Top 10 Assignments of 2015

CosplayFructose

As I write this, there is less than half a day left of 2015 and I’m still trying to finish up all the end-of-the-year odds and ends. It’s been a wonderfully odd year and I’m optimistic about 2016. This year, I wrote an essay that appeared in a published book! It’s called “How Cosplay Can Change Lives” and it appears in Ejen Chuang’s coffee table photo book, Cosplay in America Volume 2. The story marks an end of an era for me, as I steered away from covering the fan convention world this year. There are a few reasons for that, but, I’m happy with the decision.

I focused more on music in 2015 and that turned out to be a wise choice. Thanks to the music stories, my work hit more outlets, including SF Weekly, Noisey, Village Voice and Playboy. Check out my favorite assignments here.

Happy New Year!

1. “She Just Tore It Up: 5 Women Ruling the Electronic Music World” for Paper Magazine

Paper Magazine kindly asked me to write five short profiles of women in the dance music world for their summer music issue. Thinking of women to include in this story was easy, but finding DJs who were available for an interview at the start of summer was a challenge. Fortunately, between the festivals, Ibiza dates and other related gigs, I was able to get five on the record.  All five are artists that are doing really well in their respective genres and their mixes and productions should be amongst your Soundcloud faves.

2. “We Want the Airwaves: An Oral History of Indie 103.1, Commercial Radio’s Greatest Failed Experiment” for Noisey

My first story for Noisey was part of the publication’s tribute to the year 2005. It’s also the first time in my professional writing career that I relied on two subjects that were my focus in grad school– oral history and radio. Knowing that my MA finally came in handy made my year.

3. “Kent Twitchell” for Hi-Fructose

Kent Twitchell’s work is familiar to anyone who lives and (especially) drives in Los Angeles. You know the Chamber Orchestra mural on the side of the 110 downtown? That’s his work. So are a bunch of other giant murals of humans that exist on building sides in and around the city. Hi-Fructose really sent me an amazing opportunity when they asked me to interview him for the magazine. I spent a couple hours with Twitchell while he was on site at Valley College finishing up his newest version of the Freeway Lady. It was a doozy of an interview to transcribe, but a breeze to write because there was so much story involved. I’m really proud of this piece. Unfortunately, it’s not online. If you want to read it, you’ll have to track down a hard copy of Hi-Fructose Vol. 37.

4. “In the Industrial Wasteland of Vernon, A Kooky Pop Art Home You Can Visit” for L.A. Weekly

I didn’t know who would get this story when I started work on it. Actually, I was pretty close to finished with it when L.A. Weekly picked it up. This year, I started working on more stories because I wanted to write to them, rather than because they were assigned. This one I had to write because I love Dabs Myla’s work and, more so than that, I loved the idea of painting a brightly-colored, house-like installation in the middle of dreary Vernon. While it’s risky to take on a story without an outlet attached to it (and I have the half-stories and lonely, transcribed interviews to prove that), this time it worked to my advantage.

5. “What Happens When Rabid Concertgoers Get Old” for L.A. Weekly

I was feeling the age dilemma this year. I’m old enough to have a certain amount of knowledge and experience that could come in handy when writing about music. Yet, music is frequently associated with youth and even making a vague admission to being much older than the average concertgoer could adversely affect me. Still, I felt like I needed to write this essay just to release some frustration. Much to my surprise, a lot of people related to this piece and the comments were often quite touching. Yeah, I’m old, but it’s becoming less of a big deal after the passage of another birthday.

6. “Depeche Mode’s Martin Gore Talks About His Sci-Fi Solo Album, MG for L.A. Weekly

Considering that I’ve been a huge Depeche Mode fan since I was 10, this was a dream interview.

7. “Kristian Nairn Is Known for Game of Thrones, But DJing Came First for Hodor” for Village Voice.

I went to one of Kristian Nairn’s Rave of Thrones parties in L.A. and thought it was so much fun that I jumped on the chance to interview him. Like the Dabs Myla story, the story came before an actual assignment. In the end, not only was it my first piece for Village Voice, it landed in the print edition.

8. “Take a Plung Into Them Are Us Too’s Synthy ‘Noise Bath’ This Saturday” for SF Weekly

I first saw Them Are Us Too at Roberto’s, a now-defunct venue in Los Angeles’ Chinatown. It was very early in the band’s career, although I didn’t know that at the time. I flipped for them that night and bought a CD. A couple years later, I noticed that they were playing in Los Angeles again and had a feeling that I could get a story placed. It became my first piece for SF Weekly.

9. “10 Steps to Getting Me Through a Ghost Hunt When I Don’t Believe in Ghosts” for The Robot’s Voice

Sadly, The Robot’s Voice closed up shop at the end of the year. I’m eternally grateful to Luke Thompson for his editorial insight and for sending me some interesting assignments. This one was probably the strangest. It has to do with ghosts and the murder of Sharon Tate.

10. “We Went to the WeDidIt” Holiday Party and It Got Weird” for Playboy

The best surprise of December was when an editor from Playboy (who had previously been my editor at another publication) contacted me to go on a last minute assignment. I can’t think of a better way to end the year.

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