mi tarea – more signs in el barrio

•Monday 1 March 2010 • Leave a Comment

my spanish homework consisted of taking pictures of signs (in spanish, of course) and finding the errors. i’m pretty sure my spanish teacher overestimated our abilities but i love any excuse to take pictures on 116th street.

ran out of batteries… all camera phone pics.


signs, signs and more signs

•Tuesday 23 February 2010 • Leave a Comment

i used to do some translation work for a website called ruavista. the site was hosted by a french guy living in brasil. we met at cafe luxembourg across from the luxembourg gardens in Paris. he handed me an envelope filled with cash. it felt like a scene out of mission impossible 4. the website is pretty much defunct now, probably a bit too academic. i loved it.

and i love signs. i adore the urban palimpsest. if someone wants to pay me to take pictures of all of the decaying signs in new york, i’m available.

i was walking across 116th street the other day when i noticed two workers covering up an old, rusty yet charming electric lighted sign that read “Restaurant.” i think i had my camera with me but i was in a hurry. when i came back, the sign had been covered up on both sides by a horrid “Dunkin’ Donuts/Baskin Robbins” logo.

(above) this one looks hand-painted. i love the around corner footnote.

i thought this was a one of kind hand-painted sign. it may be hand-painted but i was so wrong to use it as some kind of GPS marker on one of my first explorations through the neighborhood. there are a whole lot of these hanging on fences just like that.

in the bronx. maybe if it warms up, i’ll get around to taking more pics.

separate but equal (grim reaper remix)

•Tuesday 16 February 2010 • Leave a Comment

116th street is the main artery of my neighborhood. it hosts the crosstown bus, community gardens, churches, shops, cart vendors and two funeral homes. the funeral homes are just one block away from each other. we’ve seen confused cabbies trying to drop people of at “the funeral home on 116th street” only to realize they were at the wrong place. not surprisingly, we’ve seen lots of funerals: the hearses, the nervous smokers on the sidewalk, somber faces sharing grief and lineage all at once.

a quick scan of law and order shooting locations or the local news (see East Harlem Focus for an excellent East Harlem news round-up) will give you a feel for why I thought 116th street may need two funeral homes. in the last two weeks, we’ve seen news stories like this one, East Harlem Residents Call for Justice in the Murder of Adan Gonzalez, in addition to the street cat hit-and run. butcher knifed for a cell phone just a block away. makes Vermont seem like paradise right about now.

the real reason, however, is religion and culture. Baptist vs. Catholic. Latino vs. African-American. and that’s why we have the R.G. Ortiz and George H. Weldon funeral homes as fixtures of 116th street.

crack dealership now open

•Wednesday 10 February 2010 • Leave a Comment

only in new york?

pleasant avenue.

DILLA! or last night a DJ saved my life

•Tuesday 9 February 2010 • 2 Comments

we’ve been lucky to get the last couple of Saturdays free. this time, we split up. he went to a conference on community gardens at the New School. i spent the day doing application assistance for Haitians seeking Temporary Protected Status. we met up in BK to head to the Bell House EARLY.  i don’t think i’d ever been to a club that early in my life.

i can’t remember the last time i made it out to hear anyone spin anything, much less at an event i really, really, really wanted to go to. it was probably some time, somewhere before that whole getting pregnant and having a baby thing happened.

it’d obviously been a long time because i forgot my ID.  luckily i didn’t have to stand outside while he went back for it. we danced and had a grand ole time until the morning. absolutely loved both brainchild & Questo’s sets. Great pics and more pics from the event: here and here.

*if i’d gone to this event in Berlin, it would have been me,  5 other black americans and two drug dealers making up the people of color population… so this felt unbelievably just like home. it’s good to be back. i feel brand new.

won’t you be my neighbor? [FREE MCNY PASSES]

•Monday 1 February 2010 • Leave a Comment

We planned to use the free admission passes to the Museum of the City of New York on our family date. It was a little regalo we received at the Three Kings Day earlier in January.

Trying to be on the first at the museum that Saturday (knowing it’s not the most almost-3-year-old friendly place), I checked the opening times. On the MCNY website, I found out that if you happen to live or work above 103rd street you’re a neighbor! Most importantly, neighbor, in this instance, means free.

So I have two free admission passes that I no longer need. Is there anyone in NYC who actually reads this blog? (other than Crain’s journalists doing google searches?) If you want the passes, drop a line at poisson.rouge.nyc [at] gmail.com, tell me your favorite insider NYC place to be and the passes are yours.

Chiapas mural

•Sunday 24 January 2010 • Leave a Comment

Since Costco’s November opening, I see new visitors to the neighborhood every day, with their carts and Trader Joe’s bags. Intrepid and hardy enough to find a sale anywhere, they converse in pairs trying to figure out which M116 bus stop is the closest. The people taking 117th street over to the megastore will get a nice peek at the community gardens but most will miss this mural just a block away.