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Meet some of the people behind the July/August 2013 issue of Pacific Standard.


When Brian Calvert first stumbled into Dr. Dave Warner’s guesthouse in Jalalabad, he said, “I had been thinking how poorly informed the Afghans are, despite a slew of new media that they’ve been exposed to since the onset of the international intervention.” Eventually, he added, “I came to see what Warner and his Synergy Strike Force were doing as an alternative kind of fighting: with information. But also with ideas that were probably too late to salvage the U.S. effort. I thought it was a story that deserved to be told, especially as the American presence dwindles with no great victory to claim.” He tells his story in “Last Days of the Synergy Strike Force.” Calvert has trained Afghan journalists in radio production for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, and was recently awarded a Ted Scripps Fellowship in Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Amanda Hess discovered that “the Asylum isn’t making movies to satisfy people, it’s making them to satisfy platforms—sometimes several at one time.”

On an assignment for Miller-McCune magazine (our previous iteration), Mark Obbie examined the psychology at work when, as a therapeutic tactic, victims of violent crime meet the inmates who harmed them or a loved one. “Though I didn’t run across the term post-traumatic growth at that time,” he says, “it dawned on me during my reporting for this issue’s story ("The Upside of Trauma") that that’s exactly what it is—a victim of a traumatic experience voluntarily moving toward the pain in order to heal and grow.” Obbie is the author of God’s Nobodies: Misguided Faith and Murder in the Life of One American Family. He lives in New York.

Writer Tim Heffernan’s trip from his home in New York to Utah’s Bingham Canyon Mine, for our story “The New Bronze Age,” was something of a homecoming. “My great-grandparents settled in Salt Lake City in the early 1900s,” he says, “and my grandmother was born and raised there. She recalls visiting the mine as a girl; even then, it was a big operation. Today, it’s almost too big for words.”

In reporting her story “Escaped from the Asylum!,” about the schlock-film studio behind movies like Sharknado, Los Angeles–based writer Amanda Hess kept wondering: Who actually watches this stuff? She discovered that “the Asylum isn’t making movies to satisfy people, it’s making them to satisfy platforms—sometimes several at one time.” A Japanese DVD distributor wants a cheapo submarine flick, while Blockbuster needs a creature feature? No problem! Just have a submarine crew meet a monster, like in the Asylum film 30,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Everybody wins. Except maybe the monster.