Blog + Bio
June 4th, 2013 1 Comment

Of Meat and Art

There’s a fair amount of fine art around meat and slaughter. Most famous might be the paintings of Francis Bacon – several friends guessed that the image Harper’s magazine used to illustrate my cover story was by him. (In fact, those hanging sides of beef are the work of Russian-born Alex Kanevsky.) I’ve never forgotten a scene in James Salter’s A Sport and a Pastime where the characters, out drinking at night, happen upon an open-air abattoir in les Halles: “It’s like coming upon a factory in the darkness. The overhead lights are blazing. The smell of carnage is everywhere, the very metal reeks with an odor denser than flowers.” Lately I’ve been reading The Cow, a collection of violent, visceral poetry by Ariana Reines; among the texts incorporated into her verse are passages from The Merck Veterinary Manual.

aerial consomme

Last month Tak Cheung, an artist in NYU’s edgy Interactive Telecommunications Program, emailed to if I’d be willing to help out with his thesis project. My job would be to eat a special meal he would serve me, in a Brooklyn warehouse, while being videotaped. At first I didn’t respond — it was an odd-sounding request, I didn’t know him, and I was busy, as usual. But he persisted: he had read my article, and (though he declined to say why) I was his perfect diner. I called him. We talked. There would be two diners served, at successive sittings. Australian art curator Amanda McDonald Crowley would go first. The food, prepared by two young Brooklyn chefs, would be delicious, he promised. But he wouldn’t tell me what it would be. He also intimated that how the food would be served was significant–but again, part of the project was that I couldn’t know details in advance.


I said okay. I will ruin just enough of the surprise to tell you that dessert was chicken ice cream, served inside a “sculpted chicken head made of white chocolate.” Several ingenious creations preceded that, and the whole event (which you can watch below) is a thoughtful commentary on poultry production.

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April 13th, 2013 3 Comments

“The Way of All Flesh”

A couple of years ago, I applied for a job as a USDA meat inspector. Most inspectors work inside slaughterhouses; I thought it would be a good way to take a closer look at that world. Last fall I finally got hired. read more

March 19th, 2013 2 Comments

Meeting a moose

I was skiing at Winter Park, Colorado, yesterday—a place I have skied for more than 40 years without seeing a moose—when I saw a moose. It was in the middle of the road in front of me and so, along with others including my father, I stopped. It was a bull moose, read more

January 21st, 2013 Comment

Everything E

This month my books Coyotes and Whiteout came out in eBook editions, which means that now all of my books are available in digital editions. With snazzy new cover designs. Everywhere eBooks are sold, such as the Kindle Store, the Nook Store, and Apple’s iBooks. read more

January 1st, 2013 Comment

Every Blasted Hour

For the New Year, my wife gave me a new daypack. It was time.

The old one, by North Face, served me during the research for The Routes of Man and beyond – more than ten years. It traveled thousands of miles on planes and boats, in cars and coaches, and many trips as well on the New York City subway. read more

November 10th, 2012 1 Comment

Rolling Nowhere goes ebook

Rolling Nowhere, my account of riding the rails as a young man, was recently released as an ebook. It’s pretty cheap to download it to your screen-thingy from the Kindle Store, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBookstores in 32 countries, Sony, Kobo, WH Smith in the UK and FNAC, the Diesel eBook Store, Baker & Taylor (Blio and the Axis360 library service), and
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June 29th, 2012 2 Comments

A Snitch’s Dilemma

This weekend the New York Times Magazine publishes my story about Alex White, a police informant in Atlanta who helped bring his handlers to justice after they tried to use him to cover up their accidental killing of a 92-year-old widow.

I became interested in informants a couple of years ago after one in the employ of the FBI led four black Muslim men from Newburgh, New York (the “Newburgh Four”) to synagogues on my street in Riverdale, where they dropped off what they thought were bombs. read more

May 22nd, 2012 5 Comments


Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing is still considered contraband in New York state prisons — at least until the seven pages deemed a threat to security back in 2000 have been torn out. But though my book can’t come in whole, it appears that, as of last week, I can. read more