About

I am an author, journalist and blogger living in New York City. I have been a professional writer (and editor) for 30 years, contributing to a wide range of print and digital publications. My passions are culture and the arts, politics, social theory, social science, and media. I have written about all these topics, for such publications as The Nation, Film Comment, Newsday, Gay City News, The Advocate, Cineaste, In These Times, The Italian American Review and Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide. I also am a contributor to the online publications PopMatters, The New York Journal of Books, La Voce di New York, Rootsworld, and I-Italy.

My well-reviewed non-fiction book , "An Offer We Can’t Refuse: The Mafia in the Mind of America," explores some of my longstanding preoccupations as a writer: cultural mythologies and their social impact; ethnic identity and stereotypes; popular culture, especially film, and how such social categories as race, class, sexuality and gender interact in American society. I also am a contributing author to many other books, including The Essential Sopranos Reader (University of Kentucky Presses), Mafia Movies (University of Toronto), Our Naked Lives (Bordighera Press) and the forthcoming Routledge History of the Italian Americans (2018).

I also have written about the AIDS pandemic, Latin American literature, Spanish film, Italian politics, Afro-Cuban, African, and other world music and jazz.

I have been a consultant to, and on-camera interviewee, in several documentaries, including the acclaimed PBS four-part series, The Italian Americans (2015). I also have presented research and cultural criticism at conferences and film festivals in the US and Europe.

I am currently working on "Gumbo Italiano: How the Sicilians Made New Orleans," a book about the Sicilians/Italian Americans of New Orleans, from the late 19th century immigration era to the present. It will present new perspectives on the Sicilian experience in New Orleans, focusing on immigration/assimilation, race and racism, culture (particularly music, including jazz and R&B), politics, and organized crime. It will include new interviews with famous and not-so-famous but notable New Orleanians, Sicilian/Italian and otherwise, speaking about their lives and experiences and about the significant impact of Sicilians on New Orleans.

The book will be published by Fordham University Press.

Other Works

  • "Which Side Are You On? 20th Century American History in 100 Protest Songs' Doth Protest Too Little (PopMatters)

    2019
  • Sonic Affinities: Sicilian and African American Musical Encounters in New Orleans (Italian American Review, CUNY)

    2019
  • Sleeping with a Celebrity Frank Merlo, Tennessee Williams’ partner, gets his story told (Gay City News)

    2019
  • The Sicily-New Orleans Connection: Jazz is the Art of Encounter par Excellence (La Voce di New York)

    2018
  • The Routledge History of the Italian Americans

    2018
  • La Notte della Taranta: Celebration and Solidarity (PopMatters)

    2016
  • Frank Barbaro: From the Brooklyn Docks to the State Supreme Court (La Voce di New York)

    2016
  • Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Quartet Offers Penetrating Psychological and Sociopolitical Insight (PopMatters)

    2015
  • Gay Jamaican’s Epic Tale of Violence & Sex in His Homeland: Marlon James' 'A Brief History of 7 Killings' (Gay City News)

    2015
  • Bourbon Street: the Street that New Orleanians Love to Hate (La Voce di New York)

    2014
  • 12 Essential Performances from the Piano "Professors" of New Orleans (PopMatters)

    2014
  • “Marco Tullio Giordana’s I cento passi: The Biopic as Political Cinema,” Mafia Movies: A Reader, ed. by Dana Renga. (University of Toronto Press)

    2011
  • "A 'Finook' in the Crew: Vito Spatafore, The Sopranos, and the Queering of the Mafia Genre", The Essential Sopranos Reader (University of Kentucky Press)

    2011
  • "An Offer We Can't Refuse: The Mafia in the Mind of America"

    2006--2007
  • Not Just Village People (The Nation)

    2001