Spending summer afternoons in a hammock at Texas Beach was definitely something I loved this year.

“When people say, ‘We have made it through worse before,’ all I hear is the wind slapping against the gravestones of those who did not make it,” — Clint Smith

I can’t help but think of the faultless people who can’t stand in solidarity, who didn’t make it, whose families are still wondering what the hell happened.

As…


Treasure Island skatepark; Richmond, VA

There might not be a single piece of media that’s had more of an impact on me than Chris Cole’s part in Zero’s 2005 video, New Blood.

When it came out, I was 14 and skateboarding was how I got around, how I made friends, and what I wanted to spend every waking moment doing. For a while, I aspired to get sponsored and go pro. I didn’t come particularly close, nor did I even know what all pro skateboarding entailed but damnit, I wanted it.

Chasing that dream, if nothing else, proved a good excuse to hurl myself down…


The European Cup

In 2005, Liverpool F.C. and A.C. Milan played in the Champions League Final.

The CL has a legitimate argument as being the most difficult trophy to win in all of sport: soccer is the most popular sport on the planet, the world’s best play in Europe, and the CL whittles down the best teams from the best leagues in Europe.

Milan, led by human bottle rocket Kaká and quintessential captain Paolo Maldini, were the heavy favorites. Also on that team was quad god Clarence Seedorf. …


The Illinois heartland, 2014.

Most people who enter the township limits of Odell, Illinois are drivers on Interstate 55. They’ll see the signs for it (population: 1,046), drive through, then forget about it.

Maybe they’ll stop off to go to the bathroom and grab a pop, to use the Midwest’s parlance, but I’d wager that most passersby stop in Pontiac, Illinois, the Livingston County seat about a dozen miles southwest.

The term “food desert” gets thrown around to describe urban neighborhoods without easy access to supermarkets, but when I was on a bike tour riding through there, I thought of the countryside as a…


When I was on summer break as a kid, I would wake up, bound down the stairs and pour myself a heaping bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats and read Calvin & Hobbes anthologies.

I’d pour second and third bowls of cereal as I’d flip through Something Under The Bed Is Drooling or Weirdos From Another Planet!, laughing about the failed antics of Stupendous Man and choking back tears at the damn baby raccoon strips.

Calvin felt like a contemporary to me. We were vaguely the same age and had the same penchant for mischief, as most young kids do…


2019 was a good year for me, and I got to hit publish on some stuff I’m proud of. I’ve previously excluded stories I wrote at work but I’m changing that this year because 1) I feel like I worked on some stories that were both good reporting AND good writing, and 2) well uh I gotta pad this word count.

Here’s 2016, 2017 and 2018’s posts (and for the record, I still love Melodrama, Svein Tuft, and The Anthropocene Reviewed as much as ever). Here’s 2019’s highlights:

The rabbit hole of the Pony Express’ history was much deeper than…


[Credit: The Library of Congress]

On January 24, 1848, a carpenter named James W. Marshall looked down and saw gold flakes in a stream of water on land owned by John Sutter in Caloma, California.

It could be argued that Marshall set off a butterfly effect that led to California becoming the largest economic giant in the U.S., one so large that if California were an independent nation, it would have the fifth-biggest economy on the planet. All because a carpenter looked down at some water at a particular moment 171 years ago.

As word of Marshall’s discovery spread, California’s population skyrocketed overnight, and the…


(I’ve long known that the biggest reason I don’t free-write more frequently is because I can’t think of what to write about.

So in an effort to change that, I am going to begin taking closer looks at things that have had an impact on me, things I enjoy, or anything that I find interesting and feel compelled to talk about.

This idea is being pretty much stolen from John Green’s brilliant podcast The Anthropocene Reviewed, in which he reviews different facets of the human-centered planet on a five-star scale.

Also, and this may be greatly overestimating my readership, but…


It’s grey in Richmond. It’s been raining, cold, overcast, or all of the above for so long now that it’s hard to imagine that this exact landscape will regularly be sunny, warm and welcoming in just a few months’ time.

I flip through my Moleskine journal and laugh at the stuff I’ve jotted down in the last 12 months. It’s impossible to commit everything that happens in a year to memory, but keeping a journal helps me recall more than I would otherwise. For better or for worse.

I don’t know what I’ll do for dinner. I have stew in…


Lately, I try to set some time aside on Sunday afternoons to go to one of my favorite local coffeeshops to read and write in my journal. I like getting some personal time in to wrap up the weekend.

The other day I was at Lamplighter reading, sitting facing a glass door. There were a handful of other folks in there, clattering away on their laptops and sipping mugs of coffee.

A guy who’d been there sitting next to me stood up, stepped out the glass door and tapped a girl on the shoulder. …

Mike Platania

Writer, cyclist, often at the same time.

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