Selected writing & reporting


Features and packages

The Buried Gun
A murder, an illegal confession, and the secret past of an NRA lawyer

Stuck in the Middle
Visualizing how the recession made income inequality worse

War Bucks
Diving into the Pentagon’s humungous shopping list (including toilet paper)

Doc Savage
The beatnik herbal healer who became a toxic right-wing radio host

Backyard Blitzkrieg
There are historical reeenactors for everything—even World War II Nazis.

Shooting From the Hip
The vet/ex-cop/worm farmer/videographer fighting California’s gun laws



Short pieces

Jumping the Shank
A visit to the Mock Prison Riot

This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef
Animal cannibalism in the beloved books of Richard Scarry

Mister President™
Can politicians sue you for using their names without permission?

Last Splash
What really happens when you’re buried at sea

We Don’t Need No Education
The origins of the Overton Window and the war on public schools

Captive Audience
Parenting tips from prison guards

Three Clips of Ammo
Is the “Machine Gun Preacher” a hero or a humanitarian disaster?

The nuttiest Area 51 and Roswell theory yet

For Informational Purposes Only
The final chapter of a publisher of “extreme self-help” books




Squirrels Gone Wild
The time California drafted kids to fight a war on squirrels

Doughnut Sal
The strange, sad tale of an old San Franciscan who lived on doughnuts and coffee

Heads of State
The CIA’s psychological profiles of world leaders, from Hitler to Castro

Read My Lips
A cheeky history of politcians kissing babies

The F Word
A timeline of the San Francisco vs. “Frisco” feud

A classic government guide to outlaw biker gangs (OMGs)

The African Dip
The mystery behind a racist attraction at San Francisco’s 1915 expo

Trash Talk
The pistol-packing women of the Berkeley Garbage War

Before the Quake
Seedy saloons, oyster loaf, and “gilded sin” in old San Francisco

Thicker Than Water
A family connection to an iconic photo of the California drought




Dear Thought Leader
Quiz: North Korean propaganda or TED talk?

Novel Maladies
Medical diagnoses of fictional characters, from Tintin to Darth Vader

The link between sushi and gay marriage

Kooks Illustrated
A diagram of almost every Obama conspiracy theory ever

Dr. Clooney, I Presume?
Mapping the celebrity colonization of Africa

Dancing With the Tsars
A gossip column about celebrities who perform for autocrats

Jet Fighters
The semiannual, totally unscientific Bay Area Blue Angels survey


©2017 Dave Gilson
Tintin illustration by Jason Schneider