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Jeremy Robin Leslie-Friedman, born on July 19, 1990, is native to New York and has lived on Staten Island for his entire life. His time spent at The City College of New York so far has been very rigorous, but also fruitful and rewarding.

Who I Am

Mugshot - Jeremy

I am music major (primarily a pianist and vocalist, but I also play clarinet and saxophone). Music has come to play a large part in my life: academically (in school), recreationally (in various vocal and instrumental ensembles), and professionally (employed as a church musician and as a musical director for an off-Broadway children's theater company). Evidently, I keeps myself busy. I am particularly interested in music theory, music psychology and arranging. I enjoy listening to jazz and classical. In performance, my area of expertise is in musical theater scores.

I have two favorite readings from the class: [When I come down…] by James Weldon Johnson, from Fifty Years and Other Poems, and the excerpt by G. K. Chesterton, from What I Saw in America. I am working on the Jewish group and am interested in how the influx of emigrating Jews contributed to the shaping of the New York artistic scene, particularly with regard to the Broadway musical.

Where I'm From

Where I Come From - Jeremy
Staten Island

My mother, Susan, was born in Hollis, Queens. Because of constantly changing family needs and situations, including divorce, shifting economic conditions and growth in family size, she was forced to move often throughout her childhood. She relocated to various parts of Long Island and New Jersey before finally landing back in Queens, this time in Forest Hills, at age 14. By 1989, working and having put herself through school, my mother was finding that Queens had become much more congested, and rents were going up. My mother’s uncle, as well as a friend of hers, both lived on Staten Island, and told her that it was more affordable and less congested, thus offering a better quality of life. So at the age of 28, she moved to Staten Island.

My father, Samuel, was born in Youngstown, Ohio. His family moved to Westfield, New Jersey during his childhood, for economic reasons. He went up to Ithaca, New York for college. At the time that he met my mother, he had relocated and was living in Brooklyn for its easy commute to his job in downtown Manhattan. Commuting there from the North shore of Staten Island was also convenient, so he moved to Staten Island with my mother in 1989.

Although my parents lived on Staten Island, my mother had planned to give birth to me with a practice in Brooklyn. When she went into labor six weeks early, she still carried out her plan, and I was born at Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn. As a premature baby, my lungs were not fully developed, and one collapsed. I was moved to another hospital, St. Luke’s. After 11 days in the hospital, I was finally able to go home. As an infant until the age of two, I lived in an apartment with my parents in St. George, Staten Island. When my parents got divorced, I moved with my mom to an apartment in Grant City, Staten Island. While we lived here, my mom married again, a man named Steven, and gave birth to my brother Joshua. When my mom’s uncle, who owned the apartment we lived in, died (when I was 7), we moved again, to New Dorp which is very close to Grant City. Since my mother had experienced such a tough, unstable childhood, she deliberately moved nearby so that I could continue to attend the same elementary school. When the owner of the house in New Dorp sold the house a year later, we were forced to move again, to Bay Terrace, a neighborhood still close enough for me to stay in the same school. Finally, when I was ten, my mother and new father bought a house in Mariner’s Harbor, Staten Island, where we live today; these last eight years are the longest I have lived in one place. About six months ago, my parents adopted a teenager, a young woman named Raisa (we call her Isa). We are now five: Susan, Steven, Jeremy, Joshua, and Isa.

My New York

NY - Jeremy
Times Square

New York for me is many things. It is the bus, the boat, the train. It is the biting afternoon breeze on the ferry and the rat-infested subway track. New York for me is Times Square at 10:30 PM, with countless bodies overflowing from the overcrowded sidewalks into the streets, while lights flash and marquees scroll above it all. It is Times Square at 5:30 in the morning, as it transforms from a hazy state of half-sleep into the roaring monster that is the daily rush of millions of early commuters. New York for me is the power of 40 actors singing their hearts out on a Broadway stage. It is the intimacy of a quiet scene in a theater that seats 25. It is at once the ambiance of a seedy jazz club and the sweeping grandiosity of Avery Fisher Hall. New York for me is off-beat bookshops, and quirky cafés. It is the smell of pizza and pretzels mixed with fumes from underground. It is the sight of oddities in Greenwich Village, Indian restaurants on 6th Street, children playing in Central Park. New York for me is visiting the Silver Moon Bakery at 105th and Broadway, or the Museum of Natural History on 77th and Central Park West. It is the immediacy of the sights, sounds and smells, and the people, people, people everywhere.

Home in New York means standing outside waiting for a friend, and shivering despite five layers of clothing. Home in New York means thanking God for the invention of air conditioning. Home in New York means contributing to the immediate sights, sounds and smells that others experience, and it means being a part of the larger processes of the city. It means being in a place of culture and opportunity and education and business. It means being among great wealth, and great poverty. Home in New York means at once existing as both an insignificantly small part of the masses, and as a vital part of an interconnectedness that all New Yorkers share. Home in New York means exhaustion, and the need for rest. It means both overwork, and always the desire to do more… but it is not possible to do it all. It means that wherever one travels to, there will always be a pull to come back.