The Metropole: New Writing
The Metropole, the official blog of the Urban History Association, recently published a post by me. The blog features scholars and writers approaching urban history from a variety of disciplines and viewpoints. My piece details how I first learned about the former 111 1st Street arts community in Jersey City, New Jersey and how I…
Jersey City Funding the Arts? Maybe
Recently, the Jersey City council approved a ballot referendum for creating an arts trust fund in Jersey City. The proposal would dedicate permanent revenue for local arts and culture organizations. A small additional property tax would collect an estimated $800,000 to $1,000,000 per year–all for the arts.
Happy Presidents’ Day
Happy Presidents’ Day! Take a moment to read a biography or watch a documentary on your favorite president this holiday. You don’t need to restrict your intellectual curiosity to George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. American presidential history is full of complicated, contradictory, compelling, and even admirable figures. Discover one.
Star Wars on Your Radio Dial
Last October, I moderated “Jedi & Jesuits,” a whip-smart panel discussing the philosophical, religious, and spiritual underpinnings of the Stars Wars universe. A fun night!
2020 Predictions: We Need Some Milk
Last year, I appeared on We Need Some Milk, a sometimes irreverent podcast exploring local politics with a focus on New Jersey and Massachusetts. The hosts invited me back to participate in the program’s first episode in 2020.
My Fordham Conversation Continues
Discussing the contours of Jersey City history and politics isn’t easy. In fact, Robin Shannon’s and my extended sit-down for Fordham Conversations, a weekly program on WFUV (90.7 FM), resulted in two full episodes. You can hear Part 2 here.
Bar Car Night in the Garden
Shortly before Christmas, my friend and I rode the train from Grand Central Station to the Bronx for an event at the New York Botanical Garden. On select weekend evenings throughout the holiday season, the Garden presents a festive program anchored by the popular Holiday Train Show—Bar Car Nights. Guests can enjoy performers, food trucks,…
Happy New Year!
Happy New Year’s Day! Hope that you’re sharing the day among loved ones or enjoying your own New Year’s tradition.
My Fordham Conversation: Part 1
Recently, Robin Shannon invited me to join her on Fordham Conversations, a weekly program on WFUV (90.7 FM). We chatted about Jersey City, artists, regional history, gentrification, and my book, Left Bank of the Hudson.
Merry Christmas! This year, I have found the Christmas season especially magical. Maybe it’s because I shared a few days with an old friend. Maybe it’s because I’ve been listening to Christmas music non-stop. Maybe it’s because my wife and I watched Savannah bedecking itself for the holiday on our recent trip. Enjoy the day…
Need More Star Wars?
This past October, I had the privilege of moderating a whip-smart panel exploring the spiritual and religious influences and underpinnings of the Star Wars universe. We had a great time talking about favorite characters and stories and the larger questions examined in the saga. (I can’t believe this is my job!) Enjoy the conversation. Don’t…
A Few Days in Savannah
Knowing our shared passion for “old things,” trusted friends long have suggested that my wife and I visit Savannah, Georgia. During this past Thanksgiving weekend, we finally followed their advice. We were not disappointed. Instead of flying, we traveled to the Hostess City of the South on the Amtrak Silver Meteor line. The train ride…
All Aboard: Newark to Savannah
Increasingly distressed by air travel, wanting to make environmentally-mindful choices, and hoping to share a new adventure, my wife and I traveled from our home in Jersey City, New Jersey to historic Savannah, Georgia round trip on the Amtrak Silver Meteor line during this past Thanksgiving weekend.
Happy Thanksgiving! Wishing you a wonderful day and a hearty meal with family and friends. This year, forgo the mad consumption of Black Friday. Instead of heading to the mall or shopping online, watch a favorite film, read a book, or simply share another day with your loved ones. Indulge in leftovers, too. All experiences…
Crossing the Empire State
Last week, a minor emergency prompted a last-minute change to an already postponed family visit to Western New York State. Not wanting to call off my long-awaited and now necessary trip, I purchased a round-trip ticket from New York to Rochester on Amtrak’s Empire Service line.
Library, Tradition, & Home
This month marks my second year as a resident at the Wertheim Study in the New York Public Library. This fellowship provides me with a desk in a private room designated for researchers and full access to the collections of a world-class research library. Quite a privilege.
Happy Halloween! After handing out candy to trick-or-treaters this evening, crack open a collection of ghost stories or watch a treasured horror film. Remember the spirit of the holiday needs not depart at the stroke of midnight. As long as you feel autumn in the air, the fun and mystery of Halloween linger. Enjoy.
Star Wars at Work
As a habit and a policy, I refrain from commenting upon my workplace on the blog. Every rule calls for the occasional exception.
JCAST 2019: Art in the City
This past weekend, I had the privilege of leading walking tours as part of the Jersey City Art & Studio Tour. For three days, artists opened their studios, venues hosted events, and residents and visitors enjoyed the best cultural offerings of Jersey City.
Looking Toward Fall
Most mornings and evenings feel crisp, cool, and refreshing. The fall has arrived. My favorite season.
No Need to Go Far
Several years ago, Melody Warnick wrote This is Where You Belong, a book urging readers to slow down and appreciate their lives right where they are. According to Warnick, your life isn’t waiting to begin in a distant city or a rural hamlet. Discover what makes your community, neighborhood, or city interesting. You might be…
Bromo Seltzer & Baltimore
Earlier this month, I visited an old friend in Baltimore ostensibly to lend him a hand with his cozy 1850s rowhouse. In between projects, he introduced me to a few (of the many) high points of Charm City. Knowing our shared passion for architectural, industrial, and local history, my friend prominently included a tour of…
Diners & The Imagination
Since I have summer Fridays off from work, I try to take advantage of the cultural and natural amenities of the metropolitan region. I never lack for something to do. Yearning for the immersive atmosphere of a darkened theater, I recently visited the Film Forum, a cinematic temple in Manhattan’s West Village neighborhood. I bought…
Another View from Brooklyn
Many journalists, commentators, writers, and everyday citizens (including yours truly) have observed how New York and other red-hot cities have grown expensive, homogeneous, and bland within the past decade or so. Yet, inspiration stubbornly remains.
Keeping Cities Weird
Recently, I visited “To Fast to Live, Too Young to Die,” an exhibit showcasing the graphic art of the early punk scenes in New York and London, at the Museum of Art and Design. The exhibit captured a raw, wild creative moment in New York.
A Feline Storyteller
My wife and I are unapologetic book lovers. Every birthday, anniversary, or major holiday involves an exchange of books. While browsing the shelves of Kinokuniya, a Japanese bookstore, I happened upon The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa. A novel told from the point of view of a cat? The perfect gift.
Plants & America: A July 4th Reflection
Every summer, near the Fourth of July, I try to read a history of the American Revolution or a biography of a founding father. This period has long captivated my imagination: Enlightenment thinkers led a young nation discovering its identity.
A Lorillard Sighting
While recently visiting cultural and historic institutions in the East Village in New York, I noticed a plaque outside the storied St. Mark’s Church In-The-Bowery. The plaque noted that St. Mark’s is the oldest physical site of worship in New York, dating back to the days of New Amsterdam. Additionally, it listed some of the more…