Selected writing





Features & packages

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

Golden State WarriorsCalifornia secessionists are ready for a Trump bump.

Stuck in the MiddleVisualizing how the recession made income inequality worse

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


 Doc SavageHow Michael Savage went from a herbal healer to a toxic right-wing radio host

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

Shooting From the HipThe Vietnam vet/ex-cop/TV host/worm farmer/investigator/videographer/serial litigant who challenged California’s gun laws


Shorter articles

 Jumping the ShankReal guards and pretend inmates face off at the Mock Prison Riot

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

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

Claus and EffectWhat medical researchers say about Santa’s unhealthy lifestyle

The Renters Are Too Damn HighTales of the City’s dream of love, pride, and affordable San Francisco housing

 Last SplashWhat really happens when you’re buried at sea

The Mister RaceYou can’t understand white supremacists without looking at masculinity.

Money TalksA short history of Americans stamping political messages on dollar bills

Wii Shall OvercomeCan gaming really save the world?

Captive AudienceSurprisingly practical parenting tips from prison guards


Historical pieces

 Squirrels Gone WildThe time California drafted kids to fight a war on rodents

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

“Doing the Chicken”Decades before Black Lives Matter, Thurgood Marshall blasted police chokeholds.

Student, Solider, Doctor… Spy?When the FBI came knocking, Maurice Fruit faced the ultimate test of loyalty.

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

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

GI ChillThe Army ad campaign that tried to convince teens it wasn’t totally uptight

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

Trash TalkThe pistol-packing women of the Berkeley Garbage War

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


Random & humorous

 Dear Thought LeaderQuiz: North Korean propaganda or TED talk?

Make America Carbonate AgainThe subtle essence of conservatism in LaCroix’s corporate statements

The Trump Time WarpWhy it feels like 2,448 years since Trump took office

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

Dancing With the TsarsA gossip column about the celebrities who perform for autocrats

 Read My LipsA cheeky history of politcians kissing babies

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

Novel MaladiesMedical diagnoses of fictional characters, from Tintin to Darth Vader

Feeling DatedA look at the brave new world of online dating…in 2002. 


image credits: gun: indiana supreme court • michael weiner: michael weiner • mock prison riot: dave gilson • sea burial: national archives-wikipedia • kill the squirrels: california state commission of horticulture • anti-frisco postcard: e.f. clements • kim jong-un ted talk: dave gilson <photo illustration> zuma <kim, parade>; urban_data-flickr <ted> • obama and baby: the white house