All-Season Play for a Chess Crew in Harlem

Inside the storefront one cold evening, hands slammed on time clocks in a vigorous percussion, taunts lobbed between opponents – sounds reminiscent of combat. The games had been honed by years of chess matches at St. Nicholas Park, where regulars, hustlers and visitors played for hours on end, drawing crowds and creating street chess legends. (The New York Times)

A Send-Off for a Harlem Funeral Director

George Bernard Benta, a funeral director in Harlem for more than six decades, delivered his personal brand of service for luminaries known and little known. (The New  York Times)

Harlem Says Goodbye to the Lenox Lounge

The Lenox Lounge, where Billie Holiday had a table, Dizzy Gillespie played his trumpet, and James Baldwin soaked up the scene, Art Deco light fixtures and zebra-print wallpaper stir up memories of other eras, and where, even now, everybody knows everybody, is set to close. (The New York Times)

In Changing Harlem, a Mosque Struggles to Pay Rent

The mosque has been crammed into its run-down, rented space for about 16 years, serving the mostly West African congregation of more than 1,000. But after a persistent rent dispute with its landlord, the mosque finds itself in housing court facing eviction. (The New York Times)

A Watcher of the Police Says He Is Now a Target

Joseph Hayden is a familiar presence with his video camera on the streets of his native Harlem, ready to document interactions between the police and the residents. But Hayden, 71, recently found himself on the receiving end of police scrutiny, arrested on charges of weapons possession after a traffic stop. (The New York Times)

Effort to Save Harlem’s Murals From a Grittier Time

One of the first murals that Franco Gaskin, known as the famed artist Franco the Great, noticed missing was of a weeping Martin Luther King Jr. on the dreary metal front gate of an abandoned store on Harlem’s 125th Street where Dr. King was said to have had a book signing. Now as new businesses and higher rents remake the strip, much of Gaskin’s work – some 200 murals – has disappeared. (The New York Times)

They’re Still Swinging for the Rooftops

For old-time stickball players, much of their neighborhood has disappeared. But on Sunday mornings, the pride in their “poor man’s game” is on full display. (The New York Times)  

Legal volunteers help those seeking a clean slate and a new start

A group of voluteers, called the Philadelphia Criminal Record Expungement Project, holds monthly clinics to help those arrested but never convicted establish a clean slate. And, they hope, secure the lives their criminal records have held back. (The Philadelphia Inquirer)