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Published on September 25th, 2012 | by Greg


NY_Hearts: Neighborhood Drama, Featuring You

New York is a city of neigh­bor­hoods. From Chi­na­town and Lit­tle Italy to the East and West Vil­lages, the places and peo­ple vary wide­ly. It’s al­so a city of out­sized pro­por­tions, where it’s easy to get lost, and where a mil­lion lit­tle dra­mas place out each day in the shops and restau­rants and streets. Vis­i­tors to a new neigh­bor­hood- whether they are com­ing from across the town, an­oth­er bor­ough, or from the oth­er side of the globe- can find it hard to know where to look and what to do. Hence the rise of “tour” apps for your smart­phone, like Move­able Feast, that al­low you to down­load ex­pe­ri­ences and fol­low a pre-chart­ed course us­ing your iOS de­vice.

But what if you could com­bine these tours with a sto­ry- a frame around which to ex­plore a new area and try out new things? Im­pos­si­ble to cat­e­go­rize, but easy to love, it’s an ex­cit­ing con­cept. And it’s the pitch be­hind NY_­Hearts and their amaz­ing first edi­tion, which fo­cused on the Low­er East Side. The Move­able Feast app it­self is free, and you can down­load the NY_­Hearts:LES tour and check it out for your­self at no cost to get an idea of how it works. But the ‘pro­duc­tion’ part is over, af­ter a suc­cess­ful lim­it­ed run in Ju­ly.

We can’t wait to check out fu­ture edi­tions- and cre­ator James Carter has clued us in to the next spot. Open­ing next Spring, he’ll be bring­ing a com­plete­ly new sto­ry and tour to the love­ly neigh­bor­hood of Park Slope, Brook­lyn. Much like the orig­i­nal, we’ve been in­formed that it will in­clude a va­ri­ety of fun ac­tiv­i­ties and stops, and we hope to hear a bit more about it at the New York Film Fes­ti­val. Mr. Carter is giv­ing a talk on Septem­ber 30th as part of the NYFF’s ‘Con­ver­gence’ track, at 10:30 am at the Howard Gilman The­ater. Ti­tled ‘Work in Progress’, it’ll be a con­ver­sa­tion about both the pre­vi­ous tour and the next one (and men­tions a pos­si­ble third still to come, and a web se­ries)!

To ex­pe­ri­ence NY_­Hearts: LES our­selves, we set aside sev­en hours on a Sun­day and trav­eled to a yo­ga stu­dio to meet up and be­gin our jour­ney- start­ing with an hour-long yo­ga class. Joined by a bunch of oth­er folks on the ‘tour’, we were free to ex­pe­ri­ence it at our own pace, walk­ing around a num­ber of stops and lis­ten­ing to our smart­phone app “guide” be­tween each one. In­stead of a dry ex­pla­na­tion of the dif­fer­ent places, the au­dio in­stead told a very per­son­al sto­ry, a set of di­aries about and from Jill. Cov­er­ing a tu­mul­tuous re­la­tion­ship, this was a great date ex­pe­ri­ence, though def­i­nite­ly wasn’t ap­pro­pri­ate for kids- parts of it were very adult, in the way ma­ture re­la­tion­ships and tur­moils are. Not ev­ery seg­ment worked, but tak­en as a whole, it was an in­cred­i­bly mem­o­rable- and pow­er­ful- day.

Part voyeuris­tic, well-pro­duced au­di­o­logue, part neigh­bor­hood ex­plo­ration, NY_­Hearts felt tru­ly new. It in­spired fierce con­ver­sa­tion, threw you in­to in­ter­est­ing sit­u­a­tions with oth­er peo­ple, and forced ev­ery par­tic­i­pant to be both a pas­sive ob­serv­er and to take an ac­tive role. Parts re­quired imag­i­na­tion- pic­tur­ing Jill walk­ing around- but parts of it were very phys­i­cal in a way that no oth­er the­ater ex­pe­ri­ence (per­haps save Sleep No More) has matched. You’ll walk- many blocks- and wind up with sou­venirs of your tour. You’ll eat a meal (we loved brunch at the Fat Radish), and nev­er have to wor­ry since ev­ery­thing is in­clud­ed in the cost of the tour (ex­cept tips). We wound up near­ly in tears in the mid­dle of a bridge, and sip­ping beers (again, in­clud­ed) while dis­cussing the play with oth­er folks who were as de­light­ed as we were. There were stops at an art gallery and a cof­fee shop, cute busi­ness­es per­haps easy to over­look- but now per­ma­nent­ly seared in­to our per­son­al map of the city.

When NY_­Hearts opens again, we strong­ly sug­gest grab­bing a friend and go­ing. It’s worth ev­ery pen­ny- and it’s a New York ex­pe­ri­ence that de­fies com­par­i­son.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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