For a 30-year-old New York firefighter, Dave Herman is a throwback to a different time when neighbors knew each others’ names, perhaps even borrowed cups of sugar for their baking.
According to Zagats 2007 Restaurant Guide, Gotham is the costliest place to dine in America Meanwhile, as the well-heeled chow down on pan-seared fluke, slow-roasted pork or Madeira-braised oxtails, conditions for the 165,000 people employed in the five boroughs 15,000 eateriesdishwashers to waiters, 40% of them undocumentedare often heinous.
Ekavi Valleras of Astoria, Queens bursts into exasperated laughter. Shes recounting the untold machinations of her youth and the adult frustrations of the biannual kalanda carol rounds where she was raisedAstoria and Athens, Greece. On Christmas Eve morning and New Years Eve morningand I mean six oclock in the morningthey are leaning on the doorbell.
Think of Spring Creek as a municipal dumping ground, says Geoffrey Croft, president of New York City Park Advocates. It is one of the most abused sites in the city and a lot of the abuses come from government agencies.
Flanked by a handful of former Rikers Island inmates, John Cannizzo gleefully surveys a tangled mass of stems, branches and leaves protruding from the back of an overloaded truck outside the Martin Luther King Housing Project in Harlem. Just look at this one, a real beauty, he says, caressing a sickly-looking three-foot shrub. It even has a bud for next spring.
The sheer pace and breadth of new construction has led to public safety issues galore as developers with little or no oversight rip down smaller structures and build McCondos at a furious pace. Sometimes it seems like the ghost of Robert Moses donned some hipster sunglasses and started tearing up the neighborhood, leaving any Jane Jacobsian ideal of preserving the unique traits of a community in the rearview mirror of a Hummer.
Is that Johnny Cash? one asks. Is that Billy Graham? asks the other. Thats Reverend Billy, explains a church member, Just listen.