New York

Everything Must Go

I realized I could no longer discount my feelings

Sometimes you could see where someone had fingernailed away the successive stickers to confirm the original discounted price, in the service of some private calculation or intimate feeling. In this peeling, there was some kind of retracing of the chain of events in capital and carbon that had accumulated into the original prices: cost of material extraction, cost of the labor of manufacture, cost of shipping, cost of marketing—plus obsolete speculation about what the market would bear on top of that.

Young and Homeless During Covid-19

Young and Homeless During Covid-19

“They want to close everything?”

Lala considered herself good at avoiding attention on the subway at night by sitting up straight, her feet on the floor and her arms pulled inside the sleeves of both of her sweatshirts, “balled up in a ball.” Corday sat next to her, his head in her lap. During periods of wakefulness, phones offered precious distraction, and Lala didn’t like to let the battery dip past 20 percent. She had accidentally paid for a Hulu subscription, so while they rode she watched movies, or scrolled through Facebook, looking at pictures of hairdos and limited-edition food: Captain Crunch ice cream, Sour Patch Toll House cookies, a four-pack of bright red Seagrams Escapes.

Such Things Have Done Harm

Such Things Have Done Harm

The only people I ever hear saying the world needs stories are the people involved in telling them

We should be willing to demand more than fellow feeling. The New York City Council crowed about its progressivism in passing a billion-dollar reduction in the NYPD’s budget. That number would just about return the department budget to the levels it was under Mayor Bloomberg’s administration. It is indicative of a dangerous lack of imagination if the best we can do is make a tacit admission that it was unwise to give the police more resources in the years after the rise of Black Lives Matter.

The Dead Live Longer

The Dead Live Longer

My dead ex-friend had a beautiful, long neck

Her mother’s prophecy struck me as a terrible, sinister curse: You, daughter, will die before me. The curse of a miserable woman who should never have had a child. A daughter. A Greek curse, though I don’t know of a Greek tragedy with that in its story. Here is a daughter cursed by her mother, who becomes a curse to her friends. I wasn’t alone.

Epilogue for a Way of Life

Epilogue for a Way of Life

We were a sick society and getting sicker

The Decameron came to mind first, but as the weeks went on, our minds wandered to reruns of The Jetsons that we used to watch as kids. A smug depiction of an optimized society so stratified that its beneficiaries literally lived above the clouds, The Jetsons always made us wonder about all the people living below, on Earth, in cities abandoned by the techno-optimists of the future. Now we knew.

Ground Zero

Ground Zero

Melanin and accents are ineffective binding substances 

No matter how far away you were from New York that day, no matter how distant your connection to that day was, no matter how much lower than zero the count of the people you lost on that day was, if you were white, 9/11 happened to you personally, with blunt and scalding force. Because the antithesis of an American is an immigrant and because we could not be victims in the public eye, we became suspects. And so September 11 changed the immigration landscape forever. Muslims and Sikhs became the targets of hate crimes. ICE was the creation of 9/11 paranoia.