All posts by Admin

Spy or a victim?

illustration picture

A spy would probably be afraid coming to New York, for a simple reason. He would likely be interrogated by the security forces, and actually imprisoned, or even tortured. But what if only someone dubbed you as a spy, and you actually never worked for any government? Mathew, a young writer from Slovakia, found a way to come and tell him amazing inspirational story to the audience assembled in New York’s library, though he’s afraid traveling to the States.

Mathew organized the very first ever virtual writer-reader meeting in NY library. The attendees could see him on a big screen, where he live-streamed from his home in Slovakia. He believes to become an unwitting pawn in covert intelligence games played between the United States and Iran, and that’s why he could come to present his book in person.


Six months in Iranian prison

Mathew V. allegedly spent six months behind the bars of notorious Evin Prison in Tehran, between August 2012 and February 2013, accused of spying for the CIA. But he doesn’t blame the Iranian secret services for his ordeal. He blames the central intelligence agency.

In a breathtaking interview, he narrated his experiences from prison, and how he got unwittingly involved in espionage. To the surprise of the most listeners, Mathew didn’t only narrate negative experience. He found positives on his imprisonment in solitary confinement, and actually called it “the most difficult and the most important time of my life.” He also shared some stories of other prisoners that didn’t have the happy ending and made everyone in the room appreciate that we live in a free country…


Close to a real writer-reader meeting?

With the help of interactive cameras, the writer could see his audience, and adjust his speech to the mood in the room. He got many questions about his book, University of Solitude too, presenting the unique combination of story, philosophy and mental battle.

More than sixty people came to hear the young writer, who, though becoming more popular in the US, is still reluctant to come and visit the country. His interactive lecture in New York’s library was an experiment he may never repeat again.

I was in the audience, and I couldn’t help feeling something was missing. The screen betrays the emotions, and tells a lot about the person, but it can’t really replace the physical presence. And if I had the copy of the book with me (which I didn’t since I don’t read books), Mathew would not sign it with a friendly wish. Nevertheless, in his specific case, if he really got involved into the games of international espionage, his decision to not travel to the US was probably a wise one. And New York library staff got a good idea how to invite foreign writers to speak there, with little expenses….


Experimental Theater – No Voices

illustration picture, getty images

Our thoughts and wishes can be expressed in different ways. Words are the most common tool for communication–and even they aren’t always clear. We don’t always understand what our friend or partner tries to tell us with words.

Now imagine that someone was writing screenplays without words. That he targeted other senses we posses, such as touch and smell, and of course vision, trying to develop them. The screenwriter actually lives in New York and runs an alternative theater in the basement of Old Raven Square building.


Silence – a rare article in the street of New York

Once you enter the theater, you’ll be struck by the silence. The basement rooms are soundproof, and nobody says a word down there. Actors (typically amateurs from the street) dance, move around, and express emotions with the helps of gesticulation and mimics. There is a bunch of smiles and cries, but no words indeed….

As you can guess, the plots are simple, and the smells in the room and clothes of the actors should help you understand what the actors are thinking and going through. As Charlie, the director of the theater believes,watching a play we know nothing about brings us closer the problems we face in daily life.

You need to imagine your own story. The actors are expressing emotions, and their clothes and surrounding should help you to get the idea of the plot. But what’s actually going on is for you to imagine. Most people relate the story to their own life, and we purposely choose the topics accordingly. If you have an open mind and aren’t afraid to face your demons, it’s easy make a connection. We welcome you to discover the world of your own inner theater.

Other people come to simply enjoy the silence. In New York silence is a precious thing, and most people can’t even afford it in their homes, with ever-present buzz of cars and advertising billboards. They probably come to my theater just to relax, or even to sleep. I don’t mind that anyway.


Project with no boundaries

The director has even more crazy plans for the future. He considers involving the audience in the play, picking random people on the scene. They will simply join the actors expressing their emotions–what they are feeling and going through. Charlie hopes to make the theater realistic, pursuing the function the place always tried to fulfill: mirroring our own lives, dreams, and disappointments…. It’s not only the actors in the theater who face them–we all do, and cannot escape.

Are you tempted to come? Or are you afraid to face the reality of your own being? One way or another, the admission is free on Monday. You should give it a try and see yourself if you won’t fall in love with this magic theater.

From Homeless to Businessman

Illustration photo

Life writes the most amazing stories. Most of the time, however, there’s no happy ending. People who fall to the fringe of society typically suffer and can’t find the way out of their struggles. It’s alarming to see so many young people searching for food in the rubbish bins of New York. The contrast of poverty and richness is striking…. However, some people manage to overcome their odds, and come back to living normal life. Bob K. belongs to this group, and we would like to thank Caren for submitting this inspirational story about a news stand owner from New York.


Bob couldn’t handle the death of his wife

Bob originally belonged to the working class. Hard labor on construction site was his daily bread. He never refused an invitation for a beer or two from his colleague, but that was it. He’d never drunk excessively. After all he had a young wife, and they were trying for a child.

World turned upside down for Bob on an ordinary Thursday evening. An ambulance stood in front of the house as he was returning home. Marla, his wife, was lying on the floor. She was death–a sudden heart failure. Doctors could do nothing to save her….


Bob started to drink, falling ever lower on the spiral of emotions

Bob couldn’t handle the loss. He started to drink more, and more. Only alcohol helped him to forget. Few times he came late to work, few times he smelled of alcohol. Soon enough they fired him. He didn’t feel like working anymore anyway. He started to drink even more, forgetting to pay his bills. Executors came to take the house. Bob was in debt, without job, without a home. United States are the country of opportunities, but also a country of indifference. If you can’t make a living, nobody gives a dough about your health or whereabouts.

Bob became homeless, and soon enough he hit the rock bottom. Winter arrived and Bob was freezing outside, sharing strange cold places with other homeless. One night he froze so badly that he thought he’d never move his toes again. The next morning, a guy was walking around him carrying a bunch of magazines in hand. Bob remembered seeing the guy in the Autumn, in the park. He stopped him and asked about the magazines. It turned out that a local charity started the project, offering newspapers for homeless people to sell them in the streets. Each interested man got first ten magazines for free, together with a unique identification card. The final price for the magazines was three euro a piece, exactly the same as in the news stand. But homeless people could buy them from the charity for $1.5 (the printing costs), and keep the profit (or invest into buying further magazines to sell).


Bob, the salesman

Bob decided to give it a try. He originally hoped to make juts enough to get himself a bed in one of the refugee stations in the city. A bed and a warm meal for the cold winter evening–that was Bob’s original motivation. He got the first ten magazines and headed into the streets. He approached people, he was shouted at and cursed, but he didn’t give up. After an hour Bob sold his first magazine.

On the next evening, he had already sold all ten of them, and got a bed and meal for the night, still managed to save $21. Bob decided to invest the money into more magazines. He continued roaming the streets, selling to complete strangers. Soon enough he got the skill, and managed to sell more than 20 magazines a day. That made for a healthy profit of $30.

Time passed, Bob stopped drinking, and understood that he really enjoyed selling the magazines. If only he could make enough to rent himself some apartment again, and started living normally.  It was probably a destiny that he walked around a news stand, seeing the guy walking from inside, and placing an ad on the window: “For rent or sale”.

Bob talked to the guy immediately, and they arranged a good deal. He got the news stand, a place where he could not only sell magazines, but also sleep in the night. Little by little, he learned the rules of business, and how to operate such a stand, in terms of suppliers, accounting, and other things. Now, he runs this stand successfully, and manages to make so much money that he actually rented a small apartment. He’s typically busy from morning to evening, but he doesn’t mind that–being busy helps him to not think about Marla anymore…..

New startup meetings in the underground theater

startup event, illustrated picture

A giant rises from the ashes. What a symbolic! Or perhaps from the dark rooms of underground theater, to the business centers of New York…. Also that can be a story of a start up, though most often than not, the new businesses won’t make it that far. One way or another, trying to start is a business and grow it is as good a lesson as anything you can do in life. And now, young people (or those young in their hearts) have a chance to get a valuable feedback on their ideas and concepts.

The Underground Theater of Broadway, usually opened for alternative and unrealistic plays and with its spaces deep below the streets of NY, known just to the dedicated few, decided to offer their rooms for businessmen to present their ideas. Every Monday, 7pm, you can meet here some brights and crazy minds of New York, presenting and discussing their dreams.

Not your typical startup meeting

Typical start up events are done primarily for business. The organizers charge the attendees, and more often than not the venture capitalists look for the ideas to support, or possibly steal.

But it’s very different in the inspirational underground theater. Here people have to prepare a short play (can be a one man show), illustrating how their service/product can change the lives of New Yorkers. Other people sit in the chairs, forming the audience, and once the play is over, they ask questions and show their opinion on both the presentation and the product.

Nobody pays any fees. People an network freely, and you’d for sure find several venture capitalists in the audience each Monday. After all, what else than fund raising would motivate a young gun to present his business idea to other people?


Forming groups, working together

Two heads manage more than one, goes the old saying. And there’s definitely something about it when we talk business. In the startup event you can meet like-minded people, and start meeting with them regularly after the event. You can form unofficial trusts that can later on transform to companies, and businesses. One way or another, it’s very hard to pursue any  big dream alone, especially without money, and with the competition you face in every sphere of business on the streets of New York.

So don’t be afraid to join the event, and tell them that you found an article on Be sure we are sitting in the audience every Monday evening, trying to steal ideas. 🙂 Ehm, I wanted to say that we are there to support you, and give you some inspiration and courage to go on pursuing your dream….

Slow Dog – An interesting concept to hot dog

illustration picture, Wikipedia

You might have heard of slow food initiative already. Those are gourmets who try to bring back local, high quality food to the streets and restaurants of our metropolis, and other big cities in the world. They are trying to fight against the ever-present fast food culture, which made us consume the same garbage food everywhere we go in the world. But would you connect HOT DOG with the slow food initiative? Not in the wildest dreams….

We didn’t get it either, until we contacted the slow food society, seeking explanation. As they refereed to us:

Slow food label has nothing to do with the type of dish you present. It’s all about the ingredients you use, the way you prepare the food, and the way you serve it to customers. Also hot dog can belong to slow food, if made from home-grown cattle meat, fresh vegetables and high quality local mustard/ketchup. Homemade bread makes it even more ‘slow food’.


Slow dog – a new stand to keep an eye on while walking the Broadway

Max, the Dog (artistic name) has started a first stand offering ‘slow hot dogs’ to the people of New York. His hot dog has a similar appearance to any other hot dog you’d get in the streets, but boost significant difference in the way of preparation, and how Max gets the ingredients for his stand. In his own words:

We cooperate with small farms owners, based about two hundred miles from New York. They provide us meat for our sausages. We use much more meat that typical producers do, which gives our hot dogs much better taste. We also use minimum preservatives and colorants, to make the taste authentic. Then we buy all our vegetables from local bio-production, so our customer can be sure they’re eating no chemicals with our hot dog.

Also we have rolls from the local bakery, just ten minutes walk from here. They are crunchy and freshly made, not like the rolls made from frozen pastry prepared few months ago you’d get in most other stands. We are proud to offer the best hot dog in New York.

Price – the difference maker?

Face it or not, America is still in crises, and the new president likely won’t change anything about it. It’s a difference to get a hot dog for two bucks and for five, that’s one of the reasons why we are not sure if Slow Dog concept will leave its mark in the city where everything’s unhealthy, and deadly fast.

You have a say – when you stoop for a hot dog, would you not mind waiting five minutes to finally grab your food? Maybe the Slow Food concept has a broader goal in mind–or perhaps just I want to see it. The concept should help us learn to slow down, to not rush everywhere. Take a seat, grab normal food, have a conversation with our friends, without looking at the displays of our smartphones all the time…. Without a doubt, concepts like slow food can inspire us to make changes in our life, and they can have positive impact. But the question is whether the aggressive fast paced business environment of New York won’t send the Slow ones to bankruptcy…  Slow is not always bad. Sometimes it is actually better…..