Selected Works

Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus Director Doreen Rao's Termination

In Buffalo Spree on 01 Feb 2012

When Robert Kiersz, a thirty-year member of the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus, is asked about former Music Director Doreen Rao, he doesn’t hesitate to express his admiration. “Doreen is extraordinary,” he says. “The talent she brings, the knowledge, the background, and just her personality––she’s so giving, such an excellent teacher.” It’s high praise for the woman who was terminated from her post as music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus on January 18—without, the chorus says, any explanation from the board of directors. Read the full article.

All the World's a Stage

In Buffalo Spree on 01 Nov 2012

When I used to tell people I wanted to be a writer, the immediate response from older writers was invariably, “Lots of people think they want to be writers. If you could be happy doing anything else—anything at all—do that instead.” If, instead of just waving off harsh words, wannabes could spend a day, week, or month in the trenches—reading rejection after cold rejection, organizing millions of receipts to amass tax write-offs, searching endlessly for affordable health insurance—the profession wouldn’t seem quite so glamorous. And if being a wordsmith isn’t for the faint of heart, being a chef is only for the toughest of the tough: constant pressure, excruciating hours in a hot kitchen, and a work schedule that precludes any sort of normal social life, all to feed strangers who may or may not understand what you’re trying to do. Read the full article.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry vs. Single Moms

In The Progressive on 01 Jul 2013

On Thursday Texas Governor Rick Perry expressed his determination to pass Senate Bill 5, the Texas bill that would effectively shut down all but a handful of abortion clinics in the state––and he has advice for Senator Wendy Davis, who bravely filibustered the bill on Tuesday.

Telling the National Right to Life convention that “it’s important to remember while we are under an obligation to protect the health and safety of people who live here, we are under no obligation to make things easier for the abortionist,” Perry demonstrated his concern for women’s health and safety by admonishing Davis, who was raised by a single mother and put herself through Harvard Law despite having had a child at 19.

Read the full article.

Buffaloed by Buffalo: Why I Moved to Madison

In The Progressive on 01 Oct 2013

“You’ll be back,” joked my friend, the president of a local nanobrewery, tipping back his glass. “Five to ten years, when you’ve got kids and you want to settle down.” He’s the sixth person to utter those words since I broke the news that I’d be leaving my hometown of Buffalo, New York, to move to Madison, Wisconsin. He also knows full well that “settling down” is the last thing on my agenda––and the funny thing is, I don’t think it’s on his, either. He owns one of the city’s truly exciting startups, and he leads a team that’s putting Buffalo on the national map in craft beer. But that doesn’t matter right now. Buffalonians are a little too accustomed to saying good-bye, and I’ve just been refiled under “deserter.” Read the full article.

Hip-Hop Heroes

In Isthmus on 13 Mar 2014

“Feel Good Music,” a song by Tefman, blares from a laptop. “I had a vision/I would never be the same/So I stand up tall/And initiate the change,” raps the local artist.

A UW student opens a lecture on hip-hop education with a spontaneous freestyle.

An organization honors the memory of a deceased hip-hop artist by helping young people learn to express themselves through spoken word.

The organizers of the Madison Hip-Hop Awards prepare to honor the scene for the fifth year in a row.

You don’t have to look far to find hip-hop thriving in Madison. So why is it so hard to find local artists on the radio, in concert venues and in positive publicity for the city?

Read the full article.

Grading Wine

In Skepchick on 01 Jun 2015

If you purchase wine regularly, you’ve probably come across “shelf talkers,” the laminated tags displayed with wine that often include a review from a prominent magazine or critic such as Wine Spectator magazine or Robert Parker. The review typically contains a few sentences describing and appraising the wine, followed by a drinking window (“Drink now” vs. “Drink 2017 through 2020,” etc.) and a score from 1 to 100.

I’ve had many customers ask me for a “90 point wine,” refuse to purchase a wine under a certain score, and ask me why I’m recommending “an 85 point wine” when there’s a “90 point wine” right next to it on the shelf. This concerns me because while the 100-point system can certainly be a useful tool, it’s neither objective nor necessarily consistent. There are several things to know about how wine is scored before you make a purchasing decision based on a point value.

Read the full article.

Hillary Clinton is Not My Feminist Hero

In Skepchick on 03 Feb 2016

An article has been making the rounds that shares a self-described “all-caps explosion of feelings” about the how the left has failed to support Hillary Clinton’s run for president. Amid important points about how Clinton criticism can often be sexist and Clinton’s gender makes her presidential campaign all the more challenging, there’s a troubling refrain: We all make mistakes. Give Hillary Clinton a break. She’s the first woman doing what she’s doing and feminists should recognize that.

Setting aside the bizarre assumption that the author’s readers are cis, white, able-bodied, and in all ways personally unaffected by Clinton’s “now-unacceptable” policies, there’s a deeper theme here. It’s not a new idea, either. It’s the foundation of white feminism. The advancement of women—always women already in power, women with privilege—is more important than any other struggle, so pipe down with your other causes and support women even as they step on the shoulders of more vulnerable groups to get where they’re going.

Read the full article.

Wine Flaws: Send it Back or Suck it Up?

In Skepchick on 15 Mar 2016

One of the most intimidating aspects of wine can be the prospect of sending back flawed wine in a restaurant. It’s an understandable anxiety inducer: You’re in a fancy public place, you have to know what you’re talking about enough to instigate an awkward situation, and some wine flaws can be tricky even for professionals to identify. But don’t fret! There are only a few wine problems you’re likely to encounter in a restaurant, and they can be easily identified once you know what to look for. Read the full article.

Some Experience Required: Getting a foot in the door in the wine business

In Pouring Points on 02 Aug 2017

Listen to enough interviews with wine professionals and you’ll hear a familiar refrain as they tell their origin stories:

“Well, someone took a chance on me…”

“I was in the right place at the right time…”

“I was grossly underqualified, but for some reason…”

If we’re hearing these stories it’s because the people in question succeeded eventually and chose to make wine their life’s work—if things hadn’t worked out, they wouldn’t be interview subjects—but it can often seem like the wine industry is just full of lucky people. And that’s partly true: wine is a luxury industry, after all, and many wine professionals come from backgrounds where it was relatively easy to seize networking opportunities or take a low-paying job for the sake of experience. But if you’re in the early stages of considering a wine career, such anecdotes can be a little discouraging: What if you don’t have a trust fund to keep you afloat while you work for free, or parents with a restaurant business that allows you to network on the job?

Read the full article.

I have been writing for publication since 2002. My work has since been featured in The Progressive; Isthmus, the alternative weekly newspaper of Madison, WI; Buffalo Spree (Western New York's regional magazine); Skepchick.org; The American Rationalist; and Great Lakes Brewing News. Here are samples of the types of projects I enjoy.