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Stand-Up Tara Cannistraci On Outdoor Comedy, and Why Indoor Shows Make Her Feel Like Bronx Barbie

(Photo courtesy of Tara Cannistraci)

From the cold, slightly damp ground in Prospect Park, mild laughter dissolved into the Friday evening air in late September. Comedians stepped up onto the “stage” (a small hill) and competed for attention. If it wasn’t the music from the Zumba class 50 feet away that was stealing it, it was the child’s birthday party marked by large mylar balloons. Usually the most disruptive thing in a comedy club is the drunk heckler, but a heckler probably wouldn’t be heard here by anyone other than the family next to him with the baby on a picnic blanket.. The show was hosted by Tara Cannistraci, a comedian from the Bronx. “I have a show tonight because laughing is essential,” she tells people. “I’m basically a nurse.” More →

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A Look Back at the Street Fight for a Complete Census Count in Central Queens

Christian Cassagnol. (Photo: Raphael Helfand)

The census ended yesterday, Oct. 15, after a Supreme Court ruling on Tuesday. The decision, which stayed an order from a lower court that would have allowed the count to continue until the end of the month, marks the end of a long fight for a complete count across the country. In Queens Community Board District 4, which presides over Elmhurst, Corona and Corona Heights, the stakes were especially high. CB4 district manager Christian Cassagnol and board member Kristen Gonzalez have pushed hard for outreach all year. The immigrant populations they represent have always been undercounted, leading to a lack of resources in their communities.

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How a Spontaneous Street Band Saved the Summer in Prospect Park

Alegba Jahyile (Photos: Raphael Helfand)

Haitian roots musician Alegba Jahyile stumbled on something special this spring. He went out to Prospect Park with his guitar one day in April, picked a spot on the brick patio between the Boathouse and the Lullwater and started to play. He came back the next day, and the following day, and the day after that…  More →

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After a Mixed Bag Online, Brooklyn Flea’s Vendors Return to Dumbo

(Photo: Alexis Bates)

The pop-tents started going up around 10am on September 19th, shaded by the iconic archway of the Manhattan Bridge. Brunch customers spilled out onto the sidewalk in Dumbo, chatting in Australian and French accents and ordering flat whites, French toast, and pulpy mimosas. There was an auspicious sense of normalcy in the chilly, riverside air on that first day that the Brooklyn Flea reopened since the coronavirus ravaged New York. More →

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The Pandemic Has Left Small Property Owners Feeling ‘Squeezed From Both Ends’

Tommy Laskaris in front of his home in Park Slope. (Photos: Raphael Helfand)

Isabel Pedras never wanted to be a landlord, but she inherited the honor nonetheless. She’s the daughter of Portuguese immigrants who built an 80-unit uptown empire on sweat and frugality. Her father worked construction jobs during the week and took bussing shifts on weekends, saving every penny he earned to buy his first property. He and his wife are proud of what they’ve built, but in recent years, they’ve found it harder to manage on their own, and Pedras has taken on a larger role. More →

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‘The Word of God in a Molecule’: Turning to Psychedelics During a Pandemic

A meeting of the Brooklyn Psychedelic Society. (Photo: Diana Kruzman)

On a cool Tuesday evening in mid-September, two dozen people sat in a forest glade in Prospect Park, perched on logs arranged in a rough square. Through masks that muffled their voices, one after another talked about how the pandemic had turned their lives upside down — job loss, isolation from friends and family, general anxiety about the state of the world. Some, however, had found solace in an interest the group shared — psychedelic and mind-altering substances.  More →

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Dining Rooms Are Reopening and Outdoor Seating Is Extended, But Restaurateurs Feel Left Out in the Cold

Although indoor dining in New York City will resume at 25 percent capacity on Sept. 30 and it was announced today that outdoor dining will extend into winter, restaurant industry workers and leaders are planning to rally outside of the governor’s office on Monday. They say neither measure is enough to keep their businesses afloat. More →

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NYC Was Set to Reduce Plastic Use; The Pandemic Put a Fork in That

(Photo by michaelkowalczyk.eu, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit New York City in the spring, environmental concerns fell to the wayside. Thousands of people were dying from a deadly disease, and the state legislature had bigger things to worry about than enforcing its ban on plastic bags, which was supposed to take effect on March 1.  More →