1. 12:54 6th Jun 2014

    Notes: 1


    May was an unusual month—most of the work I did will appear, at some point, in print, which means that I’ve written some lovely stories that I’m excited about and have nothing to show for it, yet. Writing for print has different rhythm than writing for the internet, and it’s not as simple as to combine the two as a medium-agnostic freelancer would hope. 

    This story, on Niagara Falls, N.Y., and why Cuomo’s state government is so invested in saving it, did come out, though. It was a depressing place to visit, but I would like to go back in five years and see if the city has succeeded in becoming the place it wants to be, a tourist destination where you can be “Thoreau on a zip-line, swinging through the woods like Spiderman, then heading downtown for a cocktail and fancy dinner.”

    And, as sad as this story on heat deaths and climate change was, it was really incredible to see ideas and words that I put on paper be transformed into images. 

    I had never thought much about the history of AIDS, but I was given And the Band Played On as a present and spent the next weeks learning about this early reaction. I was lucky that The Normal Heart came out on HBO, and that I had a terrible cold that gave me an excuse to lie on the couch and watch all of Angels in America. I think what I found so compelling was the closeness and distance of this time: some of these events happened in my lifetime, at its very beginning, in New York, when I lived, as toddler, in New York, and yet that world feels very different and far away than one in which gay marriage is becoming standard state law. 

    Image: Metropolitan Museum of Art

  2. 11:37 30th May 2014

    Notes: 30

    Reblogged from yearsoflivingdangerously


    This comic was produced in partnership by Years of Living Dangerously and Symbolia Magazine

    I wrote this!

  3. But do cats eat bats, I wonder?’ And here Alice began to get rather sleepy, and went on saying to herself, in a dreamy sort of way, `Do cats eat bats? Do cats eat bats?’ and sometimes, `Do bats eat cats?’ for, you see, as she couldn’t answer either question, it didn’t much matter which way she put it.
  4. 18:12 5th May 2014

    Notes: 2


    I wrote:

    A somewhat therapeutic piece about bad editorial break-upsa piece that made me wonder why I hadn’t been subscribing to Aereo for months; a piece about how crowd-funding equity is both the same as raising traditional investment funding (involves talking to old white dudes) and different (involves talking to people other than old white dudes); a piece about Ithaca (specifically people who take risks to grow pot and why legalization won’t help them); a bunch of stuff that’s not out yet.

    I recommend:

    Read: Americanah; the Journalist and the Murderer (although I will say that it is maybe not the best book to read while you’re asking people involved in an illegal economy to trust you)

    See: Fireworks representing the female orgasm; the Mysteries, five-and-a-half hours of Biblical theater that were much, much more fun than I ever expected. (As the New York Times put it,Jesus is risen and ripped.”)

    Eat: Wings

    Go: Niagara Falls. 

  5. 16:28 10th Apr 2014

    Notes: 2


    Wrote: About how rich people will stay put, even when you raise their taxes; kidnapped photos; the limits of evolution; my quest to find the origins of the popular quiz; where links go to live forever. Also, my first comic! (Forthcoming.)

    Read: Telex from Cuba; Leaving the Sea, which, by the time it got weird, had really won me over, despite being mostly about unhappy men

    Listened: To myself on the radio!

    Edited:  How to avoid people you don’t want to see. Humans ate so many fat old conches, the conches got smaller. Miami developers and archaeologist are fighting over the fate of a 1,500-year-old settlement. Nine of the dead sea scrolls were just chilling, unread, for 60 years. Poor little roly poly. Crows are terrifying. Eat dark chocolate. And just drink when you’re thirsty

    First: Shucked oyster. 

    Last: Day of being a twenty-something. 30!

  6. Pop Quiz

    When I started reporting this story, I was asking some of the same questions as a lot of other reporters. Why do we like quizzes? Are they grounded in reality? I decided pretty quickly that those stories weren’t that interesting, given that the answers to those questions were “we just do” and “nah.” Instead, I ran off instead on a quixotic quest to find out which publication was responsible, and when, for introducing pop-quizzes into the culture. 

    Numerous emails to my editor later, I realized that I wasn’t quite going to find the One, the quiz of all quizzes. But I did spend more hours than I should have in the NYPL, scrolling through old issues of Cosmo, looking for some of the first quizzes that Helen Gurley Brown had published. I did find some of those, and I loved that they were so serious and overly complicated. Look at all these words!

    This one, about how well you know yourself (it depends, apparently, on your assessment of situations that reveal your femininity or your adventurousness), had two parts. The reader was meant to take the quiz herself, and then, as a second step, ask two friends to judge her qualities using the same questions. Thus, the reader could assess the accuracy of her own answers:

    Here’s a close-up of one panel:

    It is almost impossible to resist these. Before I realized what was happening, I would be sitting in the microfiche room ticking off these boxes, in order to get the small thrill of having a decades-old magazine tell me that I’ve got a fair bit of common sense. (But not enough to resist taking the quiz, apparently.)

  7. 18:43 2nd Mar 2014

    Notes: 1


  8. image

    January! This was…one of those months. In a good way.  I had a run of fun stories come out:

    Polar bear-lesque: The weirdest, sexiest way to confront climate change — Grist
    The lesson here is: when a friend mentions she’s helping make a polar-bear costume for a burlesque piece, always asks for details

    7 of the Weirdest, Promising New Jobs of 2014 — Fast Company
    Pot, drones, Uber, Foxconn…not all of these are equally promising, but they’re all strange

    Beyond local — Capital
    One B&T girl’s dream of how good New York’s regional transit could be

    Meet the 6-year-old mag that just took the internet by storm — CJR
    If you haven’t read that toast story, you’re missing out

    I’ve got a story in the March/April issue of Mental Floss, too, about Navid Khonsari, who worked on the Grand Theft Auto series and is now making what he hopes is a “sick game” about the Iranian Revolution.

    Smithsonian.com got a lovely re-design — and we’re going to be adding a fourth SmartNews blogger to the mix soon. 

    I’m also working right now on a longer feature that’s required me to take an improv class, go out dancing, get acupuncture, and become hyper-aware of my own body language. So, more good stuff to come.

    Image: Prospect Park skating 1880s, via the Brooklyn Museum

  9. My friend Marc asked: What are books that you’ve started but haven’t finished, that you fully intend on finishing, and that you think other people feel the exact same way about? 

    I love this game and could play it all day. But here’s the result. (I’m going to take credit for Tree of Smoke.) You end up with a list of thick books with tricky language and books with big ideas that are maybe a little too long and a little too dry. Our best intentions thwarted by time, convenience, the pain in the back of carrying a heavy weight around, and the difficulty of keeping an 800-page book open while lying in bed.

    Notably, there’s no Kindle edition of The Power Broker. But you can request it, here.

  10. I wrote about how the R train is shitty now, and what that means:

    Sandy didn’t much inconvenience me at the time. There’s a bar just downstairs, and if I wanted to, I could have spent a good part of the storm drinking. But I had more work than usual, since I write about climate change and disaster preparedness, and as the storm started, so did emails from editors. Our power stayed on through the whole storm, and I spent three days straight writing, talking to sources over crackling cellphone connections, feeling lucky that we’d moved, a couple months before, out of the East Village — our old apartment was just a few blocks from that power station that blew — and thinking about friends who still lived there.

    Now, Sandy inconveniences me almost every day.

    The rest is here