Reviews of New York City's subway bathrooms

New York Times reporters Andy Newman and Ana Fota took one (and sometimes two) for the team by visiting subway station restrooms across New York City. It was a shitty job, but someone had to do it. I guess. From the New York Times:

Norwood-205th Street, Bronx D line

The cracked concrete floor of the men’s room looked like it had not been mopped in years. But on the plus side, on the frigid day of our visit, the room was toasty hot.

So hot that someone had wedged takeout Chinese food between the scalding radiator and the wall, possibly to keep it warm — a full container of shrimp-fried rice and brown-breaded nuggets.

“That’s no good,” said the station supervisor, S. Hope, when we brought it to his attention. “That will melt and catch fire.” He threw it out.

In the women’s room, fire safety has apparently been learned the hard way. “No storage within three (3) feet,” read a sign on the floor beside a radiator covered in burn marks. The radiator was working fine, though. The environment was reminiscent of the tropical monkey habitat at the Central Park Zoo.

(Mr. Hope said the bathrooms are cleaned three times a day.)

The main door to the women’s room has a peephole to let you see who’s in the hall. But it does not lock. “People hert people,” reads graffiti on the door.

The women’s room offered another unexpected sight: a man, standing at the toilet. He apologized on his way out, but offered no explanation.

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NYC! I'm coming to The Strand tonight at 7PM with my new book RADICALIZED! Next up: Toronto, Chicago, San Francisco...

Thanks to everyone who came to last night's launch event at San Diego's Mysterious Galaxy! The next stop on my tour is an event at 7PM at The Strand in NYC where I'll be appearing with the award-winning investigative journalist Julia Angwin, who is pinch-hitting for Anand Giridharadas, who has had a family emergency. Read the rest

Regular says she was banned from eating at the bar at Manhattan's scammy Nello restaurant because she might be a sex-worker

After marketing executive Clementine Crawford published an essay about being banned from eating at the bar at her favorite New York restaurant, Nello (a notorious ripoff joint), because the owner (already notorious for labor abuses) was "cracking down on escorts" and had decreed that only men would be permitted to dine at the bar, The Cut tried to get a comment on it from Balan, whose employees repeatedly hung up on them. Read the rest

An archive of Freedom, Paul Robeson and Louis Burnham's radical Harlem newspaper

Freedom, published in Harlem during the Cold War and McCarthy years, was Paul Robeson and Louis Burnham's radical black paper that "ppenly challenged racism, imperialism, colonialism, and political repression and advocated for civil rights, labor rights and world peace"; NYU's Freedom archive holds browsable (but not searchable, alas!) scans of issues with contributions from "W.E.B. Du Bois, Alice Childress and Lorraine Hansberry" and many others. (Thanks, Fipi Lele!) Read the rest

Lin-Manuel Miranda rescues New York's beloved, century-old Drama Book Shop

For more than 100 years, New York City's Tony-award-winning Drama Book Shop has been a stalwart of the city's thronging theater community; but like so many independent bookstores, it has struggled (it recently announced that it would have to leave its Times Square location on January 20 due to rent hikes). Read the rest

NYC to name streets after Notorious B.I.G., Wu-Tang Clan, and Woody Guthrie

The New York City Council voted to rename streets after hip-hop artists Christopher Wallace (aka the Notorious BIG) and the Wu-Tang Clan and folk musician/activist Woodie Guthrie. If Mayor Bill de Blasio gives his final approval, a block in Brooklyn where Notorious B.I.G. was raised will be called Christopher Wallace Way, Staten Island will have a Wu-Tang Clan District, and part of Coney Island's Mermaid Avenue will be renamed Woody Guthrie Way to celebrate his 1940s home. From Rolling Stone:

Cultural advocate LeRoy McCarthy spearheaded the efforts to rename the streets after the legendary hip-hop acts. “I’m happy that NYC officials are finally giving the city’s indigenous ‘Hip Hop’ music the respect and recognition that it deserves. It took a long time and lots of hard work to advance the Christopher Wallace Way & Wu-Tang Clan District street co-naming, but ya know what, Hip Hop Don’t Stop,” McCarthy told Gothamist.

Additionally, Woody Guthrie Way located at Coney Island’s Mermaid Avenue between West 35th and West 36th marks the section of Brooklyn where the folk legend lived in the early 1940s.

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(FAKE) The most intense street fight you will ever see

UPDATE: Alas, it's funny but it's fake.

Watch below. A triumphant Manhattan moment. I laughed, I cried, it became a part of me. I'm going to see it again and again and again and again and again.

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New York City's municipal debt collectors have forged an unholy alliance with sleazy subprime lenders

New York City's "marshal" service is a throwback to the Dutch colonial days; the 35 marshals are appointed by the mayor, draw no salary, and earn their livings by skimming a percentage off of the debts they collect, operating with impunity and reaching around the world. Read the rest

Where did this rare Mandarin duck in New York City's Central Park come from?

A rare and beautiful Mandarin duck, native to East Asia, has turned up in New York City's Central Park. The bird spends most of its time entertaining curious on-lookers in a pond near 59th Street and Fifth Avenue. City official plan to leave the duck alone so long as it's safe. From CBS News:

(Bird enthusiast Dave) Barrett said he's checked with every zoo in the city and none are missing a duck. It leads the bird-watching community to believe it was a domestic pet, which is illegal in New York City.

"It might have got away or someone might have got tired of it and dumped it," Barrett said.

It also may have flown to Manhattan from a neighboring town.

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Catch a glimpse of a New York City legend for the price of an MTA ticket

City Hall Loop was one of the terminus stations for the first subway line to be built under New York City. Opened to the public in 1904, it was beautiful, featuring brass chandeliers, glass tiling and sky lighting to fill it with a warm glow during the day. Unfortunately, the station was closed to the public back in 1945.

Happily, it's still possible and totally legal to catch a glimpse of this wonder from a bygone architectural era. All it takes is a little patience and a ticket to ride the MTA.

Image: by Rhododendrites - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link Read the rest

One in ten of New York's public school students is homeless

114,659 of New York's public school students is homeless, bouncing from shelters to relatives' beds: homelessness is a predictor of poor academic performance for all the obvious reasons, including very long commutes to school (some students' families have ended up at shelters that are two boroughs away from their schools). Read the rest

Aw, shit: New York's McNally Jackson Books is closing its Nolita store

New York City's amazing McNally Jackson Books is closing its flagship bookstore on Prince Street in Nolita; the store is a neighborhood fixture and a hub of literary events (I've appeared there); they also sport a cafe and a book-printing machine. Read the rest

New York's luxury real-estate market is crashing

New York is a great city that has been hollowed out by real-estate speculation, where the conversion of housing to safe-deposit boxes in the sky has pushed out the city's people and the city's businesses, who can't compete with financiers and oligarchs who value property as an investment, rather than as part of the fabric of a city. Read the rest

Secret box truck 'night market' pops up again in NYC

Described as "a transient bazaar that is not publicly announced, where nothing is for sale, and very little trace can be found of it afterward," it's been nearly 10 years since the first Lost Horizon Night Market hit New York City. Since then, this quirky underground event has popped up in other cities worldwide.

This past weekend it was back in Brooklyn.

Gothamist's Oriana Leckert went:

At a moment when the world seems to be going in a bleaker, more dangerous direction than at any point in our lifetimes, this is a night where New York’s most unusual spectacle-makers gather to share a few hours of pure weirdness and joy.

The Night Market is a shadowy affair, a truly underground, immersive occasion at a time when both those words have been so overused as to be rendered nearly meaningless. There is no mailing list to sign up for or Facebook page to “like”; one only learns of the sporadic soirée through word of mouth, and the market’s location, different each time, is not revealed until the day of. The only instruction truck proprietors receive is to create an interactive art piece within the vehicle’s four walls...

Saturday’s market, situated on two dimly lit blocks in industrial Bushwick, included 19 trucks, ranging from very simple to hilariously convoluted concepts. Each engendered its own atmosphere, engulfing visitors in a tiny world that was consuming enough to let people forget about the real one for a little while...

Read more: Photos: A Secret Box Truck Art Carnival Materialized Briefly In Brooklyn

photos by Alix Piorun for Gothamist, used with permission

Glitter gun fight

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Y'all we have made a pillow fight truck, if you just need to smash something and scream tonight.

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New York City! I'm onstage tonight with Radiolab's Jad Abumrad (Swarthmore, you're next!)

A reminder that I'm wrapping up my Columbia University lecture series tonight at 5PM, when I'm appearing onstage with Radiolab's Jad Abumrad at the lecture theater in Pulitzer Hall (RSVP here); and then I'm heading to Swarthmore tomorrow, to give a talk at the Lang Performing Arts Center Room (LPAC) 101 Cinema from 7-9PM. Both talks are free. Read the rest

Watch the previously unreleased music video for The Ramones' "She's the One"

The Ramones' fourth studio album Road To Ruins turns 40 tomorrow. To celebrate, Rhino Records released the Road To Ruin: 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition with three CDs and one LP containing two mixes of the album, additional unreleased studio and live recordings, and a hardcover book. They've also unearthed this previously unreleased video for their classic punk ditty "She's the One."

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Hey, Swarthmore! I'm headed your way next week

I'm heading to the east coast next week, first for a lecture series in NYC for Columbia University (including a conversation with Radiolab's Jad Abumrad about Big Tech, monopolies and democratic technology); and from there I'm headed to Pennsylvania for a talk about my novel Walkaway at Swarthmore, on Sept 28 from 7-9PM at the Lang Performing Arts Center Room (LPAC) 101 Cinema. All the events are free, though some require tickets, so be sure to check in advance. Hope to see you there! Read the rest

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