George Hahn loves New York. But in 2016, the writer, actor and sartorial pragmatist wrote an essay about how the city — his home for 22 years — had become unsustainable for his creative lifestyle. He decided to move home, to Cleveland, Ohio, where he marveled at his 1,000-square-foot apartment (with in-suite washer/dryer). But he grew to miss New York terribly. So when a Manhattan dermatologist offered him a full-time job, he returned — in January 2020.
By that March, he had been furloughed.
Mr. Hahn spent his newfound free time on Instagram and Twitter (he used to be the social media director for Joan Rivers), where he mostly expressed his reignited passion for New York.
“It might be going down as one of the best loves of my life,” Mr. Hahn said of the city. “To spend my money somewhere else when business is needed here would feel disloyal. To be among the counted when so many left, among those who stuck it out, is a privilege.”
Last summer Mr. Hahn recorded a satirical video of New York as hellscape — “The streets are lined with people doing things like … getting ice cream … gay ice cream” — which went viral. “Then I started feeling the pressure: Is this my ‘Citizen Kane’? Or can there be more of this?”
He started recording his walks and his shaving sessions — where he’d discuss anything from his sober, vegetarian lifestyle to politics — and posting daily “Good Morning” images, often with a film noir bent and involving coffee.
Mr. Hahn now has over 128,000 followers on Twitter, including entertainers like Jane Lynch and Wanda Sykes. “This is all a total surprise to me,” he said.
But he still has his day job — as a patient concierge for a cosmetic dermatologist — which he returned to full-time last June. Mr. Hahn, 50, lives with his two dogs, Smokey and Lenore, in a 360-square-foot converted hotel room on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. “It’s a very edited life,” he said.
GOOD MORNING My day starts with coffee. My coffee method is gloriously analog. I use a Chemex. There’s something great about making your coffee with something that is part of the permanent collection at MoMA. I take my coffee black, straight, like I took my vodka.
On Sundays I don’t set an alarm, nor do I shave. I’m very lucky to have two dogs that are not crack-of-dawn dogs. They are like teenagers. I have two cups of coffee. I read the Times on my iPad. The dogs wake up. We rally and head over to Central Park.
SHOE BOX CHIC My dogs eat this frozen raw food. I put the food in their bowls before the walk so it’s thawed out when we return. On Sundays, I try to do as much task-free and mask-free activity as possible. I wear a mask all week. So I spend time in this chic little shoe box. It’s the only place where I’m comfortable. I’ll pour another cup of coffee. I’ll read more. I try to put a dent in that growing pile of New Yorkers.
STROLL I might go to the Strand, formerly Book Culture. Most of the books I acquire are in digital form; the last physical book I bought was Jerry Seinfeld’s “Is This Anything?” I love the smell of bookstores, and it makes me feel smarter just to stand in one. I’ll also go to Zabar’s to pick up items like rugelach, bagels, their lifesaving cream cheese, French/Italian roast coffee and maybe one of their prepared foods for dinner that night.
RIDE I may go on a bike ride in Central Park or down the river, if it’s not too cold or raining; when it comes to temperature and precipitation I’m a baby. I deliberately chose a bicycle that is neutral in terms of its attire requirements. It’s like a Schwinn that someone would have had in the ’70s. Leather seat, upright. I went to a formal event in a tuxedo on it.
REST The dogs might be due for another walk. After that, I feel so free to take a nap, because I’m so old. I love them. I don’t know what I was fighting in my childhood. My apartment is a hotel room, so I’ve set it up like a hotel room lifestyle. I’ll get on the bed and nap as if I were napping in the hotel room. There’s the TV, a desk, a lounge chair.
LISTEN Because I’m a podcast fanatic, this might be the time slot for that. I like Pivot, with Scott Galloway and Kara Swisher. I like On the Media. The New Yorker Radio Hour. The New Abnormal. Here’s the Thing With Alec Baldwin. The War on Cars. Sway. I also listen to a lot of NPR.
APPOINTMENT WITH MOM After my nap, I always call my mother. She’s in Cleveland. We usually talk about what she had to eat, the weather, what she’s watching on Netflix — if it’s got a British accent and a costume, or if there’s a murder, she’s a kid in a candy store. If she could live in the Agatha Christie universe she’d be very happy.
DINNER It bothers me that ordering apps take a large cut from restaurants. I’ll go to Viand or Motorino and get it and bring it home, so they’ll get all the money. It’s such a trick bag. Because the delivery workers need to work, too. But it’s my preference to pick it up and bring it home.
ON COOKING I have two burners and a convection microwave. It’s so limited. It’s like asking a flight attendant to make you lunch. Amy’s frozen burritos are actually really good. I never knew how much I enjoyed peanut butter and jelly.
ON CLOTHING My wardrobe is extremely edited. I have a standard closet with two rungs. My suits, my shirts that come from the cleaners, everything is on those two rungs. I have lighter-weather stuff on the other rung. I’ll swap out when the season comes. In the summer, my winter wear will go into a storage box under my bed. I have exactly five pairs of dress shoes. I use a cream called Saphir, it’s from France, to shine my shoes. I use an old T-shirt or an old pair of underwear if that’s not too gross. Then I use another T-shirt to buff them dry and a shoe brush. I’m very particular.
AT NIGHT I’ll often watch TV while I eat. The only surface in my apartment is my desk. I’ll move the laptop and eat there. Or I’ll eat in bed watching TV, like one would do in a hotel. There will be a last dog walk. A few laps around the neighborhood. They want to party after that last walk, so there’s an effort to dial down the mood. Smokey, who is little, sleeps with me, and Lenore sleeps on her bed or under my bed. We manage.
THE BEST MEDICINE As I’m doing my comedown ritual — I’ll get into my boxer shorts and T-shirt, wash my face, put on some night cream, brush my teeth — I love listening to stand-up: Jim Gaffigan, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, and one of my all-time favorites, Maria Bamford. And Tig Notaro. I’ll set the sleep timer on my Sonos. I’ll drift off, listening to comedy. It’s weird, I know.
Joan Rivers said that laughter is like giving someone a vacation. This pandemic has been hell. It’s been extremely lonely. Listening to comedy before going to bed has been really comforting.
Sunday Routine readers can follow George Hahn on Twitter or Instagram @georgehahn, and on TikTok @georgehahnnyc.
F.E.C. Drops Case Reviewing Trump Hush-Money Payments to Women
The Federal Election Commission said on Thursday that it had formally dropped a case looking into whether former President Donald J. Trump violated election law with a payment of $130,000 shortly before the 2016 election to a pornographic-film actress by his personal lawyer at the time, Michael D. Cohen.
The payment was never reported on Mr. Trump’s campaign filings. Mr. Cohen would go on to say that Mr. Trump had directed him to arrange payments to two women during the 2016 race, and would apologize for his involvement in a hush-money scandal. Mr. Cohen was sentenced to prison for breaking campaign finance laws, tax evasion and lying to Congress.
“It was my own weakness and a blind loyalty to this man that led me to choose a path of darkness over light,” Mr. Cohen said of Mr. Trump in court in 2018.
While Mr. Cohen has served time in prison, Mr. Trump has not faced legal consequences for the payment.
“The hush money payment was done at the direction of and for the benefit of Donald J. Trump,” Mr. Cohen said in a statement to The New York Times. “Like me, Trump should have been found guilty. How the F.E.C. committee could rule any other way is confounding.”
In a statement on Friday, Mr. Trump thanked the F.E.C. for dropping what he called “the phony case against me concerning payments to women relative to the 2016 presidential election.”
In December 2020, the F.E.C. issued an internal report from its Office of General Counsel on how to proceed in its review. The office said it had found “reason to believe” violations of campaign finance law were made “knowingly and willfully” by the Trump campaign.
But the election commission — split evenly between three Republicans and three Democratic-aligned commissioners — declined to proceed in a closed-door meeting in February. Two Republican commissioners voted to dismiss the case while two Democratic commissioners voted to move forward. There was one absence and one Republican recusal.
That decision was announced on Thursday.
Two of the Democratic commissioners on the F.E.C., Shana Broussard, the current chairwoman, and Ellen Weintraub, objected to not pursuing the case after the agency’s staff had recommended further investigation.
“To conclude that a payment, made 13 days before Election Day to hush up a suddenly newsworthy 10-year-old story, was not campaign-related, without so much as conducting an investigation, defies reality,” they wrote in a letter.
The Republican commissioners who voted not to proceed with an investigation, Trey Trainor and Sean Cooksey, said that pursuing the case was “not the best use of agency resources,” that “the public record is complete” already and that Mr. Cohen had already been punished.
“We voted to dismiss these matters as an exercise of our prosecutorial discretion,” Mr. Cooksey and Mr. Trainor wrote.
A spokesman for Mr. Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Cohen case captured the public’s attention in 2018 after the F.B.I. raided his office, apartment and hotel room, hauling off boxes of documents, cellphones and computers. Months later, Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty to, among other charges, campaign finance violations.
He said in court that he had arranged payments — including $130,000 to the adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford — “for the principal purpose of influencing the election.”
The payment was far in excess of the legal limit for individual contributions for president, which was then $2,700.
Mr. Cohen further said he had arranged for a $150,000 payment by American Media Inc. to Karen McDougal, a former Playboy playmate, earlier in 2016.
Mr. Cohen would later turn on Mr. Trump and write his own book about serving as the former president’s enforcer while he was a businessman. The book was called “Disloyal: A Memoir.”
And Then There Was One: G.O.P. Defends Its Last Seat in Queens
“Right now, the city is off the track,” she said. “It is absolutely a derailed train and needs to be brought back to the center.”
She said cuts in police funding and bail-reform measures have helped turn the city into “a blood-soaked shooting gallery” that is driving New Yorkers away. She also opposes the mayor’s plan to close Rikers Island and build smaller jails across the five boroughs.
Mr. Ulrich said he was supporting Ms. Ariola, and that he believed she could win in November.
“People in this district vote for the person, not the party,” he said. “They are willing to vote for a moderate Republican when the Democrat is too liberal.”
But not all Queen Republicans agree. Ms. Ariola’s campaign has already been affected by the kind of vitriolic infighting that has divided borough Republicans for years.
The Queens Republican Patriots, a splinter faction within the county party, backed a local businessman, Steve Sirgiovanni, to run against Ms. Ariola in the primary. Her team responded by getting him ousted from the ballot over his petition filings, a ruling his campaign is appealing.
Joe Concannon, who founded the Queens Republican Patriots in 2018, said party leaders have become more fixated on battling fellow Republicans than on battling Democrats. The focus, he said, should be on building the party through fund-raising, enrollment and recruiting moderate Democrats frustrated with the leftward drift of their party.
For decades, handfuls of Queens Republicans managed to win elections in the borough despite its demographic and political shifts. But in 2012, Councilman Peter Koo, a Republican, switched parties to the Democrats, citing excessive Republican infighting. In 2013, Republican Councilman Dan Halloran, whose belief in Paganism had already made him a controversial figure, left office after becoming embroiled in a bribery scheme to sell a spot on the Republican ballot.
Spotlighting a History of Slavery in N.Y.C.
Weather: Sunny morning, cloudy afternoon and a high in the mid-60s. Occasional showers and mid-50s on Saturday. Mother’s Day starts nice but turns threatening, high in the mid-60s.
Alternate-side parking: In effect until Thursday (Solemnity of the Ascension).
Nostrand Avenue. Boerum Hill. Prospect Lefferts Gardens.
They’re well-known Brooklyn roads and neighborhoods, among those across the city that draw their name from influential families of the past. But less familiar are the ties those families had to slavery.
A new campaign called Slavers of New York is aiming to change that by calling out — and eventually mapping — the history of slavery in New York City. The effort highlights the streets, subway stations and neighborhoods named after enslavers.
“We’ve all been given this education around, ‘Slavery happened in the South, and the North were the good guys,’ when in reality it was happening here,” said Maria Robles, one of the people behind the initiative.
[Read more about why Ms. Robles and her collaborators started the initiative.]
Here’s a look at what my colleague Julianne McShane learned about the project:
Where did the idea come from?
Elsa Eli Waithe, 33, who is Black and lives in Brooklyn, was speaking with a white friend about a Confederate monument dismantled in Virginia, their home state, last summer. Mx. Waithe recalled the friend’s dismissing the statue as a Southern issue.
But months earlier, Mx. Waithe had stumbled upon records from the nation’s first census in 1790. It listed well-known New York families. To the right of their names was a category: “slaves,” with the number of Black people each family enslaved, from 14 for the Boerums to 87 for the Lefferts.
What does the project consist of?
It’s a sticker campaign, at least for now. Ms. Robles, Mx. Waithe and their other collaborator, Ada Reso, are laying out stickers, which mimic street signs, feature the names of prominent New Yorkers and provide details on the number of slaves they owned.
The three have distributed about 1,000 stickers so far, mostly in Brooklyn, placing them onto light poles and parking meters. They hope to expand eventually throughout the five boroughs.
What other connections does New York have to slavery?
Slavery dates to the city’s very beginnings. And for enslaved people in the South who escaped to New York, a main stop on the Underground Railroad, permanent freedom was not guaranteed.
In the 17th century, Peter Stuyvesant, the namesake of sites like Stuyvesant High School and Stuyvesant Town, enslaved 15 to 30 people. The websites for the school and apartment complex do not mention that history — but the Slavers of New York stickers offer the additional information.
From The Times
Want more news? Check out our full coverage.
The Mini Crossword: Here is today’s puzzle.
What we’re reading
A high school student — recently accepted to college — and her parents died after a fire erupted in their Nassau County home. [NBC 4 New York]
Propane heaters were a lifeline for restaurants in the winter. Now owners hope to make the emergency program that allowed them, set to end soon, permanent. [Eater New York]
What we’re watching: The Times’s Metro reporter J. David Goodman discusses the state of the mayoral race and how allegations of sexual assault have affected Scott Stringer’s run on “The New York Times Close Up With Sam Roberts.” The show airs on Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 1:30 p.m. and Sunday at 12:30 p.m. [CUNY TV]
And finally: Your virtual social weekend
The Times’s Melissa Guerrero writes:
Although many performance spaces, museums and community centers are closed, people are finding creative ways to connect through virtual events and programs. Here are suggestions for maintaining a New York social life this weekend while keeping a safe distance from other people.
Panel: ‘Mutual Aid in Disastrous Times’
On Friday at 2 p.m., join a discussion about mutual aid with the authors Naomi Klein, Dean Spade, adrienne maree brown and the activist and musician Klee Benally.
Register for free on the event page.
Reading: ‘Celebrating Black Women’s Voices’
In celebrating their upcoming debut collections, listen to readings by the authors Khalisa Rae, Ashanti Anderson, Amber McBride, I.S. Jones and Naomi Extra on Friday at 7 p.m., followed by a Q. and A.
R.S.V.P. for free on the event page. Donations are welcome.
Screening: ‘Run Uje Run’
On Friday at 8 p.m., watch “Run Uje Run,” an autobiographical comedy by Uje Brandelius, as part of the New Nordic Cinema series at the Scandinavia House.
Purchase tickets ($13) on the event page.
It’s Friday — smile.
Metropolitan Diary: People on the bus
I was on an M23, heading west to Chelsea Piers on a spring afternoon. The bus was relatively quiet; most of the passengers were older women sitting with carts full of shopping bags.
At one stop, a young man in a suit got on. He held out his MetroCard, searching for the slot where he was supposed to stick it in to pay his fare. The driver pointed toward the ticket kiosks on the sidewalk.
“You have to get a pass there,” she said. “Go on, I’ll wait.”
Looking confused, the man got off the bus. It was clearly his first experience with Select Bus Service, and with the sidewalk kiosks that dispense the tickets needed for such buses. He appeared to freeze at the thought of a bus full of passengers waiting for him to figure out what to do.
Fortunately, most of the passengers were regular riders who were happy to help.
“Push the button!” one woman wheezed through her window. “Yes, the button. There’s only one. Yes!”
He did as he was told.
“That’s it,” a second woman a few seats away said. “Now put in the card.”
Again, the man followed the instructions he had been given. Then, with a look of relief, he pulled his MetroCard out of the kiosk and hurried back toward the bus.
“No! No!” a group of passengers yelled, all gesturing frantically toward the kiosk. “Get the ticket! The ticket! THE TICKET!”
Sheepishly, the man returned to the machine, grabbed the slip of paper and then bounded back to the bus.
The applause that erupted as he boarded again seemed to combine sincere congratulations for a job well done with a faint hint of good-natured mockery.
The doors closed, and on we went.
— Yael Schick
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