Astoria Characters: The Guy Who Saved the Pet Store

After Tom Odermatt flips on the fluorescent overhead lights, he heads to the aquariums, where he jokes around with the jocularly striped clownfish, who swim rapidly to the top of the tank to greet him. Tom opened Tom’s Pet Supply in July. He pokes his finger into the water, which, thanks to artificial lighting, is deep blue like the sea, and attracts a cleaner shrimp who goes by the name of Jacques. Thecrustacean clings to Tom’s appendage, stripping it of parasites. Next, Tom…

Continue Reading →

Astoria Characters: The Constant Creator

A gentle mist is falling as Kevin Patrick Corrigan leans into his guitar and starts strumming. Kevin’s a member of the Astoria-centric band Begorrah. He’s sitting in his galley kitchen, by the window with the faded shamrock decal, as the day goes grey. Here, by the snow-white stove and refrigerator, Kevin rehearses and records his CDs. Kevin recording in his kitchen. He does most of his writing in the room across the hall, whose only significant furnishing is a sofa, or in…

Continue Reading →

Astoria Characters: The Man Out To Heal the World

At the present moment, Dave Santander is sitting on a bench outside a café sipping herbal tea. Dave is working on his master’s degree. He’s reflecting on his life. All 30 years of it. It’s more full than his cup of tea: He’s a college student, commuting to class in Connecticut three times a week, and he’s working a bunch of jobs to pay the rent and the tuition to fuel his ambition. Dave grew up in Harriman, New York. If you’ve taken a Chinese yoga class, stepped…

Continue Reading →

Astoria Characters: The Woman Living a Mindful Life

As the morning sunlight streams in through the windows, Manaslu Gurung places a plump pillow in the center of the floor. Manaslu is from Nepal. As she sits on it, crossed-legged, she positions a brass bowl in front of her. She closes her eyes. The room – and her thoughts – disappear. In 20 to 30 minutes, she will emerge from her reverie, calm and collected and ready to start the rest of her routine. “Meditation sets an intention for the day,” she says. “It really makes…

Continue Reading →

Astoria Characters: The Poet Who Lets Her Work Speak for Her

Poets are known for their skillful economy of words, so it’s not surprising that Olena Jennings culls hers carefully even in casual conversation. Olena is the founder of Poets of Queens. She is forthcoming about the basic facts of her life, but there’s a sense that there’s far more meaning behind her words than she conveys. Olena, a tall woman with big, beautiful blue eyes, is sitting on a large, overstuffed sofa in her living room. There’s a significantly sized flat-screen…

Continue Reading →