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On Choosing My Neighborhood

“How did you choose the Lower East Side?”

I’ve been asked this question by at least five people.

At least one of those five people asked out of sincerity and, I suspect, at least one preferred this question to a rhetorical one about the weather.

“Funny you should ask,” I reply.

“I decided to move here about two years ago, for three reasons.

First, when walking through the neighborhood, I discovered an opening reception for a few legendary NYC writers (graffiti artists) to the tune of a live DJ, a diverse crowd and a bit of grit. And I tend to like grit.

Second, Sunshine Cinema is within two blocks of my apartment. Sunshine Cinema shows only seven movies at a time. On weekends at midnight, they show one retro movie (Blade Runner was showing the weekend I moved in). Throughout the rest of the week, you can see a handful of of films that are independent, foreign, under-the-radar, or all three. It’s a very cozy theater (think ascending a flight of creaky wooden steps).

Third, the large trailers and storage units that line many of Manhattan’s sidewalks receive special attention in the Lower East Side; they double as canvases for the Centre-fuge Public Art Project. Once every two months, artists from around-the-world paint the bins. Walking back to my apartment on a Saturday afternoon, I have seen artists whom I admired in my early teens, such as The London Police, and others – Andy Golub, Dasic, the list goes on – painting live.”

Those are the three main reasons I chose to move to the Lower East Side.

Interestingly enough, the gallery of aerosol and music was shut down the same week that I moved into my new apartment.

As for Sunshine Cinema, it required a full year-and-a-half and a Tindr date before I would actually make my first visit. But, it was a memorable one.

Blow-Up (1966) was the the show of the hour and, if you haven’t seen it or any of Michelangelo Antonioni’s work, then I’ll leave you with an accurate description of what he is best known for: “modernity and its discontents” and a “resistance to traditional storytelling in favor of enigmatic and intricate mood pieces, [rejecting] action in favor of contemplation.”

Cover of "Blow-Up" by Michelangelo Antonioni

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