Hello old blog! I seem to only revisit this site for reviewing the previous year, but I think it’s still an important outlet to have, when I need it. 2016 was definitely a building year in life, where I finally got my own apartment, in a building overlooking a beautiful Brooklyn park, and managed to pay for it only with writing (and a few cemetery tours and talks). The process of that was exhausting. However, I did travel, from Montreal to Route 66 to New Orleans, with some of my favorite friends. I also became an aunt!
Life is never a smooth field to walk over, there are always the rocks, maybe left from some old glacier you thought had long melted away, or holes you haven’t quite patched, waiting to twist an ankle. Hills appear unexpectedly, and are steeper than expected once you start to climb. I’ll try not to turn this into rather mediocre pastoral poetry, just to say that I value those people who give me their trust, love, and friendship on this strange and unpredictable path. Also, in my seventh year in New York, I get to unlock mausoleums and bring people inside to talk about dead magicians and occult history, and that’s pretty great, no matter what else happens next.
Writing is now my full-time job, so, for better or worse, that means that’s all I do for 40 hours a week, which can mean a lot of stories slip through the flow of endless internet content. I thought I would corral a few of them here… for my curiosity, if nothing else. Oh and I’m still visiting and writing about New York City’s greatest trees, but you can read all about them on my dedicated Tumblr.
- Rediscovering, Camilla Urso, a pioneering 19th-century woman violinist. As a bonus, after writing this the Brooklyn cemetery where she is buried was encouraged to fix up her monument!
- A studio visit to the Brooklyn artist building robots to cross the US-Mexico border
- The restoration of Napoleon’s beloved, belated white horse
- In which I tried out climbing into a mortuary drawer to smell the scents of JFK’s last moments (ART!)
- An exploration of murals memorializing the history of an American Indian Boarding School in Oklahoma
- How a cemetery is marking an overlooked artist’s grave with his own marble statue of grief
- The well-trodden art of the manhole cover
- Relics from the horse-powered city
- An interview with an artist who embraces the occult visuals that helped send him to death row
- The monumental totem poles built by a retired Oklahoma art teacher
- A tour through the unsung female muses of NYC’s public sculpture
- The woman who sculpted masks for the soldiers disfigured in WWI
- The unexpected connection between J.M.W. Turner and Herman Melville (surprise: it’s whales!)
- How the naming of clouds changed the skies of art
- A nuclear warning designed to last 10,000 years
- Rebuilding the incredible Electric Eric: a lost 1920s British robot
- The brutality of Little Bighorn, as seen by someone who was there
- A visit to a village of architectural instruments in New Orleans
- When a drowned woman’s face became the muse of Paris
- The continued relevance of an 18th-century philosopher’s skeleton, from webcam to soundscapes
- Considering NYC’s Hart Island potter’s field as a public greenspace
- The unsung woman artist behind your Tarot cards
- A ranking of George Stubss’s greatest racehorses
And I got to meet this celebrity llama:
And see all these beautiful, magical, and curious things:
Cheers to 2017! This world right now is rather terrifying, but that there is still adventure and discovery to be had, and people who want to share in it, gives me hope.