2022 Year in Review

Goodbye Maiden Lane

The big news was… we moved. Or rather, we were kicked out. A shadowy LLC bought the building where me and Fred had been for the last twelve years and promptly evicted everyone who lived there. We had ninety days to pack up our lives. The place is now locked up, the electricity shut off. In a few years, they’ll probably tear it down.

we had one hell of a party to send our old place off. We left some love notes on the walls

We’re in South Williamsburg now, where I lived when I was twenty and which will always be Los Sures in my heart. I’m drawing portraits of my neighbors.

Bodega king
Ralphy and his crew

Sad as I was to move, I love my new home so much more.

St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Cathedral with Some Captured Russian Death Machines. Drawn from life in Kyiv

–       I visited Ukraine this August, during the short spell when the war seemed to have been pushed back to the East. I travelled by night train through this magnificent country, to Kyiv, Lviv and Odesa, and also to Bucha where Russians committed some of their most notorious atrocities.  I wrote about the experience for New York Review of Books. I got to speak more about my trip on Democracy Now, alongside my friend, Ukrainian motorcyclist Anna Grechishkina. Anna is now volunteering in Kherson. You can send her money here.

The Bund Memorial in Warsaw

–       I also travelled around Latvia, Lithuania and Poland to research my book on the Jewish Labor Bund.

Riga! Just look at it!

I drew Riga’s art nouveau splendor.

Lukiskis prison in Vilnius, which is now an arts center
Vilna Choral Synagoguethe last working shul in a place once called the Jerusalem of Lithuania

I used my Yiddish to talk to old men in near abandoned synagogues in cities whose names used to be Dvinsk and Vilna.

The new NYC DSA HQ (how’s that for alphabet soup?)

–       I made murals at the DSA HQ, and also at both locations of the scrumptious Georgian restaurant Cheeseboat

Those pants have so much paint on them they could stand up by themselves
Cheeseboat on N9th between Bedford and Berry. Try the khachipuri!

–       I wrote about the corporate theft behind generative “art” AIs for The LA Times. I raged at the murder of Roe for Forever Wars. I gave an elegiac portrait of New York’s last secular Yiddish bookstore, CYCO books for The New York Review of Books (the store has since been saved). I also wrote the introduction for Katherine Dunn’s long-lost early novel Toad, and a catalog essay for Boris Lurie’s exhibit at the Center for Jewish Heritage.

Hy Wolfe, gentleman king of CYCO books, drawn for The New York Review of Books

–      I started a series of portraits of my beautiful friends, in my great grandmother’s wingback chair. I decided that I needed more beauty in my life, overall.

–       I drew a last glimpse of Exarchia before the government destroyed the square like they always wanted to. You can buy a print to support the neighborhood’s ongoing fight for self-preservation.

Exarchia, I miss you
My man Tipu rallies the crowds from atop a taxi

–      My 2021 piece “How the Taxi Workers Won,” co-published by The Nation and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, was awarded the 2022 Debra E. Bernhardt Labor Journalism Prize, along with a bunch of other prizes that I forgot about. The best part was how the drivers came to the awards ceremony.

–       I did dozens of portraits to help promote my friend Stephen Thrasher’s new book The Viral Underclass

–       I signed to illustrate Tiger Slayer, a young adult book about Mughal empress Nur Jahan by my dear friend and the great historian Ruby Lal. I can’t show you our art yet but it is sumptuous.

Most of all, Fred and I built out our new place here in Brooklyn, a place I hope is as legendary and notorious as that old loft on Maiden Lane. It was such a wreck when we moved in, and so many friends have helped make it into a home. I wake up and feel surrounded in love.

Me, now in Brooklyn