Monday, March 12

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Smooth Moves

The unlikely story of Spanx.

Sunday, March 11

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Jacked: The Outlaw Story of Grand Theft Auto

The beginnings of the best-selling video game, from a chapter of David Kushner’s new book on the subject.

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Honor Thy Father

Lance Butterfield was the captain of the football team, had a 4.0 GPA and a girl he loved. It wasn’t enough for his dad. And then his dad became too much for him.
Part of our guide to Skip Hollandsworth's true crime writing at Slate.

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The Life

Interviews with modern travelling salesmen. The article inspired Kirn’s novel Up in the Air.

What makes this a truly military culture, besides its overwhelming maleness, its air of emotional deprivation and the lousy rations, is its obsession with rank and hierarchy. Like jungle gorillas, business travelers always know where they stand versus the rest of the group. In this parallel universe of upgrade vouchers and priority-boarding privileges, everyone has a number and a position, and who gets that open aisle seat in first class means even more on the road then who earns what.

Saturday, March 10

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Radiohead's Runaway Guitarist

On Jonny Greenwood:

Greenwood is an anomaly: a musician who made his name with a rock band and who is now embraced by the modern-music establishment as an actual, serious composer. The night before the Alvernia session, he was onstage in an aircraft-hangar-size room at a steel plant in Krakow, performing the minimalist composer Steve Reich’s “Electric Counterpoint” for an audience that included Reich himself, as part of a weeklong new-music festival, Sacrum Profanum. (Reich is a fan; he praises Greenwood’s decision to have the string section play with guitar picks on “Popcorn Superhet” as “the first new approach to pizzicato since Bartok.”) He wasn’t the only performer at Sacrum Profanum with pop-music credentials — the bill also included the techno provocateur Aphex Twin and Adrian Utley, from the trip-hop band Portishead. But he was the only guy from a superfamous rock band whose singer has appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone.

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On the Market

An essay on working at Sotheby’s.

Art pricing is not absolute magic; there are certain rules, which to an outsider can sound parodic. Paintings with red in them usually sell for more than paintings without red in them. Warhol’s women are worth more, on average, than Warhol’s men. The reason for this is a rhetorical question, asked in a smooth continental accent: “Who would want the face of some man on their wall?”

Friday, March 9

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The Sensational Tito Gaona And His Spectacular Aerial Flights

A profile of the “acrobatic genius of the trapeze”:

As he spoke, he looked up at the pipes and swings in the arena ceiling. A mechanic was working on the rigging, but Tito spoke thoughtfully, for he seemed to be seeing something else. "Sometimes I see movies of myself in the air and I say, 'Jesus, how can I do that?' I wonder who do I think I am ... but, yes, I do admire myself in films sometimes as if I am watching another person. I have sometimes dreamed my tricks at night, you know, and then tried to master them from the dream."

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'Knockout game' case shocked St. Louis, then fell apart

A group of teens allegedly create a violent game with a simple premise: “to knock out a stranger with a single punch.”

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Bob Dole

The Republican candidate works a room, as excerpted from Richard Ben Cramer's biography of the senator:
No one can do that day after day, week after week, for years ... without some rock-hard certainty that can't be milled away by nonsense and stress. He has to know: Why him? And: Why now? ... He has to know that he is The One. And if he's strong enough to keep going-if he's able, smart, and lucky-then, he'll get to the final twist in the road, when things catch fire, he can see how his words make the people feel, he can feel how those words now matter to him. He can make all the difference just by walking into a room. There are thousands of people -- and they want him. He and his campaign fill the lives of people who are almost strangers, and he takes over the life of everyone dear to him. He has to, it's all right -- because it's that important. Now, he knows: Not only should I be President, I am going to be President!
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Kill-Crazed Animal?

A profile of William Heirens, the convicted “Lipstick Killer” of Chicago, who died this week.

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What Happened to the Girls in Le Roy

How a mysterious twitching epidemic overtook one Western New York town.