George De Stefano

My Works

Book Reviews
PopMatters review of October: The Story of the Russian Revolution by China Miéville,
The Original Blues: The Emergence of the Blues in African American Vaudeville debunks popular notions about the origins of the blues.
What was unique and liberating about the gay influence on Western culture? Gregory Woods tells only part of the story.
Review essay of historian Enzo Traverso's Fire and Blood
Music Features
Guitarist Gary Lucas and singer Nona Hendryx talk about their (2017) album The World of Captain Beefheart and the man behind the monicker.
Sicilian jazz saxophonist Francesco Cafiso thrills the audience-- and this critiic -- in a 2016 concert at the Italian Cultural Institute in New York
Profile of New Orleans producer, songwriter and performer Carlo Ditta (PopMatters)
A roundup of great New Orleans pianists, from Jelly Roll Morton to Davell Crawford
Howlin' Wolf's Rocking Chair -- a track-by-track appraisal of a blues classic (PopMatters)
An Interview with jazz master Joe Lovano
Professor and poet Michele Messina Reale documents the complex lives and struggles of refugees in Sicily
Interview with filmmaker Antonino D'Ambrosio about his 2017 documentary, "Frank Serpico"
Rabih Alameddine (An Unnecessary Woman, The Hakawati) talks about his sixth novel, The Angel of History, and about the German-Jewish Marxist literary critic Walter Benjamin, the “othering” of Arabs in Western societies, and contemporary gay life.
Commentary on the life and political career of Frank Barbaro, the former Brooklyn dockworker and labor organizer who became a New York State representative and Supreme Court justice.
Interview with Booker Prize winner Marlon James, author of A Brief History of 7 Killings
In this interview before he announced his run against New York mayor Bill de Blasio, veteran advocate Robert Gangi says that policing in New York City is "institutional bullying."
Remembrance of the late Cosimo Matassa, who recorded many of the great R&B and rock 'n roll hits that defined the New Orleans Sound.
Noted author Richard Campanella recounts the turbulent and colorful history of New Orleans' most famous entertainment and tourism district
Veteran New York left-wing politico Frank Barbaro recalls his radical life, from the Brooklyn waterfront to the New York State Supreme Court
Music Reviews
Review of Blue and Lonesome by the Rolling Stones
The older she gets, the better she gets. Review of Lucinda Williams' 2016 double album, The Ghosts of Highway 20
Review essay from Rootsworld (the magazine of the music of the world) about two African music compilations from the Hugh Tracey archives and Tracey's ethnomusicology
Cultural Criticism and Reporting
Italy's biggest folk/world music festival changes direction by returning to its roots for its 19th edition.
"A Finook in the Crew: Vito Spatafore, The Sopranos, and the Queering of the Mafia Genre" (from The Essential Sopranos Reader
Film Criticism
Essay from Mafia Movies: A Reader (University of Toronto)
A personal essay about my first trip to Sicily (from VIA, Voices in Italian Americana)
"Finally, a book that helps to explain America’s enduring fascination with the mythology of the Mafia."

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I am an author, journalist and critic living in Long Island City (Queens, NYC). I have contributed features, reviews, essays, and opinion pieces to a wide range of print and digital publications including The Nation, Film Comment, Newsday, Gay City News, The Advocate, Cineaste, In These Times, The Italian American Review and Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide, and online publications PopMatters, The New York Journal of Books, Rootsworld, and La Voce di New York.

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 Routledge History of the Italian Americans, The Essential Sopranos Reader (University of Kentucky Presses), Mafia Movies (University of Toronto), Our Naked Lives (Bordighera Press).

I have also appeared in several documentary films and I present my academic papers at conferences in the US and abroad.

I am currently researching a book about the Sicilians of New Orleans, whose importance to the history, culture, and unique flavor of my second favorite American city isn't fully appreciated outside the Crescent City.

Here's a select list of my work over the past few decades:


An Offer We Can't Refuse: The Mafia in the Mind of America, ( 2007), Faber & Faber/​Farrar, Straus, Giroux. Examination of the "Mafia myth" in popular culture, and how pop culture representations reflect (or don't) the reality of organized crime.


The Routledge History of the Italian Americans (2018), Routledge. Contributed essay to this major volume of historical scholarship

Our Naked Lives (2013), Bordighera Press. Contributed essay to collection of writings by Italian American authors

The Essential Sopranos Reader (2011), University of Kentucky Press. Contributed essay to collection of critical commentary on the HBO series, "The Sopranos"

Mafia Movies: A Reader (2011), University of Toronto Press. Contributed two essays to anthology of film criticism focusing on American and European crime film genres

Mediated Ethnicity (2011), University of the City of New York. Contributed an essay on the treatment of ethnicity, race and sexuality in US cinema

Is the Mafia Still a Force in America? (2006), Greenhaven Press. Contributed an essay to collection of commentary on organized crime in America

American Voices: Culture and Community (2006), McGraw Hill. Contributed an essay to this textbook

Writing in a Changing World: Writer's Guide with Handbook (2003), Longman UK. Contributed an essay to this textbook

Witness to Revolution: The Advocate reports on gay and lesbian politics, 1967-1999 (2000), Alyson Press. Contributed two articles, one of which originally appeared as an Advocate cover story

Reggae, Rastafarians, Revolution: Jamaican Music from Ska to Dub (2000), Schirmer Ltd. Contributed an essay on reggae music


The Nation
America's oldest journal of politics and opinion

Not Just Village People
A Day for Building Gay Rome
Nativity Scene
Ungood Fellas
Living La Vida Loca
Remember Reggae?
Marley as Messiah
The ‘Homosexual Exception’
HIV as Retro Virus
The Spirit and the Flesh: Sexual Diversity in American Indian Culture
Divided soul: the life of Marvin Gaye

Leading online journal of pop culture

October: The Story of the Russian Revolution

The World of Captain Beefheart: An Interview with Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx
Lucinda Williams: This Sweet Old World
Contrary to Popular Belief, the Blues Were Not Born on the Mississippi Delta
Pickett Was Wicked Good and Wicked Bad: 'In the Midnight Hour'

The Rolling Stones: Blue and Lonesome
La Notte della Taranta: Celebration and Solidarity
Homintern' Is Not as Subversive and Liberating as Its Subject Matter
Rosanne Cash and Her "Peculiar" South
An Epoch of Annihilation Whose Consequences Still Reverberate
Tradition Meets Innovation at the Fifth Annual Maqam Fest
Lucinda Williams: The Ghosts of Highway 20
Last Call at Folk City with Dominic Chianese

Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Quartet Offers Penetrating Psychological and Sociopolitical Insight
Keith Richards, Crosseyed Heart
Dreams to Remember: Otis Redding, Stax Records, and the Transformation of Southern Soul
A Massive Attack on America's Ideological Fiction: The WikiLeaks Files
What Is New Orleans Producer Carlo Ditta Talkin' About?
Steve Earle and the Dukes, Terraplane
Rhiannon Giddens, Tomorrow is My Turn
Pop Like an Egyptian

12 Essential Performances from the Piano "Professors" of New Orleans
Bagels and Bongos: The Klezmatics Present Havana Nagila

Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino: 8 October 2013 - New York

Dr. John: Insides Out
All Over the Map: GlobalFEST 2012 New York

Between the Groove series: Rockin’ Chair Blues
Dances with Spiders: Italian Roots Music, With Bite, Comes to North America

Mambo Siciliano: 'Latinista' Roy Paci and His Band Bring Their Global Sound to America

La Voce di New York
Online newspaper, Italian/​English

The Poetics of Displacement
“The Godfather” Masterpiece and the Memories of the Old Wise Guys and Girls
Serpico Part II: A Documentary about an Icon
Blaxploitalian: Italy, in Black and White

Frank Barbaro: From the Brooklyn Docks to the State Supreme Court
La Notte della Taranta: Reviving the Tradition
Jazz with a Sicilian Accent: Francesco Cafiso in New York
From “Muorica” to Toronto … and Back Again: Michael Occhipinti’s Sicilian Project Connects Two Musical Worlds

Don't Call It Conspiracy Theory
Giuseppe Costa and the Teaching of Naples' Camorra to America
The Mafia on Bourbon Street, the Street that New Orleanians Love to Hate. Interview with Richard Campanella, Professor at Tulane University
No more lies about the mafia. (film review)

Website and print magazine

The Right to be Italian (print)
Broken Windows, Broken Lives
Tales of Two Cities
Family Secrets
Littler Italy
Frank Sinatra, "American Icon"
"Looking" for Daniel Franzese
Race, Racism, and Italianità
Family Drama: An Off-Broadway revival of Joseph Pintauro's play Snow Orchid inspires a conversation about mental health and immigration
Tom Ammiano, Standup Politician

Far from Mulberry Street
Addio, Cosimo: Cosimo Matassa, a son of Sicilian immigrants, was a key figure in the creation of the "New Orleans Sound" that changed American popular music

On Roberto Saviano, Italy's Anti-Mafia Struggle, and Italian-American Anti-Defamation Activism

Tano da morire: Singing, Dancing, Shooting
Roots, Re-Imagined: The Sicilian Jazz Project

Sicily Rocks 'Bruccolino'
Another Sicily
What Makes a Citizen?
The Poetry of Politics: Italian leftist leader Nichi Vendola envisions ‘a different Italy’
Passion and Politics: Marco Bellocchio’s new film reconstructs a piece of Italian history

Reviews, essays and interviews about music from Africa, Europe, and the Americas

3 Pizzica 3


Vincio Capossela: Marinai, Profeti e Balene

Antonio Castrignanó: Mara la Fatia
"Pizzica can transcend linguistic and temporal borders: Interview with Mauro Durante of Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino

Levon Helm: Electric Dirt

Les Amazones de Guinée: Wamato
Keletigui et ses Tambourinis: The Syliphone Years
Various Artists: Authenticité: The Syliphone Years, Guinea's Orchestres Nationaux and Federaux, 1965-1980
Bokoor Beats: Vintage Afrobeat, Afro-Rock and Highlife from Ghana

Hugh Tracey, Ethnomusicology, and African Music
Various Artists: Golden Afrique: Vol. 2: 1956-1982; Rumba Congolaise and Early Soukous Vol. 3, 1939-1988; Jive, Jit, Jazz and Other Musical Styles from South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Zambia; Various Artists:

New York Journal of Books
Book reviews and critical essays

Morrissey: Autobiography
Hilton Als: White Girls
Alexander Cockburn: A Colossal Wreck: A Road Trip Through Political Scandal, Corruption, And American Culture
Thomas Glave: Among the Bloodpeople: Politics and Flesh
Andre Aciman: Harvard Square: A Novel
Petra Reski: The Honored Society: A Portrait of Italy's Most Powerful Mafia

Voices in Italian Americana (VIA)
Peer-reviewed academic journal

Pane, Vino, e Finocchio: In (Gay) Sicilia

Bread, Wine, and Soul: Interview with jazz master Joe Lovano
"Yo Soy Boricua/​Io Sono Italiano: Interview with New York salsa singer Henry Fiol

"La Notte della Taranta: Musicking as a Social Act and Metaphor for Social Relationships," 2017; City University of New York
"Social Media and Sicily's Anti-Mafia Movement," 2014; City University of New York
"Cosimo Matassa: 'We Were Just Neighbors," 2013, Italian American Studies Association, New Orleans
"Roy Paci: You Must Protect the Dialects," 2013, City University of New York
"Fuori in Italia: A Gay Grandson Encounters La Madrepatria," 2012, City University of New York
"Whose Family Values? The Cinema of Ferzan Ozpetek," 2011, City University of New York
"21st Century W.O.P.s," 2008, Experience Music Project Annual Conference, Seattle
"Race, Sex and Ethnicity in Italian American Cinema," 2007, 43rd International Festival of New Film and Video, Pesaro, Italy
"A 'Finook' in the Crew: Vito Spatafore, The Sopranos, and the Queering of the Mafia Genre," 2007, American Italian Historical Association, Denver, CO

I have appeared on camera in the following documentary films:
The Italian Americans, Public Broadcasting System, 2015
The Godfather Legacy, History Channel, 2012
Beyond Wiseguys, Public Broadcasting System, 2008

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