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Meet some of the people behind the May/June 2013 issue of Pacific Standard.


“I have yet to hear Brad Paisley’s ‘Waiting on a Woman’ without bursting into tears,” says Dorothy Fortenberry, who has an abiding passion for country music. At its best, she says, it acknowledges parts of life that “other genres cautiously avoid ... like aging, death, and laundry.” In “It Gets Better Y’all,” the Los Angeles-based playwright and screenwriter examines the rise of the maverick country star who evangelizes optimism, multiculturalism, and progressive politics. Fortenberry is a member of the Warner Brothers Television Writers’ Workshop and is working on a play for Yale Repertory Theatre.

“The Internet has its limits and is full of misinformation.”

St. Louis-based installation artist and photographer Carrie M. Becker’s work has been featured in Time, Scientific American, Bust, and has been exhibited at galleries in Kansas, Illinois, and Shanghai. In her dioramic photographs for “Why Do You Hoard,” she re-created miniature scenes from the story—to-scale and with fastidious detail: tapping on a Dustbuster filter “to create the wealth of dust on the surfaces and floor” and spraying “a fine mist of coffee and dry paint pigment over the places where grime would tend to accumulate.”

Paul Theroux (“The Road Map was Fiction”) has seen his share of roadblocks, but perhaps none more confounding than those in cyberspace. Preparing for a trip through Angola for his latest book, the prolific author and traveler, and fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, ventured online and found “no up-to-date information relating to travel, road conditions, transport.” He went anyway. “The Internet has its limits and is full of misinformation,” he says. Theroux’s latest book is The Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari.

Trade analyst Jock O’Connell is a former staff adviser to the California Commission for Economic Development. Referring to his essay on, “The Trade Mirage,” he says, “One point often lost in the political rhetoric about boosting our merchandise export trade to provide more well-paying jobs for blue-collar workers is that manufacturing jobs are not always factory jobs. Apple, for example, is classified as a manufacturer. Yet pretty much its entire U.S. workforce is engaged in either research and development or marketing and sales.”

While researching her story at Lincoln High School in Washington State (“Do We Know What it Takes for Traumatized Kids to Thrive?”), Laura Tillman noticed a staff member taking a girl to an orthodontist appointment. When the girl returned without braces, “she was smiling and running her tongue over her smooth, straight teeth,” says Tillman. It turns out the student was homeless. “It was just one more example of the ways the staff at Lincoln have stepped into unexpected roles of support.” Tillman also writes for The Nation and The Wall Street Journal.