By James Maher
Name: Jennifer Brodsky
Occupation: Founder, perNYC
Location: 13th Street and Avenue B
Date: 8 pm on Monday, March 20
I moved to the neighborhood a few years ago. I lived on the Upper East Side for a bit. I lived by Union Square and in Bushwick too. I feel like what differentiates those neighborhoods to me are the stoops. By Union Square, there are no stoops. On the Upper East Side, there are stoops, but they don’t have the same feel. No one sits out there. It’s a lot of glitz and glamour. No one has the time of day for anyone.
In Bushwick, there weren’t really stoops, but you had these front porches. The area that I lived in had families who would barbecue and have a bunch of lawn chairs just sitting out there for them. Here you have the best kind of stoops. People are outside not just with family, but also alone, with friends and with strangers. It's where some of my favorite encounters happen. Like outside Raul's Candy Store, while he and his friends play dominos in the summer. We catch up and talk about how everyone is doing.
I love the architecture here. My building was built in 1910. I recently went to the map shop on Fourth Street [between 2nd Avenue and the Bowery]. I asked the lady if she had a map with what my block looked like. She pulled out one from 1876 and it was still divvied out the same way that it is now. With my apartment building, there is a tenement house in the front, but then you go through and there is a courtyard and a back building.
Other neighborhoods have square buildings. Here you have triangles, hexagons and circles. I keep an open mind, because you never know what you can find. For instance, what lies beneath the many layers of paint on my door — for now, I've found it’s a free upper-body workout to pull open that door.
Recently, on St. Patrick’s Day, I headed over to Casey Rubber Stamps, which is a great East Village staple. It’s a really small store full of rubber stamps. There’s something so fun about them. I remember when I babysat for a kid when I was younger — this little boy went crazy happy with his new stamp collection that he stamped all over the walls. So when I walked into the store, I had this flashback of that scene of stamps all over the wall.
I founded, host and produce a podcast called perNYC. Each podcast episode explores a unique NYC creation, such as a NYC event, music, production, business, store, restaurant, photography, videography, movement, merchandise, fitness, art, establishment, and more, as per the creator.
You get to hear first-hand all the details around each creation. You could think that it takes a certain type of personality, a certain type of person, or certain traits to be a creator, especially in New York, where there is so much going on and someone is trying to pound you down, while someone else is trying to keep you up. But everyone is so different.
James Maher is a fine art and studio photographer based in the East Village. Find his website here.