Nelson George is a novelist, cultural critic, and filmmaker. After receiving his degree from St. John's University in 1982, George first worked for New York's Amsterdam News, later becoming an editor at Billboard and a columnist for the Village Voice. Many of his books -- both fiction and non-fiction -- have focused on black popular culture. George is the author of Hip Hop America and The Death of Rhythm and Blues, both studies of black urban music, as well as the novels Night Work and Urban Romance. George co-wrote the films Strictly Business (1991) and CB4 (1993); he also directed To Be a Black Man, a short based on a piece he wrote for the Voice that starred Samuel L. Jackson.
Question: What do you love about New York
Nelson George: I think from Labor Day to New Year’s Eve is the best time to be in New York. Lots and lots of vibrancy, and when all the colleges come in. So you have all these students, and you have the teachers. And you have the programs, and the energy, and the lectures that go with that. The new theater season pops up; tons of plays. It’s the art film season, and New York has an incredible array of art houses from BAM in Brooklyn all the way to the Lincoln Center. And music obviously . . . with all this music blossoming, and it’s just great here. It’s kind of a brisk . . . It’s not . . . August is unbearable. So now you can put on your sweater, and you can wear your nice boots, and your nice jacket, and your hat, and you can feel kind of dashing. The city feels very, very kinetic. And then you know . . . then January comes. So I love that about New York.
I love the spring in New York when people decide to get sexy again. And there’s those days, you know, it can happen in late March but certainly in April when the first semi even warm day when the girls put their . . . put their toeless sandals on, and their high heels, and they’re showing their feet off again, and the pedicures are out. And everyone’s kind of feeling sexy, and you can feel that . . . There’s a palpable sexual energy in New York on those early first days of when it’s warm. So I love that about the city and I love the bereft of experience. I love the fact that I can stay at home and I can read about stuff that I should’ve gone to, but still feel like at least . . . There’s that sense . . . In other cities you’re in, you know there’s nothing going on so what are you worried about? Here you know you’re missing something good. But it’s kind of fun to be around that, because if you decide to dive in you’re gonna find something really fascinating that you never expected to see.