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.
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.
A Snapshot of Jersey City Culture
Let’s face it: transplants to New York love to scoff at New Jersey. (Interestingly enough, I’ve noticed that native New Yorkers lack this prejudice.) Contrary to this popular stereotype, culture exists in the Garden State.
A Night at a Movie Palace: Loew’s Jersey Theatre
Last weekend, my wife and I enjoyed the 1954 classic On the Waterfront in 35 mm film on the big screen. (The movie was shot in Hoboken, New Jersey.) While the film was riveting, the true attraction was the movie theater itself. The Loew’s Jersey Theatre stands across the street from the Journal Square PATH…
Art, Drinks, and Conversation: An Evening at Virile
On Small Business Saturday, November 25, 2017, Virile Barber & Shop invited me to discuss Left Bank of the Hudson with guests over drinks and food (courtesy of Wurstbar) in downtown Jersey City. Before cable news and social media, people visited barbershops to trade gossip, debate politics, and discuss events of the day. This tradition…
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.
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…
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…
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…