Photo by Cottonbro

The Featured Five: The Bold, Different and Defiant

’Tis the season of fall arts guides, “Finding Colorful Foliage” features and “Best of” issues. I personally don’t have anything against these alt-weekly staples; they’re popular with readers and an easy sell for the ad department. But when I proudly pull an alt from its graffiti-stained newsrack or aim my browser at its glitchy site, I want to be surprised. I want to laugh or maybe even cry. I want to be offended.

With that sentiment in mind, this week’s Featured Five celebrates the bold, different and defiant. 

As fall falls and winter looms, I’d like to propose a toast to the alt-weeklies keeping it weird. To the bold, different and defiant!

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It’s hard to imagine getting any further away from a fall foliage feature than “Miss Toto’s Shark Tagging and Drag Collab Raises Thousands for LGBTQ Youth.” The sprawling and entertaining piece, penned by Alexandra Martinez for the Miami New Times, profiles drag performer Miss Toto, who graduated from the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. At the school, Martinez writes, Miss Toto “learned about another critically misunderstood creature: sharks.” As detailed in the story, the drag performer has partnered with an educational center to “bring Miami the collaboration it never knew it needed: shark tagging with a dash of drag.” The photos do not disappoint.

“There has never been a better time to be a nerd,” boldly begins Tony Nuñez’s cover story “Why Nerdville, Watsonville’s First Comic-Con Event, Matters,” which recently appeared in Good Times. As Nuñez explains in his informative feature, the Nerdville event is the brainchild of former Watsonville, Calif., mayor and current city councilman Francisco “Paco” Estrada, who proudly carries his nerd card. The event is designed to showcase comics, art, fantasy and collectibles and, as Nuñez writes, “give kids—and adults—a safe space to ‘nerd out,’ connect with like-minded people and create communities of collectors, something that [Estrada] says he wishes he had as a child growing up in Watsonville.” Sounds pretty fluffy, huh? Not quite. According to the story, Nerdville’s debut comes amid a wave of setbacks and violence in Santa Cruz County, and Estrada and others are hoping the event will bring collectors and the community together. 

Check out Lit.

If you’re an art snob who’s still debating whether tattoos require real skill and technique, you may want to peruse Danielle Grady’s “10 Louisville-area Tattoo Artists You Should Be Following on Instagram” in LEO Weekly. In her short intro, Grady warns: “This is a dangerous list. The more tattoo artists you follow on Instagram, the more likely you are to book an appointment for just one more. Or, maybe this will be the start of your addiction.” She goes on, in rich, descriptive terms, to recommend Louisville-area tattoo artists you should be following on IG and why you should be following them. You don’t need ink or to be a Kentucky resident to appreciate this scrollable feature, which, of course, comes replete with photos.

What happens when residents of a mobile-home park purchase it from corporate owners and operate it as their own collective? This may sound like the premise of a Netflix series—and perhaps it should be—but it’s actually the focus of Angela K. Evans’ in-depth news feature “The Great Experiment: Can Resident-owned Mobile Home Parks Save Manufactured Housing Communities?” The piece, which ran in the Boulder Weekly, explains residents bought the park, in part, to control rising rents and their overall living conditions. So far, Evans reports, the experiment has been a success—but challenges are starting to surface. Tune in next week … I mean, read the story for the dramatic conclusion.

This is a dangerous list. The more tattoo artists you follow on Instagram, the more likely you are to book an appointment for just one more.

Danielle Grady

What international cities can be described as bold, different and defiant? New York? Paris? Tokyo? How about Tijuana? That’s the setting of Carlos Ivan Molina Aguilar’s All Is Not Wonderful Where Amazon Set Up in Tijuana, published by the San Diego Reader. According to the story, which serves as sort of a photo essay, Amazon’s new warehouse in Tijuana has created controversy, as it’s located in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city. Molina explains, “The contrast between the humble huts made up from recycling materials and the brand new building of the richest multinational company in the world brought out several critics. …” The neighborhood lacks public services, welfare and security, and longtime residents fear inflation and even evictions. The contrast in the photos is, indeed, disturbing.

As fall falls and winter looms, I’d like to propose a toast to the alt-weeklies keeping it weird. To the bold, different and defiant!

Matthew O’Brien is a writer, editor and teacher who lived in Las Vegas for 20 years and is currently based in San Salvador, El Salvador. His latest book, Dark Days, Bright Nights: Surviving the Las Vegas Storm Drains, documents those who lived in Vegas’ underground flood channels. His full bio is here.

Matthew O’Brien is a writer, editor and teacher who lived in Las Vegas for 20 years and is currently based in San Salvador, El Salvador. His latest book, Dark Days, Bright Nights: Surviving the Las Vegas Storm Drains, documents those who lived in Vegas’ underground flood channels. His full bio is here.

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