Meet the Staff at Highbrow Magazine: Chief Features Writer Angelo Franco

Angelo Franco


I am the swinger of birches Frost wrote about, albeit with a bit of an overwhelming personality outweighed by optimism and a chill sense of humor. I have a foolish belief in humanity the same way I believe my parents are secret superheroes (which I’m hard-set on). I can cook an excellent tilapia and I’m really good at finding hidden food havens around the city. My favorite animals are the elephant and the dragon; and I’m very afraid of spiders. I spend a lot of my time thinking about food and my innermost desire is to have a pet pterodactyl. If I were a light fixture, I’d be a 60-watt incandescent naked bulb in the kitchen ceiling with a short fuse and a little string to turn it on or off. Originally from Pennsylvania near Amish country, I was once caught in the rain on 57th street while visiting New York City and suddenly I knew where I wanted to be. So one summer I packed my jeans and my Ray-Bans and made my move to the Steel Jungle.


What inspired you to become a writer?


While a freshman in college, lost in my youth with numerous majors and minors and no idea what to do with my impending adulthood, I found myself—like many others—in Composition 101. There, I wrote a very crummy and all around abysmal detective short story (in which a whole murder gets solved within approximately five paragraphs). Unsurprisingly, my instructor, Dr. Walter Nott, told me it was perhaps one of the worst things he had ever read. But then he also told me that I should consider taking up and studying the craft, that he could show me what writing could do for author and reader, and maybe even teach me what the semicolon is for. He eventually became my advisor and mentor, I discovered his particular taste for hyperbole and deep dislike of the semicolon, and he taught me to love words. Also, he insisted I call him “Uncle Walt,” much to my dismay because I found the informality quite scandalous. When Uncle Walt passed away while sailing off the coast of Maine, we all wore Hawaiian shirts to his service and told jokes and puns, because that’s the kind of dude he was.   



Who are a few of your favorite authors/photographers/artists/journalists?


I once wrote a letter to Junot Diaz and asked him if he could adopt me. He didn’t reply plus, it turns out, I am legally someone’s son already so that plan was meant to fail from the start. If I’m crying while riding the subway, it’s likely because I lost my MetroCard or I am rereading a Gabriel García Márquez novel. I often tell people they should learn Spanish just so they could read his works in his native tongue. And it’s worth mentioning: the very first book I read was Edmondo De Amicis’s “Heart.” It was a gift from my father when I was around 5-years-old and it marked the beginning of my long-term relationship with novels. The copy my father gave me still sits on my bookshelf. 


What’s the worst job/assignment you’ve ever had?


I had a short stint in a small literary agency in New York City doing research for potential publications. They didn’t believe in “mental enhancers,” so all that was available was decaffeinated coffee and rooibos tea, which was very perplexing and taxing to me (both the spurious “coffee” and the tea). I was also researching the worst/silliest criminals ever, which I thought would be fun but ended up being depressing because apparently many criminals really like taking selfies while committing a crime.


Which is your favorite city in the U.S.?


When you can find dollar pizza steps away from a Michelin-starred restaurant, you know you’ve found your place in the world. You may think New York City is taking you in, chewing you up, and spitting you back out. But really it’s just embracing you with bagels and skyscrapers and bridges and showing you how to keep young at heart while also budgeting for the next MTA fare increase. Further: New York pizza is boss – don’t fight me on this.



What’s your all-time favorite film?


I still own two VHS copies of The Lion King along, of course, with a standard DVD and a Blu-Ray format. Timon and Pumba are my spirit animals. (Tina Fey is also my spirit animal, by the way).


Which newspapers/magazines/websites do you read regularly?


The New York Times has become part of my morning routine now. I imagine this is due, in part, because it makes me feel like an actual functioning adult. I enjoy The Atlantic because it will probably… likely… sort of take my side on whatever issue they’re writing about. One day, New York Magazine just started showing up in my mailbox and I decided to do nothing about it so it’s been a nice surprise ever since. And GQ Magazine sometimes has really pretty pictures.  


Would you rather become the next editor-in-chief of the New Yorker or become the next host of the “Daily Show”?


I would rather be the next host of the Daily Show because I would still get to write a whole lot and then show it off to everyone. Also, I could demand donuts every day. And pizza. For everyone.



What are your favorite “highbrow” pastimes?


Wine has become its own food category and it now sits comfortably and unabashedly on top of the food pyramid. As a young child, a number of people attempted to train me as a classical musician. Alas, I was not able to keep the glass teacups from falling off my hands as I fumbled to play the Für Elise on the piano (a feat that my instructor swore was necessary to accomplish by anyone who fancied being a pianist of any sort of proficiency, she told me). But the love for classical music, including opera, stuck with me. The aria Casta Diva from Bellini’s “Norma” is a favorite jogging tune of mine. I am also teaching my cats, Kevin and William, how to meow in Italian. I think we’re making progress but I really can’t be sure because they don’t take me very seriously.  

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