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.

Full Bio | Get my RSS |

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.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Another Ralph Lauren Anorexia Ad

| Thu Oct. 15, 2009 11:48 AM PDT

Does Polo Ralph Lauren find its models in a prison camp? Nope, it just alters them to look that way. (See the "before" version here.) Maybe uproar over this practice will prompt the company to express futher regrets. Geez! When supermodel Filippa Hamilton, who was fired in April for being "overweight," said that the clothier owes all women an apology, she wasn't kidding. (For the full story, read the Related Stories posts below, top to bottom.) And a hat tip to Photoshop Disasters for posting the ad.

Follow Michael Mechanic on Twitter.

Ralph Lauren Model Fired: Too Fat

| Thu Oct. 15, 2009 9:29 AM PDT

Holy haute couture! Ralph Lauren really doesn't get it. First the clothier sicced its lawyers on Boing Boing, one of the Web's most popular blogs, after a Boing Boing writer reproduced an ad photoshopped by the company's graphic artists to make its model look bizarrely skinny. An indignant Boing Boing declared a culture war against the attempted censorship, and the company eventually admitted that it had done a regrettable job on the ad.

Now, just when you thought this couldn't get worse, it comes out that Polo Ralph Lauren had terminated its contract with the model, Filippa Hamilton, back in April because she was too fat. (Hamilton is 5-foot-10 and weighs 120 pounds.) "They fired me because they said I was overweight and I couldn't fit in their clothes anymore," she told the New York Daily News on Tuesday. (See Hamilton's photo on the Daily News website to see what Ralph Lauren considers "overweight.")

According to the report, the 23-year-old model has worked for Lauren since 2002 and was distraught at being fired by an employer she'd come to see as "a second family." When the altered ad blew up online, she was surprised—and not pleasantly so—to see how her image had been distorted. "I think they owe American women an apology, a big apology," she told the paper. "I'm very proud of what I look like, and I think a role model should look healthy."

 Follow Michael Mechanic on Twitter.

Ralph Lauren Apologizes (Sort of) for its Anorexia Ad

| Thu Oct. 8, 2009 1:53 PM PDT

I don't need to rehash the censorship feud between popular website Boing Boing and Ralph Lauren. You can read about the first part here and the second part here. But today Boing Boing reports that the clothier has owned up to its Photoshop hatchet job on model (she has a name now!) Filippa Hamilton. "After further investigation, we have learned that we are responsible for the poor imaging and retouching that resulted in a very distorted image of a woman's body," Polo Ralph Lauren admitted in a statement today, according to Extra

 Follow Michael Mechanic on Twitter.

Putting a Little Meat on Ralph Lauren's Models

| Wed Oct. 7, 2009 10:18 AM PDT

I posted here yesterday about Ralph Lauren's attempt to censor Boing Boing, one of the Web's most popular destinations, and how it backfired. Short story: BB blogger Xeni Jardin had re-posted a photo of a Ralph Lauren poster, questioning the model's, well, suspicious proportions. (A picture is worth 1,000 anorexics.) Ralph's attorneys said cease and desist, wherupon Boing Boing decided to let the door hit the lawyers in the ass on their way out.

Now, via the detouching efforts (pictured at left) of one of its fans, Boing Boing has discovered yet another way to mock the lawsuit-threatening clothier:

Natasja Capelle, a freelance designer, has detouched the image to restore the model to something like a healthy, well-proportioned stature. Want to play along? Make your own detouched image, post a link in the comments.

All out of work graphic designers...to your computers!

 Follow Michael Mechanic on Twitter.

Mon Feb. 10, 2014 4:00 AM PST
Thu Jan. 24, 2013 4:06 AM PST
Mon Dec. 31, 2012 12:22 PM PST
Fri Dec. 14, 2012 8:03 PM PST
Fri Nov. 16, 2012 1:56 PM PST
Thu Nov. 1, 2012 1:31 PM PDT
Thu Sep. 27, 2012 11:07 AM PDT
Thu Mar. 22, 2012 12:05 PM PDT
Tue Mar. 20, 2012 3:30 AM PDT
Mon Mar. 19, 2012 11:02 AM PDT
Mon Feb. 27, 2012 4:00 AM PST
Wed Jan. 25, 2012 4:00 AM PST
Mon Dec. 5, 2011 3:00 AM PST
Thu Dec. 1, 2011 4:30 PM PST
Tue Nov. 22, 2011 3:10 PM PST
Fri Oct. 21, 2011 3:30 AM PDT
Mon Jun. 20, 2011 5:51 PM PDT
Mon Jun. 6, 2011 3:30 AM PDT
Mon Jun. 6, 2011 3:30 AM PDT
Mon May. 16, 2011 3:50 AM PDT
Tue Mar. 29, 2011 4:00 AM PDT
Tue Mar. 29, 2011 3:30 AM PDT
Mon Mar. 28, 2011 12:25 PM PDT
Fri Mar. 25, 2011 3:30 AM PDT
Fri Mar. 25, 2011 1:01 AM PDT
Mon Mar. 21, 2011 11:46 AM PDT