The Oak Island Money Pit – legend, hoax, or reality?

I recently wrote about the legend of the Oak Island Money Pit for Popular Mechanics (in the May/June issue) and the lore that has sustained the search for treasure for more than 200 years. (The complete article can be found here if you are having paywall issues.)

I didn’t intend to write a debunking article (and have no beef with the popular TV series) and I was not surprised to find out that the Money Pit is a pretty sensitive topic among believers. I’ve definitely had some spirited encounters with people from various Oak Island camps but have personally come to the conclusion that misinterpreted history and the area’s sinkhole-heavy geology means that there is almost certainly no buried treasure 😔.

This isn’t to say there isn’t a ton of interesting history on the island (and numerous historians have written some really compelling accounts of who has inhabited the island and why), and maybe some day we’ll see an announcement that billions in gold, proof Bacon was Shakespeare, or the Holy Grail has been pulled from the depths?

I was also invited to be on the Diggin’ Oak Island podcast to discuss this article and the broader Oak Island lore and treasure hunt. Admittedly I was expecting to be taken to task on the podcast but was somewhat relieved to have a much more low-key (though no less entertaining/educational) discussion on the topic.

The Mexican Mountain Town Feeding the International Crystal Market

Many people in Piedra Parada mine amethysts for sale to visitors and dealers.
In Piedra Parada, amethysts are everywhere.

My latest for Atlas Obscura explores the crystal trade going on in Piedra Parada, a tiny mountain town in Veracruz, Mexico. The local men have been mining amethyst from the surrounding mountains, a beautiful gem that is known around the world for its purple hues. The men face dangerous conditions and the occasional rip-off from unscrupulous international brokers but are proud of the economy they’ve created to help their family and communities. I was fortunate enough to visit this town and its mines a few times and learn about this process and the history of the region, as well as the various metaphysical uses of Veracruz amethyst.

Three articles for New Noise Magazine

Long time no update!

One of my longtime loves is extremely noisy and fast death metal and grindcore, and I semi-recently had the opportunity to write about some obscure but really interesting aspects of the extreme punk and metal underground for New Noise Magazine, as well as an article about an incredibly weird but deeply talented 80s new-wave group.

“An Homage to Dbeats in Goregrind: A History of what is Easily the Sickest Musick Imaginable” – An overview of why using a distinct punk beat in grindcore elevates the style to new heights of fun and brutality

“’I hope you enjoy my noise life’ – The Fast Times of James F. Tarr, international gorenoise, and Elephant Man Behind the Sun” – an account of the life of a troubled Canadian musician (RIP) and his deranged musical output

“Dog Police Unleashed: Revisiting an Obscure but Catchy New Wave Classic” – what happens when three jazz musicians start a novelty band called Dog Police? An insane music video and eventually a hilariously awful TV pilot starring a young Adam Sandler!