Nine People You Should Know in Morningside Heights
Updated: Jul 12, 2021
By the Staff of The B&W.
The New York Times has declared Bobby Fibel unofficial Mayor of Morningside Heights. And what goes for the Grey Lady goes for us, though we might skip the qualification. Mr. Fibel is the only person we can count on seeing every day on Broadway, smile on face.
The gatekeeper of Hell (a.k.a. Carman Hall), Sir Mike is probably the only security guard whose name you’ll ever know. He hasn’t missed a day of work in 13 years, so you’ll quickly become accustomed to his fist bumps, profound one-liners, and $5 cover CDs.
Butler Lounge: bright lighting, a vending machine full of off-brand energy drinks, Doritos on tap from Blue Java in the other room; there’s also a large dog on the floor. Jedda holds court here. Sometimes she goes for walks on Southfield. Sometimes she is left to the care of students eager for some love, or an opportunity to shirk work. Occasionally, late at night, the lounge is beset by a strange howling – though it could be mistaken for an expression of the collective Butcaf consciousness, the sound is in fact only Jedda.
Tasos Sakkas is either the owner, manager, or head waiter of Symposium, a Greek restaurant located in the basement of a brownstone on 113th. Whenever you walk in you’ll find the white haired man standing at the back of the dining room with a wizened smile. Debonair in his white collared shirt, twenty years older than every other employee, he’s graceful with a plate of flaming cheese and remembers, or cooly feigns to remember, everyone he meets.
Benny is the guy at the Diana Cafe who calls you beautiful, scolds you for drinking Red Bull before noon, and will remember your extra slice of cheddar without fail. The breakfast line down the stairs stirs with whispers if someone else is behind the grill, and shortens considerably—that bacon-egg-cheese-sandwich is as much about Benny as it is about deliciousness. Get on his good side, and he might even sneak you to the front of the line.
Alex is a bartender and bouncer at local watering hole 1020, of which he is rumored to have been a popular habitué during his years as a Columbia student before joining its staff. Alex claims that his favorite movie ever screened by 1020 is Paul Verhoeven’s The Fourth Man. He is also an avid kayaker and open water swimmer.
Every Don Quixote needs a Sancho Panza, and Lee Bollinger, Columbia’s silver-maned president, is no exception. Enter Danny J. Rodriguez, a figure who may be as enigmatic as the man he serves. Rodriguez’s official title at the Office of the President is chauffeur, but he is more akin to the political “body man,” holding sundry papers, umbrellas, and providing security with his wide shoulders and dark sunglasses. Yet any notion that Rodriguez has earned PrezBo’s confidence in the privacy of his Audi will remain a mystery; through Columbia, he declined comment.
Pause in front of Butler or the Van Am quad and you might notice the lightly bearded visage of Scott Helfrich. As Associate Director of South Field, he’s your RA’s boss’s boss; in other words—King of Freshmen. Don’t step on the toes of this laird, should you ever want a chance of living in the LLC sophomore year.
After waking up at noon on Sunday with a hangover, you might want to know what someone with a semblance of a real life looks like. So go down to Absolute Bagels, wait ten minutes on line, and observe our neighborhood’s finest establishment’s matron. Know your order and be quick.