LTJG John F. Kennedy aboard the PT-109 in 1943 (public domain)
I’m doing a bonus post today! Today marks the day that President Kennedy was shot, and Burnside Writers Collective published my photo essay of iconic photographs of JFK. You can see it here.
Whenever I think of the Kennedys, I think of my grandmother. She was always reading biographies about JFK and Jackie O.
I’m thrilled to be published in vox poetica. The lit mag was founded in 2009 by Annmarie Lockhart, a resident of Bergen County, New Jersey — where I’m from!
The poem featured, “In a Diner in America Circa 1956,” came to me one day as I was walking on Park Avenue during my lunch break. I was thinking about Jack Kerouac stopping in a roadside cafe for a little nourishment as he traveled across the country, and the awkwardness and opportunities that abound when one travels on one’s own.
It’s a pastiche of Jack Kerouac’s interview on The Steve Allen Show, his narration of what may be the only true Beat film Pull My Daisy, and an amalgamation of information from his novels and letters as well as biographies.
You can read it here.
Ten years ago — wow, time flies! — I had the pleasure of penning an introduction to Rough Rider Theodore Roosevelt’s adventure memoir Hunting the Grisly and Other Sketches. As part of my research, I toured his birthplace, a gorgeous brownstone right here in New York City. I loved hearing the inspirational story of how he was a sickly child whose love for reading and nature led to him becoming an advocate for conservation. Just like Jack Kerouac later would, Roosevelt read Leo Tolstoy and dime-store westerns, traveled America, dreamed of ranching (Roosevelt actually did ranch; Kerouac was a lot of talk), became associated with hyper-masculinity, and created a legend out of himself through his writing.
Today marks the 155th anniversary of Theodore Roosevelt’s birth.
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Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” is now available as an ebook and paperback!
With devastating allegations that the Syrian government was responsible for chemical attacks on more than three hundred of its own citizens this past August and nightly news reports detailing the atrocities of civil war, the world casts its collective eye on Syria. Political pundits and laymen alike argue whether the US should step in and take military action.
Syria is more than a land of strife. Its capital, Damascus, is reportedly the oldest continuously inhabited city in the entire world.
From the bible, we know Damascus as the place where Paul was converted to Christianity. By the nineteenth century, Syria significantly contributed to the literature of the Arab world. Today, Damascus has an influential music scene. Syria’s contemporary art speaks to this rich culture as well as its atrocities.
Art preserves history. It is a visual lens through which we can better understand the socio-political milieus that have gone before us and that we live through today. Artists are particularly tuned into the world around them. They interpret what they see through paintings, photography, sculpture, cartoons, and collage, and in turn we may come to understand issues pertaining to religion, the economy, gender, and power through their civilian eyes. Their images may reach us in ways that words—particularly that of news reports—cannot.
Read more of my art post “8 Contemporary Syrian Artists to Know” on Burnside Writers Collective.
In remembrance of September 11, here is the Church Hopping post I had done on St. Nicholas Church at the World Trade Center.
The first time I went to Disney World in Florida, I remember being spectacularly impressed by the topiaries. I was in fifth grade. Oh, sure, the rides were fun, and it was exciting to have costumed Mickey and Minnie sign my autograph book, but I was expecting that. What I wasn’t expecting were the small details Disney took to create an enchanted kingdom. Sometimes the most amazing moments in life come in the tiny, unexpected details.
Yet ironically, to become whimsical works of landscape art, these topiaries couldn’t just grow free and wild. They had to be pruned and grow within strict guidelines.
Read the rest of my article and see 10 amazing topiaries here.
Spoiler: Johnny Depp is included.
I’m currently enjoying art critic Martin Gayford‘s The Yellow House: Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Arles. Published in 2009 by Hachette, the well-researched book tells the story of how the artists ended up living in a house together in the south of France and how their time together influenced their work. It’s a great read for anyone interested in artists’ collaborations.
Both Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin painted sunflowers, but today we remember van Gogh’s still lifes better. It got me thinking about how even though van Gogh’s name seems synonymous with sunflowers, so many other artists throughout history have also painted this captivating flower.
Read more and see painting selections at Burnside Writers Collective.
Random International. Rain Room. 2012. Photo via
Have you heard about the Rain Room at MoMA? I read a really sweet story about it the other day and blogged about it for Burnside. You can read it here.