“I was very curious as a grade school kid and that curiosity never abated,” explains renowned writer Gay Talese. This curiosity has been both a driving force and a constant throughout Gay’s more than 60-year writing career; a career in which his observations and discoveries have been widely read and published.
Gay’s first forays into writing were for his hometown of Ocean City, New Jersey’s local paper in high school. After graduating from the University of Alabama, where he had written for the school’s paper, he was hired as a copyboy at the New York Times in 1953. For Gay, this job laid the groundwork for a career in which he was a reporter for the Times, wrote for magazines such as Esquire (where his most famous pieces on Frank Sinatra and Joe DiMaggio were published) and The New Yorker, and published books on a wide variety of topics including the construction of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. 6sqft recently spoke with Gay about his career and the changing landscape of journalism.
Read the interview here
In an old blacksmith’s forge on East 26th Street, there is a subterranean laser laboratory. It’s here that Jason Arthur Sapan, also known as Doctor Laser, makes holograms of everything imaginable at Holographic Studios. Jason describes his underground lab as being akin to Doctor Brown’s laboratory in Back to the Future (sans time travel, of course). A hologram, “is a three-dimensional image that is created using laser light,” he explains. “We record the surface of an object the way that a piece of Play-Doh pressed up against an object takes an impression of its shape,” creating something that’s “lifelike and can appear to float in front or behind the film.”
Jason first became interested in holography in the late 1960s, and has been practicing the medium full time since founding Holographic Studios over forty years ago. He also teaches at NYU Tisch’s ITP (Interactive Telecommunications Program), where he works with graduate students. He’s created holograms of politicians ranging from President Bill Clinton to Mayor Ed Koch and celebrities such as Billy Idol and Andy Warhol. The studio possesses the world’s oldest gallery of holography, which attracts out-of-town visitors, locals, and even youngsters through classes and an internship program.
6sqft recently spoke with Jason to find out about the inspiration for his career in holography and how much joy it brings him to share this medium with the world.
The full interview, this way
Come winter, many germ-conscious New Yorkers are glad for the opportunity to wear gloves while holding subway poles. However, for a distinct group in the city, cold weather is a chance to engage with the subway in a very unexpected way: by forgoing pants and participating in the annual No Pants Subway Ride.
The visionary behind this event is Charlie Todd, the founder of the performance group Improv Everywhere. His first pantless ride was an improv performance in 2002 with himself and six friends. Today, Charlie is at the helm of a yearly gathering where up to 4,000 New Yorkers –from young parents with their newborn baby to a grandmother with her granddaughter–bring joy, humor, and uncertainty to their fellow subway riders by enjoying a commute in their undergarments. On the eve of the 15th annual No Pants Subway Ride this Sunday, 6sqft spoke with Charlie about the lure of riding the subway without pants and what keeps him motivated each year.
Read 6sqft’s interview with Charlie
The city may be having an unseasonably warm December, but it’s fair to say most New Yorkers still find it a bit too chilly for the beach. Members of the famed Coney Island Polar Bear Club, on the other hand, relish the drop in temperature as they head out for an ocean swim.
The Polar Bear Club is a New York institution dating back to 1903. While the organization is renowned for its annual New Year’s Day swim where New Yorkers gather to welcome the year with a chilly dip, it’s far from the only time the club embraces the cold water. In fact, they meet 12 times throughout the winter months and draw a sizable membership that’s a mix of ages, backgrounds, and cultures from the metropolitan area and beyond.
At the club’s helm is president Dennis Thomas, who fell in love with Coney Island years ago and later discovered the serenity of swimming on brisk days. More than thirty years after he first became a member, Dennis spoke with 6sqft about the Polar Bear Club’s history, what a typical swim is like, and what happens when hundreds of New Yorkers turn out for a New Year’s Day swim that supports Camp Sunshine.
Read the interview here
Portrait of Jon by Keith Hodan, adapted by 6sqft
Chef Jon Lovitch is no amateur when it comes to building gingerbread houses. In fact, every year Jon constructs an entire village called GingerBread Lane that takes nearly 12 months to make. It’s a holiday tradition he first started twenty years ago in Kansas City, Missouri, with just 12 houses, and he’s since grown the project into an epic display of sweets shown everywhere from Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, and now New York.
Two years ago, GingerBread Lane found a local home at the New York Hall of Science in Corona, Queens, where Jon’s villages set Guinness World Records in 2013 and 2014 for the world’s largest gingerbread exhibit. This year’s village just set another Guinness record on November 17th with its 1,102 houses. But beyond seeking a world title, Jon hopes his labor of gingerbread love inspires kids and adults of all ages to get creative and start building projects of their own.
6sqft recently spoke with Jon to find out the history behind this tasty tradition, and what it takes to build an enormous gingerbread village each year.
Read the interview with NYC’s gingerbread man here
Image via Jonathan Adler
Tonight marks the beginning of Hanukkah, and for eight nights, Jews will be celebrating by lighting menorahs of all shapes and sizes in their homes, as well as in public spaces throughout New York.
While Hanukkah might not traditionally be thought of as a design-oriented holiday, in recent years menorahs have become more and more creative and diverse. From contemporary interpretations to dinosaur versions to express your inner paleontologist, there is a menorah out there for everyone. We put together a list of some of our favorites that you can buy, in addition to three must-view menorahs in New York City.
Check out this festive holiday list here
What started out as a simple idea for composer Phil Kline has became a beloved holiday tradition in New York. A fan of cassette tapes, Phil had been composing pieces for boomboxes when he wrote a holiday-themed piece set on four tracks to be played simultaneously on several boomboxes. In 1992, he gathered a group of New Yorkers for a modern take on caroling in which they walked down lower Fifth Avenue with boomboxes playing his piece. The performance was a resounding success and a yearly seasonal event known as Unsilent Night was set in motion.
A little over two decades since that first performance, Unsilent Night has grown in magnitude and now draws a crowd of several hundred who still use a few boomboxes that are interspersed among a sea of smartphones. It has has been adopted by cities around the world, but even with this international recognition it finds its way back home each year. Phil is currently preparing for his 24th New York performance on Saturday, December 12th, so with the event a week away, 6sqft spoke to Phil to learn about his love of boomboxes, the idea behind Unsilent Night, and how one evening 23 years ago has become an annual holiday musical tradition.
6sqft’s interview with Phil Kline right ahead
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, New Yorkers are busy perfecting their menus and preparing to do some serious supermarket shopping. But for many in the city, celebrating Thanksgiving is not a given—and this is particularly true for families living in shelters. But that’s where the Dream Big Foundation‘s annual Thanksgiving project, FeedingNYC, steps in.
Since 2001, FeedingNYC has been on a mission to help families in shelters celebrate the holiday by providing them with all of the Thanksgiving essentials. What started out as 75 meals in shelters has turned into 3,000 dinners delivered each year, for a total of 35,000 meals over the program’s 14 years. And to make this happen, it takes a lot of fundraising, numerous partnerships and a wonderful group of volunteers. Pernell Brice, executive director of Dream Big Foundation, is responsible for growing and expanding this important project, and every year he makes sure it goes off without a hitch.
6sqft recently spoke with Pernell to learn more about FeedingNYC and what it takes to get all those meals out to those who need them.
6sqft’s interview with Pernell this way
Beth Prevor and Roundabout Theatre’s production of “The Winslow Boy”
When New Yorkers plan a night at the theater, they likely focus on snagging the best seat in the house. For deaf theatergoers whose first language is sign language, attending a musical or play is a bit different, as they require an interpreter to sign the drama and humor. For a long time, accessibility to interpreted performances was limited, but thanks to the organization Hands On, the deaf community now has the opportunity to attend numerous off-Broadway and nonprofit theatrical happenings in the city. In addition to providing access to interpreted performances, Hands On also creates a master calendar of all local cultural events open to the deaf community.
Beth Prevor is one of the nonprofit’s founders and serves as its Executive Director. She first became interested in bringing the theatrical and deaf communities together after serving as a stage manager for a production that included deaf performers. Over the last 30-plus years, her work has helped change the city’s arts landscape for deaf individuals. We recently spoke with Beth to learn more about Hands On’s work, the challenges of interpreting theater, and the organization’s goals for the future.
Our conversation with Beth right this way
On November 11th, the country will gather to honor those who have heroically served in the armed forces. In New York, Veterans Day will be marked with a parade down Fifth Avenue. And during this time when Americans reflect on service, it’s important to think about the many men and women who are actively serving around the globe.
One organization that looks after the needs of troops and their families is the USO. While many associate the organization with Bob Hope and its renowned Show Troupe, entertainment is only one part of its mission. On a daily basis the USO runs centers around the world, providing a wide range of important services and programs, from keeping families in touch during deployment to supporting wounded warriors back home.
Brian Whiting, the President and CEO of USO of Metropolitan New York, is responsible for the organization’s work in the tri-state area, as well as managing the operations for two national programs: the renowned USO Show Troupe and Operation That’s My Dress, which provides military families access to dresses for proms and formals. With Veterans Day approaching, 6sqft spoke with Brian to learn more about the USO’s mission and work, the New York chapter’s services, and ways New Yorkers can support the troops throughout the year.
Hear from Brian this way