final say about that). Precisely where the money will go is what Schwartz and Move NY leaders hope to determine with public input awareness campaign. For now, most of it (roughly a billion) is earmarked for transit: maintaining current service and expanding into transit deserts, with anything extra stowed away for long-term capital projects. The rest would go toward the city’s roads and bridges, as well as subsidies for suburban buses or rail commuters.
The revenue number might attract local eyes, but it’s the traffic improvement that will get the attention of other cities. Schwartz and Move NY want traffic flows in the cordon area to improve by 20 percent. Right now the tolls are fixed, but Schwartz says they’ll be adjusted on a quarterly basis to make sure that mark is being met. If traffic is flowing above expectations, it could be lowered. If it’s still oozing like ooze, the tolls might go up.
[Map: Mark Byrnes]
Fred Kahl, an art director and designer at New York media firm Funny Garbage, is using a very new technology to create a very old thing. The new technology: MakerBot 3D printers. The old thing: The demolished Luna Park amusement park at Coney Island—resurrected detail by detail, ride by ride.
“Long ago, I came to the realization that I just wanted to make work for myself and not play the gallery game,” Kahl says about his dream to spend 30 years quietly creating a single diorama. “Since I first learned about Luna Park, I knew it would be my Étant donnés,” referring to Duchamp’s miniature Xanadu.
Kahl’s introduction to Coney Island in 1984 consumed his imagination, like it did for many artists who have painted, photographed, and performed there. “There was still a lot of traces of the old Coney Island left at that time, but it was in this magical state of decay,” he says. It was Ric Burns’s 1991 Coney Island documentary on PBS’s American Experience that sparked the idea of bringing Luna Park back to life: “I would recreate the park in matchsticks during my retirement,” Kahl thought.
Read more. [Image: Laure Leber]
Meet Matthew Zadrozny. He loves the New York Public Library.
On Saturday, he spent five hours handing out flyers on the street and talking to people about the library—specifically, the NYPL’s plan to renovate the main branch and sell two other branches, which Zadrozny thinks will be “a disaster.” He was recruiting participants for the "work-in" protests he’s started organizing on behalf of the grassroots Committee to Save the New York Public Library.
On Monday, Zadrozny ate his lunch outside the NYPL’s main branch on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, a place he knows quite well. There, on the steps of what he calls “the most important building in New York City,” Zadrozny was approached by Brandon Stanton, the photographer behind the popular Humans of New York blog.
"You want to photograph me eating chicken?" Zadrozny asked. "Yep," said Stanton. "Well, if I let you, I need you to help me deliver a message."
Visual books about New York’s painted and graffiti-scrawled walls seem as plentiful as graffiti itself. But other parts of the urban environment don’t get the same coffee-table-tome attention. For instance: doors. Until now, the illustrations gracing city portals have been mostly ignored as a distinct canvas. Door Jams: Amazing Doors of New York City by Allan Markman (Schiffer) spotlights the most elaborate, eccentric, and surprising entryways in the five boroughs.
Markman was appointed senior graphic designer for the United Nations in 2006. His first task: create a workplace poster announcing the newly formed UN Ethics Office. “The idea I came up with was a grid of interesting, diverse, and beautiful doors with the following copy: ‘Not sure if you should open that door? Contact the Ethics Office,’” he says. There was no budget to purchase stock photos, and Markman could not find enough public-domain images to his liking, so he began photographing doors in and around Manhattan. It took him four days to snap all the pictures needed for the poster, which, he told me, “the client loved, but upper management rejected.” The ad was never printed, but Markman’s door obsession had begun.
To a street artist, doors are public canvases waiting to be transformed. To Markman, they collectively tell the story of a diverse city: “The door is an exciting and often surprising marker of the urban experience. Many doors provide a small glimpse of a forgotten past, while others reflect the dysfunction of the present. A door speaks of class, culture, wealth, poverty, change, neglect and even death. Some really interesting doors adorn the mausoleums found in the Woodlawn (Bronx), Greenwood (Brooklyn), and Maple Grove (Queens) cemeteries.”
Read more. [Image: Allan Markman (Schiffer)]
In the new anthology Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York, contributors share the experience of moving to New York in pursuit of the writing life. In essay after essay, writers describe their experiences moving to New York from Long Island, New Jersey, California, and overseas. Anyone from anywhere can come to New York City in pursuit of fame, riches, and romance, and as a result, Goodbye to All That captures New York’s uniquely nuanced, overlapping landscape of cultures and geographies that for millions feels at once deeply personal and communal.
But while something deeper also reveals itself in the pages: Some thread of pure accident runs through the story of each writer’s dream of making it in the big city.
Goodbye to All That features several familiar names from the Manhattan and (mostly) Brooklyn literary community, including editor Sari Botton and several other 20- and 30-something women writers. Through a series of emails, I asked Sari and contributors Cheryl Strayed, Melissa Febos, and Mira Ptacin about the differences and similarities between their experiences in the city of so many of our dreams.
A really important thing happened last month to New York City and the rest of the mid-Atlantic. This event will change the daily lives of millions of people, especially during the coldest months of winter. And, despite some protesters, it all went down with less fanfare than Jay Z and Beyonce going vegan for a month.
An $856-million pipeline expansion began ramping up service, allowing more natural gas to get to New York City consumers. The New York-New Jersey expansion project moves more gas the last few miles from Jersey, which is the terminus for much of the Marcellus Shale gas flowing out of Pennsylvania, into Manhattan. The Energy Information Administration called it “one of the biggest… expansions in the Northeast during the past two decades.” It will bring an additional 800 billion British thermal units (BTU) of gas to the area per day.