"Try to look beyond the prototypical Irish and English bars and pubs," Ruddy recommends. "Look at off-the-beaten-path establishments — cafés, grocery stores, social clubs, juice bars. People love to connect through soccer and through food. This is a once-in-a-four-year opportunity to meet different kinds of people you live right next to.”

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Soccer even has the power to turn the clock back (temporarily at least) on New York’s ceaseless migration patterns. Beyond the row of restaurants and bakeries on Mulberry Street in Little Italy, most of the southern Italians who came to the city in such large numbers in the early 20th century have since moved to the suburbs or up to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. During this time, Chinese migration has dramatically increased in the area and Chinatown has practically swallowed up what remains of Little Italy. When the Azzuri play during the World Cup, however, the neighborhood reverts back to a sea of blue.

Outside Grotta Azzurra on Mulberry Street, tourist hordes buying Sopranos regalia and chasing overpriced cannolis vie for sidewalk space with Chinatown residents clutching pink plastic bags of produce. Inside, one of Grotta Azzurra’s bartenders, Jeffery Hernandez, discussed the World Cup in NYC with me over Peroni drafts as Frank Sinatra’s familiar baritone lingered overhead. Hernandez, like most of Little Italy waiters these days, hails not from southern Italy, but rather southern Mexico. Sort of. "You could say I crossed the border… my mom came over here from Chiapas when she was 14 years old and six months pregnant with me to give us a better opportunity," he told me.

From my Roads and Kingdoms/Sports Illustrated piece on why NYC is the greatest place on earth to watch the World Cup.

Children are not the face of New York’s homeless. They rarely figure among the panhandlers and bag ladies, war vets and untreated schizophrenics who have long been stock characters in this city of contrasts. Their homelessness is hidden. They spend their days in school, their nights in shelters. They are seen only in glimpses — pulling overstuffed suitcases in the shadow of a tired parent, passing for tourists rather than residents without a home.

Their numbers have risen above anything in the city’s modern history, to a staggering 22,091 this month. If all of the city’s homeless children were to file into Madison Square Garden for a hockey game, more than 4,800 would not have a seat.

This series is incredibly important and amazingly reported. I would be shocked if it didn’t win a Pulitzer.  

10 years ago today… 
…i walked for 3 1/2 sweaty hours with no $ from my ex’s spot in bushwick to my place on w. 113th st, over the williamsburg bridge and through an alien pitch black city only illuminated by sporadic headlights, unfamiliar voices, flickering candles, strange sounds, and just a dash of visible looting drowned out ten-fold by the goodwill of others.  

10 years ago today… 

…i walked for 3 1/2 sweaty hours with no $ from my ex’s spot in bushwick to my place on w. 113th st, over the williamsburg bridge and through an alien pitch black city only illuminated by sporadic headlights, unfamiliar voices, flickering candles, strange sounds, and just a dash of visible looting drowned out ten-fold by the goodwill of others.  

But an important theme of the race is the question of whom New York City will be for. Will it remain an incubator of greatness, or become a catchment basin for the already great and their regressing-to-the-mean descendants? Will it continue to be the city to which people think to flee when they’ve boxed up their things in Kansas or Chengdu, tired of their narrow reality? Will it be a place where people can bend their fate?

In 1988 the young dancehall artist Shabba Ranks released a record with Home T and Cocoa Tea entitled “Pirates Anthem.” Undergirded by a round, rolling bassline, the song centers on the cat-and-mouse game between unlicensed British West Indian disc jockeys and the DTI officials who attempt to stop them. Shabba salutes the resourcefulness of the music rebels who “build five more strong” when authorities “bruck down one” unlicensed station.

“Pirates Anthem,” now a quarter-century old, could be an aural sketch of the West Indian radio scene in Brooklyn today, where frequencies across the dial are occupied nightly by Caribbean voices, unfiltered. “People basically support their country’s culture,” says “Captain” Jason Benn, a popular promoter and soca singer who immigrated to New York from Trinidad in the late ’90s. “The stations reinforce these identities that otherwise would be lost.” Benn hosted a show on the Fire Station 104.7, before it was shut down last month, and two of its operators arrested. As small pirate stations proliferate and the FCC levels harsher penalties against them, the future of this medium – still relatively new to New York – is in doubt.

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Frank O’Hara, “Nocturne”

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My photography strives to capture the contradictions, diversity, and unconventional beauty—considered blight by some—that manifests itself everyday on the streets I walk in Queens, NYC. I am particularly interested in illustrations of immigrant life, signage, street art, found objects, and the mutually symbiotic relationship of spatial separation that the boroughs have with Manhattan and its mythic skyline.

I am continually enthralled by this city, where a 15 minute subway ride can transport one into areas with diametrically contrasting visual surroundings, inequality, and city services. In short, the opulence and gleam of Manhattan would simply not be possible without the scraggly allure and latent radiance of the oft-neglected boroughs I strive to document.

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