Archive for the ‘stories’ Category

Players at the St. Nicholas Chess and Backgammon Club are known by their nicknames; Black, at left, and Clayton in a recent match.

Players at the St. Nicholas Chess and Backgammon Club are known by their nicknames; Black, at left, and Clayton in a recent match.

An article today featured the winter home of the St. Nicholas Chess and Backgammon Club. Usually these players are found in St. Nicholas Park, near West 141st Street playing during warmer months. Check out the article below:




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Monday, July 12 – Good Hair with performance by Black Sheep
Thursday, July 15* – Still Bill with performance by Jeremy James
Monday, July 19 – Freedom Riders with performance by Nakia Henry
Monday, July 26 – The Spirit of Salsa (NYLIFF screening & HBO) with live salsa! (Raindate August 2)
Wednesday, July 28 – The Other Side of the Water with performance byDJARARA
Thursday, July 29 – The Princess and the Frog
Monday, August 2 – Los Que Se Quedan (Those Who Remain)
Monday, August 9 – Reel Sisters of the Diaspora film screening
Saturday, August 14 – The Rise and Fall of Miss Thang with live tap dancing!
Sunday, August 15 – Soundtrack for A Revolution preceded by a special tribute to Lena Horne
Monday, August 16 – Rise-Up with performance by Judah Tribe

**All screenings take place at the 135th Street Great Lawn with musical acts starting at 7:30PM and movies beginning at 8:30PM.  Rain venues TBA.

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The Friends of St. Nicholas Park Holiday Tree Lighting was featured in The Uptowner online magazine this past week. The article portrayed the positive turnaround the park has experienced in the past decade. The link to the article is below! The article also includes an audio slide show.

Rejuvenated St. Nicholas Park Welcomes a New Holiday Tree

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Our beloved park was featured in a NYT’s article on Wednesday. Details and the article below.


A Movie on Monday Outdoors, With Room

Published: August 4, 2009

It was a warm Monday night. The sky had darkened to a sufficient shade of gray. The blankets were out and people had taken their seats. Then the screen lighted up with a familiar movie from three decades ago. Only this wasn’t Bryant Park, and it wasn’t “Kramer vs. Kramer.” This was St. Nicholas Park in Harlem, and “Fame” was about to begin.

While almost 8,000 people crammed Bryant Park the same night, with blankets covering nearly every blade of grass on the main lawn, in St. Nicholas Park, 93 blocks north, just 120 viewers were on hand, and wide swaths of thick lawn surrounded every cooler.

And that wasn’t the only difference. Since the Harlem park projects its movies from a 135th Street terrace flanked by a steep hill shaped like an amphitheater, every seat, it seemed, was a good one. Also, ambient light is minimal uptown, where the illuminated high-rises of Midtown are noticeably absent.

Perhaps most significant, St. Nicholas is hushed. On Monday, traffic on the streets bordering the park was light, allowing Irene Cara to sing “Out Here on My Own” with poignant clarity.

“I don’t go to Bryant Park anymore because it’s gotten too crazy,” said Vernon Daley, 44, a fashion industry worker who lives in the neighborhood. As he waited for the movie to begin he balanced a plate of homemade fried whiting in one hand, using the other to grapple with Quincy, a rambunctious shih tzu.

“And nobody actually watches the movies,” he added.

While Bryant Park may be almost too popular, St. Nicholas Park has had the opposite problem, struggling to convince people they should come to a place that for decades was marred by drug dealing, stabbings and a grassless dust bowl, according to neighborhood residents.

Karen Hunter, a first-time filmgoer at St. Nicholas who shared a blanket with Mr. Daley, had a longstanding unfavorable impression.

“Way back when, it was really bad,” said Ms. Hunter, a 23-year Harlem resident.

But just as the brick facades of the Beaux-Arts buildings facing the park have been scrubbed clean in the last few years, St. Nicholas, whose 23 acres feature steep staircases that zigzag under oaks, seems to have bounced back, said Paco Brown, a poet with a mohawk.

In fact, Mr. Brown, 43, said he recently moved to the area after 26 years in the East Village because of the neighborhood’s improved safety. And compared with Bryant Park’s film series, which is in its 16th year, “this is cozier,” he said, as low-flying fireflies winked behind him. “Theirs has more of a sense of event.”

The low-key approach might be a result of limited marketing. Like Mr. Brown, Dana Nichols, 17, a student walking home from class, stumbled upon Monday’s screening accidentally.

That the selection was “Fame,” about students at a performing arts school, played a part in her choosing to stay; Ms. Nichols studies dance and wore the tights to prove it. Yet the al fresco presentation also stirred up nostalgia for an era she never knew.

“It’s kind of reminiscent of a drive-in movie, which they don’t really have anymore,” she said.

While viewers in their 20s and 30s seem to make up the bulk of the crowds at Bryant Park, the people at St. Nicholas appeared to be older, though some came with young children, like the girl who ran circles around her mother during the movie’s “Red Light” dance sequence.

Moikgantsi Kgama, the executive director of ImageNation, an arts group that organized the showing, hopes to attract more families to the screenings. ImageNation has projected films in Harlem since 2002, at sites including Marcus Garvey and Jackie Robinson Parks.

But even if St. Nicholas’s movie nights may for now seem somewhat anti-Bryant, the park should still honor its predecessor, says John Reddick, who has lived nearby since 1980 and helped early on with the cleanup effort.

“Movies are a tactic to get people using the park at night,” Mr. Reddick said. “It’s a test model that started with Bryant.”

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Anna Pettersson who had lost her dog Olive in a tragic event a few months ago writes in with a happy update on how she is doing. Below are photos of the new addition in her life.

“I wanted to send a greeting to the group. It’s been a while since Olive passed, and while I have meant to stop by to say hello and thanks to everybody for their kind attentions, it was hard for a long time to venture back to the stomping grounds.

I would like to share that I was “rescued” a couple of weeks back, by a tiny pup from the ASPCA. Her name is Linnea and I find it impossible not to smile when she’s around. I enclose a first set of pictures and look forward to getting reacquainted as soon as she has all of her shots taken care of.

Many many thanks, again, for all the support you and the group provided during the hard times. Hope to see you in October!”



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The Price of Fresh Produce

As I was strolling through the park last week, I saw the most paculiar thing-wild green onions, growing like mad all along the upper path between the dog run and 140th Street.

Now, I suppose it’s not terribly strange, but it was odd seeing vegitables growing fee in the park-in a city setting. I was absolutely facinated AND I began to notice them all over, including in the dog run.
My curiosity overtook me and I made up my mind to dig a few up and possibly re-plant them at my apartment. Who wouldn’t want fresh green onions in their kitchen? I mean, after all, the only fresh thing we seem to get around these parts is Fresh Direct.

So, a few days later, on my way back from the dog run, I grabbed a stick and began digging up a few “test” onions. After a few minutes of scooping away earth and a couple of odd glances from park goers, I pulled up my first batch and threw them in a plastic bag.

They were quite healthy looking and smelled incredibly fresh. I was excited to wash them off and possibly throw them into a stir fry that evening. When I got home, I went straight to cleaning and trimming my precious find and I noticed that the green onion odor began to grow.

I stepped outside to dispose of some recycling and when I came back, I realized that the smell had not only penetrated my apartment, but the entire hallway and downstairs area! All I did was wash them and leave them to dry on my cutting board, yet it was absolutely pungent!

Regretfully, I had to make the quick decision of getting rid of them all together, as I new the smell would only grow if I cooked them up in my wok. I wrapped them in a couple of bags and sadly tossed them in the outside garbage.

It took more than a day to rid the house of that smell. I found myself in quite a conundrum, thinking, “Is this smell normal? Is this the price I must pay for fresh produce, straight from the earth? Or is it some bizarre toxicity caused by the city soil of our rotting big apple“?

I’m not a farmer or expert on this kind of thing, but it seemed safer sticking with what I know. So, I sat at my computer and clicked away, filling my virtual Fresh Direct shopping cart, odor free.

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