Dear Neighbor,

We hope you are enjoying this last week of summer, both literally and figuratively, as NYC schools are set to resume classes next Monday (we think?). And for those who celebrate, Shana Tova. One typically rings in the Jewish New Year, which starts this Friday at sundown, by eating apples and honey. So it’s only fitting that this week we share the story of two newly minted beekeepers.

So, how does a born and bred New Yorker end up beekeeping in rural Pennsylvania? Four numbers: 2020.

When New York City locked down in March, Anthony Virey joined his uncle for what he thought would be a few weeks on the family’s 200-acre plot of land in Mount Pleasant, about an hour or so southeast of Pittsburgh.

As weeks turned into months and it became clear Covid-19 was not going away anytime soon, people around the world took up a plethora of hobbies. We baked, we cut hair, we gardened, we binged (food? Netflix? wine? all of the above?). Virey, 30 years old, along with his cousin, Don Antonio Santos, 25, took up beekeeping. It’s not, Virey told us, something people typically fall into. But his uncle had a few hives, and Virey had always been fascinated with bugs, so he figured, why not?

As the two cousins watched the country struggle — politically, socially and financially — they felt a sense of helplessness many of us know well.


Anthony Virey (L) and Don Antonio Santos (R) Photo: Deadass Beekeeping

So they created a business: Deadass Beekeeping.

“I think a lot of people, a lot of brands, a lot of everybody really, is kind of recalibrating right now and trying to hone in on purpose and why we do the things that we do,” Virey said. “We have all this time to think analytically and think deeper. We want to use a product like honey, because it’s such a sustainable product in and of itself, and positively affects the communities that made us who we are.” The cousins are Filipino-American and were raised between Queens and Long Island. 

Deadass — we will save you a Google search — is a colloquial term New Yorkers use meaning “I’m serious” (like deadass serious, get it?).

A percentage of all proceeds will be donated to the environmental organization GrowNYC.

The first batch of Deadass Beekeeping honey goes on sale this Friday. Follow the company’s Instagram account for details on how to purchase.

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Exhibition: Haiti to Hood, Artist: Daveed Baptistea Presented By: Haiti Cultural Exchange

OUT & ABOUT

Six months feels like six years: Throughout the past six months (yes, this has been going on for a half a year), artists have been creating work that reflects their experience of living through a global pandemic. Tonight at 6 p.m., Culture Lab LIC will be moderating a conversation with three local artists, Karen Fitzgerald, Orestes Gonzalez and Kaiser Kama, who will be discussing their work and welcoming viewers into their studios. The event will be broadcast live on Facebook.

Photoville: The annual festival devoted to all things photography is returning to New York City for its ninth year, albeit looking a little bit different in this time of social distancing. It kicks off this Thursday, September 17, at 6 p.m. with an online community celebration, and runs until November 29. There will be more than 60 outdoor exhibitions at Brooklyn Bridge Park and beyond, and online programming daily; everything is free of charge. Browse the exhibits and online sessions to plan your visit.


Map courtesy of Photoville

Honor the river with light: Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy is hosting itseighth annual Aarti Hindu Lamp Ceremony this Saturday, September 19. Aarti is a tradition in which an offering of light is made to a river to honor its power, convey gratitude and signify purification. This year’s celebration will be virtual; but materials and instructions will be provided for pickup by the conservancy, and you can release them into a homemade body of water. Participation is free, just be sure to RSVP.

Historically relevant: The New York Historical Society is open for visitors, with timely exhibitions like “Colonists, Citizens, Constitutions: Creating the American Republic” and“The People Count: The Census in the Making of America.” To visit, reserve a timed-entry ticket in advance. And speaking of, have you filled out the census yet?!?

A call to local artists: LinkNYC is teaming up with NYC Votes in a quest for city-centric, non-partisan art that will inspire people to vote this November.Submissions will be accepted until September 30. Read up on the requirements, and submit your work here.

Brooklyn block party: Building Black Bedstuy, a local organization dedicated to preserving the Black community and providing financial relief for Black-owned businesses, is having a block party this Saturday, September 19, from 12 to 5 p.m. There will be food, shopping, music and more. Check out its Instagram page for details.  Building Black Bedstuy is also accepting applications from local Black-owned businesses for financial relief through September 30.

Your thoughts on 2020? Dutch Kills Press wants to hear from you for an e-book anthology it’s putting together, “2020: Good Writing from a Bad Year.” It’s seeking fiction, nonfiction and poetry, as well as illustrations for cover art. There is a $5 submission fee, and those whose work is selected for publication will receive $100. Check out the guidelines and submit your writing here.

No more screens! Queens Botanical Garden is offering in-person programming for children ages 4 through 8.Each class, participants will learn about a different part of the garden and participate in hands-on activities.There are two sessions available, Fridays from 2 to 3 p.m., running September 25 through October 16, and Saturdays from 10 to 11 a.m., September 26 through October 17. Sign up



Borough biking: Queens residents — at least those of you who live within Community Board 1 — rejoice. Citi Bike is expanding to locations in your hood (that’s you, Astoria). The bike-sharing company is looking for local feedback: Help it select where new bike stations should and shouldn’t be located. 

Drive-in drag: Old-school Bel Aire Diner has been a leader in pivoting to outdoor entertainment, turning its parking lot into a drive-in movie theater in early May. This Saturday, September 19, the diner will be hosting a drag show, “Dears in the Headlights.” Sign up for its newsletter to access tickets. 

HOMEROOM

By the time our newsletter goes out next week, in-person classes will have started in New York City … or will they? We are on pins and needles waiting to see what happens. It’s been a rough week at the Department of Education. Alison Hirsh, a top DOE official dealing with reopening of city schools, resigned on Friday. Ursulina Ramirez, the DOE’s chief operating officer, is stepping down this week. 

One school, P.S. 811X — the Academy for Career and Living Skill — in the Bronx was ordered to close for 24 hour last week after there were two confirmed cases of Covid-19 in a week. On Friday, Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, the powerful teacher’s union, posted a YouTube video, where he lamented that school employees were not getting their coronavirus tests back in a timely manner as they were promised. Fifteen thousand school employees were tested for coronavirus over a one-week period, resulting in at least 22 positive tests. 

Several teachers around the city staged “work outs” yesterday, where they set up folding chairs and did their work outside, questioning whether working in classrooms was safe.

How are you and your family preparing for the first day of school? Let us know.


GIVE & GET HELP

Fill the fridge: The Flatbush community fridge is in need of donations, preferably of fresh produce. If you have some to spare, the fridge is located outside of Salem’s Hour restaurant at 1110 Nostrand Ave. 

You deserve a cookie: Teachers and school staff, that is, because your life is a lot right now. Insomnia Cookies agrees, and will be giving out free six-packs of cookies with any in-store purchase for the rest of the month to school employees — just bring your work ID.

Lower East Side Coastal Community Fellowship: This fellowship is a paid creative residency for Lower East Side residents and stakeholders who share an interest in making sure the community thrives, particularly in the face of climate change. Applicants who are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change in the Lower East Side will be prioritized. The deadline is September 20 at 11:59 p.m. Learn more and apply.

Jobs for youth: Red Hook Initiative High School Program is hiring peer counselors and staff for its Career Starters Program, both of which are paid. To be eligible you must be a Red Hook resident currently enrolled in high school and between the ages of 14 and 21. Interested students can apply online.

ISO children’s books: The Astoria Food Pantry is collecting children’s books. Have extras? Drop them off at its location, 28-14 Steinway St. on September 19 between 2 and 4 p.m.

Mask up or pay up: As of yesterday, New York City public transit riders who refuse to wear a face covering while riding may be ticketed $50. 


DAY-TRIPPING

‘Tis the season for apple picking 

A two hours’ drive from the city, Glastonbury, Conn., isn’t on most city residents’ radar. But if you want to avoid the apple-hungry hordes in the North Fork and the Hudson Valley, and are willing to stretch your day-trip radius a little farther than usual, this Central Connecticut suburb is the place to go. South Glastonbury is filled with rolling hills, farms and orchards. My favorite is Belltown Hill Orchards, a sprawling, fourth-generation farm that has different types of fruit to pick just about any time of the year. In early September, we picked plums, peaches, nectarines, pears and four types of apples. Apples are the farm’s specialty, and there are two dozen varieties on offer (try the Pink Lady and Winesap)! End your visit with the famous apple fritters or apple cider doughnuts. Down the street you’ll find another gem, Dondero Orchards, which has a great farm store with preserves and sells sandwiches. Save fruit picking at Rose’s Berry Farm for berry season, but the Sunday waffle breakfast with a view is worth checking out. And for the best ice cream in New England (I take my ice cream VERY seriously) head to Robb’s Farm, where you can also visit the resident donkeys, llamas, horses and even an emu. Sumathi Reddy

LAST WORD  

We want to see, hear, feel, support your art and response to this moment. To submit a poem, short story, artwork or any shareable experience, email us.


99 Holds, Indoor rock-climbing wall made from 99 unique poured dyed resin casts of the corners of the artist’s body. Embedded with wearable Cuban chains, hair, and hypothermia blankets, 120 × 297 in, 2017

This week, we welcome Baseera Khan, a New York-based visual artist who sublimates colonial histories through performance and sculpture in order to map geographies of the future. Fashion, photography, textiles and music, sculpture and performance manifest Khan’s native-born femme Muslim American experience.


(From left) “Purple Heart,” “Lunar Count Down,” “Act Up,”at Katonah Museum of Art, NY,handmade wool rugs custom designed by artist, made in Kashmir, India, 48 × 30 inches, installed on marble platform, 2018.

Khan is in a six-week studio residency at The Kitchen’s Queenslab space in Ridgewood to produce an experimental television pilot for its “On Screen” series. Inspired by films such as Lars von Trier’s “Dogville” and Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s “Chinese Roulette,” as well as TV shows such as Hulu’s “Ramy” and HBO’s “I May Destroy You,”Khan’s show, “By Faith,” focuses on their personal experiences, longing for intimacy and the fictive memories/mirages that play out inside the confines of the Brooklyn apartment they’ve lived in for over a decade. 


Production still from By Faith, 2020

Khan’s project will consider multiplicity, social life and the haunting specter of expectation that permeates the political lacuna BIPOC femme artist communities exist within. Each success in Khan’s career produces a sense of failing upward. Even when we succeed, we feel like tokens or worse, imposters. This project acts as an affront to the idea that marginalized people simply want a seat at the table. Khan is building her own damn table. With your support, Khan can tell a story of isolation, joy and radical honesty. Khan is currently in need of $10,000 in order to fully execute “By Faith.”If you are interested in supporting the project, you can send your donation via Venmo: Baseera-Khan or PayPal: baseerakhan@gmail.com.

This newsletter was written by Danielle Hyams, with contributions from Sumathi Reddy. Photographs and design by Nitin Mukul and editing by Robin Cabana and Faye Chiu. Did you like it or find it useful? Tell a friend to sign up. Support our vendors, freelancers and efforts by making a donation to our tip jar.