July 17: Where the Candidates Are Today


Native Speaker by Chang-rae LeeThe current mayoral race provides a fitting occasion to read “Native Speaker,” Chang-rae Lee’s 1995 novel of ethnicity and city politics. In it readers meet Henry Park, a son of Korean immigrants who uneasily assimilates into New York life. As a private intelligence operative, Park infiltrates the team of a popular Korean-American city councilman with bigger ambitions and a bitter grip on American culture.

The Big City Book Club will convene online to discuss the novel on Tuesday, Aug. 13 at 6:30 p.m.



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Into the Past on Grand Street

Dear Diary:

I returned to New York City to spend time with my sick father in October of my junior year of college. He died less than a week later.

My family sat Shiva for a week. One brutal afternoon I took a break from the grieving and embarked upon my favorite urban hike, down Grand Street in Manhattan. Grand Street is one of those special places that show a history of New York. A place where Jews, Italians, the Irish and Chinese have immigrated in waves, clamoring for places in crowded tenement apartments, hoping to get their starts in a new world. Many have, and the city has moved on, integrating their legacies into its fabric.

My mom tells me that her grandfather was a founding member of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. Although I never met the man, I see his legacy every time I walk by the prominent I.L.G.W.U. mural painted on the side of a building on East Broadway. The city has preserved his legacy for generations of people to enjoy. This city has a habit of doing that.

I returned from my walk soothed. For a lifelong New Yorker, there is a strange comfort in knowing that the city itself is less fleeting than its inhabitants’ lives are. Perhaps in 100 years, another big-haired girl will walk down Grand Street. As she passes the faded signs still labeling the long-defunct designer stores in SoHo, she’ll try to imagine our New York City. The city will carry on the legacy of its former inhabitants, and in a way, we will all live on.


Read all recent entries and our updated submissions guidelines. Reach us via e-mail [email protected] or follow @NYTMetro on Twitter using the hashtag #MetDiary.

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In Brooklyn Park, a Fierce New Pecking Order

A two-ounce menace is terrorizing Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

On Arthur Henry’s inaugural stroll through the recently opened Transmitter Park along the waterfront on a piercingly bright afternoon last week, he felt a slight tap on his head.

He reached up, touched blood, and then saw a mockingbird circling above.

Mr. Henry ran.

Two days later, on his next visit to the park, he heard “a wail, like a battle cry,” emanating from what he believed was the same bird, as it plunged toward him once again.

“It’s so ridiculous,” said Mr. Henry, 44, a children’s book author, as he showed a reporter the site of the attack last Thursday. “I’m scared of a bird.” He had brought along Ray-Bans to protect his eyes should the bird come back for a third round.

Also last week, Pacifico Silano, an artist from Williamsburg, was sunbathing with a friend at the park (officially known as WNYC Transmitter Park because it was built on the former site of WNYC’s radio towers) when a frantic woman with two small dogs approached.

“She was like, ‘Be careful. There’s this bird hanging out over there and it’s attacking me,’” said Mr. Silano, 27. “I was like, ‘Are we really having this conversation?’”

Such aggressive behavior in mockingbirds result from perceived threats to their hatchlings, said Glenn Phillips, executive director of New York City Audubon. The incidents should stop any day now as nesting season ends, he said.

“Once the young fledge, they’ll settle down,” Mr. Phillips said.

Mockingbirds have thrived in New York City since immigrating to the region in the 1960s, drawn by ornamental fruiting plants that provide a winter food source, Mr. Phillips said. They have a reputation for keeping New Yorkers up at night mimicking car alarms and for sporadically assaulting pedestrians.

Angela Golinvaux, a 30-year-old salesclerk from Bushwick, also felt the sting of a pointy black beak recently, near the Kent Street entrance to the park where she usually eats her lunch.

“I had my hair up in a bun and I felt something hit it and I was like, ‘What the heck?’” she said.

The next day, also on her lunch break, multiple mockingbirds greeted Ms. Golinvaux mid-trek to the waterfront. (Scientists have found that mockingbirds can recognize humans who have previously been identified as threats.)

“They were dive-bombing me, and flying at me, and perching and looking at me,” she said, describing behavior known as mobbing that is not uncommon in small birds, according to Mr. Phillips.

She screamed expletives back at the birds and bolted toward West Street, shouting, “This isn’t your block!”

The birds, at least for the time being, may disagree.

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New York Today: Hotter Than …

Updated, 7:38 a.m. | As you sit – sweating, stifling and sweltering – here’s one thing to be grateful for: it’s not 1953.

On this day in 1953, it was 100 degrees, a record.

On Wednesday, it will be several degrees shy of that – about 93, according to the National Weather Service.

Blame the high pressure system hovering over our heads as it wends its way back west whence it came.

By the weekend, however, expect some relief. High temperatures will drop to the mid-80s.

Here’s what else you need to know to start your Wednesday.

AMBER ALERT

Some of you might have been jolted awake around 4 a.m. by a blaring sound on your phone.

“Is such a disruptive alarm necessary in the middle of the night?” one woman wondered blearily on Twitter.

It turned out to be an Amber Alert on “Notify NYC” for a 7-month-old abducted by his mother from a child-welfare building on Tuesday afternoon.

People subscribe to Notify NYC alerts to be warned about events like evacuation orders.

City officials could not immediately be reached to explain why such a high-level warning was used for an Amber Alert, which is not typical.

But we are pressing for more details, so stay tuned.

TRANSIT & TRAFFIC

Mass Transit [7:37] Subways are O.K. Click for the latest status.

Roads [7:37] Minor delays on in-bound Holland and Lincoln tunnels.

Alternate-side parking rules: in effect.

COMING UP TODAY

• Mayoral candidates, including William C. Thompson Jr., Bill de Blasio and Anthony D. Weiner, take part in a forum about agriculture and nutrition at the New School tonight.

• Heirloom tomatoes at dusk! A night greenmarket – 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. — opens at Union Square.

• “The Lorax” is in the Bronx and “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” goes down in Brooklyn. There are free movies in city parks in at least four boroughs on Wednesday night.

• Bands rock out to raise money for Wounded Warriors in Midtown and the warriors themselves will be in Farmingdale, Long Island, at the Marriott. They will be kicking off Soldier Ride, a bicycling tour that begins on Friday and helps veterans cope with injury.

• Ask a stranger anything you want on stage at “Ask Roulette,” at Housing Works in Manhattan. According to an organizer: “It’s weird, it’s fun.”

• It’s “New York Surf Week.” Watch a bunch of surfers do their stuff on Long Beach.

• For more events, see The New York Times’s Arts & Entertainment guide.

IN THE NEWS

• People buying health insurance on their own in New York will see their premiums drop. [New York Times]

• A lost dog stopped traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge.  [CBS News New York]

Broken air-conditioners have led some Brooklyn libraries, which double as cooling centers, to be closed.  [Daily News]

• An 18-year-old ran out onto Citi Field during the All-Star Game after a Twitter dare.
 [Daily News]

• At the game itself, the American League defeated the National League, 3-0, and Mariano Rivera of the Yankees was the most valuable player. [New York Times]

• Christine C. Quinn was irked by the wait for an ambulance after a City Council intern fainted at a news conference. [New York Times]

• A group of deaf people is suing Starbucks, charging discrimination. [Gothamist]

AND FINALLY…

It is the time of year when cute little baby mockingbirds start to learn to fly. And their parents, apparently, go ballistic on humans who get anywhere near the nest. A park in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, has seen a spate of mockingbird attacks.


Michaelle Bond contributed reporting.

We’re testing New York Today, which we put together just before dawn and update until noon.

What information would you like to see here when you wake up to help you plan your day? Tell us in the comments, send suggestions to [email protected] or tweet them at @nytmetro using #NYToday. Thanks!

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With a Virtual Tour, Preserving the History of East Harlem

Celia Cruz and Tito Puente, two legendary Latin musicians, may not have had superpowers, but an artist from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, plans to tap the popularity of comic book heroes to celebrate the significance of these and other figures in the cultural history of East Harlem.

Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, an artist specializing in comic-book-style graphics, is working with other comic book artists to depict, among other spots, Park Palace, a former Latin dance club in East Harlem that welcomed artists like Ms. Cruz and Mr. Puente when downtown clubs would not welcome Latinos.

“They were like the Superman and Wonder Woman of the Latin music world,” he said.

Mr. Miranda-Rodriguez’s work will be part of an app that a nonprofit organization, the Caribbean Cultural Center in East Harlem, hopes will help preserve the history and culture of a neighborhood undergoing gentrification and that those participating in the project say history books often overlook.

The center will use art to depict significant people, places and events to give the app’s users a virtual walking tour of East Harlem. The app will superimpose original artwork onto images of the neighborhood on the screens of smartphones and tablets.

“The importance of this project is the sustainability of community in a period of gentrification,” said Marta Moreno Vega, president of the Caribbean Cultural Center’s African Diaspora Institute.

Mr. Miranda-Rodriguez and seven other artists from East Harlem, Brooklyn, Queens and Puerto Rico are each developing several works for the app component of the “Mi Querido Barrio” project, which means “my beloved neighborhood.” The virtual tour will include tributes to Puerto Rican, Jewish, Italian, Mexican and African history and culture in East Harlem, Dr. Vega said.

The project plans to include artwork about the historic La Marqueta marketplace on Park Avenue, for example, and an African burial ground on First Avenue. Mr. Miranda-Rodriguez also plans to sketch a tribute to the game of stickball, which East Harlem residents of various ages and ethnicities have played in the streets for decades.

“The artists are looking broadly at events and people that have created what we understand as East Harlem,” Dr. Vega said.

The debut of the app will coincide with the planned opening in early 2015 of the Caribbean Cultural Center’s new location at a vacant firehouse at 120 East 125th Street. The app will direct users from the firehouse to different locations in an area encompassing 103rd Street to 128th Streets and Fifth Avenue to the East River. When users reach specific destinations, artwork related to their current location and its history will appear on their devices’ screens.

The neighborhood’s history is not traditionally easy to find, said Yasmin Ramirez of Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn, who has studied Puerto Rican art history in the city and researched East Harlem’s cultural history for the project.

“We’re trying to really preserve a history that if we don’t do it would never be seen, because it was marginalized when it was happening,” she said.

One of Mr. Miranda-Rodriguez’s works depicts a 1969 demonstration in which the Young Lords, a group of community activists, piled up and burned trash to spur the city’s sanitation department to pick up garbage more often in East Harlem.

“You look at the Young Lords. Those were our Avengers,” he said. He calls his work on the project a tribute to “actual amazing heroes from our community.”

Carlos Pacheco, a comic book artist from Spain whose work includes Superman, X-Men and Captain America comics, drew the Young Lords piece from sketches that Mr. Miranda-Rodriguez provided.

Mr. Miranda-Rodriguez plans to animate the graphic and pair it with a spoken word piece from a musical, “Party People,” based on the Young Lords Party and Black Panthers Party. Clickable bilingual text on the protesters’ signs and links to stories about the Young Lords will make it interactive, he said.

“It’s better than some tour guide saying, ‘Visualize here there was all this garbage that was set on fire,’” said Mr. Miranda-Rodriguez, who hopes pairing technology and comics draws a wide audience to the app. “We’re in an era now where geek is chic.”

Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, one of the artists  helping to create the virtual tour of East Harlem, shows some of his designs for the project. Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, one of the artists  helping to create the virtual tour of East Harlem, shows some of his designs for the project.

 

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