It’s Always Darkest Before the Dawn


Originally published in Huckmagazine

Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson may well be climbing’s first household names. But not everyone knows the demons they stared down when they completed the world’s toughest free climb.

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What One Wolf’s Extraordinary Journey Means for the Future of Wildlife in America


Published by TakePart

The three-year, 3,000-mile trek of OR7 has altered scientific debates and state policy. But would he find a mate?

On Feb. 5, 2014, the world’s most famous wolf woke up somewhere along the Oregon-California border, very likely in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, a landscape of Alpine forests and grassland valleys. For the better part of a year he had been making his home in this place where the Cascade, Klamath, and Siskiyou mountains converge.

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Welcome to Wolf Country


Published by Orion

Last year, OR7, the first wild wolf to roam California in nearly a century, met his mate and started a pack in southern Oregon. Sightings of another wolf in the area were reported earlier this week. Author Joe Donnelly took a recent trip to Oregon, retracing his travels described in “Lone Wolf,” his story about OR7 that appeared in the September/October 2013 issue of Orion.

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Heroes of the Deep Blue

Originally published in Malibu magazine

El Porto is the perfect Santa Monica Bay surf break, though not because a coincidence of underwater geography makes thewaves there a little bit bigger and more consistent than most local breaks. That helps, but to me it’s so perfect because its inherent contradictions incorporate our strange, dichotomous relationship to the ocean. El Porto’s beach and waves, source of personal pleasure and sometimes even transcendence, are located in the shadow of so many ripe metaphors for our local ecology — the City of Los Angeles’ Hyperion Sewage Treatment, the El Segundo Power Plant, Chevron’s oil refinery. You can sit out there in the lineup and look out into a vast open ocean framed by the headlands of Point Dume to the north and Palos Verdes to the south and be taken by the strange beauty of this place — the way our urban landscape is constantly colliding with nature. Then, look up into the sky and watch jets taking off from LAX for points around the world burning horrific amounts of fossil fuel as they go, passing over the refineries where oil is turned into gasoline, over the towers of the power plants, over the endless spider web of freeways, over the tankers anchored in the bay. Where else do the seemingly conflicting needs of modern man and eternal nature come into such stark contrast?

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The Monster Out of the Box


Originally published in The Surfer’s Journal

A Sandow Birk Omnibus

THE GUEST OF HONOR IS DRESSED IN SLACKS, SENSIBLE SHOES, and a button-down shirt that was possibly ironed. Handsome in a retro, California beach boy way, with hair neater than a dry gin martini, he looks more like someone who stepped out of a Jan and Dean song than a heretic stoking the flames of fatwa. Still, the woman with the salt-and-pepper hair, turquoise jewelry, and the pack of American Spirit cigarettes in her overcoat pocket is palpably agitated. She’s pretty much taken over the question-and-answer session.

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Santa Barbara Modern


Originally published in The Surfer’s Journal (photos are ©Morgan Maassen)

MORGAN MAASSEN drives onto a crowded Stearns Wharf and nearly takes out a half dozen pedestrians on his approach. Not because he’s aggro, but because he’s enraptured telling me about Sandspit, the notorious break just a strong 9-iron chip across a lagoon from the end of the wharf.
Sandspit fires just a few times a year, but when it does, the channel-funneled wave wraps around a rock-made breakwater into very shallow water and “jacks up into the most perfect barrel,” says Maassen. “I’ve seen guys get thrown into those rocks and come out with holes in their bodies. It’s one of the most advanced waves in California.”

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The Pirate of Penance

Pirate of Penance

Originally published in Slake: Los Angeles, issue #1 “Still Life”, summer 2010. Featured in We Dropped A Bomb on You: The Best of Slake I-IV, spring 2014

Mystic Beginnings

When Lorey Smith was 12 years old, her father loaded her and her brother into his black 1965 Mustang and drove them down the Pacific Coast Highway to this cool little shop called Mystic Arts World. The store sold arts and crafts, organic food and clothing, books about Eastern philosophy, and other things, too. Lorey’s father knew some of the guys who ran Mystic Arts and he thought the outing would be a nice diversion for the kids. It was a short drive from Huntington Beach but an exotic destination, at least for the girl in the back seat. Read more on The Pirate of Penance…

Lone Wolf


A Forsaken Predator Reappears… From September/October 2013 issue of Orion magazine

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The Homecoming of The Wolf


From September issue of Vegas7

After near-extermination – the gray wolf has experienced a Western revival. This is the story of the first one to return to California—and the forces ranged against it.

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God Only Knows


Originally published in Vegas 7

I was well into adulthood before I could listen to the Beach Boys. And by listen, I mean listen. Because it’s easy to just listen to the Beach Boys, the songs are just too catchy not to, even in passing. But for the longest time, I kept them in the background. I couldn’t receive it front and center. I know now I was afraid. I was too immature. I had a feeling what would happen if I did listen. And I’m glad it happened when it did.

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