Jessica Ma

Journalist. Poet. Hopefully, city-bound.

Leave a comment

Quidditch: the Latest Sport to Sweep College Campuses Nationwide

When most people hear Quidditch, they think of the cultural phenomenon that is the Harry Potter novels by J. K. Rowling. In the book series, Quidditch is (literally) a magical sport played on flying broomsticks. The simple fact that it’s played in midair should have kept the game strictly in the world of fiction. But ever since 2005, when Middlebury College created Muggle Quidditch, the game has gained increasing popularity among college campuses across the country.

According to the International Quidditch Association, which organizes teams and leagues, “over 300 universities and high schools throughout North America, Australia, and Europe” play Quidditch. And Hofstra University is no exception.

These videos focus on Adam Kwestel, a sophomore at Hofstra, who plays as both the Keeper (think goalie) and a Chaser (they score points) for the Hofstra Flying Dutchmen Quidditch team.


Leave a comment

SantaCon is Coming to Town

You may have heard of Comic Con or VidCon–conventions for comic book fans and YouTubers, respectively–but have you ever heard of SantaCon? Today marked the 16th annual SantaCon in New York, where thousands of people, dressed up as Santa and other Christmas-related people and/or beings, take over the city’s already-busy streets.

The New York Times describes the event as “a daylong bar crawl,” which has caused controversy in the neighborhoods the Santas walk through. Last year, SantaCon passed through Hell’s Kitchen; police lieutenant John Cocchi said the con-goers were responsible for “urinating, littering, vomiting and vandalizing.”

This year, in an effort to repair their tainted reputation, the organizers of SantaCon shared the route–which changes every year–with the authorities. According to the NY Times, the convention organizers have also gathered “‘helper elves’ to guide Santas who stumble off the path.”

Despite the bad press, SantaCon is trying to do some good. The bars which are part of this year’s route will donate a percentage of their profit’s during SantaCon to Toys for Tots, a charity which provides Christmas presents to underprivileged children.

Now, I’m always excited for a party, no matter the reason. In theory, SantaCon sounds great! People looking to spread Christmas cheer in the sometimes mean streets of New York; what’s not to love? However, as the article mentions, the drunken revelry poses a nuisance and potential danger to the neighborhoods. SantaCon ultimately winds up sounding like another excuse to drink excessively and then make bad decisions.

While I applaud SantaCon for its charitable efforts, its unruly reputation isn’t doing it any favors. Instead of spending an entire day drinking, perhaps each con-goer could bring one or two presents with them and spend the morning handing them out to shelters for families in underprivileged neighborhoods. After all, about 30,000 people attended SantaCon last year; combined with the proceeds from participating bars, this would greatly help out charities that seek to give underprivileged kids toys.

And isn’t giving–not drinking–what Christmas is all about?

Leave a comment

Warning: This Post is Not for the Faint of Heart

Map of abandoned mental asylums in greater New York Area.

A few weeks ago, I was on the popular humor website, reading an article about some of the creepiest places on Earth. I was surprised (and slightly terrified) to see Creedmoor Psychiatric Center and Kings Park Psychiatric Center on the list: my college campus is only 20 and 40 minutes from these institutions, respectively. However, it piqued my interest. If there were two mental institutions in Long Island alone, how many were there in the greater New York area?

This map has the location of seven abandoned mental institutions in Long Island, New Jersey, and part of New York state.

Now, a simple Google search of “abandoned mental institutions in New York/New Jersey” will reveal that there are definitely more than seven institutions in these two states. However, many of these buildings have been completely torn down, whereas I wanted to focus on asylums that are still at least partially standing.

A quick disclaimer: most of these locations are closed to the public and trespassing is illegal. If you choose to visit any of these sites, you do so at your own risk.

Happy exploring…