Portland is an exceptional place. Many of our writers and artists live there. An entire television show has been devoted to poking fun at its quirks of creativity and culture. But it’s a place where people are celebrated not for trying, but for doing. Nobody likes a badly made beer; there are too many good ones. The 700 food trucks aren’t outposts of mediocrity, but are engaged in a Darwinian process of evolution (into fusions and exotic offerings) and survival.
The Trek in the Park show is a great example. Folks from regular walks of life almost accidentally fell into creating a Portland summer tradition. For each of the last five summers, the troupe has performed one episode to hundreds or thousands of spectators. The last performance of the summer — and ever — was last Sunday night. After a five-year journey, the crew is resuming the rest of their lives and giving up a form of local fame. They hang up their phasers to much acclaim, Chris Higgins tells us in “Boldly Gone.”
Also in this issue, we look at the science of the persistence of recessive traits that cause fatal childhood diseases. Saul Hymes, a pediatrician, comes from an ethnicity (that we share) that has many mutated, recessive genes that can cause heart-breaking conditions, such as Tay-Sachs. But if, on average, one out of four children from a set of parents who both carry the gene died before maturity before modern medicine, how did this defective code survive? The reason has to do with other diseases, Saul explains, in “Carry On.”
Hacker-activism, or hacktivism, has achieved a kind of worldwide prominence in the last few years, between Anonymous, those feeding data to Wikileaks, and other attacks and information leaks based on social and political policy. But Rosie Spinks finds women in the culture are often “Hacked Off” about their treatment. Relatively few women remain involved in these groups, and the founder of one, Asher Wolf, left her leadership role when she became fed up with the misogyny and abuse. Fortunately, Rosie finds some glimmerings of change underway.
Quick: how many pens do you own? If you don’t immediately start listing them off by name, you don’t have a problem. If you do, well, there’s no cure. Gabe Bullard gets to the “Penultimate” truth in his profile of two seemingly normal people who have recorded 70 episodes of a podcast on pens.
In a piece that resonates with Saul’s earlier in the issue, Lisa Schmeiser examines her journey through the space of pregnancy, when one has a concept of a future baby but the reality of a developing mystery. During the pregnancy, the analytic, deconstructionist, and technical Lisa found she couldn’t coo and gurgle over ultrasounds and vague medical details. She relates her journey to birth, and the metaphor of the cyborg (an allegory created by professor and philosopher Donna Haraway), along the way in “Look Within.” (Trixie is now 2 1/2.)
(We had a delightful email exchange with Haraway to check on a word in her essay that we thought had been reproduced incorrectly online. It had. For those who know her work, she is happily emerita, and competes with her Australian sheepdog, Cayenne, in agility contests. She wrote about this in a 2007 book, “When Species Meet (Posthumanities).”)
Our cover this issue is by Michelle K. Martin, a photographer who specializes in food photography. Michelle responded to a call for photographers via Twitter, when I realized how perfectly Lisa’s article could be illustrated with fruit. Michelle received vague instructions and produced three perfect pictures for the article and our baby/mango cover image. (The cover was designed by Louie Mantia, as always.)
Email yourself an issue
For almost the entire history of The Magazine, we’ve had requests that we offer ourselves for sale via the Kindle Store. We did, for a while, but found that the limitations prevented all but a handful of readers from subscribing: we couldn’t give access to our back archives, and we couldn’t let you read on whatever device you wanted. We pulled the plug on Kindle subscriptions while we looked into a better alternative.
For several months, subscribers have been able to log into our Web site and download Kindle-compatible MOBI and more generally useful EPUB versions of each issue. Most ereaders besides the Kindle can read EPUB, as can most ereader apps. (A subscription via the App Store gives you free access to reading via our Web site, and vice versa.)
Now we’ve combined the two. You can set up your account via our Web site so that whenever an issue is published, we email the Kindle-compatible MOBI file to whatever address you specify. You can find your Kindle device or app’s email address within the reader hardware or software. Because we come through as a “personal document,” you also need to whitelist the address firstname.lastname@example.org. See our FAQ for details. You can choose also — or instead — to email an EPUB to any address.
This feature isn’t yet available through the app, but all app subscribers need just activate their Web account to send MOBI and EPUB files. You can email or download any issue from #1 to the present.
As previously noted, we’re having an event and get-together in Portland, Oregon, on September 18, the night before the start of the XOXO festival and conference. (I’ll be interviewing the editors of Boing Boing during the conference part of XOXO.)
We’ve lined up music, comedy, and interviews with mostly Portlanders, many of whom have appeared (or will appear) as contributors, guests, or subjects in The Magazine or on my podcast The New Disruptors. I’m calling it “Portland Exceptionalism” as we celebrate that city!
It’s free, with a cash bar. But please RSVP if you’re coming. The program part runs from 7 to 9 pm, and there’s a mingle, drink, and eat from 9 pm to 11 pm. For full details and to get your free tickets, see our event page.
We plan to make at least parts, and possibly the whole event, available as an audio podcast later.