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Just your average afternoon in JS1. If you had your finer on the pulse of innovation, you would understand.

A Walk Through Journal Square (or Journal Squared)

While walking through the Journal Square section of Jersey City on a pleasant Sunday afternoon, I stopped and snapped a few pictures of the advertisements for the recently opened and the planned high-rise developments in the neighborhood.

(Courtesy of Talking Points Memo).

Gentrifier: A Book Review

A trio of academics attempt an engaging and instructive experiment with their recently published book, Gentrifier (University of Toronto Press, 2017). Through their own lives, John Joe Schlichtman, Jason Patch, and Marc Lamont Hill explore and challenge the ideas and parameters of gentrification. Although the suburbs are anything but dead, an increasing number of Americans…

Vacant storefronts on Bleecker Street, New York, New York (Courtesy of New York State Senator Bard Hoylyman).

A Wrinkle in the Narrative: Gentrification & Small Businesses

In a few weeks on October 3, 2017, my first book, Left Bank of the Hudson: Jersey City and the Artists of 111 1st Street, will be published by Fordham University Press. To prepare for that and my accompanying book tour, I’ve been focusing on gentrification: reading about it, thinking about it, and talking about…

Gentrification & Change: My Jersey City Neighborhood

After decades of disinvestment and decline, American cities have become desirable places to work and live, especially for young adults in their 20s and 30s. Bloggers, journalists, and authors have documented this trend in cities, both large and small. Investment and development have followed this population movement into cities and anticipated its continuance. This has…

vanishing new york

Vanishing New York: The Book & The Event

Last week, I attended the book release party for Vanishing New York by the pseudonymous blogger, Jeremiah Moss, at the Housing Works Bookstore in SoHo–itself a vanished arts community–in Manhattan. 

Lax Photo

The World in a Grain of Sand

Last week, I visited my hometown, Olean, New York, to attend my younger sister’s wedding. As I walked through the streets and returned to my old haunts, I found myself looking at them in a new light. Robert Lax was born in Olean and he died in Olean.

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Art & Simplicity: Robert Lax

This last May, I had lunch with Michael N. McGregor, a fellow Fordham University Press author, and talked with him about writing, navigating the publishing process, and organizing a book tour. McGregor was thoughtful, open, and gracious. After our conversation, I purchased McGregor’s book and humbly requested his inscription. Last week, I finally began Pure…

Reflections on an American Holiday

Many Americans celebrate July 4th with cookouts, parades, and fireworks with family and friends. For most, the holiday offers a needed respite from work and a hard-earned opportunity to indulge in food and drink. The day marks our break from the British Empire and our declaration of independence.

Chasing the Writer’s Life

In past posts, I have announced various writing and editing deadlines and alluded to the October publication of my forthcoming book, Left Bank of the Hudson: Jersey City and the Artists of 111 1st Street. Attentive readers might have noticed the recent additions of “Book” and “Events” pages to this site. Fordham University Press will…

A Percent for the Arts: Needed in Jersey City

On the evening of June 14, 2017, Jersey City arts advocates crowded the city council chambers and dominated the public comments segment of the council meeting. Speaker after speaker approached the microphone and articulated the integral role of the arts in the life of the city. Arts contribute to the local economy. Arts improve the…

The Albertine Prize: Proving Literature Matters

Last week, I received an invitation to attend the cocktail reception and ceremony for the inaugural Albertine Prize. This marked my first attendance at a literary award event. You might say that I was excited. I’ve described the refined, serene, and daresay magical qualities of Albertine in a past post. I’ll not bore anyone with…

Riding the Model Train in Binghamton

On Memorial Day weekend, I woke at the crack of dawn and boarded a bus destined for Binghamton, New York to see an old friend for the first time in five years. To me, that city meant little more than name on a highway sign. My friend was visiting his family in Western New York. …

Lyndhurst: An American Masterpiece

For our tenth anniversary, my wife and I spent the day in the country, or what city dwellers would have considered to be the country near the turn of the last century (i.e. the Progressive Era). We planned a day trip to the Hudson River to visit Lyndhurst, a Gothic Revival masterpiece. A quaint and…

A Saturday Visit to the Public Library

On May 1, 2017, the main branch of the Jersey City Free Public Library reopened literally after years of renovations. As I’ve feverishly worked on my book manuscript for the last eight months, I found myself unable to consult a needed book for an obscure fact or flip through a bulging vertical file to search…

The Ghost of a Political Machine: Frank Hague & Jersey City

Frank Hague. The name looms large in the political culture and public imagination of Jersey City and Hudson County, New Jersey. A few weeks ago on a Saturday morning, I attended a forum exploring the man (and his ally-cum-rival John V. Kenny) at the Five Corners branch of the Jersey City Free Public Library. The…

(New) Brooklyn & Jersey City: A Comparison and a Challenge

In the past fifteen or so years, Brooklyn has emerged as the grassroots cultural and creative capital of not only the New York region but arguably the entire country. Brooklyn entrepreneurs, musicians, artists, writers, and all-around boosters have crafted an attention-grabbing and marketable image of the new Brooklyn: gritty, outrageous, quirky, and weird. Simply put,…

A Sense of Rootedness: Reflections on History and Preservation

In his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si, Pope Francis commented upon the “need to protect those common areas, visual landmarks, and urban landscapes which increase our sense of belonging, of rootedness, of “feeling at home” within a city.” By preserving such spaces and visiting them, we as individuals and as a people might feel a connection…

Jersey City: The Quiet Stories of History

Recently, a local historian and lifelong Jersey City resident shared with me his joyous surprise upon discovering a cache of newspaper articles concerning a prominent late-nineteenth-century resident of his neighborhood and this resident’s failed attempt to sell his private park to the Jersey City government. This nineteenth-century gentleman was Bernard Vetterlain. Bernard Vetterlain earned his…

Words from a Master: On Writing by Stephen King

While browsing at the legendary and beloved Strand bookstore in Manhattan several weeks ago, I picked up a copy of Stephen King’s On Writing for a birthday present for my friend (and sometimes collaborator). For years, bookstore clerks have recommended this book to me, so I bought a copy for myself, too. Preparing for the…

Back Next Week … I Promise

I’m writing and editing on a tight deadline this week. Although I have hinted around my forthcoming book in past posts, I still can’t reveal any concrete details beyond its October publishing date. Sorry. I’ll post again next week. Promise. In the meantime, please enjoy my past posts. As always, I appreciate any comments. If…

Catskills

The Fisherman: Hudson Valley Horror

John Langan’s The Fisherman is a complex horror novel set in the Catskills Mountains in New York. Creepy, atmospheric, and strange–a perfect read for a dark and rainy night.

Ruins Among Us: (Post) Industrial Space

A few weeks ago, my friend and I spent a Sunday morning documenting a gargantuan industrial property situated on the borderlands between Essex and Hudson Counties, New Jersey. We snapped hundreds of photographs, jotted down notes, and exchanged innumerable observations. Recently, we transformed our creative material into an article submitted to a very niche and…

Slouching Toward Bethlehem: American Barbarism

“The arts are essen­tial to any com­plete national life. The State owes it to itself to sus­tain and encour­age them … Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the rev­er­ence and delight which are their due.” Thus spoke Sir Winston Churchill about the special, vital place of arts and culture in…

Jersey City and America: Will We Ever Value Culture?

This past Sunday, I drove around Jersey City with the Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy to survey homes, businesses, and assorted properties redeveloped in an aesthetically- and historically-minded fashion over the past year. Jersey City’s bounty of interesting, beautiful buildings astounded me. These treasures exist well beyond the sanctioned historic districts and the increasing affluent downtown. Well…

Penning an Article, Taking (Another) Pause

At the moment, my friend and I are working on an article for a very entertaining, informative, and eclectic publication. This short-term project coupled with my book manuscript will demand all my creativity during the next few weeks. My apologies for stepping away from the blog for the second time in three months. In the…

Ghost Stories for Christmas

While browsing for a Christmas present for my wife at a local independent bookstore (Little City Books in Hoboken, New Jersey, which deserves its own review), I happened upon a counter display of tiny books published by Biblioasis, a small, independent publishing house in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. The books belong to the Christmas Ghost Stories…

Winston Churchill in Contemporary America

Thanks to a lull between writing deadlines, I hold the luxury of returning to other creative activities, namely this blog. In a previous post, I shared my thoughts on Netflix’s The Crown, dedicating the majority of my words to the dramatic portrayal of Winston Churchill and the masterful acting of John Lithgow.

Looking Toward the New Year

As we enter the New Year, Another Town on the Hudson is gearing up for an exciting and challenging 2017. My first book is scheduled for publication in October 2017. Related events in Jersey City, New York, the metropolitan region, and possibly elsewhere will follow. Between now and then, various tight deadlines command my creative…

Wishing You a Merry Christmas

Another Town on the Hudson wishes you a merry Christmas. Enjoy the company of family and friends. Relish the food, drink, and cheer. Listen to holiday music. Watch classic Christmas specials and movies (my favorite: Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas). If you have a treasured family tradition, no matter how silly or simple, follow and share…

The City of Brotherly Love: a Brief Reflection

This past weekend, my wife and I visited Philadelphia to share an afternoon with an old friend. Instead of “visited,” I should say returned. Philadelphia was our home for nearly five years. In Philadelphia, I spent the more formative years of my young adulthood, met the woman who would become my wife, discovered the joys…