new york

Jo’s stories have appeared in the New York Daily News, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. She has chronicled the economics of shot girls in Turtle Bay bars, a support group for failed inventors, tried out to be a Jets cheerleader, begged former New York Governor Jim McGreevey and his ex-wife Dina to stop acting like children and tracked down a kid from Queens who caught Barry Bonds record-breaking ball in San Francisco.

Wall Street Journal

Ex-Governor Goes Behind Bars
published: March 15, 2013
On a recent Sunday morning, a former governor of New Jersey stood before a predominantly African-American church congregation here, tapping a Bible on his thigh to the choir’s rendition of “Blessed Be the Rock.” In the pews before him sat a group of ex-convicts he knew well.

When the music stopped inside Bethesda Baptist Church, James McGreevey spoke from the pulpit in a full-throated sermon complete with dramatic gesticulations and the occasional “amen.” His subject: struggle.

“He almost got to sound like he was a Baptist at the end,” said Pastor Vincent L. Thomas, the leader of the congregation.
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Brush Hour for Power Groomers
published: March 8, 2013
The unmistakable roar of seven Parlux 3200 hairdryers cuts through the almost perfect silence of daybreak on West 21st Street, where DreamDry is one of the few businesses open before rush hour. It’s the sound of an early-morning arms race to meet the demands of the city’s power groomers.

The blow-dry-only salon, opened last month by stylist and reality TV star Rachel Zoe, took the unusual step of accepting 6:30 a.m. appointments. During the first week the salon was open in February, that early time slot booked the quickest,which came as no surprise to DreamDry CEO Robin Moraetes.
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Love is in Bloom for Marriage Bureau’s Florist
published: February 14, 2013
Rings check. Marriage license check. Witness check. Flowers…..

Uh oh.

A couple can certainly pledge matrimony without a bouquet or a boutonniere, but a bride might looks a little bare without flowers at the ceremony. Yet roses and other blooms are an often forgotten accoutrement for the couples who get married in in Manhattan’s City Clerk’s office each year.
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Nun’s Divine Intervention Turns Nightclub into Thrift Store
published: January 11, 2013
Some neighbors looked at the abandoned Astoria nightclub Studio 34 and saw the remnants of a good time. Others welcomed the end of its sin, depravity and strobe lights. One went so far as to compare the cinder block walled disco to the underworld.

But when Sister Tesa Fitzgerald, a nun in her 60s, first set eyes on the 8,000-square-foot space, she saw something completely different—a thrift store.
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Lonely Hearts Give Flirting 101 a Try
published: February 10, 2013
With a divorce four years behind her and Valentine’s Day on the horizon, Ellen Pober Rittberg decided she was ready for a relationship.

But three decades out of the dating scene for the 60-year-old attorney and author was the equivalent of several lifetimes when it came to navigating how to flirt and meet men on today’s convoluted playing field.

Ms. Rittberg, a resident of Roslyn, N.Y., on Long Island, registered with an online dating website, but she also needed something extra to get her ready for this game. Enter dating coach Tracey Steinberg, who specializes in helping people flirt.
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At Grand Central, a Century of Connections
published: February 1, 2013
It was the ribbed seam on the back of a stocking that inspired Leo Ackerman to tap a young woman on the shoulder in the main concourse of Grand Central Terminal in 1948 and ask her what she was doing later that evening.

Mollie Zessin, then 24 years old, replied that she would be attending a Jewish dance at the Metropolitan Club and coyly told him he could join her. Mr. Ackerman, the dashing owner of a male modeling agency and an occasional hat model himself, kept the date. Three months later, they were married.

Grand Central Terminal, a birthplace of modern commuting celebrating its 100th birthday on Friday, stands as a symbol of the comings and goings of the city and the nation—the scene of more boisterous hellos and tearful goodbyes than can be counted.
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The Delaware Thwarts the Reenactors
published: October 22, 2011
The Delaware River was angry and swollen Tuesday morning as an impeccable Gen. George Washington nervously paced the banks. Nearby, a scrum of middle-age soldiers dressed in woolen breeches and pointy hats analyzed weather reports on their cellphones.

The Crossing, as locals in twin towns across the river from each other call the Christmas event, has been a holiday tradition for 60 years. The hardy band of about 200 men and women who re-create the Continental Army’s feat on a frigid Christmas morning in 1776 take historical accuracy with the utmost seriousness, spending thousands of dollars on historic garb, sourcing 18th-century ingredients for their repast and staging a practice crossing in full regalia weeks earlier.
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Idea to File Away: Manicure Meetings
published: June 7, 2012
In three decades of networking for her career, Mardy Sitzer never managed to polish her golf game. But she has found an alternative: networking over polish.

To squeeze in that extra billable hour, professional women in New York are increasingly holding work meetings at nail salons rather than the tired standbys of coffee shops or cocktail lounges. It’s a departure from the traditional image of clubby executives back-slapping on the back nine, yet manicure meetings offer the same sort of camaraderie found on manicured greens.
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Finding the Fairest Doorman of Them All
published: April 18, 2012
By next month Bernie Smith and Norman Davis, doormen at a luxury building on 38th Street, may no longer be speaking to one another.

“We will like each other until we find out who wins this contest,” said Bernie Smith of an online beauty pageant for New York City doormen. “Then we ain’t going to be friends.”

“I should definitely win,” the 6-foot-5 Mr. Smith added. “Not only am I the most attractive doorman in this building, but I am also the tallest.”
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Porcelain Makes a Splash at Restaurant Auction
published: April 1, 2012
Those in the market for a secondhand urinal, take note.

A set of four porcelain urinals specially designed in Japan are being auctioned next week in a fire sale of fixtures from the Maritime Hotel’s shuttered Matsuri restaurant.

Light green and modern in style, they aren’t typical men’s room fixtures. The question is, whether a market exists at all for old urinals.
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At Tall Club, Members’ Careers Get an Extra Lift
published: March 18, 2012
Economists are convinced that height confers a natural advantage in the workplace, but some of the tallest New Yorkers still turn to each other to get a leg up in their careers.

Local talls, as they call themselves, use monthly meetings of the Tall Club of New York City as a networking venue. Members must meet minimum height requirements—5-foot-10 for women and 6-foot-2 for men, as measured without shoes—but otherwise they have little in common and hail from an array of industries.
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Engineers Out to Squash the Competition
published: October 22, 2011
After countless trips to Lowe’s, hundreds of man hours, four binders filled with physics equations and nearly $800 spent on supplies, a New Jersey robotics team believes it has what it takes to hurl a pumpkin 250 yards through the air on Saturday.

Mount Olive Robotics, or Mort11 as this high-school team of engineering buffs is affectionately known, is the reigning champion of the Warren County Last Fling Pumpkin Sling, a competition that is equal parts “MythBusters” and Monty Python. Now in its second year, the Pumpkin Sling was inspired by the world championship Punkin Chunkin competition, a Super Bowl for engineering wonks held annually in Bridgeville, Del., and broadcast on the Discovery Channel.
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Temple Mines for Members
published: September 29, 2011
When political consultant Bradley Tusk orchestrated Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s victorious run for a third term, he owed much of his success to the novel use of consumer data to locate and target groups of voters.

Now he’s turning those tactics toward a more spiritual aim.

Mr. Tusk, along with Gary Ginsberg, a veteran of the Clinton White House and a founding editor of the magazine George, wants to turn his conservative synagogue, Town & Village on 14th Street, into the destination temple for young, unaffiliated Jewish Manhattanites.

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Comedian Shows The ‘Full Telly’
published: September 24, 2011
People notice when Telly Savalas walks into a bar. For one thing, the “Kojak” actor and Academy Award nominee has been dead for 17 years.

When the 6-foot-4-inch bald man in a superbly tailored cream suit and navy silk shirt—worn with three buttons open—utters phrases like “Who loves you, baby?” and “You ain’t used to the real thing,” New York women find themselves a little giddy.

The comedian and performance artist Tom DiMenna has been walking Manhattan streets in character as the Long Island-bred actor during the run of his one-man, cabaret-style homage to Savalas, “Who Loves You, Baby?” The Soho Playhouse production runs through this weekend.

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A Taste of New York Leaves Miss China Wanting More
published: September 14, 2011
Miss China’s month-long training in New York City may not have led to the Miss Universe crown, but her handlers believe the experience prepared her for her second act — starting with a stint on “Keeping up With the Kardashians.”

Luo Zilin — or Rosaline, as the reigning Miss China prefers to be called in the U.S. — was set to walk in the Sherri Hill fashion show Wednesday, an event where the Kardashian sisters are expected to film an episode of their reality-TV series.

Luo’s mentor, the Chinese beauty mogul and TV personality Yue Sai-Kan, sees the potential TV appearance as a launch pad to bigger and better things in America.

“First she will shoot with the Kardashians, then we will help her break into the U.S. market,” said Kan, the director of the Miss China program. “I would like to try to place her in some television shows, a magazine like Sports Illustrated and maybe something like Victoria’s Secret.”

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Jersey Shore Nuns Find Salvation in Surf, T-Shirts
published: August 19, 2011
Along a certain stretch of the Jersey Shore, the t-shirts seen advertising Nuns’ Beach seem to be just another bit of satirical beachwear targeted at the tourist trade. But the beach in question is very real, as are the nuns who have flocked to the popular surfing spot for the last 75 years.

Nuns’ Beach is a one-block strip of sand in Stone Harbor, N.J., a hamlet 40 miles south of Atlantic City. The beach is attached to a facility owned by the Sister Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a teaching order based in Pennsylvania. Each summer, the property fills with nuns weary from nine long months in the classroom.

When the sisters hit the sand dressed in their summer habits — a light-weight material in blue and white — they stand out amid the sea of flip flops and tank tops. The nuns even don bathing suits, with certain restrictions.

“Not a bikini,” said Sister Anne Pierre.

“No, no,” agreed Sister James Dolores, shaking her head. “We wear one-piece suits, with the little skirt sometimes.”
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Panhandling for Marriage — and Money
published: August 9, 2011
Robert Darling wears his heart on his sleeve — or, more accurately, on his chest.

He commutes once a week from his two-bedroom apartment in Bradley Beach, N.J., to seek love in Manhattan, panhandling for affection beneath a sandwich board. ”I’m looking for a wealthy lady to be my wife,” reads his entreaty, written in multi-colored marker.

The cardboard and duct tape sign folds into a neat square when Darling takes it to and from his home on New Jersey Transit. For nearly a decade, he has donned the portable personal advertisement at his three preferred love-seeking locations: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Columbus Circle and Wall Street.
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NYC’s Best Summer Job: Tanning Concierge
published: July 28, 2011
By 11 a.m. on a recent sweltering Sunday, Harrison Anastasio had already collected the cellphone numbers of five bikini-clad women on the rooftop pool at the James New York Hotel.

“Don’t forget to text me,” one of the women whispered to the 17-year-old, flashing him a coy smile. Anastasio colored slightly beneath his Wayfarer sunglasses. But he wouldn’t forget. Though it sounds like the setup for a 1980s sex comedy, it’s his job.

Anastasio, a rising senior at Edward R. Murrow High School, is one of two attendants at the James hotel’s rooftop deck, where he’s paid $15 an hour to supervise the four-foot deep pool, serve water to guests, and ready lounge chairs for optimal sun or shade. A certified lifeguard, Anastasio is also the pool’s tanning concierge—a job the hotel created this summer in partnership with a sunscreen maker.
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Backyards by the Hour
published: July 30, 2011
Residents of New York City might get the opportunity to dine next to Taylor Swift at the Darby, see John Mayer do stand-up comedy, bike across the Brooklyn Bridge beside Jay-Z and choose among several meatball-themed restaurants on a Sunday afternoon.

But in these days of high summer, even many of the most dyed-in-the-asphalt city dwellers long for suburban delights of backyard barbecues, mid-afternoon sprinkler frolics and naps in a hammock—without leaving the city, of course.

Seeing a moneymaking opportunity, a Lower East Side experience-based events and marketing firm, the Participation Agency, believes it has found a way to give New Yorkers a dose of private outdoor space, if only for a short while.
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Ostrich Farm, Sole Supplier, Losing Lease
published: August 2, 2011
The sole purveyor of ostrich meat, eggs and hides in the greater New York area is looking for a new place to roost.

Todd Appelbaum, who owns and operates Roaming Acres farm in Andover, N.J., says he may have to shut down his business if he cannot find a new home for his 300-strong flock of large birds.

Citing damage done by the ostriches and complaints from neighbors, Roaming Acres’s landlord, Tri-Farms, has opted not to renew Roaming Acres’s lease, which expires at the end of September.

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Artist Imagines Earthbound Astronauts
published: July 21, 2011
Americans watched as NASA’s manned space program ended Thursday with the landing of the space shuttle Atlantis. But one Brooklyn artist is more concerned with what those astronauts will be doing tomorrow.

“How will they spend their days?” wondered Nicholas Forker, a 31-year-old artist with a studio in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood. “Will they wear their suits around the house?”
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A Comedic Airing of Conservative Laundry
published: July 16, 2011
As a playwright, Aizzah Fatima knows she is pushing boundaries with the title of her one-woman show, “Dirty Paki Lingerie,” which will make its debut Saturday at the Dorothy Strelsin Theatre as part of the Midtown International Theatre Festival. But as an actress, Ms. Fatima is delighted to portray roles that transcend the traditional fare she is typically offered as a Pakistani Muslim actress. “‘Terrorist No. 2’s girlfriend’ is an actual title of a character I once auditioned for,” she said.

Ms. Fatima is the first Muslim playwright to have her work featured in the Midtown festival, which is in its 12th year, and the title of her comedic show about Muslim women reconciling their ethnic identities with their American lives has proved too controversial for some members of the Muslim community in New York. Many, she said, have asked her to change it to something less salty. “Several people have told me they have an issue with the word ‘lingerie’ in the title, and not so much the ‘dirty Paki,'” the 34-year-old said. “Conservative Muslim women in my social circles have suggested I change the title to ‘Dirty Paki Laundry’ to make it more politically correct.”
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Aerialist Performs Stunt from Williamsburg Bridge Tower
published: July 11, 2011
After a sweltering day in the city, midsummer folly was in the air Monday night. So were two Brooklyn performance artists, who perched 300 feet above traffic on a tower of the Williamsburg Bridge, poised to stage an aerial stunt.

Aerialist Seanna Sharpe and sometime artist and magician Savage Skinner walked onto the bridge just before 7 p.m. Monday evening. Before her ascent, Sharpe said she knew she would leave in handcuffs, but she scaled the tower anyway, giving a brief, daring performance that sent her flipping and flying in the air without the aid of a harness or safety tether.

Sharpe and Skinner’s next trick: Getting out of jail.
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Scramble for Ostrich Eggs After Hens Go on Strike
published: July 5, 2011
It’s an iron-clad rule of ostrich husbandry: Hens won’t lay eggs without persistent sunshine. And few understand that more than the owner of the only ostrich farm in the New York City area, where this year’s exceptionally soggy spring made for some very reluctant fowl.

“Your hands are tied. Ostriches can be divas,” said Todd Appelbaum, owner of Roaming Acres in Andover, N.J. “They’re difficult and they’re picky.”

Normally, ostriches begin laying eggs in late March or early April. But this year, Mr. Appelbaum’s hens didn’t start producing until near Memorial full article

Uptown, a Breakfast Brush With Royalty
published: June 23, 2011
Customers at the Central Park location of Le Pain Quotidien, stopping in for their usual coffee and croissants Thursday morning, craned their necks to get a glimpse of a statuesque blond trailed by a scrum of thickly-accented photographers. No one knew who she was, but she was undeniably Someone.

Sally Schmidt and her friend Lorraine Laighold, walking their four dogs past the cafe on the 62nd Street transverse, stopped to see about the fuss. read full article

In N.Y. Surf Heaven, A Blessing of the Boards
published: June 20, 2011
Montauk’s Ditch Plains beach is about as close as New Yorkers can get to an “Endless Summer”-style surf heaven. On Sunday morning, many of the town’s wave-riders tried a new way to attract divine curls — by having their surf boards blessed.

The blessing of objects is popular in New York City, where religious adepts can get anything from bulldogs to bikes blessed someplace. But for Saint Therese of Lisieux Catholic Church, out on the tip of the Hamptons and just blocks from the beach, the board blessing was a full article