Don or Don Quixote?

Of all the characters I've put on paper, Lou Marracci is perhaps my favorite.  By the time we met, he was already well-known at the Contra Costa Times (and to the San Francisco Bay Area at large) for his passionate, rambling letters to the editor.

When I suggested to my editor that I cover Marracci's latest crusade — to bring bocce ball to Lafayette, Calif. — she broke out in a warm smile.  "Sure," she said.  "Go ahead."  


Art of the Repulsive

There's something both horrifying and human about John Slepian's fleshy blobs.  When I met him, Slepian was fresh off an obscenity controversy at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art and on the verge of artistic celebrity in New York, facts which made him ripe for a profile.

Presented here: a look at the artist and some of his best work. 


Catch Ilan Stavans If You Can

My alma mater, Amherst College, approached me and asked if I would write a book review for the alumni magazine. The book: "El Iluminado," a graphic novel by Ilan Stavans and illustrator Steve Sheinkin.

An acclaimed novelist and literary critic, Stavans is an Amherst professor of Latino culture and has remained a mentor and friend since my graduation in 2001. Readers might remember him from our 2010 Huffington Post interview following the publication of his long-awaited "Norton Anthology of Latino Literature." "El Iluminado" points Stavans in a radically new direction, placing him on the page, in cartoon form, as a savvy detective intent on solving a mysterious murder


Sirena Selena

No doubt the strangest book I ever read, Mayra Santos-Febres's "Sirena Selena" dips into the murky backstreets of San Juan, Puerto Rico, following the lives of transvestites, transsexuals and the poor.

This review was written for Hopscotch, the nation's preeminent Latino culture magazine. 


Alien at the Office

If ever anyone explored the terrain between genius and banality, it was Lars Tunbjörk.  Tunbjörk's photos take a while to "get," but look at these pics of empty office cubicles long enough, and there is something there.

His photos had won several prizes and captured the attention of Soloarte, a prominent London-based art magazine, when the publication asked me to produce this profile of Tunbjörk for its October 2004 issue. 


Red Corner

The troubles in Tibet were already all over the news when Brad Pitt released the terrible "Seven Years in Tibet," which was followed shortly by the laughably earnest, jaw-droppingly incompetent Richard Gere vehicle "Red Corner."

Here: a quick review of "Red Corner," a small bit of fun at Richard Gere's expense. 


Evoking the Spirit of Wood

Larry Nielson has made a lasting impression on the Utah art scene with his hauntingly beautiful wildlife paintings — all painted directly on wood.

This article is a look at his best work and the reactions of museumgoers, young and old, to Nielson's cheetahs, cougars and grizzly bears. 


Adding Maturity to Talent

Ben Lindquist was a great story — the high school superstar who was going to make it, then didn't, then eventually did.  I interviewed Lindquist as he and the Oregon Ducks were climbing the Division I ranks, pushing him from Utah's attention into the ESPN spotlight.

This article on Lindquist's ascension ran on the front page of The Spectrum's sports section. 


The Ice Cream Man Returns

For all its attempts to be hip and modern, there were still facets of Utah straight out of Pleasantville.  And the look of delight on the faces of the children of St. George when the ice cream man rolled around was no doubt one of those things.

A light, joyful piece, this ride-along with the ice cream man sparked a warm reaction from readers. 


Makin' Noise

Utah isn't the first place most people turn for unrelenting rock 'n' roll.  But this batch of jack Mormons were looking to push past those stereotypes and establish themselves with some hard, country-tinged jams.

The Trigger Locks sought to solidify that reputation with this, their sophomore release, "Gold @ Anything." 


Las Lomas Grad Makes His Mark

Awards are nice, but the greatest recognition always comes from home. In 2008, after my military reporting began making waves in Washington, I won the prestigious George Polk Award and was named a finalist for Harvard's Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.

Soon after reporter Theresa Harrington of Walnut Creek, California's Contra Costa Times wrote this piece about my work, essentially a "Local Boy Makes Good" article. Having grown up in Walnut Creek, attended Las Lomas High School and reported for the Times following graduate school, it was an especially meaningful tribute








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