First Park Develops a Taste for Ukraine

By Anne Johnson

NEW YORK CITY – On a bright, summer Sunday afternoon, young hipsters flock to First Park to grab breakfast from the Little Veselka. Emerging from their holes in the East Village and the Lower East Side, they gather at the café for iced coffee and raspberry blintzes and listen to local musicians set up nearby.

One of the best aspects of this little establishment: it’s location. Little Veselka is situated in the middle of First Park on the corner of 1st Avenue and 1st Street, right in front of the 2nd Avenue subway station. During the workweek, the kiosk acts as a quick stop for on the go commuters.

Little Veselka in First Park

Little Veselka in First Park

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‘Food Maven’ Expands Bookshelf

By Anne Johnson

NEW YORK CITY – As author Arthur Schwartz speaks to our small group of twenty-somethings, the drab, grey classroom seems to shrink away from his booming voice and devil-may-care attitude. While he elaborates to the NYU food writing class on his 40 years of experience in the business, it is clear that this man knows his food. “Food is an expression of art,” says Schwartz. If food is art, then Schwartz is the ultimate curator.

Arthur Schwartz is the 'Food Maven'.

Arthur Schwartz is the 'Food Maven'.

After his 18 year stint as the executive food editor at the New York Daily News, Schwartz wrote 4 books in 3 years. The research is the part he loves, not necessarily the finished the product. Schwartz claims he hated his 2004 book, New York City Food, until it landed itself on the bestseller list. As he sees it, only a fraction of the life-long historical research was ultimately included in the book. A fact the reader would never know.

With all of these literary accomplishments under his belt, the self-proclaimed “Food Maven” is moving away from the written word. So what is he up to now? “I’m trying to do as little as possible,” states Schwartz emphatically. Well that’s not entirely true.

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A Man of Many Passions

By Anne Johnson

NEW YORK CITY – Walking through the white, angular galleries inside the Museum of Modern Art, Hector Feliciano points to a Cubist painting of a dull, brown and blue toned figure and says in his warm accent, “This is one of the paintings looted by the Nazis.”

In recent years, “Harlequin” by Pablo Picasso and other paintings with similar histories have been returned to their pre-war owners, thanks in part to Feliciano. Feliciano documented 2,000 of the nearly 200,000 stolen artifacts in his book “The Lost Museum: The Nazi Conspiracy to Steal the World’s Greatest Works of Art”.

Pablo Picasso's "Harlequin" (Image via the MoMA)

Pablo Picasso's "Harlequin" (Image via the MoMA)

Feliciano spent 8 years of his life researching and writing “The Lost Museum”. He spent the last 10 years helping a few European families recover prized heirlooms. Now, Feliciano is moving on from this secretive and exclusive world of art dealers and museum curators.

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In Tough Times, Students Eat Trash

By Anne Johnson

NEW YORK CITY – With the light of the street lamps and the storefront windows, a small group of people rummage through piles of trash bags outside of the D’Agostino Supermarket on 38th Street at Third Avenue. “I’ve got tomatoes!” a muffled voice exclaims. Another asks, “Anyone want some corn flakes?” Quickly identifying this rag-tag assembly, a passerby hollers, “Freegans!” a witness to the freegan “trash tour.”

Freegans reuse goods thrown away by their neighbors. They recover everything from clothing and food to appliances and furniture.

The name “freegan” is a mashup of “free” and “vegan”. These two words reflect the core of freegan beliefs: vegans withdrawing from consumerism by subsisting completely on found and naturally grown food.

Due in part to the state of the economy, freeganism, also known as “dumpster diving”, is gaining popularity among college students. The anti-waste lifestyle of foraging for food in supermarket garbage has one major appeal towards students struggling to pay for tuition and housing: it’s free.

Freegan eating a bagel found in the trash. (Image via daylife.com)

Freegan eating a bagel found in the trash. (Image via daylife.com)

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One Morning with the Stylish Janice Chou

By Anne Johnson

NEW YORK CITY – Janice Chou is a master at multi-tasking. Walking in to the StyleCaster.com studio on West 27th Street, the 22-yr-old is in her element. This particular Friday morning in April, the recent college graduate is working with the website’s high-tech 360-degree green screen. Here, featured looks by guest stylists are photographed while a model spins around on a circular platform.

Chou’s title at StyleCaster.com may read Fashion Assistant, but it is clear that she does much more than organize a closet full of pretty clothes. Working at a fledgling website, Chou has expanded her role in the studio to include her own fashion news column and a series of do-it-yourself video blogs. In between photographing looks on the green screen, she interviews the makeup and hair stylists for video blogs.

The Brooklyn-based NYU alum describes her work for the website saying, “I do a little of everything.” However, writing is where her heart is and her column for the site, “Young Blood”, is the beating center. In this lifestyle blog, Chou focuses on her love of music, covering album releases, concert details, and general news from the music world.

Chou is deeply dedicated to her work at StyleCaster. She is unperturbed by the characteristic long hours of the fashion industry and that of a young company. “We are here from 10 a.m. to whenever the work is done,” she explains.

The work and dedication seems to be paying off. Since it’s private launch in January, StyleCaster.com has attracted thousands of fans. Part news room, part shopping center, part online community, StyleCaster.com offers a one-stop site for fashion lovers across the globe. “We are trying to think outside of a set community,” explains Chou, “we are catering to the prep, the hipster, and everyone in between.”

After answering a few questions, she is busy again: fixing a problem with the green screen, editing a video blog of an interview with the makeup artist, and securing the model’s belt that keeps slipping off of her spindly frame. It never seems to end. By noon, 11 looks have been photographed and catalogued, only 64 to go for today. Later in the day, she will work on her column, switching her focus from fashion to music and the Death Cab for Cutie new release. But right now, it is just time for lunch.

In-Your-Face Art

By Anne Johnson


NEW YORK CITY – Late at night a man works diligently gluing a colorful poster on a wall between Chrystie and Delancey Street. On the poster a young woman is painted in graphic red and black. The man, artist Shepard Fairey, quickly smoothes out the surface of the poster to secure it to the brick wall behind.

Photo by: Ivan Corsa - Street Art Images via GlobalGraphica.com

Photo by: Ivan Corsa - Street Art Images via Global Graphica

Fairey is widely known for his recent portrait of President Barack Obama that now rests in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. As far as street artists go, Fairey is uncommonly successful. But he does represent a growing underground street artist population.

An increasing number of New York City artists are rejecting conventional gallery spaces and taking to the streets and subway stations in an attempt to confront people with their anti-consumerist messages. The point to all of this? To jar the viewer by threatening the boundaries of public and private space. To interject opinionated works of art into public environments and force people to look, question, and ultimately act out against the materialistic values.

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