By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
By Roy Edroso
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
By Zachary D. Roberts
Uhlich is aware that most people who read about popular culture are looking for star gossip and snark. "But it's my belief," he says, "that, recognizing what disturbs you about the culture, you need to put something into it that will help right the balance. I think we've been able to maintain a good discourse overall." Although sometimes, as when Uhlich panned The Dark Knight, they get a barrage of fanboy abuse. "My approach," he says, "is that we should be as unpredictable as possible, though we should always maintain basic human decency in our work and how we respond to it and to others."
"I like the bigness of the site," says Seitz (who now describes himself as "mainly a film editor who sometimes writes criticism"), "and the multiplicity of voices and the fact that you don't know what you're going to get every day when you visit. When he handed over management of the site, he told Uhlich, "This is your kid now, and the only request I'm going to make is, keep throwing curveballs." And Uhlich has. After more than four years and hundreds of essays, the House is well-settled, but what goes on inside is often a surprise. —edroso
As a kid growing up on the Upper West Side, says Ben Kabak, "I was always fascinated by the subway." He started Second Avenue Sagas, as the name implies, to follow the progress of the Second Avenue Subway project in 2006, but "I quickly learned that there wasn't enough news on a daily basis to sustain a site that looked only at that project." So he turned his attention to other transit stories.
Often, these are quotidian—the introduction of new buses, management changes, ticket blitzes, the inevitable service advisories—but in covering them, he's learned enough to make intelligent commentary on the subject and to leaven the blog with more fanciful entries, such as an examination of the subway system in Grand Theft Auto's Liberty City.
Now 26 and quartered in Park Slope, he has become the go-to source for city news blogs when transit comes up. Does he think his work has an impact on our transit universe? "In an ideal world, it would," he says. "But I've gotten my pieces in front of the right people. I know that officials at the MTA read my work, and I know that transit policy experts and transit advocates in the city listen to what I have to say as well. They view those who blog about transit as providing another window into the mindset of its passengers. People are listening, but I personally feel I have a long way to go as well."
Mostly, he sees the public service of Second Avenue Sagas as pertaining to the ridership: "I can help educate the public on the policies and politics behind transit," he says, "and I can highlight stories that otherwise get little coverage in the city's major news outlets."
He does all this while attending NYU Law School and working part-time at a legal internship. (He also contributes to the Yankee blog River Avenue Blues.) "I like to tell people that I sleep sometimes," he laughs, "but it's really about efficiency. I'll write some pieces at night and try to plan some of the less news-oriented and more feature-like entries in advance." —edroso
[The Local Girl]
New York Shitty
Proprietor: "Miss Heather"
The accounts of Greenpoint life that make up most of New York Shitty aren't all as negative as the name implies. "It was initially premised on the dog-shit problem in my community," Miss Heather tells us. "I reached my breaking point one day when I was coming home from the Franklin Corner Store laden with bags of groceries. I was literally dodging dog bombs every two or three feet."
Her first public service when she started New York Shitty in 2006 was a series of "Crap Maps" of the Brooklyn neighborhood where she's lived for 10 years. Then, she says, "something happened I could never have anticipated: People started paying attention."
This encouraged Miss Heather to broaden her purview. Now, New York Shitty features photos, spot reports, and interviews of a charmingly random sort of northernmost Brooklyn's people, incidents, and places: the old methadone clinic that became a noisy hostel, the ever-increasing number of "nondos" that came with the recession, citizens she finds in community meetings or just hanging out on a corner, like Kenneth, who likes to "knock back 40s and hand out roses to female passers-by."
Her devotion has been reciprocated in comments and e-mails. "To some degree," she says, "New York Shitty has become an online forum for people to exchange information, air their feelings about local events, or simply blow off steam. I didn't anticipate this happening, but am very grateful it has."
She has also gained the attention of mainstream reporters and, unlike GerritsenBeach.net's Daniel Cavanagh, she gets pissed when they don't give her credit, as she believes happened when she broke a story about an illegal gym in Williamsburg last year. "It takes a special kind of arrogance," she says, "to do something like [the Post did]—that is, basically lift the entire content from one of my posts, make a few phone calls, and claim it as an 'exclusive.' "