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“It’s Just Not Cool to Stick Up For Us’: Hasidim Feel Villainized as City Cracks Down

(Photo: Bonnie Natko/Flickr)

After months of media attention surrounding Hasidic resistance to social distancing guidelines, Brooklyn’s Hasidim fell under state-mandated lockdown orders that have sparked physical confrontations. Earlier this month, demonstrators in Borough Park shouted “Jewish Lives Matter” at a bonfire kindled with masks; the next night, a mob assaulted and spit on journalist Jacob Kornbluh, beating him to unconsciousness. The violence marks a turning point in long-building tensions between the Hasidim and the rest of the city, which have drastically escalated in intensity over the last few months. More →

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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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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 →