I'm a freelance writer

based in Washington, D.C., but I travel wherever the story takes me.

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My latest ...

Narrow Rails

NOWHERE MAGAZINE LONGFORM 

On my way to Sonjoji temple, I sit on the Tokyo subway with dour-faced salarymen.

To reach the forest temples of Nikku, I hurtle 200 miles an hour across Honshu.

Click by click, a cog railway bears me to sacred Koya-San amid its mandala of mountains.

In search of ancient Japan — its Zen temples, manicured gardens and Buddhist priests muttering prayers in black robes — I find myself on trains. read more…

The Eyes of Death—And Life

PASTE MAGAZINE

Beneath the resorts that line the Yucatan, underground rivers run through ancient coral bedrock, making for mellow water adventures. Scuba divers risk getting trapped in these cenotes(sinkholes formed by collapsed rock), but for snorkelers, who can’t penetrate as deeply, only a fool would come face-to-face with death in them.

I am that fool. read more…

The Last of the Arabbers

EATER.COM

As he leads a painted horse cart brimming with oranges and bananas and peaches past housing projects and boarded-up buildings, B.J. looks like the king of West Baltimore. Friends shout his name, grasp his hand, lean over to share hugs. He greets, chats, and moves on, calling out his wares in the grimmest part of town, through streets strewn with garbage and smelling of urine.

“Yeah, pretty red tomato, tomatoooo. Yeah, watermelon, watermelon, watermelon.”

The syllables melt into a tune that, to the uninitiated, might sound like nonsense.

Wat-oh, wat-oh, wat-oh, oh-oh…”

It sounds like a voice from the past as it echoes off brick and formstone walls, and many Baltimoreans fear that it will be. B.J. may be the end of a nearly 150-year-old lineage. The last of the arabbers.

Go to the story on Eater.com.

Rescue Day

BETHESDA MAGAZINE

A silent killer turns a day of celebration into one of the biggest emergencies the B-CC Rescue Squad has ever faced.

Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad Chief Ned Sherburne awoke around 6 a.m. at the squad station, where he had spent the night, as he often does. He knew it would be a busy day. Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013, was the Taste of Bethesda, and the station would be welcoming the public for its annual Rescue Day open house. Kids would be checking out the shiny fire trucks, dousing cardboard cutout houses with a fire hose and watching as members of the station’s crew rip apart a car to show what a real rescue looks like.

Sherburne busied himself getting the station ready for the event. He cleaned up, moved the trucks out to the parking lot, then jumped into the chief’s car, a Chevy Tahoe stocked with communication radios and incident command equipment, to drive home, change clothes and come back to the station to greet visitors when they began showing up at 11 a.m.

He made it only a few blocks.

Go to the story at Bethesda Magazine.

 

Mall of the Future

 

BETHESDA MAGAZINE

Malls are dying. So why is this one thriving?

On a May afternoon at Westfield Montgomery shopping mall, a group of teenagers with shopping bags races across the tile floor before deflating into chairs by the escalator, checking their cellphones and sipping Starbucks Frappuccinos. For Olivia Andreassi and her friend Vanessa Pontachak, both 13-year-olds from Bethesda, this is a weekly ritual. While Friday nights are for meeting up with friends in downtown Bethesda, weekend afternoons are for getting together to prowl the mall, just as they were for their parents’ generation, when shopping malls meant video arcades and Orange Julius. “We’ve been here for, like, four hours,” Olivia sighs, before sipping from her straw.

But step past the food court and through the exit door and the scene transforms. Rather than teenagers laughing against a backdrop of piped-in music and the smell of soft pretzels, you’ll see a frenzy of construction. Workers in yellow hard hats bang nails. Power tools whir and pound. From the mall’s old parking garage, a new wing is emerging, looking like a massive modernist sculpture of shiny rails, rusted steel girders and concrete walls.

Though Olivia and Vanessa may not realize it, indoor shopping malls are on the decline across the country.

Read the rest at Bethesda Magazine.

Jumping the Velvet Rope

Photo by Ed Kosmicki.

Photo by Ed Kosmicki.

I have been starstruck as a journalist only once.

Working as a reporter in Aspen gives even rookies a chance to brush up against A-listers they probably wouldn’t run into as cub reporters in Poughkeepsie. I interviewed politicians I admired (and those I didn’t), writers whose work inspired—and inspires me—and a handful of celebrities, I guess, but not as many as you might think.

The only time I felt like a silly teenager in the presence of the person on the other end of my notebook was the time I interviewed Robin Williams. read more…

Down on the Farm

rocklands sheepBETHESDA MAGAZINE

Students who graduate from Bethesda’s Walt Whitman High School, where SAT scores are typically among the highest in the county’s public schools, often end up pursuing jobs in high-paying careers after college. Greg Glenn had a different idea: He came home to be a farmer. read more…

Baseball with Mister Way

THE RUMPUS

The boys were raised in little wooden houses with palm frond roofs, some of them, and floors of dirt or concrete, lit by oil lanterns. The electric lights that glittered on the sequins of nightclub dancers in Havana didn’t reach the poor here, eight miles to the southeast, in the village of San Francisco de Paula.

Old men now, in their eighties, they look back on a time 75 years ago when a legend even while he lived enchanted their childhood read more…


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David Frey freelance writerdavid@davidmfrey.com

301.466.0544

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