Past Stories
42artsBLACK-FIRSTS(FC)

Fifty Shades of Black

The achievements of African Americans are chronicled in Black Firsts Long and slow. That’s how you’d describe every line you’ve ever stepped into. Don’t you hate that? You’re waiting in line and you see a chance to go...


39artsBROTHERS-GRIMM

That’s Pretty Grimm

Philip Pullman’s Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm sheds light on the dark side of bedtime stories Happily Ever After. Once upon a time, those were magic words to you. They tied up a bedtime story neat enough to lull…


Photo by Jonathan Becker

They Really Are After You!

Photo by Jonathan Becker Encyclopedia Paranoiaca teaches you that conspiracy theories are all around us—good luck! You didn’t sleep very well at all last night. Something was niggling at your brain and it was 2 a.m. before...



35artTHE-SAINT2

Nick of Time

The Saint Who Would Be Santa Claus tells the true tale behind the ho-ho-ho Naughty or nice? Yep, you’ve been both this year. You’ve been nice because it’s the right thing to do, it gives you a warm-fuzzy, and you…


32artsPROOF-OF-HEAVEN3

Life After Death

One doctor’s medical calamity leads him to the Great Beyond in Proof of Heaven Nobody packs a suitcase like you do. A weekend away? No problem. Cram everything you need in a tote and go. A two-week cruise? Again, no…


31artsCORNBREAD-MAFIA2-(ID-James-Higdon)

A Legend is Corn

Kentucky’s marijuana underworld ends up going bust in The Cornbread Mafia Nobody likes a snitch. Nobody wants to hear the words “I’m telling!” because it ruins a good time. It halts the fun. It quashes camaraderie. Oka...



22artsCOURAGE-TO-HOPE2-(ID-Shirley-Sherrod)

The Brave One

Shirley Sherrod’s The Courage to Hope reveals the truth behind a racism-spurred firestorm Some days, you get a little bit of exercise. You hear a good story, and you pounce on it. You spin it to make it funny, bend…


Taco USA

Want to Ask A Mexican?

Dear Readers: Have we got a treat for you. If you’re a fan of Ask A Mexican this is one event you won’t want to miss. Gustavo Arellano, author of the Ask A Mexican column and editor at OC Weekly…


13artsBOOK-REVIEW3(F)

Go West, Young (Wo)Man!

Peter Boag’s Re-Dressing America’s Frontier Past examines girls who dressed like (cow)boys The outfit was beyond your budget. It was impractical, too, because you’d probably never wear it. It looked great on, it fit just ...



6artsREDEFINING-DIVA2(FC)

Dream Big

Original Dreamgirl Sheryl Lee Ralph tells the truth about who a diva really is Is it so horrible to know what you want? You don’t think so. That’s why you’re decisive, you state your needs clearly and firmly, and you…


Photo by Scott Neary

Street Cred

Photo by Scott Neary It takes some patience, but it’s worth getting to the end of Hollywood Boulevard The guy over there is wearing an interesting hat. It’s not really that-kind-of-hat weather but he wears it well, possibl...


1artsBOOK-REVIEW2-(ID-Gaby-Rodriquez(FC)

Baby Bumps in the Road

To prove a point, a teen pretends to be expecting in The Pregnancy Project You weren’t really sick at all. You felt fine, in fact, but you said you had a headache, your stomach hurt, and you weren’t up to…



51artsBOOK-REVIEW1

From Hollywood to Nuggettown

Blair Witch actress Heather Donahue found greener pastures Nothing ever happens the way you think it will. Once upon a time, for instance, you had your future mapped out. You knew where you were going, you had an image of…


Sin City

Late in Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan, author Jake Adelstein compares the way Italian Mafiosi model themselves after movie mobsters with the way yakuza, the Japanese Mafia, imitate their fictional...


Melting Plot

What makes a story a story? To ask the question a different way: why is it boring when someone spends 10 minutes recounting his trip to the grocery store, but interesting when he mentions that while he was shopping, the…



33booksSHOOTIN-THE-SHIT_

Friendly Misfire

So you’re standing in line at the Whole Foods and in front of you is a pair of stoned thirtysomething guys, jibber-jabbering about vasectomies, angry Jesus and Stalin’s secret monkey army. They’re funny enough, so you put...


National Treasure

Photography’s greatest boon is perhaps that it allows you to see something you might never see otherwise, transporting you to Tibet, Paris, Kenya; making distant parts of the world more real. But the trouble is that photograp...


Generation Gap

Said of the 1960s, it’s also true of the 1980s: If you remember them you weren’t there. Why would you forget? You worked and partied too long and hard and did too many drugs. You repressed your embarrassing struggle to…



You’ve Got Male

The men of Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned are man handlers—they field-dress moose, gash their brothers’ faces with can openers, tear out brick patios, molest boys in Port-a-Potties, retrofit household appliances, ass...


Beat Goes On

During times of conformity, it’s the non-conformist who draws all the attention. The Beats of America’s 1950s stood so far apart from the duty-bound, God-and-country times that they soon became the freak-show focus of films...


Architectural Designs

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright lives on in his structures. As long as New York’s circling Guggenheim Museum stands, as long as the Falling Water home spans a tumbling stream in Bear Run, Pennsylvania, as long as the Hollyhock a...



Drinks On You

The second greatest honor in America is to be accepted as a regular in your local bar. The first is to be granted free drinks on a regular basis by your favorite bartender. It took me over a year to…


Not So Brave New World

Will you see yourself in sociologist Dalton Conley’s study of contemporary American life Elsewhere, U.S.A.? You might if you live in Silicon Valley or Renton, Washington, or work in the production end of L.A.’s entertainmen...


Sea of Poppies

Two distinct types predominate among the winners of the Man Booker Prize, awarded annually to the best novel published in the British Commonwealth or Ireland. The first is elegiac, understated, quintessentially English in its h...



Erotomania-BOOKS_

Wham, Bam, I Love You Ma’am

At what point does sexual obsession become sexual addiction? In Francis Levy’s intriguing novel Erotomania it comes right around page 84 when the story’s compulsive over-extender and the object of his desire start seeing a ...


The Alcoholic

Comics are the perfect vehicle for memoir, both fictional and . . . well, is there any other kind? The Alcoholic takes full advantage of illustration’s ability for both aggrandizement and visual parody. Cartoonist Dean Haspie...


Energy and Equality For All

When the Senate stripped away money from the economic stimulus bill designed to help the working class—$3.5 billion to make Federal buildings more energy efficient, billions in retrofitting of housing projects as well as cuts...



Heavy Metal Islam: Rock Resistance and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam by Mark LeVine

When kids in Arab countries discovered MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball on satellite TV, the world changed. How? Death metal came to Iran, head banging to Egypt, rap flourished in Palestine, break dancing in Morocco and raves raged ...