Stories

Michael Shapiro’s writing ranges from travel to the performing arts to environmental issues. And he still does some investigative reporting. Below is a selection of Shapiro's work.
Washington Post: Dylan Thomas’s Wales

Washington Post: Dylan Thomas’s Wales

I've long felt a kinship with Wales, perhaps because it's where one of my favorite writers, Jan Morris, lives. Recently I had the chance to stay overnight and tour Dylan Thomas's boyhood home in Swansea. Then I visited his other homes in...

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Portland: A food tour, Virtuoso, April 2018

Portland: A food tour, Virtuoso, April 2018

There's nothing better than an editor asking you to go to a city you love and find the best places for food, wine, beer and chocolate. I traveled there last year, stopped briefly (for 2 hours, which is fast) at Powell's City of Books,...

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Nat Geo: Top 10 Secrets of the Maya

Nat Geo: Top 10 Secrets of the Maya

People often ask me what my favorite destination is - I don't have just one but I always include Guatemala, the hub of the Maya world, in my top 5. When National Geographic asked me to share some secrets I leapt at the opportunity. Here's...

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Napa Valley’s most unlikely grape spirit

Napa Valley’s most unlikely grape spirit

In Napa's Oxbow Public Market, near the Napa River, we came upon the tasting room for the Napa Valley Distillery. I'd heard good things about their spirits, but what first caught my eye was the table crowded with hundred of little bottles...

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Tracking elusive pumas in Patagonia, Summer 2016

Tracking elusive pumas in Patagonia, Summer 2016

Typically when traveling overseas I like to stay a while. But when an editor emailed and asked if I'd be willilng to travel to Patagonia to track pumas for a week in the dead of the southern hemisphere's winter, I leapt at the chance even...

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Kauai still a Dream Trip, Islands

Kauai still a Dream Trip, Islands

Islands magazine sent me to the Garden Isle of Kauai to write a feature for its Dream Trips issue which marked the magazine's 25th anniversary. I was honored to have my essay appear among stories written by Pico Iyer, Don George, Patricia...

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Paul Theroux’s Cape Cod, Inspirato, Summer 2015

Paul Theroux’s Cape Cod, Inspirato, Summer 2015

I first interviewed Paul Theroux in 2004 for my book, A Sense of Place, a collection of interviews with the world's leading travel writers. Though some consider him brusque, blunt and -- this irritates him the most -- curmudgeonly, I...

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NY Times: Vineyards with Vistas

NY Times: Vineyards with Vistas

My first New York Times story was a piece about Wine Country real estate:   Destination Guide | Napa and Sonoma Vineyards With Vistas   By MICHAEL P. SHAPIRO Published: July 26, 2006 An hour to 90 minutes north of San Francisco,...

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Gambling column: NBA title futures

Gambling column: NBA title futures

Here's my latest Gambling column from the San Francisco Chronicle, on odds to win the NBA title. As expected, Miami is the favorite, but Golden State has it's best odds in more than a decade. Read it on sfgate.com using the link above or...

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Making a living as a freelancer

Making a living as a freelancer

Every June, I mark the anniversary of leaving my last full-time job, at CNET in SF. It's been 15 years with lots of highs and lows, but I've never regretted the decision to walk away from the rigidity of full-time work and hang my virtual...

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Cowboy Junkies keep it fresh

Cowboy Junkies keep it fresh

In the early 1990s, Cowboy Junkies lead vocalist Margo Timmins performed just for me. I sat about 30 feet away from her and she sang one of her favorites, "Misguided Angel" to an audience of one. But I'm not sure she even noticed me. I...

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Riding the Rails in Wales, American Way

One of the best ways to see a country is on a slow train. Perhaps the most enjoyable of these are the 19th-century railways of Wales. In 1996, I came across a site called The Great Little Trains of Wales as I was researching my first book...

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Abolish the one-game playoff in baseball

Abolish the one-game playoff in baseball

Well the playoffs worked out beautifully for our SF Giants, but I still think a one-game playoff cheapens the season - here's my comment for The Press Democrat - it's short, a 2-minute read. October 3, 2012 These are golden times for Bay...

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Fed ruling may clear path for legal poker

Fed ruling may clear path for legal poker

A bunch of guys in a big room playing poker: a typical scene but one that could have led to jail time for its operator. Until a federal judge said game on - here's the story I wrote for the SF Chronicle. -- By Michael Shapiro, Sept. 6,...

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Amazon cruising: A Ride in the Wild

Amazon cruising: A Ride in the Wild

I always thought if I ever floated down the Amazon it'd be in a dugout canoe on a shoestring adventure. But when the editor of a magazine for country club members asked me to join a luxe cruise, of course I went and had a fabulous time....

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Anne Lamott on her baby having a baby

Anne Lamott on her baby having a baby

When my book A Sense of Place came out a few years ago I got compliments about being a good interviewer. But here's the secret: I interviewed people -- the world's leading travel writers -- who had something to say. I had a similarly...

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Lily Tomlin rocks the house

Lily Tomlin rocks the house

These days Lily Tomlin’s character Ernestine, the gossipy telephone operator who used to parody the AT&T monopoly, works for an insurance firm, “denying health care to everybody.” She told me this during a phone interview in March,...

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Was Pat Tillman murdered? SF Chron.

Was Pat Tillman murdered? SF Chron.

Ballistics evidence suggests the bullets that killed NFL-player-turned-soldier Pat Tillman were fired from just 10 yards away. We know it was friendly fire -- his mother believes it may not have been an accident. Here's a review I wrote...

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Sumptuous cuisine in Lima, Peru

Sumptuous cuisine in Lima, Peru

Sometimes dream assignments get even dreamier. After asking "if I'd be willing" to go to Peru and take a cruise down the Amazon, my editor said something like: As long as you'll be in Lima, try a few top restaurants and we'll run a...

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Leo Kottke: How the guitar saved my life

Leo Kottke: How the guitar saved my life

  Leo Kottke is a quirky and genuine as you'd guess from his music - here's an excerpt from our interview which ends with him talking about music being a type of home for him: Renowned acoustic guitarist Leo Kottke says the guitar...

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Joan Rivers: Let’s tawk

Joan Rivers: Let’s tawk

Can we talk? I must admit I've never been drawn to Joan Rivers as I have to comics like George Carlin or Richard Pryor. But after interviewing, I came to appreciate her fierce honesty and incisive comments. I work with disabled people but...

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Interview with Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson

Interview with Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson

I spoke with the genius behind the Beach Boys, Brian Wilson, in August 2011. The man who penned hits such as "California Girls" and "Wouldn't It Be Nice" has suffered terribly from mental illness but is back on the road and performing...

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Jane Goodall interview

Jane Goodall interview

In 2007 I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Jane Goodall. Excerpts from that interview have appeared O (Oprah's magazine), The Explorer's Journal and Earth Island Journal. Here's the Goodall interview from EIJ, click to read it or see...

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David Sedaris’ subversive charm

David Sedaris’ subversive charm

David Sedaris is not a rock star. He's an author, radio contributor, humorist, playwright, and essayist. Yet when he walks onstage Saturday night , October 30, at the Wells Fargo Center, he'll be greeted with as much effusive enthusiasm...

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Southern Ireland with Dervla Murphy

Southern Ireland with Dervla Murphy

"Trying to interview Dervla Murphy is like trying to open an oyster … with a wet bus ticket." That line came from the 2010 documentary, Who is Dervla Murphy, about the intrepid Irish travel writer. In 2003, I'd hoped to go to Ireland to...

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Ballad of Pat Tillman, Metro newspapers

Ballad of Pat Tillman, Metro newspapers

The football star–turned–soldier became the Pentagon's poster boy, and when he was shot dead by U.S. Army Rangers, the military said he was killed by enemy fire. The deception, it turns out, was not an isolated incident, but part of a...

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Mongolia’s Nadaam Games, Washington Post

Mongolia’s Nadaam Games, Washington Post

When President Nixon visited China in 1972, he said that it takes a great people to build a Great Wall. In Mongolia they countered: It takes an even greater people to make them want to build it. That warrior pride is on full display at...

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Nevada City’s enviro film fest

Nevada City’s enviro film fest

A certain magic happens when the right event is held in a town that embraces it. Setting an environmental film fest in Nevada City is an alchemical pairing that brings out the best in the Gold Country town. With its rich prospecting...

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