ERICA PEPLIN is a writer and film critic. She lives in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
The ghost stories of Henry James weren’t about ghosts. They were the residue of tortured psyches, the ethereal embodiments of our deepest fears. As James described them, ghosts were “the strange and sinister embroidered on the very type of the normal and easy.”
There was a housing project in East Harlem with a large rectangular lawn. The residents of the project despised it. “What good is it?” they asked. “Who wants it?” Jane Jacobs, one of the most important writers and activists of 20th century urbanism, describes this lawn and the negative reactions it provoked in her 1960 book, The Life and Death of Great American Cities.
Robert Frank’s travels through America resulted in one of the most important photo collections in our nation’s history. Along the way, he took pictures of smokestacks, lunch counters, sidewalks, TV sets, and urinals.