Next Stop Go

Photo Essay: Hudson Piers
April 7, 2009, 11:35 pm
Filed under: New York, Photography | Tags: , , , , ,

By Dean Stattmann


Step Into My Office







NY Press Editor Jerry Portwood Visits NYU Journalism Class, Discusses Freelancing and the Future of Print Media

A lone paper waits on a West Village doorstep

By Dean Stattmann

On Thursday March 26, New York Press editor-in-chief Jerry Portwood stopped by Betty Ming Liu’s beat reporting class at New York University to discuss the state of print journalism, the future of the neighborhood weekly and most importantly, what today’s journalism students can do to grab a thread in this business.

Portwood, a graduate of Oglethorpe University, came to the New York Press in February 2006. He has since served as managing editor and arts and entertainment editor at the Manhattan Media publication, and in 2008 he took over as editor-in-chief.

But today, with print journalism in its current state, it’s becoming more and more of a challenge to put out the weekly paper with a minimal staff and freelancers whose voices often don’t match that of the publication. “It’s a difficult time in journalism,” he says.

Portwood, who admits to only taking one five day vacation in the last three years, is one of just two staffers on the paper’s masthead, and relies on freelancers for 90 percent of the paper’s content. But when asked about the future of the publication, he’s confident that we’ll be seeing a lot more of the New York Press.

And better yet, he’s confident that journalism students can hold off on changing their majors for a little longer. It’s a demoralizing time for seniors, with papers and magazines falling around them like graduation confetti, but Portwood believes that the freelance gigs are still out there. Here are Jerry’s tips for bagging a byline:

– Have realistic expectations

– Be passionate about your work

– Don’t feel entitled

– Pitch stories via email (wait a week to follow up)

– Include your nut graf in the email. Make them want it.

Tweet, Tweet!
April 1, 2009, 10:15 pm
Filed under: Lifestyle | Tags: , , ,

Despite my efforts, the inevitable has happened. Yes, I signed up for Twitter. So in the spirit of jumping on the online networking bandwagon, I’m going to ask all you Twitter-ers out there to give me your usernames so I too can have a following (so I can go Jim Jones on your asses, just kidding). But seriously.

Fly Like Paper, Get High Like Planes
April 1, 2009, 1:17 am
Filed under: College, New York, News, NYU, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Paper WingsBy Dean Stattmann

So you think you can throw a good paper plane, huh? Ok. What about the best paper plane in the world?

Whether in class or just for fun, we’ve all folded a piece of paper and thrown it at some point in our lives. But this year, the good folks at Red Bull are taking the other national pastime all the way, and searching for the world’s best paper plane pilot.

As one of many qualiflyer rounds taking place around the world (yea, qualiflyer), Red Bull will be at Coles on Friday, April 3, seeking out NYU’s most talented pilots.

Registration starts at 6pm and the event will run until around 8pm with all materials supplied on site.

Judges will assess each throw with three criteria: Distance, hang-time and acrobatics. So even if you suck, a totally unintentional triple backflip barrel-roll mctwist could land you a spot in the finals. Just go with it.

And if you do happen to make it through, get ready because the competition doesn’t end in New York. Red Bull will fly the best US pilots, all expenses paid, to Salzburg, Austria, where they will compete with the cream of the paper-tossing crop for the number one spot.

So for now, your job is easy. Get to Coles by 6pm on Friday April, 3, throw a paper plane and await your destiny.

Connection Delayed

TributeCenterBy Dean Stattmann

It was a typical sunny Tuesday afternoon in Johannesburg, South Africa as I stepped off the school bus and onto the sidewalk in front of my house. Another strenuous day in the eighth grade had passed, and I was ready to relax. I walked through the garden, my backpack already on just one shoulder, and into the living room. As usual, I put all my stuff down on the floor and then went to the kitchen to get some lunch. After returning to the living room, I flopped down on the big black leather sofa and began eating from a bowl of noodles as I flipped through the channels, looking up at the big television screen in front of me. I remember how tedious it was navigating through the channels back then. We had satellite TV and there must have been at least 300 stations trying to get my attention every time I turned the thing on. That day was no different. I remember clicking through the cartoons, the food networks, the travel channels, the music videos, the breaking news and the sitcom reruns – all to no avail. At some point my mother called me. She asked me about my day and then mentioned that I should watch the news – something about a bomb. As I backtracked to CNN, I remember seeing something along the way that caught my eye, deciding to come back to it afterwards. When the news came onto the screen, it was exactly what I had expected – news. It seemed like the same news that was on every other day – intangible events in places I had never been, and most likely would never go. The banner across the bottom of the screen said something about trade but I wasn’t really paying attention. I raised my hand towards the screen, my fingers still clutching the remote control, and I changed the channel. That day was September 11, 2001.

On March 5, 2009, I stood in the winter garden bordering the West side of the World Trade Center site. Pressed up against the large glass window, I listened to the verbal accounts of people who lost loved ones that day. I was on a tour. The WTC Tribute Center on Liberty St. was offering unguided audio tours, and today I was here with my college journalism class. Looking out onto the baron 16-acre site, I tried to imagine the towers, the signature of a New York that I would never see. I attempted to visualize them, 110 floors above the ground, bustling with over 50,000 employees from hundreds of companies. I looked around, trying to find a structure of similar scale so I could at least have some kind of reference. Nothing came close.

Then I thought about September 11. Right around the time I put my noodles in the microwave, a plane traveling at over 400 miles per hour ripped into the ninety-third floor of the North tower, killing 1,365 people on impact. Seventeen minutes later, as I searched aimlessly for something entertaining to watch, another plane mimicked the first, this time with the North tower in its sights. At over 500 miles per hour, it turned floors 77 through 85 into a smoke-filled inferno, leaving only the outline of the plane stamped onto the side of the building, the way cartoon characters get slammed into the ground. Within a half hour, the North tower had been reduced to a smoldering pile of rubble, flattening out in twelve seconds.

And then the scariest realization of all: If I had been standing in this exact spot on that same Tuesday, I would be dead. The force of the collapsing towers shattered the windows of every single one of the surrounding buildings, destroying most of them. The newly renovated winter garden in which I was standing was unrecognizable on September 11. The voice coming through my headphones poured out scores of statistics about deaths, casualties… body parts. After a while, they just felt like empty numbers, like people without faces. I later researched those numbers and found that almost every source, from CNN to New York magazine, had different figures. They say that the death of one is a tragedy and the death of millions is a statistic. I find it tragic that there isn’t a definitive statistic.

After the tour, I still felt detached from the events of September 11. I had definitely learnt a lot, but I just didn’t feel it the way I thought I would. It was only afterwards, during a brief walk through the WTC Tribute Center, that it hit me, hard. Displayed modestly against a plain white wall, stood a mangled steel beam – formerly part of one of the towers – that had been removed from the rubble. The sign said not to touch but if this wasn’t going to make the events of that day tangible then nothing was. When I put my hand on the oxidized steel, it occurred to me that this was my first contact with a day that has consumed the lives of thousands of families for the last eight and a half years. Even though it wasn’t my fault, I felt guilty, almost disgusted by my ignorance. I wanted to help someone or at least do something, but it was too late.

My trip to ground zero consumed my thoughts for the rest of the day. I tried to think about how this could have been avoided. I tried to imagine losing someone I loved. I tried to comprehend what the fuck would drive someone to do something like this. I came up with nothing. But one thing I couldn’t shake was my admiration for New York City and its ability to move on. If I learned anything from that day, it’s that no matter what, things will happen in life that are outside of our control. Sometimes we’ll like them, and sometimes we won’t. But when tragedy inevitably strikes, all we can do deal with it the best way we can, and then move on.

SoHo Needs More Clothing Stores – Topshop To The Rescue
March 26, 2009, 6:47 pm
Filed under: College, Fashion, Lifestyle, New York, News | Tags: , , ,

topshop By Dean Stattmann

A rickety old van pulled up outside New York University’s Weinstein dining hall at noon today to give away free promotional gear from renowned British retailer Topshop. Wait, what? That’s right. After over a year and a half of rumors, the fashionable giant from across the pond will leap right into its brand new home on Broadway and Broome St.

SoHo is so incredibly New York, yet anyone walking around this retail mecca for the first time would have a hard time placing themselves. Any international designer worth mentioning is represented in this tiny quarter of lower Manhattan and TopShop has finally decided to follow suit.

Continue reading

SoHo Walking Tour: A New Light
March 4, 2009, 5:10 am
Filed under: Fashion, New York, Travel, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,


By Dean Stattmann

I recently did a walking tour of SoHo. Except instead of using a tour guide – a.k.a. walking encyclopedia – I opted for a tour of the self-guided persuasion. I thought that this would provide me with a more personal experience; I imagined that it would allow me to discover my SoHo.

I began my tour, as the New York Times suggested, on Broadway and Houston. Armed with a wealth of information obtained on the internet the night before, I was ready to venture into what I imagined would be an intriguing world of historical anecdotes and interesting facts.

Twenty minutes later, after knocking out the Singer Building and the rest of the “must-sees,” I decided that this tour sucked. Despite my best efforts, there was nothing personal about it. The facts were still the same, the buildings looked the same to me as they did to everyone else and quite honestly – despite my history major – I have an extremely limited interest in the subject.

I put my two-dimensional guide back in my pocket and started walking. I went where I wanted to go; creating my own tour if you will.

After taking a turn onto Wooster St, I was stopped by an elderly man with white hair, wearing a grey coat that extended to the floor. “Lovely lighting today!” he said.

“Excuse me?” I replied

“For taking photographs,” he said, gesturing towards the camera slung over my shoulder. “You can get some great photos today.”

I’m not going to lie. I thought this man was crazy. He seemed way too excited about the absence of clouds in the sky. He also had a peculiar growth on his forehead that resembled an M&M trying to escape from the inside of an inflated balloon.

His next comment threw me off even more.

“You should wear more colors!”

“I’m sorry… what?”

“Colors. You look depressed,” he said. “Are you depressed?”

“I don’t think so. No, I’m not depressed.”

Granted, I was wearing blue jeans and a grey hoodie. But in my defense, I was wearing a pair of extremely bright red shoes, a point that I made to him, hoping to convince him that I wasn’t depressed. Besides, he was wearing a grey frikkin’ coat!

When I asked him about his “adventurous” wardrobe choice, he looked at me, and began slowly undoing the top button of his coat. Then the next one. Then the next one.

By the time he had undone the last button, I had nothing left to say. If someone ever went back in time, stole Joseph’s technicolored dreamcoat and fashioned it into a three piece suit, this man was wearing it.

“Ok, you win,” I said

He just smiled

“Where did you get that?”

“I made it.” he replied

Following a brief exchange about his desire to appear out of the ordinary at all times, it was soon revealed to me that this man was a photographer, a painter, a musician and a poet. However, with technology as his arch nemesis, he assured me that I would  not find a word about him online. He didn’t even give me his name.

“There’s some great light today,” he said again as if he hadn’t just said the exact same thing moments earlier.

“Yes there is,” I replied. And with that, we walked our separate ways.

I had discovered my SoHo.

Photo by Dean Stattmann