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I’m hired at Commercial Observer

I’m hired at Commercial Observer

Commercial ObserverI learned this past week that I’m hired as a reporter at Commercial Observer of the New York Observer. I’ll be covering real estate all over New York City  full-time starting the day after Memorial Day. I’m thankful for the opportunity to report on this fascinating yet sometimes opaque industry, and I look forward to learning a great deal from my colleagues and sources.

But that also means I’ll be posting here less. Maybe a lot less, actually. But this portfolio site has served its purpose.

Please feel free to contact me through the functioning “contact me” tab on the left navigation menu or reach out at my new publication.

May 24, 20140 comments
Stand Clear of the Closing Doors

Stand Clear of the Closing Doors

Stand Clear of the Closing DoorsThis Sam Fleischner film tells the story of an autistic boy who wanders far from his home in the Rockaways one day after school. Absorbed in his own mental processes and left to his own devices, young Ricky travels all over the city on the subway for several days as his mother strains to find him, just as Hurricane Sandy visits the city. The storyline (sans Sandy) mirrors a trend of special-needs students in the city who have strayed from their schools and gravitated toward the subway–Queens youngster Avonte Oquendo died tragically earlier this year after running away from school. So the story takes a hard look at our society’s support structures, which are weaker than the boardwalk against gale-force tides. The film opened yesterday and I highly recommend it.

A Walker in the City by Alfred Kazin

A Walker in the City by Alfred Kazin

A Walker in the CityThis 1957 prose-poetry memoir by the Brownsville-born historian conjures the sense-memories of growing up in Brooklyn and the way we are tied to where we were born regardless of where that might be. Evocative lines abound–like the way he says he never remembered anyone getting on or off the subway station nearest to my current apartment. We get taken back to the tenement neighborhoods of the 20s and 30s, when Brownsville was a Jewish slum, far from the “alrightnicks” and the gentiles and “beyond.” The quote marks are important because both “beyond” (meaning beyond one’s home neighborhood) and “American” (meaning the widely-held but caricatured and inaccurate definition) take on critical importance to the boy who read more when he was younger than most of us will read our entire life. The book also offers a sense of history by reminding us how many streets were named for Revolutionary War generals and the feeling of the New York City of yesteryear one can get my looking closely at one’s surroundings. Kazin turned Brooklyn into Combray.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (Pevear and Volokhonsky Tr.)

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (Pevear and Volokhonsky Tr.)

Anna Karenina

So much of the book seems about women’s rights, the foundations of imminent world wars and philosophical questions best answered by muzhiks who aren’t thinking about them. But then there’s the material about the manner conversations ebb and flow, family relations or just simple snippets about horsies and doggies. The notes in this edition helped illuminate the manner in which certain characters’ qualities mirrored those of Tolstoy. Certainly the part about the Russian artist in Italy who is so engrossed yet disgusted by others’ reaction to his work must be the writer’s caricature of his own relationship with his readers. I find myself returning the most to the outside way we look in on the intense political “questions” of the day–the Serbian question, the women question, the language question. All the political rhetoric simply masks our own personal investment with the political issues. Maybe the convention is important to Sergei Ivanovich but we are much more interested in his brother’s personal roller coaster. On the other hand, the reader knows that Anna K suffered under the harmful influence of the contemporary divorce and property laws. So there are no easy answers here.

My most popular Daily News stories

My most popular Daily News stories

Flushing McDonald's

My story about locals bemoaning the loss of this Flushing McDonald’s was my most popular Daily News story, judging by Facebook traffic.

My 83 stories for the New York Daily News generated 10,298 facebook “likes” and 2,457 tweets. That translates to an average of 125.6 “likes” for each story, which is modest for an age where the top trafficked stories get several thousands of shares but certainly far more social media love than any work I’ve done previously. The top ten stories from my last 4 months of work are below, with links.


Flushing residents cling to McDonald’s


Occult store seeks greenspace funds 840
Parishioners nostalgic for Gotti 681
Astoria gets arts district 555
Queens cleaning ladies form cooperative 445
“Fearless Flo” gets grave marker 441
Parents fight special ed admissions 424
Brooklyn educators write book on college 373
Queensbridge residents love Nas 363
May 8, 20140 comments