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Posts Tagged ‘emon hassan’

You probably know about Humans of New York and the photographer Brandon Stanton, who gets strangers to tell him how they really feel. I was reminded of his work when I read this NY Times story about an artist and musician who invited strangers to answer offbeat questions about their lives and then used the material to write songs for them.

Reporter Alex Vadukul attended a gallery exhibition of the work in February.

He writes, “The crinkled papers pinned across the small Chinatown gallery’s walls …  contained scrawled drawings and questions: ‘Do you know your limits yet?’ ‘Most recent Google query?’ and ‘Were you ever involved with the occult?’

“They were not pointlessly esoteric. Grey Gersten, an artist and musician, had designed them to gather information he then used to compose songs about strangers; individuals filled them out for him two summers ago during rapid 20-minute song-making appointments for his project, ‘Custom Melodies.’ …

“Mr. Gersten, 32, worked from an impromptu music studio inside the Mmuseumm, a peculiar contemporary museum the size of an elevator shaft in the narrow Cortlandt Alley in TriBeCa, where people handed him the papers through a window opening. The forms, posing questions personal and abstract, helped him explore a concept: Can you bottle a stranger’s essence in a song? The resulting compositions were played publicly at the Chinatown Soup gallery on [Feb. 5, 2016] and varied from ambient and sonic to poppy and feverish.

“People wandered through the space studying the papers on the walls, but a few sought their own original forms. …

“Josh Koenigsberg, 31, who sat for a song appointment, also tracked down his form at the gallery. … He recalled: ‘It was like going to a doctor’s office, except you filled out the last dream you had or the last time you got goose bumps. And he studied your form like he was a doctor.’ (One man at the event described it as a ‘takeout window for music.’)

“Another participant, Philip Weinrobe, 34, found his form hanging beside the gallery’s busy bar. It indicated his earliest memory was ‘sitting in a playground and looking up,’ that his favorite advice is ‘measure twice, cut once,’ and that at the time his last Google search was, ‘Why aren’t my marigolds flowering?’ ”

More here.

Photo: Emon Hassan for The New York Times
At a Chinatown gallery in February, visitors read forms people filled out so Grey Gersten could write customized songs.

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Cynthia-Marie Marmo O’Brien has a nice story at Narratively on a close-knit Latino subculture in the Bronx.

“Generations of Nuyoricans — Puerto Rican New Yorkers — have found familia in a little house on an overgrown patch of the South Bronx,” O’Brien writes. The place is known as La Casita.

She continues, “Today I am relaxing with some of the regulars under the hanging branches of trees separating us from the busy life on the street; they have picked grapes from overhead and are making wine.

“I came here with César Colón-Montijo to experience plena, a musical genre indigenous to Puerto Rico. In his scholarship, Colón-Montijo, an ethnomusicologist who the regulars consider part of la familia, describes plena as a way through the South Bronx’s difficulties. Plena has always been a call-and-response form of song; its origins are usually attributed to striking workers. …

“La casita is the classic liminal space: neither Puerto Rico nor New York; neither a secular sanctuary for all nor a performance place for legends. It is all four. Puerto Rican flags fly and an original album cover of John F. Kennedy’s 1960s speeches is displayed along with other memorabilia. No topic is too big or small for plena’s repertoire; there’s even a plena about JFK. After the city’s Puerto Rican Day Parade every June, the music royalty of the island flock here.”

Read more here and see how people use music to transport themselves to Puerto Rico while still in the Bronx.

Photos: Emon Hassan
Jose Rivera (left) during a jam session at the Casita. On the right, demonstrating how an out-of-tune piano can still make music.

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Among my best gifts this season was that my dentist was available when I broke my tooth at the office holiday party and that a dermatologist was available when I decided that a weird rash on my leg was was from a dangerous woodchuck tick bite (which, as I had read that morning, had struck down a grandmother in Maine).

Even though I knew I really didn’t have Powassan disease from a woodchuck tick, I do like knowing sensible medical people are available.

Now I read at Narratively that there is a 24-hour dentist in New York.

Alissa Fleck writes that many patients wind up in Isaac Datikashvili’s office “because they put off getting help until the last minute, when the pain becomes unbearable.

“According to Datikashvili, this phenomenon stems from a deeply ingrained dental phobia, a fear that’s implanted during childhood when kids typically experience some sort of traumatic—and occasionally anesthesia-free—procedure. …

“Once out of high school in Philadelphia, he immediately began working as an EMT, and he grew accustomed then to a sporadic schedule that has given him a unique advantage …

“ ‘When it was time to start applying to graduate schools I could go to medical or dental school,’ he explains. ‘My uncle was a dentist and I followed in his footsteps. I realized I didn’t want to be a general dentist and just do cleanings, though, so I put together the two things I knew how to do.’ By this, he means dentistry and emergency care.”

Patients call him at night and “on the holidays, when no other dentist can be reached. ‘We get very busy around Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Labor Day, Memorial Day… ‘ he says, noting that he’s on call  364 days a year; Datikashvili’s only day off is Yom Kippur , when he’ll refer emergency callers to colleagues.”

Read more about him here. Who knows? You may need him if you break a tooth some New Year’s Eve in New York.

Photo: Emon Hassan

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