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Perfume Professor standing on Winslow Homer's second-story porch. (Photograph by author).

Winslow Homer’s Atlantic Home

This past October, my wife and I shared a wonderful vacation in Portland, Maine. Not surprising to anyone acquainted with us, we visited several historic homes. The American artist Winslow Homer lived and worked in Maine for nearly thirty years. His studio was a must-see. Coincidentally, we signed up for the final tour of the…

View of Quebec

A Diet of Books & Art

For the next several months, I’ll be spending a large amount of my leisure time at the New York Public Library. Why? I’m diving deep into a topic which I hope to shape into my next book.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing my readers a wonderful Thanksgiving. I hope that you’ll be sharing a delicious meal with friends and family. On “Black Friday,” forgo the shopping. Continue to partake in the simple joys of hearth and home. Spend a day on the elements of life truly deserving thanks.

Winslow Homer, Wild Geese in Flight, 1897 (Courtesy of Portland Museum of Art)

A Maine Dispatch

In late October, my wife and I traveled to Portland, Maine for a much anticipated vacation. Colleagues and friends told us great things about the city. Besides, shouldn’t one visit New England in autumn? Portland’s concentration and quality of creative businesses and arts institutions delighted and impressed us. Bookstores, cafes, restaurants, quirky shops, museums–Portland has…

Guests, Charles Greene Bush, Princeton

Washington Irving & The Legend of Jersey City

On October 25, 2018, I participated in a Halloween event at the Apple Tree House in Jersey City, New Jersey. The program was entitled “Washington Irving & The Legend of Jersey City.” The Jersey City Office of Cultural Affairs and the Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy served as hosts, and the New Jersey Council for the…

GT Original Cover

A Halloween Classic

Every October, I celebrate the Halloween season by reading a collection or two of ghost stories. I fell in love with such tales during my childhood. Recently, I happened upon an excellent documentary on the author H. P. Lovecraft. In this film, John Carpenter, famous for directing Halloween and other genre classics, recollected first encountering…

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Autumn Intermission

Due to looming deadlines and two public events scheduled for next week, I’ll be taking a short sabbatical from my blog. I aim to return before October’s end.

(Courtesy of New York Public Library)

Christopher Columbus & Washington Irving

The current historic interpretation and understanding of Christopher Columbus stands as complicated. To put it mildly. Controversy aside, Christopher Columbus figured prominently in the formation of a uniquely American cultural identity. This seems to be forgotten today amid our debates over identity politics and historical grievances. Proof: Washington Irving, the writer with whom I’ve been…

UWS

Small Discoveries of Wonder

While sitting outside a tiny coffee shop in the Upper West Side in Manhattan on a recent afternoon, I looked across the street and noticed the architectural details of a seemingly nondescript building (ground floor business with several stories of apartments). The building’s artistic flourishes surprised and delighted me.

Halloween is Coming! An October Event

Recently, I’ve hinted at researching Washington Irving for a hitherto unnamed event. Now, it’s official!

Tales of Our Cities: Jersey City’s Book Festival

Every September, the Jersey City Free Public Library organizes an annual book festival in downtown Jersey City. The event showcases local authors and promises something for readers of all ages. This past Sunday marked the 10th Annual Tales of Our Cities. While researching my book, I relied heavily on the treasures in the New Jersey…

(Courtesy of Preservation New Jersey)

The Apple Tree House: Jersey City’s Salon

Last week, I attended an entertaining and fascinating lecture on the Lenape Indians, the indigenous people inhabiting the New York metropolitan region and the entire Garden State prior to European exploration and colonization. Where might you ask? At the Apple Tree House. Right in Jersey City.

Half Moon

The Sad State of Henry Hudson

Deep into several research projects, including one exploring early Jersey City history, I’ve been leafing through books and jotting down notes at the New York Public Library or the Jersey City Free Public Library on many evenings and weekend afternoons.

John Wesley Jarvis, "Portrait of Washington Irving, 1809. (Courtesy of the New York Public Library)

Washington Irving: An Autumn Rendezvous

During the past several weeks, I have been spending an usual amount of time researching and contemplating the first American writer to stand on the international stage–Washington Irving, who penned such beloved classics as “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”

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When the English Fall: A Few Thoughts

While recently browsing in Little City Books, my favorite bookstore on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River, I happened across When the English Fall by David Williams. The book was marked as a 2017 indie favorite. Trusting the curatorial instincts of the staff, I bought the novel. I’m happy that I did.

Art & Imagination: Paintings from the Whitney Museum

During the past several months, I’ve made a concerted effort to take full advantage of the rich, world-class, and often free cultural amenities in the New York metropolitan region. Recently, I continued this resolution by visiting the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Escape the City (from within the City): The Cloisters

For the majority of my adult life, I’ve worked and lived in major East Coast cities. I enjoy city life. Much like many city dwellers, I occasionally find myself overwhelmed by the crowds and the noise and need to touch a quieter life. More so these days.

August Will, View of City Hall from Clifton Place & Hudson Avenue (1899).

August Will: A Lost Glimpse of Jersey City

In several recent posts, I’ve respectively mused upon the urban pastoral and Jersey City’s relationship with nature. During the nineteenth century, especially the decades following the American Civil War, Jersey City industrialized, rapidly shedding its village-like character and more bucolic features.

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Fourth of July!

The Jersey City of Yore

During the past several weeks, I’ve been researching the early history of Jersey City. Mainly, this consists of me pouring over books, prints, and ephemera in the research rooms of the New York Public Library and the Jersey City Free Public Library. Mind you: this is not a chore. The hours fly by.

BK Painting

The Urban Pastoral

After recently enjoying the David Bowie Is exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, I wandered through the building’s American wing. Whenever I visit this particular museum, I seek out my favorite work in its collection, Winter Scene in Brooklyn by Francis Guy.

(Courtesy of Perfume Professor)

Wow! I’m an Award-Winning Author

The past year has been a series of dreams come true. My first book, Left Bank of the Hudson, was published in October 2017. Next, I embarked upon a multi-city book tour. On May 31, 2018, my book earned the J. Owen Grundy History Award from the Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy. Yes, I’m now an…

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The J. Owen Grundy History Award: My Book’s First Honor

On Thursday, May 31, 2018, the Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy will be awarding Left Bank of the Hudson: Jersey City and the Artists of 111 1st Street (Fordham University Press) with the 2018 J. Owen Grundy History Award at the organization’s 18th Annual Preservation Awards.

Paramount Theater

Faded Grandeur Down the Shore

To celebrate our wedding anniversary earlier this month, my wife and I enjoyed a short stay at Asbury Park, New Jersey. The weekend was wet and dreary. Perfect beach weather for us. Seriously.

Murder at Matera

Murder in Matera: A Short (and Late) Reflection

In early March, I attended a reading by Helene Stapinski at WORD in Jersey City, New Jersey. Due to the (correctly) predicted blizzard, I briefly considered heading straight home after work. I was glad that I didn’t.

In the Shadow of Poor Richard

Earlier this year, I received an invitation from a librarian at the Philadelphia City Institute to speak about my book, Left Bank of the Hudson (Fordham University Press). I didn’t need to consider my calendar or conflicts: I quickly accepted. Philadelphia remains a special city for me. I lived there in the early 2000s. The…

A Very, Very Brief Hiatus

Due to an impending writing deadline and two speaking engagements during the first week of May, I’ll be taking a brief hiatus from my blogging duties. Don’t fret: I should return in several weeks.

Mike Mignola's cover artwork for Children of Lovecraft.

Weird Fiction: Never That Far Away

My wife recently was nominated for an award for her article in Atlas Obscura. Last week, we attended the awards ceremony at the Society of Illustrators. While checking in our coats, I noticed a familiar face on the wall: Howard Phillips Lovecraft.

DJ Trouble and I chatting. (Courtesy of Kirk Howle)

Little City Books: An Evening in Hoboken

On the evening of April 4, 2018, Little City Books in Hoboken, New Jersey invited me to talk about my book, Left Bank of the Hudson (Fordham University Press), and its larger themes of artists, cities, and gentrification. DJ Trouble from WFMU (91.1FM) served as a sharp and engaging moderator for the event. (Fun fact:…

Happy Easter!

Wishing you a happy and joyous Easter. May this season have left you with a sense of renewal.