Guantánamo: America’s Festering Black Eye

The American detention center at Guantánamo Bay was explicitly created for extrajudicial incarceration and interrogation. This was one of the many morally and legally questionable actions the Bush administration took at the advent of their war on terror, and although cold facts don’t exist in American government anymore, this response appears to have been as ineffective, costly, and politically damaging as the others.

Guantánamo: An Oral History, 1.11.12

MADtv: Perfectly Adequate Sketch Comedy

Fox bought the rights to iconic Mad Magazine in 1995 and decided to use the brand to start a sketch-comedy show, much like National Lampoon had done in the seventies. And, just like that comedy brand, Madtv suffered in comparison to the gorilla in the room: Saturday Night Live. Nonetheless, the show lasted 14 seasons and nurtured comedic talent that has gone on to bigger and better things, such as writer Patton Oswalt (the first writer hired for the show), and Keegan-Michael Key.

An Oral History of MADtv, the Sketch Show That Never Quite Changed Comedy, 5.18.16

The Unfulfilled Promise of Shaq and Penny’s Magic

The Orlando Magic won the Shaquille O’Neal sweepstakes in 1992, drafting him first overall, and flipped Chris Webber at the draft the next year for Penny Hardaway and three future first-round picks. Everyone agreed that the Magic were set for a meteoric rise, especially when they were surrounded by quality role players like Dennis Scott, Horace Grant, and Nick Anderson. The impending championship run short-circuited, however, when Shaq bolted for Los Angeles and Penny’s chronic knee troubles slowed his roll. Grantland looks back at the dynasty that never was.

Blue Chips: An oral history of Shaq, Penny, and the Orlando Magic’s lost NBA dynasty., 4.6.15

“Cool Runnings” (1993)

The 1988 Jamaican bobsled team was one of the more unlikely and charming Olympic stories in recent decades, and, of course, Hollywood jumped in on the fun. The resulting film, Cool Runnings, delighted viewers with a buoyant storyline brought home by a cohesive cast and a banging reggae soundtrack.

‘Cool Runnings’: An oral history, 2.12.14

Freestyle: 80s Beats From NYC and Miami

Much of 80s club music falls into the freestyle genre, with artists such as Lisa Lisa, Debbie Deb, and Expose topping the charts. The following piece describes the genre thusly: “Written, produced and vocalled largely by second-generation Latinos, freestyle captured the imagination of young clubgoers who could finally see and hear themselves reflected in the music.” Let the music play.

Freestyle: An Oral History, 9.21.15

Seattle’s Suicide Squeeze Records

Although some national media still reference Seattle’s grunge era when talking about the music scene, lots has happened there since the mid-90s! One reason is Suicide Squeeze records, a hobby label that became much more, and has nurtured the careers of Elliott Smith, Modest Mouse, Pedro the Lion, and Minus the Bear. Founder David Dickerson is known as one of the nicest guys in the business, and The Stranger celebrates the label’s 20th anniversary with a glowing oral history.

Suicide Squeeze Records at 20: An Oral History, 8.25.16

80’s Music Zenith: Starship’s “We Built This City”

GQ provides a wonderfully acerbic take on Starship’s “We Built This City,” comparing its creation to cancer, among other gems. Most of the bandmates seem to have long ago resigned themselves to eternal ridicule, but they don’t mind the royalties. It’s one of the best worst hits ever. Read all about it!

An Oral History of “We Built This City,” the Worst Song of All Time, 8.31.16

Siskel and Ebert: Theatrical Criticism

For decades Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, two Chicago film critics, towered over American film criticism due to their popular syndicated show. While famously catty with one another, no one could argue with their passion for their subject or their encyclopedic knowledge of it. Slate provides some wonderful anecdotes about their fiery partnership in excerpts from a 50,000-word e-book first published in the Chicagoan.

The Original Frenemies: An oral history of Siskel and Ebert, 4.4.13


Canada’s Dramatic Comeback for Hockey Gold in Sochi

It was one of the most-watched women’s hockey games in history, and the ladies didn’t disappoint. Trailing 2-0 to the Americans with under four minutes to play, Canada got all the bounces and cashed in to tie the game, ultimately winning in overtime. It was another thrilling episode in an electric rivalry, and Canada’s Sportsnet gives it the royal treatment with a 15-chapter oral history. An abridged version is also available.

The Stunner in Sochi: An oral history of the 2014 Olympics Women’s Hockey Final, 2.22.16

Pavement’s “Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain” (1994)

Slacker masterpiece Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain dropped right in the middle of the alternative rock coming-out party and helped solidify Pavement (and singer/lyricist Stephen Malkmus) as indie rock mainstays.

The Oral History Of Pavement’s Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, 1.16.04

“Aliens” (1993)

Aliens is undeniably one of the greatest sci-fi thrillers of all time and at the center of the suspenseful story is Ripley’s impending clash with The Alien Queen, who often seems to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Director James Cameron, Sigourney Weaver (Ripley), and producer Gale Anne Hurd discuss the fascinating ways the confrontation was brought to life in the days before CGI.

Aliens 30th anniversary: Oral history of Power Loader Ripley vs. The Alien Queen, 7.18.16

“Do the Dew” Ad Campaign Changed the Brand (and the World)

Before the “Do the Dew” campaign began in 1992 Mountain Dew was primarily known as a country boy drink, but the in-your-face branding campaign dramatically changed that, pushing Mountain Dew into a pioneering role in sponsoring extreme sports (such as the nascent X-Games). The role continued to mushroom as they began the Dew Tour, released the snowboarding documentary First Descent in 700 theaters nationwide, and opened the Dew Underground television studio. Here is the behind-the-scenes story of one of the most successful sports branding campaigns in history.

How they Dew it, 2.25.13

“The X-Files”: Sexy Paranoia

The X-Files was one of Fox’s first hit dramas, and its 10 successful seasons quickly became part of the network’s foundation. Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny’s smoldering chemistry helped them become household names. The writer’s room contained future showrunners Howard Gordon (24) and Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad). On the eve of six-episode reunion special The Hollywood Reporter gathered the principals to discuss the show’s origins and success.

When ‘The X-Files’ Became A-List: An Oral History of Fox’s Out-There Success Story, 1.7.16

Everything Happened to the 1993 Houston Oilers

Near the end of their time in Houston the Oilers went on a memorable run, making the playoffs seven straight years on the backs of future Hall of Famers Warren Moon, Bruce Matthews and Mike Munchak. The ’93 season came on the heels of literally the worst collapse in NFL playoff history, as backup Frank Reich led the talented Bills back from a 35-3 third-quarter deficit to stun the Oilers. When they started the next season 1-4, owner Bud Adams threatened to blow up the team. Moon was benched. And then the team came together and finished the regular season on a 9-2 run, overcoming a defensive tackle’s stunning suicide and “Babygate,” when guard David Williams failed to make a Sunday game after his first child was born on Saturday. And that’s not all! Notorious defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan helped his team close out the regular season by punching offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride during a game. What a year! The Houston Chronicle recaps the insanity.

‘Oh my God:’ The oral history of the 1993 Houston Oilers, 12.26.13


Havana’s Tropicana: 50’s Nightclub Par Excellence

Vanity Fair provides an oral history of the Tropicana, whose dreamy elegance attracted the glitterati like moth to a flame, including the likes of Marlon Brando and John F. Kennedy. Besides recalling the glory days, the piece also covers the effect of Fidel Castro’s revolution and the current state of the still-functioning club.

All Havana Broke Loose: An Oral History of Tropicana, 8.4.11

“Gilmore Girls”

The Gilmore Girls 2016 revival on Netflix sparked a resurgence of interest in the long-running WB hit that featured baroque dialogue and a sisterly relationship between magnetic mother Lorelai and her cerebral daughter Rory. Entertainment Weekly talks to the principals about finding their vibe and the more dramatic twists the show has taken in recent seasons.

Gilmore Girls: An Oral History, 11.25.16

“Trading Places”: Old Hollywood Aesthetic Takes on New Wall Street

Trading Places (1983) is often called a throwback to the screwball comedies of early Hollywood, but the characters stayed just this side of cartoonish, and in doing so helped create a unique cinematic view of Wall Street. Legendary director John Landis pushed through his lead casting choices of Dan Ackroyd (whose career was floundering) and Eddie Murphy (then virtually unknown) over the protestations of the studios and casting agents. They were inspired choices as Ackroyd’s trademark rigidity accentuated his fall and Murphy’s glowing charisma contrasted with the staid boardrooms. Business Insider looks back on what they call the greatest Wall Street film ever made.

It’s The 30-Year Anniversary Of The Greatest Wall Street Movie Ever Made: Here’s The Story Behind It, 6.27.13

Public Enemy Plays Rikers Island

Rikers is a notorious New York City jail and in 1988 they had a periodic music series. They booked NYC’s own Public Enemy without knowing much about them or rap. It could have been a powder keg but ended up being more of a dialogue about injustice and hope.

Public Enemy at Rikers: An Oral History, 4.29.13

The Day After Bo Died: #1 Ohio State vs. #2 Michigan

The 2006 college football regular season seemed like one long prelude to the annual Ohio State-Michigan rivalry game. Ohio State was top ranked for much of the year and a dominant Michigan team soared up the polls to set up a classic showdown. What no one could possibly see coming, however, was Michigan legend Bo Schembechler, a larger-than-life figure for those born and raised in the state, passing away of a heart attack the day before the game. The Buckeyes led the game much of the way, but an emotional Michigan team kept making runs, ultimately falling 42-39. The Detroit Free Press does a tremendous job of recounting those remarkable days in that remarkable season.

Michigan vs. Ohio State 2006: An oral history, 11.21.16