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.
Of the many unspoken codes of public transportation, perhaps the most crucial is this: Keep, as much as possible, to yourself. The ride—on the train, on the subway, on the bus—may be full of familiar strangers; politeness and pragmatism, however, tend to emphasize the “stranger” over the familiar. Why interact with other people when you can, for the good of all aboard, ignore them?
But what happens when those mandates gets reversed—when the stranger on the subway becomes, actually, a little too familiar? Since early 2012, the artist and sculptor George Ferrandi has been exploring that idea through her project “it felt like i knew you…,” a series of time-lapse images that capture what happens when the anonymity of the city commute gets replaced, determinedly, with intimacy.
It goes like this: Ferrandi rides the New York City subway—and “falls asleep” on fellow passengers. Her collaborator Angela Gilland, strategically situated across the aisle, shoots video of the scene that ensues.
“I’m Bill de Blasio, and I’m not a boring white guy.”
How’s that for a political opener? This is how the New York mayor-elect describes himself. At an August fundraiser for the Young Progressives for de Blasio, his daughter Chiara introduced him to the crowd, making an appeal for a new kind of inclusive city politics. Flanked by her entire family, she remarked, “If we’re gonna bring new ideas to the table and create a world, a society … where everyone has a chance, we need to start listening to everybody’s ideas.”
What are these bold and inventive ideas of the new mayor? Some of them follow a traditional Democratic nesting doll scheme: good government followed by more jobs succeeded by affordable housing topped off by better schools. Add in reason, compassion, equality, and whoomp! There it is—a consummate progressive platform. But the de Blasio campaign offered another idea that most campaigns can’t: the racially integrated family.
Read more. [Image: Kathy Willens/Associated Press]
"It highlights one aspect of the bifurcation that de Blasio is talking about. While people are always buzzing about ‘soaring’ New York real estate prices, those prices are only on the rise in certain parts of town. With a few exceptions, it’s Manhattan and adjacent sections of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx that have seen assessments go up in the data from the New York Department of Finance that Walker mapped, which encompasses 958,000 properties. In many of the working-class neighborhoods of the outer boroughs, the value of real estate has actually fallen."
On my 30th birthday I decided to run the New York marathon because I was leaving a decade in which I planned to accomplish more than I had.
The unwritten novel and exes I didn’t marry felt cliché but still like failures. The big 3-0 sounded like the microphone dying mid-note: a thud, followed by a disappointingly human sound that can’t fill the space. Here I was, still in the middle, somewhere between the person I knew I didn’t want to be and the person I did want to be but was still defining, and all I saw ahead was more middle. There was one item on my 23-year-old self’s whimsical list of “Goals By 30” that I could still squeeze in, though. Never mind that my runs had only ever exceeded two miles a handful of times, and that I’d had knee problems on occasion over the years.
I was going to run the damn thing.
Brooklyn’s Prospect Park was my training ground. As the miles added up to hours, I abandoned music for podcasts, and my running days began to take shape around the stories of others’ lives. When David Rakoff read, weeks before his death at 43, an excerpt from his final, unpublished manuscript, I retreated under the shade of an elm to cry quietly. When a black home health aide described noticing a white hooded gown hanging on the door of her dying client, I realized I’ve slowed down to gasp. (She stayed by his side until the end.) When a reporter, interviewing an evangelist politician, asked the state legislator if Jesus would have voted for the bill the legislator had introduced and he answered, after a long pause, “Probably not,” I yelled “Holy shit!” at a kid on a bike.
I logged nearly 600 miles running through the park’s many trees and teenagers skipping school, sullen nannies and summer camps full of kids, the lanky, grey-haired man with thick bottlecap glasses who floated around the perimeter of the park every day in a trance. At 14 miles, my old sports bra rubbed blisters in a semicircle around my neck. I dotted it with Neosporin and felt proud. At 16 miles my knees buckled. I hobbled home, learned about ice baths from Google, and took my first one. After my 21-miler, the longest run I tackled before the race, I took another. Ice baths are boring. Once the sharp chill and shivers pass, the bulk is just a numb quietness. I sat in the silence, studied my pink, goose-pimpled thighs beneath the water, and thought about the things we’re capable of.
Then Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast and the marathon was canceled.
Read more. [Image: Julio Cortez/AP]