Astoria Characters: The Honey Harvesters

Nick Hoefly isn’t wearing gloves. His wife, Ashley, points this out as she pulls on a pair of rubber ones the color of sunflowers. Ashley and Nick are the owners of Astor Apiaries. They are getting ready to reach their hands into a hive filled with 5,000 buzzing bees, and she wants to make sure every vulnerable part of her body is protected. She hasn’t been stung – yet – but Nick has. Eight times. Nick, solid and self-assured, shrugs; it’s no big deal. Besides, he was a newbie when the…

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Astoria Characters: The Successful Actor You’ve Never Heard Of

You’ve probably never heard of Neal Arluck. And it’s highly unlikely that you’d recognize his face. Neal is an actor and a lawyer. There’s good reason for this. Although Neal’s acting career has spanned more than four decades, it has, for the most part, played out on small stages in out-of-the-way states, where dinner often is served with theatre. Don’t feel you should be upset about Neal’s lack of fame or fortune. He certainly isn’t. In fact, he thinks it’s fantastic that he has…

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Astoria Characters: The Illustrator

“I like to collect things,” says Keiko Nabila. Keiko is from Jakara, Indonesia. She mentions this as she walks past the floor-to-ceiling shelves of shoes in the entry hall of her studio apartment/art studio. The featured footwear is displayed in curated lines, toes provocatively pointing out. From earth-tone Uggs to blue-sparkled sneakers, they fashion themselves into a 3-D self-portrait of their owner. Keiko is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts. How many shoes does Keiko have? She doesn’t…

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Astoria Characters: The Drummer Whose Heartbeat Is Science

For Greg Stein, everything started to come together about a decade ago. What happened was not so much extraordinary as unexpected. Instead of an epiphany, his transformation was an evolution. Greg is a pharmacist who plays the conga. Until now, he never saw the synchroneity in the series of events that sent him to the present moment. Greg, who grew up in Manhattan’s Inwood, was in his mid-20s. He had a good job – he was a scientist in a lab – and was perfectly happy. His employer encouraged…

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Astoria Characters: Cadillac Man

Tom Wagner, cap and coat in hand, is itching to get outside. He was homeless for two decades, and although he loves his apartment, anything with four walls feels confining. Cadillac Man wrote . Besides, he needs a cigarette. It’s hard to kick a habit you started when you were 10. But he’s down from two packs to two to five cigarettes a day. Out in the street, he leans on his quad cane and lights up. Now he really feels alive. “I like to get the gossip,” he says. As he does every morning,…

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