My English composition class at a CUNY school resembles a Benetton ad minus the posing and singular fashion aesthetic. I could run the numbers, but I don’t need to make like Nate Silver to prove my class is almost entirely of immigrants or first generation Americans from a wide range of backgrounds. This makes things particularly interesting when we study the ‘American Dream’, for it’s far more relevant to my students than it is to, say, me — all snug and secure in my status as a second-generation American not living with the hope for citizenship nor the fear of deportation of myself or my loved ones.
One of the materials I use when teaching the American Dream is an article from September of 2013 in The Times about Marco Saavedra, a young man brought here illegally as a toddler in the early ‘90s by his Mexican parents who own and operate a restaurant in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx. Under the auspices of his parents’ emphasis on education, Marco was able to thrive in the public schools’ of NYC and secure full scholarships to Deerfield Academy and then Kenyon College, from where he graduated in 2011. Impressive.
But then it all went south. Literally. More of Andrew’s Story here
I’ve been walking this town for over 20 years. It’s one of my favorite things to do since it inspires my ideas as an author and informs my pride as a denizen. I also hate crowded subways and will do nearly anything to avoid the madness of rush hour (and this was before getting stuck on a packed subway car under the East River during the 2003 blackout).
My connection to New York is most profound when walking the streets, meandering from neighborhood to neighborhood, taking in the show, taking in a bite to eat, all the while making ideas in my little factory of an imagination. I was more active in my walks of New York as a younger man, but even as a family man, I find time to take epic treks on days off or those rare weekend days that are available for leisure.
Cycling Manhattan? Brilliant idea or a lapse of sanity? Andrew’s Story here
One of the saddest things I heard in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 was told to me by the wife of an acquaintance. She said, with a smug sense of pride, that her family — in an act of patriotic protest to the recent attacks on America — would be ending their long-standing Thanksgiving tradition of serving assorted meat and vegetable pies from Damascus Bakery on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. It was a heartbreaking statement of staggering stupidity, offensive on so many levels, not the least of which was personal.
I lived next door to Damascus Bakery in my first Brooklyn apartment. This was before Barney’s, Urban Outfitters and Trader Joe’s arrived. It was when that section of Atlantic Avenue was overwhelmingly Arabic, and I frequented the eateries as often as I could, feasting on delicacies from the Middle East, learning some geography and culture and a little Arabic along the way. And, of course, I met many wonderful people, including the family who owned and operated Damascus Bakery.
Read the rest of Andrew’s story here
I mingled as I should at the Lambs Club, meeting potential travel writing advocates at a private party in the back of the room, enjoying the playlist of AndrewAndrew, wondering if there was such a word as “Tripleganger.”
6sqft’s Andrew Cotto — an author of two novels and a journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Men’s Journal, and Salon.com — will be sharing his experiences as he makes his way around New York City. Here, he describes his chance encounters with NYC icons AndrewAndrew.
Read about Andrew’s encounter with the Andrews
As a Brooklynite surrounded by progressives, I’m well aware of the need to “think globally and act locally” on a whole lot of matters. This persistent mantra seems particularly true when it comes to commerce, prompting those of us who heed such calls to shop (and generally pay more) at farmer’s markets and mom & pop retailers, especially those in our very own neighborhood. This is how vital local businesses can be sustained in an environment rife with soulless, big chain predators. OK. Fine. So I do my part by forking over ten bucks to a farmer for a bunch of kale and a handful of carrots, though I can’t understand why it costs more to buy the stuff direct from the guy who grew it himself. And then there was the time a Hudson Valley hipster tried to sell me a three pound chicken for $27.
“What was it,” I asked. “Raised on truffles?”
Read more of Andrew’s story here
David Foster Wallace is credited with predicting way back in the mid-90s that excessive irony would lead to the ruin of our culture. Around that same time, Alanis Morissette had her own far less erudite and flawed take on irony, which went a little something like this:
“It’s like rain on your wedding day
A free ride when you already paid
Some good advice that you just didn’t take…”
With all due respect to the prescience of DFW, life for me — at least these days in my Brooklyn neighborhood of Carroll Gardens — far more resembles Alanis Morissette’s screwy version of irony.
6sqft’s Andrew Cotto — an author of two novels and a journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Men’s Journal, and Salon.com — will be sharing his experiences as he makes his way around New York City. This week, he describes life in Carroll Gardens.
Carroll Gardens. Isn’t it Ironic?