Category Archives: Features

Monday 02/13 2017
A Sliver of the Future

“The fate of the Cedar Creek Nuclear Power Plant, the self-styled “safest plant in the world,” looks fairly secure, all things considered.

There’s a terrorist placing C4 while another provides covering fire, but they are only two men and the Counter-Terrorist Unit, with their superior numbers, are swarming the bomb site. And you are adjacent to the terrorist in overwatch position, with the entire conflict laid out below—a deific perspective usually impossible, or at least highly unusual, to achieve in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. But virtual reality is changing how we can watch esports, and as the desperate fight to set off or defuse the bomb reaches a fever pitch right, you could simply tilt your head up to where a giant screen floating in the sky displays the down-the-barrel view so familiar to video gamers and figure out where things stand in the semi-final round of the Intel Extreme Masters CS:GO competition at Oakland’s Oracle Arena.”

Read the rest at VICE Sports

Thursday 02/2 2017
Cat Marnell’s Amphetamine Memoir and How We View Addiction

“While at Lawrence Academy in Groton, Massachusetts, Marnell is introduced to Ritalin and the entire trajectory of her life changes. Armed with a methylphenidate prescription, her grades soar, along with her social status. The performance-enhanced work/play dichotomy first established at Lawrence is repeated throughout the rest of the book, throughout the rest of her career; it is the speed which helps her rip through the hallowed halls of Condé Nast like garden shears through satin, pushes her into parties past dawn, sends her careening about the streets of Alphabet City, fitting in to exceptional designer jeans as she chases more drugs, work and people.

The image of the addict as hopelessly in the gutter, completely incapable of functioning, is torn asunder. She has crippling depressive periods, of course, wherein she does nothing for days, weeks, months, but Marnell is a voltaic little bee for much of her memoir, omnipresent around Magazine World. It would be impossible to deny her work ethic, drug-derived or not; Marnell’s desire to work in magazines and publishing is a constant lodestar, even if one being navigated while on a particularly unstable fuel source.”

Read the rest of my feature-cum-review of Marnell’s memoir at Paste

Thursday 01/12 2017
The Bleeders Do Not Ride Bitch

“Halweg was laying out transmission pieces on the garage’s back table in anticipation of the more that were coming and was taking advantage of her bike’s forced downtime to do some maintenance work. Her 1983 Harley-Davidson Ironhead’s gas tank was licked with flames the kind of supernatural green you’d have seen on a Juicy J shirt in the mid-aughts, tipped with chartreuse, a perfectly iconic bit of motorcycle adornment she admitted she almost got rid of until she got matching grips—these sparkle-like fishing lures—and a seat, which makes the whole green thing look badass. Unfortunately, the Ironhead is one of those temperamental, needy kinds of beasts who regularly finds itself under the wrench.”

Read the rest of my profile of the Bleeders women’s riding club in Jezebel

Tuesday 12/13 2016
Chicago’s Favored Goats: A Rumination

“A couple hours south of Cook County, the pool table metropolis of Chicago gives way to the even flatter former prairie, which in turn has been given over to agriculture; on December 1, after the harvest season, tilled fields sit with the luxe organic blackness of oil, interspersed with the dry tans of Shearling coats and a little haggard green, laying like a great flat calico cat fur beneath a dramatic sky, which runs flush with the land on the horizon as massive morning clouds move across it like glaciers. The most dynamic gradients are the overpasses and the billboards advertising seed financing. The wind, unabated, gathers itself up across the plains and pushes the cars on Interstate 75 sideways.”

Read the rest of my article on the goats of Kilgus Farmstead in Munchies

Wednesday 11/9 2016
The Sporting Singularity

“For decades, analog sports athletes were little more than grist for the mill. Before the rise of free agency, players had little to no control over which team they would play—and bleed and hazard bodily harm—for. Before the outcry over concussions suffused sports, hundreds of players had their brains beaten into jelly with little more than faded press clippings and souvenirs for severance. They had to organize and fight in the 1960s and 70s for salaries commensurate with both their sought-after skills and their sports’ ballooning profits.

Traditional sports learned these lessons the hard way, in other words, and their involvement in esports may expedite the learning curve for their digital brethren. The well-being of players may very well become baked into esports structures from their earliest days, rather than needing to be shoehorned in generations after the fact—and hopefully mitigating some of the potential downsides of professionalization. Organizations like the PEA may serve as the beginning of player’s associations and unions to protect esports athletes from being fleeced financially, as well as providing them with economic agency. Combine this with the analytic muscle and arms-race mentality of traditional sports, and a jump in skill and strategy could be forthcoming, as well.”

Read the rest at VICE Sports

Tuesday 09/27 2016
Blades, Waves, and Rhombi

Interference builds upon the rhombus-heavy infrastructures of digital art and information, as well as wave forms inspired by synthesizers and medical imaging devices. Finley tapes out each shape, then begins the painstaking process of painting them.The works appear backlit by bright neons, and shimmer with an ethereal iridescence reminiscent of polarized sunglasses, motorcycle windscreens, and pearls. The paintings hover between the naturalistic—the rippling, bait ball effect of Lost in the Waves—and the futuristic (a piece called Debug is built with the angular skeletons of digital animation; a histological study of corrupted computer code).”

Read the rest of my write up of Shannon Finley’s solo show in The Creators Project

Friday 09/23 2016
Make America Beer Again

“Except for one key difference: That steel is American steel, sourced from the productive Hells of Pennsylvania and Ohio—Ohio AK Steel, to be specific, at the time of MUNCHIES’ visit—and the stamping, cutting, embossing, welding, wrapping, packaging, and shipping are all done in America. In an industrial park adjacent to a Friendly’s and a Walmart Super Center, in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, on the outskirts of the Philadelphia metro area, lies the 30,000-square-foot American Keg, the only producer of stainless steel kegs in the United States.”

Read the rest of my story on the only stainless steel keg manufacturer in the U.S. at Munchies

Friday 09/9 2016
Who Rules The Waves?

“The Coast Guard and Merchant Marines work closely together. Outside of the military purview of the Navy, the two services are responsible for practically all the nation’s goings-on at sea. Their students experience a maritime life few others ever live, with on-board training every summer for the Coasties and for an entire year at Kings Point. Perhaps it is this familiarity that sparks such competitive fire on the gridiron each fall; as in a sibling rivalry, the knowledge that those across the field from you are motivated by the same desires, live the same rigorous days, and are destined for a familiar future is trumped by the burning need to assert internecine dominance: same conquering same.”

Read the rest at VICE Sports

Friday 07/29 2016
Carlos Rolón Tells Us, Sincerely

“Shattered tempered glass twinkles coquettishly, promising danger and beauty. Growing up in Brighton Park on Chicago’s Southwest Side, Rolón remembers both the exquisiteness of the sun striking broken car windows in the street and the realization that something bad had happened to make that shimmering moment. These pieces in the Bochinche room take elements from the shattered window and evoke a night sky.”

Read the rest at The Creators Project

Thursday 07/21 2016
Johnny and Tara Take Sports

“That “entertainment factor” is what led NBC to promote Weir and Lipinski to the top broadcasting slot for figure skating in the run up to PyeongChang 2018, and propelled them to be the delightfully different voices at such venerable sporting institutions as the Super Bowl and the Kentucky Derby and, now, the Summer Olympics. It is what keeps their social media feeds humming with roughly half a million followers, and also what caused my non-sports-fan friends to gush pronouncements of love for the pair when I told them about my assignment, and that is what makes them so important. In a sports-media landscape choked with old white guys offering hot takes, where antiquated notions of toughness and “honor” are conflated with masculinity and used to obfuscate or excuse violence and misogyny, Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski bring something beyond entertainment and knowledge. They bring inclusiveness.”

Read the rest at VICE Sports