Aftermath_ChrisGoldberg

Emergency Pot Cookie (Or, the Nascence and Destruction of my First Real Writing Job)

If you are ever nineteen and living in San Francisco for the first time, working at your first writing job, getting paid, getting laid, carousing 24/7 with your utterly lovable just-coming-out-of-the-closet gay bestie, bathing in a seemingly endless shower of free weed, passing effortlessly into the VIP lounges of the city’s newest clubs, eating Chinese food that pitches ... [Continue Reading]

4328760454_d31b8185b2_z

“Lenin Was Half-Jewish and So Can You”

My grandfather, Israel, always claimed it was my doing. I was nineteen and I was getting restless. My studies at the Moscow Oil and Gas Institute were entering their third year. Thermodynamics was replacing Math, and Pipeline Design was replacing the History of the Communist Party. If it didn’t dawn on me before that I was on my way to becoming an engineer, it was ... [Continue Reading]

Photo by keightdee

A Return to Limantour

The sublet in Berkeley was our last resort. My father and I had been kicked out of the bottom floor of a house in Sausalito for breaking the unstable leaseholder’s plate, and we had traipsed the cold streets of San Francisco for days, looking for an affordable place. That futile mission had ultimately landed us here, just off of Telegraph Avenue, at the threshold of an ... [Continue Reading]

Photo by Luca Setti

A Story About Hanoi

This is a story about moving to Hanoi. This is not a story about moving to Hanoi as an American. This is not a story about eating phở cuốnby the lake where John McCain was shot down. This is not about learning to call the Vietnam War the American War. This is a story about moving to Hanoi, but this is not a story about moving to the capital of a communist country. ... [Continue Reading]

Photo © Itzel Aguilera.

Documentary: If Images Could Fill Our Empty Spaces

Alice Driver, one of Vela's staff writers, recently completed her first documentary, If Images Could Fill Our Empty Spaces. The film explores the complicated relationship between violence and photography in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Watch it below, and then read an interview with Alice about making the film. Inhabiting the Lives of Others: An Interview with Alice ... [Continue Reading]

Photo: Dr. DeNo

Walk It Down

I caught my first salmon off the seawall in Kotzebue, Alaska in the very early morning of August fourth. I used a snagging hook: a three-pronged weighted beast of tackle that bent my rod backward when I cast. I worried about those standing by and what a rogue hook this size could do, how it might catch something on land instead of in sea. Snagging is illegal in most ... [Continue Reading]

Photo: Gwen Harlow

The Tweakers or the Ghosts

You know you’re close when the fog thins out, when the dull pink behind cuts through, when the hills along the highway become vacant and brown. Staples, Starbucks, Target, In-N-Out; casinos and check cashing. The spires of the oil refinery silhouetted and pumping exhaust that smudges across the sky. The last exit before the Carquinez Bridge, before the end of the East ... [Continue Reading]

man-o-war photo

An Unwanted Guest

I didn’t see the jellyfish, but I felt it—a searing pain at my ankle that shot up through my leg, bringing me, in a matter of seconds, to my knees in the sand. I looked down and saw its limp, blue body floating away from me down the rivulet I’d stumbled into when the sand along its border collapsed under my step. The creature had gripped me with its tentacles for ... [Continue Reading]

4742136225_7430b6970d_z

The Trip Inside

Warm summer night, window open, leaves cutting the streetlight into pieces that flickered across the bedroom floor. We lay on top of the sheets, him on his side, me under his arm. I said I couldn’t sleep. “Let me show you a trick.” He pulled his arm out from under me and rolled onto his back. “I used to do this when I was little,” he said. “You put ... [Continue Reading]

toucan_vela2_bright_bigger

Yo Soy Perú

The toucan lifts its lobster-claw bill into the sky over and over, releasing its whooping, loonish phrase like a persistent question. It wears a penguin’s tuxedo plumage, yet with flair—a yellow band at the base of the bill, bright blue just around the eye, a flash of red beneath the black tail feathers. It sits alone and throws its two-note song into the sky. For over ... [Continue Reading]