The Believer

51 articles
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On medical acting and real pain.

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Sweet Valley High and the enduring economic power of blond twins.

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Tonya Harding, Nancy Kerrigan and the “why me?” misheard around the world.

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In 1902, a poet attempts to stage the world’s first “perfume concert.”

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Searching for Dave Chappelle ten years after he left his show.

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The secret diary of Nina Simone.

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On the origins of The Village People.

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How to photograph Los Angeles from a helicopter.

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Four dispatches from the 100th anniversary of Bloomsday:

In most places in the world, June 16 is just another day on the calendar, but here in Dublin, the day that James Joyce earmarked for Ulysses is celebrated with a fervor not seen here since the days of the druids when, if you really wanted to party, you needed a couple skeins of wine and a grove full of virgins.

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The author visits Camp Trans, an annual protest organized after the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival evicted a transsexual woman.

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On the death of a brother.

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“I never attacked anyone weak. Only bullies, secure in their courts, bureacracies, fifedoms.”

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Conspiracy theories, utopian fantasies, and cult involvement surrounding the international standard of musical tuning.

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A lifelong Jehovah’s Witness moves to China to proselytize.

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The challenges of growing up in the modern world as the reincarnation of a famous Tibetan lama.

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Adventures in public speaking.

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The life and work of Nelson Algren.

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How Human Potential Movement workshops permeated our lives and our businesses.

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A conversation with Offerman, who plays Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation.

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On surf legend Eddie Aikau and the complicated history of Hawaii.

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An interview with Pulitzer-winning food critic Jonathan Gold.

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On the surprising radicalism of library music – “music that has been composed and recorded for commercial purposes.”

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An interview with Marc Maron.

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The author recounts playing herself – best-selling author Sloane Crosley – on an episode of “Gossip Girl.”

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On Norman Bel Geddes, pioneer of miniatures and maker of the “most iconic World’s Fair exhibit of all time.”

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The history of “‘50s-era market-tested USDA White Pan Loaf No. 1.”

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The main thing that attracts me to Buddhism is probably what attracts every artist to being an artist—that it’s a godlike thing. You are the ultimate authority. There is no other ultimate authority. Now, for some artists that’s difficult, because they want to have the art police. They want to have the critic who hands out tickets and says, “That’s too loose.”
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Considering the screen saver.

Even when napping, the computer seems beset by iterative nightmares of a deadline. The pipes come to represent, rather than imaginarily suspend, the clogging of the task queue when one is away. When the screen has become as dense as Celtic knot-work, the entire image cracks and dissipates, as if burned out from its involute frenzy—before beginning again in the dark.

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The author gets a job writing about amusement parks.

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On the master palindromist, Barry Duncan.

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"Jaye and I decided we didn’t want to have children. But we still got that urge to blend, to merge and become one. I think the heart of a lot of the romance in couples, whatever kind of couple they are, is that they want to both just be each other, to consume each other with passion. So we wanted to represent that. First we did it by dressing alike. Then we started to do minor alterations to our bodies. Then we decided that we would try as hard as we could to actually look like each other in order to strengthen and solidify that urge."
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On comics and journalism:

Now, when you draw, you can always capture that moment. You can always have that exact, precise moment when someone’s got the club raised, when someone’s going down. I realize now there’s a lot of power in that.

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The story of the 100 mile Barkley Marathons.

What makes it so bad? No trail, for one. A cumulative elevation gain that’s nearly twice the height of Everest.

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An interview with Heart guitarist and film composer Nancy Wilson.

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The comedian and veteran of MTV’s The State on a peculiar brand of stardom. “Often people would be like, I’m such a big fan of your work. I think you’re amazing. I want to have a career like yours. And I’m like, great, can you buy me a slice of pizza?”

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“The writer/speaker has certain political convictions or affiliations, and proceeds to filter all reality and spin all assertion according to those convictions and loyalties. Everybody’s pissed off and exasperated and impervious to argument from any other side.”

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Memories of the expat revolutionary scene in 1980s Nicaragua. An excerpt from Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War.

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“Fiction writers are good people, usually. There’s a lot of pretenders, but I haven’t met a lot of sons of bitches.”

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Eleven books into his planned thirteen book The Wheel of Time cycle, the most popular fantasy series since Lord of the Rings, Robert Jordan saw death on his own horizon and planned accordingly. A 31-year-old former Mormon missionary inherited his universe.

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In 1906, Enrico Caruso was arrested for molesting a young woman inside the Monkey House of Central Park Zoo, paving the way for the first celebrity trial of the 20th century.

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The immersive mise en scène of a Hollister flagship store, redolent of California beach towns that don’t exist, “lazy, hygienic sexuality,” and weed.

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For sixty years, the weekly Evening Whirl attacked the drug lords, whoring preachers, and hypocritical bourgeoisie of St. Louis’ black community, sometimes in rhyming Iambic couplets.

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In the early 1960s, Middle Eastern guys in Brooklyn introduced America to Arabic rock-and-roll.

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A Wisconsin basement gave birth to one of the most influential narratives of our times – Dungeons and Dragons – sending its creator, E. Gary Gygax, on a strange journey of his own.

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An interview with Lawrence Schiller, himself one of the great interviewers of his time, whose research fueled Norman Mailer’s Executioner's Song.

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How a celebrated American artist was forced to trade his multimillion-dollar collection for a job selling donuts.

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An uneasy friendship forms in colonial Ceylon between the future husband of Virgina Woolf and a socially repulsive police magistrate.

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Lawrence Weschler mediates an argument between two contemporary art big-hitters in this free ranging essay on the meaning of Cubism.