Sunday, April 24, 2016

Post your expanded #Columbine selfie

Help spread the word on the expanded new Columbine edition. Take a selfie with it and tag me and #Columbine and post it to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, wherever. Thanks.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Prince: How he changed my work

First tingling my ears: freshman dorm, 1979, exchanging music with my black neighbor. We quickly respected each others' tastes, but didn't always understand it, so we swapping favorite cuts, and providing context. I shared Elvis Costello and The Clash. He was enthralled by Prince, played a few cuts off his 2nd album, "Prince." Jangley and unmelodic to my ears, lyrics way too on the nose. I called that one a miss on his part. Hahaha.

Why I recall that so vividly, though, is that my friend didn't give up on me, and I came around pretty quickly: and shuddered at the myopia of my ears--and the artistic center of my brain. It so alien to my ears I had no place for it--and I had not seen that as a good thing!

I've gone back to that moment a million times, when I wince at something and others rave. Maybe I just haven't found the way in yet.


Sillier memory was convincing Jean, the lovably uptight editor of our college paper The Daily Illini to dance with me to a boppy song at a party, and then

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Columbine anniversary

Yesterday was the seventeenth Columbine anniversary, and I tried something new this year. I've been rattled by way too much Columbine in my soul writing the new material and dealing with Sue's book. So . . .

This year, I took a few minutes to think about all the survivors I've come to know and love, send out warm thoughts . . . and then adopted the tactic of most survivors I know: try not to think about it anymore today. Focus on the future, stay immersed in my next book, and not let those two kids get any more of me.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Back to West Point

I had such a great time at West Point last spring, I'm headed back this weekend. I'm also looking forward to gathering more material for my gay soldiers book.

Saturday is the 5th annual gay-straight alliance dinner, where the guest speaker is acting Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning, the first known gay leader of any military branch. (He's only "acting" because a Kansas senator is holding up his confirmation.)

I was so surprised that they had so many out gay cadets last year, that I wrote this piece about it for Vanity Fair: What’s It Like to Be a Gay Cadet at West Point These Days?

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Expanded new edition of COLUMBINE

Purchase the new edition
The tragedies keep coming. As we reel from the latest horror . . .

That's how I began the epilogue to this expanded new edition of Columbine.

After 17 years covering Columbine, I stepped back to consider how it created a new template for nearly two decades of “spectacle murders.” But it is a false script, seized upon by a generation of new killers. (See below.) In the wake of Newtown, Aurora and Virginia Tech, the imperative to understand the crime that sparked this plague grows more urgent every year.

So we are publishing this expanded edition, with over 30 pages of new material (50 since the hardcover.) It features a wealth of additional scans of the killers' writing and drawings, and an excerpt from the Columbine Teacher's Guide, which I'm offering free to teachers. All ebook formats include the new material (Kindle, Nook, etc.).

As of March 27, 2016, The new edition is shipping from Amazon, and has reached most physical stores. All ebook formats come with the new version. (At physical stores, look for the modified cover pictured here, with the dog-eared top corner. If your bookstore has the old one, ask them to order another copy, and they'll receive the new one.)

Please post a selfie with it and tag me if you get a new copy. Thanks. 

Saturday, March 12, 2016

My Sue Klebold piece in Vanity Fair

Sorry, I was negligent in posting a link to this. It's been a few week though, and the impact has been settling in. I actually had to pull back from everything Columbine-related after this, because it sent me over the brink into depression again, so I pulled back.

I've not been allowed to read the book yet, except for a short bit, but I was impressed so far. I hope you like the Vanity Fair piece: Columbine Mother Sue Klebold’s First TV Interview Was a Startling Look at the Parent of a Mass Shooter.

And here is info on the new expanded version of my book Columbine

Monday, January 25, 2016

Instagram pix

I've gotten active on Instagram lately. My handle is davecullenwriter.

Lots of recent pix of the snowstorm this weekend with Bobby Sneakers.

And I just started adding older pix from my West Point trip last spring. More soon from Guantanamo Bay. (Both were fantastic trips for my upcoming book on two gay soldiers. And if you want to be notified when it comes out, click here.)  

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Shocker: NY Post treats the victims right--Good job!

NYC papers. Wow, three vastly different ways of depicting the UCC shooting at  Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.

I was thrilled to see they all gave survivors top billing over the killer, by far, even the tabloids.

But one had no sensitivity to victims (in addition to clueless word about what "psycho" means. I can't believe I'm hearing myself say this about a NY Post cover, but it was stellar. Amazing job, NY Post. Thank you.

Here they are:




UCC shooting stories quoting me: Esquire, BBC, Oregonian, etc

I worked with several print journalists Friday, who quoted me in their stories about the tragic UCC shooting in Oregon:

The Oregonian: Oregon school shooting: 3 things Roseburg community (and media) can learn from Columbine

BBC: Oregon shooting: The mass killing 'contagion effect'

NPR: #MemeOfTheWeek: That Article From The Onion About Mass Shootings.

Washington Post: School shooters targeting Christians is not a new claim. (I've delinked this one, because it kind of reinforces several myths. And the long quote from me which sounds like it's about Columbine is actually referring to UCC.)

And in Esquire, Charles Pierce cited my CNN appearance Thursday, and had really nice things to say about what I've been saying and writing in his very smart piece: Republicans Are Using Fear and Guns to Keep Us 'Safe.' It's Killing Us.

I think there should be a really good one coming from NPR, but I don't see it yet. I'll try to add it, but I'm on a flight to Chicago for my sister's baby shower. (SO happy to get out of here, and leave murders behind for a bit.) (Update: added it. And it's really interesting.)

Choice bit from The Oregonian piece: "The best way to support people who experienced the attack is to give them space and time."

And here's my New Republic piece from Thursday night:  A Skeptic's Guide to Media Coverage of Mass Shootings. (Cheat sheet to the right.)

And the wonderful "Haunted by Columbine" video was released this week by RetroReport and New York Times. (I appear throughout.)

You can find links to all my recent (and archive) magazine/web piece here.

I don't know if the TV shows I did will post the segments. I will try to get them, but you can try searching. I did AC360 Thursday and Friday, CBC's nightly news show Friday, and a breaking news segment on MSNBC Thursday.

And very soon, I hope (and pray) to be back off the murder beat again for awhile. This tragedy has worn on me quickly. Note this picture from Anderson Cooper 360 this (Friday) evening. One of these people is not doing well. I knew I felt that way inside. I had no idea I'd been wearing it on my face like that. Time to step back.

Friday, October 2, 2015

A Skeptic's Guide to Media Coverage of Mass Shootings

Late tonight, I posted a new piece on New Republic: A Skeptic's Guide to Media Coverage of Mass Shootings. Here's how it happened.

Tweets can be useful, now and then. I got a wonderful one yesterday afternoon, with this graphic to the right.

It was created by Alex Goldman in 2013, for NPR’s On the Media: “Breaking News Consumer’s Handbook.”

It was so wonderful, and so timely again on this awful day when a gunman killed at least 9 other people on at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.

I tweeted the mini "handbook" back and started jotting down additional ideas. Unfortunately, it was a dreaded murder day, so I began shuttling between MSNBC and CNN. (I'll post links if they put the clips on the web.) In between, I kept adding ideas, and then working with my wonderful New Republic editor, Ryan Kearney. We shuttled ideas and edits back by cellphone from the makeup chair, and the green room, and I made the director very nervous typing a message through the last ten seconds of the commercial break before my spot on AC360.

There was lots of tweaking to get all the latest facts right, because ironically, as I was writing about facts being misreported, the "facts" we were citing in the piece kept changing (eg, 13 deaths down to 10, and still inconsistent reporting on whether that included the gunmen). Around 11 p.m., we posted it: A Skeptic's Guide to Media Coverage of Mass Shootings

And this new 12-minute video 'Haunted by Columbine' by New York Times and RetroReport could not be more relevant. It documents how most of the crucial facts about Columbine were misreported 16 year ago, and still with us today.

This is sadly relevant, too, especially given the sheriff's statement. My 2013 Buzzfeed piece: "Let’s Stop Naming Mass Shooters In Our Reporting."

Update: We added our own graphic that you can cut/paste/post:

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Lucia Berlin is finalist for Kirkus Book Prize

Was just hashing out my speech for the big Lucia Berlin book event tonight, cracking open another box of Kleenex, when word broke . . .

Lucia Berlin' A Manual for Cleaning Women is a finalist for the Kirkus Book Prize! 

If you're not familiar with the award, it's because it just debuted last year, but with a prestigious backer and a huge payout, it's suddenly one of the most prized. The New York Times story announcing the finalists began this way:
The literary journal Kirkus Reviews has announced the finalists for its 2015 book prizes. The annual honors, handed out for the first time last year, each come with a $50,000 award, making them among the most lucrative in the literary world.
And look which book the Times chose to picture with the announcement. Nice!

I mentioned in my Vanity Fair piece on my life with Lucia that she died destitute, and sold more books in the first few weeks than she had in her entire life. (I was being careful. She probably sold more in one week than her entire life.)

It has always been a fantasy of mine that she would finally reach a wide audience, and also receive the acclaim she's due. First she hit the New York Times bestseller list, and now awards season begins. I'm giddy.

She won't get to see it, but her sons will. They are. It's having a wonderful effect on them.

I needed all those Kleenex this morning, as I expanded on the anecdote I used to end the Vanity Fair piece: the story about how she told me she loved me. There's a longer version of that, involving the death of Timothy Leary. So I looked that up as I worked on the speech this morning--had I had the realization of how profoundly Lucia's "I love you" had changed me after she died, or in the last years, while she was still alive?

I was shocked. Leary died in 1996. I'd only knew Lucia two years! And I already knew she was the one genius I would ever know intimately, and that that was the greatest gift she would ever give me.

If you're in NYC, come to the event tonight, at McNally Jackson Books at 7pm. Details here.

I just went to their site, and look what's splayed across the top of it, 1200 pixels wide (at left). Nice.

And I just booked a plane ticket to Colorado around midnight. So I'll be speaking at the Boulder Bookstore event Oct. 13, at 7:30pm. Details here. (I'm not listed yet, since I've not even confirmed to them that I'm coming, but they asked, and now I'm answering.)

Monday, September 28, 2015

'Haunted by Columbine'—powerful NYT video I worked on for a year

New York Times just posted the 12-minute RetroReport video 'Haunted by Columbine'.

RetroReport is an award-wining nonprofit news org that revisits events from the past to set the record straight. I've been watching their work for quite awhile, and been really impressed. Their videos run exclusively on the New York Times.

I spent a year with RetroReport on this project. (They did all the work. I just let them come interview/film me, and helped with occasional fact-checking, etc.) I'm just amazed that they devote an entire year to get 12 powerful minutes to set the record straight.

The video does a great job in getting out the word that while Columbine is cited over and over as these killings continue, what we think we know about Columbine, even the basics, is nearly all wrong. (Not about jocks, Goths, bullying or Trenchcoat Mafia.)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Gay soldiers in Anna Karenina—but which translation?

I'm going to attempt Anna Karenina, finally. It involves gay soldiers, but first, the key question for all you guys: what's the best translation?

Aside from being a book I should have read years ago, Anna came up Wednesday night, at a party I almost ducked out on, but thank God I stuck it out.

It was a book launch party for Gary Rivlin's wonderful book Katrina: After The Flood. Like a goofball, I thought about asking a few friends three hours before, they were busy, so as usually, I showed up alone, as if that's going to work.

I walked in to this amazing apartment on the Upper West Side, to find more people than expected. (Fifty to seventy, maybe.) I knew none of them, including the host.

Gary and I had connected online. Same publisher, the amazing Jonathan Karp, had been critical to both our books, and Gary was nice enough to invite me. Sounded interesting. (Very similar cover designs, too, not coincidentally. I got to see and earlier version of his, which I think I like even more. Hard to choose.)

But while hosting a party is not a promising time to get to know someone.

I went in anyway.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Pizza Rat

This probably shouldn’t make me happy, but it does. Sooooo happy.

Just breaks my heart to see him give up!

It has also prompted some actual policy debate: NY Times story. I'm not sure I like the strategy of taking away garbage cans. But shocking that they have to drag 40 tons of garbage up from those platforms every day. (That must include bus stops and big stations above ground. Hmmmmm.)

Whoops. Losing focus. The rat. I love that little guy.

On a potentially related note, it occurred to me late last week that I'm getting grumpy again, and I'm way overdue on a break from this city. I love it, but it seeps into me, and I need breaks now and then. (Work trips don't help. I need to relax. That's never come easy.)

Colorado? Maybe. I've never been back since I moved away 5 years ago.