Unique New York: 2011 Stories Starring the City

There are two very important reasons we’ve made this end-of-the-year “best of MetroFocus” compilation.

One: It’s the end of 2011, which makes this an apt time to remember our favorite stories that showcase the city’s quirks and idiosyncrasies. Two: MetroFocus is about to turn 6 months old, and we want to take this opportunity to revisit the stories we published in our early days, and share them with our readers, both new and old.

So set aside some time, sit back and visit the MetroFocus vault with us.

If These Knishes Could Talk: Is the New York Accent Disappearing?

Filmmaker Heather Quinlan — with funding through the website Kickstarter — made a documentary about one of the most noticeable characteristics of a New Yorker: the accent. Featuring interviews with long-time New Yorkers, immigrants, author/journalist Pete Hamill and the director Amy Heckerling (“Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” “Clueless”), this documentary aims to get to the root of the New York accent. Quinlan wrote about what she learned for MetroFocus and there were some interesting surprises…Did you know there’s no such thing as a Brooklyn accent?


A trailer for Heather Quinlan’s, “If These Knishes Could Talk: A New York Accent Film.” The film includes interviews with accent experts and New Yorkers including author Pete Hamill and filmmaker Amy Heckerling. Video courtesy of Heather Quinlan.

In the Pits: My Life as a Broadway Musical Understudy

During a gig playing for "Seussical," Rudetsky remembers the terror he felt when a giant waterbug crawled over his head for most of the performance. This image is merely a dramatization. Photo by Chris Giorgano.

Broadway orchestra “sub” Seth Rudetsky wrote a hilarious story for MetroFocus about his adventures in numerous pits all over town. He recalls the time a giant water bug dangled over his head during a performance of “Seussical.” During another show, his nervous jiggling of his keyboard’s volume pedal created an unwanted vibrato. During still another performance, he feared for his life as the production’s actors bounded across a creaking stage just feet above his head. Put yourself in Rudetsky’s shoes: Read his story about what it’s like to be a sub in the pits.

I Feel Relatively Neutral About New York

I Feel Relatively Neutral About New York

In a piece that could only have been written by a New York transplant, Avery Monsen’s reflections on the city are beyond witty and actually pretty spot-on at times.

“We’re living the dream here, as long as your definition of ‘the dream’ includes a sweaty, disgusting back.”

Monsen tells the story of how his book came to fruition, and provides plenty of funny anecdotes. But he also says there are good bagels in other cities. Now that’s something we take issue with.

An illustrated Ben and his mother-in-law in front of the deli. Photo courtesy of Henry Holt.

What Makes a New York Deli Truly Great?

In New York City, the “corner deli,” or “bodega,” is important, and very, very personal. Everyone has a favorite, and, as former Boerum Hill, Brooklyn deli owners Gabrielle and Ben Ryder Howe explain it, there are many elements that make a deli great, or at least that tell us which to frequent. From what’s in stock to what the deli smells like, the criteria are vast and quirky.

Which deli do you prefer? The deli of possibility? The deli of plenty?

Heart of the City

Ariel Sabar's book, "Heart of the City."

Heart of the City: Why Is it so Easy to Fall in Love in New York?

In an excerpt from his novel, Heart of the City: Nine Stories of Love and Serendipity on the Streets of New York,” author Ariel Saber tells the beautiful and poignant tale of his parents chance meeting in Washington Square Park in the mid-1960s. In a city as rough and tumble as New York, Saber’s tale of love in New York is touching and full of hope.


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