As we close the books on 2022, a few Alta Weekly Newsletters come to mind as speaking to our still-not-quite-back-to-normal year. While they couldn’t be more different, each wrestles with the culture that we’ve all had to experience mostly in isolation for the past two and a half years. (Sign up to receive the newsletter.) José Vadi left his house to prove his mettle (and harm his body) at an enticing—but endangered—skating spot; George Chen found bliss in a Kate Bush tribute band. Other writers stayed closer to home, like Anjali Khosla, who found her own experiences as a South Asian woman reflected in Wajahat Ali’s writing; Gustavo Arellano wrote—one last time—about the push-pull relationship he has with Morrissey’s music.

It was a weird year! All of our writers had to keep it weird to keep up.

“Grinding It Out for a Beloved Los Angeles Skate Spot”

January 13, 2022

Skate the States

The year 2022 started with a bang with essayist José Vadi’s tribute to the West L.A. Courthouse, a beloved legal skateboarding location that faces an uncertain future. Whereas many journalists wear out their shoe leather to report a story, Vadi wore his whole body out: “Legal or not, nothing about the courthouse will prevent my board from hitting a crack and propelling my body into the ground like generations of skaters before me who wound up sprawled here, staring at the sky wondering how badly they were hurt. In my case, a bloody elbow and increasingly sore ribs on my right side, pretty much delivered on arrival.”


“An Amreekan Tale”

February 3, 2022

Damon Dahlen

Anjali Khosla got personal with author and playwright Wajahat Ali as he discussed his memoir, Go Back to Where You Came From. “The phrase ‘go back’ gets hurled at the more melanated among us for pretty much any reason, or for no reason at all,” Khosla wrote. “Let’s not pretend that those who toss that phrase around aren’t aware that so many of us can lay claim to being ‘from here’ as much as they can, despite their attempts to psychologically strip us of our citizenship.”


“Final Edition”

April 21, 2022

Fog City News

Adam Smith, owner of Fog City News, shuttered San Francisco’s beloved newsstand and chocolate specialty shop at the end of 2021. For Alta Journal, he shared what he’d learned behind the counter of his popular store and some thoughts about the city’s future: “I’ve watched customers’ children grow up. I’ve seen patrons change jobs or even move out of the area but continue to stay in touch. Together, we formed a community—in the real world, not online.… We live in a different world now. It saddens me to see how many clerks at other stores are leaning behind the counter staring at their phones. Consumers no longer expect store staff to be knowledgeable. We’ve all grown accustomed to a largely self-service shopping experience.”


“Reaching Wuthering Heights”

July 21, 2022

Baby Bushka

As Kate Bush was suddenly everywhere this past summer thanks to season 4 of Stranger Things on Netflix, George Chen checked out Baby Bushka, a SoCal Bush tribute band, and rediscovered the joy of live music: “The performers and crowd feel enmeshed—everyone, onstage and off, is coming at it from the angle of fandom. Watching this group of women onstage feels utopian, with each performer getting her turn to shine on lead vocals, the crowd chanting along to most of the words.”


“Not a Fan”

August 18, 2022

Getty Images

You know those weird fan-powered dancing figures outside tire shops and mattress shops? Yeah, those things. Writer and performer Stacey Grenrock-Woods really, really dislikes them and has been on record for decades that they’re evil. Inspired by their appearance in Jordan Peele’s Nope, she let loose: “I was the first to identify, ruminate on, and publicly warn against Those Things (which, by the way, is what I insist we call them now and forever), and I want credit. I thought they might be here to guide us through the nine circles of hell. It turns out, they mostly wanted to get into a hell of their own, namely show business. Nearly two decades ago, I correctly identified Those Things as harbingers of doom, and I’d like the record to reflect that.”


“¿Viva Hate?”

November 17, 2022

Getty Images

Gustavo Arellano brought his signature humor and sharp analysis to the question of how Mexican fans reconcile their love for Morrissey with the artist’s love for various xenophobic, right-wing causes. The answer, of course, is the music: “As I was driving home last week listening to SiriusXM’s 1st Wave channel, a familiar voice came on. ‘Ouija board, Ouija board, Ouija board,’ Morrissey sang in his song of the same name, from 1990’s Bona Drag. ‘Would you work for me? I have got to get through / To a good friend.’ Despite everything I knew, I found myself singing along.”