All These Deserted Dining Halls | -19,’20 | Issue No. 36

While the covid count has climbed across the country, and the nationwide infection rate grown exponentially each week, New York has managed to control the situation well enough to enter its fourth reopening phase. There’s still no indoor dining, or late night subway rides, and you still can’t try on clothes, but can at least browse for books. The city’s streets and construction sites are coming back to life, shop owners and hair stylists are eeking out a living, the Yankees beat the Nationals, and by the time this episode comes out, the Mets will likely be losing to the Braves. We’re all still wearing facemasks, or many of us are, and hanging out as far apart as we can stand, and hospitalizations and ICU stays are nearing pre-covid numbers throughout the boroughs. There are fleeting moments where things feel almost normal, and although they’re false and far between, the slight reprieve from overwhelming fear and grief is more than welcome. But we all know that New York will never be the same, and won’t feel anything near normal until it’s fully back in business, buying, selling, and never asleep.

So this week, we’re reopening, and hearing from the community on how its getting back to work.

by Charlie Hoxie

When New York City went into lockdown back in March, the city’s public access stations, like BRIC’s Free Speech TV, were forced to shut down as well. But that didn’t keep the channel’s producers from doing their thing. We caught up with one producer who told us how he’s adapting to the Covid era, and what he’s missing. 

“Neighborhood Spot”
by Sachar Mathias and Ross Tuttle

As the pandemic tightened its grip on the city in April, we talked to a few local restaurant owners who were grappling with the sudden citywide shutdown, navigating state and federal small business aid, and scrambling to pivot their businesses to stay afloat and serve their communities. This week, we circled back to find out if New York’s phased reopening has brought the relief they need.

“The Person I am Today”
by Shirin Barghi and Sachar Mathias

Back in March Juan Mosquero — a 58-year-old man incarcerated at Sing Sing in Ossining New York — reportedly became the first prisoner to die from the coronavirus in a New York State Prison. Since then, the situation at correctional facilities in New York has only gotten worse, with a recent report by the LegalAid society, revealing that the infection rate in New York City jails, at 11%, is nearly five times the general population.    Refoundry is a Brooklyn-based non profit aimed at providing skills and opportunity to formerly incarcerated people. In this episode, we learn about the organization, how it’s adjusting to the pandemic, and a recent project that responds to the public health crisis in  Rikers Island, the second largest jail in the country. 

“Mutual Gift”
by Charlie Hoxie

Producer Charlie Hoxie speaks to the one and only Howard Bloom, the publicist turned cosmic philosopher, who is the subject of a documentary he made called “The Grand Unified Theory of Howard Bloom” as the film prepares for digital release. 

“Red Canary Song”
by Emily Boghossiani

Back in March, we called BDSM-practitioner and sex worker rights advocate Yin Q to talk about how sex workers,facing a total loss of income, were adapting to the new, city-wide lockdown. This week, we checked in with Red Canary Song co-director Kate Zen to learn how migrant massage parlor workers in Flushing, Queens have weathered the pandemic, and how they’re coping as the city starts to reopen.

“Bringing Things Back”
by Emily Boghosssian

On July 13th, the City’s three library systems reopened 22 of their branches for limited, grab-and-go service. While library staff have returned to 7 Brooklyn branches and patrons are filtering back into the space, Librarians like Nick Higgins are preparing for a future where libraries look radically different.


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Brooklyn, USA is produced by Sachar Mathias, Emily Boghossian, Shirin Barghi, Khyriel Palmer, Mayumi Sato and Charlie Hoxie.

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