Category Archives: Columbia Journalism School

The Wrong People

No one was lining up outside the blue-framed door. The gold oval marked “SL” in the center of the glass panel was scratched and worn. Crumpled brown paper obscured the view inside. Lights glowed from the stairs leading down towards the basement.

Late on Saturday night, the border of Manhattan’s Meatpacking District buzzed with quiet activity. A steady stream of taxis cruised along West 14th street, tires rumbling on the cobblestones. A light breeze blew. Car headlights and taillights lit up the darkness. Small groups of young adults, bundled in dark coats against the cold, wandered past. High heels chattered along the sidewalk and the smell of cigarettes hung lightly in the air.

A silver SUV pulled up outside what had been the Simyone Lounge, or SL. The driver opened his door to tidy his car and dropped a brown paper bag of trash out onto the street. This had once been among the hottest and most exclusive destinations in town, first as Lotus, and then as SL. It had survived the bleak aftermath of 9/11. It had recovered after being shut down for serving underage drinkers. But then the it crowd, the people its owners had worked so hard to lure, started heading elsewhere.

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You are what you drink

This map created by splitcitynyc shows that while Dunkin’ Donuts locations (red) are spread evenly across all five boroughs, Starbucks locations (green) are clustered heavily in Manhattan, the richest borough. Starbucks appears to be a symbol of wealth.

So are Starbucks drinkers richer than those who drink Dunkin’ Donuts coffee?

Perhaps. In 2013, a map of the types of smartphones used in New York City showed a similar trend, and raised a similar question: Are iPhone owners richer than Android owners?

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Chef by day, guitar builder by night

Chef Mike Decker originally moved to New York City to open a restaurant. Six years later, above Mulberry Street in Little Italy, the Louisiana native has turned his knife skills to handcrafting custom wooden guitars.

His tiny apartment has become a workshop packed with rosewood and spruce, and woodworking tools made from old chef’s knives. The air is full of the smell of sawdust and naphtha, and his stove is more likely to be used for melting hide glue than cooking up a meal.

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Espada is a factor — Even from prison

His conviction has turned off some Bronx voters.

Pedro Espada Jr. paused in front of the door to the New York State Legislature’s chambers in Albany. He turned back towards the chanting protesters, took a handful of dollar bills out of his right pocket, crumpled them in his hand and angrily threw them at the crowd. He then disappeared inside.

It was early August 2010 and the incident was caught on camera by one of the protesters. The senate majority leader and state senator for New York’s 33rd District was embroiled in a corruption scandal, accused of misappropriating $14 million from the Soundview Health Center in the Bronx. A month later he would lose his primary bid for re-election and on December 14 would be indicted on charges of using taxpayer money from the Soundview clinic to fund a luxurious personal lifestyle involving expensive cars and lavish dinners. He was stripped of his political powers and titles on the same day.

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