A Poem about Bella Ferraro (by Lee and Jordie)

whatever happened to
bella ferraro

why did she have to go
so far, oh
with her shaky hands
and her
inability to remember
she told us to be
she told us to be
but who the hell
we fell so far behind.
so meaningful, so beautiful
were her many melodies
strung together.
she hated school, she felt lost
so she quit
so close to the end
as she enchanted us her mother watched
and wiped beneath her eye as though
she was having trouble with her contact.
her coach did her wrong in many ways
and she lost the competition
but won over our souls.



we are 

our hearts
in gmail.

Long Live Eurovision (a post by Anna)

Eurovision 2015 was one for the books. Austria brought flaming pianos, Slovenia brought air violins, Georgia brought crow feathers, and I brought Static Guard.

En route to Eurovision!

Before I dive into my Eurovision 2015 experience, here’s an overview of this mind-blowing annual event for the newbs:

Eurovision is an international song competition that’s the most watched non-sports event in the world. Recently celebrating its 60th anniversary, it’s one of the longest-running annual television broadcasts. Think: American Idol meets the World Cup, where every country performs a song with more pageantry than you can possibly imagine. Songs must be original, the performance must be shorter than 3 minutes, and no more than 6 people are allowed on stage. Past years have included rapping astronauts from Montenegro, techno vampires from Romania, and my favorite twin brother Irish duo named Jedward. It’s all for ultimate European glory because the winner gets to host the next year’s competition. We can thank Eurovision for introducing us to artists like ABBA and Celine Dion.

Eurovision 2015 was held in Vienna, thanks to last year’s moving performance by Conchita Wurst, who hosted the green room this year. I got insider info from my Austrian friend Elaine, who told me Vienna turned into a Eurovision haven for the month, complete with a Eurovillage and Euroclub. All public transit announcement featured Conchita’s voice, and the crosswalk signs were modified to feature same-sex couples. They even attached speakers playing old Eurovision music to the gutters. All in the spirit of Eurovision!

Vienna's Eurovision traffic lights

Vienna’s crosswalk lights during Eurovision

The final competition aired on Saturday May 23 at 9pm in Vienna, so we Americans made a day of it. As I left my apartment, Gwen grabbed a camera for the equivalent of parental prom photos, only this time I was dressed in metallic, had crimped hair, and in my late 20s. 

First stop: MAC Cosmetics to get Eurovisioned! Erica had the foresight to sign us up for free makeovers MAC was doing, as promotion for a new line of eyeshadow. I misunderstood this to mean that MAC was doing Eurovision makeovers and shared this with everyone I know. It wasn’t until we arrived at the Lincoln Center location that I realized most of the MAC staff had never even heard of Eurovision. Despite their confusion about our early morning Euro glam, we all became fast friends.

Getting Eurovisioned at MAC.

Then we migrated to Hibernia in Hell’s Kitchen.  It was PACKED.


There were raffles. There were brackets. And there was non-stop cheering.

Things are getting real!

In the end, Serbia rocked it, Israel rapped it, and Belgium got its rhythm back. The UK’s light-up costumes reminded me of that time I went to the Holidazzle Holiday Parade in Minneapolis, and for a country of amazing talent, they once again let the rest of Europe down (or up, depending on how you think about it). Although Australia was denied future hosting rights, they took at stab at the crown this year for the first time ever; I was an insta-fan because I love Guy Sebastian’s Lupe Fiasco solos.

After each of the 27 performances were over, we watched all 40 countries announce their votes with building anticipation.


Montenegro! (Their votes were later disqualified for complicated reasons I can’t fit in this caption.)

I stared at my Eurovision app, feeling jealous that the US was left out.

The iPhone app forbade me from voting.

Eventually, the Eurovision executives got on the screen and announced they had done the maths.

Swedish singer Måns Zelmerlöw won the gold, which meant he got to sing “Heroes” again, with the exact same set-up and choreography as every other time he’d performed that song in 2015.

The balloon drop at Hibernia was easily as epic as the one going on in Vienna.


Best balloon drop of my life.

Other awards and observations were noted by my friends:

Just when I thought the excitement had ended, the University of Melbourne announced that they’re adding a course on Eurovision this fall. The syllabus is amazing. The subject looks at Europe through the powerful prism of the Eurovision Song Contest, and it’s all I can do not to move to Melbourne right now. Until then, guess I’ll just listen to this Eurovision playlist on repeat. See ya in Sweden!

The Time I Sprained My Ankle at the Tonya Harding & Nancy Kerrigan 1994 Museum (a post by Anna)

This is the story of the time I sprained my ankle at the Tonya Harding & Nancy Kerrigan 1994 Museum:

It was the museum’s big opening night gala. I convinced my strangely-reluctant friends to join me and couldn’t have been more excited. 



The injury, which happened before the gala even began, is the boring part of the story. I took a tumble and flailed my arms in the air yelling “whyyyyy” with no sense of irony whatsoever. I really thought I’d broken a bone. But my heart was set on Tonya Harding & Nancy Kerrigan, so I found a seat and powered through.

In true Bushwick fashion, the gala started with glittered cupcakes, Tonya/Nancy trading cards, and PBR. The museum curators gave a presentation on how to know if you’re a Tonya or a Nancy, and then several performances began.

Are you a Nancy or a Tonya?

Are you a Nancy? Or a Tonya?

At first I thought synchronized mini-trampoline faux-skater dudes in leotards were my favorite part, but then a guy singing his own George Michael parody called “I’ve Gotta Have Skates” won the gold.

Synchronized trampolining.

Synchronized trampolining.

Though the entertainment successfully numbed my intense ankle pain, eventually the gala ended. My friends carried me out to the most expensive cab ride of my life. It was a night of firsts, so I don’t know why I’d expect anything less.

The next week, I went to a doctor who recommended x-Rays and a very sleek orthopedic boot.

Gotta boot.

Boot, from aerial view.

Doctor’s orders were to take it easy. I’m not a sitter, so the next month of my life was torture. I spent every waking hour being waited on by Gwen, seat-filling Broadway shows, and bonding with a bag of frozen quinoa. Things got so bad that I voluntarily accepted a free seat-filler ticket for the show Gigi.

My budding relationship with quinoa.

My BFF, quinoa.

I was helpless, so my mom offered to visit for Mother’s Day weekend. After flying to NYC, she cleaned my room, went grocery shopping, did my laundry, took out the trash, and cooked my lunch for the week, all while I RICE-ed my sprained ankle. It was the best Mother’s Day I’ve ever had!

Me, Mom, and Mothers Day Macaroons.

Me, Mom, and macaroons.

The minute my mom left town, my ankle injury was cured. What a miracle worker!

I guess the moral of this story is… tread carefully while you’re at the Tonya Harding & Nancy Kerrigan 1994 Museum; it’s all fun and games until you leave in a cast.

Liberland (a post by Lee)

Scoped out Time today, and saw this article.


I mean, there are some obvious problems (the leader will resign if he’s given a position of power in the Czech Republic; taxes are optional which means no one will pay because altruism ain’t gonna get you that far, honey; with no standing army, there will be less men and women in uniforms, and Lord knows I love folks in uniforms), but Life Is Negotiable.

The Power of the Internet (a post by Lee)

Behold, Dear Readers, the True Power of The Internet!

This conversation occurred just now between Anna Marie and me:

Anna: since youre new to normcore, i heard this writer read this last week at an event
me: not NEW to normcore
Anna: prove it

The gauntlet had been thrown. I checked my email history for the word “normcore.”

Thursday, March 12, 2015 9:59 PM
DR: I want to be norm core.
me: ???
what is norm core?
DR: look it up!

I have known about normcore for exactly two weeks, which in Internet terms means that I have known about normcore forever. Once again, by harnessing The Power of The Internet, I have humbled Anna Marie.

A Visit to the Cat Circus (a post by Anna)

I don’t really like cats. I don’t hate them or anything, but I have a distinct childhood memory of a friend’s slumber party where her cat pounced on my head all night and forced me to nearly suffocate under a deep layer of pillows. But one thing that has brought me back to the cat world is The Amazing Acro-Cats.

That’s why I totally freaked out when I was perusing the Circus Cats website a month ago and noticed their tour in Orlando overlapped with my family vacation to the national trucking conference. What are the odds?!? 
I shared this thrilling news with Rachel and asked the concierge to book us a town car to the Circus Cats.  A man named Aklilu was waiting for us in a black executive Sedan, and he drove us to The Venue, a house-turned-burlesque-performance-space in the middle of an Orlando neighborhood. Aklilu was a little confused about why this was our destination, and he didn’t seem to notice the Circus Cats RV when we pulled up.
Once inside, we approached a bar with “Caturday Meowmosas Specials” and a table of cat merchandise.
Then we headed to the performance space. I chatted up the couple sitting next to me and learned they were on a surprise date, and the lady had been incorrectly guessing the destination all week long. The pre-show music included the Purina Meow Meow jingle, Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle,” and “Jellicle Cats” (Lee, remember that time I talked you into this?!).
Then… the show began. And it was as amazing as you could possibly imagine. The owner/trainer Samantha explained that she rescues cats, has 19 living in her home, and showed everyone how to “clicker train” your cats. They made a lot of anti-dog jokes, which I chose to ignore. 

Cats jumped through hoops!


Cats walked the tightrope on a disco ball!

IMG_9008 (1)

Tuna lit up the APPLAUSE sign.


Cluck Norris competed in a bowling tournament again Tuna.

The show ended with a performance by the Rock Cats band.

The Rock Cats!

By the time the show ended, I really felt like I was a part of the Orlando cat community. Rachel and I said our goodbyes and walked outside where a Lincoln town car (not Aklilu) was patiently waiting to take us back to the jungle hotel.
In the words of Davidson College, #CATSAREWILD.

A Valentine’s Day To Remember (a post by Anna)

Nothing says love like sewage plants and government facility tours on Valentine’s Day.

Anne and I rolled into Greenpoint bright and early, and the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant was a madhouse. People on the waitlist and others who hadn’t even registered, all hoping to get a coveted spot on the Valentine’s Day tour. The staff, dressed in 50 shades of pink, handed out Hershey kisses and commemorative pins in the shape of a manhole covers.


After a riveting talk about the sanitation process and how wastewater physically makes it to the plant, we headed out and up the giant digester eggs. These bad boys double as the set for chase scenes in a bunch of big thriller movies.


Our quickly beloved tour guide was the Deputy Supervisor of the plant, and I’ve never met a man with more passion for wastewater treatment. He told us the plant cleans 1.5 million gallons of wastewater a day. He told us baby wipes were the single worst thing that has happened to the water system. He told us that they speed up the process during heavy rain. I asked if anyone had ever proposed here; he said no.


At night, the place turned purple. Lighting design is by Hervé Descottes, who also designed lighting for the High Line.


Thanks to treatment plants like this, NYC’s river water is the cleanest it’s ever been. So it should come as no surprise that they’re planning to install a floating public swimming pool in the East River in 2016. Now let’s all go drink some tap water!!

PS. If you want a real recap of our tour, Anne wrote about it on Quartz!