That Day I Went Time Capsule Hunting in City College

As a lifelong Lower East Sider, there are swaths of northern Manhattan that were once undiscovered to me, like the 35-acre City College of New York campus in Hamilton Heights. I had read that the college’s Gothic revival buildings were filled with gargoyles and grotesques that evoke a “Noo Yawk” version of Oxbridge, where even Harry Potter might feel at home. It was long on my New York bucket list.

Recently, Untapped Cities was offered a glimpse into many of the secrets of the Hamilton Heights campus, including forgotten tunnels and bell towers. On a simmering weekday evening in July when students were out of session, we were greeted by the 138th Street and Amsterdam Avenue gate by 25-year-old Dalton Whiteside, a cheery City College alum and enthusiast, in a straw hat and snappy outfit that suggested he was a time traveler from another century.

Continue reading at Untapped Cities

*YOU GUYS * YOU GUYS * YOU GUYS * SAVE THE DATE: JUNE 12, 2019

Please save June 12 for a really special event I think will sell out!

As a Dorothy Parker fanatic all my life I am beyond excited – the first poems I ever memorized were by her. (She was my mom’s favorite writer too.)

This summer the Algonquin is celebrating the Centennial of the Algonquin Round Table (was on Jeopardy! last night!) – five New Yorkers have been selected to have a talk – representing writing, music, comedy, history, and poker. Holy shit I’m representing writing. And I’m first up on June 12!!! WHAT?!

There will be a page launched by the Algonquin on June 5th with a link for Open Table for my friends and the public to reserve a spot in the Round Table Room for dinner. It’s limited to 30, so people should act fast. It’s a special menu, so it’s around $50 or so, plus drinks. The person who has arranged this wonderful celebration thinks it will sell out.

The schedule is:

  • 6:00 cocktails at the Round Table
  • 6:30 seat for dinner
  • 7:30-8:00 dessert and Round Table talk

Guests must have dinner reservations. You can’t come and sit at a table and drink water; but there is no ticket to attend.

My talk will be around 30 minutes. It will go to around 830-ish.

Just giving a heads up to those who are planners! June 5 is the date to book when the link will go live after heavy promotion! Put in calendar. My date again is June 12.

P.S. Nobody really knows the exact date of the 1st Round Table lunch; it wasn’t written in a newspaper like the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It’s generally known to be the first week of June 1919, when Woollcott returned from France.

My birthday is in early July so if anyone wants to give me a great early birthday gift please come – Did I mention I’m beyond excited??? IMPOSTER SYNDROME STARTS NOW!

New Yorkers in the house? – PAPERBACK LAUNCH – Save the date

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Join me Tuesday February 19 – 730 pm ( to about 9) for a celebration of the paperback edition of The Stowaway in the very lush Kgb Bar’s Red Room (85 East 4th, East Village) (Have you ever seen this room above the regular room we associate with KGB – so divine!) My launch night is part of THE LAST TABOOS series hosted by debonair author Tony Perrottet! Alcohol, exotic dancing, live jazz. More details and event FB Page to come. No cover – just come. (Paperback is out January 1, 2019) (YAY!)

Who says a Lower East Side subway rider can’t get profiled by the internet’s oldest nature magazine? An interview with me at Terrain!

Lost Stories: An Interview with Laurie Gwen Shapiro

I met Laurie Gwen Shapiro in Northern California one fall evening. In a cozy courtyard on the University of California-Berkeley campus, I was chatting with an editor from The New Yorker when, mid-conversation, we got interrupted by a dark-haired woman.

When I learned she was writing about a teenager who stowed away on a 1928 expedition to the Antarctic, I forgave her interruption. I love a good adventure story to remote places, and the unbelievable tale of how teenager Billy Gawronski jumped into the Hudson River to sneak aboard Rear Admiral Richard Byrd’s ship triggered my imagination.

Read the full interview here

My featured piece for Lapham’s Quarterly, my favorite history magazine

The Little Mayors of the Lower East Side

My ninety-seven-year-old father Julius recently amazed me by describing how, when he was hungry during the Great Depression, he would get an occasional free slice of salami from Izzy Pinkowitz, the “official” mayor of East Broadway, who happened to own the Hebrew National sausage factory on his Lower East Side block. How official? “Back then it was official,” he answered, after finishing his favorite old-fashioned cookie, the chocolate-covered Mallomar. “Look into it if you are so curious. The old street mayors of New York would make a good story.”

Father knows best. It is a good story.

Read the full story at Lapham’s Quarterly

My piece on how I found amazing polar archives in Ohio. Ohio?

How an Author Used the Polar Archives in Ohio to Write about an Antarctic Stowaway

A few months after I began to research The Stowaway, my narrative non-fiction book about the teen stowaway on Byrd’s first expedition, I thought I had enough material to write my book. In March of 2013, I had stumbled upon the story while researching the history of St. Stanislaus Church in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, which is the first Polish Catholic church in all five boroughs of the Big Apple. The stowaway, William “Billy” Gawronski, and his family were parishioners there, and I located the records of Billy’s celebration by the church.

Read the full story