Portland is an exceptional place. Many of our writers and artists live there. An entire television show has been devoted to poking fun at its quirks of creativity and culture. But it’s a place where people are celebrated not for trying, but for doing. Nobody likes a badly made beer; there are too many good ones. The 700 food trucks aren’t outposts of mediocrity, but are engaged in a Darwinian process of evolution (into fusions and exotic offerings) and survival.
The Trek in the Park show — episodes of Star Trek (the original TV series) performed as plays — is a great example. Folks from regular walks of life almost accidentally fell into creating a Portland summer tradition. For each of the last five summers, the troupe has performed one episode to hundreds or thousands of spectators. The last performance of the summer — and ever — was last Sunday night. After a five-year journey, the crew is resuming the rest of their lives and giving up a form of local fame. They hang up their phasers and stow their tribbles to much acclaim, Chris Higgins tells us in “Boldly Gone.”
Also in this issue, we look at the science of the persistence of recessive traits that cause fatal childhood diseases. Saul Hymes, a pediatrician, comes from an ethnicity (that we share) that has many mutated, recessive genes that can cause heart-breaking conditions, such as Tay-Sachs. But if, on average, one out of four children from a set of parents who both carry the gene died before maturity before modern medicine, how did this defective code survive? The reason has to do with other diseases, Saul explains, in “Carry On.”
Hacker-activism, or hacktivism, has achieved a kind of worldwide prominence in the last few years, between Anonymous, those feeding data to Wikileaks, and other attacks and information leaks based on social and political policy. But Rosie Spinks finds women in the culture are often “Hacked Off” about their treatment. Relatively few women remain involved in these groups, and the founder of one, Asher Wolf, left her leadership role when she became fed up with the misogyny and abuse. Fortunately, Rosie finds some glimmerings of change underway.
Quick: how many pens do you own? If you don’t immediately start listing them off by name, you don’t have a problem. If you do, well, there’s no cure. Gabe Bullard gets to the “Penultimate” truth in his profile of two seemingly normal people who have recorded 70 episodes of a podcast on pens.
In a piece that resonates with Saul’s earlier in the issue, Lisa Schmeiser examines her journey through the space of pregnancy, when one has a concept of a future baby but the reality of a developing mystery. During the pregnancy, the analytic, deconstructionist, and technical Lisa found she couldn’t coo and gurgle over ultrasounds and vague medical details. She relates her journey to birth, and the metaphor of the cyborg (an allegory created by professor and philosopher Donna Haraway), along the way in “Look Within.” (Trixie is now 2 1/2.)
(We had a delightful email exchange with Haraway to check on a word in her essay that we thought had been reproduced incorrectly online. It had. For those who know her work, she is happily emerita, and competes with her Australian sheepdog, Cayenne, in agility contests. She wrote about this in a 2007 book, “When Species Meet (Posthumanities).”)
Our cover this issue is by Michelle K. Martin, a photographer who specializes in food photography. Michelle responded to a call for photographers via Twitter, when I realized how perfectly Lisa’s article could be illustrated with fruit. Michelle received vague instructions and produced three perfect pictures for the article and our baby/mango cover image. (The cover was designed by Louie Mantia, as always.)
Email yourself an issue
For almost the entire history of The Magazine, we’ve had requests that we offer ourselves for sale via the Kindle Store. We did, for a while, but found that the limitations prevented all but a handful of readers from subscribing: we couldn’t give access to our back archives, and we couldn’t let you read on whatever device you wanted. We pulled the plug on Kindle subscriptions while we looked into a better alternative.
For several months, subscribers have been able to log into our Web site and download Kindle-compatible MOBI and more generally useful EPUB versions of each issue. Most ereaders besides the Kindle can read EPUB, as can most ereader apps. (A subscription via the App Store gives you free access to reading via our Web site, and vice versa.)
Now we’ve combined the two. You can set up your account via our Web site so that whenever an issue is published, we email the Kindle-compatible MOBI file to whatever address you specify. You can find your Kindle device or app’s email address within the reader hardware or software. Because we come through as a “personal document,” you also need to whitelist the address email@example.com. See our FAQ for details. You can choose also — or instead — to email an EPUB to any address.
This feature isn’t yet available through the app, but all app subscribers need just activate their Web account to send MOBI and EPUB files. You can email or download any issue from #1 to the present.
As previously noted, we’re having an event and get-together in Portland, Oregon, on September 18, the night before the start of the XOXO festival and conference. (I’ll be interviewing the editors of Boing Boing during the conference part of XOXO.)
We’ve lined up music, comedy, and interviews with mostly Portlanders, many of whom have appeared (or will appear) as contributors, guests, or subjects in The Magazine or on my podcast The New Disruptors. I’m calling it “Portland Exceptionalism” as we celebrate that city!
It’s free, with a cash bar. But please RSVP if you’re coming. The program part runs from 7 to 9 pm, and there’s a mingle, drink, and eat from 9 pm to 11 pm. For full details and to get your free tickets, see our event page.
We plan to make at least parts, and possibly the whole event, available as an audio podcast later.
It was the blurst of times
We actively solicit veteran journalists and never-before-published writers to submit pitches. We skew towards reporting rather than essays these days, but we respond to every idea. Sometimes we get a great pitch that’s not a good-enough fit, but since we also assign articles at times, those authors wind up writing other stories for us. (You can pitch us after reading our requirements through a link on that page.)
But we have noticed a, shall we say, tendency to receive pitches on particular topics — key among them: alcohol, pregnancy, death, drinking, co-working, typewriters, pinball, Bitcoin, and letterpress. Yes, we like each of those topics (especially pinball and drinking at the same time). Yes, we admit that we have run articles about most of these topics. In this very issue, we have Lisa Schmeiser’s excellent pregnancy-related article!
There’s such a thing as too much, though, and we’ve put a bit of a hiatus on those subjects.
After we mentioned this to a few writers, we received a stream of bon mots combining our “forbidden” topics. As a lark, we’d like to invite readers to submit fictional short stories that combine multiple categories into something intriguing, hilarious, or disturbing. The best will be read aloud at our Portland shindig (whether or not you’re present), and will be awarded a mug or T-shirt or some other item of wonder. With the permission of submitters, we may publish a selection later, too. (The decision of the judges is final. Void where prohibited by law.)
Drop us your stories at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Regarding “What Lies Beneath”
It’s nice to see some press for nudists in The Magazine. We are a mostly misunderstood bunch, and even more intrepid and open-minded reporters have trouble refraining from the pervasive and popular squeamishness (tee-hee butts!).
It might do well to expand your reporting a bit, though. If you were to go to Black’s Beach in San Diego, Laguna del Sol outside of Sacramento, or Haulover Beach in Miami, the demographic story is much different. As noted, young people tend to join obscure clubs less, but will go to beaches or more upscale resorts to enjoy life au naturel.
I recommend the experience to everyone at least once. It won’t harm you, and you may even find that you love it as much as we do.
I love this article. I’ve been considering getting into the business and this reminds me so much of the gourmet coffee movement. I’m glad the article makes this deep connection to extraction just like coffee articles do for roasting.
We welcome your feedback on articles past and present. Let us know what you like, what you don’t, and what you’d like to see. You can tap the Share button in iOS at the top of any article and then tap Write Letter to Editor. Or email us with your thoughts, noting any article to which it applies. We also read comments and questions on Facebook, Twitter, and App.net. (Although we see iTunes reviews, we cannot respond there; please contact us directly with any issues that need a response.)
The Magazine is produced by a small but dedicated editorial staff.