Articles by

<Marian Lorraine>

10/08/10 3:29pm


Something odd is happening on 14th Street. A slightly built man is carrying an antique wooden yolk across his back, ambling down the sidewalk. Attached are two buckets of dirty water. Behind him, by about three blocks, is another man, this one toting a yolk made of broom handles; behind him, a third, his yolk made of PVC. A final man follows, his yolk made from aluminum, padded by a florescent pink and black kerchief. When I ask what they’re doing, they explain they’re carrying water from the East River to the Hudson, and back again, all afternoon, as if it’s the most natural thing in the word. Yes, this is a performance art piece, called Pump 14, by the new collective Brolab (a spin on the 1970s Manhattan art collective CoLab.)

At the edge of the island, the group dumps the buckets in the East River (a fish pops out of one) and uses a pump to refill them. “We want to slow things down a little, go back in time,” says Ryan Roa, an artist who usually works with light sculptures and installations. “The futility is part of it. We’re not doing something that different than everyone else on this street.”

Travis Southworth, who recently received a fellowship in photography from the New York Foundation of the Arts, says, “The heart of Brolab is really our connection to each other. This is obviously a sisyphean task.” He adds, “The city forgets it is surrounded by water. We’re bringing it through, and people recognize and interact with it. It’s about futility, but also about masculinity and labor.”

Can a girl be a bro? “That’s certainly a question,” says Raul Alexander, a Brooklyn-based painter. “There was a young woman who volunteered and helped us this week. It’s just that when you have a collective like this sometimes a mixed group ruins things. Suddenly someone’s sleeping with someone, and then there’s tension…” Adam Brent, a Brooklyn sculptor who focuses on domesticity, place and memory, is listening to headphones while he hauls his buckets. I ask what he’s listening to. “You only live once. I’m trying to multitask. Getting the pregame for the Yankees.”

What have reactions been to the piece? “We get a lot of looks. But then, a lot of people don’t look. Everyone is texting. I have had people say that we have too much time on our hands,” says Ryan. “But it hasn’t been easy to make this time. I don’t have health insurance, or go on vacation. We make sacrifices for this.” Adam agrees: “This activity has given me an awareness of labor. Feeling it, and seeing it. And it’s helped us interact. It’s not political in any way. It’s been wonderful.” Alexander continues: “There’s not a product, but there is a continuous process. It’s about creating energy where something can happen.”

I ask if they’ve heard of the Zen proverb “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” They have not, but smile ruefully. It makes sense. On Friday and Saturday, the group will be joined by Ken Madore, who has spent the last few months in a boat building colony upstate and is traveling to the city to carry his bamboo yolk for the 24-hour cycle the group will be performing this weekend, culminating in a Happy Hour at Otto’s Shrunken Head, tomorrow, from 3 to 6pm. When I mention that seems harder than the New York Marathon, considering they wont be going in shifts, Adam does some math on his phone, then buries his head in his hands. They will be covering about 40 miles in 24 hours. But Brolab is, on the whole, cheerful. They are not artists who relentlessly advertise themselves, or think they’re just too talented for hard work; Brolab is passive, gently relentless, and quietly liberating.

If you see them this weekend, cheer them on. Or buy them a beer.

09/01/10 4:00am


Hailed at: LES
Hails from: India
Nighttime, definitely nighttime. My main problem is traffic and there’s less traffic at night so that is when I like to drive. The drunk people don’t bother me too much as long as they know where there are going. It’s more calm. New York is busy enough, I would rather work when there are less people out. I like to have the days to myself, too. If I work all day and get off work, then everything I want to do is already closed. I don’t know how people live like that.


Hailed at: West Village
Hails from: India
I like the night shift. It’s a different world, there are less cops. Or the cops that there are aren’t as concerned with traffic tickets and what I am doing. It’s better money, too. When I drove during the days there was too much competition and I could barely survive. Now I have more money for my family.


Hailed at: Bushwick
Hails from: Pakistan
Day shift is better for me. If you work too long at night you begin to go crazy. You become too isolated and you have no friends. It’s true the money can be better, but money isn’t everything. I would rather see the light some time and not become crazy.

08/18/10 1:00am

Hailed in: Midtown
Hailed from: Brooklyn
You know, I totally understand why people don’t want one there. That’s obvious. But I think it would be good to have one there because of what it would say. We’d have to be pretty accepting if after what happened we still built a mosque. I don’t think other countries could do that. And of course its going to upset some people, but everything about 9/11 is upsetting. It should be hard, because it’s easier to be a terrorist than it is to be good, and we’re better than them.

Hailed in: Port Authority
Hailed from: Dominican Republic
I have no idea. That’s a hard question. Listen, I was here on 9/11, and unless you were here you have no idea what it was like. People who weren’t here shouldn’t even say anything. There’s so much anger and sadness there that there shouldn’t be anything there that adds to that. So, no. Or yes, but so long as the Republicans don’t say anything.

Hailed in: Union Square
Hailed from: Pakistan
What people forget about 9/11 is that Muslims died that day, too. Those guys killed their own. So there should be a place for Muslims to go. I don’t know what they’re proposing, but I assume there’s also going to be a church and synagogue? Then you should have a mosque and whatever else.

Hailed in: Park Slope
Hailed from: Bangladesh
I don’t know why people would get upset. No one is from America who lives here. We all come from somewhere else. Muslim people aren’t really a minority here. They are a huge population. They should put a mosque in at ground zero. Yes.


Hailed in: West Village
Hailed from: New York
It seems risky to me. I don’t know why they have to build it there. I’m from New York, so I get that everyone belongs here, but it seems like kind of a slap in the face. I think they kind of just want the attention. Of course they have a right to be there. But people should be more, you know, careful. Like, I’m not gonna go to parts of Williamsburg and open a porn store. Or, I’m not gonna go fly like a confederate flag or whatever in Harlem. There are rights, and then there’s just being stupid.

07/07/10 1:30am

Hailed in: Hell’s Kitchen
Hails from: Bosnia
I can’t tell you how mad it makes me. Every day you hear more and more about all the violations BP has had in the past. You know what I think should be done? If a person were to act like BP, causing all that death, they would be killed. BP should be put to death. We should execute the company. Sell everything and use the money to repair the damage done to the environment and the people who live near the spill.

Hailed in: Midtown
Hails from: Turkey
The spill really scares me. I have nightmares about it. It”s like we stabbed the Earth and now it’s bleeding to death. I really fear that this is going to kill the oceans, that there won’t be any fish anymore. The spill keeps getting bigger and we can’t stop it.

Hailed in: Chelsea
Hails from: Boston
I’d like to boycott BP because of this, but I read that these oil companies are all so buddy-buddy it’s essentially impossible to stick it to them in any way. It really shows how we need electric cars so we don’t need oil anymore.

Hailed in: West Village
Hails from: Russia
It is a terrible shame. I do not buy my gas from the BP gas stations. Everyone involved should face serious consequences. I know they are trying to fix it now, but there’s no fixing it. I saw the pictures of the animals on the internet and it was very sad.


Hailed in: LES
Hails from: Ghana
I can’t believe they can figure out how to drill for oil, but not to stop up a hole. They need to find a way to stop it. Of course there’s no profit to stopping it, so there you go.


Hailed in: Soho
Hails from:Romania
Oh, I don’t want to sound bad, but it doesn’t really matter to me so much, this oil spill. I have not seen any direct consequences. It is a big mess, but it happens. Everyone wants to be mad at someone so they pick these BP guys. But these guys are just doing their job like everybody else.

06/09/10 1:00am

Our favorite song is “Don’t Stop Believing,” 
by Journey. Thanks for asking.

Where I hailed him: Hell’s Kitchen
Where he hails from: Nashville
Years as a cabbie: 6
Previous profession: Construction
I couldn’t pick a band, let alone a song. The Beatles, the Stones, Elvis, Zeppelin, Hendrix… a thousand people. Maybe “Stairway to Heaven,” but the first thing that comes to mind is “Search and Destroy.” Iggy Pop and the Stooges. Possibly the greatest pure rock song of all time.

Where I hailed him: Midtown
Where he hails from: Brooklyn
Years as a cabbie: 15
Previous profession: No previous profession
“Thriller,” man! Fucking “Thriller”! Greatest song and album. Thirty years old and it’s still amazing. Wait, 30 years? Christ. I remember when it came out. There wasn’t anything like it before. Jackson was everyone’s hero. I like a lot of his other stuff, too, but just the early records, before he got fucked up.

Where I hailed him: Port Authority
Where he hails from: Queens
Years as a cabbie: 3
Previous profession: Worked in a stockroom
I like Kanye West and that one Beyoncé song, I guess. I don’t know. I don’t listen to a lot of music, but those are both on the radio a lot. I don’t know if that makes them my favorite, but I like them and they’re all I can think of.

Where I hailed him: East Village
Where he hails from: Brooklyn
Years as a cabbie: 2
Previous profession: Storeowner
Oh, I have to say my favorite song is “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin. I know a lot of people hate it, and it’s a cliché, but I actually did lose my virginity to that song. Wait. Are you writing this down? That’s hilarious.

05/26/10 1:00am

From actual bomb attempts to gas cans in the back seat to garbage wrapped in tinfoil, it’s going to be a long summer.

Where I hailed him:
Hell’s Kitchen
Where he hails from: New Jersey
Years as a cabbie: 7
Previous profession: Salesman
Obviously it’s upsetting, but from what I read, it seemed like a pretty half-assed attempt. I don’t really worry about it. You can drive yourself crazy worrying about that kind of thing and it won’t change anything. I’m more worried about credit card debt and paying for my kids to go to school. I mean, fuck those guys, but I have better things to focus on.

Where I hailed him:
Where he hails from: India
Years as a cabbie: 3
Previous profession: Always a driver
I do not stay in Times Square long if I can avoid it. I’m not saying I’m scared. I drive anywhere. I picked you up here, didn’t I? But I don’t really want to stick around Times Square. Probably it’s safer at the airport. Why do you ask? Because of my hat? I am not trying to blow anything up, believe me.

Where I hailed him:
Where he hails from: Bangladesh
Years as a cabbie: 5
Previous profession: Gas station attendant
Even though it’s just tourists who go to Times Square, you could still kill a lot of Americans, and that’s what they want to do, I suppose. I would rather drive anywhere right now. Even here. Now there are even more police there, in that area, and they do not like us so much. They are always giving us tickets. So, bombs and police and tourists? I don’t really want to go to Times Square, no.

Where I hailed him:
Times Square
Where he hails from: Queens
Years as a cabbie: 23
Previous profession: Always a driver
I think I’ve had about enough. Whether it’s a real threat or not, it’s too fucking stressful. I was born and raised here, but I think if it happens much more I’m going to move upstate.

Where I hailed him:
Where he hails from: Ireland
Years as a cabbie: 4
Previous profession: Student
[Note: this interview took place on the same day that an abandoned package prompted a brief evacuation of Times Square.] The whole thing is bullshit, and it’s terrifying. First that van and now this shit happening today. It’s too much. Everyone is saying that it’s been a decade since 9/11 so we’re due for something and it’ll probably be in Times Square. I think the government is doing a good job tracking down these people and stopping them, but it’s still really scary. I don’t expect anything to happen, but stuff could happen, and that’s the problem. There’s no way to ever completely get rid of the threat. I just thank God that all the attempts have failed.

05/12/10 2:45am

The most stressful thing about working at a magazine is writing little filler intros for regular features. You’re never really sure what to say.

Where I hailed him:Hell’s Kitchen
Where he hails from:Staten Island
Years as a cabbie:4
Previous profession:Worked with computers
This job is incredibly stressful. You know how much it sucks to be in traffic? My whole day is in traffic. Customers want you to find a way around it, but you can’t and they get pissed, which sucks because you need tips to pay the rent. Then you have to worry about something happening to your car, or running out of gas, or finding a fare quickly after dropping one off. The night shift is less stressful with the traffic, but it’s harder to find people. Always something.

Where I hailed him:Midtown
Where he hails from:Kenya
Years as a cabbie:8
Previous profession:Always a driver
Most days it isn’t bad, but it is a lot of the time. Pedestrians make it stressful by not crossing at the crosswalks or crossing when they’re not supposed to. I’m very afraid of running someone over. Also, it isn’t always safe. I’ve been robbed twice, and once by a guy with a gun. People know that drivers carry cash and we don’t have security guards like banks do. Sometimes people jump out without paying, which is the same as robbing you.

Where I hailed him:Chelsea
Where he hails from:Oregon
Years as a cabbie:2
Previous profession:Sold insurance
Not really. I like driving. I get to talk to interesting customers and the scenery changes. When I was a trucker, I only ever saw interstates. It can suck to find parking and sometimes the customers are assholes, but it’s not bad. I’d rather be doing this than waiting tables or working in a McDonald’s. The money isn’t great though, especially for how expensive New York is. But look at me: I’m sitting. I practically have a desk job, only my desk can move.

Where I hailed him: Park Slope
Where he hails from:Jamaica
Years as a cabbie: 26
Previous profession: Always a driver
It’s a very difficult thing to change your stress level. This is a stressful job and a stressful city. What do you think I do? I’m not going to tell you because you’re writing things down. I’ll just say I try to move away from stress by listening to reggae and jazz.

Where I hailed him:LES
Where he hails from:Bangladesh
Years as a cabbie:12
Previous profession:Bread factory worker
Part of what makes this job stressful is you never know how people are going to treat you. I give it a solid 7 out of 10, with 10 being the most stressful. I think even a brain surgeon has it easier. No one is going to yell at him while he is working. People love the brain surgeon. Not everyone loves their cab driver, even though we are doing the best we can, too. I am a singer. I sing for two hours a day and it makes me feel better. A lot of people don’t know my songs but still I can do it. When I sing, I forget I am a cab driver.

Where I hailed him: Williamsburg
Where he hails from: Staten Island
Years as a cabbie: 15
Previous profession: Always a cab driver
My girlfriend suggested yoga [to relieve stress], and I thought it was stupid at first but it’s actually pretty great. It’s really hard. Harder than you think. It’s good for me to try all those positions so I don’t go all weak sitting down all day. There are also lots of cute hippie chicks in the class. Not that it matters. It just makes it a little more fun to go.

04/28/10 4:00am

We’ve never actually been fired on the spot. We were laid off once, and the guy had a hard time looking us in the eye. It was cool, though, because we just went to a diner and ate pancakes all day.

Where I hailed him:
Hell’s Kitchen

Where he hails from:California

Years as a cabbie:10

Previous profession:Pizza delivery
I used to get stoned in high school. Like, a lot. I used to wait tables, and one time I got so baked that I stayed up all night and fell asleep right before I was supposed to go to work. So they call me up to yell at me and I’m like …fuck you! I quit!’ Then I went back to sleep until my parents found out. They made me go in the next day, and everyone was like, …Didn’t you quit and tell them to go fuck themselves?’ I’m like, uhhh. No, I didn’t get the job back.


Where I hailed him:
Times Square

Where he hails from:Egypt

Years as a cabbie:3

Previous profession:Accountant
I’ve never been fired. I did fire someone once, though. It was really hard. He got very upset, understandably, and since I liked him it was hard for me too. [Why did you fire him?] No reason. The company was a sinking ship, we just had to make cutbacks. Eventually I left too, but I had another job lined up. I left that one, too. It’s sad, all the people losing their jobs these days.


Where I hailed him:

Where he hails from:Brighton Beach

Years as a cabbie:7

Previous profession:Waiter
I’ve never actually quit a job, except for the two-weeks notice kind of quitting. That’s because of my dad, who always told me to not burn bridges even for crappy jobs. So I never did. Even with jobs I disliked, I did the two weeks thing. So far I’ve never had to cross back over the bridge, though. [Have you ever wanted to do a big quitting thing?] Everyone does. Not here, I like my supervisor, but people in the… I definitely wanted to kick their trashcan through the window and throw them out after it.


Where I hailed him:

Where he hails from:Hong Kong

Years as a cabbie: 20

Previous profession: Always a driver
I’ve been fired many times. Not as a cabbie, as a mechanic, which is my other job. If someone yells at you, fires you, chances are good they have problems you don’t know about. Half the time it has nothing to do with your performance and they’re calling you the next week and begging you to come back.


Where I hailed him:

Where he hails from: Romania

Years as a cabbie:12

Previous profession: Always a driver
I have never been fired. I like to stay self-employed, so no one can even have the opportunity. We have a saying in Romania you might find interesting, though. It applies to being fired, or losing your job. In English it translates into “A kick in the ass is a few steps ahead.” Does that make sense? [Absolutely.] Think about this if you get fired, and it will make you feel better.


Where I hailed him:
West Village

Where he hails from:Haiti

Years as a cabbie: 10

Previous profession: Parking attendant
I used to work in a hospital parking garage. I went to get coffee one time. The big boss came and he asked my partner, Where is the other guy? My partner says, He went to get coffee. So he took my punch card and said tell this guy to see me Monday. So I go see the big boss Monday. He says where were you, I say I went to get coffee, he calls me a liar, I say I am not, he fires me. I take him to court. I get 26,000 dollars. It’s bad. Right now it is very bad. You get a guy with a family, he’s barely making it, you fire him? He could shoot you. It’s not always like that but right now there are no jobs. If you fire someone right now it is like throwing gasoline on a fire. At least Obama got elected. I hear things in the back of this cab that would make your hair stand end on end.

04/14/10 1:15am

We’ve stopped eating, breathing, moving and thinking, thereby saving lots of the planet’s resources. Goodbye.

Where I hailed him:
Hell’s Kitchen
Where he hails from: India
Years as cabbie: 8
Previous profession: Computer programmer
Unplug things when you don’t use them, and if you can control the temperature in your apartment don’t make it too hot in the winter or too cold in the summer. Wear a jacket instead. You should also recycle, though I admit I’m not too good on that.

Where I hailed him:
Upper West Side
Where he hails from: Manhattan
Years as cabbie: 22
Previous profession: High school teacher
You know, there’s lots you can do. You see I drive a hybrid? I try to be responsible. I don’t go too fast, and I try to go on the better roads. You get more mileage out of your car if you don’t go too fast. You have to be easy on the car. Makes sense, right? Unfortunately, it’s not always my decision which roads to take, and some of them are terrible. I also try to unplug things when I leave the house, not keep my phone plugged in overnight, you know? I won’t be around for much longer, but I try to be more responsible.

Where I hailed him:
Where he hails from: Peru
Years as cabbie: 5
Previous profession: Always a driver
I keep a little bag for trash up here… there’d always be so much more trash when I used to buy food: bags, plastic utensils, Styrofoam containers. Now I bring my lunch from home, and while that’s mostly to save money, it also means less trash, which is good.

Where I hailed him:
Lower East Side
Where he hails from: Sudan
Years as cabbie: 3
Previous profession: Always a driver
You’re funny! You should take the subway if you care about the environment and want to save energy, but of course I should not be telling you this. I myself take the subway. Try to fix things instead of just buying too many new things. It’s better to fix something old than throw it away.

03/31/10 4:00am

The last time someone asked what our favorite band was we threw up on their slacks (food poisoning). Whatever, just don’t ask us, ok?

Where I hailed him:
Hell’s Kitchen
Where he hails from: Chicago
Years as cabbie: 14
Previous profession: Construction
Fuck, I wish I knew I was going to get asked this; I would’ve prepared something. I don’t want to leave anyone out. I can’t pick just one. Ok. The big bands for me in high school were The Cure and The Replacements. I used to get up on tables and sing Beer for Breakfast at parties when I was shitfaced. Later I got into the Velvet Underground and Lou Reed. Probably The Cure was my favorite, or The Clash. I have like a million favorite bands, so it depends on when you ask me. I don’t know anything recent though, and I haven’t been to a concert in ages. That’s the problem with having kids.

Where I hailed him:
Where he hails from: Pakistan
Years as cabbie: 3
Previous profession: Always a driver
I mostly listen to Pakistani music, you wouldn’t know the bands. I’m not even sure I know how to spell the names in English. I don’t really know that many western bands, except for Elvis and The Beatles. I’ve never been to a concert here, too expensive. When I listen to the radio, mostly I listen to stations with traffic reports.

Where I hailed him:
Lower East Side
Where he hails from: Queens
Years as cabbie: 7
Previous profession: Worked in a restaurant
Not a band, but Frank Sinatra. Actually he’s not my favorite, I just think he’s the best, if you know what I mean. He’s real big in my family. Other than that, maybe Springsteen and the E Street Band. I don’t know. There are a lot of good bands.

Where I hailed him:
Where he hails from: Haiti
Years as a cabbie: 2
Previous profession: Student
I like to listen to Gospel music. Glory and praise! You want to hear some? (Sure.) I don’t know about the other bands, the only time I hear them on the radio is if a customer asks, and usually they are the drunk ones. I much prefer this gospel music. Family radio. You believe in God? (Oh, sure.) Here is a listing of the radio station. You see there it says the world is ending on May 21, 2011. This is not far away, better get ready. (Thanks for the heads up!) You’re welcome! If you don’t have a Bible, you should get one.

Where I hailed him:
West Village
Where he hails from: Haiti
Years as a cabbie: 7
Previous profession: Parking lot attendant
I like slow music, or music that is nice. (Michael Bolton?) Ha ha too slow. Nobody likes Michael Bolton. Oh, you know what I like a lot? The lady with all the crazy clothes. (Lady Gaga?) Yes! I like her a lot. (Starts singing.) Just dance… Na na na na na… Just dance. That’s nice music. Gets you up and awake. Nice voice. Lady Gaga is my favorite band.

Where I hailed him:
Wall Street
Where he hails from: Barbados
Years as a cabbie: 6
Previous profession: Accountant
I have to say Rihanna because she is from my home country. I don’t know if it’s really a band, but it pretty much is. Her real name is Robin, and I think she’s beautiful. She has the most beautiful voice. There will be more singers coming out of Barbados like that, I’m sure.