L.A. Gone Wild

Take a tour of the astonishing urban ecology amongst the concrete.

Every three months, GOOD releases our quarterly magazine, which examines a given theme through our unique lens. Recent editions have covered topics like the impending global water crisis, the future of transportation, and the amazing rebuilding of New Orleans. This quarter's issue is about cities, spotlighting Los Angeles, and we'll be rolling out a variety of stories all month. You can subscribe to GOOD here.

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Finding Tarzan at the Sanitation Department

The Center for Land Use Interpretation and Nicola Twilley peel back the layers of living history on the streets of Los Angeles.

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Intermission: Sad Stuff on the Street

Look at some of the saddest objects on city streets around the world, read the break-up story behind the collection, and then submit your own photos.

Among photographers (of both the pro and Instagram variety), a popular sub-genre of ruin porn is abandoned stuff on the street. Nothing conveys inevitable disillusionment, the passage of time, accidental loss, and existential despair with such allusion-rich incongruity as a stuffed teddy bear in a puddle, or crockpot still in its 1970s packaging, forlornly promising delicious no-effort meals from its new home on the curb.

Former girlfriend/boyfriend Sloane Crosley and Greg Larson recently started a blog to transition their failed long-distance relationship into friendship by sharing their appreciation for all the "Sad Stuff" they spot on the street in their respective cities. Called Sad Stuff on the Street, it is, of course, quite sad, but also quite funny. As Crosley explains,

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Ancient People Are Still Awesome: Centuries-Old Japanese Tsunami Warning Markers Saved Lives

In Aneyoshi, the wisdom of their ancestors saved the lives of the tiny village's inhabitants. Other towns ignored these warnings and weren't so lucky.


"High dwellings are the peace and harmony of our descendants," reads the centuries-old stone tablet above. "Remember the calamity of the great tsunamis. Do not build any homes below this point."

This marker, and several more like it, some more than 600 years old, "dot the coastline" of Japan, according to a report in The Canadian Press. Not all of them were quite as specific: Some acted more as general warnings, lasting reminders of a risk that might only recur every fourth or fifth generation.

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Spider Webs and the Battle Over Federal Caffeine Limits

One hundred years ago, the predecessor of the FDA had no data on how caffeine affects humans. Unbelievably, the same is pretty much true today.


A fascinating article in Monday's New York Times looks at the long debate over safe limits for caffeine consumption in the United States. "Long" in this instance means 100 years—journalist Murray Carpenter tells the story of the USDA vs. Coca-Cola, which went to trial a century ago this month.

At the time, Coke contained 80 milligrams of caffeine per serving, as much as a Red Bull today. To defend themselves against the government's charge that caffeine was a harmful ingredient, they hired a scientist to look at the effects of the stimulant on the mental and motor skills of both abstainers, occasional, and heavy users. No one had gathered this kind of data before.

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