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Rebecca Schiffman Archive

Rebecca Schiffman

This Happened Yesterday

November 6th, 2009
by Rebecca Schiffman

NEW YORK, NY-

Yesterday, early evening, I went to the Strand Bookstore on 12th Street and Broadway.  The store is just slightly overflowing with used and new books presented on tables and in aisles of shelves that almost reach the ceiling, reminding me of a school library.   “Eighteen Miles of Books” is their current motto.

Upon entering, noticing there is no longer a bag-check, feeling the size of my stuffed, giant tote bag wedged under my arm and its weight pulling down on my shoulder, I made eye contact with the security guard.  A small wave of sheepishness and fear came over me as it always does.  Shoplifting was one of my main after school activities during eighth grade until I was nearly caught by The Gap.  Still now, fifteen years later, I feel constantly under suspicion while shopping, as if the security guards and clerks can sense that my conscience is not clear. (more…)


Rebecca Schiffman

Brain Feels Like Garbage Can

December 29th, 2008
by Rebecca Schiffman

NEW YORK, NY-

My brain feels like one of those toys you have to push to make little bright objects bounce around in a clear dome over a loud grating noise.  Or a bingo dispenser, lots of stuff cluttering around and occasionally something comes out.  Or a garbage can at a rich person’s house or in a knick-knack store that’s going out of business.  You can see some good stuff in there but when you reach in you have to cringe past some gross gunk like banana peels and uneaten noodles and worse and you feel your way in the dark to find the valuable bits that can be wiped off, de-grossified, salvaged for future use.

Not to be dramatic.  I just can’t sleep so I’ll see what I can find in here (pointing to head.) (more…)


Rebecca Schiffman

Dispatch: A Very U.E.S. Night

October 21st, 2008
by Rebecca Schiffman

NEW YORK, NY-

A very U.E.S. (Upper East Side) Night for me was August 5, 2008.

I broke my third power cord for my apple laptop. I managed to post a note on facebook asking if anyone had an extra before draining the reserve battery power playing boggle on facebook (known as Scramble.) Frustrated, I cut in half two old power cords that had broken in different places and tried to join them while everything was plugged in. This created a fizzing sound and crackling sparks. With no internet I napped most of the evening.

I woke up at around 10pm feeling energized. Perhaps tonight I would finally check out karaoke at Dorrian’s Red Hand. For the last few months I had been receiving weekly invites on facebook to Tuesday night karaoke from a barely-known friendly acquaintance. Having previously only heard of Dorrian’s in connection with the Preppy Murder, I was surprised to see that it was still a popular bar attended by people with no ironic intentions whatsoever. I had maintained a strong morbid curiosity about the place from researching Upper East Side crimes and watching the Law and Order episode based on it. (more…)


Rebecca Schiffman

I Release My Official Response to George Gurley’s New York Observer Article About Me From My Loftbed Headquarters

April 16th, 2008
by Rebecca Schiffman

NEW YORK CITY-

Today’s issue of The New York Observer ran an article about me by George Gurley titled “Who’s That Girl? It’s Rebecca Schiffman!”  Maybe I’ve been out of school too long because lately I’ve had the urge to write letters to Harper’s Magazine responding to various articles. Once I begin the effort, however, I quickly become discouraged because I know Harper’s usually publishes responses from people of some related scholarly authority, and unless I have some revelatory insight on the subject, which has not yet happened in these mere self-assigned challenges, I will not be saying anything new or worthwhile. But now an article exists on which I might be a leading authority! So here is my response. 
 
(more…)


Rebecca Schiffman

Some Thoughts on Songs and Songwriting

March 5th, 2008
by Rebecca Schiffman

NEW YORK CITY-

As I am about to put an end to an 8-year procrastination on recording my second album, I have gathered some thoughts from that stretch of time, that I would like to share.

I write songs; Folk/Pop(ular) songs (I’ll call them folk songs) as opposed to classical (formal) music, to make a simple differentiation which probably leaves many things unaccounted for.
I generally think the following:
A folk song is comprised of three elements.
Chords  -  Vocal melody  -  Lyrics

Many of the songs I love express feelings so universal that I and others feel the urge to sing them in the shower or play them around a campfire.  These three aforementioned elements are all that is (more…)


Rebecca Schiffman

On the Highway to the Alpha Zone Shrimp is a Speedometer

November 29th, 2007
by Rebecca Schiffman

NEW YORK CITY-

 

I was a late bloomer.  Drinking never appealed to me in high school.  Maybe it was because I was shyand/or depressed.  I was always filled with contempt for people around me who were loud, horsing around, unaware of the circumference of their waving limbs, bumping into me, stepping on my toes, totally unapologetic about having more fun than I was having- right in front of me. 

However, after a long, calculated process of overcoming my shyness through various personal tests that I created for myself (I’ll go into these shortly), having settled upon and embraced Welbutrin as (more…)


Rebecca Schiffman

U.E.S. Dispatch: A Survey of Local Vanity Plates

November 2nd, 2007
by Rebecca Schiffman

NEW YORK CITY-

A few months ago I was walking down Park Avenue with Jay Israelson and he pointed out a very funny vanity plate.  It read “I Broker.”  We assumed it was referencing “I, Robot” by Isaac Asimov, but even if itwasn’t, it was still classic U.E.S. (Upper East Side).

Since then I’ve started a photo collection of vanity plates in the neighborhood.  My official parameters are 59th Street to 96th Street anywhere on the East Side of Central Park but by routine I generally keep to the 80’s and 90’s.  Other photo categories I continue to separately archive include neighborhood pigeons, cats, dogs, and awnings - I’m not exactly sure why I feel the need to do this, but it’s all very formally sorted out on my computer’s hard drive.   (more…)


Rebecca Schiffman

Introduction and Interview with a Doorman (A Preliminary Dispatch from The U.E.S. Journal)

October 10th, 2007
by Rebecca Schiffman

NEW YORK CITY-

Before I begin any cross-posting from The U.E.S. Journal I would like to share with The Nervous Breakdown the introduction to my first issue from a few years ago, as well as one of the first pieces I wrote for it.  Sure, The Upper East Side is just another neighborhood, but to me it also feels like a novel or soap opera, and I wouldn’t want you to jump in at a part that didn’t make sense or was boring.  Frankly, this also buys me some time to tweak (I hate that word, does anyone have a better expression, not including “flush out?”) my next few posts.

Introduction to the First Issue - Fall 2005

During high school, as I was becoming acquainted with the downtown music and art scenes, I was embarrassed to tell people I was from the Upper East Side- even more embarrassed to tell them I went to Dalton. However, after four years of living downtown near college I became sick of the redundant hipness everywhere and began to long for the quiet streets of Carnegie Hill at night and

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Rebecca Schiffman

Allow Me to Introduce Myself

September 22nd, 2007
by Rebecca Schiffman

NEW YORK CITY-

My name is Rebecca Schiffman.  This summer I spent a month in Paris.  In the third week, my Zagat.com subscription was due to expire and I wrote down the names of all the restaurants I still wanted to try.  The first was Le Petit Marché.  One night, after seeing The Simpsons Movie (in English) at The Forum des Halles, I walked over to Rue de Béarn and found a well-lit, very small and very packed restaurant.  The host saw me and yelled pityingly “Vous êtes toute seule!” and  seated me at a small two-person table practically connected to the next table where a young couple sat.  The host said to them “She’s alone.  She’s American.”

(more…)