Thirteen lucky years ago I began searching for my great-great-grandmother, Vita. As a child I had heard stories of Vita Gallitelli, how she and her husband, Francesco Vena, had committed a murder in Southern Italy. How she had escaped to America with her two sons in 1892, settling in my future hometown of Jersey City, Read More
Helene Stapinski is the author of Five-Finger Discount: A Crooked Family History, which recounts her family’s criminal history, and Baby Plays Around: A Love Affair, with Music, which chronicles her years playing drums in a rock band in Manhattan. She has written extensively for the New York Times as well as for New York magazine, Salon, Travel & Leisure, and dozens of other publications and essay collections. On the documentary based on Five-Finger Discount, she has worked as a producer and writer. Stapinski has been a radio newscaster in Alaska; has appeared on National Public Radio; was a featured performer with The Moth; has lectured at her alma mater, Columbia University; and has taught at Fordham University. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children.