Ms. Magazine Changes American Media Forever

In 1971 American media was still dominated by white males, even properties marketed to women. Female journalists were pigeonholed into writing about food, fashion, and marriage. That changed when Gloria Steinhem and a collection of New York feminist journalists founded Ms. magazine. They were concerned whether there was a market for a glossy monthly magazine–the first issue sold out in eight days. Proposed articles showed that they were finally writing the stories they wanted to write: “A Secretary is an Office Wife,” “Someone Should Have Liberated Pat Nixon,” and “The Politics of Sex.” The magazine would help launch an entire media market, but its own fortunes waned as the century drew to a close, worn down by infighting, cultural change, and competition. Today, it is still published as a quarterly, and has a solid online presence. Its articles can be found in women’s studies syllabi across the country. New York Magazine, which helped with the initial launch of Ms. takes a multi-faceted look back at an American cultural institution.

How Do You Spell Ms.

NYMag.com, 10.30.11

TED Talks: Mystic Techies Start Own Self-Help Movement

TED Talks, a boon to cheap HR departments everywhere, started off as an insular West Coast conference for wealthy tech-sector employees. Their talks, which focus on Technology, Education, and Design (TED), sometimes verged into proselytizing, but entertaining proselytizing. The conference honchos decided to put the videos online, hoping for 10,000 total views. The talks, which could not be longer than 18 minutes, proved to be catnip for the internet, gaining 10,000 views the first day and rising exponentially. Three weeks later the CEO decided TED was now a media platform, and the Silicon Valley Self-Help Movement was born. Wired takes a quick look back at the transformation.

The Oral History of TED, a Club for the Rich That Became a Global Phenomenon

Wired.com, 4.20.17

Xbox’s “Halo” Crosses Over To Pop Culture Fame

Few video games make the jump to pop-culture fame, but Halo is definitely one of them (when Liz Lemon references you, you know you made it). For many years Halo was THE sci-fi shooter and the star of the show was Master Chief, a grunt in power armor who the player often controlled on murderous rampages through enemy ranks. The player’s trusty AI, Cortana, has been named one of the best female and supporting characters in video game history. And all of this video game history started as a side-project to Bungie’s Myst. Waypoint pulls out all the stops for a glorious three-part oral history of the Halo phenomenon.

The Complete, Untold History of Halo

Waypoint.Vice.com, 5.30.17

L.A.’s Nobu Becomes a Global Sensation

Nobu made its name by serving distinctive seafood with stylish presentation. The original restaurant, called Matsuhisa, was in strip mall. That was also the last strip mall location, as the global sensation now operates entire hotels in addition to the namesake restaurants, known for attracting the glitterati like partner Robert De Niro. Founder Nobu Matsuhisa says his philosophy is that “food is like fashion,” and he is forever trying to synthesize local traditions with his iconic sushi recipes in stylish and memorable ways.

Nobu’s Matsuhisa Turns 30: An Oral History of the Sushi Restaurant Where Tom Cruise Couldn’t Get In

HollywoodReporter.com, 6.2.17

Funny or Die: Sketch Comedy for the Masses

Funny or Die started as a small operation built on the name recognition of Will Ferrell. When the site launched with “The Landlord” as one of its debut videos, its success was assured (it now has over 91M views). The site has had its ups and downs, but a steady diet of celeb-fronted videos has kept the site visible, including Paris Hilton’s memorable “campaign ad” response to a bitchy John McCain commercial. It’s no-frills, low-budget aesthetic has nurtured comedic talents like Billy Eichner and Derek Waters (of Drunk History fame). Wired takes a look back at the site’s first 10 years.

Funny or Die at 10: An Oral History

Wired.com, 4.2.17

Austin Helps Invent the Breakfast Taco

Austin, Texas has been home to a vibrant Mexican community for over 100 years. Popular Mexican restaurants that still exist today started being established in the 40s and 50s, but it is the breakfast taco of the 80s that has seen the widest influence, now being sold by national fast food chains. Called “a mini home-cooked meal in a tortilla,” by one restaurateur, the phenomenon remains a cherished tradition in Austin today. Texas Monthly provides the history in an excerpt from Austin Breakfast Tacos.

The Most Important Taco of the Day

TexasMonthly.com, 7.30.13

Ms. Pac Man Becomes the Most Popular Arcade Game of All Time

It was a pattern that would repeat itself throughout the computer age, but the guys behind Ms. Pac Man were among the first: They were too financially successful to finish their degrees at M.I.T., dropping out to work full time. They started with enhancement packages that arcade owners could be to make their games more difficult, first with Missile Command, and then with Asteroids. They started to pull in serious cash and incorporated as General Computer Corporation in Massachusetts. They made their big move with an improved version of video game phenomenon Pac Man, signing an agreement with Midway to market their “mod” as a true sequel, another groundbreaking moment that would be repeated many times in software development. The development of Ms. Pac Man incorporated proto-game theory and the result, a more varied and stimulating experience than its predecessor, changed the course of game development forever.

The MIT Dropouts Who Created Ms. Pac-Man: A 35th-Anniversary Oral History

FastCompany.com, 2.3.17

Rei Kawakubo’s “Not Making Clothes” Collection

Rei Kawakubo, the subject of this year’s Met Ball, has always been one of the most innovative and iconoclastic designers in the world, but her “Not Making Clothes” collection stands out for being truly esoteric. This collection was truly art as clothing, including a tire supported by chains. The collection came at a time when Kawakubo was feeling trapped and confined by her craft and the result was one of the most memorable fashion collections of recent years. In honor of the Met exhibit in her honor, the New York Times collects anecdotes from colleagues and attendees.

Remembering One of Rei Kawakubo’s Most Boundary-Breaking Shows

NYTimes.com, 5.4.17

The Innovation and Creativity of NYC’s Craft Restaurant

Chef Tom Colicchio’s Manhattan restaurant Craft prioritized the sourcing of top-notch ingredients over culinary trickery and in the process created not only a long-lasting NYC favorite, but also an industry trend. That ethos can also be seen in the restaurant’s decor, with the “signature bare wooden tables, artful placemats and dangling Edison bulbs,” features that also found their way into restaurants across the nation. The Daily Beast celebrates the eatery’s 15-year anniversary with a look back.

The Oral History of Tom Colicchio’s Craft

TheDailyBeast.com, 9.1.16

Toronto’s Caribana: The Largest Carnival Festival in North America

Toronto’s Caribana Festival has had its share of twists and turns since being founded in 1967 in honor of Canada’s centenary. It became a celebrated annual event on Canada’s long Civic Holiday weekend, eventually bringing an estimated $438M into the region each year. Its more recent history is a bit more murky as the route changed from the downtown University Avenue to Lakeshore Boulevard in 1991, the original founders were pushed out in 2006 due to perceived mismanagement, and an admittance fee was introduced for the first time in 2013. Noisey chronicles the storied past of the festival, the uncertain present, and gets ideas on how it could reclaim its former glory.

The Love or the Money: An Oral History of Toronto’s Caribana

Noisey.Vice.com, 5.26.15

How One Guild took “World of Warcraft” Gaming to the Next Level

World of Warcraft was a not just a gaming phenomenon, but a pop-culture one, bringing thousands of thousands into the MMO gaming world. One particularly data-focused guild, the Elitist Jerks (a splinter group from the notorious Goon Squad), pioneered “theorycrafting,” an attempt to get “under the hood” of WoW and, by understanding the mathematical underpinnings, become better at the game. Their successful investigations brought frustrated gamers to their site in droves, and also led to job opportunities in gaming. The guild leader (Ion Hazzikostas) even became WoW‘s game director. Waypoint gathers the crew to discuss the rise and fall of one of gaming’s most interesting guilds.

An Oral History of Azeroth’s Most Influential Guild

Waypoint.Vice.com, 12.4.16

“Rent”: The Beautiful Struggle

Rent opened on Broadway in the spring of 1996, months after the tragic death of composer Jonathon Larson, and was an instant pop-culture smash, the likes of which weren’t seen again until Hamilton. The play fundamentally changed contemporary musical theater by organically incorporating pop music (including grunge) into the production. The inspiring “live for today” message, presented so accessibly, spoke to young people in a way that the stale Broadway classics often failed to. The show launched many careers (including Idina Menzel and Jesse L. Martin), and this oral history brings them back to when it all came together.

Rent: The Oral History

Vulture.com, 5.1.16

The Invaluable Police Shootings Database Created by “The Washington Post”

Police shootings have been one of America’s focal points in recent years and many have decried the lack of information and transparency from law enforcement agencies. The Washington Post decided to do something about it and created the first national police shootings database. Frustratingly, the numbers reveal important truths that should not have been obscured or hidden in a democracy: 1) More than double the annual police shootings reported by the FBI. 2) Nearly a quarter of victims were suffering a mental health crisis. 3) Unarmed black men were seven times more likely to die in a police shooting than white men. This is the oral history of important journalism being done.

Inside the Washington Post’s police shootings database: An oral history

TheWashingtonPost.com, 12.16.15

The Absurdly Influential and Just Plain Absurd “Weird Twitter”

Some comedic talents like to mess around on Twitter. They mock the poor punctuation, spelling and coherency of the average tweet through a form of imitation. This subgenre did not start with high aspirations but it has nonetheless become an influential art form that evolves in a thousand directions at once. The principals reflect on their unholy creation in this piece by Buzzfeed.

Weird Twitter: The Oral History

Buzzfeed.com, 4.5.13

 

Harley Quinn Takes Over the World

Harley Quinn was undeniably the breakout pop-culture star of 2016, largely because of Margot Robbie’s electric portrayal of the comic-book femme fatale in Suicide Squad. Ms. Quinn first appeared in a Batman animated TV show in 1992 and Complex tracks her subsequent rise to superstardom.

The Oral History of Harley Quinn

Complex.com, 8.4.16

 

A Retrospective of South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi)

The SXSW Conference began in 1994 with 600 participants and has since mushroomed into one of the most recognizable innovation events in the world. The conference tapped into the blossoming online media explosion and has influenced the conversation and culture around innovation, while also hosting some raucous parties.

Oral History: Sex! Drugs! Apps! SXSW Interactive at 20

FastCompany.com, 2.26.14