Welcome to my Web site, dedicated to my new book “The Man with a Sawed-Off Leg and Other Tales of a New York City Block.” The book grew out of an article I wrote for The New York Times in 2007, about the history of seven townhouses around the corner from where I grew up. The subject became something of an obsession, and after the article was published, I just could not stop digging in. I obtained records from Alcatraz prison, the Justice Department and the federal courts. I scoured old newspapers. I talked to people connected to the buildings. The research was exhilarating, and stretched out over many years. Finally, I incorporated my research into prose and it became this book.
Meanwhile, I continued to work at the Times, which I joined in 2000, as a reporter and editor. Right now I’m the deputy editorial director of NYT Global, a department focused on building the news organization’s international reach. Previously, I was a deputy editor in the Culture Department. As a reporter for the Times, my beats included religion, classical music and dance, and night rewrite in the Metro department — that’s the late shift. I’ve covered stories in more than a dozen countries in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Latin America, including the election of two popes. Before joining the Times, I worked for The Associated Press as news editor for southern Africa based in Johannesburg and as a correspondent in Rome and Newark, N.J.
With MWSOL, as the book is known in shorthand, I zoomed back in from global pursuits and got as local as possible, homing in on the history of seven buildings that I passed almost daily since childhood.
I play the clarinet pretty seriously (see the Facebook page of my group, Hellgate Harmonie) and also participate in a weekend touch football/softball game that has been in continuous operation since the late 1960s. I’m married to the journalist and professor Vera Haller and have two sons, Thomas and Michael.