Category: New York

Letter from the Editors, Winter 2015, Issue 8

Two_Cities_Issue_8_pdf__page_1_of_54_Read the latest issue here.
Yet another year is coming to a close. For many of us, the dark, cold days of winter are a time for reflection on the past year and setting new goals for the year ahead. Here at Two Cities Review, we are no exception. It is hard to believe that this issue is already our 8th and marks the last issue of our second year of publication! As we take stock of all that we have accomplished in the past two years, we feel great pride in the quality of the work we showcase, as exemplified by the pieces in this blustery, wintery issue. We’re also excited to be producing a new way to experience the magazine: as of this issue’s release, you’ll now be able to listen to the Two Cities Review podcast.
Our goal when we first started this magazine was to provide a home for writing that bridged boundaries, both in terms of style and genre, from both well-known and unpublished writers. We are excited that we have been able to produce such high-quality issues, but we felt something was missing. We feel that being an online magazine should include more than simply a PDF of the work. As our original mission pushed writers to imagine hybrid worlds and ways of writing, we are now pushing our own magazine to cross form and utilize the online environment to its full potential.
We have already begun asking our accepted writers to submit recordings of themselves reading their work, which are now published alongside the pieces on our website. We are reaching out to producers and directors to exhibit video works as well. And now, with the publication of this issue, we are unveiling our brand-new Two Cities Review podcast, a biweekly podcast on which we will discuss pieces we love in the current issue and books we are particularly loving or hating. We will also include readings and interviews with distinguished authors and poets, as well as answers to questions from our readers, submitters and listeners. We hope you will enjoy listening to it as much as we have enjoyed creating it. You will be able to find it on our website and on iTunes. Please let us know what you think!

People's Climate March

Today is my birthday and I have plans to be out of town. Thus I feel guilty that I will not be attending the People’s Climate March, so I make up for it by asking all of you, our readers, to attend if you are able. Consider it a birthday present to me.
This event of historic proportions may be a turning point in the nation’s discussion of climate change. Perhaps politicians will finally acknowledge that there are many people who genuinely care about this issue and want to work to solve it. As a science teacher, I work hard to show my students that there is no scientific debate about this issue. The globe is warming and this warming is due to human carbon emissions, plain and simple. Why, then, is there still no action? This is the question I pose to them and one I hope you, too, will try to answer. What does it take for us to get this point across and translate it into action?
Perhaps this march will be the beginning.
Visit for more information.

5 Ways to Eat Kale – Getting Creative with Produce

You wouldn’t think that a New Yorker would ever have the problem of too much produce on hand. You go to the corner store, pick up enough zucchini for that recipe you found and cook it. Right?
There has been a recent surge in urban farming, farmers markets and CSAs throughout Brooklyn and the rest of New York. People, despite being surrounded by cement and only seeing trees surrounded by guards, want to know where there food is coming from and get back in touch with their food supply. Community gardens and rooftop farms are cropping up all over the place and the Saturday farmers’ markets here in Brooklyn are always mobbed. Since reading Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, my husband and I have transitioned to buying whatever we can from local farmers. This year, we took an extra step and joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). The way it works is that we buy a share in a farmer’s crop and every week, go to the pick-up spot to collect whatever vegetables our farmer has harvested. We don’t know what’s coming until we show up.
That has led to some interesting weeks of meals. While we were envisioning piles of ripe red tomatoes and baskets of peaches, we weren’t quite prepared for the early summer harvest, which consisted almost entirely of greens. Kale, mustard greens, mizuna, Asian greens, greens, greens and more greens. We hadn’t even heard of mizuna and Asian greens, so we had to turn to the Internet for advice on what to do with them. We came upon some wonderful recipes and I got to get creative in the kitchen. This turned out to be extremely fun, but time-consuming. Luckily, I’m a teacher and therefore have time to spare during the summer, and since I haven’t been writing much, creating fun and delicious meals has been a great creative outlet. We tried kale and apple salad (shown above, photo courtesy of my husband), sauteed kale, kale and Asian greens in a stir-fry, halibut served over a bed of kale and even kale in a smoothie.
In thinking about recipes and writing, I was reminded of a piece I read back in college, studying creative nonfiction. If you can’t find a good recipe for your kale, try making this instead.

Concerts in the Park

One of the joys of New York in the summer is all of the free outdoor events that happen regularly throughout June, July and August. My personal favorite event is the Concerts in the Parks series run by the New York Philharmonic. Since I am no longer a student and therefore can’t get the cheap student rush tickets to see the orchestra, I eagerly await the first concert of the summer, when I can sit out in Prospect Park, sipping wine and listening to great music. Last night, I was gratified at last. I also had the pleasure of sharing this event with not only my husband, but also a great group of friends, including 4-year-old Zoe, who had only seen fireworks for the first time this Fourth of July. Imagine the delight of a young child upon learning that she would be seeing fireworks for the second time in her life, within one week of the first time! Needless to say, she was thrilled and her face, lit up by the colorful bursts, was priceless.
If you missed the first concert of this series, never fear! There will be 5 more free concerts, the next one being tomorrow evening in Central Park. I highly recommend that you not miss your chance to experience this classic New York event! More information can be found at the New York Philharmonic’s website.

Giving Citibike a Ride

Summer weather is finally here and I am loathe enter the alternately humid and freezingly-air-conditioned subway system. I prefer to stay above ground and outdoors as much as possible. My husband was one of the original Citibike adopters and has been bugging me to join. I was unsure, as I have a very expensive bike that I never ride. Would I really use Citibike more? He finally got fed up and ordered me a membership anyway.
I gave it a try this week for the first time and, let me admit, I was wrong. It is so much more convenient than riding my own bike! I wasn’t worried about getting is scratched up and had a dock in which to place it, so there was no fear of it getting stolen while I was having a bite to eat. If it started raining before I went home, I could have hopped on the train without a second thought about my bike. It was wonderful!
Now, don’t get me wrong, riding a bike in New York City is never 100% enjoyable. I did nearly get run over a few times and the first dock we went to was full. There was another one a few blocks away, however, and I was wearing a helmet, so I wasn’t too worried. All in all, I would say go for it if you have been on the fence. And if you haven’t considered it, take a look. I’m looking forward to many more summer rides, to slinging baguettes across my back to feel Parisian and to breaking a sweat before I even get to the gym. It will give me a reason to explore new parts of the city and maybe I’ll even take my writing with me to the park. Now if only I could teach the dog to trot along next to me…

Cherry Blossom Festival

The annual cherry blossom festival (Sakura Matsuri) is going on at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens this weekend. While the gardens are usually a serene place to escape the city and maybe even get some writing done, during Sakura Matsuri, they are overrun with thousands of people enjoying Japanese food and culture while gawking at the blossoming cherry trees. Unfortunately, because of the harsh winter, the cherry blossoms are delayed and there were only a few blooming when I went yesterday. There were many other lovely signs of spring, however, such as these summer snowflake flowers.
Spring is an inspiring time for writers, as nature begins to stir up colors and sounds that tell us winter is ending and the long days of summer are ahead. It is a time for new beginnings and appreciating the natural world. Sakura Matsuri made me think of haiku poetry, which usually highlights some aspect of natural beauty in a simple form. I composed the haiku below about my day. Share your own haiku with us through the comments feature! Let us know what spring means to you.
The red-headed finch
looks down on me from the tree
covered with full buds.

New York Launch Party!

Our New York Launch party was a blast! Thanks so much for all of you readers and writers who came out to Pete’s Candy Store in Brooklyn this past weekend for food, fun, a raffle, readings, and new literary friends. We’re delighted that so many people came and bought issues — and we’re especially grateful to our contributors, who read from their wonderful writing. We’re also excited to report that we’ve captured some video of the readings, so you can see them right here at our site. Here’s our introduction as editors, and below that, you can see readings from four of our writers.

Here is our first reader, Julia Alekseyeva:

Our second reader, Constance Renfrow:

Our third story, L. Michael Hager (read by Ashley Hager):

And our final reader, Suzanne Richardson:

Launch Parties in Boston and New York!

Because of your support, we have successfully completed the first issue of our magazine and will be posting it online at the beginning of March. Please check back then to read the issue and let us know what you think!
If you are in New York or Boston, we hope to see you at one of our launch parties. The information for both is copied below.

New York Launch Party

March 1, 6:30-9pm
Pete’s Candy Store
Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Boston Launch Party

March 7th, 5-7pm
Middlesex Lounge
Cambridge, MA
Hope to see you there and share our work with you. Both parties will feature readings and a raffle to help raise awareness and spread the word about our magazine.

Bagels, Baingan and Baklava

It is difficult to get more than a few blocks away from an amazing restaurant in New York and they aren’t all pizza places and burger joints. The beauty of New York is that, rather than being a “melting pot” where people assimilate to American culture, it is a boisterous conglomerate of too many nations to count. There is amazing pizza to be found, for sure, but there are so many unique flavors to try that I may go weeks without a slice. I am an adventurous eater, as my co-editor will tell you, willing to try anything once. So I love diving in to a new culture through its cuisine, and luckily for me, that is easy to do in my neighborhood.
Fort Greene, Brooklyn is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the country and the variety of restaurants really shows that diversity. Within spitting distance of my house, I can eat more typical Chinese, Japanese, Mediterranean and Italian, but I can also sample South African samosas, Thai curries and Haitian akras. Then there are the fusion restaurants, offering mixtures of Asian, French and American cooking to create wonderful dishes all their own. And although my neighborhood has a lot to offer, I have also come to realize over my years here that certain neighborhoods in New York specialize in cuisines of the people who live there. Here are some suggestions of neighborhood cuisine you may like to sample:
Best Chinese food: Chinatown, obviously.
If you have never been to New York’s Chinatown for a meal, you are missing out. Peking ducks hanging in storefronts, fish on blocks of ice and buzzing with flies, the smell of garlic and soy sauce in the air, Chinatown is full of foods that you won’t find at your corner restaurant. Try dim sum at a restaurant where no one speaks English or visit a restaurant that serves traditional fish stews. The food is incredible if you are up for adventure.
Best Indian food: Jackson Heights, Queens.
Being half Indian myself, I rarely eat Indian food out, but I have heard that the food in Jackson Heights is as good as it gets in New York. Jackson Heights is famous for its ethnic foods in general, and the best Greek food in the city can also be found in this neighborhood. Not to mention that Queens is a nice place that most people, myself included, don’t visit enough.
Best Mexican food: Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
I work with someone who is married to a Mexican man and they swear by the food in Sunset Park. You can get tacos the real Mexican way, just meat, no cheese, with many salsas to choose from. It is also the place for Mexican grocery stores, where you can pick up Mexican staples that you won’t find at a regular grocery store, so it is a must for anyone who likes to cook authentic Mexican food.
Best Polish food: Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
Looking for some fresh pierogies, kielbasa and potato pancakes? Head on over the Williamsburg Bridge to Greenpoint, where there is a collection of Polish restaurants catering to local Polish immigrants and newbies alike. Despite my Polish heritage, I never learned my grandmother’s recipe for pierogies so I have to rely on others to provide me with some every now and then.
Best Domincan food: Washington Heights, Manhattan
Working at a predominantly Dominican public school for two years, I learned a lot about Dominican cooking and how it differs from other Caribbean and South American cuisines. Rice and beans are a staple of this cuisine, but meat or fish stew are popular, including bacalao, which is dried codfish. There is a large Dominican population in NYC, so you don’t have to go all the way up to the Heights for Dominican food, but there are a collection of highly regarded and authentic restaurants there.
There are so many amazing cuisines in New York that I could go on for ages. If you have a favorite restaurant or neighborhood to get ethnic food in the city, please share it with us!
Photo Credit: Brian Vecci, Clinton Hill Foodie

Riding the NYC Subway

Running the marathon, I noticed many signs that read “You run better than the subway” or “You run better than the __ train!” I found the signs funny, especially the ones relating to the R, the train I take to work each morning. There has been some work being done on the tracks, causing service changes, besides the fact that the R is generally a slow train by New York standards. But when I stepped back and actually though about it, I realized that the New York City subway is one of the best things about the city.
When I first moved to the city, after being familiar with only the Riverside line on the T in Boston, I found the subway system a bit intimidating at first. My first forays out into New York were generally confined to the 1 train line, which runs along the West Side of Manhattan. On this line, I was able to travel between school and Times Square to catch a play or Lincoln Center for the ballet. The subway system was relatively fast and relatively clean, and when I returned to Boston for Thanksgiving break, I was shocked at how small the T trains were. For me, the subway is the veins and arteries of the city. Cabs are for tourists; real New Yorkers take the train, saving time and money in the process.
As a writer, I found the train to be the perfect place for people watching. Men in business suits are literally rubbing elbows with single moms riding to the late-night shift or musicians with guitars strapped to their backs, beating time on plastic pails as the train pulls into the station. Homeless men in rags who haven’t showered for days smile at you and ask for a quarter, nickel or dime. Sometimes they even sing you a song. It definitely took some getting used to after a small-town upbringing, but now I enjoy the subway, brimming with lives waiting to be interpreted and recorded.
I have branched out, too, in my use of the subway. I’ve worked in the Bronx, having to take the 5 train to the Concourse and then a bus. I’ve worked in Cypress Hills, on the J train out past Broadway Junction. Now I work in Bay Ridge on the R train. I love taking a new train to the end of its line and seeing all the different neighborhoods. New York is really a city of smaller communities and each subway line truly has its own unique character. You’re likely to see kids selling candy on the 2/3 line and Mets fans riding the 7 out to Citi Field. Times Square station is always raucous with marimbas or steel drums or saxophones, while at Lincoln Center, you are more likely to hear a flute or violin. There is art in every station (if you know where to look) and poetry on the subway cars.
I find it strange now to hear a New Yorker say he doesn’t like to ride the subway. I personally wouldn’t want to live in New York without it. Though the subway can be noisy and crowded and the service changes can cause major delays, for the most part, it is a joyful representation of a city that has so many different cultures and flavors to offer.
I wonder what public transportation is like in some of your cities.