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.
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.
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 publish Left Bank of the Hudson on October 2, 2017. The Press, my publicist, and I are working hard putting together a series of local promotional events and a small book tour. At press time, eight events are scheduled in six cities and four states. We’re hoping to add several more events in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, my budding writing career received two notable boosts in the month of June. Continue reading
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 for a newspaper clipping. Simply put, I had questions needing answers. And I needed the New Jersey Room Collection to provide them.
On a recent Saturday afternoon, I stepped away from my writer’s garret and ventured downtown to address these questions and other new topics of interest percolating in my mind. Upon entering the library, I climbed the marble stairs to the third floor and the library’s most unique and valuable collection.
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 with the past and view ourselves as belonging to the larger story of humanity. Such spaces remind us that we exist beyond our individual selves.
Two weekends ago, I attended a memorial ceremony for an elderly relative outside of Philadelphia. After the service, I spent an afternoon with my parents and my sisters in the City of Brotherly Love. As we walked through the courtyard of the Second Empire Philadelphia City Hall, I told them about the former gentleman’s agreement that no building could surpass the statue of William Penn perched atop its clock tower. Real estate developers honored this tradition until the 1980s. Later, my father asked about another Second Empire masterpiece, the Union League of Philadelphia, wondering what the building housed and represented.