All posts filed under: featured stories

Lucia Micarelli’s performance of “Kashmir”

If you can, wait until night to watch this video. This is not just another classical music concert. A violinist plays barefoot, wild yet controlled just enough. Her sound on the violin is smooth, the kind of smoothness that you think would lead to overthinking and coddling the violin. But she is more free, and passionate and graceful. She also plays barefoot, a preference of hers. This is Lucia Micarelli’s performance of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.” Pay attention to the build up, half crazed, to the moment at the 2:45 mark when the first note for Kashmir drops. The entire stadium’s soul feels elated. This is the kind of artistry you want to rhapsodize about. Micarelli is one of the young stars in current classical music. Born in Queens in 1983 to a Korean mother and an Italian father, Micarelli began studying violin, piano and dance when she was three years old. When she was six years old, she was a violin soloist with the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra. By age 11, she was studying at the …

Happy Valentine’s Day! Here are 7 movie scenes of love and romance (Spoilers)

The English Patient (1996): “Cathedral paintings”   One of the most romantic scenes in cinema. Hana (Juliette Binoche), a vibrant and capable nurse who takes care of the titular patient played by Ralph Fiennes. One day, when she is playing the piano in the bombed out shell of a building, Kip (Naveen Andrews), a lieutenant and bomb defuser in the British army, runs to her and tells her to stop playing. There might be a bomb in the piano, he warns her, and sure enough, there is one just inches away from being detonated. “I’ll probably marry him,” she later tells her patient. “Really? That’s sudden,” he quips. She answers, “My mother always told me I would summon my husband by playing the piano.” Not long after came this scene, full of kindness and lightness, as Kip gives this gift to Hana of a little grace and beauty during wartime. Before Sunrise (1995): “The space in between”     Thoughts about love and relationships, dilemmas about ambition and family. Celine (Julie Delpy) feeling torn about …

Let’s eat! “A Bite of China,” bubble teas, and Ina Garten’s lemon bars

Let’s eat! “A Bite of China” was originally posted in July. Here, I’m updating it with some writing on bubble teas and Ina Garten’s lemon bars. Enjoy! “A Bite Of China” There are moments in “A Bite of China” that stay with you long after you watch the show. A mother and daughter walking together at dawn, digging for mushrooms in the mountains of Yunnan. They easily push their sticks in the dirt to gently push up a priced mushroom that sells for thousands in city restaurants. Inside a ger in Inner Mongolia, in the early hours, a woman dips a ladle in milk to make breakfast for the family. The man will herd their sheep on the grassy plain. Fermented tofu nuggets are laid out on baskets on a balcony before they are hauled out to a busy city sidewalk and sold. The most simple yet amazing street food. More than technique and skill, “A Bite of China” is about taste and heritage, habit, livelihoods, the knowledge and skill that comes from working with …

A soapmaker’s journey

The workshop of MoonDance Soaps & More is so fragrant from the soaps made inside, the fragrance wafts out well beyond the shop, out to the driveway. Inside the workshop, which is a converted garage, Rachel DuBois, founder and owner of the business, has finished a morning of mixing solutions and pouring. Now, it’s time to cut soaps and setting them aside to be “cured,” for the saponification process to complete. The natural soap-making process, which takes 4-6 weeks from start to finish, is how DuBois has made her soaps since founding the business in 1998, and it’s one she steadfastly adheres to. Her staff will help with making other products and packaging, but she is the only one who makes the soaps. “It’s a caustic process,” DuBois said, and added. “You have to be really respectful. My kids can’t come in here when I’m doing this.” The soaps are poured into big molds, then set aside to cool. While they’re cooling, the soaps have the color and thickness of what look like beeswax candles. …

New York in summer 2019

New York in 2001 before the Twin Towers fell had weight, history, and was full of commerce and activity. New York during the Aughts was a place that kept becoming more sensual and spiritual. But New York by summer 2019 had been reduced to a tourist version of itself. Recollections from July 26-28, 2019. Day 1 The cab driver raced us down the highway toward Manhattan. On the right, high rises loomed. Great shiny monoliths. I pointed out the window and asked if that was Brooklyn. “No!” the cab driver exclaimed, “that’s Queens!” Queens. I couldn’t believe it. It was built up beyond recognition. The glass high rises went past as we flew down the highway. What has it been like living in Queens during all this? I remember apartment-hunting in Astoria. A coworker was from Queens. Working class to middle class. Queens was food and families to me. Back home, I was glued to my laptop most days as the sun beat down, oddly frozen. I had no energy and in hindsight, I felt …

At Elmo’s Diner, a story of humility and joy

Cam was a familiar sight at Elmo’s Diner on Ninth Street. Most nights, he would come for dinner wearing a nice shirt, sit at one of his familiar spots at the counter, patiently wait to be served and banter with the staff in his characteristic gentle, easy manner. “Cam,” as he was known to Elmo’s staffers, was John Camden Hundley Jr. He died in 2016 at 83 years old. Cam ate at Elmo’s so often, around seven o’clock most nights, the staff at the busy restaurant out of habit would start looking out for his car at his usual parking spot. “Is Cam here yet?” people would start asking. He was supposed to call Elmo’s if he wasn’t going to come. His birthday was in the date book. Although Hundley died in 2016, his death still weighs on the staff, and memories of him are cherished and protected. People are reluctant to be interviewed, for fear the emotions would come to the surface and there would be tears. Chrissy Yuorick, who waited on him often, …