A Few Favorite Things
(by Bryant Urstadt)
The Wells Fargo Hustle. NPR's Planet Money. It was a pleasure to work as editor with Chris Arnold and Robert Smith to make this episode about what happened to the workers at Wells Fargo when they were asked to open accounts without telling their customers. We won a Peabody for it.
Imagine There's No Oil, Harper's Magazine. I wrote this cover story for editor Bill Wasik at Harper's Magazine when I, along with the rest of the world, was freaking out about the price of oil. It's a look at energy, told through the experience of a group who believed we were on the edge of total collapse. I like this piece because it feels more true as time passes. I wish I could write more stuff that didn't expire in about a week.
What Is Code? by Paul Ford, Bloomberg Businessweek.
I was lucky to work with Josh Tyrangiel, Jim Aley, and the rest of Businessweek editing Paul Ford's code issue, which was a lovely piece of writing. It not only took over a magazine--which I can't find copies of anymore, and I work here--but it lived in one of the strangest and most inviting websites I've ever seen, and I was proud to be part of that, too. We won a National Magazine Award for it.
The Blow-Up, Technology Review.
I'm still not quite sure this happened, but somehow I started writing about the financial "wizards" who built the subprime boom before they were really understood. I think I was trying to sell a story about finance to Technology Review, and I was like, "Hey! They do math! You should hire me to write about them." But Technology Review's Jason Pontin had the foresight to put it on the cover, and the piece took off. It was the only cover I've ever done where they printed out the opening lines, which I've always thought was the coolest thing you could do.
A Sell-Out's Tale, The Baffler
This one makes me feel old--it is from the decade of the nnniiieerrr, I can't say it--but I'm still putting it on the list, because everything about writing it was so fresh and fun. It's about the lengths to which auto companies go to woo journalists. And I also liked writing for The Baffler. I wish small literary magazines were still a big deal. Also, the actual title, Dipping Extremely Low in the Lap of Corporate Luxury, is a ZZ Top reference. Nobody ever noticed, and now it can be told.
The F.D.R. Drive Guy, The New Yorker
My cup of coffee. Otis Houston, the subject, still shows up in his spot from time to time.