Photo by Emma Dau

The Featured Five: The Imminent Approach of Fall

Fall beckons. It’s foreshadowed in the air and in the form and color of the trees and, of course, on the smudge-susceptible pages of alt-weeklies throughout the nation. Summer adventure and survival guides are giving way to school specials, football-related writeups and fall arts features. This imminent, eternal transition is well represented in this week’s Featured Five.

Nothing screams “fall” quite like a salacious public-school scandal, and our friends at Isthmus in Madison, Wisconsin, are covering a juicy one. A December 2019 field trip, hidden cameras in bathrooms, the arrest of a teacher/chaperone—“The Internal Investigation the Madison School District Didn’t Want the Public to See” is an interesting read, indeed! Was the school district’s independent internal investigation thorough and convincing? Isthmus senior reporter Dylan Brogan seems skeptical.

When I think of fall holidays, two leap to mind: Thanksgiving and Halloween. The latter is the focus of the Dallas Observer’s “Somehow, Celina Became the Halloween Capital of Texas.” Observer music and arts editor Eva Raggio opens the story: “For those unfamiliar (or simply skeptical), not only does the city of Celina exist, but things also happen there.” Raggio goes on to, in an appropriately cheeky manner, examine whether this North Texas town of 17,000 residents, which hosts the Beware! of the Square Halloween event, is deserving of the recently bestowed title “Halloween Capital of Texas.”

Fall in the United States, particularly in the South, would not be complete without football. New Orleans-based Gambit sent its staff into the streets—and to the Superdome for a Saints preseason game—to see how citizens were responding to the city’s new proof-of-vaccination and masking rules. Are the rules clear? Are they helping slow the Delta variant? Is the city revolting? Find out here!

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression triggered by the changing seasons. But in this poignant personal essay, published in Pittsburgh CityPaper, comedian Terry Jones gets serious about depression and reminds readers it’s a year-round struggle for many people. Jones writes candidly about being bullied, trying to fit into the Black community, violence and abuse and seeking help. “It took a lot of courage to look for support,” he writes. “The Black community and past generations were not big on seeking professional help. The message always seemed to be to pray your mental illness away and blame the devil for everything.” Becoming a father, he concludes, helped save his life after years of struggling with depression, anxiety, body dysmorphia (dissatisfaction) and PTSD.

Now the lighter, non-seasonal side of this week’s Featured Five: As reported by the Riverfront Times, St. Louis resident Colin O’Brien recently launched a dating website; the site features only one eligible bachelor: O’Brien himself. So far the site, DateColinOBrien.com, has been “a smashing success,” reports Jaime Lees. “Last week he [O’Brien] was just a St. Louis resident with a deep love for Weird Al,” Lees writes, “but this week he’s an internet sensation … with a deep love for Weird Al.” O’Brien’s site was featured on TikTok, where it has received more than a quarter million views, and he has had women from all over the world contacting him for a date. 

Looks like someone’s going to have a busy fall!

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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