Issue No. 17 | Us & Them

Friend or Foe?

It’s a total cliché to say that in 2018, Americans are more polarized, more divided, and more culturally isolated from one another than we’ve ever been—but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. This month, we’re telling stories across a variety of political, cultural and social chasms, including the digital short The Pride of Del Rio, about an unconventional Texas mayor; and American Hero, a portrait of a Bangladeshi taxi driver and his profound allegiance to Hollywood mythmaking around masculinity. Plus: a compendium of stories about the world’s pettiest people and places, a photo essay on the women powering the far right, and a look at the age-old relationship between humans and a certain eight-legged enemy. Join us—or fight us.



Sarah Vowell: MAGA and Muffins

Growing up a “heathen” in the bosom of a Reagan-loving family meant learning there was nothing more American than irreconcilable differences.

The Secret Weapons of the Far Right

While the men of extreme-right movements are usually the ones who make headlines, it’s often women who power the organizations.

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The Pride of Del Rio

Meet the groundbreaking young mayor who recently became a small Texas border town’s first openly gay elected official.

When Politics Is Your Side Hustle

The job of governing doesn’t always pay a living wage, so these politicians found other ways to pay the bills.

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Postcards from Del Rio

Scenes from a place of beauty, desperation, and dust.

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Welcome to the Petty Hall of Fame

From Trump to college sports, 50 Cent, and a fight over the length of Subway’s subs, 60 incredible moments of small-minded behavior.

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The True Weight of Teenage Obesity

Growing up is hard—and growing up overweight is even harder.

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Us & Them Mixtape

The American political landscape is a disaster zone. In this month’s Mixtape, short films that explore whether it’s still possible to meet in the middle.

The Human-Spider Struggle

Arachnids have long fascinated, and repelled, us. Scientists are only now starting to understand why.

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American Hero

A short documentary series following the most stylish cabdriver in New York City as he pursues his own, highly personal version of the American dream.

Off Topic

The Former Coal Miner Whose Viral Video Might Send a Guy to Congress

West Virginia Democrat Richard Ojeda’s secret weapon is a self-taught filmmaker named J. D. Belcher.

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Off Topic

The City That Will Never Let You Sleep

How hostile architecture keeps New Yorkers moving along.

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Off Topic

When Hollywood Went to Toontown

A visual history of the unholy union between live actors and animation.

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The Real Sartorialist Is a New York City Cabbie

A day in the wardrobe of the cab-driving, fashion-loving star of Topic’s new documentary series, American Hero.

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About the Cover: Us & Them

The artist behind Topic’s November 2018 cover on his radically analog inspiration for an issue all about difference and division.

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