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  • Writer's pictureAndrea Strong

The Joy List

This week, there's lots of joy to share, first and foremost because spring is here! Sunshine makes me feel hopeful and happy. I'm also "training" for the United Airlines NYC Half-Marathon (running it March 27th if anyone else is!) so it's been pretty nice running with the sun on my face not the icy wind. (Sadly, I am still extremely slow whether the days are sunny or cold.) Also, it makes dining outside that much more enjoyable, so there's that too. Here's what brought me a dose of joy this week. Hope it brings some to you as well.

Eat: The Garden at Popina is Open!

Hot Chicken and Shrimp and Grits with 'Nduja Gravy and a bottle of Rose at Popina

I love James and Chris, the two guys at Popina (formerly of Maialino). Their snug little space on the Columbia Waterfront in Brooklyn has been working overtime during the pandemic winter, serving Chris' homemade pastas, ragu, and lasagna to go, as well as James' terrific selection of wines and cocktails to take out. Now they've reopened their sprawling back patio, freshly paved, with twinkling lights and gas heaters. The menu right now has Chris's famous hot chicken Milanese with radicchio and ranch, pastas that will have you wiping the bowl clean—bigoli with anchovy salsa and grana padano, and rigatoni with guanciale, tomato, calabrian chili, and pecorino. Chris's menu changes often and this week there were also a couple of newcomers—a sharing board topped with puffy sourdough rolls, pimento cheese, pork rillette, celery and carrots, and a surprising salad of shaved celery and radish, topped with slivered dates, toasted peanuts, cornbread croutons, and crumbled hunks of bayley hazen blue cheese. They still take walk-ins, but they've started taking reservations on Resy. Check it out Monday-Thursday for dinner service 5pm-10pm.

Read: What's Mine and Yours by Naima Coster

I just finished What's Mine and Yours, the sophomore novel from Naima Coster and really enjoyed it. It's a book that goes back and forth between time and families living in North Carolina in the 90s and nearly present day, and drops you into a world filled with poverty, passion, grief, loss, friendship, family drama, and racial strife. I loved the writing, the intimacy of the characters, and the stories of longing and wonder, of parents and children, of integration and brutality, of frustrating injustices and surprising love. As I mentioned, the book floats back and forth in time and place, which can be slightly confusing at first. but you get the rhythm of it quickly, and I found I sorely missed the characters I wasn't with them. In her review in the New York Times, Lauren Francis-Sharma wrote: "At its heart, “What’s Mine and Yours” is a coming-of-age story — one that, in its foreground, examines the unraveling of marriages, complexities of siblinghood and reckonings with parents. Beneath it all lie tragedy and myriad loves that are tender and rich and fraught."

Watch: Hamill and Breslin, Deadline Artists

I loved this HBO documentary, Hamill and Breslin, Deadline Artists, about Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill’s careers. As a native New Yorker, and journalist, it was a double joy to watch as I really knew nothing about the way they grew to define the art of storytelling in New York City journalism. They rose through the ranks of reporting without formal training or college degrees. Sometimes working on competing newspapers, and sometimes working on the same publication, they became good friends who challenged and inspired each other. The movie not only chronicles their five decades of friendship, but also serves as a compelling history of the city during the tumultuous 70s, 80s, and 90s as they covered stories ranging from the Kennedy assassinations, to the Bernhard Goetz and Son of Sam killings, the AIDS crisis, the Crown Heights and Central Park Jogger cases, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. If you love this city, its history, and its papers, it's a must-see.

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