The story of Sadakichi Hartmann, a Japan-born poet who had befriended everyone from Walt Whitman to Ezra Pound and John Barrymore—and who once attempted to stage the first-ever "perfume concert" in New York:
"But no one had ever heard of a perfume concert. It was an invention so faddish the newspapers had inked themselves in excitement and still managed indifference by the second column. 'All lovers of good smells are expected to patronize the concert,' one hopeful feature began. However, 'It may be that after a time the olfactory nerve of the New York gatherings will become jaded, and will require smells of more and more pungency.' It was suggested Mr. Hartmann take a trip to Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal."
PUBLISHED: May 3, 2013
LENGTH: 22 minutes (5531 words)
Our favorite stories of the past week, from The New Republic, NPR, Washington Post, New England Review, Modern Farmer, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, and a guest pick by Jon Tayler
PUBLISHED: April 20, 2013
[Fiction] A man reaches out to the woman who lives above him:
"Peter was an agoraphobic. He couldn’t tell you what that was a year ago, but he could describe to you now what it feels like to stand by the front door and feel the heat radiate off of the knob, so sure it could burn you if you touch it. He never would have guessed when he rented this one-bedroom basement apartment that it could become his waking coffin, that he would let her death bury him alive. It was the first place he found on Craigslist, the woman who owned the house was the first landlord to return his call, and he took it without inspecting the toilet or looking closer at the cracks in the ceiling."
PUBLISHED: April 16, 2013
LENGTH: 11 minutes (2999 words)
(NSFW, not single-page) An in-depth profile of rap legend the D.O.C., who penned many of N.W.A.'s and Eazy-E's early songs and became an on-again, off-again studio partner to Dr. Dre:
"The shine finally started to trickle down. N.W.A’s first national tour opened in Nashville in the spring of 1989, with Doc doing eight minutes a night as an opening act. The crowds dug him. No One Can Do It Better dropped that June; within three months it sold 500,000 copies. By the end of the tour he was doing 30-minute sets. Radio picked up on “It’s Funky Enough,” a Dre production with way more commercial reach than, say, 'Fuck tha Police.' Years later, when Rolling Stone asked Chris Rock to make a list of the greatest rap albums of all time, the comedian put No One Can Do It Better at number 11. 'I was going to school in Brooklyn,” he wrote, “and the only time you could see rap videos was on a weekend show with Ralph McDaniels called Video Music Box. D.O.C.’s video for ‘It’s Funky Enough’ premiered, and D.O.C. had an L.A. Kings hat on. When I came to school on Monday, half the kids in Brooklyn had L.A. Kings hats on. It was official.'"
PUBLISHED: April 1, 2013
LENGTH: 24 minutes (6064 words)
[Fiction] The first chapter of a serialized novella, about a pickle maker from the early 1900s who is transported to modern-day Brooklyn:
"The science men come and explain. I have been preserved in brine a hundred years and have not aged one day. They describe to me the reason (how this chemical mixed with that chemical, and so on and so on) but I am not paying attention. All I can think of is my beautiful Sarah. Years have passed and she is surely gone.
Soon, though, I have another thought. When I freeze in brine, Sarah was with child. Maybe I still have family in Brooklyn? Maybe our dreams have come true?
"The science man turns on computing box and types. I have one great-great-grandson still in Brooklyn, he says. By coincidence, he is twenty-seven years, just like me. His name is Simon Rich. I am so excited I can barely breathe. Maybe he is doctor, or even rabbi? I cannot wait to meet this man—to learn the ending of my family’s story."
"'How about Thai fusion?' Simon asks me, as we walk along the street where I once lived. 'This place has these amazing gluten-free ginger thingies.'"
PUBLISHED: Jan. 29, 2013
LENGTH: 20 minutes (5150 words)
On the life and death of Cecilia Chang, a former dean at St. John's University who was accused of using students as servants and stealing more than $1 million from the college. Chang was also accused of hiring a gunman to kill her husband in 1990:
"Mr. Tsai was shot in front of a warehouse in Bushwick, Brooklyn, by a man dressed all in white. Three bullets struck him in the shoulder and back, with two hitting internal organs. Mr. Tsai somehow stumbled inside, where the police found him sitting in a chair.
"'I know the man, I do not know his name,' Mr. Tsai said then. 'Cecilia Chang was the person that paid the guy to shoot me.'
"Mr. Tsai was taken to Elmhurst Hospital, where detectives from the 83rd Precinct visited him the next day. Unable to speak, he wrote that his wife wanted him dead so she could control the hosiery business that they shared, instead of dividing up the property in divorce court. He died 11 days after the shooting."
PUBLISHED: Dec. 10, 2012
LENGTH: 11 minutes (2880 words)
A writer joins her friend Ben Heemskerk, the owner of the Brooklyn bar The Castello Plan, as he organizes a group of community volunteers to help in the hardest hit areas post-Sandy:
"On Monday the same thing started all over again. Our numbers were smaller, people were returning to work, and we'd lost our escorts, but our group now included an Army captain who had just returned from Afghanistan. By noon we'd been dispatched to a church parking lot on Beach 67th Street in Rockaway Beach.
"The parking lot was empty when we arrived except for one National Grid truck; National Grid is the contract operator that works with the Long Island Power Authority, whose power lines run onto the Rockaway Peninsula. Rockaway is the one part of New York City not served by Con Edison. The National Grid truck had set up a table where people could charge their phones.
"It was difficult not to conclude based on our surroundings that the neighborhood had not been served at all. Within five minutes of us setting up our goods in the empty lot, and without any real outreach needed, crowds began to appear—batteries, flashlights, disinfectants, diapers and blankets were getting snatched up quickly. It’s at this point the need began to feel overwhelming, and the frightening suspicion that help, official help in the form of city officials or large established disaster-relief organizations, was not going to arrive, started to sneak up on us."
PUBLISHED: Nov. 10, 2012
LENGTH: 21 minutes (5330 words)