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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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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Contemplating Cassady


Originally published in Huck Magazine

The Peculiar Appeal of the Rebel Muse

Are you you? Or are you who it/they/the system wants you to be? A look at the enduring appeal of Neal Cassady and the rebel muse.

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Can This Guy Defeat Eric Cantor?

Originally published in Mother Jones

Powell: PowellforVA/Twitter; Cantor: US Congress/Wikimedia

Powell: PowellforVA/Twitter; Cantor: US Congress/Wikimedia

On September 17, the day Mitt Romney was outed for dismissing half the country as a hopeless waste of time at a high-dollar Florida fundraiser, Wayne Powell quietly slipped into Los Angeles for a fundraiser of his own. As it happened, Romney was in town too, trying to convince Latino voters he loved them despite his penchant for referring to undocumented immigrants as “illegal aliens,” his self-deportation proposal, and his cloying quip—from the same “47 percent” video—that his White House dreams would be made easier if he were Latino.

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