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River full of ferries

Riding the East River in New York City’s new ferry boats

River full of ferries

A new NYC Ferry boat travels past the Lower Manhattan skyline. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

A New York moment: 

Recently I took the NYC Ferry from Manhattan to visit my relatives in Queens at a cost of $2.75. The new and popular ferry has relieved some of the stress on the overcrowded subway system—3 million riders took the city ferry last year after service began. The ferry boats are a return to the city’s first public transportation. They were the main way early New Yorkers—going all the way back to the 1600s—traveled to Queens, Brooklyn, and New Jersey.

The ferry is a fast, pleasant ride, too. Inside, the canteen serves coffee, snacks, and beer. On the top deck, the skyline rolls past as you go under the Queensboro Bridge and then past Roosevelt Island. When we pulled up to the dock in Astoria, a large crowd there was waiting to board. The city is working on expanding more ferry routes and adding more boats.

The new boats needed names, and the New York mayor’s office recently announced its selections, dreamed up by elementary students. My favorite is “Spring Mallard.” Others include “Seas the Day” and “Golden Narrows.” Last year when the city’s ferry service began, the mayor also had a boat-naming competition, and students came up with other great ones: “Lunchbox,” “McShiny,” and “Happy Hauler.” As the city continues to expand ferry service, it has some job openings, if anyone was imagining themselves a deckhand or ferry captain.

Worth your time:  

This podcast gives a lot of details on the unjust conviction of John Thompson, who came within a month of being executed before he was granted a new trial and released. (Caution: Thompson uses a lot of bad language.) Thompson makes a compelling point that the prosecutor didn’t just “abuse his authority” in suppressing exonerating blood evidence; “he tried to kill me.” My lawyer uncle Tim Belz noted about this case that’s it’s “bad enough when anybody intentionally and unlawfully injures another. But when the wrongdoer has an official badge, it is incomparably worse.”

This week I learned: 

There’s a parenting group in New York raising children from the moment they’re born without “he” or “she” pronouns, using “they” instead. The interviews here are a good window into the “gender-creative parenting” movement in New York. 

A court case you might not know about: 

A New York court heard gripping testimony from an unknown but powerful global crime boss, Paul Le Roux. (Some screenwriter must’ve come up with that name!) Le Roux “said he had once sold missile technology to Iran, shipped guns from Indonesia, and trafficked methamphetamines out of North Korea,” reports The New York Times. “He admitted not only to arming a 200-man militia in Somalia but also to hatching plans to use mercenaries to overthrow the government of the Seychelles.”

Culture I am consuming: 

I review the weekend’s big box office hit, A Quiet Place, in WORLD Magazine’s forthcoming issue. I also recently consumed BBC’s Bleak House (2005), which is a fantastic miniseries adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel.

Email me with tips, story ideas, and feedback at ebelz@wng.org