Astoria Characters: The Singer and the Guitar Player

She’s a singer, and he’s a guitarist. They met while he was playing a gig, but it was a cord instead of a chord that brought them together. Micah’s a guitarist. Jane Burgess was a junior in high school when her brother, a pianist studying at West Virginia University, invited the family to one of his performances. He told her to arrive early, saying that he thought she would like the guitar player, a high school senior named Micah Burgess. She met him, she liked him, and she…

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Astoria Characters: The Red-Headed Woman With the Little Black Dog

It’s time for a walk. In addition to a leash, Susan Joy Rippberger grabs a canvas travel case. She puts her little black dog inside it and heads out the door. Tiburcia, or Tibu for short, is Susan’s constant companion. The 7-year-old-dog, a Yorkie/ Chihuahua mix, is the size of the squirrels she chases. Tibu, whose Spanish name means “the place of the pleasures,” goes to work with Susan (up until recently, she had a position with a school in Brooklyn). Tibu goes to…

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Astoria Characters: The Anthropomorphic Artist

Four-year-old Violet won’t eat her waffle. She’s sitting at the kitchen table staring at it like it’s going to bite her first. She escapes to the living room, searching for the remote, which as it turns out, was right next to that dreaded waffle all the time. Sixteen-month-old Ezra, who has finished his breakfast, thank you very much, is blowing big-boy kisses from his highchair. A baby-second later, his face crumples, and he’s crying like a crocodile. Jake Genen, their father,…

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Astoria Characters: The Pilates Pro

The first time Gina Vaccaro drove to the gym, she didn’t get out of her car. “I felt intimidated,” she says. She had just had her first baby, and what with breastfeeding and trying to take care of him instead of herself, she was still carrying around 50 extra pounds on her small frame. “I knew I had to get moving,” she says. “And I knew I really wanted to take spinning and Pilates.” Sometime later, she did manage to find the courage to work out her insecurities. Her…

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Astoria Characters: The Upbeat Drummer

Throughout her life, Stacy Kovacs has marched to the steady beat of a drum. Listening to its staccato sound soothes her. “It’s a physical and emotional release,” says Stacy, who started banging out beats on the instrument when she was 8. “Playing in a marching band is about music and movement, choreography and camaraderie.” As she’s pondering the power of the percussive, she’s petting her 6-year-old cats, Louie and Libby, rescues who may or may not be brother and sister.…

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