reasons to love new york

Reasons to Love New York

Right now.

Art: Na Kim
Art: Na Kim
Art: Na Kim

This article was featured in One Great Story, New York’s reading recommendation newsletter. Sign up here to get it nightly.

The mayor had his phones seized by the FBI, rents were never higher, and library hours and 3-K alike found themselves in peril. Also, it rained for eight consecutive weekends. It’s been a mediocre-to-poor year for New York. But every December, this magazine puts out a “Reasons to Love New York” issue, and even during this cursed year, we found 37 particularly excellent reasons why we all should. Here’s a heaping pile of tiny miracles that will remind you that even if, yes, that was indeed a rat you just stepped on, there’s still no other place anyone in their right mind should want to live.

Photo: John Taggart

1. Because Queens gave us a rabble-rouser who may just be Trump’s match …

As a rule, judges don’t like to be the center of the story. New York State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron has found that he doesn’t have much of a choice. This is thanks mostly to one particularly belligerent defendant, but the Bob Dylan–quoting, former Creedence Clearwater Revival–covering drummer and ex-cabbie’s unwillingness to be Donald Trump’s punching bag doesn’t hurt, either.

The 74-year-old Engoron, who presides downtown and lives on Long Island, has for three years now been engaged in a low-boil back-and-forth with the former president that’s only recently turned into full-on tabloid bait. His displeasure with Trump’s soliloquies has become obvious: “Please, no speeches,” he warned the ex-president in early November, before turning to one of his lawyers and informing him, “This is not a political rally.” But it’s Trump who cranked up the temperature — calling the judge “extremely hostile” and a “political hack” who “RAILROADED this FAKE CASE through a [state] Court at a speed never before seen” earlier this fall. Before long, Engoron had slapped a gag order on the former president, and he expanded it to his lawyers after they increased their public criticisms of Engoron to include his clerk, whom the ex-POTUS called Chuck “Schumer’s girlfriend” and later accused of “co-judging.”

By the middle of November, Trump had demanded a mistrial, which Engoron quickly rejected, defending the gag order as necessary given the volume of threats to his staff. When it was lifted on appeal, Trump wasted no time sharing his true thoughts once again: “His Ridiculous and Unconstitutional Gag Order, not allowing me to defend myself against him and his politically biased and out of control, Trump Hating Clerk, who is sinking him and his Court to new levels of LOW, is a disgrace.” Trump’s contempt-of-court fine total is now up to $125,000; the judge’s commute is now under the protection of security, as credible threats mount “exponentially,” in the words of one Public Safety Department official. Engoron punctuated a September footnote rubbishing a Trump team argument with “As Chico Marx, playing Chicolini, says to Margaret Dumont, playing Mrs. Gloria Teasdale, in ‘Duck Soup,’ ‘well, who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?’”

Continue reading …

SAG-AFTRA’s Fran Drescher picketing in front of Paramount in August. Photo: Mark Peterson

2. … And a flashy union leader from Flushing

Could a midwesterner have ended the Screen Actors Guild strike? “Oh, I’m sure that the right person certainly could’ve,” Fran Drescher says. Her cheerful unwillingness to entertain needlessly divisive geographical hypotheticals reflects the diplomatic spirit that made Drescher so well suited to lead the union through one of the most fraught American labor disputes of this century and to a new deal. Over the course of the 118-day strike, which, along with the Writers Guild strike, effectively shut down a multi-billion-dollar industry throughout the summer and fall, Drescher was cast as the fierce negotiator sitting across the table from the representatives of the one percent, as the thoughtful shepherd of the 160,000-member-strong workforce, and as the forceful yet friendly public face of a movement, telling the execs to “wake up and smell the coffee,” among other things. It was, it’s been said, the role of a lifetime. You could credit her skillful execution to practicing Buddhism, to being a cancer survivor, to being raised right, and all of that would be true. But just as much or more, there is the undeniable audible fact, enshrined in a catchy theme song for all of syndicated eternity, that she is the Flashy Girl From Flushing. “I would walk into a meeting without intimidation long before I was a star,” she says. “I could hold the room and command attention, and when I didn’t get the part, I always felt like they made a mistake. I adapted that self-confidence and chutzpah that’s very New York on behalf of SAG-AFTRA’s member body.” Drescher first appeared in New York in 1981, long before The Nanny. She wanted to be the next Lucy, the story said, and was hustling to make it happen. In the end, she wasn’t the next Lucy. She was the first Fran. “I feel grateful that I can proudly go through my life as an individual, as a celebrity, and as a president in leadership as a proud New Yorker.” She adds in that familiar rasp, “I stopped trying to change my voice. And thank God I figured out how to monetize it.” — Olivia Nuzzi

Photo: Sarah Blesener

3. Because Chirlane, actually, is the more eligible one

In July, Bill de Blasio and Chirlane McCray announced a new arrangement. The couple who had captured our fascination with their strong “We like your vibe” energy embraced another Park Slope hallmark: separating, dating apart, still cohabitating. (Apparently too broke to move out, just like us.) The excitement here was not for him. Anybody who has dared to dance in the upper age limits of Tinder knew exactly what a tall, goofball, middle-aged white man was going to do with his freedom. But Chirlane, the cooler, chic-er, more lesbian one? The one who once, when asked if she was still attracted to women, told the reporter “I’m married, I’m monogamous, but I’m not dead.” Fuck yes.

De Blasio fulfilled his prophecy: He was spotted blazerless, tieless, chugging white wine, and making out with a mystery woman at a Lincoln Center rooftop bar during a three-hour PDA session. Then another in Soho. Real ones wondered: Whither Chirlane?

Feeld and Raya profiles? Unfindable. At the bars or BKLYN Clay? No one’s seen her. She responded to one text from me, then went dark. In a city where everyone can find a nugget of gossip about your sex life, particularly when your ex is splashed all over the pages of the Post, it turns out it is possible for a woman to start her new life out of sight. — Allison P. Davis

Photo: TikTok

4. Because having her shoes stolen made her a star

In September, 25-year-old knitwear designer and social coordinator Alexis Dougé discovered that her highly coveted and extremely polarizing $1,000 Maison Margiela Tabi Mary Janes had been stolen after a Tinder date slept over. When she went to make contact, she found he had erased his number and all prior communication from her phone. Dougé turned, as one does, to TikTok.

The tale of the Tabi swiper rallied millions. A photo was provided of the alleged swiper’s alleged girlfriend wearing the Tabis. The swiper admitted his crime. A shoe return was arranged. “I said, ‘You need psychological help, you need therapy, and you should talk to someone about why you’re stealing from people you just had sex with,’” Dougé says she told him during the shoe swap. “Then he rode off on his bike and fell off of it.”

From there, a triumphant trajectory. Bestowed with the highest of all fashion-adjacent nicknames, Tabi Girl was recognized on the street and subway alike. Her knitwear label, Maddi & Danii, sold out. Paid brand deals rolled in. In the ultimate tribute, a bar on the Lower East Side reached out to host a party in her honor.

We don’t all emerge victorious from a robbery; it’s great someone does. Dougé is now, for the first time, engaging a manufacturer to help produce her designs. — Danya Issawi

The front hallway during the Hancock’s first party in February. Photo: Sasha Frumin

5. Because this artists’ commune in a Bed-Stuy mansion throws the best parties

In June, it was mud wrestling in the backyard — onlookers cheered La Loca as she wrestled Bang Girl down to the ground in a sludge-filled inflatable pool. Before that, in February, 300 people had huddled on the coldest night of the year for Ion Pack podcaster and musician Curtis Pawley’s house show. Recently, on a Sunday in mid-October, a Serbian gamelan group played their metallophones for a crowd of city planners, medical students, photographers, architects, artists, and models in the parlor room.

The Hancock is a landmarked ten-bedroom Victorian mansion in Bedford-Stuyvesant. It was built for a water-meter magnate; by the time Claudia Moran made a $7,500 down payment on the house in 1986, it was an uninhabitable ruin. In 2018, it was purchased for $6,275,000 — the most expensive sale for a single-family home in the history of Bed-Stuy. The buyer, a Georgian hotelier, splits his time between Tbilisi and New York and made it a home for a group of rotating Georgian artists and family members, who live there rent free — his wife, Nini Nebieridze, and their two children among them.

“There’s all of this shock and surprise that we don’t charge people to live there,” Nebieridze says. “But in Georgia, no one pays rent. We don’t have this ‘roommate’ thing. Our friends are struggling artists — why would we make them pay money they don’t have?”

Continue reading …

The tunnel was “dark, lots of spiders, and really tight,” said one of the five boys who got lost in a Staten Island sewer. Illustration: Patrick Leger

6. Because these sixth-grade boys went looking for an adventure and got one

Around six o’clock on a Tuesday evening, fire-alarm dispatcher Marlind Haxhialiu overheard a call come into the 911 dispatch in Brooklyn where he was stationed. Another dispatcher was asking the caller, a young boy from the sound of it, what address the child was calling from. “We don’t know,” said the voice on the other end of the line. “We’re like … we’re stuck in the sewers.” It became clear that five children, ages 11 and 12, were lost underground somewhere near the Staten Island Zoo, and though the dispatcher was trying to narrow down their location, he wasn’t having much luck. “The kids kept yelling ‘We’re stuck in a sewer,’” Haxhialiu says. “And being kids, you know, they’re being vague.”

Haxhialiu happened to have grown up in Staten Island, not far from the West Brighton neighborhood where the zoo is located. The area is mostly residential, and it is bordered by Clove Lakes Park, where about 200 protected acres of thickly forested hills and trails wrap around a chain of lakes. The park is an important ecological site full of warblers and great blue herons. It is also a location with a tendency toward flooding, surrounded by steep hills and large storm drains like the one he suspected the children had entered.

Within the first 30 seconds of listening, Haxhialiu quickly put in an approximate address so that the rescue teams could start moving. Then he took over the call, putting his local knowledge to use. He began asking the children a series of questions in order to home in on where they had entered the sewer system, but the information he received was contradictory — the boys said they had entered near the zoo, then from inside the park. He has three kids of his own, and as he questioned the boys in the sewer, he tried to be firm but nice at the same time, remembering that he was speaking to children. “You’re taught to be stern with some callers,” he tells me. “Just try to get their attention and get the information because time is crucial. But also, you know, you don’t want to be indifferent to their feelings.”

He tried in his mind to see the area as he remembered it from his own explorations as a child. “I knew exactly where they’d been,” Haxhialiu says. “Growing up, I’d sneak through the zoo and stuff like that. I had an idea where they would be, where the entrance was, even though, back in the day, those areas were kind of closed off.” He continued to ask questions, trying to figure out where they had started, how long they had been crawling inside the sewer, whether they had turned right or left once inside — knowing that as long as they were responsive on the phone, they were not gravely injured or unconscious.

Continue reading …

Photo: NYC Parks.
Photo: NYC Parks.

7. Because these playground animals get to retire in peace

A quiet spot in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park is home to a concrete aardvark, frog, camel, elephant, and two dolphins. A small green sign next to them states DO NOT CLIMB THE ANIMALS. THEY ARE RETIRED! Their resting place is safely a few hundred feet away from where kids play. Born in the ’80s when Parks commissioner Henry Stern mandated an animal sculpture in each and every new park, these animals have been through it. Some of them show clear signs of wear, such as the kneeling elephant whose backside has been degloved of paint. There are no children to bother them any longer.

As the Parks Department has upgraded the city’s playgrounds and removed some of the animals over the years, the Bronx supervisor of mechanics, Steve Yanolatos, began saving the statues. “I started collecting the animals and salvaged them from parks throughout the Bronx instead of throwing them away,” Yanolatos says. On opening day of the park’s new area, the Parks Department threw them a little welcoming shindig — party hats included. Flushing Meadows isn’t the only place where they now reside, either: “Currently, outside of my office, I saved two frogs, a big turtle, and a beaver.” — Clio Chang

Illustration: Peter Arkle

8. Because we’ll miss our dented, dingy, ineffective trash cans

The street-corner wire bin is on its way out, and its replacement is better in almost every functional way. It stacks for transport as its predecessor did not, and it’s sleek and crisp-looking (for a garbage can). The old one weighs 34 pounds empty and a lot more when full, making it a fine means of sending sanitation workers into midlife rotator-cuff surgery; the new one has a lightweight plastic liner that is a far easier lift. But let us offer a little aesthetic appreciation, at least, for the visual toughness and purity of the departing steel-mesh basket, a version of which has populated our streets for nearly a century.

Continue reading …

Photo: Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet

9. Because we have a politician who goes out all the time (not to Zero Bond)

“People that work in government aren’t fun people,” says Chi Ossé, who is 25 and was just reelected to a second term on the City Council, representing parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights. “I’m in my 20s. I live in New York City. I’m a gay man. I have to enjoy my life.”

But you won’t find him sandwiched between Paris Hilton and Jonathan Cheban on some unknown patron’s dime at Zero Bond, the members-only club where Mayor Adams likes to hold court well into the morning. Ossé instead sips Miller High Lifes at Singers on Kosciuszko Street, a queer bar in Bed-Stuy that hosts events like Twinks vs. Dolls Olympics. (This year, the bar held a wrestling match in an inflatable pool full of spaghetti marinara; Ossé pleads the Fifth when I ask if he was there.) To enter the bar, you often have to step on Kevin Carpet, a middle-aged man wrapped in a rug who lies supine at entrances waiting for you to trample him. “I feel at home at Singers,” Ossé says.

Ossé’s brand of politics is accessible — on TikTok, he both breaks down his effort to pass legislation to keep broker fees from automatically landing in the tenant’s lap and posts cheeky videos, like the one in which he glides down a fire-station pole after telling a firefighter, “I slide down poles all the time.”

In his social life, too, he’s far from an exclusive hobnobber — but he says people still rarely come up to talk politics at the bar. “It kind of makes me sad,” he says, that most New Yorkers don’t know who their City Council members are. Though he was once prevailed upon to find a new spot for Twinks vs. Dolls; happily, it was resolved without his intervention: “It was one of the funniest requests I’ve gotten as a councilmember.” — Ben Kesslen

Photo: Matthew McDermott

10. Because you need not fear the FDNY robo-dog

On April 18, the center of a neglected four-story parking garage on Ann Street in downtown Manhattan caved in on itself, swallowing tons of concrete and rebar and dozens of cars. The collapse, first responders would later learn, killed the garage’s manager and injured five others. But when FDNY firefighters arrived, a small secondary collapse prevented them from getting close enough to assess the damage. That’s when they called in Bergh, one of two robotic dogs the department acquired in 2022.

Bergh was unleashed, and his operator, wearing a headset, evaluated the walls surrounding the rubble to see if they were structurally sound, also checking for gas leaks and the state of electric-car batteries. This garage collapse wasn’t just the dog’s debut; it was a chance at redemption for Bergh’s kind. A year earlier, the NYPD had given up on its own robotic canine, called Digidog, after backlash from people concerned about surveillance, police violence, and the possibility that Digidog was more Terminator than Roomba. Suspicion of Digidog reached a crescendo when it was seen emerging from a public-housing building in Manhattan after accompanying officers during a domestic dispute. A week later, the NYPD canceled its lease with the dog’s maker, Hyundai-owned Boston Dynamics, though it has since acquired two new Boston Dynamics dogs.

Captain Michael Leo of the FDNY was determined not to repeat his NYPD counterparts’ mistakes. As his department’s head of robotics, Leo had overseen machines with more or less the same capabilities as Bergh; they used cameras and sensors to assist operators in assessing damage in tight or dangerous spaces. An analysis of the NYPD’s disastrous rollout in Scientific American helped Leo understand the public’s aversion to the robots. While the old models rolled around on treads like the lovable droids of Short Circuit and WALL-E, Digidog and its ilk had legs that let them gambol, leap, and right themselves in ways eerily similar to real dogs. (“Some of the search dogs don’t like them that much,” Leo said of the department’s Dutch shepherds and Labradors.)

So Leo has worked to make the FDNY’s robo-dogs more palatable. Instead of a sci-fi name like Digidog, the department went with Bergh, after ASPCA founder Henry Bergh, a man Henry Wadsworth Longfellow described as a “friend to every friendless beast.” Leo then led Bergh a little closer to the uncanny valley by painting spots on its exterior to make the robot look more like a Dalmatian. “I have a friend who does body-shop painting, so we painted the spots ourselves,” Leo said, though not before checking with Boston Dynamics to make sure a paint job wouldn’t damage the $75,000 device. Leo understood, too, that Bergh’s debut needed to convince the public that it would be used for good, something he admitted was easier for the FDNY than the NYPD. — James D. Walsh


11. Because pop-up pambazos taste better

Roving dinner series aren’t a new concept, and during the pandemic a dizzying number were started by laid-off cooks and servers. Many went dark after restaurants returned, but in the past year, pop-ups have only felt like more of a regular aspect of the restaurant scene. And they’re where you’ll find cooks serving food you just won’t find elsewhere. Here, five new-as-of-2023 ones.

BAD LARRY’S: Reid Webster and friends create chewy sourdough crusts brushed, outrageously, with compound butter and toppings that verge on heretical (crumbled chicken skin, bacon, ranch powder).
• Where to find: December 9 at Five Boroughs Brewing Co. (215 47th St., Sunset Park); December 29 at Gertie (357 Grand St., Williamsburg); previous pop-ups at Other Half Brewing (195 Centre St., Carroll Gardens).

EGODEATH: Shom Mazumder creates hyperminimalist dishes (a recent only-onion offering comes to mind) and reasonably minimalist ones, like three kinds of cabbage with chile oil and a thick slab of shrimp toast with shrimp bisque.
• Where to find: December 13 at Lise & Vito (126A Nassau Ave., Greenpoint); previous pop-ups at Honey’s (93 Scott Ave., East Williamsburg) and Prima (147 Greene Ave., Clinton Hill).

EL TIANGUIS: Roaming from their base in Sunset Park to Ridgewood, brothers Gio and Ivan Morales make messy pambazos and standout mariscos like octopus, shrimp, and ribbons of cucumber in a tangy fish sauce.
• Where to find: Fridays and Saturdays at 55th Street and Fifth Avenue in Sunset Park; Sundays at El Mercadito (163 26th St., Greenwood Heights); monthly at Peg’s Cavalier (59-02 Norman St., Ridgewood).

GUEST CHECK: Winner pastry cook Grayson Samuels makes photogenic pastries and bakes, like a shortbread tart, its core of pistachio frangipane crowned with a split-open fig.
• Where to find: Monthly pastry drops via @guestcheckbk and pop-ups around the city.

XIN MOI: At their Vietnamese supper club, Trisha Do and Gui Trang mine family recipes, like sticky-rice dumplings covered in shrimp dust and fried shallots, and recently offered a prix fixe featuring che khuc bach, a silken-tofu dessert newly trendy in Saigon.
• Where to find: Hosting pop-ups in both private spaces and restaurants like Mam (70 Forsyth St.).

Chris Crowley

Photo: Frankie Alduino

12. Because on a recent Friday, we cleared the city of all its Tiktokers and brought them to Bad Roman

But also, you’d be missing out if you didn’t find any of our local man-on-the-street interviewers, apartment-tour guides, and deli reviewers totally charming.

Continue reading …

The collection included works by Robert Indiana, Jasper Johns, Pablo Picasso, Ed Ruscha, Cy Twombly, and Andy Warhol. Photo: Brian Finke

13. Because for eight days, this was the city’s most amazing museum

Emily Fisher landau displayed her tremendous art collection in her own Long Island City museum until 2017. She donated lots of her art to the Whitney, where she was a trustee, but after her death earlier this year at 102, many absolutely blockbuster paintings she had retained came up for auction. Before the Jasper Johns Flags went to a new home for $41 million, each of us could come gawk at the pieces at Sotheby’s. When the company relocates to the Breuer Building, the former home of the Whitney, the line between museum and resale palace will be blurred even further, but at least there will be more for more of us to see for free. — Choire Sicha

Photo: Hugo Yu

14. Because Waylon made it back to Carroll Gardens

One Sunday last winter, Peter Fisher decided to take his one-and-a-half-year-old Boykin spaniel named Waylon for a long walk across the Manhattan Bridge. They often made this journey to Fisher’s girlfriend Olivia McCausland’s place in Chinatown. Waylon started out from their home in Carroll Gardens in his usual good spirits, fluffy hair blowing in the breeze as he strutted the walkway to Manhattan.

Waylon had never before noticed the Mahayana Buddhist Temple, guarded at its entrance by a pair of imposing stone lions, just past the bridge. But on this day, he saw the statues and, Fisher says, just froze: “His little animalistic brain was like, Predator alert! We’re about to be eaten.” To make matters worse for him, someone then began chanting through a megaphone beside one of the lions. The next thing Fisher knew, Waylon had slipped his collar: “His head went right through it and then he’s running across Canal Street and the lanes of traffic where everyone’s entering and exiting the bridge.”

Waylon dashed down Bowery, away from the noise, away from the lions, with Fisher in pursuit. Passersby joined in, one man going so far as to sprint along next to Fisher. Just as Waylon was running across the intersection where East Broadway hits Chatham Square, a car sideswiped him.

Continue reading …

From left, Calvin James Davis, Max Rackenberg, and Brady Wagner. Photo: Gillian Laub

15. Because the boys from ‘Merrily We Roll Along’ sign autographs in their pajamas

If you can manage to get tickets to Merrily We Roll Along, you’ll be charmed by its central trio of best friends, played by Jonathan Groff, Daniel Radcliffe, and Lindsay Mendez, who fall apart over the decades. You’ll also be charmed by a much younger trio — or one member of it, depending on the night you go. Three actors, Max Rackenberg, 6, Brady Wagner, 6, and Calvin James Davis, 7, share the role of Frank Jr., the son of Groff’s character, a successful composer turned music producer. The Franks Jr. have to sing a few lines of Stephen Sondheim in front of an audience of nearly a thousand, but the boys are all more than game to show off for the crowd. “My favorite part is I like being onstage,” says Max. “Because I love being with new people and I love doing it over and over, 2 million and 50,000 times.”

Continue reading …

Illustration: Zohar Lazar

16. Because Robert De Niro got a late-night martini from Nobu to go (and so can you, at your own risk)

In November, Robert De Niro’s former assistant Graham Chase Robinson successfully sued the actor’s company for, among other things, De Niro asking her to scratch his back and rescue his dogs from an incipient fire, contacting her while she was at her grandma’s funeral, and calling her a bitch. De Niro’s company unsuccessfully countersued Robinson, arguing that she used the company card for personal Uber rides and watched too much Netflix on the clock. In an attempt to prove that the company-card argument held no water, Robinson’s lawyer pointed out that De Niro once asked Robinson to Uber him a “particular martini” from Nobu, the restaurant he co-owns, at 11 o’clock at night.

Robinson had been dining at Nobu for her friend’s daughter’s 21st birthday when “Bob” called. “And I told him I was at Nobu, and he asked that I bring a martini to him after I finished dinner … He asked me to bring him a martini on my way home.” Robinson did and “met him downstairs,” ostensibly at one of his Manhattan residences, where “he was in his pajamas and slippers, and I handed him the martini in a plastic container.”

Can anyone just get a to-go martini from Nobu and Uber it home? I arrived at its downtown outpost on a Wednesday evening around 9:30 to find out. I wore what I imagined an assistant to Robert De Niro might wear: a pleated black skirt, knee-high boots, and a sense of nervous imperiousness. Both the aboveground bar and the basement dining area were packed with rich people celebrating their friends’ daughters’ 21st birthdays. I took a seat at the bar and coolly asked the bartender for a martini to go.

Continue reading …

Opening for Duran Duran in September. Photo: Michael Ip

17. Because Marjorie Gubelmann opened for Duran Duran

Mad Marj, née Marjorie Gubelmann, a socialite with deep roots in Palm Beach, wasn’t an ingénue when she rose to DJ fame; she wasn’t even really a DJ. But New York welcomes second acts, and in short order, there was Gubelmann, 53, opening for Duran Duran at Madison Square Garden. “It could only have happened here,” Gubelmann says.

Her DJ career began at 43. She was already well established on the New York social scene of a particularly uptown, slightly starchy type — Patrick McMullan used to snap her arm in arm with Jamie Tisch and Samantha Boardman. She had been plying some of the usual social joblets. But her luxury-candle company was snuffing out, and when a friend asked her to DJ his birthday party, she accepted almost as a bit. She’d been a college-radio DJ in 1987 and agreed to do it with the help of an on-site aide-de-camp who, she remembers, kept calling her “ma’am.”

She signed herself up for lessons at a New York DJ school and, in 2013, booked her first paid gig for Clinique. “It was kind of a joke and then it just kept going,” she says. “And look, here we are, 2023.” After meeting Karrie Goldberg, a London-based agent who represents DJs and venues here and abroad, on the roof of Soho House, she became a full-fledged pro. Goldberg connected her with some of her new patrons — she and Duran Duran’s manager go way back — but it’s Mad Marj, Goldberg says, who wins everyone over: “She bonded with all the band members. She sends thank-you notes. She’s as old school as they come in that way. She remembers her manners.”

Gubelmann is, by her own admission, not the DJ you call for deep house at 3 a.m. “I play songs that people know the words to,” she says. “A lot of disco, ’80s, gay anthems.” Much of her business comes from abroad. She’s played the Sydney Opera House; Dolce & Gabbana uses her often.

The spectacle of one of their own behind the decks seems to resonate with a certain stripe of party-thrower. None of her society friends, she says, has ever looked down on her new hustle, and she says she is equally happy to use the staff entrance as she is to mingle with guests; it’s hosts’ choice. “I don’t have an ego,” she says. Recently, she DJ-ed Portugal’s first royal wedding in 28 years for Infanta Maria Francisca, Duchess of Coimbra. I ask whether that had made her duchess for a day. “I wish,” she says with a laugh. “I’d take any title.” — Matthew Schneier

The couple at this year’s New York City Marathon. Photo: Bryan Bedder/New York Road Runners

18. Because T.J. Holmes and Amy Robach got fired and are still going strong

If you heard T. J. Holmes’s and Amy Robach’s names at all for most of last year, you knew them as B-tier daytime talk-show hosts, co-anchors of the Good Morning America spinoff GMA3. Then, in November 2022, the Daily Mail revealed that Holmes and Robach, who were both married to other people, had been “sharing much more than a mutual love of running and the great outdoors,” providing photo evidence of post-work dates and a weekend trip. The resulting saga proved more gripping than any A-list-celebrity scandal as the internet pored over the pair’s flirty GMA3 broadcasts.

But just as their show became appointment viewing, ABC deprived us of the hosts, benching and later firing them. Holmes and Robach separated from and eventually divorced their spouses (which is just to say their exes likely don’t love this story as much as I do). All they had were each other. And a year after the Mail’s bombshell, they are, against all odds, still together — they traveled to Mexico, rode motorcycles, and finally went Instagram official. In August, Us Weekly (where the couple have remained a fixture) reported they wanted to get engaged. They then ran side by side in the marathon in November — their second time racing it together — and even cut 11 minutes off last year’s time for a finish at 4:14:39. Now, Holmes and Robach are co-workers once more: They’re partnering on an iHeartMedia podcast that will finally turn their workplace affair into the content it deserves to be. Don’t you love a happy ending? — Justin Curto

Photo: Wolfgang Tillmans, ‘Canadian Wildfire 10th Avenue New York,’ 2023 Courtesy David Zwirner, New York/Hong Kong; Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne; and Maureen Paley, London

19. Because on the eeriest day of the year, Wolfgang Tillmans saw something beautiful

On June 7, when Canadian wildfire smoke turned the city orange.


20. Because making kids meditate every day wasn’t such a bad idea

It hasn’t exactly been a banner year for New York City public schools. In November, Mayor Adams announced $547 million in budget cuts, even as the system strained to serve more than 20,000 migrant students. But 2023 saw at least one bright spot: In the fall, all DOE schools adopted a daily mindful-breathing practice. The program was initially met with some groaning, but it turns out that requiring children to close their eyes and Zen out for a few minutes is kind of nice. Brittany Barriteau, a third-grade teacher at P.S. 5 in Bed-Stuy, describes the impact on her homeroom:

One activity that’s really popular in our classroom is “Butterfly Breathing.” It’s a guided meditation that requires students to visualize a butterfly coming to comfort them. It asks them to give themselves a hug; they visualize the butterfly floating away at the end of the meditation. But the meditation tells them how to breathe, how long to hold the breath and how to release it, what they should be doing with their hands. And when it is time for the meditation to end, it prepares them to release the butterfly as a way of flowing into the next part of our day. There’s another one we do called “Melting.” It allows them to kind of be silly; they melt on the desk. And always, after melting, the kids have something to share — they have some kind of story it brings up. They love to talk about their feelings. Also, in the morning, they’re usually at a ten, and it’s like a whirlwind of energy once they walk into the room. This has made for easier, smoother transitions.

As told to Yolanda Wikiel

Rob and Mary Jan Mason in their 5,800-square-foot loft on November 8. Photo: Christopher Payne

21. Because even though they were offered heaps of money, they’re not leaving this loft

In June, a loft in the Village was listed for just $4 million. It was a bargain — 5,800 square feet and views of Union Square Park in a building where similar-size units have gone for nearly $11 million. The price was due to one small hitch: The apartment has two Loft Law tenants with regulated rent and the right to renew their lease for life.

“We’ve been offered a lot of money to leave,” says Rob Mason, now 77, who lives in the loft with his wife, Mary Jan, 69. They pay a monthly rent that’s about the price of the average Washington Heights studio. “But we’ve looked all over the world for an alternative, and you can’t find anything like this.” He gestures around the apartment’s spacious back room, in which not even a brachiosaurus would feel claustrophobic.

When Mason arrived in 1976, it was an abandoned commercial space, full of asbestos, lead paint, and water damage, with no plumbing, electricity, or floorboards. Mason made the property habitable at his own peril and expense and lived there during the two-year process. He says he could have had the top-floor unit upstairs as well and combined the spaces into an 11,600-square-foot duplex, but it was the ’70s and he was worried about burglars coming in through the skylights. New York’s 1982 Loft Law was enacted to protect the tenants exactly like this.

But even among Loft Law tenants, Mason’s story is unique. For decades, the Masons’ apartment housed the recording facility RPM Studios, where many classic albums were made: Donald Fagen’s The Nightfly, Spacehog’s Resident Alien, the Beastie Boys’ Hello Nasty, and The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.

Continue reading …

Photo: Mettie Ostrowski

22. Because this drag-show tribute is better than the Broadway original

East Williamsburg’s 3 Dollar Bill is a venue best known for messy gay parties, but one night in September, performers mounted a re-creation of Wicked, the iconic green-and-pink musical. It was done primarily via lip-sync with elaborate costumes and meticulous mimicry of Joe Mantello’s Broadway staging. The show was part of the mad-genius queen Baby Love’s Fagtasia series of tribute acts to queer (or just beloved by the queers) pop culture — think Rocky Horror, True Blood, even The Hunger Games. But with Wicked, specifically, Fagtasia produced a theatrical coup de grâce. The show started after 11 p.m. and ran for four acts until around 2 a.m. It was a delirious send-up and a tribute to the desire to stand center stage, whether in front of 1,900 tourists or one-fourth that number of assorted girls and gays — a couple of whom I recognized as actors who had played the Tin Man, Boq, in Wicked on Broadway. The only possible reaction to such a loving celebration of theater is gratitude for human ingenuity — or maybe you would take a cue from the woman watching next to me who was sneaking a quick hit of poppers. — Jackson McHenry

Illustration: Zohar Lazar

23. Because Bradley Cooper came to Brooke Shields’s rescue

In September, Brooke Shields had been preparing for her one-woman show at Café Carlyle by hydrating — and hydrating and hydrating — until her body was so deprived of sodium that she had a grand mal seizure at L’Artusi in the West Village the Thursday before her show was to open. The scene at L’Artusi was a blur, but Shields later learned the sommelier had called her assistant, who had tried Shields’s husband, Chris Henchy, who was unavailable. The assistant then tried Shields’s friend Bradley Cooper’s assistant, with whom Shields’s assistant is also friends. Luckily, Cooper lives in the neighborhood and was nearby, likely waiting by the phone to do a paparazzi walk in lieu of promoting Maestro, and he rushed over to accompany Shields in the ambulance. The story is a confluence of minor miracles: that Shields avoided any serious complications from her seizure; that the two assistants of two very famous people are friends; that Cooper not only lives close enough to come by in an emergency but also was unable to do Maestro press, leaving him available on a Thursday night. It’s the kind of thing you might expect to hear about your friends, maybe, but not famous people who happen to be friends with each other. — Fran Hoepfner

  1. Chloë Sevigny’s “Sale of the Century”: “I haven’t worn it yet, if you can believe it. Any dinner or party I go to seems too basic for Vivienne Westwood.” — Raya DerBedrossian (23, urban planner) bought a Vivienne Westwood button-down.

  2. Jemima Kirke’s “I Used to Love These Things” sale: “This skirt is so flattering. I wore it to my Barbie-Oppenheimer party over the summer!” — Julia Chong (27, data analyst) bought a corduroy skirt.

  3. John Wilson’s Garage Sale: “By the time we got there, most of the garage looked like it was cleared out. He had this huge X-ray thing that was comically large, some posters, shirts, and this rug just thrown to the corner of the room. He was really genuine and gave me a pretty good deal on it: $10. We needed a rug, so it was kind of perfect that he had one.” — Julian Gomez (26, operations specialist) bought a rug.

/ 3

24. Because celebrities sold us their stuff

It started, as so many New York trends do, with Chloë Sevigny. An Instagram post announcing her “Sale of the Century” proclaimed that she had gone through “the depths” of her “perpetual cool girl closet” and would be selling her used clothing in a Noho loft space on Mother’s Day. Genuine pandemonium ensued; the line stretched around the block. There was a think piece about it in The Paris Review. Influencers with heaps of free clothes and other famous people looking to unload their junk took note, and suddenly there seemed to be a new “closet sale” every weekend. Here, some people-slash-fans share what they scored. — Sasha Mutchnik

Photo: Gabriella Weathersby

25. Because your tailor shop might also be a pilates studio and a place to marry yourself

In a garagelike space on Jane Street, ten women in their 20s and 30s are gathered in wedding dresses. Some are wearing embroidered vintage veils and extra-large taffeta bows. Others try on antique gloves from the 1800s. One slips into towering plastic heels. The occasion: to marry themselves.

Well, not legally. Eva Joan, a mending studio under the auspices of Emma Villeneuve and Bjorn Eva Park, has become a kind of neighborhood clubhouse for the craftily inclined. A ticket for this faux-wedding experience cost $375 (each attendee was told to bring in a wedding or formal dress weeks before the event for fitting and customization), and it sold out just days after posting on the store’s Instagram. For the two friends who founded the shop, standard tailoring requests — say, patching the elbows of a sweater — become opportunities for lacy, crocheted, bedazzled embellishment.

Park and Villenueve first opened Eva Joan (named after their grandmothers) as a sliver of a shop on Eighth Avenue in June 2021. In January of this year, they relocated to a bigger space. The current store has a tailoring and alteration studio in the back and shelves in the front bursting with cheerful quilts and twangy ginghams. By the entrance, there’s a rack of remixed vintage pieces — like a cream bed jacket whose original collar was lopped off and replaced with a pink pony-hair one.

Since the move, the number of shoppers has doubled — Linda Rodin recently picked up an embroidered tutu for her birthday — and Villeneuve and Park have hosted more events. There was a varsity-clothing-themed shopping party with the fashion historian Ruby Redstone and morning meditations and Pilates, where attendees exercised in embroidered vintage boxer shorts. A class of Dalton students stopped by for a mending how-to.

“We really believe moths are keeping us in business,” says Park. The Eva Joan approach to a moth hole? “We’ve been doing a lot of exposing of the holes instead of hiding them,” says Villeneuve. “So if there was a hole, we could stitch around it — then turn it into a sun.” — Hilary Reid

Performing at El Cid in L.A. Photo: Wes Lachman

26. Because the Dare loves to sing about sex

It’s almost too perfect that Harrison Patrick Smith, better known by his electro-sleaze stage name, the Dare, orders his martini dirty. Very dirty. At the Swan Room, where we meet up, he also asks the bartender for “whatever’s the cheapest gin.”

The Dare has built his budding celebrity out of the cheap and dirty. His first single, “Girls,” which he tells me he wrote in 30 minutes in his East Williamsburg bedroom, has been stuck in my head since it came out in August 2022 and went as downtown viral as a case of drug-resistant clap. As the chorus goes, “I like the girls that do drugs / Girls with cigarettes in the back of the club / Girls that hate cops and buy guns.” It rambles on like that
for 1:59 minutes, about the length of the high you get from a huff of poppers. The song became a post-pandemic club-kid party anthem — it has been streamed over 4 million times on Spotify — and in the process, the Dare became my generation’s non-nepo Julian Casablancas, getting everyone’s panties in a twist. “I like music that’s about sex,” Smith says. “And I think a lot of music right now is sexless and boring.”

“I don’t think there’s a lot of guys out there talking about sex in this particular way, I guess,” he continues. “My intentions are really just to make fun and funny music.” He’s inspired by the post-9/11 electroclash scene. “The songs were simple, the songs were fun, and people were, like, going out, hanging out together. There was an urgency to it because horrible things had just happened but also an abandon that was exciting.” Never mind that, given he is 27, he was a toddler then.

In person, Smith doesn’t quite exude the concupiscence he does onstage (more from “Girls”: “They say I’m too fuckin’ horny / Wanna put me in a cage / I’d probably fuck the hole in the wall”). Mostly, he’s polite. It tracks that until recently he worked part time as a substitute teacher and that he grew up outside Seattle in “super-suburban” and “super-boring” conditions. As a teenager, he taught himself to play guitar while obediently satisfying his parents with violin lessons (“I totally hated it”). He went to college in Portland and, in 2018, moved to New York to see what might happen.

But back to sex, as I try not to fixate on the cute little gap between his front teeth. The Sex EP, which came out in May from Republic Records, features four young people humping one another on the cover. It had four songs: “Girls,” “Good Time,” “Bloodwork,” and “Sex,” the last of which, he says, is written as “an instruction manual for aliens” curious about human coitus. This seems almost too on the nose given the reputation today’s 20-somethings have for having way less sex than previous generations. (Lyrics: “Sex … It’s what I’m thinking of / Some people call it love / I might even finish it way too quick.”) “Good Time” includes such rousing statements as “We’re all on the brink of suicide” and “I’m in the club while you’re online.” As for “Girls,” he admits that not all of the lyrics (“I like … girls with dicks … girls who got so much hair on they ass, it clogs the drain”) are representative of his personal proclivities. It’s almost cosplay. Which may be one key difference between the Dare and, say, the Strokes. As Lizzy Goodman, author of the aughts-rock history Meet Me in the Bathroom, told me, “Whatever they said they were doing, they were definitely doing.”

Continue reading …

Photo: Romeo Ortiz

27. Because that Rockaway shark is no match for this guy

It’s impossible to say exactly what saved 65-year-old Tatyana Koltunyuk’s life on August 7 when she was bitten by a shark while swimming in the Rockaways. The EMTs kept her stable on the way to Jamaica Hospital; the surgeons oversaw her seven-plus operations; a thousand GoFundMe donors helped pay for those surgeries.

First, though, there was the makeshift tourniquet applied on the beach. It was about two hours before sunset when lifeguard Romeo Ortiz heard Koltunyuk screaming and then saw the shadow of blood in the darkening ocean around her. He swam what he estimated was 20 yards with lifeguard Evan Sheridan to bring Koltunyuk back to shore. “That’s when I noticed that there was a huge wound on her leg,” Ortiz says. “It wasn’t until I saw the wound that I realized, Oh my goodness, this might have actually been a legitimate shark attack.”

Ortiz used a pair of neon-orange Parks Department sweatpants as a temporary tourniquet. Lifeguard Billy McDonnell added rope from a buoy to reinforce the sweatpants.

This was the first confirmed shark attack in New York City since the 1950s. “Never in a million years did we think this would happen in New York,” McDonnell, a nine-year veteran, says. “Never mind on our beach in Rockaway.”

Although their gigs are seasonal, most lifeguards stationed at city beaches aren’t the sullen teenagers you’re likely to find at a suburban community pool. Ortiz has been a beach lifeguard for 14 years and is a military veteran and trained medic. “I was prepared for it,” he says. “But then I got home and I told my sister, ‘I’ve had a bit of a rough day at work. I kind of need a hug.’” — Laura Thompson

  1. At Carbone on October 3, Rihanna wore Balenciaga “pantaboots” and A$AP Rocky covered his head with about 15 pearl clips.

    Photo: Jackson Lee

  2. Kendall Jenner tried out the pantless trend at I Sodi in June.

    Photo: MEGA

  3. Zoë Kravitz (seen with Laura Dern and Greta Gerwig at Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria) wears so much of The Row to dinner you have to wonder who’s paying the check.

    Photo: Shutterstock

  4. Everyone is embracing their own dress code. Just look at Justin and Hailey Bieber’s August visit to Bar Pitti.

    Photo: Gotham

  5. The wait list for a Mansur Gavriel bag Taylor Swift brought to dine with Phoebe Bridgers at Minetta Tavern on November 3 is in the thousands.

    Photo: JosiahW

/ 5

28. Because restaurants became the runways

While the spring-summer 2024 fashion shows were happening in Europe this fall, it seemed all anyone could talk about was what Taylor Swift and her squad were wearing out to eat. Rather than scurrying through the back door these days, many celebrities are choosing to enter and exit through the front, turning the small patch of sidewalk outside various restaurants into something like a catwalk. — Emilia Petrarca

Photo: Emilia Petrarca

29. Because our best sports team (The Liberty) has the best sports fan (Fran Lebowitz)

Four times Fran Lebowitz went to see the Liberty play, and three times the Liberty triumphed. An internet commentator declared Lebowitz to be the team’s good-luck charm. Her streak was broken when she watched them lose the championship, but she’s unruffled: “New York teams are the best. I don’t care if they’re winning or not.” Knowing nothing about sports, by her own admission, doesn’t lessen the pleasure of attending. “Everyone chanting together, singing crazy songs. I do find it relaxing.” — Alice Markham-Cantor

Photo: Alex Hodor-Lee

30. Because a raccoon society is thriving in Riverside Park

It looked like college students had thrown and abandoned a party, drawing raccoons up to the walkway wall along Riverside Park, well known for its bountiful animal population. Alex Hodor-Lee, a 31-year-old photographer, was out for a walk between 100th and 116th on Riverside with a friend; it was twilight, give or take. He took a picture, and two young women in Columbia sweatshirts started yelling that his flash would damage their retinas. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m so sorry. I don’t know anything about raccoons, being from New York,’” Alex says he told them, and then he went home and Googled and it turns out that isn’t true. His takeaway? “Everyone here loves pizza.” — Choire Sicha

Illustration: Zohar Lazar; Photo: Angela Gaul, Courtesy of Quadrille Ball

31. Because we have a new baroness

At her day job as an Air Force officer, it is appropriate to address Allison Ecung as “Lieutenant Colonel.” But after she married Freiherr (or “baron”) Raban von Arnim in a lavish three-day wedding in Potsdam, Germany, last year — including a ceremony in a church formerly used by the Prussian royal family, followed by a black-tie reception at the local castle — it is also correct to call her “Baroness.”

The newlyweds made their debut as a New York philanthropic power couple in February at the 62nd annual Quadrille Ball on Park Avenue alongside the city’s German and Austrian consuls general. Among her charitable works is her service on the Young Fellows Steering Committee of the Frick.

Joining the German aristocracy (still popularly acknowledged even though the government legally did away with it in 1919) makes her one of very few African American women to assume a European title. The couple live part of the year near the Ramstein Air Base for their jobs (he is a legal consultant for Charité hospital in Berlin), and here they stay in a hotel when she is working in midtown.

Continue reading …


32. Because you won’t have to fold your stroller on the bus anymore, thanks to one pissed-off mom

Danielle Avissar’s New York City breaking point came when a bus driver told her that if she wanted to get on, she had to collapse her stroller. Come again? Wake a sleeping 1-year-old, gather his crap, and fold the thing while somehow having a hand free to tap her fare?

Avissar’s day job — helping creative agencies land clients — is all about making things happen, and she began recruiting other stroller-pushing activists by lobbying local Facebook groups and speaking at an Upper East Side cocktail party. Members of her army started showing up to MTA meetings to explain their reality.

At monthly meetings, Avissar, MTA executives, and other caretakers worked out a solution with drivers and opponents — a group that included some disability activists who weren’t eager to give up their sliver of hard-won accessibility. “People tried to make it political and entitled and personal and emotional,” Avissar says. “It was literally just an engineering problem.” The solution: a stroller-parking spot, created by taking out two seats on older buses or grouping two fold-down seats on newer buses.

This year, spots for strollers, marked with signage, made it onto one in five buses in the system. The response continues to be “overwhelmingly positive,” says Rachel Cohen, the MTA’s deputy chief accessibility officer. There are still grumblings about blocked aisles and fewer seats, but there’s an unexpected positive: Stroller-pushers are getting on and off faster, saving time for every rider. — Adriane Quinlan

Haden-Guest “laid to rest.” Photo: Stefano Giovannini

33. Because Anthony Haden-Guest had a fake funeral

On a Sunday in May, the 86-year-old art-world raconteur and man-about-town Anthony Haden-Guest (he’s said to be the inspiration for Peter Fallow in The Bonfire of the Vanities) arrived at his friend Libbie Mugrabi’s Upper East Side mansion for his own funeral. The idea was hatched by Mugrabi — the ex-wife of billionaire David Mugrabi — who made headlines last year for having allegedly threatened her former housekeeper with a knife and mop handle (Mugrabi denies this). In recent years, Mugrabi has become Haden-Guest’s friend and sort-of patron, encouraging him to work on his art and commissioning pieces from him. The two hit it off when she threw a much-criticized 50-person dinner party in Miami in December 2020, during the height of COVID. “For some reason, I think too much wine,” Haden-Guest says, “we both climbed up onto a Damien Hirst unicorn sculpture in a hotel.”

Haden-Guest had told Mugrabi he wanted to have a dry run of his funeral one day, an “extinction party,” and when Mugrabi offhandedly mentioned that fact this past spring to a reporter from the Daily Mail, Joanna Bell, she pounced on it: “I told Libbie, ‘We’d love to cover that.’” Which set Mugrabi in action. She quickly hired the publicist R. Couri Hay to organize, sent out VIP invites (Haden-Guest’s half-brother Christopher Guest and sister-in-law Jamie Lee Curtis could not attend, nor could Anna Wintour), and locked in a date for that Sunday. That Saturday, however, neither Mugrabi nor Bell could get in touch with the guest of honor. “We were saying, ‘Oh my God, I hope he hasn’t died before his funeral,’” Bell says. Finally, they got ahold of him. “We were pretty sure he was drunk somewhere dozing on a friend’s sofa; he does tend to go hard even in his tender years,” she adds. (Haden-Guest remembers it differently: “Maybe I lost my telephone.”) He showed up, not fully understanding what he had stepped into. “I was the central figure there,” he recalls, “very much in the sense that turkey is a central presence at Thanksgiving.”

Continue reading …


34. Because the Brooklyn borough president spent his entire budget to make pregnancy less deadly

It was one thing for Antonio Reynoso, then a city councilman campaigning for the Brooklyn borough president gig vacated by Eric Adams, to say he would do everything he could to help improve maternal-health outcomes. It was another thing for Reynoso to have to call up the leaders of the major local institutions who are used to receiving millions in capital funding from the BEEP’s office — the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden — and tell them they would get nothing this year. To his relief, few balked. It helped, Reynoso says, that “they were all run by women, most of ’em run by Black women. And they’re like, ‘Don’t worry about us one bit. We’ll see you next year.’” One unnamed organization seemed doubtful, he adds, until he really did give every penny of his $45 million budget to pregnancy care at Brooklyn’s three public hospitals.

Reynoso, 40, speaks thoughtfully, deliberately, and less like a politician than a community organizer who knows how to take the temperature of the room. His awakening began in 2017, when his wife, Iliana, was pregnant with their first child. Unsatisfied with the care they were getting at a private hospital in Manhattan — “They had us in and out. If it was ten minutes, it was a lot. And we didn’t feel comfortable asking questions. There were no midwives,” he says — they found what they were looking for at Woodhull Medical Center, right in his own district. He knew that Woodhull’s checkered reputation, especially for its emergency room, wasn’t entirely unwarranted. He had gone himself a few times growing up in Williamsburg for stitches and emergency care. But midwives were familiar to both of them, if indirectly: Reynoso’s father had been born at home on a farm in the Dominican Republic.

By chance, their first appointment was with Helena Grant, who was then the director of midwifery at what she had renamed the Labor and Birthing department (because delivery implies a passive birther) and is now president of the state organization New York Midwives. What would have been ten minutes in Manhattan became a one-hour conversation. “And through that, she found out I was the local councilmember,” Reynoso tells me. “And she’s like, ‘Oh, I need to talk to you.’” At their second visit, Reynoso says, Grant asked him, “‘Do you know anything about maternal health?’ And I was like, ‘I know it’s not good, but I don’t know much about it.’ And she said, ‘Do you know your wife is nine times more likely to die during childbirth than a white woman?’” To be clear, that’s in New York City, where the racial disparity is far worse than the one nationwide.

Continue reading …


35. Because this M.F.A student will read ‘The New Yorker’ for you

The latest and currently only iteration in a tradition of newsletters that arrive after a New Yorker issue with a shrewd guide to the magazine is Last Week’s New Yorker Review: You get your must-reads, window-shops, and guilt-free skips.

“I think in large part it works because I’m not in media. I’m not afraid of offending anyone. I don’t make my money that way. But I don’t have any qualifications,” says the newsletter’s author, a married 26-year-old who publishes under the name Sam Circle. Circle has academic parents and went to high school in Baltimore, worked briefly at the collective Red Emma’s, and now studies experimental film as the only student in an M.F.A. program at New Jersey City University that will end upon Circle’s departure next year.

Fewer than 2,000 subscribe; of a small random sample of New Yorker writers, most had not heard of it or did not read it, while another said she read it in secret. Circle, who spends free time enjoying Manhattan’s art galleries and television’s reality-competition programming, has no greater ambitions for the project at all: “I don’t ever want the newsletter to expand or spin off. It is what it is. It does what it does. It comes on time. It’s unambitious in the sense that it does not want to grow.”

When magazine editors read the newsletter, they generally start to think about what assignments this writer might take. Circle is open to the idea and also unbothered. “I was on the bus the other day, and the person in front of me had a giant iPhone lock screen in giant Helvetica letters that I took very literally, and it said, ‘If it doesn’t open, it’s not your door,’” Circle says. “And I thought about it and realized it must be life advice.” — Choire Sicha

Photo: Al Mullen

36. And the subway has a secret magazine

Public Transport Magazine started because Al Mullen, a freelance writer and video editor, decided that it wasn’t funny to go to a comedy show to see comedy but it is funny to experience funny things in unexpected places. He took a cue from the psychic Keano (you know her pamphlets, with the eye in the triangle, tucked into subway ad covers) and decided to make a magazine about the subway that people could only find in the subway.

Issue No. 3, currently floating around the system, is a nifty black-and-white zine with jokes, drawings, and a punch-line contest. (“If you swipe your metro card as you’re exiting a turnstile, you’ll be refunded your $2.90 deposit” was in a “Secrets and Tricks” section and easily becomes a lingering intrusive thought.) He prints them as needed and is, obviously, losing money on the deal. “I show it to friends beforehand and say, ‘Does this look terrible and unintelligible?’ and they say ‘yes’ to both,” Mullen says. He wrote the first issue himself but now is taking submissions for an issue No. 4, likely on the topic of “filth.”

Unwilling to wait for a lucky sighting? Try the snake statue on the Eighth Avenue L train platform. — Choire Sicha

Photo: Hugo Yu

37. Because Brice Marden lived in his beanies

“He always wore this specific type of black Levi’s and then a work jacket,” Mirabelle Marden says of her father, Brice, the influential post-minimalist painter, who died at 84 this summer. After a career retrospective at MoMA in 2006, he added pointedly functional beanies to the look. The hats — which his daughters and his wife, the artist Helen Marden, bought for him every Christmas at Steven Alan and later Hermès — counterbalanced his new persona as a “distinguished old gentleman,” his younger daughter, Melia, says. He started wearing them all the time, no matter the heat. “The hat became a noticeable thing,” says Mirabelle, despite a black beanie being about the most anonymous garment a person can wear. When a hat started to break down, he would repair it with masking tape; it would then become a “studio hat,” as he called it. “Nothing was disposable for him,” Mirabelle says. “It’s a real artist’s mentality.” — Emma Alpern

Reasons to Love New York Right Now