Journalism and Essays

Columbia Journalism Review

Switching Sides

I ran for office in 2018 to win—to become a state senator and represent my district in a quiet pocket of Brooklyn. I did not run to make myself a better journalist or glean new insights into the craft I had practiced for most of my working life. 

Joe Crowley Is Gone, But The Queens Machine Chugs On

Joe Crowley, the congressman who lost in a stunning primary upset to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez last year, will step down from his role as chairman of the Queens Democratic Party, Queens Democrats confirmed Tuesday night.
New York Daily News

Cuomo stomps on the grassroots: A lobbying provision in his budget would stifle many of the small groups that delivered a Democratic majority to the state Legislature

These are thrilling times for New York progressives. Democrats control the state Senate for the first time in a decade and have already passed a raft of bills Republicans bottled up for years. More ambitious proposals, like a state Green New Deal and robust tenant laws that protect working-class residents, are finally on the table.

The Governor Formerly Known As Amazon Wakes Up To A New Political Reality

There might have been a moment on Thursday afternoon when Governor Andrew Cuomo wondered why he wanted this third term. For the first time in his eight years and one month as governor of one of the largest states in America, Andrew Cuomo did not get what he wanted.
The Guardian

Amazon's retreat from New York represents a turning point

Amazon was ready to impose its will on the largest city in America. The trillion dollar corporation had lined up the support of the mayor of New York City and the governor of New York, and began hiring the fleet of well-compensated lobbyists and strategists necessary to see its vision through.
The Guardian

Trump's latest cabinet pick: another profit-over-humanity Republican

Lost in the noise of another meaningless State of the Union address, Beto O’Rourke’s Oprah musings and the starting engines of an endless presidential race was the news that David Bernhardt might be getting a promotion.

Amazon's NYC Campus, Donald Trump's Rise, & NY's Prison Boom All Share A Common Ancestor

In 1968, shortly after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the Republican governor of New York decided it was time to rescue the neighborhoods afflicted by crime and rot.
The Guardian

Republicans’ lack of alarm over the shutdown reveals a disturbing truth

The government shutdown, now in its fourth miserable week, shows few signs of ending. Donald Trump, obsessed with curtailing immigration at all costs, wants money for a border wall House Democrats won’t give to him. Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate majority leader, has been content to do Trump’s bidding, twice blocking Democratic bills to reopen the government.
The Washington Post

It’s way too hard for working-class people to run for office

When Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez declared last November that she didn’t have enough cash on hand to afford an apartment in Washington, her critics howled. Her communications director soon revealed that she had less than $7,000 in savings, provoking further scrutiny of the new progressive star.
The Guardian

Clean water: the latest casualty in Trump's attack on the environment

The cruelty and the idiocy of Donald Trump’s presidency does not chiefly lie in his tweets or even his words. Trump the performer is ridiculous, but that’s the clown show that keeps many of us either terrified or entertained – the real harm is elsewhere, away from the blaring headlines.
The Guardian

Racism has triumphed once again in Mississippi

“The past is never dead,” William Faulkner, the great American novelist, once wrote. “It’s not even past.” Faulkner’s home state of Mississippi, more than a half-century after his death, proved his point again on Tuesday night.
NBC News

General Motors, Sears and Toys R Us: Layoffs across America highlight our shredding financial safety net

Today’s aging workforce faces an uncertain future. The announcement this week that General Motors will lay off 15 percent of its salaried workforce and shutter multiple plants in North America was a sobering reminder of how far the American worker has fallen.

These Top NY Politicians Were For Amazon Before They Were Against It

On October 16th, 2017, an incredibly wide range of elected officials in New York City signed a letter to Jeff Bezos. The letter was simple, direct, and devoid of the legalese that typically accompanies such missives. They all wanted Bezos to bring his company, Amazon, to the five boroughs.

I Ran For State Senate In Brooklyn And Lost. Here's What I Learned

They don’t prepare you to give a concession speech. Outside of politics, what is the equivalent? You can’t find it in writing, journalism, or teaching—the fields I worked in before embarking on the wonderful, if exhausting, odyssey of running for office in New York City.
The New Yorker

Would You Like to Sit on My Bed with Me and Check Twitter?

I had such a nice time with you last night. That Vietnamese place hit the spot, and I loved how we had so much to talk about. It’s hard to meet good people these days and make a genuine connection, you know?
The Village Voice

The Most Powerful Democrat In Queens Must Finally Compete

In the summer of 1998, Tom Manton of Queens shocked the city’s insular political world by announcing his retirement from Congress. Manton, then 65, had petitioned to get on the ballot and showed all signs of wanting to run for another term.
The Village Voice

China Miéville’s History Of The Russian Revolution Offers Stark Lessons For Today

How do we remember the Russian Revolution? Infused with the noblest of intentions and ideas, it ultimately begat disaster. “We know where this is going,” writes China Miéville in his new study of the revolution, October. “Purges, gulags, starvation, mass murder.”
The Village Voice

The Queens Machine That Turns Foreclosures Into Cash

The three lawyers who run one of the largest Democratic organizations in America have more than one way to get rich.
New York Daily News

Three lawyers control Queens Democratic Party while one rakes millions from Surrogate’s Court wills

For 30 years, the same three men have effectively controlled one of the largest Democratic organizations in America.
The Village Voice

Claude McKay’s Long-Lost Novel Brings the Harlem Renaissance to Life

“I wonder if I understand you rightly,” the Ethiopian prince Lij Tekla Alamaya asks his American friend Gloria Kendall. “Slavery in the Bronx, New York, in the most highly civilized city in the world?”
The Village Voice

Preet Bharara Will Not Save Us

New York journalists always pine for heroes and villains. A Manichean universe is a convenient one: good guys do good, bad guys do bad, and to the white knight goes the boldest headlines.
New York Magazine Intelligencer

What Happens to New York’s Municipal ID Card Under the Trump Administration?

Surrounded by cheering activists and elected officials, de Blasio marked one of the early triumphs of his soon-to-be tumultuous tenure: bringing a municipal identification-card program to New York City.
Columbia Journalism Review

Journalists too easily charmed by power, access, and creamy risotto

When Robert Moses, the notorious New York master builder, wanted to cow the journalists who covered him, he knew he didn’t have to harangue or threaten his way to a favorable story.
The New York Times

Transformation on Brooklyn’s Southern Shore

When Hurricane Sandy lashed the New York coastline and drowned neighborhoods like Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, there was some chatter about retreating from the waterfront.
The Village Voice

Why Are ‘Progressive’ Legislators Supporting GOP-Loving Obstructionists?

On Tuesday, some of the city’s most prominent Democratic politicians celebrated the State Senate victory of Marisol Alcantara, a former Bernie Sanders delegate. Alcantara, the only woman who competed in a four-way Manhattan primary, is set to become the Senate’s lone Latina. Her patron, State Senator Adriano Espaillat, joyously dubbed this “the year of the woman.”

Why I Kept Rooting for A-Rod

There is little in this world I hate more than self-righteousness. I get enough of it in journalism and politics, where faux outrage is often the price of admission. The high horse is fun to ride. Sneering and finger-pointing usually wins you the day, or at least a retweet.

There goes the party

Bill Clinton was supposed to be at St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church in Brooklyn to talk about his wife. But in the fashion of a former president who remembers what it’s like to be in a good dogfight, he couldn’t resist taking on her nettlesome rival.
LA Review of Books

[Insert Penis Pun Here]: Anthony Weiner and the Great American Spectacle

LESS THAN A WEEK before a second sexting scandal ended Anthony Weiner’s political career for good, Howard Dean appeared at a tony Brooklyn bar to help fundraise for one of the former congressman’s rivals in New York City’s 2013 mayoral election.
The Village Voice

Our New Rich Daddy President Promises to Rid Us of ‘American Carnage’

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In the forgettable Little Rascals remake from 1994, Waldo, the film’s arch-prick, places a phone call from the racetrack. “Hi, Dad, it’s me. You’re gonna be so proud of me. I’m gonna win the race,” Waldo brags.
Harvard Review Online

Sleet: Selected Stories

When Stig Dagerman shuttered his garage doors and left his car engine running, he was just thirty-one. But Dagerman, who has been dead now for six decades, left behind the oeuvre of a writer twice his age: four novels, several plays, poetry, and a work of singular journalism.