Author: Stephen Elliott

The Man at the Arcade

It was March, 1987, and I was 15 years old. I was in the arcade on Wilson, in Uptown, Chicago, asking for quarters. I’d only recently been released from the mental hospital. I didn’t know where my parents lived. That morning, I’d made my way to the 51st Street Elevated, where I climbed the back of the station onto the platform and caught a train to Loyola. There I met up with some friends. I had new friends at the group home, but I didn’t like them as much as my friends on the North Side. That doesn’t explain how I arrived at the arcade on Wilson, though. Why Wilson, and not Dennis’s place on Clark Street near the 24th District? Maybe I had a meeting with my caseworker at the Department of Children and Family Services office, or something like that. We’re talking 32 years ago. Maybe it wasn’t March. Maybe it was April. I asked a man for a quarter and he said no. The guy kind of sneered at me. He had …

How to Build a Bed

My bedroom is a strange shape. The apartment was added to the house sometime in the last century and the bedroom walls are made of barge board, from the house’s original construction over 200 years ago, when they took apart boats unable to return upstream before the advent of the steam engine. The door to the bedroom was made by opening the wall and allowing it to fold like an accordion. Because of this the door juts into the room, radically interrupting what should be a rectangle. There’s only enough space for a full bed, and I have to squeeze between the bed and the door when I get up in the middle of the night. Most of the space in the room is wasted, and uncomfortable, the way life is sometimes. It seems like the only way the bedroom could work is for the bed to be horizontal, otherwise the space will always seem unintentional, which I suppose it is. I mean, it was intentionally built when they divided the house into two units, …

The Demise of Gawker: An Interview with Ryan Holiday

Ryan Holiday is the author of Trust Me, I’m Lying and numerous other books about marketing and culture. Holiday dropped out of college at 19, and by age 20 was chief marketing officer for American Apparel. His advisory firm, Brass Check, has counselled companies such as Google, TASER and Complex. Holiday’s most recent book, Conspiracy, tells the story of Peter Thiel’s decade-long campaign against Gawker Media, including his funding of the successful lawsuit against Gawker initiated by Terry Bollea, better known as Hulk Hogan. Holiday was interviewed by Stephen Elliott in November, following Holiday’s keynote address to the Athletic Business Show at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. Stephen Elliott: I’ve been thinking a lot about deplatforming. Your new book, Conspiracy, is kind of the ultimate deplatforming story. Except instead of what normally happens, where a person is denied a venue to speak, or a celebrity loses their TV show, this is the story of an entire platform, Gawker media, being destroyed by the billionaire Peter Thiel. Ryan Holiday: Right. What we’re …

How An Anonymous Accusation Derailed My Life

In early October, 2017, following the emergence of the Harvey Weinstein allegations, a writer and activist living in Brooklyn named Moira Donegan created a Google Doc entitled “Shitty Media Men.” She sent it to female friends working in media and encouraged them to add to it and forward it on. The idea was to spread the word about predatory men in the business so that women would be forewarned. Anyone with access to the link could edit and add to the list. At the top of the spreadsheet were the following instructions: “Log out of gmail in order to edit anonymously, never name an accuser, never share the document with any men.” In the first column was this disclaimer: “This document is only a collection of misconduct allegations and rumors. Take everything with a grain of salt.” Nobody did. The list had only been live for 12 hours when word reached Donegan that Buzzfeed were preparing to publish a story about it. She immediately closed it down. By that time, there were already 74 entries. …