A year or so ago, I started noticing small prints affixed to street lamps around the city. They featured different depictions of a woman with a bob haircut, usually clad in clothes reminiscent of 60s mod styles.
The woman was always accompanied by some sort of message.
Some were accepting.
Others were encouraging:
Some of the prints expressed yearning:
Others were spunky and spirited:
And some of the messages were just sweet.
When I moved downtown, I only saw more and more of the prints. In fact, only a day or two after I moved, I saw the largest print I’d seen yet, less than half a block away from my new place.
This one was on a brick wall, at least a few feet high, rather than plastered to street lamp or hydrant. The woman in the prints had the Batman symbol on her chest.
“Put on the power,” the message next to her read.
It felt like a welcome message, somehow.
Each time I thought I’d seen all of the possible designs that there were to see, I’d encounter another. Stumbling on them felt like uncovering the next clue in a treasure hunt.
I’ve posted a lot of photos of the prints in my Instagram stories. At one point someone messaged me to ask who the artist was.
I felt bad telling her that I didn’t know. A part of me had been enjoying the element of mystery surrounding the prints: not only the mystery of how they appeared all over the city, but also the mystery of the woman depicted in them.
Who was she? A made up character? An alter ego?
This past week, I set out to learn more about the origins of these sometimes playful, sometimes dark, slyly funny images.
Apparently, PhoebeNewYork has been making appearances throughout the city since 2015. It just took me a long time to take notice of her.
Learning more about the artist behind these works actually hasn’t taken away from the fun of finding them on surfaces all over town. In fact, it only deepens my relationship with the art to know that I’m one of many thousands of people who appreciate it.
I seem to stumble on PhoebeNewYork exactly when I need one of her messages. It always seems like serendipity to me; I come across her especially when I’m feeling a little down and out, tired or discouraged. She perks me up, lifts my spirits in the way that running into a friend on the street might do.
Do I find PhoebeNewYork on those days and at those moments as a matter of luck? Or does some part of me know to look out for her, scanning the nearest street light or patch of brick and hoping she’ll be there?
How many other folks in NYC do this, hoping themselves to smile at whatever plucky words PhoebeNewYork has to offer that day?
Who knows. But I’m glad we have her.
Happy Monday, friends—I’m a day late, obviously. And happy Halloween! Here are some recipes and reads.
Air fryer Brussels sprouts for autumn.
A hearty vegan cider bean stew with dumplings.
Jackie’s BBQ ranch fries look out of this world!
Some festive vegan cupcakes in honor of Halloween.
1. An interesting look at why girls are hitting puberty at earlier ages, especially since the pandemic started.
2. So touching: refugees around the world were asked what single keepsake they would choose to take from home, if they had to choose only one. This article shares some of their responses.
3. I’m getting ahead of holiday pie-making by researching a question that I’ve always wanted a solid answer to: which apples are best for pie?
5. An important reminder ❤️
I’ll be back this week with some fresh recipes. And if you’re an email subscriber (which you can be by scrolling to the bottom of my homepage and signing up), you may soon get my first ever monthly newsletter in your inbox!
I’ve been slow in getting it written, as I seem to be with all tasks lately. But I’m excited to send it.
This semi-quarantined, semi-open summer has so far been full of fluctuations in perspective. In the course of a single week, it’s easy to go from hopeful and excited to fearful and shut down. I’ve had weeks of peacefulness and interspersed with real anxiety. At times I’ve felt more able than ever to look on the bright side, and sometimes it feels impossible to think positively. There’s nothing unusual about fluctuation, of course, but I think that the Covid crisis has shown me an…
It’s now warm enough that my mom and I can take socially distanced walks here in NYC. After so many weeks of no contact at all, this limited contact feels like real a treat. We’ve developed some cute little traditions for our walks. We often convene midway between her apartment building and mine. My mom is more punctual than I am, so she’s always waiting for me as I scramble to meet her. We can spot each other almost two blocks away. When…
When I was in college, I had a different relationship with “going home” than most of my peers. For them, winter and spring holidays meant booking flights and spending a week someplace else. For me, it meant a subway ride or a walk forty blocks south of campus. As someone who’s chosen to stay in the place she grew up, “going home” has continued to be a matter of shifting neighborhoods, which sometimes means that it feels unremarkable. I’m lucky to be so…
I’m hoping that my continuing streak of absentee/generally useless blogger behavior can be offset somewhat by the fact that the five recipes in tonight’s weekend reading happen to look particularly great. All of them have been pinned and put onto my “must make” list–whenever, that is, I get my culinary creativity back. This week featured a fairly monotonous parade of packed lunches and simple dinners, interrupted by a short lived but nasty cold that is thankfully retreating. But I can feast with my…