Here are 19 stories we published in 2015 that deftly executed our humble mission to inform, amuse, and give voice to those who lack power. In no particular order:

Millennials Are Moving To Buffalo & Living Like Kings // By Jordan G. Teicher

"I'm not convinced that most folks here are anchored by a larger vision of the type of city they want to build. They equate a revitalized city with a bunch of white people doing their thing in it."

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Ty Black (courtesy Kelly Stuart)

The Fight For The Soul Of The Black Lives Matter Movement // By Raven Rakia & Aaron Miguel Cantú

Some grassroots activists who began organizing out of anger towards the grand jury decisions, as well as the fatal police shooting of Akai Gurley, many of them working class and politically unconnected, fear that the establishment-friendly reformism championed by the Justice League threatens to water down the struggle against state violence. They worry that the group's ties to city government and wealthy celebrities make it nearly indistinguishable from the power it's trying to change. The result has been a quiet struggle for the future of the Black Lives Matter movement in New York City.

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Lipa Schmeltzer (Jessica Lehrman / Gothamist)


Why Are Ultra-Orthodox Rabbis Trying To Destroy This Hasidic Pop Star? // By Batya Ungar-Sargon

He says that ultra-Orthodox Judaism is full of fanatics who are power hungry and who use religious zealousness as a form of control. “The desire for control is a disease, it’s not Judaism,” Schmeltzer insisted. “It took me years to realize I didn’t need anybody’s approval, only to listen to my inner voice,” he said. “No other human being knows better than me what I should be.” He explained this thought with a Lipa-ism: “They want to put everyone in a painting. How about I should be a new painting, not for people to follow, ‘I’m going to follow this painting,’ but rather, a painting to say, don’t follow a painting.”

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(courtesy Lift: Next Level Floats)

13 Things You'll Learn When Floating In NYC's New Sensory Deprivation Pods // By Lindsay Robertson

9. Go Ahead, Think All Your Dumb Thoughts. The Pod Will Wait.

After exploring my surroundings and setting my intentions and being too self-aware for a few minutes, I found myself thinking thoughts ranging from grocery lists to to-do lists to worries that I might forget to mention Niles Crane later when I wrote this up.

But as a graduate of a few episodes of a 10-minute meditation app, I knew not to judge these thoughts and to let them flow over me or whatever, and guess what? It worked! For a very long time, I had absolutely no thoughts at all. I had never reached anything close to this state on purpose, and I think the cool thing about these pods is that they sort of force you into a meditative state without you having to try or do any work, which really appeals to me. (If I were to come up with an ad slogan for floating, it would be something like "Meditation for lazy people!")

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Shane, NYC public school teacher (Jennifer Preissel/ Gothamist)

New York City Teachers Talk // By Jennifer Preissel

There are always opportunities to get better and that’s why I do like teaching. I don’t think I could go home and get the opportunities I get here to access people who have new ideas. Young teachers aren’t going to my district back home. Nobody wants to teach—I’ll be blunt, nobody wants to teach black kids.

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(Sai Mokhtari / Gothamist)

The Story Of Ed Hardy, And How I Got My Ed Hardy Tattoo // By Jen Carlson

"I got my undergraduate degree in printmaking... I was on a career track to Yale, and I was headed for academia [Hardy declined a graduate fellowship at Yale University]. Then I met this tattooer in Oakland who was a writer, I always call him part of the renegade intellectual set, this guy who had this whole other life above and beyond tattooing. He showed me a book of Japanese tattoos... they were so much more complex, aesthetically involved, and sophisticated. I loved all the classic Americana stuff, but that's kind of the only thing that was available those days."

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(Getty Images)

NYPD Undercover "Converted" To Islam To Spy On Brooklyn College Students // By Aviva Stahl

“There are a few of us who trust each other, and that’s good that we have each other—some don’t even have that,” said Shereen. “But in the back of all our minds, there’s always that suspicion, that either, you are [a spy], or you think I’m one. We’re acting like criminals, even though we haven’t done anything.”

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Universal

Why The Fast & Furious Franchise Deserves Respect // By Ben Yakas

The power of FF lies in the fact that these are glorious dumb and demented films that believe that a movie ticket is a promise to always throw in the kitchen sink, the plumbing, the underground moldings, and maybe the entire house. FF movies—particularly the most recent ones—are the cinematic equivalent of injecting yourself in the cornea with a speedball of Five Hour Energy. It is AP Physics as taught by a teenage boy on a sugar high. It is like sky diving naked while eating a steak; you may not want to do it in real life, but god damn if you aren't going to watch that video.

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Christen and Jaquavius Conyers on Father's Day 2015, one day before his arrest (courtesy of the Conyers family)

Trapped In Parole: How Biking In The Street Sent A Man To Jail For 6 Months // By Emma Whitford

"Parole flies way under the radar," said Glenn Martin, a formerly incarcerated prison reform advocate and founder of JustLeadershipUSA. "It's not like parole officers are patrolling the streets of West Harlem in uniform, like the NYPD. They really just swoop in, snatch people up, put them back in the system."

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RIP, pillow. (Rebecca Fishbein / Gothamist)


What To Do When Your Home Burns Down In A Fire // By Rebecca Fishbein


Expect to feel helpless, and remember that stuff is just stuff. The thing about watching firefighters battle a raging fire in your building is that there is nothing you can do but watch. Shock will protect you—my roommate and I were joking about our landlord raising our rent as we watched a firefighter kick in my window—but you have to accept, in the midst of all this, that you have to be okay with losing your home, at least temporarily, and that your things are in peril, and there's nothing you can do. For several hours, I believed my only possessions were my leather jacket, cell phone, and...retainer...and though thankfully that didn't end up being the case, I was prepared to accept that.

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A woman injects heroin below the Manhattan Bridge in November of 2001 (Getty Images)

Where Can You Safely Shoot Up In NYC? // By Kristen Gwynne

“Like an alcoholic is always going to find place to drink, heroin addicts are always going to find place to use,” Misty said. “Why not give them a space where they can get positive influences by people in recovery, rather than keeping them on the street, where you know they’re going to do what they do regardless?”

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Chinatown bodega cat

Ask A Native New Yorker: Can I Tell The Bodega Cat To Beat It? // By Jake Dobkin

Personally, I prefer cats to rats. Cats are naturally clean animals, and if their litter boxes are kept in the basement and cleaned daily, there's no issue with smell or Toxoplasmosis. You can't say that about sewer rats, which are known plague carriers. You want to think about how many of those have rubbed up against the Coke you just bought?

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A photographer passing by the Charleston on the night of Sapp's murder took photographs during melee outside the bar. Here Sapp is seen trying to rise to his feet. (Sean O'Neill)

Why The Bouncer Who Killed A Man Outside A Williamsburg Bar Won't Be Charged // By Nathan Tempey

Sapp was unarmed. After knocking him out, the bouncer "was jumping around and laughing," according to a witness. "You shoulda not fucking come back," he gloated. "I told you, you're asking for it." Within a few minutes, at the prodding of his friends, the bouncer climbed into a black SUV with New Jersey plates and drove off, according to witnesses. Law enforcement sources said how long the bouncer spent outside before decking Sapp and whether he fled the scene did not factor into the decision not to prosecute, and they noted that he later cooperated with detectives.

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(Andy Gittlitz)

Meet Brooklyn's Fearless Hasidic Dog Walker // By A.M. Gittlitz

“The business, for me, is 30% rebellion, 30% comedy, and 30% for money,” said Gedalya Gottdenger. He was wearing a yarmulke, peyos, and a t-shirt screenprinted with an ostentatious cat in mirror shades. Gottdenger stroked his client for the day, a shy red-hued Retriever named Tuppance, and reconsidered his math for a second.

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(Jessica Lehrman / Gothamist)

What Can You Do If You Can't Afford Your HIV/AIDS Medicine? // By Christopher Robbins

Last year, Howard says he faced an impossible choice: buy groceries or pay for his anti-viral HIV medicine. “There were times I would skip my doses of medication because I just didn’t have the money to pay for it,” he told us. “It started getting so bad that I would literally miss about a month of meds.”

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(Navid Baraty / Gothamist)

My Creepy Night With The Shady Owner Of Bushwick's Spin-The-Bottle Diner // By Sandra Song

"Hey, do you guys have younger sisters?" Han asks us over a steaming pot of (very tasty) short ribs, followed shortly by a disappointed grunt when no one responds positively. I later learn that he prefers them young, twenty-two being the cut-off age when girls start actually "getting jobs and become all weird about me having a wife."

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James Murphy, Guy Fieri, & The Apocalypse // By Marc Yearsley

Though from the crux of this argument there is a suggestion that Fieri is preferable to James Murphy, he is preferable for very specific reasons, in that Murphy profits off of who you are at your most desperate-to-be-included moments, while conducting himself on a plane of untouchable sensitivity. He makes money off of you because he manipulates you.

Fieri doesn't manipulate, but he does (from the perspective of a suspicious party) take advantage of low expectations and a middle American ignorance. This is not an apology for Fieri's ills—his profiteering, his opportunism, his exploitation. He is not the first to do it, he just slapped his brand all over it, and owns it.


Courtesy Rich Adams

Did You Sleep Through This Spectacular Pre-Dawn Thunderstorm Like An Ignorant Sloth Slumbering Through All Of Life's Most Wondrous Moments? // By John Del Signore

Some interesting weather happened early this morning across parts of NYC and Long Island, and most of us slept right through it as if we're gonna live forever and can afford to skip yet another spectacular manifestation of nature's majestic glory. "What are those flashes of light in the courtyard?" we halfheartedly wonder as we roll over and turn our backs to the window. "Probably just another dramatic midsummer lightning storm. We'll marvel at the next one..."

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(Christian Hansen / Gothamist)

I Went To Westfield, NJ To Track Down The Watcher // By Lauren Evans

A patrolman strolled through the parking lot. I asked him about the Watcher—any working theories? Any juicy rumors?

"People ask me about it all the time. Even when I'm off-duty, at parties," he said. "I tell them 'The only thing to watch is me drink another beer!'"