- Special Projects
Mike Arotsky, aka Mike Tattoo, is covered in ink and loves his motorcycles. In past lives, he was a body builder and a TV actor. Now, at age 55, Arotsky spends his days in a cramped apartment in Howard Beach, Queens, spoon-feeding baby food to his ailing, 89-year-old invalid mother.
She suffers from Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare disorder in which the immune system attacks the nerves and eventually paralyzes the body. Arotsky doesn’t trust anyone else to look after his mother and can’t stand the idea of sending her to a nursing home.
His devotion means personal sacrifices: Friendships and romantic relationships have taken a backseat to the daily cycle of feeding, cleaning – and watching old TV shows together.
“Unfortunately, American society is all about ‘me,’” Arotsky said. “How can you forget your original family?”
Elza Kochueva, a Brooklyn student, is from Russia and speaks Russian. But she looks Asian.
The young woman and her parents, Mongolian descendants from Russia, say there were persecuted in their homeland because of the way they look and their Buddhist beliefs.
Now the family faces a new crisis: possible deportation. Even as Elza Kochueva, who wants to become a lawyer, prepares to attend John Jay College of Criminal Justice in the fall, she and her parents are fighting a legal battle to remain in in the U.S.
They’ve been waiting for three years for their asylum application to be okayed. But a steep decline in approval for asylum petitions from Russian refugees has raised fears their American Dream will be dashed.
The first employees walk into Bronx’ Il Forno Bakery daily at 7 a.m. – just three hours after the final wave of workers leave.
Staffing the bakery means long days and nights for members of the Eduardo family, whose patriarch, Ramón, founded the Hunts Point business a decade ago. He runs Il Forno with the help of his daughter and co-manager, Jenny, as well as his sons.
The younger Eduardos are proud of the bakery, which supplies bread to more than 350 restaurants. But their Dominican-born father worries that his American-reared children are not hungry enough to chase the success he’s fought for, loaf by loaf.