writer, editor, content strategist, bar owner, interviewer, former aspiring cowboy

Thanks for stopping by, friends! I live with my wife and two kids in Oakland, California, a half-block from North Light, a small business I co-own that’s a hybrid of a bar, café, bookstore, and record shop. We opened in early 2019, then the coronavirus shut us down a year later. I wrote an article for The California Sunday Magazine about what it takes to keep a small business alive during a pandemic.

My latest book is How Money Became Dangerous (Ecco, 2019), co-written with Chris Varelas. The book tells a handful of entertaining true stories from the financial services industry—spanning from the mid ’80s up to the present day—exploring key moments that changed Wall Street and the world of money from simple and functional to complicated and contentious. I’m working on a new book about dictators, cryptocurrency, and one man’s perilous mission to transform his country’s broken economy and lift his people out of mass poverty.

Occasionally I’m lucky enough to interview my heroes for City Arts & Lectures, among them Patti Smith, George Saunders, Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, and Pico Iyer.

Radio Silence is a Pushcart Prize–winning magazine of literature and rock & roll that I founded and for which I serve as editor in chief. Our contributors have included Bruce Springsteen, Carrie Brownstein, Lucinda Williams, Stephin Merritt, Greil Marcus, Sam Lipsyte, Robert Pinsky, Rick Moody, David Remnick, Thao Nguyen, Paul Muldoon, Kim Addonizio, Daniel Handler, and many others. We’re not publishing at the moment, but we have copies of our three big print issues for sale (send me an email if you want one; link below), and we still host a monthly event in partnership with Lemony Snicket called the Silent Reading Party, which raises money for public school libraries.

I worked for many years at the National Endowment for the Arts as a program manager for the agency’s national initiatives. My main gig there was to write and produce radio documentaries about classic novels, jazz, and Shakespeare. A couple favorite programs I worked on, which have survived the turbulent political tides of Washington, are The Big Read—a nationwide reading initiative for which I produced 20+ documentaries—and Poetry Out Loud—a recitation contest now in its 16th year; nearly 4 million high school students have participated. I co-wrote the curriculum and directed the pilot and national rollout with our friends at The Poetry Foundation.

I also edit a college textbook titled Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing, with Dana Gioia and X. J. Kennedy (published by Pearson).

On a personal note, I’m particularly fond of pickles.

And of my wife, Kim Gooden, who’s the Managing Editor and Copy Chief for The California Sunday Magazine. The kids are all right, too.

If you want to get in touch, send me an email or find me at North Light.