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This neighborhood has one park for a lot of people...

Athletic instructor Kiki Morris thinks Jackson Heights, Queens needs more green space.  He teaches tribal fitness classes in the congested neighborhood’s only park – Travers Park – during the week.  Like many residents, he says the space, which takes up less than a block, can’t hold the neighborhood’s sizable population.  In 2009, Jackson Heights ranked 50 out of 51 on available playground space in NYC. There has been some relief as of late.  Local groups have banded together to make private playgrounds public, and to turn streets into pedestrian plazas.  But with school letting out and summer drawing near, they fear the usual summer hassle: hundreds descending on a little, paved park. Click here to...
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High gas prices force food trucks to go green...

Gas prices have taco cart owner, Raul Rodriguez, hitting the breaks.  Like other food trucks, he not only has to deal with the cost of fuel, but also the expense of commodities.  In fact, it’s the rising price of ingredients like meat, produce, and condiments that has hurt him the most.  While Rodriguez has been charging more for tacos to make ends meet, two other New York vendors see high gas prices as a harbinger for creativity.  One has been using old cooking oil as fuel and the other has been filling up with a less common form of energy – natural gas.  By tagging onto the “green” movement, they’ve adapted to the sluggish market and kept on trucking. Click here to...
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Take on the Golden Apple

The Golden Apple piece was surprising in its delivery. I expected something a little less theatrical and intentional, but it was still a cool look into Americans in the 21st century. In fact, I continuously found myself conscious of this fact – the who, where, and when of the situation. It’s the kind of thing that would be fascinating to discover in a vault several hundred years down the road.  This is how people were in this year at this place in Chicago.  You gain a lot about people’s desires, hopes, and perspectives.  It was more a collective meditation than a collective story. However, one of my favorite, if not my favorite, scene didn’t focus on a person at all. It was the bit about the pie display case not turning and how that’s resulted in a 50 percent drop in dessert sales. It’s details like that that you tend to remember, it’s so specific and visual, practically demanding you envision it, its peculiarity and its place in this space.  It asks for so much attention and is such an image in-and-of-itself… of diners, America, the 24/7 lifestyle… Contrasts were also a big part of the piece.  The transition from the butcher to the purification center worker seemed to form an auditorial ying yang.  It’s a subtlety and placement that I assume took some thought, to bounce these individuals off one another.  That such different worlds could be sitting back to back at a diner in Chicago.  They both had their eccentricities, the things that made them tick.  The man’s was meat and the woman’s was purity.  The way he and she said things, the bits of recounting each person did, it all seemed to bounce off the respective other and create a nice little glimpse, one that didn’t last long but felt pretty deep in its scope. Background details about the subjects, other than the obvious ones like why they were there at the Golden Apple, added a lot to the depth of the characters.  The one waitress who came to Chicago when she was in her twenties, divorced, and with three kids stands out.  Just the phrase that mentions this happened in her twenties adds so much, it shows she’s aged, that she’s experienced the world and is a different person because of it — but here she is in the same place, with the same name on her name tag. “They go home and sleep, but this is their base” It all seems to have the view of a fly on the wall, or in this case, a waitress.  The whole thing seems to be from through the eyes of a waiter or waitress (except when the reporters make themselves known in the interview).  This is reinforced by the fact that the piece ends on a waitress, waiting for the sun to come up and her shift to end.  She’s done it for 26 years and enjoys it, but still the sun comes as a sign of rest and relief.  It’s such a cosmic, universal thing that she still notices the sun rising, and the cops do too.  For the cops it means their shift is almost over, the night of fun and possible danger comes to an end, the day breaks.  Very primal stuff here in a diner in Chicago at 5 a.m.  ...
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Solitary Confinement (Characters and Scenes)...

  “A lonely body in a cell — that’s what solitary confinement is” “I will try to hear things – human voices.” “You could feel your mind trying to escape from it.” In this radio piece the reporter, Claire Schoen, does a great job at taking a very empty and desolate place and making it alive with thoughts and sounds – humanness, really.  By using such noises as buzzing lights, slamming doors, heartbeats, sirens, tapping, ticking clocks, and mechanical prison sounds, she paints the picture of a place that begins to work on one’s mind. The fact that she used a variety of inmates to describe it added to the effect of the piece.  It shows that this is a very ubiquitous, and effective, method of punishing inmates in our prison system.  Although you don’t get to know any one person, you begin to understand what it’s like to be an inmate there, that is, all the characters begin to paint one portrait of this person locked up in solitary confinement. Little phrases the characters use – like “the sweats” – add a certain level of access that makes you really feel like you’re there in the prison.  I also haven’t heard some of these techniques used before in a radio piece, such as the echo at the end of: “There’s no concept of time.  You know no time in lock down.  There’s sleep and awake-ness – and the madness in between (in between, in between).”  This added a heightened level of production, though it didn’t feel contrived. This approach would likely be more gut-punching than just sitting down with one inmate and talking about the experience, although I don’t know if it would be as intimate. The intimacy in this piece lies not in any one character, but in the picture that is painted in the theater of the mind, one of a maddening culmination. And I wouldn’t say this is a complicated topic insomuch as it’s a hard feeling to grasp – being in solitary confinement – and an even harder one to convey to the audience, especially if you’ve never been there. But I think it’s effective. Find the link...
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Jennifer Blowdryer and the Jennifer Blowdryer Band...

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