Alice Bag at the Hong Kong Cafe, Los Angeles, 1979.

How Chinese Food Fueled the Rise of California Punk

In the late 1970s, Chinatown restaurants started booking some unlikely dinner entertainment.
Jazzercise class, 2017

The Fitness Craze That Changed the Way Women Exercise

Fifty years after Jazzercise was founded, it is still shaping how Americans work out—for better or for worse.
Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus - Old Town Road. Youtube (2019)

A Short History of Country Music’s Multicultural Mishmash

Or everything that came before Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus walked down that “Old Town Road.”
The Fisk Jubilee Singers, 1875.

They Introduced the World to Songs of Slavery. It Almost Broke Them.

The Jubilee Singers were a global sensation. But an aggressive touring schedule would harm the young performers drastically.
Three men feast on free lunch in this drawing by Charles Dana Gibson from 1911.

To Evade Pre-Prohibition Drinking Laws, New Yorkers Created the World's Worst Sandwich

It was everywhere at the turn of the 20th century. It was also inedible.
William S. Burroughs, Video, Laserprint, 2006.

William S. Burroughs and the Cult of Rock ‘n’ Roll

From Bob Dylan to David Bowie to The Beatles, the legendary Beat writer’s influence reached beyond literature into music in surprising ways.
Portrait of Julia Ward Howe, by John Elliott, ca. 1925.

Whitman, Melville, & Julia Ward Howe: A Tale of Three Bicentennials

The difference between the careers and reputations of the three famous authors is about gender as well as genius.
Clint Eastwood and Marianne Koch in A Fistful of Dollars, directed by Sergio Leone in 1964.

How Spaghetti Westerns Shaped Modern Cinema

In the realism, the set pieces, the operatic music, Sergio Leone was pointing the way towards modern filmmaking.
Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg kisses his husband Chasten Glezman after speaking at a campaign event in West Hollywood, CA, May 9, 2019.

Why Pete Buttigieg's Theory About Secretly Gay Presidents Is Complicated

Buttigieg believes he probably won’t be the first gay president if he’s elected in 2020.
Mary Hallock Greenewalt, at electric light

Industrial Light and Magic

Mary Hallock Greenewalt received 11 patents for her “color organ,” an early form of synthesizer. She would spend the rest of her life defending them.
An undated portrait of British writer George Orwell, author of

“1984” at Seventy

Why we still read Orwell’s book of prophecy.
Max Patkin, the

How Superstition and the Opera Gave Birth to Mascots

The dark origins of the first mascots.