The Mao Mango Cult of 1968 and the Rise of China’s Working Class

“Apparently, Mao didn’t like fruit. It was an easy re-gift.”

Author: Ben Marks
Published: Feb 13, 2014
Length: 8 minutes (2,249 words)

The Existential Conundrum That Is the American Waste Paper Basket

“Until I read Paradox, I had not considered the possibility that waste paper baskets could be imbued with paradox, but Legrand has convinced me.”

Author: Ben Marks
Published: May 4, 2015
Length: 8 minutes (2,060 words)

When Medieval Monks Couldn’t Cure the Plague, They Launched a Luxe Skincare Line

Whether you were European royalty desperately seeking a cure for impotence or a working-class neighbor looking for the latest deodorant, Santa Maria Novella was the place to go.

Published: Mar 14, 2017
Length: 8 minutes (2,134 words)

The Sissies, Hustlers, and Hair Fairies Whose Defiant Lives Paved the Way For Stonewall

Before Stonewall, there was Compton’s Cafeteria: “In August 1966—fifty years ago this month—transgender and gender-nonconforming customers at Gene Compton’s Cafeteria stood up to years of abusive, discriminatory treatment by the San Francisco police.”

Published: Aug 23, 2016
Length: 18 minutes (4,726 words)

The Rise and Fall of Restaurant Kitsch

As minimalist design goes down-market and T.G.I. Friday’s says goodbye to clutter, what happens to all the fake Tiffany lamps?

Author: Lisa Hix
Published: Aug 11, 2016
Length: 49 minutes (12,389 words)

Why Are America’s Most Innovative Companies Still Stuck in 1950s Suburbia?

Why do tech companies keep building suburban corporate campuses that are isolated—by design—from the communities their products are supposed to impact? Oatman-Stanford looks at the history of corporate urban design and the midcentury rise (and continued reign) of the suburban office park.

Published: Apr 8, 2016
Length: 14 minutes (3,729 words)

Our Pungent History

From the ancient Egyptians to modernity, a history of body odor and our attempts to deal with it.

Published: Mar 8, 2016
Length: 17 minutes (4,415 words)

The Tragic Life of the Courtesan in Japan’s Floating World

A glimpse into the difficult lives of Edo-Period Japanese prostitutes.

Author: Lisa Hix
Published: Mar 26, 2015
Length: 18 minutes (4,714 words)

When Rock ‘n’ Roll Loomed Large Over the Sunset Strip

For nearly two decades hand painted rock ‘n’ roll billboards loomed large over the Sunset Strip. The billboards were ephemeral, but a budding young photographer documented them throughout their heyday.

Published: Mar 10, 2015
Length: 12 minutes (3,060 words)

Straight Razors and Social Justice

A history professor examines the deep roots and empowering evolution of black barbershops:

In a country where institutionalized racism has been the norm for centuries, black barbershops remain an anomaly. Though initially blocked from serving black patrons, these businesses evolved into spaces where African Americans could freely socialize and discuss contemporary issues. While catering to certain hair types may have helped these businesses succeed, the real secret to their longevity is their continued social import. For many African Americans, getting a haircut is more than a commodity—it’s an experience that builds community and shapes political action. As both a proud symbol of African American entrepreneurship and a relic of an era when black labor exclusively benefitted whites, black barbershops provide a window into our nation’s complicated racial dynamics.

Published: May 31, 2014
Length: 16 minutes (4,094 words)