Matthew Goguen

180 Flips | 4 Magazines | 2 Likes | 12 Following | 2 Followers | @matthewgoguen |

The game Blacks and Whites, from 1970, taught about race, housing, and privilege

In May 2012, science-fiction writer and blogger John Scalzi published a post titled "Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is." …

Letter of Recommendation: ‘How It’s Made’

When you turn on a TV set and immerse yourself in images of human beings doing human activities — looking for unusually small houses, awaiting elimination on a reality show, solving murders in a procedural — it’s easy to forget that what you’re watching is not people but a machine, its network of …

Letter of Recommendation: ‘Roc’

From the opening notes of its theme song — an a cappella version of “God Bless the Child” — I knew I was going to like “Roc.” That song was one I’d heard my father croon my whole life, its lyrics cutting through the smoke from his cigarette as he grilled hamburgers or reclined on the couch and …

Cosby Show

Letter of Recommendation: Cheddar and Sour Cream Ruffles

About 12 years ago, my partner and I decided to wow our friends on Thanksgiving by ordering a heritage-breed turkey from a small farmer in Pennsylvania. For weeks we watched the turkey — our turkey — on the farmer’s webcam, a cluster of pixels frolicking inside a chicken-wire enclosure. It was …

New Jersey

Letter of Recommendation: Safety Razors

The first razor I can remember owning is one I received as a present for my 18th birthday. It came in the mail from Gillette. I don’t know how the company knew, but I was happy to be in its database. The Fusion, with its novel five-blade design, had recently hit the market. I was thrilled, and I …

Procter & Gamble

Letter of Recommendation: The Useless Machine

On the lower left-hand corner of my desk sits a wooden box, roughly the size and shape of a smallish jewelry case and featureless save for a small metal switch on its uppermost surface. From time to time over the course of my workday, I reach out to flick this switch, and a hatch opens at the top …

Artificial Intelligence

Letter of Recommendation: The Life of Marshall Hodgson

Viewed in the least charitable terms, academia is a small fraternity of ambitious backbiters engaged in the production of work so dense that only other members of the order can hope to understand it. But some scholars arrive on the scene bearing such a combination of intellect, urgency and charisma …

Religion

Letter of Recommendation: The Nakagin Capsule Tower

Earlier this year, heartbroken and restless, I ran away from my problems to visit a friend in Tokyo. The city is famously full of diversions for rootless Westerners; any neurosis or perversion might be catered to in the warrens between its skyscrapers. But there was only one thing I really wanted …

Weird

Letter of Recommendation: Ear Candling

Ear candles are widely and emphatically denounced by doctors as quackery. When burned, the little tubes of waxed gauze are supposed to create a vacuum effect just outside your ear, with the pressure differential pulling wax out and up into the tube itself. Sounds scientific enough, but it’s …

Home Remedies

Letter of Recommendation: Glass Bricks

Like so many seemingly innocuous things, glass bricks were created to make the world a better place. They were invented at the turn of the 20th century to provide factory workers with more natural light. Soon they moved beyond the world of industry, as Art Deco architects took to their sleek …

Los Angeles

Letter of Recommendation: Pen & Pixel

Snoop Dogg sits cross-­legged in a jewel-­encrusted throne. His right hand dangles a cigar, while his left clutches a gold cane so ornate that it might have been lifted from the Vatican. He’s in the driveway of an unfathomably expensive mansion, flanked by a scrum of pit bulls. It makes quite a …

Snoop Dogg

Letter of Recommendation: Audiobooks Read by the Author

In 1926, the year he died, Rainer Maria Rilke wrote to an acquaintance about a new device that he believed could change the way we appreciated poetry: the phonograph, or as he called it, the “talking-machine.” In the letter, Rilke lamented that the device was seldom used for recorded speech, but he …

Literature

Letter of Recommendation: Just Dance

I never really intended for it to become my workout routine. I first started playing “Just Dance” two years ago, when someone gave my 8-year-old twin sons an Xbox. Most of the system’s games would have them cultivating lethal marksmanship, while even the less-bloody titles seemed destined to foul …

Blond Hair

Letter of Recommendation: B.F.F. Tattoos

The story of my first tattoo goes like this: One night in middle school, my friend Stephanie spent the night at my house. We were camped out in my bedroom and bored. We had watched “Clueless” so many times that we could recite all the best lines. Food had been ordered, delivered and devoured. We …

Inked

Malcolm Forbes, ‘More Than I Dreamed’

Among this country’s enduring myths is that success is virtuous, while the wealth by which we measure success is incidental. We tell ourselves that money cannot buy happiness, but what is incontrovertible is that money buys <i>stuff</i>, and if stuff makes you happy, well, complete the syllogism. To my …

Great Depression

Letter of Recommendation: Fortean Times

I was 30,000 feet in the air and halfway through the November issue of Fortean Times before I considered what it must look like to the woman sitting to my left. On the cover of the magazine lurked a giant Lizard Man, with a rippling reptilian 14-pack, orange eyes with vertical-­slit pupils, a …

B-movie

Letter of Recommendation: Grandma’s Teenage Diaries

My parents recently found five journals in one of those listless cardboard boxes that leaves an attic only when somebody dies or the house is sold. (Don’t worry, everyone survived the sale of the house.) The journals were written by my paternal grandmother when she was living with her widowed mom …

Rowing

Letter of Recommendation: Bunk Beds

The punishing rents of New York City breed unusual compromises. Sophomore year of college, I snagged a one-bedroom at the top of a seventh-floor walk-up in Lower Manhattan. The week I moved in, a neighbor pulled me aside and offered wisdom on the climb: “Your legs will get used to it,” she said, …

Living Rooms

Letter of Recommendation: Movies Alone

When your apartment doubles as your office, a workday can decay into a deserted arena for rival compulsions. Eventually you need to be among people again. That’s why I head to the movie theater at weird hours, seeking some semblance of ceremony. One ticket buys the ability to be privately public. …

The Arts