The Golden City, or A Hearty Welcome

Not an accurate depiction of my lot in Phoenix, AZ (By Michael Coghlan from Adelaide, Australia).

The dominant memory of my childhood has nothing to do with some huge achievement in tee-ball or warm hugs from a sagely grandfather.

It’s me in a dirt lot, building a city from cardboard boxes.

While everyone else ran around the park or rode bikes through the neighborhood, I darted between broken bottles and jagged rocks, widening streets and holding makeshift parades for Spider-Man action figures.

It was a modest town, a few simple buildings surrounded by endless urban wilderness. But it was all mine. My shanty town pieced together from loneliness and boxes for Ferrari parts. My beloved El Dorado.

Why did I spend hours of my valuable youth building a fake city? Why not connect with kids my own age and make other kinds of memories? Aside from the fact I felt totally isolated from my pre-teen counterparts, I was on a mission. One for information and experience. I wanted to know what it was like to build my own city, to run it effectively, to push out the concrete, er cardboard, confines as far as I possibly could. And there was little chance I’d let my bedtime or schoolmates get in the way.

It’s those very same reason why I spent a chunk of my childhood tearing through physics books from the library. I wasn’t going to let a lack of experience, an 8th grade reading level and a minor issue with focusing prevent me from reading about string theory and gravitational fluctuations.

Same goes for why I slapped my hand on an open flame when I was 7: Conventions (and trauma) be damned, my only mistress is knowledge.

These days, I don’t hang out in vacant lots or burn wards, nor do I read much in the way of Hawking, Kaku or Feynman. But my devotion to finding out things for myself, digging to the truth despite the consequences, remains steadfast. I may have more friends, different interests and generally be far more cynical, but I still treat the world as I did as a wee child. And it owes me a boatload of answers.

Which is why I’ve started this publication.

Regardless of the added body hair, my brain still bubbles with a veritable smorgasbord of curious energy. Whether I’m walking to the office, typing away at the day job, drinking at a bar or reading alone in my apartment, I can’t stop myself from pondering the most random thoughts.

Just how effective is the 5-second rule? How many more years until we elect the first gay Jewish female president? Can we actually create a working love potion No. 9? Has anyone tried to write Shakespeare with a million monkeys on a million typewriters? How long can you keep saying that the youth of today are messed up before you concede that we as a species are fully damaged? Is a hot dog a sandwich? And all of that was just to and from the pizza place this afternoon.

Only now my tools go beyond mere cardboard boxes and crayons. As a journalist with multiple years experience — most notably as the news editor for the music blog Consequence of Sound — I have the capability to answer some of these deep, burning questions, which is exactly what I plan to do.

I hope to touch on a number of different topics, from art and music to sociology and chemistry. There is nothing that will be off limits, and I genuinely believe that all questions are valid and meaningful. There could be times where I probe the depths of the human soul and then spend the very next week contemplating fart jokes. As a great man once said, so it goes.

Without a schedule, or any real plan, I’m going to use my investigatory skills and crack wit to satiate my endless curiosity. Some of my findings might be rather enlightening, and some of them could be old news. My only hope is that, from time to time, you’ll feel as I inevitably do: alive with new experiences and feeling more connected to the outside world.

Thanks for reading. I can’t wait to show you what I can build.

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