Remembering the recent past is nauseating because it's just beyond our reach to improve it. Here are 20 stories we published in 2014 that are timelessly tasty; they deftly executed our humble mission to inform, amuse, and give voice to those who lack power. Good blog posts, all.

In no particular order.

Photo Essay: 10 Hours On A Bus With Newly Released Prisoners // By Amy Finkel

After three hours we stopped at a roadside deli. They'd each been given a $40 stipend along with their discharge outfits, and they were thrilled to be able to freely buy whatever they wanted. Perspective roars when you watch a man relish sunflower seeds, his favorite food, for the first time in nine years.

(Marc Yearsley / Gothamist)

Heat & Death: Inside the Largest Funerary Convention In The World // By Marc Yearsley

Coming of age in a death care family is a procession of not immediately peculiar discoveries. My father has a small, casket-shaped paperweight on his desk. As a child I'd watch him in the basement with a television and two VCRs diligently copying hundreds of homemade instruction videos filmed inside of a mausoleum for his casket protection business. In the furnace room, there are hundreds of slides showing tombs overrun with decomposition and infestation. I learned that dying is a spiritual event, death is biological, and death care managerial. I know that you need no less than 4 rolls of black plastic wrap when cleaning a crypt.

The best way to mask the smell of decomposition? A chemical called Kill Odor. Bahama mama is the preferred scent.


Bing Time: What It's Like To Be 16 & In Solitary On Rikers Island // By Victoria Law

In his testimony, the sixteen-year-old recounted feeling depressed and suicidal. When he told the officers how he felt, they egged him on. "I stood on my bed, with a sheet looped around my neck into a noose. They [the officers] told me to jump. They told me to jump three times."

Gerald Bryan points out where police damaged his apartment during a warrantless raid. In the course of the search, $4,800 was confiscated from him through civil forfeiture (Max Rivlin-Nadler / Gothamist)

How The NYPD's Use Of Civil Forfeiture Robs Innocent New Yorkers // By Max Rivlin-Nadler

In the middle of the night in March of 2012, NYPD officers burst into the Bronx home of Gerald Bryan, ransacking his belongings, tearing out light fixtures, punching through walls, and confiscating $4,800 in cash. Bryan, 42, was taken into custody on suspected felony drug distribution, as the police continued their warrantless search. Over a year later, Bryan's case was dropped. When he went to retrieve his $4,800, he was told it was too late: the money had been deposited into the NYPD's pension fund.

(See also: Who's Going To Stop The NYPD From Seizing Innocent New Yorkers' Property?)


The Strange History Of Carvel's Cookie Puss // By Jen Carlson

Later, Carvel finally admitted that Cookie Puss was a space alien, telling us that he resides on Planet Birthday, and is "known throughout the galaxy for his fun and quirky personality. Mr. Puss never sours and always brings a smile to the boys and girls of Planet Earth."

(Tod Seelie / Gothamist)

A Last Illicit Look Inside The Crumbling Kutsher's Resort Before It's Razed // By Tod Seelie

Kutsher's Hotel and Country Club was the last of the grand old Borscht Belt resorts—one of over a thousand bungalow colonies and vacation getaways that sprang up in the Catskills in the 1920s. But when its matriarch passed away, its days were numbered. Hellen Kutsher died on March 19th, 2013. Five months later, the resort was condemned. These photos were taken in the brief winter months between the property changing hands and the start of demolition.

Jeannine Nixon and her son,

What Happens When Low Wage Workers Suddenly Get a Living Wage? // By Christopher Robbins

"The other night I was on the train coming home and there was this young girl with three young children, and she had a container of milk, and I heard the middle child of the three ask, "Mom, can I have some milk?" and the mother said, "No, you know we need it for the baby." And I remembered feeling like that. So when we got off the train I gave her a few bucks and told her to go get some milk. And I saw the look in her face, and I've been there before! There are so many people who have been there before."

Rooftops in East New York (Pete of Brooklyn / Flickr)

Is East New York The Next Bushwick? // By Gerard Flynn

"It will please big developers while offering a sprinkling of housing," says Tom Angotti, a professor of urban affairs and planning at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, referring to de Blasio's plan. "It's no different than Bloomberg's plan to upzone wide areas for high-rise development and then get a little bit of affordable housing to win over the community."

(courtesy Morris-Jumel Mansion)

The Incredible Story Of Eliza Jumel: Once America's Richest Woman, Now A Ghost In Washington Heights // By Danielle Oteri

Jumel was not the chaste ideal of a colonial woman typically beatified by the DAR. There were stories about her being a kept woman in a Providence brothel, abandoning an illegitimate child, feigning death to trick Stephen Jumel into marrying her, and being kicked out of France by Louis XVIII himself.

The Amazing Arthur Tress Shares His Dark, Surreal Photographs From The 1970s // By Jen Carlson

"I was looking for mythological, archetypical, kind of nightmarish images. That kind of became my trademark for the next 20 years, that kind of surreal disturbing photography."

The signage at Manhattan's Kum Gang San restaurant (photo by Nabil Rahman)

Workers At Kum Gang San Allegedly Forced To "Volunteer" As Farm Laborers & Beg For Forgiveness // By Sukjong Hong

Beyond overtime and wage violations, the former employees also said that they had been assigned by superiors to work for free in a number of operations outside of the restaurant, including Assi Plaza, a Flushing-based food court, and Janchi Janchi, the prepared food store next to the Kum Gang San in downtown Flushing, all of which were also owned by Kum Gang's parent company. Park recalled a manager sending him to "volunteer" at Assi Plaza.

"Isn't it strange that they used the word 'volunteer' to pressure us to work?" he remarked in an interview. "It's a word that has a good meaning, but in this case, it was used to exploit us." Waiters and bussers were also asked to launder tablecloths, mow the lawn, and shovel snow at the owner's house, as well as help move the owner's son to a new residence, according to the complaint.

(Molly Fitzpatrick / Gothamist)

What I Learned From Five Manhattan Palm Readers // By Molly Fitzpatrick

Like Corey, Tina brings up a man whose name begins with J. I ask her where she’s getting the letter from, and she says she sees it in my palm. It’s a miss, but she recovers from it so gracefully you might not notice her air ball at all. I learn later that the most popular first initial for boys is J, as it has been for most of the last century.

The offshore component is visible from the beach (No Rockaway Pipeline)

A Massive Rockaway Gas Pipeline Is Being Built Right Under Our Beaches // By Nick Pinto

Ordinarily, it’s pretty hard for gas companies to lay pipe through taxpayer-protected parkland. But less than a month after Sandy, ethically embattled and all-around-reasonable guy Rep. Michael Grimm pushed a law through Congress granting an energy company the right to do just that. At the time, the giveaway went mostly unremarked in the Rockaways. “People had just been flooded,” says Clare Donohue of the Sane Energy Project, which opposes the new pipeline. “They were displaced. They had more immediate fish to fry.”

That’s an appropriate phrase for shooting flammable gas through the ocean, because pipelines like these have an astounding tendency to explode. Over the last five years, transmission lines like the Rockaway Project have had 17 “serious incidents,” the federal regulator’s term for cases involving death or in-patient hospitalization.

(Courtesy Travis Price)

The Almost Forgotten Story Of The 1970s East Village Windmill // By Shayla Love

“The wind machine was kind of an iconic moment,” Price said. “It became kind of the new church steeple for the neighborhood. Everybody was proud of it. It was kind of a symbol of something extraordinary, as small as it was. In a neighborhood where all hope is gone, everything is burnt out, suddenly someone is rebuilding.”

(Tod Seelie / Gothamist)

What To Do If You're Sexually Assaulted At A Music Festival // By Lauren Evans

Last week, I was seeing a show at Bowery Ballroom. I had the good fortune of being pretty close to the stage, but it was a rowdy show and fights were breaking out. At one point, a man sidled up behind me and, using the nearby swinging fists as a segue, leaned over and said "Don't worry, I'll protect you," while pressing his erect penis into my back. It was too crowded to flee, and the pervert knew it. I made a disgusted face and shoved my way back to my friends. This type of incident is so common, so utterly routine, that I'd all but forgotten about it by the next song.

What's The Deal With All These Australians In NYC? // By Saxon Baird

The answer lies in a special U.S. work visa program created exclusively for Australians. Called the E-3, the one-of-a kind work program is a unique and often overlooked Bush-era agreement made at the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nine years since being put into law, the visa exists as a peculiar chapter in recent U.S. immigration policy and has spurred continuous debates in Washington on the merits of aggressively courting foreign workers.

How NYC Can Solve Its Affordable Housing Crisis / By Steve Wishnia

The money is out there. If we assume that building new housing costs $100,000 per unit, levying a $15 billion tax on the city's two richest residents, David Koch and Michael Bloomberg, would pay for 300,000 apartments, enough to house all 53,000 homeless people, everyone on the NYCHA waiting list, and then some—and still leave the two multibillionaires among the nation's 25 richest people, ahead of Michael Dell, Paul Allen, and Rupert Murdoch.

That kind of expropriation is unlikely to happen short of a socialist revolution, but a 10-percentage point tax increase on New Yorkers who make more than $10 million a year would bring in a similar sum over the next decade.


Video Points To NYPD Cover-Up After Cop Fatally Ran Over Pedestrian // By John Del Signore

Newly released video from NYC Housing Authority security cameras in Queensbridge appears to show that the NYPD is lying about a fatal crash that killed a Japanese student last year and may have tried to cover up the incident by discarding further video evidence.

(See also: All our coverage on the death of Ryo Oyamada)

A loyal Beach Clubber (Gothamist)

Scenes From The Death Of Revel, Atlantic City's $2.5 Billion Failed Dream // By Christopher Robbins

“This is usually a good place to find guys,” the self-described “personal entertainer” told me as she roamed Revel’s deserted slot machines and card tables shortly after midnight. “I took a guy for $1,900 here last week, an older guy, he really liked me.”

(See also: Who Wants To Go To Atlantic City? )

Taking Jen Chung's info to place it on a "Do not allow inside museum" list (Gothamist)

How I Got Kicked Out Of The 9/11 Museum // By Jen Chung

"Really?" I asked. Yes, he explained, because reporters aren't allowed to ask questions at the museum—all press requests had to go through the media team. I pointed out that I only asked one person a question, and when I was asked—twice—to stop asking questions, I did. I then told him that the woman I spoke to had just been criticizing another museum goer for her phone use. But the guard said he had to follow the rules and make me leave.

(See also: Gothamist found the 9/11 cheese plate)