Breakdown Palace

“Kingsley Hall was an experiment that is considered imperfect by all who took part in it, deeply flawed; to some on the outside, it was wildly irresponsible, perhaps a failure.”

Author: Alex Mar
Source: Topic
Published: Apr 24, 2019
Length: 56 minutes (14,037 words)

Out Came the Girls

To find belonging, teen girls sometimes form obsessive friendships to fend off the isolation that puberty brings at the twilight of their childhood. In this exceptionally well-researched piece, Alex Mar recalls two real-life events in which teen-girl duos became murderous and why these obsessive friendships devolved into a pact to do evil.

Author: Alex Mar
Source: VQR
Published: Sep 22, 2017
Length: 38 minutes (9,522 words)

Love in the Time of Robots

Hiroshi Ishi­guro has spent his entire life in pursuit of creating a lifelike android. But what kind of life is he trying to instill in them? For Ishi­guro, other people are just mirrors and conversation is just a set of stimuli. Can a genius inventor create a near-human if he doesn’t really understand his own kind?

Author: Alex Mar
Source: Wired
Published: Oct 17, 2017
Length: 49 minutes (12,300 words)

Was Diane Arbus the Most Radical Photographer of the 20th Century?

With a new biography out and a Met exhibit, Alex Mar reassesses the legacy of photographer Diane Arbus, whose personal life has often overshadowed her stunning, trail-blazing images.

Author: Alex Mar
Published: Jul 13, 2016
Length: 20 minutes (5,167 words)

What Ever Happened to ‘The Most Liberated Woman in America’?

Barbara Williamson co-founded one of the most famous radical sex experiments in America. Then she got wild.

Author: Alex Mar
Source: Atlas Obscura
Published: Jun 7, 2016
Length: 27 minutes (6,812 words)

Rebel Virgins and Desert Mothers

The radical women of early Christianity.

Author: Alex Mar
Source: Atlas Obscura
Published: Jan 21, 2016
Length: 15 minutes (3,902 words)

Excarnation in Texas

A visit to the Forensic Anthropology Center in San Marcos, Texas, which contains the largest of America’s five “body farms” — research facilities where families or individuals donate their bodies for scientific studies.

Author: Alex Mar
Source: Oxford American
Published: Sep 8, 2014
Length: 47 minutes (11,868 words)

The Secret Life of Nuns

The writer stays with the Dominican Sisters of Houston and learns about the life they lead and the work they do:

“‘I think a lot of them want some kind of sign,’ Pat says of the choice to wear the habit. ‘They want people to know.’ She also cites ‘that romanticism,’ as in (and this almost makes me blush) ‘those old nun movies, you know, all that parading around looking the same.’ The cloister was never an attractive choice for her, as it wasn’t for Carol or most of the other Houston Dominicans. ‘Some say we can be in the world but not of the world,’ she says. ‘Well, that’s not the way Jesus worked. So we like to be a little bit more involved here—and freer.’

“The active Dominican sisters who stuck it out after Vatican II—particularly of the generation now in their seventies—were drawn deeper into the social activism the order’s women are known for. It’s something I see in action over the course of the week. I accompany Sister Ceil, the Dominicans’ ‘promoter of justice,’ to a grassroots press conference announcing an immigration rally (Ceil also represents the sisters in the fight against sex trafficking, and at death-penalty vigils at the state penitentiary in Huntsville); and I visit Sister Maureen at Angela House, the transitional center she’s set up for women just exiting prison (a former cop and counselor, Maureen also works with victims of sex abuse by clergy). I also learn about the Dominican sisters’ long history of political engagement. Back in 1987, they declared the motherhouse grounds a public sanctuary for El Salvadorian refugees, potentially risking prison themselves for harboring illegal immigrants. And over the last ten years, Dominican sisters in Colorado and Michigan have done prison time for breaking into nuclear facilities and spraying them with blood in protest.”

Author: Alex Mar
Source: Oxford American
Published: Sep 5, 2013
Length: 49 minutes (12,273 words)