Issue No. 01 | State of the Union

American Psychosis

Life in the United States often seems like a series of bad, bizarre jokes. The president getting in a Twitter fight with Rosie O’Donnell? Sure. State legislatures passing laws that require women to carry miscarried fetuses to term? Why not!

In these stories from our debut issue, we look at the enraging, contradictory, weird, and, yes, wonderful state of our union.


Us & Them Mixtape


A 1960 speech from a Canadian politician about cats, mice, and reaching for more than the political hand that you’re dealt.

Off Topic

Letter From the Editor

Welcome to Topic.

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Who Runs the Government?

One of the biggest differences between America’s political parties is the role of government. So it’s time to actually meet some public servants.

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War Games

Memorial Day is celebrated across the U.S. but it’s a particularly special day in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. In some ways, it seems that the battle never ended.

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America’s Miniature Melting Pots

You’ve heard of Little Italy in Manhattan or Chinatown in San Francisco. But what about Little India in Millbourne, Pennsylvania?

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Highway Robbery

The city of Syracuse, New York, is divided, and not just metaphorically. Interstate 81 has carved the town in half, and the results are tragic.

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Automation Nation

Which jobs will be done by our robot friends in the future? Here are six industries on the brink of transformation.

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Hot Ticket

A famous, controversial, and very American short story, visualized as a photo-essay.

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Customer Service

Life in Los Angeles means waiting in line, either to serve or be served.

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Dog Day Afternoon

No one loves their pets more than Americans. An essay by Eileen Myles, with photographs from a dog spa in Florida.

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In the town of Nucla, Colorado, owning a gun is the law of the land.

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Our nation’s birthday requires a new song.

Rules of Engagement

The rise in mass shootings has not gone unnoticed by law enforcement. Hence, new training grounds that are particularly of this time: schools to prepare students, teachers, and police for the next armed intruder.

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When the Dam Broke

Infrastructure is a popular issue across party lines. But as the twisted tale of L.A. water shows us, it’s not as easy as we think.

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In this series, we ask a photographer to turn the lens on her hometown. Visit a Northern California city with a suddenly hot real estate market.

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Off Topic

Notes on Detention Camp

Office parks, island nations, private prisons—all immigrant detention centers. Here are six examples of how American government officials have been both metaphorically and literally hiding these bureaucratic nightmares from view.

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Sarah Jones: Guided by Voices

Where does Tony Award-winning actress and writer Sarah Jones find her characters? From real-life experiences, sure, but also from her imagination.

The American Dreamsicle

The quintessential summer experience, melting in your hand.

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War doesn’t just impact the battlefield. In this essay, we look at seven sites within the U.S. where environmental damage has followed military build-up.

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Off Topic

How to Get Away with Spying for the Enemy

The wild story of one lawyer, two men and some very unlikely defenses for espionage against America.

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Florida Man

Taken from the true-life news stories that spawned many memes, Florida Man collects the crimes, misdemeanors, and bizarrely unclassifiable actions of denizens of the Sunshine State.

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