Writer and editor specializing in nonfiction (books, feature articles, reviews, essays) for print and online publications.
When Marlon James won Britain’s prestigious Man Booker Prize for fiction in October, it came as a surprise to many — including the 44-year-old, out gay Jamaican author. James won for “A Brief History of Seven Killings,” a long, violent, sexually explicit, and altogether brilliant novel that takes off from the 1976 attempted assassination of reggae icon Bob Marley to encompass the CIA-backed destabilization of Jamaica during the latter years of the Cold War; political warfare in the ghettos of Kingston, the island’s capital; the crack cocaine scourge of the ‘80s and early ‘90s; and sexuality — and particularly homosexuality.
I contributed the essay, "Fuori per sempre: Italian American Gays and Lesbians Come Out," to this landmark volume of historical scholarship. In 2019, it will be published in Italy, in an Italian-language version.
My nonfiction book, An Offer We Can't Refuse: The Mafia in the Mind of America, examines the "Mafia myth" in popular culture and explains the dangerous allure of organized crime stories.
At the start of her Carnegie Hall show, Rosanne Cash happily announced, "This is a hometown gig, the best kind there is, in the best city in the world." New York might not exactly be her hometown — she was born in Memphis — but Cash has lived in the Big Apple for nearly 25 years since leaving Nashville, so she's earned the bragging rights. What seemed a bit ironic about her remark was that her concert was all about the American South, where she was born and raised, and particularly the Mississippi Delta. The first half of the two-and-a-half-hour show was devoted to The River and the Thread, the album that won Cash the Best Americana Grammy in 2015. Cash performed the album in sequence, from "A Feather is Not a Bird" to "Money Road", something she said she'd wanted to do with her work for 35 years but had never done before.
Press release written for Cindy Byram PR to promote a new album by the Italian world music band Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino (CGS).
New Orleans is famous for its great piano players, from Jelly Roll Morton to Professor Longhair to James Booker to Dr. John. This article focuses on 12 New Orleans piano masters and their great performances.
The correspondences between Lebanese-American author Rabih Alameddine's fiction and his life notwithstanding, his books are not merely autobiographical. They instead are richly imagined and superbly written works that dive headlong into our chaotic contemporary world and, through the enchantment of storytelling, give form and meaning to lives fragmented by violence, displacement, and disease.
"Throughout my life, I have been searching for a way to connect with other human beings," writes Tobias Schneebaum. That search for human connection has led him--a New Yorker born on the Lower East Side to Orthodox Jews from Poland; a painter and a gay man--to live among people who couldn't have been more different from himself: cannibal and headhunting tribes in the jungles of South America and New Guinea. Schneebaum is best known for his first book, Keep the River on Your Right (1969), an engrossing, often astonishing account of his experiences among a tribe living a Stone Age existence deep in the Madre de Dios rainforest of eastern Peru. In 1956, Schneebaum, a successful painter, was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to study art in Peru. But once he arrived there, he abandoned his studies to venture, alone and unarmed, into the jungle. A knapsack on his back, sneakers on his feet and the admonition to "keep the river on your right" to guide him as he walked, he was unprepared for what he might encounter yet open to whatever might come his way.
The Hetrick-Martin Institute, the premier NYC agency serving gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth, launched an innovative city-wide initiative
"People have been trying to make this movie for more than 40 years," says filmmaker Antonino D'Ambrosio. The movie in question, and the one D'Ambrosio has made, is Frank Serpico, a new documentary about the maverick police officer who, in the early 1970s, exposed rampant corruption in the New York City Police Department. D'Ambrosio's film not only reconstructs Serpico's efforts to uncover the malfeasance that reached from the NYPD rank and file to the department's upper echelons. Frank Serpico is an engrossing examination of courage, moral commitment, and the costs of such commitment in a society that too often marginalizes those who challenge abuses of power by institutions like the police.
The blues was born in the Mississippi Delta, fathered by black men who sang and played guitars, and these men took the music to Chicago, where they and their successors turned southern folk blues into electrified urban music that black people danced to in South Side clubs and white British rock bands later built careers (and fortunes) on. For a long time, that origin story was the prevailing popular notion about the birth of the blues. But it’s all wrong, as recent scholarship has shown. In their revelatory The Original Blues: The Emergence of the Blues in African American Vaudeville, Lynn Abbott and Doug Seroff locate the music’s origins in the early 20th century, southern black vaudeville circuit.
Many Italians regard the refugees and migrant workers who have been arriving in large numbers on Italian shores, mainly in Sicily, as a threat — to Italy's economy, its culture, its demographics, and even its national identity. The newcomers seen as most threatening are Muslims from North Africa and the Middle East. Politicians, right-wing anti-immigrant organizations, and ordinary Italians decry their presence, demonize them, and demand that the influx be reduced or stopped entirely. But who are the actual human beings who often are reduced to a horde of faceless invaders? Why do they keep coming, and what happens to them when they arrive? Michelle Messina Reale set out to answer those questions by documenting the lives of people in Sicilian refugee camps and "acceptance" centers.
From the opening bars of "Suction Prints", we knew we had entered "The World of Captain Beefheart" and that was exactly where we wanted to be. There it was, that unmistakable fast 'n bulbous sound, the sudden shifts of meter and tempo, the slithery and stinging slide guitar in tandem with propulsive bass, the polyrhythmic drumming giving the music a swing unlike any other rock band. It's a late September night in Manhattan, and downtown venue Joe's Pub is presenting a quartet plus vocalist performing songs by Don Van Vliet, who, under the moniker Captain Beefheart, and with a shifting roster of musicians who made up his Magic Band, created perhaps the most idiosyncratic — and original — body of work in what can loosely be called rock. Van Vliet's music, from his debut album Safe as Milk (1967) to his final recording, Ice Cream for Crow (1982), was a unique mix of blues, R&B, free jazz, doowop, and surreal poetry
October, by the British author China Miéville, is a gripping account of the Russian Revolution that offers the pleasures and rewards of a great novel. Miéville is, in fact, a gifted fiction writer of mainly science fiction and fantasy. His many works include the novels King Rat (1998), The City and the City (2010), Embassytown (2012), and Railsea (2013), and the novella This Census-Taker (2017). So, the literary brilliance of October doesn't come as a surprise. The book has vividly drawn characters, high drama, suspense, and an irresistible narrative momentum that sweeps the reader along from the first page to the tragic – but not inevitable – conclusion.