Michael Mechanic

Michael Mechanic

Senior Editor

Michael landed at MoJo after six years as an award-winning features editor at the alt-weekly East Bay Express. He's written for numerous publications, including The Industry Standard, the Los Angeles Times, and Wired. He lives in Oakland, California, with his wife, two kids, four chickens, striped cat, and way too many musical instruments to master.

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Michael landed at MoJo after six years as an award-winning feature editor at the alt-weekly East Bay Express. He's written for numerous publications, including The Industry Standard, the Los Angeles Times, and Wired. He set out to be a scientist, and as an undergrad spent a year in an organic chemistry lab at UC-Berkeley, where he was a biochemistry major, trying to synthesize natural poisons found in the skin of certain tropical frogs. He later earned a masters degree in cellular and developmental biology from Harvard University and a second masters in journalism from UC-Berkeley. In 2009, he was a finalist for a National Magazine Award for public service, as one of five writers in MoJo's "Torture Hits Home" package. The father of two mostly charming kids and an only occasionally charming striped cat named Phelps, Michael lives in Oakland, California, where, after years of classical piano and raucous punk-rock drumming (and putting out more than a dozen CDs on his former DIY label, Bad Monkey Records), he has retired to old-time and traditional music, guitar finger-picking, and more recently fiddle and mandolin. He has four chickens—Lucia, Podge, Cat, and Weed Whacker—but what he really covets is a hedgehog.

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Film Review: "The Elephant in the Living Room"

| Mon Jun. 20, 2011 5:51 PM PDT

The Elephant in the Living Room

NIGHTFLY ENTERTAINMENT

95 minutes

Don't be misled: The only animals you'll see in a living room in this doc are a cougar and a Burmese python. (The runaway—slitheraway?— Gabon viper is nabbed in a garage.) Director Michael Webber's fast-moving, bittersweet film reveals a world of dangerous and entirely unregulated pets (lions, tigers, bears) raised behind closed doors. Much of the action takes place in suburban Ohio, a state that rivals parts of Florida for nuisance alligators. Hidden cameras rolling, we attend a reptile show where dads cart off snakes that could devour their offspring. But the real drama lies in the interplay between a passionate cop who moonlights as an exotic-animal rescuer and a sympathetic sadsack who can't bear to part with his full-grown African lions. The cat owner's tear-jerking travails drive home the filmmaker's point better than any finger-wagging activist ever could.

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