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 City Lore                                                                July 9, 2010  


Still a Few Chances Left to Marry Maria, the Korean Bride
Two Hundred and Fifty Men to Lift Your Spirits: The Giglio Rises
Find Your Inspiration Underground
Imbibe Corona (not the beer)Dreams and Money

Dear Citylorists,

Please enjoy our Tours and Tales May - July, 2010 e-letter!

Tigrinyan language
Alaskan Wedding, 2009

Place Matters Still a Few Chances Left to Marry Maria, the Korean Bride • Maria Yoon, the Korean Bride, has been married 44 times but she’s aiming to get married in all 50 states, so there are still a few slots left. She marries mostly men, but in states where same sex marriage is legal, she marries women too. She even married a Kentucky racehorse and a black angus bull, so we all have a chance!

I heard about Maria in Eileen Condon’s recent column in Voices. She asked Maria where the idea came from. "My own parents inspired me, especially when we would argue at the dinner table, especially during major holidays. They would always ask me, ‘Why aren’t you married?! What have we done wrong that you are still not married?’" Second generation Korean-Americans, Maria suggests, feel added pressure to marry, "because our parents have left their native land and oftentimes they cling very tightly to those customs left behind." Maria dresses as a traditional Korean bride for each of the ceremonies, and videotapes the adventure.

Drawing on her insecurities, her sense of humor, and her BFA from Cooper Union, Maria has created a sprawling public artwork partially distilled into a documentary film. You can get a taste of what she’s up to here. A work in progress screening of her film takes place Monday, July 19 at 7:00pm at the Tribeca Cinema. If you are familiar with Facebook, click here to see more details and RSVP.

Maria goes as far as she can to make the marriages legal — she ties the knot, but leaves a loophole. Will anyone make an honest woman out of her? After all those marriages, she still remains ambivalent about that.

Tigrinyan language
Jewish women playing mah-jong, Rockaway, 1984, Photo by Martha Coope

Visit a Bungalow in the Rockaways (in a new documentary film) • Way back in City Lore’s early days when we worked on the City Play exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York in the 1980s, we photographed a group of women playing Mahjong at a bungalow in the Rockaways. I always imagined a very intense game played in total silence except for the clicking of the tiles. Finally, one woman says "Oy." Silence again. Then "Oy vei." Silence. Finally the fourth one breaks down and says, "Oy veis meir." The fourth one snaps, "O.K., I thought we weren’t going to talk about our children."

As one of the film’s sponsors, we are pleased to invite you to the New York City premiere of The Bungalows of Rockaway. As filmmakers Elizabeth Harris and Jennifer Callahan suggest, the documentary takes a modest subject — the small, affordable bungalows that once covered the Rockaway peninsula — and reveals larger themes of this singular story: working class leisure, public access to the ocean, community, and architectural preservation. A popular summer resort once existed along the Rockaway shore, the traces now found in the remaining bungalows and long boardwalk. Bungalow residents past and present are featured, along with narrator Estelle Parsons, historians, and city officials. Tracking the bungalow lifeline from 1905 to the present, the film blends gorgeous archival imagery with recent footage and interviews, to produce an enlightening and entertaining look at an unsung chapter of New York history. Q & A with the filmmakers will follow the screening. The NYC premiere will take place on Thursday, July 29th at 6:30 pm. Reservations are required. $6.00 discounted tickets are available. To reserve your discounted ticket, please call 212.534.1672, ext. 3395 or e-mail and mention friends of The Bungalows of Rockaway. Regular ticket prices: $12 Non-Members; $8 Seniors and Students; $6 Museum of the City of New York Members.

Original Luna Park entrance
Photo by Katrina Thomas

Two Hundred and Fifty Men to Lift Your Spirits: The Giglio Rises This coming Sunday, July 11th, around 1:00 pm in the grandest of New York city pageants, the Capo Paranza will stand poised before a gracefully tapering, gaily painted spire, sixty-five feet tall, called a giglio (pronounced jil-yo). He will lift his cane, and the band will break into "O’ Giglio ’e Paradiso" releasing what folklorist Joe Sciorra calls "a flood of memories of past feasts." The two ton tower — carrying the full band — then rises above the rooftops of Williamsburg. The giglio is the focus of a fifteen-hundred-year-old feast honoring St. Paulinus, the southern Italian saint whose statue surmounts the pinnacle. In 487 A.D., Paulinus rescued the people of the village of Nola from exile and slavery to raiding pagan pirates. The feast was brought to Brooklyn around the turn of the century by Nolani immigrants and is continued today by their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The burly shoulders of Italian men carry two monumental structures, representations of the boat and the giglio, through their community. The high point of the day occurs at the cross streets of Havemeyer and North 8th in Brooklyn. At this juncture, the giglio and la barca (the constructed boat) meet; the front ranks of each structure clasp hands in the symbolic re-enactment of the historic return of San Paolino to Nola. You can see a clip of Tony DeNonno’s loving documentary aptly titled, Heaven Touches Brooklyn in July, as the featured story on City of Memory. For more information about the event see here.

Find Your Inspiration • Last month, we were pleased that the new Transit Police Chief Raymond Diaz invited us to address the MTA police commanders about ensuring that the transit police protect the constitutional right of musicians to perform in the subways. We tried to convince them that, much like the street vendor who recently prevented a major tragedy in Times Square, subway musicians are the "eyes on the street." They offer a diversion while waiting for the train, they give riders information such as updates on subway route changes, and they lend a sense of safety to deserted stations. They should be seen as allies of police officers whenever possible.
As if to prove our point, NYC Subway Girl Cathy Grier has been asking people on the subways for their inspiration. Her own performance video can be seen on her home page.

Bushrama Rehman
Photo by Jaishri Abichandanir

Corona (and I'm Not Talking About the Beer) City Lore is pleased to be part of a new initiative to create a Digital Media and Learning Network for students across the U.S. The project is administered by the Social Science Research Council, and funded by the MacArthur Foundation. This summer a pilot group of young people are coming to Flushing Meadows / Corona park to explore both the culture and environment of the area, using tools ranging from interviews to probes that measure air and water quality. One of City Lore’s contributions to the project was to include work by one of our favorite poets, Bushra Rehman, who grew up in Corona. We thought you’d enjoy her poem.

Corona (and I’m not talking about the beer)
~ Bushra Rehman
I’m talking about a place that is a little village
perched under the number 7 train in Queens
between Junction Boulevard and 111th St.
I’m talking about the Corona Ice King
Spaghetti Park and P.S. 19.
The Corona F. Scott Fitzgerald called the valley of ashes
as the Great Gatsby drove passed it
on his night of carousal, but what me
and my own know as home.
And we didn’t know about any valley of ashes
because by then it had been topped off by our houses.
The kind made from brick this tan color
no self-respecting brick would be at all.
That’s Corona.
I’m talking about Flushing Meadows Park
home of World’s Fair relics
where it felt as if some ancient tribe
of white people had lived there long ago.
It was our own Stonehenge
our own Easter Island sculptures
made from a time when New York City
and all the country
was imagining the world’s future.
Back when the future
still seemed exciting and glossy,
like some kind of old stainless steel
science fiction movie
not now when the future seems
like the inside of a dark coat sleeve.
I’m talking about Corona
under the shadow of Shea Stadium
where brown men became famous
and moved to Long Island
where our brothers played baseball
in the tar school yards on the weekends.
Back then
our brothers’ futures
were so open and they were so close
they all dreamed the same dream together
That with the crack of a bat
and the pull of their skinny brown legs
they could run away from the smell of garbage
the fear on the streets
the boys beating them up
when they came out of the
masjids in the evening.
They could hit that bat and it would land them
all the way into the safety of Shea Stadium
and then passed that into the island
that was long and rich
where all the baseball stars lived.

Theo Eastwind

Photo by Martha Cooper


Dreams and Money • It's been said that wherever you start out in American culture, you always end up in sales. Fundraising is a big part of what we do here at City Lore — it makes our work possible. In fact all of us, as far as I can tell, are trying to raise money in order to make our lives possible. Although I certainly can’t promise that it will make you rich, I set down some of my thoughts on how we’ve learned to go about the art of fundraising in my new Voices commentary.

Please forward this email to your friends and encourage them to join the City Lore’s email list!

Enjoy the City!


City of Memory is sponsored by City Lore and Local Projects.  It was funded by The Rockefeller Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

City Lore is part of a cultural coalition called CATCH, to promote the City’s cultural heritage. Check out the web sites of our wonderful partners, the Center for Traditional Music and Dance, the Latino Children’s Theater, SEA, and the World Music Institute.


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