The Need for Small Cities

Recently, a documentary which I co-created was an official selection at the Albany Film Festival, and I traveled to New York’s state capital to represent the film and partake in a refreshing change of scene. My time in the Capital District, that is, the Albany metropolitan area, followed the cliched pattern of a New York Times “36 Hours” story. I hit a steady succession of high notes within a concentrated amount of time.

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Providence: Walking with H.P. Lovecraft

Earlier this autumn, I visited Providence, Rhode Island for a long-awaited trip to the John Hay Library at Brown University. For a full workweek, I spent the majority of my waking hours sifting through the papers of author H.P. Lovecraft and several of his associates for material for my biography on the weird fiction writer and his New York City years. As with any research project, a new question arose for each one answered.

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Trees and Traditions

Late last year, I read an article detailing the prominent place fig trees hold in the cultural imagination of Italian-Americans and, of course, their backyard gardens. A demographer can trace the path of Italian migration in the United States by simply tracking the fig trees. They can be found in neighborhoods throughout New York City and New Jersey, including my own in Jersey City. This recent article prompted me to think differently about the conception and discourse of urban history.

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Walking: A Re-Discovered Joy

Last week, I walked to the Village neighborhood in downtown Jersey City for the first time since the pandemic began in March. Although this slice of the city is only a twenty- or thirty-minute stroll from my home, I felt as if I was embarking upon a great quest or journey. During the past five plus months, I have left my immediate neighborhood no more than a half-dozen times. Since I don’t own a car, my few trips have been on foot.

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