2021 – Year in Review

In the quiet nights before New Years, I like to sit with my notebook and try to remember what I did in the twelve months prior — to pick out moments from the procession of meals cooked and phone calls made, of glasses of whisky emptied, drawings inked, words edited and ink spilled.  Most of these memories stay in my notebook, but here is the place for a more professional accounting.

This year I wrote more of my book on the Jewish Labor Bund, which is made slower because I have to do so much for the research in Yiddish (bless you, CYCO books). I wrote less for publication, but here are a few favorite pieces:

“How the Taxi Drivers Won” for The Nation– a cover story on how New York’s cabbies pulled off one of the year’s most inspiring labor victories.

“Occupy Memory” for New York Review of Books – a meditation on Occupy Wall Street, which turned ten this year, and changed both me and the world. 

A love letter to New York City for Lithub 

I painted murals for Bluestockings Bookstore and the Clemente Soto Velez Center.

My art appeared on walls all over New York.

Photo by @michaelhermidaz

I made a video about debt for The Intercept with my ever collaborators Kim Boekbinder and Jim Batt. Our video series Welcome to the Zowon an Edward R Murrow award, a gold medal from the Society for News Design, and a bunch of other awards I forgot. It was nominated for two Emmys.  

I illustrated a year of covers for Dissent.

I illustrated a massive Amnesty International report on the persecution of Uighars in Xinjiang 

My friends at Radix Media released Fanning the Flames, a coloring book of my old school burlesque drawings.

I’ve travelled little since COVID began.  To make up for it, I had New York. I cooked for the Chinatown free fridge and left flowers at my great grandparents’ grave, and walked with BombaYo’s annual parranda in Bushwick, warmed by the joy of every old lady who stopped to dance. I went out to Hunts Point for the Teamsters strike. I hung with the taxi drivers since the first night of their sit-in at City Hall. I stayed up till dawn at the Chelsea Hotel, where a few old-school bohemians have held onto their apartments like fortresses. I made a million bottles of coquito. I had my friends, my man, my parents, my city… and though I miss the world terribly, these are enough.