Category Archives: Guest Blogger

Jessica Laun

Jessica Laun

Jessica Laun

Jessica Laun graduated Magna Cum Laude from Duke University in 2005, with degrees in Music Theory and Composition and International Comparative Studies. During her time at Duke, she was heavily involved in the campus music scene, being a member of the Duke Chorale and music director of Rhythm & Blue, Duke’s oldest co-ed a capella group.

After graduating from Duke and spending some time at home in San Diego, she decided to move to New York City to follow her passion in the music industry. Thanks to her relationships with Professors of music Stephen Jaffe and Anthony Kelley, Jessicca was able to enter the industry through a year-long internship at the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). In 2006, she began working at Boosey & Hawkes as a publications and marketing coordinator. During her time at Boosey & Hawkes, Jessica moved on from being the publications coordinator for the company’s choral series into music licensing for tv, film, and advertising. As part of the Synchronized Licensing Department of the company, she was responsible for pitching and licensing music for such tv shows and movies as The Simpsons, The Truman Show, and the Spiderman series.

After working at Boosey & Hawkes for approximately 3 years, Jessica was hired by Warner/Chappell Music, where she currently works as a Senior Manager of Strategic Marketing. Besides her current occupation, Jessica is also the Secretary on the board of directors for The Young New Yorkers’ Chorus, where she helps program concerts to encourage young musicians in the field of choral music.

Jessica has stated that she is very happy to have found her dream job, commenting on the subject; “You just can’t be afraid to try and really go after what you want. If there’s anytime to do it, to take a risk, it’s as a college graduate.”

 -Barış Köksalan


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Mary Choteborsky by Nanjie Caihua

Mary Choteborsky

Mary Choteborsky was a guest speaker for a Duke University course. The following blog was posted by Nanjie Caihua.

Mary Choteborsky

Ms. Choteborsky graduated from Barnard College of Columbia University in 2003.[1] While excelling in her busy academic life, she was also on the school’s Ski Racing Team for the last three years of her college experience.[2] She started her work at Crown Publishing Group in 2005, and was promoted to the position of Associate Publishing Manager/Associate Editor in the summer of 2008.[3]

As associate publishing manager, Ms. Choteborsky works closely with the Publisher, to help strategize on short-term and long-term list management, balancing, and positioning. As an editor, her work covers a wide range of nonfiction including current affairs, social commentary, memoirs, sports, practical nonfiction, and business.[4] In fact, she was the editor of the New York Times bestsellers The Green Book by Elizabeth Rogers, The Beckham Experiment by Grant Wahl, and In the President’s Secret Service by Ronald Kessler.

Besides her position as manager and editor, she sits on panels at events that promote and market environmentally friendly publishing. She was one of panelists at the webcast initiative titled “Successful ‘Green’ Publishing: Production Marketing and Beyond” co-hosted by Publishers Weekly and Green Press in February 2009.  The free webcast discussed “not only how a publisher can reduce environmental impacts but how using fewer resources can be part of a marketing strategy and support all areas of a publishing program.”[4]


Crown Publishing Group is now a subsidiary of Random House, the world’s largest book publisher. Crown includes many imprints such as Crown Books, Crown Business, and Three Rivers Press to name a few.

The original company was called Outlet Book Company and was founded in 1933 by American entrepreneurs Nat Wartels and Bob Simon. The Outlet Book Company’s Crown Books operated as an independent company until 1988 when it was purchased by Random House.

In 1998, Random House was bought by the transnational media corporation Bertelsman AG based in Germany.

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Maggie Mahar: Health Beat (by Rachel Seidman)


Maggie Mahar is
the feisty voice of the blog Health Beat (  The blog features daily posts about current
issues within the United State’s
health care system and Mahar’s take on their possible solutions.  She draws her readers into her writing by
including personal anecdotes, interviews, and a comments page.  Mahar uses reader comments to her advantage
and sometimes even creates posts based on these remarks (for example, the post:
“Why Does it Cost so much to Educate a Med Student?”)  I know very little about the health care
arena; yet Mahar’s blog captivated me.  I
recommend reading “Donating an Organ, Should it be a Gift.”  This post perfectly blends personal
narrative, fact, and opinion, and exposed the numerous problems with organ


Some notable
features of the blog include: an e-mail subscription, “Health Beat’s Most
Read,” archives, and links to other notable health care websites.  The blog is a project for The Century
Foundation, a nonprofit, public policy research institution whose goal is to
find the most effective solutions to the major challenges facing the United
Mahar’s blog also hosted the Health
Wonk Review,
a biweekly digest of the best of the health policy blogs.


Maggie Mahar is an
excellent example of how one person can be a workplace chameleon.  Her impressive resume began at Yale University
where she acquired both
a B.A. and Ph.D in English literature.  In
addition, to writing Health Beat she
has published two books: Money-Driven Medicine: The Real Reason Health Care
Costs So Much
and Bull! A History of the Boom, 1982–1999, a book
which Paul Krugman of the New York Times said "makes a devastating
case against the contention that the market is almost perfectly
efficient."  Before specializing in
health care, Mahar was a financial journalist. 
Her list of credits include: Institutional Investor, The
New York Times
, Bloomberg, and Barron's
(where she served as senior editor).






TCF” The Century Foundation.  September
20, 2008.

Mahar’s HealthBeat Blog” Health Care
September 20, 2008.

Maggie Mahar.” HarperCollins Publishers. September
20, 2008.

Health Wonk Review. September 20, 2008.

Maggie.  Health Beat.  September 20, 2008.



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In the Hub of Chelsea (Guest Blogger: Linda Peng)

 For the unenlightened visitor, Chelsea is certainly a neighborhood of surprises. Walking into it from the flowery
commercialized areas of Union Square
or Madison Square Park, one suspects little of the
historical landmarks, cultural centers, or the one peaceful zone hidden in
plain sight of the neighborhood. The area of Chelsea
that I ventured into – a maze of paths between 20th and 23rd streets
that starts from Seventh Avenue and ends at the Hudson
River – boasts a diversity that, considering the city that it
belongs to, should actually not be so surprising after all.


        My first foray into the
neighborhood gave me an impression of industry and business different from the
commercialization around well-known landmarks such as Union Square or Times Square.
Like many city blocks in New York,
the surrounding areas of W 24th Street
boasted a mall of services: a Vietnamese restaurant, a saloon, and a Citibank
were just a few of the places I saw offering a selection of necessities. The
lack of flashing signs and tall glass buildings, however, distinguished this
area from a prominent tourist area. Most of the buildings were brick and
brownstone: they were still tall, with at least 10 floors, but notably less
modernized. If it were not for my closer inspection of the Chelsea
Hotel and the two English tourists
I spotted, the significance of the neighborhood as a tourist destination in its
own right might have entirely escaped my notice.

        My discoveries of Chelsea’s
gems, however, were yet to begin. Past the Chelsea
Hotel (about which more later) and
turning left onto Ninth Avenue,
I was noting but ignoring the famed brainchild of Henry Mandel, the tall brick London
Terrace apartment complexes that continued down W 23rd
  street. Instead, I was venturing into 22nd
  street; seeing the Millionaire’s Row brownstones
on my left and the brick-red townhouses on my right proved to be a worthy
visual alternative, because that was the moment I entered a garden.

Dscf2092        I suppose my wonder at that experience
cannot truly be described by words; it must be described by the audio and
visual contrasts that engulfed my senses. Behind me was the extremely wide and
busy Ninth Avenue,
crisscrossed by honking cars and the visual spectrum of yellow taxis and view-engulfing
buses. In front of me was a quiet alley of organized houses and mini gardens,
one planted on either side of the sidewalk. The decorations on the side of the
private apartments were always unique – some featured flowers, some didn’t – but on the side of the sidewalk near the street, small-sized elm trees sprouted
within ten feet of each other. They shared the soil with tiny magnolias and
small black fences. A sign on some of the fences declared that no dogs were
allowed in the small square “garden.”

The chirping of birds drowned out
the noise of the traffic behind me, and the level white pavestones of the
sidewalk and the neatly corralled black fences suddenly reminded me of the curious
“no bicycles” sign I had acknowledged upon entering the street. I realized that
this neighborhood must be very unique. I understood it when I reached the
resident-friendly Clement Clark Moore Park,
a playground area sequestered neatly at the end of the block before the
invisible border of traffic-congested Tenth Avenue.

Dscf2098        A descriptive letter sealed in
glass at the entrance of the park gave me all the information I needed to know:
the 20th-21st-22nd streets between 9th
and 10th Avenues, I read, are collectively known as the West 400
Block Association. Founded in 1952, the organization is not only the oldest
continuing block association in NYC, but it also provides a way for the
residents of the neighborhood to voice their concerns
about making Chelsea a
“better place to live” in a proven format. With meetings held twice a year and
annual membership dues being $10/household, the Association was able to
spearhead the construction of the Clement Clarke Moore Park  in 1968, as well as the arrangements in 1995 that a gate should be built around
it and locked by a local resident every night.

        The neighborhood seems to show its
commitment to tolerance and public maintenance in other ways as well. Chelsea is the home to not only multiple Jewish synagogues (the most notable one being
the Congregation Emunath Israel on W 23rd Street),
it also the site of the General Theological Seminary, the oldest Episcopal
Church in the United States. A vibrant
LGBTQ-friendly community also exists here, a fact that is supported by the
existence of multiple proudly displayed rainbow-colored flags on some of the
buildings. The moving of many art galleries from SoHo to
Chelsea starting in the 1990s also
transformed the neighborhood into the new thriving center for art.

        Continuing down W 20th street towards the Hudson
River, I noted again the stark contrast between the West 400 Block
Association community to the street just up ahead, a street whose urban-style
parking garage on the corner seemed completely out-of-line with the quiet
neighborhood I had just sauntered past.

        Chelsea seems to have a remarkable strength of adaptability: within the loud secular
streets of 10th and 11th avenues, I knew, were some of
the newest art galleries, and straight up ahead was the famed Chelsea Piers
Sports & Entertainment Complex. The fours piers that made up the Complex
used to invite ship such as the Titanic to its harbor, but when the
1960s saw changes in transportation methods the piers transformed themselves
into a hotspot of multiple entertainment offerings.


        Perhaps the fact that the Chelsea Hotel (which at one point housed
some of the survivors of the Titanic) is the home of some very famous
songwriters, authors, poets, filmmakers, and artists should not be surprising.
With the diversity of its residents and their determination to uphold the value
of their neighborhood, the successes of some of the many creative thinkers of
the Chelsea Hotel
does not lack for an explanation: there was inspiration. 

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Rags Meets Riches in New York City’s Lower East Side (Guest Blogger: Katie Banks)



New York City’s Lower East Side (LES) is a blast from the past and a trendsetter for the future. Spend an afternoon walking through its crowded streets and you will find cozy outdoor cafés, century-old synagogues and pricey boutiques. The LES is also well-known for its abundance of music venues that feature classical ensembles as well as up-and-coming artists. Museums, historic landmarks and outdoor markets make this area of Manhattan the perfect place for anyone looking to discover the past and appreciate the present.

        The demographic is rapidly changing in this multifaceted neighborhood. Gentrification has led to the construction of new luxury apartments in places where immigrant shops and pushcarts once stood. Young professionals are moving in and tourists are ever-present on East Houston Street. The area is gracefully evolving as the melting pot of cultures and remnants of years past uniquely come together in the LES. What results is an atmosphere that is both charmingly historic and excitingly hip.

Blast from the Past: Exploring the History, Culture and Traditions of the Lower East Side
        At the turn of the century, the LES was home to a flourishing Jewish community of Germans, Eastern Europeans, Russians and Greeks. Allon Schoener’s Portal to America accurately describes the time period: “The Lower East Side symbolizes the epic of Jewish adaptation to America. Life was a panorama of hardship, misery, poverty, crowding, filth, uncertainty, alienation, joy, love and devotion” (10).
       In 1901 the LES was the most densely populated working class and immigrant settlement in the world. Immigrants mostly lived in tenements, which were defined by a 1901 law as “3 or more unrelated families living under one roof” (The Tenement Museum). Residents made a living working in the garment industry, opening shops and directing pushcarts of produce and goods. In fact, the stores and markets on Orchard Street once made the LES the busiest commercial district in Manhattan. Since that time, an influx of Chinese and Latino immigrants have moved in, along with various high-end boutiques and cafés.  

Summer in the City: Discovering the Sights, Sounds and Tastes of the Lower East Side

     I have visited New York City numerous times since I was a child. From the Statue of Liberty and Times Square to Wall Street and Central Park, I thought I had seen it all. That is, until I stumbled upon the Lower East Side. Not necessarily a highly-advertised tourist area, the LES is a hidden gem when compared to its "NYC Hot Spot" counterparts. This is surprising when one considers all the neighborhood has to offer, including:


1. The Tenement Museum
• At 97 Orchard Street between Broome and Delancey.
• The most visited landmark in the LES since 1988.
• View restored apartments of past residents from different time periods.
• 97 Orchard St. has been home to 7,000 people from over 20 nations from 1863-1935.
• Purchase tickets at the Museum Shop at 108 Orchard St. ($13 students; $17 adults).


2. The Eldridge Street Synagogue

• 12 Eldridge Street between Canal and Division.
• A historic landmark built in 1886 that served as the first great
place of worship built on the LES by East European Jews. It remains a
symbol of religious freedom and economic opportunity for many
• Tours available Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays.

3. The (former) Municipal Bath House

• 133 Allen St.
• Now the Church of Grace Fujianese.
• It
was once one of only 15 public bathhouses in the city. Tenement
residents who did not have running water or bathtubs in their homes
regularly used the bathhouse.
• Open to the public Mon-Saturday from 9 am-5 pm.


4. Essex Street Market

• 120 Essex St.
• Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia originally created the market in an
effort to bring together pushcart vendors. It now serves as a market
for fish, fresh meat and produce.
• The City’s New York City Economic Development Corp. recently renovated the market for $1.5 million.


5. Yonah Schimmel Knishery Bakery

• 137 E. Houston
• Yonah Schimmel was an immigrant rabbi who sold food from a pushcart before opening his store in 1910.
• Choose from a menu of eight potato blends, kasha and cabbage, bagels and more.


6. Russ & Daughters

• 179 E. Houston
• Since 1914 four generations of the Russ family have run this food shop that features smoked fish, caviar and specialty foods.


7. Katz’s Delicatessen

• 205 E. Houston
• Established in 1888, the deli serves corned beef, pastrami, brisket and tons of sandwiches and food platters.
• Featured in films: Katz’s is where “Harry Met Sally” for lunch in the
Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan film and where Johnny Depp meets his FBI
contact in “Donnie Brasco.”
• Celeb Sightings: Ben Stiller, Barbara Streisand, Jerry Lewis, Bruce
Willis, Ed Harris, Al Roker, Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick,
Danny DeVito, Spike Lee. 
• Politicians who’ve visited: President Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, Rudy Giuliani, Governor George Pataki.

8. Clinton Street Baking Company


• 4 Clinton St. between Stanton and E. Houston Streets
• Voted “Best Pancakes” by New York Magazine, 2005.
• Voted “Best Breakfast/ Brunch” by Timeout NY, 2007.
• $10 minimum


For those looking to make the most of the warm summer weather, the LES has many places to play and relax, including:


1. The Waterfront
• Walkway near Franklin D. Roosevelt Dr. along the East River
• Run, bike, rollerblade, fish or just enjoy an afternoon walk along the river.
• Great views of the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges


2. Parks

• Seward Park
• Rutgers Park
• East River Park- Located along Montgomery St. to 12th St. Play football, soccer, baseball or run on the full-size track. There’s also an amphitheater.
• Sara Roosevelt Park-Located between Chrystie and Forsyth Streets and stretches from Canal St. to Houston St. Play basketball, soccer or relax in the small gardens.


The LES is a popular location for young professionals, college students and music lovers looking to explore NYC Nightlife. I recommend:

1. Dancing:
• Sapphire Lounge- 249 Eldridge St.
• Element- 225 E. Houston St.

2. Trendy Lounges:
• Fat Baby- 112 Rivington St.
• The Living Room- 154 Ludlow St.
• R Bar- 218 Bowery St.

3. Dive Bars & Pubs:
• Whiskey Ward- 121 Essex St.
• Lolita- 266 Broome St.
• Essex Street Ale House- 179 Essex St.

Where to Go For Concerts, Exhibits, Shows, Films & Events:

1. ABC No Rio- 156 Rivington St.
2. Bowery Ballroom- 6 Delancey St.
3. Mercury Lounge- 217 E. Houston St.
4. Rockwood Music Hall- 196 Allen St.
5. Arlene’s Grocery-95 Stanton St.
6. Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts- 172 Norfolk St.
7. Abrons Arts Center- 466 Grand St.
8. Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center- 107 Suffolk St.
9. Artists Alliance Inc.-107 Suffolk St.
10. Sunshine Theater- 143 E. Houston St.


           Every festival, event and concert in the LES celebrates the cultural diversity and rich history of the neighborhood. Combine this historic appreciation with live music, good food and special discounts and you have an unforgettable Summer 2008 in the LES. To kick of the season of warm weather, the LES hosted Outdoor Date Night Movie on May 17th near Delancey Street. The outdoor screening of Crossing Delancey was the perfect way to kick off an exciting night on the town.  The LES Band Crawl was held on June 7th at multiple venues throughout the LES and showcased eight rock, indie, R&B and funk bands at six bars for free. Collect LES ’08 occurred on June 13th to bring more than a thousand art lovers together by displaying painting, photography, video and installation art. Music lovers can attend the Orchard Street Music Festival on June 22 at Orchard St. between Stanton and Rivington Streets. For the enthusiastic athlete, the LES will be hosting the Street Soccer Tournament on July 20th on Orchard St. between E. Houston and Stanton Streets. With so many options, it is easy for anyone to find an event in the LES to make the most of their summer weekends.

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Nolita is synonymous with fashion. The neighborhood bound by East Houston, Lafayette, Kenmare, and the Bowery got its name in the early 90s through a real estate ad campaign. Here, the streets are narrow, the restaurants are cramped, and the boutiques are extravagantly priced. Nevertheless, Nolita has become the destination of fashionistas, celebrities, artists, lawyers, and bankers alike – it is the “it” neighborhood that can barely keep up with itself.

Nolita does not change much during the summer for the most part because the designer boutiques situated along Prince, Mulberry, Mott, and Elizabeth are far too expensive for the average individual, especially the budget oriented tourist, and affluent New Yorkers tend to abandon the city during the summer months. However, the degree of change Nolita has experienced in the past two hundred years more than makes up for its seasonal invariability. The Irish were the first to inhabit the streets of today’s Nolita, followed by the Italians, then the Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Cubans, and Asians. In the mid-1900s Nolita was a run-down neighborhood, home to the lower classes and criminal endeavors. Then, in the 1990s Nolita made a comeback, evidenced by the rapidly rising price tag of its residential space. In 1996 a square foot cost $30, within five years that figure rose to $160, and today it is approximately $2,000! But, for the time being, despite its rise in popularity, Nolita remains a peaceful and rustic neighborhood. The atmosphere of Nolita, so far removed from hectic city life, is the reason why art vendors return to Prince Street every Saturday even though it means higher rent payments, why designers flock to Nolita each weekend in hopes of getting recognized, and why some of the city’s rich and famous have migrated precisely to this little nook in NYC.

Artsy folks originally moved from SoHo to Nolita in order to escape “mainstreamization” and unfair competition from wholesale vendors with a license to sell designer items at discount prices. Now, they are here to stay…until of course Nolita itself becomes too mainstream. Some argue that that will never happen, since the buildings of Nolita are too small to house brand name stores like the Gap. As of yet, a Starbucks is nowhere to be found, but development of luxury apartments is already underway. Due to the exceedingly rapid pace of gentrification, Nolita as it is today is not likely to remain a permanent fixture in New York’s panorama. So don’t miss your chance to visit this lovely New York oasis. Go to get away from crowds and traffic, go to enjoy the French-Moroccan fare at Café Gitane (and be sure to sit at a sidewalk table), and go to browse the up-scale boutiques and look like you have a million dollars to spend.


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Guest Blogger: Jessie Louise Mark


Finding New Memories Down Memory Lane… or 122nd Street

They say that you don’t know New York until you live there. I lived forty minutes outside of the city, commuting at least once a week to study cello until I moved to North Carolina for college, and considered myself a pseudo-New Yorker. When I moved to the Big Apple last week, I was shocked when I realized I had no idea where I was, and had even less of an idea of how to get anywhere I needed to be. With the newfound knowledge that Brooklyn is on a different piece of land than Manhattan, and that not all subways go through Penn Station, but rather through Times Square, I was finally ready to tackle my assigned walking tour.
One thing I have always said about New Jersey, in comparison to New York, is that at least when I walk my dog I am surrounded by blue skies, empty clean sidewalks and the smell of freshly cut grass. Like suburban New Jersey, Riverside Drive is a green peaceful Mecca located not more than 200 feet from a busy, cluttered and smoggy New York Avenue. The apartments are beautiful, and look out onto a sea of trees that are met by the Hudson River. As I walked up the drive, and realized that some of the buildings here were Columbia dorms, I became a bit green myself- with envy. I never even considered applying to Columbia because for some reason, staying in the city was never an option. I don’t regret going to Duke- in fact, I consider it to be one of the best choices of I’ve ever made- but in this moment, it was clear how a faux city girl like me could have had the best of both worlds.
There were not many people walking on Riverside Drive, but the girls I did see were very nicely dressed. They appeared to be my age, and as usual, seemed to be walking a lot more purposefully, and faster, than myself. The scenery and atmosphere were beautiful, so I was sure to get some pictures of Riverside Church, a towering place of worship that must be as inviting and inspiring on the inside as it is on the outside, before moving back to my comfort zone- Broadway.
At this point, I started to head back downtown. This is clearly why two blocks later I found myself at 122nd street- two blocks uptown. As I stood outside the awning of the Manhattan School of Music looking up at the building, I was very aware of a few changes that had been made since my graduation from the pre-college. The first thing I noticed was the addition of the flags hanging off of the building with a big M logo on them. Then I noticed that the whole side of the building, including the awning over the door, had been completely redone. Unlike the tired and dreary memories I had of this neighborhood, this building looked fresh.
As I walked downtown in the downtown direction, I passed the Union and Jewish Theological Seminaries, which looked as I remembered them aside from a new banner here or there. Another embarrassing and unfortunate truth is that for years I passed by the Columbia Campus, but it was not until this past Saturday that I ever passed through the gates to see what was a surprisingly spacious and green campus. I wouldn’t classify the Columbia area as a tourist area, although I’m sure thousands of hopeful applicants pass through the Columbia gates every year. However, I wouldn’t consider it to be a residential area either, as tenants come and go from Riverside Drive with the tide of the Hudson River.
As I passed the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, on which construction began in 1892 and has still not been completed, I realized that even if I had been paying attention all these years, it wouldn’t even matter now because New York is forever changing. Whether it takes 116 years or hopefully closer to seven, there has never a better year for me to start learning the city than 2008.

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