Books »Random Family

random familyRandom Family is an astonishing, eye opening, heartbreaking and completely engrossing saga – and all the more so because it's true. Author Adrian Nicole LeBlanc spent decades with two families in the heart of the most notorious neighborhoods in the Bronx through considerable hardships: drugs, prison, abuse and triumphs: romance, children, small victories.

The tough streets have long been a topic of movies and books, but rarely is the focus on the women. Coco and Jessica are sadly typical of their upbringing, one has five kids before she's reached thirty, the other lands in jail after getting unwittingly involved in her boyfriend's drug trade, but both are compelling, if flawed characters who deal with situations most people I?know would not have the strength to.

The world they live in, with both the dazzling thug culture and the prevailing hopelessness is not glamorized, judged, or played up for our sympathies. LeBlanc is exceptionally even and fair with her depictions and wisely keeps herself out of the story. For better or worse, the story of their lives are told with honesty by the people who lived it.

Much like the tenement photographs “How the other half lives” by Jacob Riis,?Random Family offers a glimpse of the often ignored and misunderstood parts of our country.

See more: Books

Be the first to leave a comment →
Posted on June 29, 2009

Places to Visit »Twin Island Nature Hike

You really doesn't have to travel far from the heart of the city to feel like you've entered another world. After a meal of clam strips and milk shakes at Jonny's Reef on City Island, friends and I took a gray, hazy day walk through the Twin Islands Nature Hike at Orchard Beach. The trek began with a rare glimpse of a black squirrel and a shoe-destroying muddy path that eventually lead through the trees to an apocalyptic looking beach.

Broken down boats litter the rocky marsh and huge horseshoe crabs cry out in distress in the Bronx. Fortunately Jim and Mike were there to save them (after using an iPhone we found out that horseshoe crabs are often in need of assistance – a campaign called “just flip em” even began in the area – we also learned that their stingers are not poisonous, but it was still unnerving to watch them being picked up since they look like alien spiders on the inside).

More paths (speckled with poison ivy, so do be careful) lead to more strange landscapes and views. From a stone hill you can look out at both the city's Potter's Field and an island with what looks like a huge grounded boat right off its shore, Mike discovered this is actually a decommissioned naval training center.

While the nature trail (which we sort of crisscrossed parts of) is not a difficult walk, it can be a bit tricky with all the mud and uneven footing, so do wear appropriate footwear.

See more: Places to Visit

Be the first to leave a comment →
Posted on May 18, 2009

Restaurants »World of Taste Seafood

bahn mi bronxI really just don't make it out to the Bronx very often, and I don't think many people who live outside that neighborhood do. It seems to have held on to its seventies era dangerous reputation through the years, but I experienced a whole other, dreamy, bright sunny hazed side of the borough after a recent trip to Wave Hill.

The sidewalk was steaming, hundreds of kids were on the playground in their summer shorts, an ice cream truck was blaring its tune on the corner. It was a quintessential Bronx moment, and possibly how I'll now think of the borough forever… along with cheap, excellent bahn mi.

I read about a place on Jerome Avenue on Chowhound, which led me to this extensive piece on The Porkchop Express. As rabid bahn mi fans (trendiness be damned) our interested was highly peaked. We found the address easily enough, but found a different but similar restaurant to great us.

Now called World of Taste Seafood, the red and yellow corner shop still serves large, over stuffed, perfectly seasoned sandwiches at a mere $3.50 a pop. A gracious, smiling woman makes them herself, leaving you lots of time to peruse the sparse refrigerators for unique, over sweet foreign sodas.

We grabbed the pork version of the sandwich (the rest were sold out) to go and paired it will some crisp, summer beers. Yummy. It's not a place you go for ambiance, but I'd return for the service and to try more of the great food.

See more: Restaurants

Be the first to leave a comment →
Posted on May 11, 2009

Places to Visit »Wave Hill

wave hillSaturday was such a lovely day to stroll the grounds of Wave Hill, one of the Bronx's best kept secrets. Snuggled in the very wealthy mansion dotted landscape (the mansion across the way from the park gates was used at the exterior of the Corleone mansion in The Godfather) of Riverdale, the park is a pint sized oasis from the city with an extraordinary view of the Hudson River.

There are several small gardens, a green house, two houses (which in the past have been rented by both Theodore Roosevelt and Mark Twain),?many lawns to layout on, and a small trail through the woods. Grab one of the many benches and seats in the shade of a tree and enjoy life.

See more: Places to Visit

Be the first to leave a comment →
Posted on April 27, 2009