The Shaman

There’s a piano tucked into the corner like a baby in a bassinet. It’s guarded by a pair of guitars. But these instruments play second fiddle to the incense. There is none burning, yet the living room is filled with the memory of its sweet, seductive scent. Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling Anne in a mindful moment. What is or isn’t in the air is more noticeable because it’s a million degrees outside, and Anne Cheteyan doesn’t have an air conditioner or even a fan. The windows, barricaded inside by padlocked bars, are open only …

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The Other Mayor

“You’re going to be shocked by what I tell you,” says Frank Carrado. “Sometimes, I don’t believe it myself.” Carrado, who is 84, is talking about the last five years of his life, when newspapers started writing stories about him and everyone began calling him The Mayor of Long Island City. Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling Frank, aka The Mayor of Long Island City. More colorful than his scorching-orange Hawaiian shirt and 84 times as big as life, Carrado wears the title like a crown. But he’s not big on protocol. He still answers to Frank. He brings a …

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The Pharmacist

The central aisle of Norwood Rexall Drugs is long and narrow like a train tunnel. It leads straight to Syed Naqvi. The pharmacy counter is tall. Syed is not. Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling Syed came from Pakistan in 1972. You can see only the top of his head under the blue-blooded PRESCRIPTION sign. Syed, who took over the shop nearly 40 years ago, is just as much a fixture as the weight and horoscope machine at the front door. It, too, is a relic of the past: It no longer tells the future, but feed it a nickel, and…

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The Artist in Residence

It’s the starving part of artist that Daniel Francis finds hard to stomach. His hang-dog jeans, cuffed at the ankles to take up the slack, were made for a much weightier man, the one he used to be. Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling Daniel has made art his work. He saw an old picture of himself recently and was aghast because his head looked like one of those round balloons you see in comic strips. He doesn’t want to be that guy again, but now when he turns sideways, you can’t see him. This is problematic because, …

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