Author Karen Russell on Winning a MacArthur Genius Grant: "It's Going to be Interesting to Publish New Work in the Wake of This Insane Luck"

Categories: New York

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Courtesy of the MacArthur Foundation
Yesterday the MacArthur Foundation named its 2013 recipients of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. No fewer than nine of the 24 fellowships awarded went to residents of New York. One of them is Karen Russell, an author and writing professor whose first novel Swamplandia! was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2012 and whose second novel is already well underway.

"I just printed out a hot steaming mess from the Clinton Hill Printers!" Russell told Runnin' Scared.


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After Leaving Hospital Last Week, Koch Is Back In Intensive Care [UPDATE]

Categories: New York

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This is the last bit of news we want to hear after last week.

Then, we reported on the improving medical condition of former Mayor Ed Koch. The 88-year-old statesman was hospitalized at New York Presbyterian/Columbia for reportedly having swollen ankles and liquid inside of his lungs. With positive signs, he was released this past weekend. Unfortunately, his time out of the hospital didn't last too long.

Yesterday, Koch was re-entered into New York Presbyterian/Columbia's intensive care unit for his lungs yet again as well as an iron deficiency. His spokesman told reporters, "Dr. Joseph Tenenbaum, Mayor Koch's cardiologist and lead doctor, said he wanted to monitor the former mayor more closely." How long he'll have to stay there is still unknown.

Unfortunately, as we mentioned once before, Koch has had a recent rough streak of medical problems: in September, he was hospitalized with anemia and, in December, he faced a bout of respiratory infection. This will be his fourth hospital visit in less than a year.

UPDATE: From the Times: "Mr. Koch's spokesman, George Arzt, said the former mayor died at 2 a.m. from congestive heart failure."

[jsurico15@gmail.com/@JSuricz]

What The Fiscal Cliff Means For New York

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New Year's Eve is a night to reflect on the year that's past. It's a night to commit to a resolution you'll never follow, a night to face the next year with a massive hangover and a night to over-plan and over-commit to. 

And, for Washington, it's a night to jump off the fiscal cliff.

As soon as that ball drops in Times Square, America will witness the immediate expiration of the Bush tax cuts for the middle class and wealthy, as well as automatic spending cuts worth billions across the federal and state levels. It's the dilemma that has the Hill and the White House panicking every hour and every minute of the 24/7 news cycle. 

One day, Rep. John Boehner and the House Republicans are refusing to talk to the President; another day, the President is telling reporters that he's optimistic that a compromise will be reached. And if that compromise doesn't have higher taxes on the wealthy like the President wants? Well, then it's a whole other story. Hellooooo, veto power.

However, if no compromise is reached, then the President will just have to wait until the ticking time bomb self-destructs. He'll get his higher taxes for the 1 Percent but what about the rest of us? New Yorkers, here's what the fiscal cliff means for you.

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State Senator Shirley Huntley Tells Crowd She Will Be Arrested on Monday

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At 11am this morning, the State Senator representing the Jamaica, Queens area called an emergency press conference at her home in the neighborhood. There, Shirley L. Huntley told the crowd that she expects to be arrested on Monday. Although she did not make clear what the charges against her would be, the Senator has found herself embroiled in a scandal involving the non-profit group she started way back in 2006 called The Parent Workshop, Inc.

The group's main goal is to help parents through the largest metropolitan public school system in the country. But Attorney General Eric Schneidermann thinks another alternative motive was underway: two officials at The Parent Workshop, Inc. were charged with grand larceny of $29,950 for work they never did. 

The money is known as a pork-barrel grant - since 1999, New York State has issued these enormous sums of money known as 'member items.' This includes non-profits that state officials start and others as well. 

Since then, $900 million has been doled out - who says the State is broke?

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The Power of New York City's Farmers' Markets

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The scene at the Greenmarket at Brooklyn's Grand Army Plaza.
In a populist sense, a farmers' market is like the gastronomic version of a town hall; citizens come to barter with other citizens, trading locally grown strawberries instead of talking points. Every day of the week, you can find one of these fine establishments in almost every borough. It is a trend of the Great Recession: swap the supermarket for the cheaper, more utilitarian alternative. And, according to a report just released by Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, New York City is steamrolling this food upheaval forward as farmers' markets slowly take over public spaces.

The report states that there are now 138 farmers' markets in the Big Apple - a number that, statewide, has doubled to over 500 in the past decade. And this isn't just a metropolitan thing anymore: across the country, there are more than 7,000 farmers' markets operating daily; in 2000, there were about 2,000. Why such a spike?

"Farmers' markets boost local communities and promote a healthy and sustainable food system," DiNapoli said. "These markets enhance communities and the lives of those who live nearby."

So let's take a quote from Bill Clinton to answer that question: it's the economy, stupid.

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City Rushes To Accommodate Rapidly Rising Homeless Population

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As the never-ending sweat of August settles into New York's membrane, there are those who are unfortunately not able to sit by an A/C all day and bask in the endless drivel of freon, forced to sleep outside of churches, federal buildings or any other institution that legally cannot kick them out. 

Yes, we are talking about New York City's homeless population. And its ranks are skyrocketing: the homeless population of the Big Apple, in just one year, has risen 18 percent, putting the number somewhere just under 50,000 (it was around 37,000 last year). Also, that's only the number recorded at the shelters; the actuality could be much more unsettling. Regardless, there are fifty thousand people living on the streets of New York, unable to find food or shelter on their own. 

This remarkable figure lies next to the City's 10% unemployment rate, a sad feat for New York and an increasingly thin line of hope for job-seekers. However, one must keep in mind that, by law, the City must offer some sort of shelter for the homeless population - the only restriction really comes on the time limits set for their stay. As temperatures dramatically rise, the summer spree for shelter has caused headaches for both the administration and the citizens, simply due to a lack of an answer to one resounding and flawed question of our society:

Where can all these homeless people sleep?

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Loud, Honking Cabs Beware: 'Summer Streets' Are Taking Over NYC Today



If you're watching this video, we hope you have a huge smile on your face. If you're a cab driver who hates traffic, you might not. But, for the rest of us pedestrian folk, today is a great day to have feet.

For the next three Saturdays, the New York City Department of Transportation is bringing back the fifth annual 'Summer Streets' program. In it, the City closes down major thoroughfares for bikers, walkers and all New Yorkers alike to stroll down without worrying about getting hit by that sedan going 50 miles per hour.

With seven miles of road closed off for play time, this 'Summer Streets' is shaping up to be the biggest so far. In other words, there will be so much room for activities.

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New York Is 17th Vainest U.S. City, But Too Busy Checking Out Self in Mirror To Care

Categories: New York

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This makes us look so bad.

Men's Health just released its ranking of America's vainest cities: Tampa, Fla. tops the list and New York comes in 17th.

You can read the whole thing here, but what we really wanted to know: why aren't we at the top of the list?

We decided to ask Men's Health Executive Editor Matt Marion.

We talked about our own journalistic aspirations for an hour, and then we chatted with him for a few minutes about why we weren't no. 1.

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How Is Bill Ayers Related To The Weathermen Bomb Factory?

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The Voice brought you news yesterday that the townhouse located at 18 West 11th Street, which served as a bomb factory for the Weather Underground until an accidental explosion, was on the market for $11 million.

We went a bit into the building's storied history, but the Voice's Graham Rayman brought some more info to our attention. The 1974 book Chief! -- written by New York's cigar-gnawing, former lead detective Albert A. Seedman -- contains a few fascinating details about the relationship between the would-be bombers and Bill Ayers, the onetime Weathermen organizer whose relationship with Barack Obama has become highly politicized.

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Weathermen Bomb Factory Can Be Yours for $11 Million

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We're not sure how we didn't notice this before, but the building that housed a clandestine Weather Underground bomb factory, located at 18 West 11th Street, is now on the market for some $11 million. (Thanks to our man Sietsema, for bringing this to our attention!)

The quiet, tree-lined street in the heart of Greenwich Village -- which Mark Twain and Thornton Wilder once called home -- was thrust into international spotlight on March 6, 1970, when an accidental detonation of dynamite killed three Weathermen: Theodore Gold, Diana Oughton, and Terry Robbins. Subsequent F.B.I. reports indicate that had the rest of the dynamite detonated, there would have been enough T.N.T. present to raze the entire block.

Kathy Boudin and Cathlyn Wilkerson, who also spearheaded The Weather Underground's revolutionary activities, survived and immediately fled the scene. They were on the lam for more than 10 years before being captured by cops, according to media accounts of the incident.

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