Magazine Writing—When I was Paid to Write
After college, I did some magazine writing. I was a Contributing Editor on the Abercrombie & Fitch Quarterly from 1998 (when I was a senior in college) until the magazine closed in 2004. In 1999 I went on an Abercrombie & Fitch photo shoot I got to take some pictures of some models before a shoot and on a boat. I also got a pic of me and a model and I look absurdly goofy by comparison.
Here are some of the pieces I wrote and some of the stories of how and why I wrote them.
- Christmas: A True Story was the first thing I got paid to write. I had published a piece in The Yale Record when I was in college. I was the publisher of the magazine at the time. My friend Patrick was writing at Abercrombie and they wanted to publish a “Point/Counterpoint” that we’d written for the Yale Record. When they invited me to New York for a morning editorial meeting with some senior writers, Nate and Savas wanted to run my piece. The one problem was that Nate, a devout Mormon, wanted me to get run of a couple of lines that he found particularly offensive. I needed to make it longer so walked over to my friend Mike Gerber who added some more jokes and content and I got it back to them within a day.
- A visit to Geoge Lucas’s ILM and Skywalker Ranch right before the release of Star Wars: Episode 1. Here’s the text of my favorite part, the introduction. After I handed in the piece, I had this weird experience, where I handed in a rough draft of 3000 words and thought they’d cut it to the assigned 1000. Instead, they printed the whole thing at $1.25 a word. I felt like Tom Wolfe when he submitted his notes as a memo to Bryon Dobell and they were published in Esquire as magazine article The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby. Wolfe wrote his notes as a 49 page letter which was published without the salutation “Dear Byron.”(1)Michael Lewis recounts this story in How Tom Wolfe Became … Tom Wolfe.
- The world’s most entertaining calculus professor. Colin Adams is a Math professor at Williams College with a fabulously bad suit. He explained why Engish professors dress better than Math professors. He also told a wonderful story about how he pranked an entire introductory math class.
- A guide to the Great American Movie Theaters. This was a very cool piece. I found a book on movie theaters (maybe this one but I don’t remember) that talked about the glory of old theaters. I thought it was awesome to be able to show people how they could experience these great old movie houses for the price of a movie ticket.
- An interview with the Editor of The Onion.
When I was Paid to Blog
When I was looking for work in 2020, my friend Lee paid me to write blog posts for Midas Exchange, an advertising agency that’s part of the WPP network. My favorite piece over there is The Best Social Media Isn’t Just About Social Platforms.
My Mobile Payments Writing at Citi
Ashwin Shivaikar from Citi’s Equity Research group and I joined forces to write two reports Upwardly Mobile I (pdf) and Upwardly Mobile II (pdf). The pieces were very well received and we had the honor of giving out 2000 of these at first Money 2020 Conference. I also gave a 10-minute presentation at a payments conference. Kate Fitzgerald wrote it up in surprising detail in American Banker in an article called Simplicity, Usefulness Should Guide Mobile Wallet Development.
Some Older Stuff
- Here’s a fun older bit from college. I wrote up this article on how difficult it is to make rules against encryption (pdf). I also wrote a blog post about this time in encryption policy and how it inspired my favorite t-shirt. I was thinking it wasn’t worth posting but then I remembered that someone thought it was the most interesting article in the magazine Crossroads in 1998.
- In college, I was Chairman of The Yale Record, the nation’s oldest college humor magazine and the coiner of the term hot dog in 1895.
- On April 1st, 1999 we did a parody of the New York Times website that’s a lot of fun to read. We were going to get coverage from the Times; however, April Fools Day took a more serious tone that year when NATO bombed Yugoslavia.
- You can find modern archives of the magazine (post-2010) and older versions (1999-2010) online.