A case for why race has been the real story of the Obama presidency all along.
On the life and death of Avonte Oquendo, a 14-year-old autistic boy who disappeared in October after walking out of his New York City school.
Previously: Robert Kolker on the Longform Podcast.
A local reporter set out to profile the celebrated writer. He ended up lampooned in The New Yorker.
Excerpted from Updike.
“There was this brief moment when people who wrote blogs also cared about so-called literary fiction. Now it seems they’ve moved on. My doctor doesn’t give a fuck.”
How four prisoners in solitary confinement launched the largest hunger strike in American history.
The first known infiltration of the finance fraternity Kappa Beta Phi.Excerpted from Young Money.
An inteview with the Saturday Night Live producer.
Previously: The Longform Guide to SNL.
Lunch with recycling tycoon Chen Guangbiao, the self-described “Most Influential Person of China,” to discuss his interest in buying The New York Times.
What adolescence does to adolescents is nowhere near as brutal as what it does to their parents.
An excerpt from All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood.
The case of Gilberto Valle, “The Cannibal Cop,” and the line between criminal thoughts and action.
How Roger Ailes raised a ruckus in Putnam County, New York.
In 1997, 8-year-old Chaneya Kelly reported that she had been raped by her father, Daryl Kelly, sending him to prison for up to 40 years. Since then, she’s wanted more than anything to take it back.
The riotous private sector life of former New York senator, Al D’Amato.
The war between Major League Baseball and Alex Rodriguez, “fought with six-figure payoffs in the tanning salons and strip malls of South Florida.”
After circulating Lolita in secret amongst a small circle of New Yorker editors and publishers, Vladamir Nabakov finally placed it at Olympia Press. Three weeks before publication, a slumping and broke Dorothy Parker appeared in The New Yorker with a story entitled “Lolita” about a teenage bride, her jealous mother, and a much older man.
A tour of our greatest conspiracy theories.
Notes from a Black Panther fundraiser on Park Avenue.
Eleven months after Sandy Hook, Newtown’s mourning remains incalculable, especially that of the parents who lost their children. And the influx of sympathy—and money—has sometimes made the grieving more difficult rather than less.
He’d blown the Denver debate. Now he was on the verge of blowing the second and risking his reelection. “I just don’t know if I can do this,” Obama told his team. The story of how they turned things around, excerpted from Double Down: Game Change 2012.
Tyson on his childhood in Brooklyn and the man who changed his life. An excerpt from his upcoming memoir, Undisputed Truth.
Filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón and his four years of production on Gravity.
The Supreme Court justice on gay rights, the problem with consensus and the Devil.
A post-acquisition profile of Tumblr’s David Karp.
“They cruise the city in chauffeured cars, blasting rap, selling pot to classmates. How some of New York’s richest kids joined forces with some of its poorest.”
“Will you show me all of the man-in-the-street, sympathetic, mayoral candidates? The last time I met one of them on the subway was a long time ago. Let’s not get too carried away.”
“Now Pynchon hides in plain sight, on the Upper West Side, with a family and a history of contradictions: a child of the postwar Establishment determined to reject it; a postmodernist master who’s called himself a ‘classicist’; a workaholic stoner; a polymath who revels in dirty puns; a literary outsider who’s married to a literary agent; a scourge of capitalism who sent his son to private school and lives in a $1.7 million prewar classic six.”
Script doctor Damon Lindelof explains the new rules of blockbuster screenwriting.
Remembering the indie rock club that The New York Times once said was “so New York that it’s in New Jersey.”
The durable ineffectiveness of John Boehner.
How a high-stakes poker game that started at Tobey Maguire’s house became part of a $100 million gambling and money-laundering operation orchestrated by the Russian mob.
How an informant helped authorities nab a notorious anti-abortion activist.
A murder case involving two young, privileged New Yorkers rivets the city.
The battle over stop-and-frisk within the NYPD’s ranks.
He was a hedge-funder with a coke problem. She liked to drink and was thrice-divorced before they got married. When the police arrived, she was clutching his dead body in the shallow end of their pool. She would soon be accused of murder—not by the cops, but her Internet psychic.
Dinner with the novelist, the book critic and “Myshkin, a 14-year-old female dachshund who is deaf but decidedly not mute.”
In Ramapo, New York, the immigrant community and the growing population of Hasidic Jews had eyed each increasing wariness for years. Then the Hasidim took over the public schools, schools their children do not attend, and proceeded to gut them.
Aaron Greene and Morgan Gliedman were young and in love and pregnant and partial to heroin and living in a Village apartment with a lot of heavy weaponry lying about. Then they were arrested, and their stories started to change.
A profile of Frank Lucas, whose life was the basis for the film American Gangster, decades after his days as a kingpin.
A profile of former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford, who is running for office four years after his affair with an Argentine journalist became national news.
On Cecilia Chang, the St. John’s fundraiser who committed suicide after being convicted of fraud, and the university administrators who benefited from her crime.
A profile of the “smart person’s” astrologer, and the people who believe in horopscopes.
A profile of 23-year-old Leonardo DiCaprio (and his rowdy crew).
A profile of Christine Quinn, odds-on favorite to be the next mayor of New York City.
On the casting process for New York’s cult leader-like spin instructors.
A profile of Beck on the eve of his new album and nearly 20 years after the release of “Loser.”
A father’s life, one year after the death of his three daughters in a fire.
In Colorado and beyond, a negotiated surrender in the war on drugs.
Trevell Coleman wasn’t sure whether he’d killed a man. But after 17 years, he needed to find out.
A delightfully strange and humorous imagining of Mitt Romney's thoughts during a massage.
"Something curdled inside him—he didn’t deserve this dig. Yes, he’d been busy lately, insanely busy, especially with those foreign-policy dopes, but he’d tried to remain attentive to his lady. He’d arranged this nice weekend for them. He’d canceled events, he’d canceled events that were scheduled months ago. Suddenly, he was impatient to get away from her, to find the remote and check on the day’s news. He hadn’t turned on the set since lunchtime yesterday, a gesture he’d hoped that she’d notice and appreciate, mostly because it came so hard to him."
The allure of conclusion-shaping and a wunderkind’s fall.
Life inside Long Island’s largest cluster of sex offenders.
On the staff of a Trader Joe’s in New York City.
Grizzly Bear and the surprisingly crappy economics of indie rock stardom.
On Nate Silver and the messiness of modern political polling.
A depressed, pregnant woman shares a brief conversation with then-Senate candidate Barack Obama; from Chabon's upcoming novel.
" At his remark, the pregnant woman nodded without turning to look at him—there was an elaborate candelabra of a potted cactus behind whose tapered thorns she appeared to be attempting, somewhat punitively, to conceal herself. Obama was running for the United States Senate that summer and had given a wonderful speech last month at the Democratic Convention in Boston. When she did turn to him, her eyes got very wide."
An appraisal of the Wisconsin congressman’s “green-eyeshade fiscal conservatism.”
The day Hurricane Irene nearly drowned Prattsville, New York.
Fame, fashion, and a trip to the zoo.
On the Calorie Restriction movement, the scientifically-supported belief that the key to a very long life is to eat as little as possible.
A survey of sex on a Saturday night in New York City.
The frenzied few days before the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer.
A college president on the bizarre experience of being informed by NBC News that he had hired a war criminal to teach French.
What became of Annie Moore, the first person to arrive on Ellis Island?
The director on Obama, the state of black cinema, the Knicks, the Nets, the tragedy of public education in America, gentrified New York and why he lives on the Upper East Side.
The story of a Ponzi schemer who became the mark.
A profile of Hector Xavier Monsegur, aka Sabu, a hacker star of Anonymous and resident of a New York City housing project.
On the difficult, “god-like” decisions faced by parents of transgender children.
On the ouster of CEO Janet Robinson and the company’s financial woes.
The author on his mother’s deteriorating health and the “price of longevity.”
The author reflects on his mayoral run with Norman Mailer against John Lindsay.
At the bar one night a couple of weeks after the primary, I looked up from a drink and saw my face and Norman's face floating across the screen on the NBC First Tuesday show. It is a network thing, and they did a 20-minute look at our campaign. The show reinforced my opinion that Norman and I had some of the most terrific lows in the history of anything that ever took place in this city. And, perhaps, a couple of highs that could be recognized as time passes a bit. Like maybe colleges for years will be using the things Norman Mailer was saying out in the streets.
The case of the murdered real-estate legend and her enraged assistant.
A profile of Mark Zuckerberg, savvy CEO.
How a scandal involving sex, money and a Wiccan coven brought down yogi John Friend.
The toll of being a cop on the most successful force in the country.
The complicated case of Brigitte Harris, who, after years of abuse, accidentally killed her father by cutting off his penis.
He’s their hero, but he’s also their soulmate, the one person in the world who understands them. That’s why Stephen Wesley and the legions of fans like him can’t get enough of the Mountain Goats. And that burden is crushing Darnielle.
On the passionate relationship between fans and John Danielle of the Mountain Goats.
Don’t call them “foodies.”
A profile of 25-year-old Lena Dunham, showrunner and star of HBO’s Girls.
The life and times of two professional muggers in 1970’s lower Manhattan:
Hector and Louise usually work whatever neighborhood they’re living in. They knock over every old man on the block, every young man who follows Louise’s swinging hips and pocketbook, and every young girl attracted by Hector’s olive eyes. They rough up all of them, take whatever money is there, and then move on.
The artist discusses her latest record, Biophilia, science and music education.
Up until she developed a vocal-cord nodule a few years ago, Björk made a point of not investigating how that instrument worked. “With arrangements and lyrics,” she says, squinting over her coffee, “I work more with the left side of my brain. But my voice has always been very right brain. I didn’t try to analyze it at all. I didn’t even know until I started all this voice work, two years ago, what my range was. I didn’t want to let the academic side into that—I worried the mystery would go.”
A young woman’s attempt to flee from the most religiously conservative community in America, and to take her daughter with her:
The critical battleground in the War Between the Grunwalds would prove to be niddah, or “separation,” i.e., when the menstruating female is considered “impure” and kept apart from her husband. “It isn’t just your period,” Gitty says. After a woman stops bleeding, she has to wear white underwear for seven days, checking constantly to see if there’s any discharge. Should spotting occur, the woman takes her underwear to a special rabbi who examines the color, shape, and density of the stain. It is he who divines when it is safe for the woman to immerse herself in the mikvah (ritual bath) and be reunited with her husband.
The 34-year-old virgin father-of-15 at the forefront of the controversial DIY sperm donation movement.
Hanging out in Moscow with Russia’s yuppie, 20-something journalist revolutionaries:
In other words, the protest was being brought to you by the same people you would have relied on, weeks earlier, for restaurant picks.
A glimpse into the life and death of a soldier who committed suicide while on duty in Afghanistan:
The Army recently announced that it was charging eight soldiers — an officer and seven enlisted men — in connection with Danny Chen’s death. Five of the eight have been charged with involuntary manslaughter and negligent homicide, and the coming court-martial promises a fuller picture of the harrowing abuse Chen endured. But even the basic details are enough to terrify: What could be worse than being stuck at a remote outpost, in the middle of a combat zone, tormented by your superiors, the very same people who are supposed to be looking out for you? And why did a nice, smart kid from Chinatown, who’d always shied from conflict and confrontation, seek out an environment ruled by the laws of aggression?
The author tracks down a former Peace Corps volunteer who murdered a fellow worker in 1976.
The ascendant breed of grown-ups who are redefining adulthood.
This is an obituary for the generation gap. It is a story about 40-year-old men and women who look, talk, act, and dress like people who are 22 years old. It’s not about a fad but about a phenomenon that looks to be permanent.
Central Park wasn’t always so bucolic.
Gangs of toughs—teenagers and the macho middle-aged, usually drunk, occasionally including a couple of off-duty cops—roam the Ramble at night, engaging in an old American pastime: fag bashing. You don't have to be gay. You don't have to be exposing yourself. You don't have to be doing anything except walking through the tangled darkness to be abused, shoved, threatened at knifepoint, kicked, and beaten.
Chantix is a pill that decreases the pleasurable effects of cigarettes. It also causes hallucinations, suicidal thoughts and waking nightmares:
A week into my Chantix usage, I started to feel as if the city landscape had imperceptibly shifted around me. Mundane details began to strike me as having deep, hidden significance. The neon arch above McDonald’s: The lights blinked on and off in some sort of pattern, and I needed to crack the code.
A profile of Harold Camping, a Christian radio host who (falsely) predicted the end of the world.
Irving Kahn is about to celebrate his 106th birthday. He still goes to work every day. Scientists are studying him and several hundred other Ashkenazim to find out what keeps them going. And going. And going.
The father of the first kid featured on a milk carton thinks he knows who kidnapped the him 30 years ago:
For years now, Stan has had a face to concentrate on; twice a year, in fact, on Etan’s birthday and on the anniversary of his disappearance, Stan sends one of the old lost child posters to a man who’s already in prison. He won’t be there much longer, however, unless the successor to Manhattan district attorney Robert Morgenthau can keep him in jail. In the meantime, Stan’s packages serve notice that someone is still paying close attention. On the back of the poster, he always writes the same thing: “What did you do to my little boy?”
Thomas Pynchon walks down a New York City street in the middle of the morning. He has a light gait. He floats along. He looks canny and whimsical, like he'd be fun to talk to; but, of course, he's not talking. It's a drizzling day, and the writer doesn't have an umbrella. He's carrying his own shopping bag, a canvas tote like one of those giveaways from public radio. He makes a quick stop in a health-food store, buys some health foods. He leaves the store, but just outside, as if something had just occurred to him, he turns around slowly and walks to the window. Then, he peers in, frankly observing the person who may be observing him. It's raining harder now. He hurries home. For the past half-dozen years, Thomas Pynchon, the most famous literary recluse of our time, has been living openly in a city of 8 million people and going unnoticed, like the rest of us.
One day Nejdra Nance realized the woman she had called Mom for 23 years may have been at the center of one of the most harrowing kidnappings in decades—hers.
On 20-somethings in America, or:
My screwed, coddled, self-absorbed, mocked, surprisingly resilient generation.
On the tangled early careers of Jonathan Franzen, David Foster Wallace, Mary Karr and Jeffrey Eugenides.
How a town of 29,000 on the Hudson River came to be “one of the most dangerous four-mile stretches in the northeastern United States.”
On the marriage of Ponzi schemer Ken Starr and his fourth wife, Diane Passage, whom he met while she was dancing at a strip club.
The last thing child-welfare supervisor Chereece Bell wanted to see was what happened to 4-year-old Marchella Pierce. The last thing she expected was to go to jail for it.
In Silicon Valley, up all night coding in the dorms with the aspiring Mark Zuckerbergs of tomorrow.
A look at the artists and writers who drive for a New York cab company. The story that inspired Taxi.
Inside the dynastic war between the heirs to rulership of the largest Hasidic sect in the world. The prize – all of Hasidic Williamsburg – may prove to be ungovernable.
On “American Dream,” a mall under construction in New Jersey that will be the largest on Earth and feature an indoor skiing slope, a tropical area modeled on Hawaii, and a “TV screen that will make Times Square seem like a rec room from the seventies.”
Chains, knives, fists, and, of course, those crude and unreliable homemade affairs called zip guns were the staples in the more vicious gang wars in the 1940s and 1950s. Today there is scarcely a gang in the Bronx that cannot muster a factory-made piece for every member—at the very least, a .22-caliber pistol, but quite often heavier stuff: .32s, .38s, and .45s, shotguns, rifles, and—I have seen them myself—even machine guns, grenades, and gelignite, an explosive. One gang, the Royal Javelins, has acquired some walkie-talkie radios.
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.
Living with grief and gult in the aftermath of the worst car accident in Westchester County in 75 years:
For 1.7 miles, Diane, 36, drove a minivan stuffed with kids the wrong way on the Taconic State Parkway, finally colliding head-on with an SUV. Diane hadn’t even braked. Passing drivers said she stared straight ahead, her expression serene and oblivious, her hands at ten and two on the steering wheel. Eight people died, including Diane, their daughter, their three nieces, and all three people in the oncoming SUV. Toxicology reports later established Diane’s blood alcohol level at .19 percent, more than twice the legal limit. On the way home from a weekend camping trip, Danny’s wife appeared to have guzzled ten shots worth of alcohol and, the report said, smoked marijuana within the hour.
A profile of under-fire Goldman Sachs Ceo Lloyd Blankfein.
What happened to Wesley Autrey after he jumped in front of a New York City subway train to save a man’s life.
Just after midnight, Rye police arrived to bust a house full of partying teenagers. The kids refused to unlock the door, and parents and cops flooded the street. A minute-by-minute account of the standoff.
A profile of Rupert Murdoch, written before his empire began to crumble.
A profile of the hard-living, cop-dodging artist Dash Snow, published two years before his death of an overdose.
The story of an imam convicted on a suspect terrorism charge and the place he was sent: a jail in the Midwest where nearly all of the prisoners are Muslims.
A profile of 17-year-old Teresa Scanlan, the newly crowned Miss America.
Tom Wolfe on the development of ”New Journalism,” an unconventional reporting style which he helped to pioneer.
I had the feeling, rightly or wrongly, that I was doing things no one had ever done before in journalism. I used to try to imagine the feeling readers must have had upon finding all this carrying on and cutting up in a Sunday supplement. I liked that idea. I had no sense of being a part of any normal journalistic or literary environment.
On the complete corruption of Paul Bergin, a federal attorney turned high-priced defense lawyer now awaiting trial on a host of charges.
If Paul is guilty of half the things they say, he’d be the craziest, most evil lawyer in the history of the State of New Jersey. That is saying something.
It was the worst AIDS crisis in years—until it wasn’t.
Inside the complicated world of running The New York Times.
Timothy Brown was diagnosed with HIV in the ’90s. In 2006, he found that a new, unrelated disease threatened his life: leukemia. After chemo failed, doctors resorted to a bone marrow transplant. That transplant erased any trace of HIV from his body, and may hold the secret of curing AIDS.
Five prostitutes disappear. Bodies turn up on a Long Island beach. On the women lost, and the families left behind.
The circus Roger Ailes created at Fox News made his network $900 million last year. But it may have lost him something more important: the next election.
“Winning” in Hollywood means not just power, money, and complimentary smoked-salmon pizza, but also that everyone around you fails just as you are peaking.
Louis C.K. has a deal unlike anyone else’s on TV: his network, FX, has no approval rights and offers no notes. He is also the show’s lone writer, editor, director, and star. A profile.
Justin Vivian Bond found downtown fame as Kiki DuRane, decrepit drag chanteuse and comedic prophet of gay rage born out of the AIDS era. Then he killed Kiki to try to become the woman (and man) he always wanted to be.
The social rituals of the pansexual, bi-queer, metroflexible New York teen.
A profile of Christopher Brosius, the “Willy Wonka of fragrances,” whose latest creation is designed to not be smelled.
The birth of the Beastie Boys—an oral history on the 25th anniversary of Licensed to Ill.
A profile of Carmelo Anthony, newly anointed savior of the New York Knicks.
On Ray Dalio, who built the world’s biggest hedge fund by running it like a cult.
On billionaire financier Lynn Tilton and her quest to become a public figure.
In 1991, Frank Sterling confessed to a crime he didn’t commit. His story highlights a common – and controversial – method of police interrogation.
The barbaric brutalization of Abner Louima and the tragic fate of a handful of flawed Brooklyn cops.
What a century and a half of piled-up housing reveals about New Yorkers.
A New Yorker finds an unlikely house guest on Craigslist.
On Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and their new Broadway musical about Mormons, which “may just be their highest artistic achievement yet.”
A crusading minister has built a forested Utopia for the itinerant and destitute. But is a social experiment what they’re looking for, or just a place to live?
“One evening, my home phone rang. ‘You have a collect call from Bernard Madoff, an inmate at a federal prison,’ a recording announced. And there he was.”
SNL in its grim twentieth season through the lens of first (and only) year cast-member Janeane Garofalo.
The father: an Oscar-winning songwriter. The son, a college dropout and partier around downtown New York. Their alleged crimes; serial casting-couch rape (the senior) and a drowning murder in a Soho House bathtub (the junior).
Cathie Black, former magazine executive, currently Bloomberg’s hand-picked Chancellor of New York City schools
The juvenile ward on Rikers Island is a world of constant violence fueled by gangs and, allegedly, encouraged and overseen by the guards.
On the group of friends who came to rule the bizarre, decreasingly lucrative world of Internet porn.
The life story of Travis the chimp and the family of tow truck operators who raised him like a human child before it all ended in tragedy.
James Frey is starting a publishing company, paying young writers (very poorly) to reverse engineer a Twilight-esque hit.
Tony Kushner and the burdens of being one of the last public intellectuals in American theater.
She moved to Cape Cod to escape the glitzy Manhattan world she born into. The only witness to her murder was her 2 1/2-year-old daughter. Everyone she knew, it seemed, was a suspect.
The writer (Aaron Sorkin), director (David Fincher), and actors (Jesse Eisenberg & Justin Timberlake) of The Social Network on dramatizing the real story of a 20 year old into “the Citizen Kane of John Hughes movies.”
The sordid, petty world of “gossip item” sources for the New York Post and The Daily News, and what happens when they go bad.
The rise and fall of a boom-era escort agency in New York City.
A profile of Jon Stewart, who’s now run The Daily Show for more than a decade.
The rise and fall of the Seven-Seven - stationed in the war zone of 1980’s Crown Heights, Brooklyn - and how an idealistic young recruit became part of cash-snatching, drug-reselling, renegade clique of cops
A Holocaust detective story: could a lampshade pulled from the ruins of Katrina really be Buchenwald artifact made of human remains?
The night the doctor behind the Scarsdale Diet was shot by his mistress, the impeccable headmistress of the elite all-girls boarding school Madeira.
Soap operas, enrollment in multiple graduate programs at once, student films alongside Hollywood blockbusters. Is James Franco’s entire career a piece of performance art?
What’s Madoff like as a prisoner? According to his fellow inmates, he’s cheap (“You couldn’t get an ice-cream cone off him”), he’s unrepentant (“Fuck my victims”), and he’s eager to dole out financial advice.
Born in Germany, raised in Montana, now living in New York, comedian Reggie Watts describes his style as “culture sampling.”
Lenny makes $5,000 a week selling coke. It was easy to get into the business after finishing prep school. Getting out and going legit after his final score is proving much more difficult.
Over a scotch a few months after his underdog Jets won Super Bowl III, a 26-year-old Joe Namath told Jimmy Breslin what he’d done the night before the game: “I went out and got a bottle and grabbed this girl.”
Tadashi Yanai (“he is like Warren Buffett in Japan”) takes his Uniqlo brand stateside.
How do you handle an infestation when you live on the Upper East Side and bedbugs could hurt the value of your apartment? With discretion.
The latest frontier of statistical research in baseball—and the newest front in the Yanks/Red Sox arms race—is defense. And it’s yielding some surprising insights about who is actually worth his salary.
Hipsters vs. Hasids in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. A skirmish over a bike lane becomes a battle for a neighborhood.
Celebrity, bottle service, and Tiger Woods’ unintentional introduction of “halfway hooker” into the American lexicon.