COVID

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New York Workers and Scholars in Limbo Abroad as Trump Suspends Visas

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement office at JFK. (Photo: noway on Flickr)

Soon after Yukti visited India in February to get her H-1B visa stamp, American consulates around the world shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Since then, the 28-year-old New Yorker hasn’t had a good night’s sleep and she has lost seven pounds. Over the past four months, she has delayed her return flight to the US four times, called the consulate in Mumbai daily until almost every phone receptionist knows her full name, and pleaded her case to no avail. Now, thanks to President Trump’s latest visa suspension order, which bans foreign workers with no H1-B visa stamps from entering the US, she is looking at another six months of unpaid leave from the Manhattan bank where she worked, while stranded in India. More →

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New Yorkers Flock Back to Restaurants as Outdoor Dining Springs Up Everywhere

Drivers or pedestrians who passed by Second Avenue between 48th and 49th Streets couldn’t help but notice the balloons where cars used to park. “Welcome back to outdoor dining,” read a colorful sign belonging to Barnacho, a Mexican restaurant. Behind the balloons, there were six tables on the asphalt where customers will be seated, in addition to seven tables occupying the sidewalk. Welcome to phase two of New York’s reopening. More →

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In Virtual Dungeons, Less Flogging and More Key-Logging

Charlotte Taillor. (Photo: Julia Assis)

I first met dominatrix Charlotte Taillor in February at her home in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, where her male submissives were curating pastry spreads and rolling her spliffs. While she usually sports a leather catsuit, this day she wore sweatpants and a t-shirt reading “sex worker rights are human rights.” 

Charlotte runs The Taillor Group, a feminist kink collective that encourages explorations of BDSM and other fetishes. The operation is entirely female-centric, comprised of about 30 dommes, and rather an anomaly in the world of kink; dominatrixes usually fly solo. “BDSM is the only way I’ve found for women to achieve the agency we’ve been striving for,” Charlotte told me confidently, before bellowing at one of her subs: “Roll me more spliffs!”  More →

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Village Bars Reeling From Pride Cancellation Now Worry About Illegal Crowding

Pride weekend, 2016. (Photo: Rhododendrites on WikiCommons)

A year ago, the streets of the West Village were resplendent with rainbow flags sporting the number 50 to mark the bicentennial of the Stonewall Riots and New York’s first time hosting World Pride. Throngs of people from across the globe spilled out of the neighborhood’s iconic LGBTQ drinking establishments, swapping sweat and saliva. More →

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Songwriters Meet Online to Craft the Music You’ll Hear Live This Fall

Sitting in her Greenpoint home on a Friday night, Lorraine Leckie opens up a Zoom video session and gets ready for a night of crafting songs. Around 7:30 p.m., video squares begin to pop up on her screen, revealing her friends’ heads and torsos and a snapshot of their living rooms. The Greenpoint Songwriters Exchange had to move out of Leckie’s home to an online platform to accommodate for social distancing rules, but just because gigs are canceled doesn’t mean writing new material has to stop. More →

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These Bikers Wear Masks, and Distribute Them

(Photos courtesy of Engines for Change)

When Kirsten Midura started Engines for Change in 2019, she was merging her love for motorcycle riding and environmental activism. The nonprofit started off hosting beach cleanups. But as times quickly changed and the coronavirus pandemic hit New York City hard, Engines for Change volunteers began using their motorcycles to transport groceries to those who are unable to leave their homes, and they delivered Personal Protective Equipment to hospitals and health care centers across the city. With times changing yet again, the group is once again shifting gears – this time to support New Yorkers protesting police violence against black people. More →

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East Village Shopkeepers ‘Not Losing Hope’ After Looting Delivers a Second Blow

After scraping by during the Covid-19 shutdown,  East Village businesses were looking forward to New York’s reopening when police-brutality protests broke out around the neighborhood. The looting that followed quickly became a talking point for conservative commentators looking to discredit protestors, but many local shopkeepers who experienced break-ins continue to support the ongoing protests even as they pick up the pieces.

“We support the Black Lives Matter movement, and it being a movement and not a moment,” said Laura Sewell. More →

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Used Book Stores Aren’t Picking Up Where They Left Off

Strand Book Store getting back to business. (Photo courtesy of Strand)

Monday, June 8, was one of the busiest days of The Mysterious Bookshop’s history. Ironically, though, the 3,000-square-foot room, with its high shelves holding the largest variety of crime books in America, was almost entirely empty save for employees preparing books and other mystery-related products for shipping and pickup. More →