In 1956, an ocean liner named the Andrea Doria sank off the coast of Cape Cod. Half a century later, deep-sea divers—the author included—were still risking their lives to explore it.
Tuesday, August 16
A cautionary inquiry into the unchecked hive mind.
A profile of Jaron Lanier, virtual reality pioneer and the author of You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto.
Monday, August 15
Skyrocketing prices for yarchagumba, a rare fungus prized as an aphrodisiac, has led to Nepali villagers to turf wars—and possibly murder.
HEMINGWAY: You go to the races? PLIMPTON: Yes, occasionally. HEMINGWAY: Then you read the Racing Form . . . . There you have the true art of fiction.
A profile of Andrej Pejic, a model who walks the runway in both men and women’s clothing.
For even a moderately vain female, spending time with Pejic is like losing a race to someone who’s not even running: If he were not a man, he would be the most beautiful woman I have ever seen in the flesh—which, in his case, is flawless and poreless and has an English-rose luster.
Sunday, August 14
The story of Levine’s father and his involvement in the legal battle over the 798 finished paintings Rothko had in his studio when he was discovered there in a pool of blood. The case spawned a feature film, Legal Eagles, and hinged on an unusual question; was Mark Rothko an artistic genius?
It smells of truck exhaust and fish guts. Of glistening skipjacks and smoldering cigarettes; fluke, salmon and Joe Tuna's cigar. Of Canada, Florida, and the squid-ink East River. Of funny fish-talk riffs that end with profanities spat onto the mucky pavement, there to mix with coffee spills, beer blessings, and the flowing melt of sea-scented ice. This fragrance of fish and man pinpoints one place in the New York vastness: a small stretch of South Street where peddlers have sung the song of the catch since at least 1831, while all around them, change. They were hawking fish here when an ale house called McSorley's opened up; when a presidential aspirant named Lincoln spoke at Cooper Union; when the building of a bridge to Brooklyn ruined their upriver view.
Saturday, August 13
How the spirit became a billion-dollar business.
Michael Roper, owner of Chicago’s Hopleaf bar and restaurant, recalls what bartending was like in the early seventies. While Smirnoff was considered top shelf, he remembers lesser varieties such as Nikolai, Arrow, Wolfschmidt, and another brand that was then ubiquitous called Mohawk. “Mohawk was cheap, cheap, cheap,” Roper remembers. “Mohawk had a factory just outside Detroit along the expressway and . . . all their products were made there. It’s almost like they turned a switch—whiskey, vodka, gin. And it was all junk.” Still, by 1976, vodka had surpassed bourbon and whiskey as the most popular spirit in America. Roper attributes vodka’s rise partially to women, who started drinking more spirits and ordering them on their own: “Women were not going to like Scotch—that was for cigar-smoking burly men,” he speculates. “And . . . it was unladylike to drink Kentucky whiskey. But it was considered somewhat ladylike to have a fancy cocktail with an olive in it.” He also remembers when a salesman first brought Miller Lite into his bar, explaining “it’s for women.” In a similar vein, Roper considers vodka a low-calorie option with “a less challenging flavor.”
Friday, August 12
A former priest becomes the prime suspect in the 1960 murder of a Texas beauty queen.