Sunday, October 5, 2008


As I walked home from the subway, I heard a man calling loudly from the other side of the street to the people passing by. He looked homeless, yet he had somehow acquired a megaphone (perhaps from the street sale). As I passed the wig and hair accessory store, his heckling suddenly stopped. When it resumed, he had changed his tune. Instead, he was now trying to get people to join him in song,

"Day-o, we say we say we say Day-o. Daylight come and we want to go home." I couldn't resist joining him. (Who doesn't like that song?)

An hour or so, I was watching the TV in the living room, volume cranked up to full blast to drown out the sound of horns and ambulances that passed by on the street below, when I suddenly heard shouting. My first response was, what is that crazy crack head with the megaphone yelling about now? I paid no attention, but the shouting continued at the quieter moments of the show.

It was then that I noticed that the usual ambulance sirens were not simply passing by my apartment, but parked right out front. I could hear more approaching in the distance, and at this point I went over to the window, only to see a man, sprawled out on the road screaming in agony as blood poured out of his head, painting the street red.

After ten minutes or so he stopped screaming, but continued to move his arms as they covered the bullet hole in his head.

I tried to find a news story the following day to see if there was anymore news or updates on the man's condition, or what exactly had happened, but I found nothing. The only evidence that remained was a trail of blood-soaked bandages on the road that the emergency response team had left behind in the middle of the road.

Most people passing just stepped around it.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Home Cooking

The one thing I could say about the food in Harlem is that it is awesome. No really the area is full of amazing Caribbean, Rib-joints, South African, Soul-food, and Cajun cuisine. I had been eyeing down a restaurant located on 125th street between Lenox and Fifth Avenue for quite some time, but was in between jobs and didn't have extra cash to be going out to dinner. I finally gave in, and was totally blown away by how delicous the food was. Seriously, if you visit Harlem: go here.

MoBay uptown is a Caribbean-soul cusine restaurant that serves up portion sizes that would have you struggling if your mother told you to finish your food. I finally had to throw in the towel and take home the leftovers, followed by an immediate hour long nap: do to a food-induced coma.

The inside of the restuarant is adorable, and as Paul put it after returning from the restrooms "Those are the coziest bathrooms I have ever seen. No, really the waiter should just serve the food in there I was that content." The entire place has the feeling of comfort, and the food does the same. Right off the bat after taking our order, the waiter brought us warm corn muffins with a sweet pineapple sauce drizzled over the top. I was sold already. When the main course came I almost died.

I ordered jerk chicken, with my two side choices of plantains, and southern style potato salad (which may have been the best damn potato salad I have ever had). It was difficult to choose two sides with choices like collard greens, candied yams, and Bammie (Jamaican flat bread) Paul order beef brisket with candied yams and macaroni and cheese (the type that is baked in an oven and served with love). The brisket literally melted in your mouth and made my eyes pop open on the first bite. The desert menu, (which we had to pass on) included Rum cake, Red velvet cake, and Death by Chocolate cake along ith an assortment of ice creams. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that they do take-out. (which is going to be dangerous for me).

So what's next on the menu? Chicken and waffles restaurant a few blocks away which Maria visited and won't stop talking about.

MoBay is open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. The website is:

Thursday, July 31, 2008


One of our spastic friends Robin came to visit for the first time this week. The door to our apartment flung open and she shouted at the type of her lungs, half out of breath and looking like she had been out drinking all night.

"You guys live in the fucking hood!"
"What makes you say that?" We asked, interested to know exactly what the defining moment was for her.

"Oh, I dunno, maybe the fact that I just drove past the "Crack is Wack playground."

Curious about the Crack? The 22-year old mural was created by artist Keith Haring during the 80's drug epidemic. There mural is two sided, and the most visible side faces the traffic along FDR highway. The playground is currently being renovated. (128th Street and 2nd Avenue.)

Here's a little more background info:

Read the comments:

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


I have been a garage-saler my whole life. I love garage sales. It doesn't take an eighty-year-old cat lady to realize that there's no need to buy everything brand new. Upstate, we put up signs days in advance. People take out ads in the paper. There's balloons tied to the mailbox, a lemonade stand run by six year olds, and occasionally $1.00 hot dogs on the grill.

If you go into suburbia, the neighbors will go all out and plan a street sale. All the soccer moms pull out their best PTA planning skills to organize such an event. If this is the case, you are really in luck. A street sale in suburbia is a like a fucking festival complete with color coded price tags and overpriced McDonalds toys. It's a little sad to think the idea of getting rid of plastic figurines and beanie babies is only thing keeping the neighbors together.

In Harlem, a street sale is done a little differently.

For starters, I’ like to say that in the summer time the streets are filthy. Not dirty. Filthy. There's no neat and trim lawns, no sprinkler systems, no grass. Just sidewalk. It’s not uncommon to have to dodge vomit, trash piles, people and piss. Once, I was quite confident that the pile of dog shit on the sidewalk did not come from a dog.

Among the filth, between the hours of sunrise and sunset from May-October you will find the Harlem Street Sale where vendors come to sell their unwanted items. It’s conveniently located on 125th St and Park Ave directly next to the Metro North overpass, with quick access to the 4,5, & 6 subway trains.

The items are lined up along the sidewalk. Old shoes, CD’s, clothing, and television sets are commonly found here. In order to walk along the sidewalk, you must step around these items that are so strategically placed. This sales technique is genius. Why not blockade the street so that customers must “browse“ through your goods?

If you do spot something that catches your interest, you may have to wake up the sleeping homeless person from his or her cardboard box and/or shopping cart in order to purchase the said commodity. Interestingly enough, even though the street sale continues throughout the summer, it never runs out of items. This leads me to believe that if I am ever missing my television or old McDonalds figurines, I know where to go to get them.

Who knows? Maybe I can talk them down in price.

Monday, July 14, 2008


I had found out about the apartment in a one line Craigslist ad. The description was simply that it was four bedrooms, and gave the address, price and e-mail account. It's not easy to find a four bedroom apartment in New York. (Well let's just face it, apartment hunting isn't exactly a joy to do anywhere. ) It had been even more difficult to get a hold of the owner to show me the place. Persistance had paid off, and after taking five steps in, I told him we'd take it. My other three roomates hadn't even seen the place, so the pressure was on me if they would like it or not. There was no time or money to waste, and waiting only means someone else will snatch it up in a heartbeat. So we've always agreed to trust each other's judgement.So far, there’s been no problems.

The place was on the corner of 125th street. It used to be an old Turkish Bathhouse, and the sign still remains above the basement entrance (also known as the rat’s home turf, -there are hundreds).

If the whole Turkish bath thing seems to be a little out of place to you, you’re not alone in thinking this.The apartment was on the fourth floor, there was no elevator, and the moving crew we had hired (and paid for) did not show up. This left my tiny mother, overweight father, 12-year-old sister, Karla, Beth, and myself to move everything up the four flights of stairs. My mother, always the problem solver, started talking to some people on the street. In no time she had recruited a couple guys who had offered to help us with the "big stuff" for some quick cash.

Half an hour later, one of them christened our bathroom by puking all over the floor. He told us “not to eat the Taco Bell.” Bullshit. It was Saturday morning and he was clearly more hung over then we were. A friend of his came in as his replacement, and after a couple hours and an ass-load of trips up and down the stairs the Uhaul truck was empty. My mother opted to take a time-out and introduce herself to all of the neighbors. She stopped by each and every apartment in the building to say hello. An hour later she reported back.

“You girls should see how the apartment across the hall is set up. He has the TV against that wall," she said and pointed around living room and trying to inspire us to re-arrange the furniture we has just spent the last 10 hours moving in and out. I told her we would re-arrange later, and consider moving the TV. Of course there was not a chance in this happening. It was staying right where it was.

"There is a really neat tapestry on the wall you should go see, Amber," she continued. The girl on the next floor up is a hair dresser, and the people down the hall are cooking something that smells amazing.”

I couldn’t love her more than at the moment. She was, 100%, a people-person.

Saturday, July 5, 2008


I was born and raised in Upstate New York. I had chickens. Our driveway was not paved. We had so many broken cars in our yard it was starting to look like a used car lot. The mailman drove a station wagon. His own station wagon.

You get the idea.

I live in Harlem now with three of my closest college friends. At first it appears that the four of us had thrown a dart at a map promising to move wherever it landed. Such is not the case.

It all started with three. We moved to New York in search of a job in each our fields, and after a year of living in Brooklyn, and the addition of a fourth room mate we landed in Harlem because it was the only place we could afford. (Although, I’m not sure how long that will last because it as recently re-zoned and in 10 years will most likely be the next trendy SOHO. ) Contrary to popular belief, we are not ducking from bullets. I’m not afraid to walk home at night (although I’m obviously avoiding dark alleyways-given). I’m also not going to pretend that if I had a choice on living anywhere in the world, I would pick Harlem. No way.

I will say that I like it here. There’s never a dull moment, and I believe it is the last real neighborhood in New York. At one point, I realized what an opportunity I had. This could be a real gem. Although I cannot possibly give insight to the inner workings of this historical neighborhood, I can provide a window. Here is the view of an outsider who is now on the inside. This is the view from someone raised in an entirely different environment. I will try to be as honest as possible, and to not sugarcoat anything.This is the story of four country white girls living in Harlem New York.