Daniel Fromson is a staff editor at The New York Times, with the Op-Ed and Sunday Review sections, and the author of the Atavist e-book Finding Shakespeare.

A former editor at The New Yorker and The Atlantic, he has also written for Harper’s Magazine, New York Magazine, Slate, The Washington Post, Washington City Paper, and The Wall Street Journal Europe. Dan is a graduate of Yale University, where he studied English literature, and a 2014 Food and Farming Journalism Fellow at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

Email: daniel.fromson [at] gmail.com

Photo by Jane Briggs

The Washington Monthly
Disclosed Encounters: Why UFO buffs think Barack Obama is their best hope for the truth about ET
January/February 2010

"It’s a hell of a challenge," says Stephen Bassett as he saws through his chicken Caesar salad at a restaurant in the Key Bridge Marriott in Arlington, Virginia. "But the reason we’ve made progress is because this isn’t just any issue.” After logging thirteen discouraging years as a lobbyist in Washington, Bassett is finally feeling optimistic. Compared to Barack Obama, Bill Clinton was “utterly unacceptable,” and there were “huge problems” with George W. Bush. “They did what was necessary to contain the issue,” he says.

"They had to do that because it wasn’t a secret," he adds, leaning in, elbows on the table. "The ETs are all over the place. They’ve been flying around our skies for sixty-two years."

Bassett is Washington’s only registered UFO lobbyist. …


Washington City Paper
The New Brew Thing: Is the D.C. beer scene ready for Nathan Zeender’s avant-garde ales?
October 5, 2012

On a screened-in back porch attached to the best brewery in D.C. you’ve never heard of, Nathan Zeender is unlacing a sack of barley.

“Feel free to eat a kernel,” says Zeender, 35, popping one into his mouth. “It’s good. Right where it should be—sort of sweet, Grape-Nutty.” Bees crisscross a yard filled with vegetable beds and herbs, drawn to honey Zeender recently extracted from a hive he tends at the nearby Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America. Like the rosemary, dandelions, and spruce trees outside, the honey sometimes perfumes Zeender’s thoughtfully crafted concoctions. …


New York Magazine
116 Minutes With Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards
April 15, 2011

Cloaked in a zebra-print makeup cape, ­Cecile Richards is sitting in a brightly lit dressing room and having a hard time finishing her sentences. This is partly because she keeps stiffening her upper lip so a staffer for The Rachel Maddow Show can paint and pencil it, and partly because her mind is elsewhere: She’s about to go on-air to continue fighting the biggest battle she’s faced since joining the Planned Parenthood Federation of America as president in 2006. “It’s kind of a whole new deal,” she says. “I mean, the fact that they would hold up the federal budget over birth control”—she ­pauses—“or ­women’s … I think that was …”

It is now just past 9 p.m. on a day Richards began with a 3:45 a.m. wake-up call, a 6 a.m. flight from New York to D.C., then nearly four straight hours of satellite-radio interviews. (“I love that brush—it feels great,” she exclaims to the makeup artist. “I feel like I could just take a nap.”) The Maddow appearance will not be her last appointment. “We’ve got a ten o’clock call tonight because we’ve got our big vote tomorrow—obviously, the big vote tomorrow.” The big vote, of course, will determine whether the govern­ment eliminates Planned Parenthood’s federal funding—and though the bill is predicted to die in the Senate (and does), Richards and her team have been endlessly canvassing the Hill, just to be sure. …


The New York Times
Hop Farmers Reviving Heady Days of Brewing
November 7, 2011

Cazenovia, N.Y.

NEAR the farm that grows the pumpkins for his pumpkin ale and the ranch that raises wagyu beef for the brewpub he owns, David Katleski parked his S.U.V. in the middle of an empty field. “What we’re going to recreate is old hop barns,” he said, surveying a grid of wooden stakes. “Stone hop barns.”

“Are you familiar with the hop barns of Madison County?” his wife, Karen, asked from the back seat.

She was referring not to some steamy romance novel, but to a romantic past: the days when hop barns, those squat, often turretlike structures housing charcoal fires, perfumed the air of central New York with the scent of drying hops. Resinous flowers that give beer its bitterness and flavors of pine, herbs and fruit, hops were a huge part of the local economy in the late 19th century, when New York State grew up to 90 percent of the nation’s supply. But the business withered as beer production became industrialized. …


The Atavist
Finding Shakespeare
August 2013


Publisher’s description:

In 2008, a troubled Vietnam veteran turned struggling actor named Hamilton Meadows became obsessed with a question: What did William Shakespeare’s English sound like when the Bard and his actors spoke it? Others had asked the same thing before—the quest to piece together the pronunciation of Elizabethan English, the language as it was spoken during Shakespeare’s lifetime, has captivated English scholars, theater directors, and romantic adventurers for two hundred years.

But if Meadows wasn’t the first such seeker, he was undoubtedly the least likely among them. Thrice-divorced and drinking too much, he was living off of military disability checks aboard a derelict yacht. For Meadows, staging the first-ever professional “original pronunciation” production of Shakespeare’s work in New York City would become one last shot at redemption after a lifetime of tragedy.

Praise for Finding Shakespeare:

“While I read this remarkable piece, I was perched on the edge of my chair, hoping against hope that its damaged hero would mount a successful production of Twelfth Night, with the actors sounding something like Elizabethans. Daniel Fromson made me curious, made me sad, made me care.”
—Anne Fadiman, author of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

“Fromson has conjured a new genre—the tragifarce—with this epic tale of a man obsessed with the authentic Shakespeare. What begins with a protagonist resembling ‘Lear at sea’ comes to shore as a near fiasco of a comedy. The last act is a masterpiece of madness: Imagine James Franco, in full performance-art pretension, overtaken by the spirit of Falstaff (half drunk) directing a cast of wary actors. Brilliantly observed and a total blast.”
—Jack Hitt, author of Bunch of Amateurs: A Search for the American Character

The Washington Post
The Impulsive Traveler: In N.Y.’s Hudson Valley, spirit of hard cider returns
November 17, 2011

We climbed a creaky metal ladder, my mother and I following Gable Erenzo into an attic splotched with October sunlight. “These are all experiments,” he said, gesturing to a jumble of three-gallon oak casks, 53-gallon whiskey barrels and seemingly every size in between.

The attic — in Gardiner, N.Y., above the tasting room where Erenzo and other employees of Tuthilltown Spirits pour sips of their New York Corn Whiskey and Hudson Manhattan Rye — exhaled a museumlike aroma of wood and dust.

It was a fitting smell. We’d planned our trip to the Hudson Valley to visit artisans who have recently begun bringing back hard cider and apple brandy — the stuff of colonial taverns, Revolutionary War rations and local myth. A 1940 New York travel guide describes gnomes who danced under the full moon and “brewed a liquor that shortened the body and swelled the head.” Henry Hudson’s crew, it continues, is said to have made their acquaintance: “When the sailors departed, they were distorted by the magic distillation, which, we moderns know, was Catskill applejack.”


The Atlantic
Bug Nuggets: Is the world ready for soy-glazed mealworms?
September 2011

The dining-room table was set with roses and silver candlesticks. At one end, near a grandfather clock, sat two plates of mealworm fried rice. “So, a small lunch,” said my host, Marian Peters. “Freshly prepared.” The inch-long larvae, flavored with garlic and soy sauce, reminded me in texture of delicate, nutty seedpods. “Mealworm is one of my favorites at the moment,” Peters told me, speaking of the larvae of the darkling beetle (Tenebrio molitor Linnaeus). When they’re fresh, she added, their exoskeletons don’t get stuck in your teeth. …


Harper’s Magazine
Weapons of Mass Distraction: Object lessons from the cyber-mythology
September 2010

In May 2009, Barack Obama delivered his first speech as president addressing the “cyber threat,” which he described as “one of the most serious economic and national-security challenges we face as a nation.” This threat, Obama said, includes acts of terror that “could come not only from a few extremists in suicide vests but from a few keystrokes on the computer.” This February, Mike McConnell, director of national intelligence under George W. Bush, testified to Congress that computerized terrorism “rivals nuclear weapons in terms of potential damage to the country.” Government cyber-security spending, which is now projected to increase by 50 percent by 2014, includes funding for this course curriculum produced by the Cyberterrorism Defense Initiative (CDI) at the University of Arkansas. A “cyber-9/11,” however, seems as much a phantasm as did Bush’s WMDs, a flare-up of national anxiety fueled by politics, stoked by sensationalist news reports, and exploited by eager corporations.


The Atlantic
The Glove That Would Change the Game: The new science of fielding
April 2012

"Tradition or not, all sports will evolve,” the science-fiction novelist Arthur C. Clarke predicted: even “the grand old game” of Ruth and Mays would be transformed by bionic-armed pitchers wielding lightweight, non-leather gloves. The cyborgs haven’t arrived, but their catching device has. It has spent the off-season in a display case at the Baseball Hall of Fame, whose curators think they might be witnessing a “historic moment”: the birth of the glove of the future.

Resembling a standard black baseball glove, it is composed primarily of synthetic microfibers. Only 30 or so were made last year, each custom tailored to the owner’s hand. Just a few pros use the glove—it is sold, through a personal Web site, for at least $300—but many early adopters consider it the best glove in baseball, and its inventor is exploring mass production. At the moment, however, his factory is the former living room of a friend’s house. …