Archive for December, 2008

New look for 2009

Monday, December 29th, 2008

I’ve finally managed to put up a header image to illustrate the title of this blog: the moving sidewalk of immigrants that have made their way to and through New York, starting with the 17th-century Walloons. My artwork may imply an attitude of cheerful innocence, but that’s more a result of inadequate drawing skills than my actual ideas about what it was like to cross an ocean and begin a new life in a strange land.

For 2009, I’m hoping to see more sanity in U.S. immigration policy, especially an end to our inhuman detention policy.

And on a personal note, I intend to start producing the historical fiction about immigrants that I’ve been thinking about for many months.

See you next year!

A midwinter Balkan party, not to be missed!

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

I’ll try to write more on this in the next couple of weeks, but for now I’d at least like to mention the Golden Festival, New York’s largest Balkan music event. It kicks off with a Balkan dance workshop at 7:30 pm Friday, Jan. 16, followed by snacks and live music at 8:30 with Brass Menažeri, the Kolev Family Bulgarian Band, and the Zlatne Uste Balkan Brass Band. Regular admission is $20.

The festival continues Saturday, Jan. 17, from 6 pm until 4 am, with more than 40 bands (multiple stages), Balkan and Middle Eastern refreshments, Balkan arts vendors, and Balkan textiles on display. They promise “hours of ecstatic listening, dancing and partying.” Just the thing for midwinter! Saturday’s admission is $40 ($30 for students), but there’s a discount for advance web purchase, and you can get tickets for both nights for $50 online.

The event, which is sponsored by Zlatne Uste, will be held at Good Shepherd School, 620 Isham in upper Manhattan, near the 207th St subway stop (the end of the A line).

Start the new year on Main Street (Flushing)

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

Flushing, Queens

Jack Eichenbaum will lead a Municipal Art Society tour of Flushing’s Chinatown on New Year’s Day. According to their website, “In less than a generation, this immigrant destination and commercial center has come to rival its Manhattan antecedent. Taiwanese rather than Cantonese at its core, Flushing’s Chinatown plays host to a variety of overseas Chinese groups. Rezoning and greater land availability support unusual real estate developments that include office buildings, hotels, residential condos, specialty shops, cultural institutions and malls. Lunch is available in more than 100 Asian restaurants nearby.”

I took the churches of Flushing tour with Jack Eichenbaum last year, and it was very interesting.

(There’s a late gift idea, too. Municipal Art Society gift certificates are good for walking tours and programs. For more information, call Tamara Coombs, director of programs & tours, at 212-935-3960, ext. 294, or email tcoombs [at]

Meet at 1 pm Thursday, Jan. 1, at St George’s Church, 39th Ave and Main Street. You can take the 7 train to Main Street and walk one block north. $15, $12 MAS members.

International Migrants Day

Friday, December 19th, 2008

. . . was yesterday. In 2000, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed Dec. 18 International Migrants Day.

More details are available at the Portal for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Migrants.

I learned about this after stumbling on the amazing Migration Museums Network, a Unesco project that comprises two dozen institutions from all over the world (although mostly Europe).

Vigil in Bushwick today

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

In response to the last Sunday’s attack on two brothers from Ecuador, Bushwick community members and others are gathering for a march and vigil this afternoon (Sunday, Dec. 14).

The assault is being treated as a hate crime because the men shouted anti-gay and anti-Hispanic insults. Jose Sucuzhanay died on Friday night.

Participants will begin gathering at 2 pm at the corner of Myrtle Avenue and Grove Street (Myrtle/Wyckoff on the L train), then walk to the site of the attack (Bushwick Avenue and Kossuth Place) for a vigil at 4 pm.

The event is being organized by Make the Road.

What’s cooking in Corona

Friday, December 12th, 2008

A Healthy Taste of Corona is a new bilingual (English-Spanish) cookbook with more than 30 recipes from the neighborhood’s cultures. It’s a project of the Heart of Corona Initiative and focuses on nutritionally sound versions of traditional dishes, with photos and stories.

They’re having a book launch party, with tastings and cultural performances, from 3 to 5 pm Sunday, Dec. 14, at the Queens Museum of Art in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park. Free!

Christmas, Mexican style

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

chiles rellenos

Posadas y Pastorelas, the fifth annual Mexican Family Celebration at the Museum of the City of New York, goes on this Sunday, Dec. 14, from noon to 5 pm.

They say: “Get into the holiday spirit a la Mexicana with an afternoon of crafts, music, and food. Highlights include a Posada, the traditional singing procession, and a Pastorela, the traditional shepherds’ play. The event culminates in a party with piñatas and refreshments. Presented in collaboration with Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture Without Borders in conjunction with Catholics in New York, 1808-1946.” The Catholics in New York exhibit, by the way, ends on Dec. 31.

The museum is on Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street; the event is free with museum admission.

Deepest sympathy

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

I don’t usually focus on serious current events, not because I don’t consider them important, but because historical and cultural exploration is, frankly, much easier to deal with. I can’t begin to cover the current state of immigrant lives in New York and I’m certainly not an expert, or even an immigrant, unless you count the Midwest as another country.

But I must express my deep sympathy for the family of Romel and José Sucuzhanay, Ecuadorean immigrants who were attacked in Brooklyn on Sunday morning.

Romel is OK, but José, 31, is not going to make it. He owned a Bushwick real estate company and was a member of the community. The senseless violence that robbed him of his life is a crime against us all.