Illustration by Melinda Josie
It had been an ordinary Wednesday afternoon at my rural Indiana high school until the Journey tribute band appeared. Principal Day canceled sixth period so that the entire student body could catch a preview of the group’s Friday-night concert.
Even though Journey’s popularity was at its zenith in 1983, I wasn’t sure who they were. In my strict Calvinist household, my mother blasted hymns and scolded me for tuning my radio to the local pop station.
I was 16, our f...
We were standing in line for meat pies at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair. The indoor arena south of San Francisco had been transformed into Victorian London; actors wearing top hats and crinolines roamed about wishing fairgoers “Happy Christmas.” As we contemplated the menu — haggis or shepherd’s pie? — a noisy band of temperance advocates marched by hoisting signs that stated, “Gin is Sin!”
As my 9-year-old daughter watched them pass, her forehead knitted, and then she look...
Forty years ago, an American preacher and madman named Jim Jones orchestrated the largest mass murder in recorded history when he forced more than 900 men, women and children to drink a cyanide-laced punch at his eponymous settlement in Guyana.
Early news reports referred to Jonestown as a “cult of death” and spread the idea that residents calmly lined up on Nov. 18, 1978, to offer cups of poison to their children before drinking it themselves. Reporters lustily relayed what sensational detai...
Editor’s Note: This is one of many stories about our relationship with the natural world, which San Francisco is publishing over the next month as part of the May 2017 Great Outdoors Issue. To read stories as they become available online, click here.
Alicia Funk was 10 years old when the view from a bus window changed her life. It was 1979, and she was vacationing with her parents in Chiapas, Mexico. As they drove past a tiny village, they noticed the residents packing up their homes and aske...
A Survivor’s Story
By David Thibodeau
Read by Robert Fass.
13 Hours, 20 Minutes. Hachette Audio.
Many young people move to Los Angeles searching for fame and fortune. David Thibodeau, an aspiring drummer from Maine, was one of them. But instead of meeting a music producer who could pave the way to stardom, he met a self-proclaimed prophet who would make him infamous.
As he writes in his autobiography, “Waco: A Survivor’s Story,” Thibodeau was 21 years old when he walked into the Gu...
I stand in my brother’s childhood room, looking for a place to hide his seventh-grade class portrait. It’s wallet-size, taken in 1978. In it David wears a lime-green turtleneck with short sleeves and thick black athletic glasses. His dark-brown eyes are bright, his smile unguarded. He looks amused by something the photographer did or said. An eleven-year-old boy, hungry for the world, that’s what this image portrays. And on this haunted winter day, that’s precisely how I want to remember him....
A special skill. An ardent passion. Time. Money. A pair of hands. Whatever you have to offer, know this simple truth: it can do real and lasting good.
Meet a few generous folks who've discovered just how great an impact one person's efforts can make.
A Poet advocates self-expression to those who sorely need it.
By Elizabeth Choi
On a March day in 2009, Pamela Hart and her then-23-year-old son, Will, stood in a line of tourists outside Mount Vernon, George Washington’s stately V...
By Rebecca Wait
298 pp. Europa Editions. Paper, $17.
The English moors: Is there a setting more symbolic of isolation and despair? They provide the atmospheric backdrop for many gloomy classics, from “Wuthering Heights” to “The Hound of the Baskervilles.” Cults are also bleak and despairing: Few mind-sets are as terrifying as that of a cloistered zealot who abandons nuance to weigh life on a simple scale of right or wrong. So combine the two — situate a cult on the English moors...
There’s one in every office: the creepy co-worker whose furtive presence and bizarre tics are the staples of water-cooler gossip. Now picture yourself sharing an airless room with this creature. Your desks are just a few feet apart. When she’s not compulsively organizing her pencil tray, she’s telegraphing waves of hostility in your direction. You have no idea why. But then you discover her diary. And you become very, very scared.
This could well describe the experience of reading Lydie Salva...