The Awl

34 articles
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Is a well-received work of William Faulkner scholarship a hoax?

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Deep inside the world of Cartoon Network’s most popular show.

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How do you sell a $3000 vacuum?

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An essay on the service economy.

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From bombs to a boxer, variations on a name.

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How Robert Gottlieb quelled a rebellion and saved The New Yorker.

Note: Elon Green is a contributing editor to Longform.

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The economics of freelance journalism in 2013.

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On photographer Garry Winogrand and the unedited archive of more than half a million exposures he left behind.

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On the holy city of Canudos, and other attempts at better living “by the dispossessed and marginalized the world over.”

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An argument for trying.

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Richard Gere, AIDS anxiety and the search for the “Original Gerbil.”

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Autobiographical cartoonists on truth and lies.

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On Enrique of Malacca, “the closest thing there is to a hero in the story of Ferdinand Magellan’s horribly botched attempt to circumnavigate the world.”

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On the moral failure of über-wealthy do-gooders.

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It’s a club “filled exclusively with people who do not want to be members.”

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Inside the ultra-Orthodox Jewish rally at Citi Field to discuss the dangers of the internet:

A man in a black fur hat asked him what, exactly, was an app, and he explained it to him. The man grimaced and walked away.

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An interview on the logistics of running North America’s only legal facility for drug addicts to push heroin and cocaine and other types of substances into their veins.

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Love, Margaret Thatcher and a broken penis.

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In Chicago at the 130th National Funeral Directors Conference.

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The absurd scale of McDonald’s’ economics suggests a company more like a commodity trader than a chain of restaurants.

At this volume, and with the impermanence of the sandwich, it only makes sense for McDonald’s to treat the sandwich as a sort of arbitrage strategy: at both ends of the product pipeline, you have a good being traded at such large volume that we might as well forget that one end of the pipeline is hogs and corn and the other end is a sandwich. McDonald’s likely doesn’t think in these terms, and neither should you.

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But you were drinking and having premarital sex, right? Isn’t that kind of an indirect way of questioning your faith? Is disobeying questioning? It can be, but I don't think I was really pondering questions of faith when I started drinking in high school, and the premarital sex didn't actually happen until after I graduated. I think looking back the answer is yes, I was looking at other options. But I didn't think about it in those terms then. I think lots of people of every faith experiment in these ways but ultimately decide to embrace their religion.
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An abridged history of violence in "America's first suburb."

Note: Elon Green is a contributing editor to Longform.

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One reason the Tea Party's patriotic political statements are so taupe is that they mirror the religious rhetoric, which is high on generalizations about God and low on nuance and complexity and conflict. Go ahead, replace "constitution" and "patriotism" with "God" and "faith" in some tea party speech sometime—it's not as wacky as it should be.
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To this day, no one (outside of the movie's own crew) knows how the Muppets rode bicycles in The Great Muppet Caper, the classic Henson movie from 1981. In that scene, Kermit stands up on one frog-leg on the seat of his bicycle to impress Miss Piggy, and then the whole gang joins them on their bikes, doing circles and figure eights, singing “Couldn’t We Ride?” It's a wonderful piece of filmmaking, and still a complete delight to watch because the effect relied on the ingenuity and bravado of the puppeteers and crew, not CGI wizardry. Contrast the joy and ebullience of this scene to the elegant chiaroscuro slickness of the post-Henson Muppet Christmas Carol in which we see old fogies Statler and Waldorf, as the Marley brothers, floating in mid air. No viewer is impressed; no one really thinks about it at all. And that's because when a then 29-year-old Brian Henson directed that film, he threw the rules out the window. Statler and Waldorf “float” because Goelz and Nelson, the men working the old guys, were standing behind them during filming and then were removed in post production. It’s an elegant fix—a cutting of the Gordian knot—but it is a complete break with an aesthetic 35 years in the making.
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This new strain of Republican is not one Wisconsin, nor the United States, has ever seen...The new Republicans are corporate wrecking crews, given a sledgehammer, a piece of legislation and a command to "make it fit."
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A profile of Florida legend—and pardoned killer—Charlie Driver.

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You get steeped in this stuff as a kid, even if some part of you was always skeptical, it's hard to lose the residual sense that everything unfolding in the world—from natural disasters to commerce and geopolitics—signals some approaching doomsday.
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On why we need to stop questioning Wikipedia and start thinking about what comes next.

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Nearly 10,000,000 men were killed in the conflict, 65 million participated, and now we are left with two.
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A student fires three shots during a sixth period social studies class. “Then nothing happened, and that’s a problem.”

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Chris Klucsarits, aka Chris Kanyon aka Mortis,was a ’90s name in wrestling whose comeback had dual aims; for him to gain a spot on WWE’s roster, and to become wrestling’s first out star. It would end in suicide.

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Text from the books and Foster Wallace’s corresponding annotations:

Along with all the Wittgenstein, Husserl and Borges, he read John Bradshaw, Willard Beecher, Neil Fiore, Andrew Weil, M. Scott Peck and Alice Miller. Carefully.

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From the Greeks to George Lucas, 2,200 years of failure.

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The perpetually underpaid author takes a moonlighting job with Demand Media, publisher of search-engine optimized articles with titles like “Hair Styles for Women Over 50 With Glasses”, absurdity ensues.