Friedan’s Village

Long before Betty Friedan gave voice to American women’s discontent in her groundbreaking classic, The Feminine Mystique, she was a young mother and wife living in Parkway Village, a tiny, planned garden apartment complex in Queens, New York. This vanguard utopian, international, and interracial community served as her incubator and muse, allowing Friedan to rethink the norm for post-war American families. I grew up there, and though Friedan departed eight years before my family moved in, she was so legendary that I was sure she lived across from me, her parties spilling onto her patio.

Built after World War II, Parkway Village was the brainchild of Robert Moses: a forty-acre enclave of garden apartments for foreign United Nations employees, many of whom could not find housing because of racial discrimination. Unlike other huge developments that explicitly forbid people of color, such as Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, Parkway Village was open to all races, because no housing for UN employees could violate the UN Charter, which required no “distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.”

As a result, Parkway blossomed into an oasis of racial integration and international cooperation that was profiled in newspapers and magazines like the New York Times and Collier’s, which characterized it as “living proof” that the ideals of the UN “can work out on Main Street.” Ralph Bunche, the first man of color to win a Nobel Peace Prize lived there, as did Roy Wilkins, head of the NAACP, as well as Babe Ruth’s widow, who was known to give nice tips and hot chocolate to the boys who shoveled her walk. Eleanor Roosevelt and Margaret Truman came to visit the cooperative nursery school; Paul Robeson’s wife used to show up for parties. The local children were gathered and photographed for the cover of a seminal jazz album, Evolution of the Blues. And Latin American author Ariel Dorfman would remember Parkway Village as an international paradise, before McCarthyism drove his leftist father out of the UN and the country.

Republic of Hair

At the end of the workday on a brisk March afternoon, as the miasma of hairspray billowed under fluorescent lamps, Jardin Beauty Salon began to fill with women in smart slacks. Freya Fernández, a thirty-three-year-old administrative assistant, had traveled to the salon from Pelham Bay, like she does every two weeks, to have her hair fixed. After a wash and a deep conditioning, a stylist started to set Fernández’s locks. Some of her natural hair dangled under the rollers. The ringlets, still wet, resembled stretched-out coils, a cascade of thin filaments. Josefina González, a jaunty Dominican hairdresser working on another customer, couldn’t help but call out, “Y ese pajoncito? Eso e’ malo! Eso e’ kinky!” (“What’s with that frizzy mess? That is bad! That is kinky.”)

The salon rattled with cackles. “Don’t you worry, she’ll come out of here with straight hair!“ Eunice Mata, another stylist, said. “After a proper blowout, all hair is good hair.”

An Episode Guide for Netflix Presents: Marvel’s Daredevil of Hell’s Kitchen

Netflix Presents: Marvel’s Daredevil of Hell’s Kitchen follows the journey of attorney Matt Murdock, who, in an improbable boyhood accident, was blinded by toxic waste and imbued with extraordinary senses. Murdock sets up practice in Manhattan Hell’s Kitchen, once a pit of crime and despair, but now among the toniest neighborhoods in the safest city in America, replete with cultural attractions, nightlife, vibrant streets, and abundant free Wi-Fi. As an attorney, Murdock struggles to build a practice that will finance a two-bedroom two-bathroom apartment in a pre-war building that was a “real bargain” at just under a million dollars. As the crime-fighter Daredevil, he struggles to find something to do.

Episode 1: A Room of One’s Own

When Murdock finds out that criminal real estate developer Wilson Fisk is illegally running an Airbnb out of a rent-controlled apartment on 48th street, Daredevil uses his freakish martial arts skills to force a pair of European tourists out of the building and into legitimate accommodations at The Standard in the Meatpacking District.

The Things Your Children Know About You

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— Taffy BrodesserAkner (@taffyakner) May 10, 2015

Taffy! So what happened here?

So both of my children came home from school with a Mother’s Day gift for me, inside which was an assessment? employment review? census? on our relationship, laid bare over just few questions: What’s your mother’s age? What does she do? What’s her favorite food? That kind of thing. My older son, who is 7, came home with one that could easily have been switched with another kid’s, and I would have thought it had been, had he not confirmed that it was his. It said his favorite thing that I make are cookies; I’ve never actually made cookies during his lifetime, and maybe only once before that. He said my favorite thing to do was spend time at the spa, and though my husband and I have an ongoing joke about kelp wraps, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a spa except under the duress of wanting to be like everyone else for some womanly friendship trip, or graciously accepting a baby shower gift. Spas generally combine things I can’t tolerate: humidity, lavender scents, people touching me, nudity (my own and others’). Anyway, I asked him why he made so many things up, and what he said was devastating: He said he didn’t know the answers. I am normally someone who feels the upper ranges of working mother guilt. This made me take to my bed.

But the one you’re contacting me about is the one I posted on Twitter. It was my 4-year-old’s, which included many of the same questions. His answers, while not wholly inaccurate, were problematic just the same.

Leaving New York and Also Technology

It’s hard to pinpoint the moment when New York and also technology started to feel like such a chore. Maybe it was when I urinated in a slim-fit adult diaper while waiting in line for the iPhone 4 for ninety-three hours and pronounced the experience “worth it,” or when I found myself testing out tweets on my wife during foreplay, or when a rat scurried across my face and into my mouth while I was checking Facebook and waiting for a C train that never arrived. But a few weeks ago, on a gray April day, as I ambled by the Duane Reade where my favorite dive bar McHurlihan’s once stood, while joylessly scrolling through my Twitter feed in between reading a saved Instapaper article about how to live in the moment, I realized I had to leave New York and stop using the Internet for a while.

When I moved to Williamsburg in 2002, scraping by in the center of the universe seemed like a grand adventure. I’d drink until dawn at places like The Station, Whirlybird, and JJ’s Good Time Emporium on the Lower East Side (now closed); I’d do lines off the grimy concrete of McCarren Park Pool (now clean); and then take the L to Bushwick and try not to get mugged on my way to a warehouse party (now safe). Instead of staring at my phone compulsively, I’d smoke a cigarette. Inside. I didn’t yet know what a “meme” was. I became passing acquaintances with the guys from TV on the Radio, but I didn’t feel the irrepressible need to share such information with everyone, because social networking hadn’t yet transformed us all into greedy approval-seekers. When I began face-to-face conversations with “I know the guys from TV on the Radio,” people looked impressed, and that was enough for me.

Uber Dreams

Last week was Earth Day, which you could’ve celebrated by “finding the right clean energy solutions for your household,” as the Incredible Hulk enjoined everyone, or by eating a local agricultural product instead of produce grown with “Californian oil,” or making some earth-friendly Tumblr image macros, or you could have…taken a ride in an UberPool.

Uber’s Pool car service “matches two riders – with up to one friend each – heading in the same direction.” This is advertised most straightforwardly as a way to save money by splitting the cost of a ride with another person, while not giving up “Uber-style on-demand convenience and reliability: just push the button like before and get a car in five minutes.” But for Earth Day, Uber presented using UberPool as a “pledge” that could be taken to get “a car off the road, and cut emissions,” because the act of sharing an Uber with someone else inherently means one fewer Uber driver is ferrying a single person to a destination, and because, over the long term, it will help Uber reduce car ownership altogether.

Podcasting and the Selling of Public Radio

A couple of weeks ago, NPR and two of its most influential member stations, WNYC and WBEZ, invited a large group of media and marketing people to Le Poisson Rouge, a nightclub in Greenwich Village, for an event called “Hearing is Believing.” Its purpose was to persuade brands to advertise on public media podcasts. Onstage, some of the most listened-to podcasters—Jad Abumrad, Guy Raz, Glynn Washington, Brooke Gladstone, Lulu Miller—presented public radio’s offerings: an intimately engaged audience, a unique narrative platform, a chance for “Mail Kimp”-level virality. Later, after an indie band performed, Ira Glass, the host of This American Life and producer of Serial, told a reporter for AdAge, “My hope is that we can move away from a model of asking listeners for money and join the free market.” He added, “Public radio is ready for capitalism.”

How to Beat a Ticket for Running a Red Light on a Bicycle When You Are Very Definitely Guilty

just fyi a ticket for running a red light on a bike is $278 dollars

— Dan Nosowitz (@dannosowitz) August 4, 2014

Dan! So what happened here?

Oh boy. So, last August, I was riding my bike to go feed a friend’s cats while he was on vacation, which I only mention because I am about to become pretty unsympathetic and I want to start things off on a good note. I am a pretty safe cyclist; I always wear a helmet, I only bike in bike lanes, I never go the wrong way up a one-way street. I do, or did, at least, routinely run red lights, though. Not in a particularly unsafe way, just in the same way a pedestrian does. Look both ways, etc, etc. Anyway I was running a red light while on Washington, crossing from the south to the north side of Fulton, and there was a cop parked on the north side of Fulton, behind a van so I couldn’t see her. 

She whooped her siren and for whatever reason I decided I would try to make it as difficult as possible for her to write me a ticket. The first thing I did was pretend I didn’t hear the siren and turned right onto Gates, through another red light, which was out of the way to my friend’s house but looked like a pretty good escape route. The cop was not fooled and chased me down, at which point I couldn’t really pretend I didn’t hear the siren anymore, so I stopped. The cop yelled at me for a while about running two red lights (I wanted to, but did not, mention that I only ran the second red light because she caught me running the first red light). 

The Box Builder

508 West 24th Street, Penthouse South$9,250,000; common charges: $4,246; taxes: $2,0413 bedroom; 3.5 bathroomsInterior: 3,018 square feet; exterior: 600 square feet

 

There are three penthouses in architect and developer Cary Tamarkin’s newest West Chelsea building, on West 24th Street. Penthouse North is already under contract. All of the other units in the building have been sold as well, and the ground floor retail space—sold to an investor—has been leased. Tamarkin’s buildings, with their boxy, post-industrial outlines, are scattered across the West Village and Chelsea, where many less graceful imitations have sprung up as well. Tamarkin “is widely credited with having reintroduced the fashion for raw-space loft development in New York,” the Times wrote in 2001.

On Tuesday, listing agents at 508 West 24th Street were holding an open house for brokers to see the two remaining penthouse apartments. One visitor had apparently been involved in a landmarking dispute with Tamarkin on the Upper East Side in the early aughts. Tamarkin’s initial proposal had called for a seventeen-story condominium building; the building plan that passed, two years later, was nine stories. “Tell her I hate her,” Tamarkin scoffed.

Tamarkin, who is from Long Island, studied architecture at Harvard and led his own firm, in Boston, for ten years, before moving back to New York in the early nineties to become a developer. “My whole life I had identified as an architect. That’s what I did since age twelve,” Tamarkin told me. “But I wasn’t prepared to be a starving artist my whole life.” In 1992, when he was thirty-five, he invested with a friend who, conveniently, had just gotten a job running the real estate fund at Oaktree Capital, in an abandoned warehouse in the West Village. A building at 140 Perry Street, which had been vacant for five years, Tamarkin said, cost 1.6 million dollars. “Even if the building made no money, I’d make twice as much money as if I’d just been hired as an architect, because I was also getting development fees,” he said. “In fact, the building sold out, and I made a million dollars. I had never seen a million dollars. So, this was definitely the right idea.”