Arts & Culture

537 articles
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Why I Write

An essay on motivation.

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Fifteen Years of the Salto Mortale

On Johnny Carson, a cold man in a hot seat.

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Playboy Interview: George Carlin

“It’s the American view that everything has to keep climbing: productivity, profits, even comedy. No time for reflection. No time to contract before another expansion. No time to grow up. No time to fuck up. No time to learn from your mistakes. But that notion goes against nature, which is cyclical.”

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Papa

When James Brown died on Christmas Day 2006, he left behind a fortune worth tens, maybe hundreds, of millions of dollars. The problem is, he also left behind fourteen children, sixteen grandchildren, eight mothers of his children, several mistresses, thirty lawyers, a former manager, an aging dancer, a longtime valet, and a sister who’s really not a sister but calls herself the Godsister of Soul anyway.

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Mystic Nights

The making of Blonde on Blonde in Nashville.

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They Came. They Sawed.

In Austin in 1973, politicos and hippies could get together and create violent, visionary horror films for $60,000. So they did. The story of how The Texas Chainsaw Massacre got made.

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The Early David Letterman 1967-1980

“Every Sunday at my house … we watched The Ed Sullivan Show…. Whether we enjoyed it or not. That was my first lesson in show business. I don’t think anybody in the house particularly enjoyed it. We just watched it. Maybe that’s the purpose of television. You just turn it on and watch it whether you want to or not.”

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Last Tango in Tahiti

Hunting Marlon Brando.

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Oscar Night in Hollywood

As early as 1948, the Oscars sucked.

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Comedy First

A profile of Harold Ramis, director of Groundhog Day, who died today.

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Peter O'Toole on the Ould Sod

After two years of filming Lawrence of Arabia, Peter O'Toole returns to his childhood home in Ireland.

Plus: 50 years later, Gay Talese remembers the late Peter O'Toole.

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Looking for Hemingway

On George Plimpton and the founders of The Paris Review:

Early in the fifties another young generation of American expatriates in Paris became twenty-six years old, but they were not Sad Young Men, nor were they Lost; they were the witty, irreverent sons of a conquering nation.

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Dogsbody Does Dublin

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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Blow Hard

Scott Storch, a producer who earned six figures for beats he made in less than an hour, was worth an estimated $70 million. Then he blew it all in a bizarre cocaine binge.

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Roger Ebert: The Essential Man

A profile of the late critic.

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What Is Poetry? And Does It Pay?

A trip to the Famous Poets Society convention/contest in Reno.

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The Great Escape

How the CIA used a fake science fiction film to sneak six Americans out of revolutionary Iran. The declassified story that became Ben Affleck’s Argo.

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Twelve Easy Pieces

On a business that sells packaged pre-sliced apples as snack food.

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Stagger Lee

Reverse engineering the details of a murder that took place in St. Louis on Christmas Night in 1895 from over a century of popular song.

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When Books Could Change Your Life

On the power of youth literature.

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Remains of the Day

A wedding photographer catches up with his past clients.

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Atari Teenage Riot

A “crude table-tennis arcade game” called Pong and the birth of the video game industry.

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Toques from Underground

Los Angeles’ Wolvesmouth and the unlicensed dining industry.

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"I Pretty Much Wanted to Die"

The many reasons Lost shouldn’t have happened.

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The Killing of Gus Hasford

He came home from Vietnam, wrote the novel that became Full Metal Jacket, was nominated for an Oscar and riding high. Then he got thrown in jail for stockpiling stolen library books, started drinking, cut off his friends and fled to a remote Greek island. He never made it back.

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Larry Hagman's Curtain Call

A profile of the late actor.

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Damien Hirst: Jumping the Shark

The market for Hirst’s work is in a tailspin. Why?

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The Making of The Chronic

An oral history of the Dr. Dre album.

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A Woman Entering a Taxi in the Rain

A profile of photographer Richard Avedon from early in his career.

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Deadhead

The Grateful Dead’s afterlife.

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Interview: Yayoi Kusama

An interview with the Japanese artist, who has resided in a mental institution since committing herself in 1975.

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The Tragedy of Britney Spears

A profile of Spears at her nadir.

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Dance Dance Revolution

A field report from Electric Daisy Carnival, a three-night bacchanal in the Las Vegas desert attended by “100,000 wasted hedonists scantily dressed in furry underwear.”

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The Curious Case of the Sherlock Pilgrims

In the Swiss town of Meiringen, where an obsessed group of ‘pilgrims’ painstakingly recreate the death of Sherlock Holmes.

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Genius: The Nickelback Story

How a loathsome band makes gobs of money.

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In Cold Type

The backstory of “The Duke in His Domain,” Truman Capote’s 1957 New Yorker profile of Marlon Brando.

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The Duke in His Domain

A profile of Marlon Brando, 33, holed up in a hotel suite in Kyoto where he was filming Sayonara.

My guide tapped at Brando's door, shrieked "Marron!," and fled away along the corridor, her kimono sleeves fluttering like the wings of a parakeet.

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Has Hollywood Murdered the Movies?

Blockbusters in the age of “corporate irony.”

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Writers in Hollywood

On the novelist’s experience in movie-making.

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The Glory Days of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee

Life at Marvel Comics in the mid-1960s.

An excerpt from Marvel Comics: The Untold Story.
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Free to Be

Forty years after its release, the story of “Free to Be… You and Me.”

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Random Roles: Kelly Lynch

The Drugstore Cowboy star candidly discusses the characters who defined her career.

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Joan Didion: The Art of Nonfiction No. 1

I can’t ask anything. Once in a while if I’m forced into it I will conduct an interview, but it’s usually pro forma, just to establish my credentials as somebody who’s allowed to hang around for a while. It doesn’t matter to me what people say to me in the interview because I don’t trust it.
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The Comedian Who Became a Joke

The tragi-comic career of a nobody comedian from the 1940s who ditched his wife, child, and eventually his own name.

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Down and Out in the Top 10

Grizzly Bear and the surprisingly crappy economics of indie rock stardom.

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John Hammond, Jazz Promoter

A profile of the legendary producer at the beginning of his career.

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Interview: Nick Offerman

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

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"The Best TV Show That's Ever Been"

An oral history of Cheers.

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The Perfect Level of Fame

A day at the mall with the cast of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.

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Errol Morris, Forensic Epistemologist

A conversation on the “bedeviling sorts of indeterminacies one encounters the deeper one drills.”

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Portrait of the Artist as a Postman

A profile of Kermit Oliver, a reclusive, critically acclaimed artist who designs scarves for Hermès and works nights at the Waco post office.

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Kurt Cobain: The Rolling Stone Interview

An interview with Cobain a few months after the release of In Utero.

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Neil Young Comes Clean

At 66, Young sobers up.

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Pink Slime

Inside the cluttered Los Angeles apartment of lo-fi auteur Ariel Pink.

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The Honor System

On Teller, his magic, and his response to a stolen trick.

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The Electric Pencil

The story of Edward Deeds, a state mental hospital patient and artistic genius.

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The Strange Fate of Kim's Video

How the museum-quality 55,000 film collection that an East Village video store gave away ended up in a small, possibly mob-run village in Sicily.

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The Revolutionary Energy of the Outmoded

Retro, apocalypticism, and our “culture of disaster.”

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A Guitar's Life

An instrument’s impact on a handful of Texans.

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The Disappeared

How the fatwa changed his life.

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Beyond the Matrix

A profile of The Wachowskis.

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In Hollywood

On Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne, screenwriters.

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The Gangster Princess of Beverly Hills

The rise and fall of Lisette Lee, the self-proclaimed “Korean Paris Hilton,” who was busted for drug trafficking.

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Punk Rock Fight Club

Inside FSU, the hardcore brotherhood where the wrong t-shirt can get you killed.
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The Mogul Who Made Justin Bieber

A profile of Scooter Braun.

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Go Away

On working in an artists’ colony.

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Smugged by Reality

On New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik.

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How Lester Bangs Taught Me to Read

The rock critic’s lasting impact.

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All This Light

A profile of Chan ‘Cat Power’ Marshall adrift in Miami.

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Cigarettes and Alcohol: Andy Capp

“Reg Smythe was the greatest British newspaper strip cartoonist of the 20th Century – and second only to Peanuts’ Charles Schulz on a global scale. So why don’t we treat him that way?”

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What Will the Fashion World Do With Kim Kardashian?

Fame, fashion, and a trip to the zoo.

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The Million-Dollar Nose

A profile of wine critic Robert Parker.

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Patton Oswalt's Letters to Both Sides

Creators, gatekeepers, and the future of the comedy business.

A transcript of Oswalt's keynote at last week's Just For Laughs conference.
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How I Hacked My Brain with Adderall: A Cautionary Tale

“Transforming into an Administrative Jekyll for a certain amount of time every day limits the amount of time my Creative Hyde can come up with content to market and sell. Luckily, amphetamines have that problem tackled as well: when you’re using them, you don’t have to sleep… at all.”

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An Odd Bird

When U.S. customs law met abstract art in the form of a bird, “shimmering and soaring toward the ceiling while the lawyers debated whether it was an ‘original sculpture’ or a metal ‘article or ware not specially provided for’ under the 1922 Tariff Act.”

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The Secret Mainstream

The life and films of Werner Herzog.

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When Art, Apple and the Secret Service Collide: 'People Staring at Computers'

How an art project led to a visit from the U.S. Secret Service.

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In Conversation: Spike Lee

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.

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Thank You for Killing My Novel

His book panned in the New York Times after being misread by the critic, an author responds.

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The Audition

On trying out for the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

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The Perfect Compliment

Experiments in making others feel good.

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Beat Boutique

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

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‘It Hasn’t Been a Disaster’

An interview with Pavement’s Bob Nastanovich on his career afterlife as a “a clocker and chart-caller” and occasional breeder at an Iowa race horse track.

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There is No Crying in Show Choir

On the road with three high school show choirs and a dream.

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Aaron Sorkin Works His Way Through the Crisis

A profile of the screenwriter in the aftermath of a personal meltdown and a national tragedy.
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Sponge-Fraud!

The curious case of SpongeBob SquarePants illustrator Todd White, three ninjas, and an art caper.

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Wikipedia: Action Park

Wikipedia entry for “Traction Park,” central New Jersey’s most dangerous mid-1980’s amusement park.

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The Heather Graham Story

A self-conscious celebrity profile.

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My Father's Voice

Remembering George Plimpton’s old-fashioned style.

Above all, he was a gentleman, one of the last—a figure so archaic, it could be easily mistaken for something else. No, my father’s voice was not an act, something chosen or practiced in front of mirrors: he came from a different world, where people talked differently, and about different things; where certain things were discussed, and certain things were not—and his voice simply reflected this.

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The “Me” Decade And The Third Great Awakening

Americans learn to love themselves.

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‘I Just Want to Feel Everything’

A profile of Fiona Apple.

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Suddenly That Summer

The people behind San Francisco’s Summer of Love.

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What… the… Fuck.

An interview with Marc Maron.

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A Vintage Crime

The man who made millions selling counterfeit wines.

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The Perfection Of The Paper Clip

Invented in 1899, it hasn’t been improved upon since.

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French Women Worry About Getting Fat, Too

On Jenny Craig’s European expansion and how dieting differs in France and the States.

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Blond on Blond on Blond

A profile of the Hollywood star-maker behind Vanna White, Pamela Anderson and Jenny McCarthy.

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The Library of Utopia

How Google’s utopian/dystopian plan to scan the world’s books failed and the Harvard-led team that’s picking up the pieces.

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Country Music's Sparkle King

A profile of fashion designer Nudie Cohn, who made clothing for Elvis, Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, and others.

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The Secret Life of Transgender Rocker Tom Gabel

A profile of the Against Me! frontman.

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A Dog Named Humphrey

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

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Minister of Fear

A profile of filmmaker Michael Haneke.

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The Beach Boys’ Crazy Summer

On tour with America’s first 50-year-old rock band.

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A Psychotronic Childhood

Growing up on B-movies.

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Amen! (D'Angelo's Back)

A profile of the singer as he returns to the stage for the first time in a dozen years.

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The Ultimate Counterfeiter Isn't a Crook—He's an Artist

A painter’s dogged, doomed pursuit of the perfect $100 bill.

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The Devils in the Diva

A posthumous profile of Whitney Houston.

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Man Up Bieber

“Being Justin Bieber means having an endless number of T-shirts to destroy.” A profile of the pop star just after his 18th birthday.

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Château Sucker

The world of high-end wine gets conned.

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Word on the Suite

With flash, hip-hop echoes rock’s golden age.

When rock was at its peak in 1972, Americans earning the equivalent of $1m a year took just over 1 per cent of national income. In 2010, this group’s share of national income had grown to almost 10 per cent. At the same time, the average tax paid by these top earners almost halved. The rise of Jay-Z’s “new black elite” reflects the growth in numbers of the super-wealthy. But the opulence that he and West flaunt also reflects the growing estrangement of those at the top from the rest.

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The Ride of a Lifetime

The making of Thelma & Louise.

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Empire of the Bun

How one man made millions with a fancy hamburger.

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Not Nice

A profile of Maurice Sendak.

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Lay It Down, Clowns!

The Beastie Boys on tour in Los Angeles shortly after the release of their debut album, Licensed to Ill.

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The Oakling and the Oak

On “Poor Hartley,” the son of Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

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Myths And Depths

A free-ranging conversation between music writers Simon Reynolds and Greil Marcus.

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Colossal in Scale, Appalling in Complexity

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

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Shop Class as Soulcraft

A call for making a living with your hands.

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Sneaking Into Pantone HQ

Inside the color forecaster.

There are no analytics measuring success of color forecasting—how would one even accurately measure such a thing? To play it safe most companies rely on a range of color forecasts. Eiseman says Pantone’s effort, and perhaps color forecasting in general, suffers from two misconceptions. The first is that there is some kind of “evil cabal” that “schemes to get the colors out there.” The second is “let’s just throw a dart and wherever it lands is what’s going to be the hot color for next year.”

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How Samuel L. Jackson Became His Own Genre

A profile of the hardworking Samuel L. Jackson, whose movies have grossed more than any actor’s ever.

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A Rumbling of Things Unknown

On Marilyn Monroe and the pains of post-war America.

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The Sorkin Way

On the set of Aaron Sorkin’s new HBO show The Newsroom.

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The Stalking of Korean Hip Hop Superstar Daniel Lee

The story of a bizarre—and bizarrely effective—smear campaign.

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Music Is My Bag

A childhood spent with the oboe.

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All Hail the Chairmen

On office chairs.

In the 1950s and '60s, the distinctions between rank found blunt expression in chair design, naming and price point; Knoll, for example, produced "Executive," "Advanced Management," and "Basic Operational" chairs in the late 1970s. Recall the archetypal scenes where the boss, back to the door, protected by an exaggerated, double-spine headrest, slowly swivels around to meet the eyes of his waiting subordinate, impotent in a stationary four-legger.

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How the New York Film Academy Discovered Gold in the Developing World

On the trade school’s business model and its founder, a former movie producer named Jerry Sherlock.

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The Sordid Secrets of Babylon

An interview with the experimental filmmaker and Hollywood chronicler Kenneth Anger, 85.

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Who Was Cowboy Neal?

Neal punctuated Jack’s riffing with his “yesses” and “that’s rights,” head bobbing on his neck like a novice prizefighter’s. After four years of New York nihilism and intellection, Neal – wiping Jack’s face with his handkerchief – Neal – who looked so much like Jack himself, an athlete like Jack – celebrated lover of women and sharer of Allen’s passionate dark soul – finally the long-lost brother who said, “Go ahead, everything you do is great” – “a Western kinsmen of the sun” – “a wild yea-saying over-burst of American joy.”

The life and myth of Neal Cassady, Beat companion and muse for Kesey, Wolfe, Kerouac, Ginsberg, The Grateful Dead and more.

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Downtown's Daughter

An early profile of Lena Dunham.

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Come as You Are

On fashion, gender, a finding oneself in a pair of drop-crotch pants.

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The Big Book

A profile of Robert Caro, who’s been working on a biography on Lyndon Johnson for nearly 40 years.

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American Mozart

A profile of Kanye West.

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Leonard Cohen Unplugged

A profile from his days living as a mountain monk in Southern California.

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Leading Mannequins

The life of an A-list Hollywood stylist.

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Interview: Sandra Bernhard

BARR: What makes you laugh? BERNHARD: Well, it's really a myriad of things, but usually it's something that's very organic. It's something that happens on the street. BARR: Like fat people falling down? BERNHARD: No, no . . . [laughs] BARR: That really cracks me up. It's terrible.
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Art for Everybody

On the empire built by “Painter of Light” Thomas Kinkade.

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Why the Titanic Still Fascinates Us

How movies, music and literature reproduce the disaster.

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God & Worshipper: A Rock-and-Roll Love Story, of Sorts

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.

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Speaking in Tongues

A literary exploration of Obama’s voice.

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Ink, Inc.

How reality TV has changed tattooing.

Tattoos and tattoo artists have an undeniable power to attract, repulse, and intimidate. But when confronted with all this life and color, reality TV steamrolls it into the familiar “drama” of preening divas and wounded pride. “Everybody thinks they’re gonna change it,” said Anna Paige, an artist who said she’d turned down her chance at TV stardom. “Everybody thinks they’re gonna have some power.” But wait, isn’t she profiting from tattooing’s mass appeal? “I would have made money anyway.”

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Kurt Vonnegut: The Art of Fiction No. 64

This interview with Kurt Vonnegut was originally a composite of four interviews done with the author over the past decade. The composite has gone through an extensive working over by the subject himself, who looks upon his own spoken words on the page with considerable misgivings . . . indeed, what follows can be considered an interview conducted with himself, by himself.
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Body Language

When we form our thoughts into speech, some of it leaks through our hands. Gestures are thoughts, ideas, speech acts made tangible in the air. They can even, for a moment, outlive the speaker.

What hand motions can teach us about language, ethnicity and assimilation.

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The Song Machine

How a hit Rihanna single gets made.

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It’s Different for 'Girls'

A profile of 25-year-old Lena Dunham, showrunner and star of HBO’s Girls.

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In Which We Don't Do Coke in the Bathroom of the Restaurant

“My name is Jackie and I am addicted to waitressing.” An essay on waiting tables.

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Native Tongues

The making of the “five-thousand-page, five-volume book, known formally as the Dictionary of American Regional English and colloquially just as DARE”:

What joking names do you have for an alarm clock? For a toothpick? For a container for kitchen scraps? Or an indoor toilet? Or women’s underwear? When a woman divides her hair into three strands and twists them together, you say she is_____her hair? What words do you have to describe people’s legs if they’re noticeably bent, or uneven, or not right? What do you call the mark on the skin where somebody has sucked it hard and brought blood to the surface?

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The Family Hour

An oral history of The Sopranos.

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How One Response to a Reddit Query Became a Big Budget Flick

An Iowa dad’s surprisingly short path from commentor to screenwriter.

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The Jimmy McNulty Gambit

Jimmy McNulty, Mike Daisey, and the problems with skirting the system to get to the greater truth.

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This American Lie

Fact-checking David Sedaris.

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Desperately Seeking Kraftwerk

Searching for the reclusive band’s studio in Düsseldorf.

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Paperback Writer

A profile of thriller writer Harlan Coben and what it takes to succeed as a novelist even when the literary establishment doesn’t acknowledge your existence.

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Downtown Is for People

Jane Jacobs has a somewhat ambiguous legacy—or at least one that's contested by different factions in the present-day debate over cities and urbanism—but to me her most important idea is encapsulated in the title and spirit of this piece. It's old and, I think, utterly prescient about what successive waves of planning fads miss. The purpose of urban space is for people to use it. A great place is a place where people want to be.

-M. Yglesias

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Does a Sugar Bear Bite?

A profile of Suge Knight, 29 and the C.E.O. of Death Row Records, before the deaths of Tupac and Notorious B.I.G.

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The Gary Oldman Story That Almost Wasn't

The strange saga of a 2009 Gary Oldman profile that his manager, Douglas Urbanski, aggressively sought to kill.

"Mr. Heath's motives are dishonest in the least...supposed 'journalism' at its very lowest...while Mr. Heath may find his sloppy reporting cute, in fact it is destructive, and he knows it...his out of context and uninformed pot shots...out of context swipes at me...stretching the most basic rules of journalism...in certain ways has aspects of a thinly disguised hit piece... a hole filled swiss cheese of wrong facts, misleading insinuations, and in general lazy, substandard, agendized non-reporting...again and again Mr. Heath attempts to turn the piece into a political piece...GQ has allowed Heath to go for the cheap shot..."

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A Scorsese in Lagos

On the difficult challenges faced by an auteur in Nigeria’s burgeoning Nollywood film economy.

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The Tree of Strife

Two Houston performance artists faux-marry an oak. Controversy ensues about the live installation’s relationship to the gay marriage debate.

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The Comedians, The Mob and the American Supperclub

It didn't matter if these clubs were in Cleveland, Portland, Corpus Christi or Baton Rouge—if it was a nightclub, the owners were the Mob. For a good forty years the Mob controlled American show business.
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Listening to Books

An essay on audio books.

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Gaudi From The Grave

Contemplating Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia church, as the controversial finishing work is completed.

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The Slap of Love

On House Xtravaganza and the life and death of its house mother Angie Xtravaganza, one of the stars of the documentary Paris is Burning, which brought vogueing and New York City’s transgendered ball culture into the spotlight.

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St. Leonard’s Passion

Leonard Cohen’s 2 A.M. set at the disastrous Isle of Wight festival, 1970.

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The Plagiarist's Tale

A profile of Quentin Rowan, a.k.a. Q. R. Markham, ‘author’ of last fall’s short-lived spy novel hit Assassins of Secrets, which was pieced together using more than a dozen sources.

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Quitting the Paint Factory

Idleness is not just a psychological necessity, req­uisite to the construction of a complete human being; it constitutes as well a kind of political space, a space as necessary to the workings of an actual democracy as, say, a free press.
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Where's Earl?

As the hip-hop group Odd Future rose to fame, their sixteen-year-old breakout star Earl Sweatshirt mysteriously disappeared.

(After a stretch at a school in Samoa, he seems to have reappeared yesterday.)

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The World of Charles Dickens, Complete With Pizza Hut

On literary tourism:

Dickens World, in other words, sounded less like a viable business than it did a mockumentary, or a George Saunders short story, or the thought experiment of a radical Marxist seeking to expose the terminal bankruptcy at the heart of consumerism. And yet it was real.

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Turbo-Folk Tycoon

On the Balkan musical genre Turbo-Folk, its ties to Serbian ultranationalism, and the strongman nightclub owner who brought it to Croatia.

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Revenge of the Nerd

On the life of Ray Bradbury.

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It's Saturday Night!

An oral history of Saturday Night Live.

Part of our guide to SNL for Slate.
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5.4

A fifteen year history of the music site Pitchfork detailing its prescient take on the relationship between culture and consumption.

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The New French Hacker-Artist Underground

On the French urban exploration group UX—”sort of like an artist’s collective, but far from being avant-garde—confronting audiences by pushing the boundaries of the new—its only audience is itself.”

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Gil Scott-Heron: More Than a Revolution

"I don't know if I was as angry as much as I was misunderstood.  A lot of the things we did contained a lot of humor that went over people's heads."
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Some Like Her Hot

A profile of Michelle Williams.

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Laissez-Faire Aesthetics

A critical look at the contemporary art marketplace.

The trouble is that a business model has come to drive the entire art world, and like the corporate executive who regards the launch of each new product as a challenge to the success of the last one, because you must keep growing or you will die, the arts community finds itself in a state of permanent anxiety. There always has to be a new artist whom the media will embrace as enthusiastically as they embraced Warhol; there always has to be a show that will top the excitement generated by the last blockbuster at the Modern or the Met.

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The Autumn of Joan Didion

Didion’s genius is that she understands what it is to be a girl on the cusp of womanhood, in that fragile, fleeting, emotional time that she explored in a way no one else ever has. Didion is, depending on the reader’s point of view, either an extraordinarily introspective or an extraordinarily narcissistic writer. As such, she is very much like her readers themselves.
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Streaming Dreams

On YouTube’s shift towards professionally created content.

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The Writearound: Louis C.K.

A conversation with the comedian.
JW: You’ve talked about how you’ve had to explain moral lessons to your daughters, but do it in an inarticulate, catchy way. It’s almost as though you’re writing material for them. What’s the place of morality and ethics in your comedy? I think those are questions people live with all the time, and I think there’s a lazy not answering of them now, everyone sheepishly goes, “Oh, I’m just not doing it, I’m not doing the right thing.” There are people that really live by doing the right thing, but I don’t know what that is, I’m really curious about that. I’m really curious about what people think they’re doing when they’re doing something evil, casually.
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Interview: Laurie Anderson

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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How Many Stephen Colberts Are There?

A suburban dad. A fictional television blowhard. And now a political money launderer. How one funny guy became three.
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What Defines a Meme?

How information replicates, mutates, and evolves.

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Muddy Waters and Mozart

A memory of interviewing the late great songwriter Townes Van Zandt shortly before his death.

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Soft Porn, Hardening Hearts

The dissolution of Brooklyn softcore skin-mag Jacques and the marriage of the couple that created it.

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Scandals of Classic Hollywood: Cary Grant's Intimate Bromance

The phrase “knew how to wear clothes” is a loaded one. To “know how to wear clothes” is another way of saying that Cary Grant embodied class, which is to say high class: Grant wore well-tailored clothes, and he knew how to hold himself in them. But he came from nothing, and the way he wore clothes was just as much of a performance as his refined trans-Atlantic accent, his acrobatic slapstick routines, and his masterful flirtation skills.
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China TV Grows Racy, and Gets a Chaperon

On “If You Are the One”, the smash hit Chinese dating show that raised the ire of censors.

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Trash, Art, and the Movies

There is so much talk now about the art of the film that we may be in danger of forgetting that most of the movies we enjoy are not works of art.
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Stumptown Girl

A profile of Carrie Brownstein, riot grrrl and creator of Portlandia.

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Chuck Berry Goddamn!

Now 85, Berry still records live music. He just doesn’t want you to hear it.

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You Say You Want a Devolution?

Why little has changed in popular American style in the last 20 years.

Why is this happening? In some large measure, I think, it’s an unconscious collective reaction to all the profound nonstop newness we’re experiencing on the tech and geopolitical and economic fronts. People have a limited capacity to embrace flux and strangeness and dissatisfaction, and right now we’re maxed out.

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Give All

James Wood on Saul Bellow:

One realizes, with a shock, that Bellow has taught one how to see and how to hear, has opened the senses. Until this moment one had not really thought of the looseness of a lightbulb filament, one had not heard the saliva bubbling in the harmonica, one had not seen well enough the nose pitted with black pores, and the demolition ball’s slow, heavy selection of its victims. A dozen good writers–Updike, DeLillo, others–can render you the window of a fish shop, and do it very well; but it is Bellow’s genius to see the lobsters “crowded to the glass” and their “feelers bent” by that glass–to see the riot of life in the dead peace of things.

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Our Own Worst Enemies

In the fantasy and superhero realm, the most chilling and compelling villain of the year was surely Magneto, who in X-Men: First Class is more of a proto-villain, a victim of human cruelty with a grudge against the nonmutants of the world rooted in bitter and inarguable experience. Magneto is all the more fascinating by virtue of being played by Michael Fassbender, the hawkishly handsome Irish-German actor whose on-screen identity crises dominated no fewer than four movies in 2011. Magneto, more than the others, also evokes a curious kind of self-reproach, because his well-founded vendetta is, after all, directed against us.
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Up With Grups*

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.

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Train of Thought: On the 'Subway' Photographs

An essay drawn from the introduction of Davidson’s iconic book Subway, first published in 1986:

To prepare myself for the subway, I started a crash diet, a military fitness exercise program, and early every morning I jogged in the park. I knew I would need to train like an athlete to be physically able to carry my heavy camera equipment around in the subway for hours every day. Also, I thought that if anything was going to happen to me down there I wanted to be in good shape, or at least to believe that I was. Each morning I carefully packed my cameras, lenses, strobe light, filters, and accessories in a small, canvas camera bag. In my green safari jacket with its large pockets, I placed my police and subway passes, a few rolls of film, a subway map, a notebook, and a small, white, gold-trimmed wedding album containing pictures of people I’d already photographed in the subway. In my pants pocket I carried quarters for the people in the subway asking for money, change for the phone, and several tokens. I also carried a key case with additional identification and a few dollars tucked inside, a whistle, and a small Swiss Army knife that gave me a little added confidence. I had a clean handkerchief and a few Band-Aids in case I found myself bleeding.

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On the Analyst's Couch with David Cronenberg

"Of course, sexuality has never only been about reproduction, obviously, with human beings, anyway. But at the moment it's almost cut free to kind of float wherever it will float. And sexuality has been mixed with many things that I think the ancients would have been surprised to find it mixed with."
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The Beguiling Tough Love of ‘Enlightened’

Enlightened is probably the sharpest satire of modern white-collar work since the original British version of The Office, and its skewering of this world intertwines with its portrait of individual personalities so deftly that you can’t separate them. Creator Mike White captures the unsettling blandness of office protocol, politics and jargon, from the chill that workers feel when Human Resources calls them out of the blue to the impressive-sounding word salad labels that the company gives to its departments and projects. (The experimental department to which the newly demoted Amy is assigned is called “Cogentiva.”)
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Young German Artists Boldly Define the 'New Jew'

Creating an identity that’s no longer tied to the past.

Monsters occasionally assume a completely unexpected appearance. All of a sudden, Adolf Hitler is standing onstage wearing an Adidas tracksuit and flip-flops, and his name isn't Hitler; it's Oliver Polak. And the monster isn't really Adolf Hitler, either; it's the audience's laughter. It starts with a sputter, like something trying to break free from its restraints. But then it bursts out as if suddenly liberated.

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Crass Warfare

Why Whitney is Lucy, only less lovable:

This may sound like blasphemy to anyone who loves Lucille Ball, the woman who pioneered the classic joke rhythms that Whitney Cummings so klutzily mimics. Cummings has none of Ball’s shining charisma or her buzz of anarchy. Yet she does share Lucy’s rictus grin, her toddler-like foot-stamping tantrums, and especially her Hobbesian view of heterosexual relationships as a combat zone of pranks, bets, and manipulation from below. “This is war,” Whitney announces, before declaring yet another crazy scheme to undercut her boyfriend, and it might as well be the series’ catchphrase.

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Alone at the Movies

Afternoons with Altman and Allen.

For a year or two during the mid-1970s, living in New York, I was a moviegoer. I was in my early 20s then, working off and on, driving a cab, setting up the stage at rock shows, writing occasional pieces for The Village Voice. But there were also long empty spells. I tried to write some fiction and couldn’t, tried to read and could—but only for so long. I ended up going to the movies.

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The Gloucester Fish War

Law enforcement vs. local fishermen in Massachusetts.

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The Muppets in Movieland

A profile of Jim Henson before the release of the first Muppet movie.

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A One-Man Market

A look at Andy Warhol’s enduring popularity and power in the art market.

Warhol’s art was not supposed to be a matter of emotion, introspection or spiritual quest; it was to be an image, pure and simple. “During the 1960s,” he wrote knowingly in 1975, “I think, people forgot what emotions were supposed to be. And I don’t think they’ve ever remembered.”

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LACMA Goes Hollywood with Elvis Mitchell

How the popular and controversial film critic has helped revive the film program at the L.A. County Museum of Art.

Journalists, filmmakers, random people on the street — it seems everyone has an Elvis Mitchell story. Both those who consider themselves Friends of Elvis and those whose relationships with him are sour or worse are happy to dish about him — albeit almost always off the record. Some are afraid of losing current or future jobs in the ever-more-tenuous world of film journalism. Others simply enjoy his admittedly fine company too much to risk losing it.

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The Godfather Wars

The battle to make The Godfather pitted director Francis Ford Coppola against producers including Robert Evans, and the production itself against the real life mob.

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The End of Cheap Coffee

The case for why a cup of joe is about to become a luxury item.

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The Glory of Oprah

A profile of the talk queen.

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Excuse Me, Weren't You in the Fall?

Tracking down 40-odd members of the British band.

It's a Tuesday morning in December, and I'm ringing people called Brown in Rotherham. "Hello," I begin again. "I'm trying to trace Jonnie Brown who used to play in the Fall. He came from Rotherham and I wondered if you might be a relative." "The Who?" asks the latest Mr Brown. "No. The Fall - the band from Salford. He played bass for three weeks in 1978." "Is this some kind of joke?"

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Interview: Eddie Murphy

It's a glorious thing, hearing Eddie Murphy say "fuck" again. Few people ever said it better – and down here in the basement of the stone-and-marble mansion he built on a Beverly Hills cliff, it's coming from his lips often enough to make Shrek blush. "Come on, motherfucker," Murphy shouts, over the throb of James Brown's "Hot Pants" on a formidable sound system.
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Pipe Dreaming

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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Lex Luger Can Write a Hit Rap Song in the Time It Takes to Read This

A few years ago, before anyone knew his name, before rap artists from all over the country started hitting him up for music, the rap producer Lex Luger, born Lexus Lewis, now age 20, sat down in his dad’s kitchen in Suffolk, Va., opened a sound-mixing program called Fruity Loops on his laptop and created a new track... Months later, Luger — who says he was “broke as a joke” by that point, about to become a father for the second time and seriously considering taking a job stocking boxes in a warehouse — heard that same beat on the radio, transformed into a Waka song called “Hard in da Paint.” Before long, he couldn’t get away from it.
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Mondo Cavalli

A profile of fashion designer Roberto Cavalli.
It’s 11 a.m. Cavalli has just risen from his wolf-fur-covered bed and said good morning to Boy, his tiger-striped Bengal cat, and Gino, his miniature monkey. At a breakfast table covered with a cloth of one of his swirling bird patterns, on which are placed four packs of cigarettes and two cigars, Cavalli sinks down on a leopard-print cushion. While he eats applesauce and drinks orange juice from Cavalli tableware, he is surrounded by his four parrots and three beautiful publicists. “Give me some bad questions,” he tells me, lighting a cigar. “I will try to be nice.”
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The Cult of Jurassic Park

On the enduring appeal, both amateur and academic, of man vs. dinosaur.

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Interview: Ellsworth Kelly

A conversation with the 88-year-old abstract painter.

PALTROW: Did you design camouflage while in the army?

KELLY: I did posters. I was in what they called the camouflage secret army. This was in 1943. The people at Fort Meade got the idea to make rubber dummies of tanks, which we inflated on the spot and waited for Germans to see through their night photography or spies. We were in Normandy, for example, pretending to be a big, strong armored division which, in fact, was still in England. That way, even though the tanks were only inflated, the Germans would think there were a lot of them there, a lot of guns, a whole big infantry. We just blew them up and put them in a field.

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I Want My MTV

An excerpt from a new oral history of MTV.

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The Schleppers: Stale Gags & Stale Food in Mid-Century Manhattan

Midtown Manhattan. The highest concentration of showbiz havens and hangouts in the whole entire world. The Chorus Girls. The Drunk Newsmen. The Jazz Hepsters. The Mob. They converge with the force of a fly against a windshield. This is where American popular culture is born. Its influence permeates the nation. Walk the streets and weave through the hustlers, the gangsters, the bookies, the rummies... and somewhere among that crowd - you'll walk past a nondescript artistic genius or twelve, indiscernible from the dregs, biding time until they transform the American landscape. And high-above the loud, syncopated beat of Midtown you can hear... The Comedians.
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Bitter Spoils

A profile of the art world’s most notorious dealer dynasty.

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Facebook, Spotify and the Future of Music

An orgy of free song-sharing seems to be exactly the kind of thing that the horrified labels would quickly clamp down on. But they appear to be starting to accept that their fortunes rest with the geeks. Or at least they’re trying to talk a good game. “I’m not part of the past—I’m part of the future,” says Lucian Grainge, chair and CEO of the world’s biggest label, Universal Music Group. “There’s a new philosophy, a new way of thinking.”
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Woody Allen: The Art of Humor No. 1

A Q&A:

My mother was called to school frequently because I was yelling out things in class, quips in class, and because I would hand in compositions that they thought were in poor taste, or too sexual. Many, many times she was called to school.

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Navahoax

How Timothy Patrick Barrus, a white writer of gay erotica, reinvented himself a (wildly successful) Native American memoirist.

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Interview: Lil Wayne

GQ: Your relationship with your biological father seems complicated. Lil Wayne: He don't give a shit about me. And I don't give a shit about him. I know his friends be like, "Damn, nigga. That is not your son. Stop lying. Nigga, you could be living in a motherfucking ranch right now, nigga." You know, whatever your father's into, if you're rich, you're gonna get him that shit. I would've got that nigga all kinda harnesses, ranches—you know what I mean? I saw the nigga recently—I had a show in New Orleans. And I ain't afraid to put this out there, 'cause this is just how much I don't give a fuck about a nigga, and I want people to see how you're not supposed to be. I was parked at the hotel, and I saw him walking outside the hotel. Just walking back and forth. I'm like, "Look at this nigga! You gotta be looking for me." If Lil Wayne got a show in New Orleans, the whole of New Orleans knows. Basically, you're not there for nothing else but me. So I call my man on the bus. I'm like, "Nigga, that's my daddy." He's like, "Word? Oh shit. That nigga looks just like you!" So I tell my man, "Go see what's up." So my man goes to holla at him. He tells my man, "Oh. I didn't know y'all was here. I'm here waiting for this little ho to get o¬ff. Get off¬ work from the hotel." For real? That's when I was like, "Typical Dwayne Carter." So that's what's up with me and my real father. I don't want to look like his ass, but I do.
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The Power of Gabriel García Márquez

On Gabo and his complicated role in the country of his birth, Colombia.

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Ostalgia Trips

On nostalgia for Communism.

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The Eternal Adolescence of Beavis and Butt-Head

A profile of Mike Judge, creator of the now-resuscitated Beavis and Butthead.

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Willem de Kooning Still Dazzles

From his arrival in New York as a penniless 22-year-old Dutch stowaway through years of obscurity until emerging as a major artist in his 50s.

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Just Kids

On the tangled early careers of Jonathan Franzen, David Foster Wallace, Mary Karr and Jeffrey Eugenides.

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Spalding Gray’s Tortured Soul

The monologist as a young man.

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My obsession with a New York cup of coffee and a doughnut

When a writer’s daily routine gets out of control.

One morning, as I gobbled my doughnut and slurped my coffee, thinking to myself, "What a fantastic doughnut, what an amazing coffee," I realised that I had not just thought this but was actually saying aloud, "What a fantastic doughnut! What a totally fantastic experience!", and that this was attracting the attention of the other customers, one of whom turned to me and said, "You like the doughnuts, huh?"

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Interview: Sol LeWitt

"Serial systems and their permutations function as a narrative that has to be understood. People still see things as visual objects without understanding what they are. They don’t understand that the visual part may be boring but it’s the narrative that’s interesting. It can be read as a story, just as music can be heard as form in time. The narrative of serial art works more like music than like literature."
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Downtown is For People

On the then new phenomenon of dead downtowns:

It is not only for amenity but for economics that choice is so vital. Without a mixture on the streets, our downtowns would be superficially standardized, and functionally standardized as well. New construction is necessary, but it is not an unmixed blessing: its inexorable economy is fatal to hundreds of enterprises able to make out successfully in old buildings. Notice that when a new building goes up, the kind of ground-floor tenants it gets are usually the chain store and the chain restaurant. Lack of variety in age and overhead is an unavoidable defect in large new shopping centers and is one reason why even the most successful cannot incubate the unusual--a point overlooked by planners of downtown shopping-center projects.

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The Beards Are A Joke

Four unhealthy, bearded, mostly unknown comedians from Atlanta tour 3,020 miles in a van.

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The Life & Times Of M. Serge Gainsbourg

Gainsbourg decked out his home at 5 Rue de Verneuil in Saint Germain all in black, inspired by a time when he was younger when he'd somehow got the keys to Salvador Dali's house and made love to his first wife in every room while Dali was away. He even stole a small token souvenir in the form of a picture from Dali's porn collection. (Serge was obsessed with Dali and the pair later became friends. The title of 'Je T'Aime... Moi Non Plus' - roughly translated as 'I love you, me neither' - was inspired by something Dali was once supposed to have said: "Picasso is Spanish - so am I; Picasso is a genius - so am I; Picasso is a communist - me neither.")
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And… Scene.

An oral history of the Upright Citizens Brigade.

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Michael Stipe Has Great Hair

A profile of the R.E.M. frontman.

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The Last Lion

A visit with the novelist Jim Harrison.

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Rick Ross's Simple Lessons for Bosses, Dons, and Bitches

Rick Ross was born William Leonard Roberts II in 1976, and he borrowed his stage name (and the associated big-time cocaine-selling hustler persona) from the legendary L.A. drug lord Freeway Ricky Ross. But the website MediaTakeout uncovered a photograph of William Leonard Roberts II when he was a Florida corrections officer. Most people thought that'd be the end of his career. Freeway Ricky Ross then sued him for stealing his name. None of it mattered. Rick Ross the rapper just sold more records.
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Clock Stopper

A profile of gallery owner Paula Cooper.

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The Writearound: Vanessa Grigoriadis

An interview with Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone writer Vanessa Grigoriadis on the finer points of celebrity profiling.

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The Pinup of Williamsburg

A profile of Zooey Deschanel.

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I Was Born Inside the Movie of My Life

Extracted from the author’s memoir, Life Itself.

The British satirist Auberon Waugh once wrote a letter to the editor of the Daily Telegraph asking readers to supply information about his life between birth and the present, explaining that he was writing his memoirs and had no memories from those years. I find myself in the opposite position. I remember everything. All my life I've been visited by unexpected flashes of memory unrelated to anything taking place at the moment. These retrieved moments I consider and replace on the shelf.

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The Big Party

Life inside the original Playboy Mansion.

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The Teenager & The Porn Star

An early profile of Sasha Grey.

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The Thin Man

A profile of Steve Buscemi.

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The Devil in Long Island

The author expounds on culture and crime in the early 90s:

Yes, I know there are sensational tabloid crimes everywhere and the closeness to the Manhattan media nexus tends to magnify everything. But even so, that was always true. There's just no denying that something has changed in the past decade, that, as our bard Billy Joel sings on his new album, there's "lots more to read about, Lolita and suburban lust." But why? Why is this Island different from all other islands? And why are so many Long Islanders suddenly running amok?

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Doubling in the Middle

On the master palindromist, Barry Duncan.

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Zombies Are So Hot Right Now

On the fascination, from Hollywood to Atlanta, with zombies.

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Sex & Death in the Afternoon

An oral history of the soap opera.

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Better, Faster, Stronger

A profile of Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Body and The 4-Hour Workweek.

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Angel So Fly

An oral history of Aaliyah.

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Down the Line

The web has revolutionized communications and commerce, but what does it mean for art?

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Did Robert Johnson Sell His Soul to the Devil?

Another look at a popular myth.

For the longest time blues fans didn’t even know what their hero looked like—in 1971, a music magazine even hired a forensic artist to make a composite sketch based on various first-hand accounts—until two photos of Robert Johnson finally came to light.  The dapper young man pictured in the most famous photo, dressed in a stylish suit and smiling affably at the camera, hardly looks like a man who has sold his soul to Lucifer.

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Ernest Hemingway: The Art of Fiction No. 21

HEMINGWAY: You go to the races? PLIMPTON: Yes, occasionally. HEMINGWAY: Then you read the Racing Form . . . . There you have the true art of fiction.
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Matter of Rothko

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?

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Vodka Nation

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.”

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Dada’s Boy

On the life and career of Chris Farley.

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An Oral History of the Rise and Fall (and Rise) of "The Dana Carvey Show"

Smigel: Louis comes up with, "What if he says, 'I'm the nurturing president,'and I've developed the ability to breastfeed!" And I'm like, "Yeah, that's great! And then let's have him open the shirt and he's got eight nipples and he can breastfeed dogs and cats." Colbert: We had already lost a lot of sponsors. [Starts singing] It's a beautiful root beer day, the folks from Mug Root Beer have agreed to stay. But you better not breastfeed any puppies today, or you sure as hell will be on your way. So be careful you little punk, Dana Carvey! Even I think it's odd I remember all of the lyrics. I am very impressive...remembering reasons why shows I'm on failed.
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James Brown: Soul Brother No. 1 (1933-2006)

An oral history of James Brown, from Macon to the top.

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Woody Allen: Rabbit Running

A profile of an up-and-coming director:

Well, according to Woody, his ascent has been a series of painful falls. Success hasn't changed him, Allen insists: he's still a schlemiel. "I'm afraid of the dark and suspicious of the light," he says. "I have an intense desire to return to the womb—anybody's." Ineptitude, Woody goes on, is a family curse.

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Travels with Toni

The author accompanies Toni Morrison to Stockholm, where she accepts the Nobel Prize in Literature.
"Hi," she said on the telephone, a week after the announcement. "This is Toni, your Nobelette. Are you ready for Stockholm?" Well, since she asked, why not? I left town for Greek light, German sausage, Russian soul, French sauce, Spanish bull, Zen jokes, the Heart of Darkness and the Blood of the Lamb. Toni Morrison's butter cakes and baby ghosts, her blade of blackbirds and her graveyard loves, her Not Doctor Street and No Mercy Hospital and all those maple syrup men "with the long-distance eyes" are a whole lot more transfiguring. Where else but Stockholm, even if she does seem to have been promiscuous with her invitations. I mean, she asked Bill Clinton, too, whose inaugural she had attended, and with whom she was intimate at a White House dinner party in March. (He told Toni's agent, Amanda "Binky" Urban, that he really wanted to go but... they wouldn't let him.) Salman Rushdie might also have gone except that the Swedish Academy declined officially to endorse him in his martyrdom, after which gutlessness three of the obligatory eighteen academicians resigned in protest, and can't be replaced, because you must die in your Stockholm saddle.
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Interview: Jerry Lewis

Jerry Lewis has had a spectacular sex life. On the road, of course, girls were everywhere—in his dressing room, back at his hotel. But even at home, when he was directing a film, sometimes he'd get to the set early for "a little hump," just to get the day started right. Joseph Levitch, as he was named upon his birth in Newark, New Jersey, had his first sexual experience seventy-three years ago, when he was 12. It was backstage at a club where his father, a singer and dancer who called himself Danny Lewis, was performing. The temptress was a twentysomething stripper named Trudine who lured the boy into her dressing room. "Whatever we did, I remember it took only a minute," Lewis recalls fondly. "She was a piece of work. She danced with a snake." He married his first wife, Patti, a singer with Jimmy Dorsey's band, when he was 19. They'd met after he dropped out of high school to go on the road, starting at the bottom in burlesque houses where comics took the stage in between strippers. These were the kinds of dives that were patronized by "guys in the front with the newspapers in their laps and the trench coats—a tough room, but you had to do it."
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Random Roles: Bronson Pinchot

The former Perfect Strangers star cheerfully slags Tom Cruise, Eddie Murphy and Denzel Washington, among others.

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Very Deep in America

On Friday Night Lights as book, film, and TV show.

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The Bell Jar at 40

Sylvia Plath’s YA novel reaches middle age.

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The Only One

A profile of Vogue Creative Director André Leon Talley.

From our guide to haute couture genius at Slate.

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Birth of an MTV Nation

An oral history.

Tom Freston: We knew we needed a real signature piece that would look different from everything else on TV. We also knew that we had no money. So we went to NASA and got the man-on-the-moon footage, which is public domain. We put our logo on the flag and some music under it. We thought that was sort of a rock ’n’ roll attitude: “Let’s take man’s greatest moment technologically, and rip it off.”

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Balanced Diets

On the history and study of pica:

Indeed, we have long defined ourselves and others by what we do and do not eat, from kashrut dietary restrictions described in Leviticus to the naming of Comanche bands (Kotsoteka—buffalo eaters, Penateka—honey eaters, Tekapwai—no meat) to insults—French frogs, English limeys, German krauts. But poya seemed to beg a different question: what was one to make of people who ate food that wasn’t food at all?

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Up All Night With Amy Winehouse

A profile of the late singer.

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Outside Man

A profile of Spike Lee.

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The Real Education of Little Tree

The story of Asa Earl Carter, aka Forrest Carter, the best-selling author of The Education of Little Tree, an autobiographical novel about “communion with nature and love of one’s fellow man.” He was also a Klansman, penning the famous George Wallace line, “Segregation now! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!”

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The War for Catch-22

The behind-the-scenes publishing saga of Joseph Heller’s 1961 novel.

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Double Vision

The perspective-bending art of identical twins Trevor and Ryan Oakes.

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Sniffing Glue

A youth set to the shifting sounds of CCM, Christian Contemporary Music:

This, by the way, is considered the ultimate sign of quality CCM, even amongst Christians: the ability to pass as secular. Every band’s goal was to have teenagers stop their grooving mid-song and exclaim, like a soda commercial actress who’s just realized she’s been drinking Diet, “Wait, this is Christian?”

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I Thought You Were a Poet

An essay on poetry and madness.

People still think of poets as an odd bunch, as you’ll know if you’ve been introduced as one at a wedding. Some poets spotlight this conception by saying otherworldly things, playing up afflictions and dramas, and otherwise hinting that they might be visionaries. In the past few centuries, of course, the standard picture of psychopathology has changed a great deal. But as it’s often invoked, the idea of the mad poet preserves, in fossil form, a stubbornly outdated and incomplete image of madness. Modern psychiatry and neuroscience have supplanted this image almost everywhere else.

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Daniel Ek’s Spotify: Music’s Last Best Hope

Is the streaming Swedish music service, now making its U.S. debut, the best shot the industry has at staying profitable and relevant?

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Weekend At Kermie's: The Muppets' Strange Life After Death

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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The Great Collaborator

At work with Jean-Claude Carrière, screenwriter of choice for an entire generation of top-flight directors.

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How The Internet Transformed The American Rave Scene

How a musical subculture evolved alongside a technological subculture:

Rave's rise mirrors the Web's in many ways. Both mixed rhetorical utopianism with insider snobbery. Both were future-forward "free spaces" with special appeal to geeks and wonks.

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Chasing Dash Snow

A profile of the hard-living, cop-dodging artist Dash Snow, published two years before his death of an overdose.

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The Life and Death of Richard Brautigan

His friends remembered when Richard became famous. It was the year the hippies came to San Francisco. Richard had published one novel, A Confederate General from Big Sur, but it had sold miserably 743 copies and his publisher, Grove Press, had dropped its option on Trout Fishing in America. Donald Allen was the West Coast representative of Grove and the editor of the Evergreen Review, which had introduced the Beat Generation. Allen had a small nonprofit press called the Four Seasons Foundation, and he decided to publish the book himself. Allen sold 29,000 copies of the book before Delacorte bought it. Eventually, 2 million copies were sold. It was the kind of book that captured the spirit and sound of a generation. Soon there was a commune and an underground newspaper and even a school named after Trout Fishing in America. His short stories and poems appeared regularly in Rolling Stone, often beneath a photograph of him in his broad-brimmed hat. His face became a hippie icon. "For three or four years, he was like George Harrison walking down Haight Street," remembered Don Carpenter, a novelist and scriptwriter and a longtime friend of Richard's. His image infuriated what Richard called the East Coast literary mafia.
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John Gardner: The Art of Fiction No. 73

Three interviews with John Gardner, author of Grendel and The Art of Fiction, conducted over the last decade of his life.

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The King of the Deal

A profile of Hollywood agent Irving “Swifty” Lazar.

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How to Mend a Broken Heart

A visit to the Museum of Broken Relationships.

Olinka and Drazen are artists, and after some time passed, they did what artists often do: they put their feelings on display. They became investigators into the plane wreck of love, bagging and tagging individual pieces of evidence. Their collection of breakup mementos was accepted into a local art festival. It was a smash hit. Soon they were putting up installations in Berlin, San Francisco, and Istanbul, showing the concept to the world. Everywhere they went, from Bloomington to Belgrade, people packed the halls and delivered their own relics of extinguished love: “The Silver Watch” with the pin pulled out at the moment he first said, “I love you.” The wood-handled “Ex Axe” that a woman used to chop her cheating lover’s furniture into tiny bits. Trinkets that had meaning to only two souls found resonance with a worldwide audience that seemed to recognize the same heartache all too well.

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Did Nancy Grace, TV Crimebuster, Muddy Her Myth?

Because of what happened in Georgia, Ms. Grace has said over and over, she knows firsthand how the system favors hardened criminals over victims. It is the foundation of her judicial philosophy, her motivation in life, her casus belli. And much of it isn’t true.
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A-R-E-T-H-A

A sit-down with Ms. Franklin.

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The Terrazzo Jungle

How the mall was born.

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When Country Was King

Uncovering Southern California’s country music roots.

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E. B. White: The Art of the Essay No. 1

"I’m not familiar with books on style. My role in the revival of Strunk’s book was a fluke—just something I took on because I was not doing anything else at the time. It cost me a year out of my life, so little did I know about grammar."
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Blow-Up

An oral history of director Michael Bay.

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A Free Man in LA

A profile of Justin Timberlake:

This need to succeed, to become his generation’s multi-talented Sammy Davis Jr., is part of what makes him appealing to filmmakers. “I needed someone who could be a Frank Sinatra figure, someone who could walk into the room and command all the attention,” says David Fincher, of casting Timberlake as Sean Parker, the Facebook investor and rogue, in The Social Network. “I didn’t want someone who would just say, ‘I know how to play groovy.’ You can’t fake that stuff. That’s the problem with making movies about a rock star—actors have spent their lives auditioning and getting rejected, and rock stars haven’t.”

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Simpson Family Values

An oral history of The Simpsons.

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American Marvel

A profile of Chris Evans, star of the upcoming Captain America:

At this point, which was a…number of drinks in, it was easy to forget that it really was an interview, and I'd be lying if I said it didn't cross my mind that something might happen (and that we'd go to the Oscars and get married and have babies forever until we died?). But there was always the question of how much of it was truly Chris Evans, and whom I should pretend to be in response.

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The Myth and Legend of Shecky Greene

The name Shecky can vacillate from noun to verb to adjective. The opinion of every comedian during that gilded age of show business, whether they were Republican Bob Hope or hipster Lenny Bruce, is that Shecky Greene was the the wildest of them all. The craziest of them all. Most importantly - the funniest of them all.
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On John Ross

John Ross, rebel reporter, became the sort of devoted gringo scribe who would give up drugs and drinking in order to better write about the native revolutionaries; the sort of man who used dolls to preach armed revolution to high schoolers in the weeks after September 11th.
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Scent of a Woman's Ink

An essay on gynobibliophobia and the critical reception of women writers.

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The Redeemer

A profile of filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar during the 2004 Cannes International Film Festival.

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Interview with Joe Sacco

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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Eighty-one Years. Seventy-nine Movies. Two Oscars. Not One Bad Performance.

A rare interview with Gene Hackman, who says Welcome to Mooseport was his last movie, unless he “could do it in my own house.”

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Interview: Nan Goldin

These were the people I lived with, these were my friends, these were my family, this was myself. I’d photograph people dancing while I was dancing Or people having sex while I was having sex. Or people drinking while I was drinking.
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Father of the Year

A profile of John Lasseter, chief creative officer at Pixar.

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New York Is Killing Me

A profile of the late Gil-Scott Heron.

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Badlands: An Oral History

On the eve of the release of The Tree of Life, a look back at the turbulent making of Terence Malick’s debut.

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Jack Kerouac: The Art of Fiction No. 41

An interview on craft:

Writing The Subs in three nights was really a fantastic athletic feat as well as mental, you shoulda seen me after I was done...I was pale as a sheet and had lost fifteen pounds and looked strange in the mirror.

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Algren in Exile

On the unlikely friendship between Nelson Algren and the young writer during the final years of Algren’s life.

It was June of 1980 when Nelson called me breathlessly from the highway.

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The Genius of Buster

A profile of silent film comedian Buster Keaton:

The story of his life seems in its twists and dives borrowed from his movies, survival demanding a pure lack of sentiment.

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The Moralist

On the strange ethics of Stieg Larsson’s Millenium trilogy:

What matters instead is the division of the world into good and evil, a division that begins with splitting sex into positive and negative experiences, then ripples out from that in fascinating ways.

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Patti Smith Interviewed by Thurston Moore

TM The only other time I saw you was in Bleecker Bob’s in the ‘70s. You walked in eating pizza and wearing aviator glasses and Bleecker Bob showed you an Ian Dury picture sleeve and you said, “I don’t listen to music by people I don’t wanna fuck.” PS (laughter) Yeah, that was me.
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Falling Comet

The rise and fall of “Rock Around the Clock” singer Bill Haley.

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Fantasia for Piano

Joyce Hatto, unknown to even the most ardent classical music collectors until late in her life, released a string of incredible performances of great works, distributed by her husband’s mail-order CD business. But how was it possible for her to record difficult works at such a dizzying rate? And if wasn’t her playing, who was it?

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And I Should Know

“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.
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How to be a Rock Critic & Here's How

Ah yes, you should also know that most of your colleagues are some of the biggest neurotics in the country, so you might as well get used right now to the way they're gonna be writing you five and ten page single spaced inflammatory letters reviling you for knocking some group that they have proved is the next Stones.
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Interview: Michael Stipe

When I hear music as a fan, I see fields. I see landscapes. I close my eyes and see an entire universe that that music and the voice, or the narrative, create. A music video-and any other kind of visual reference-is created by someone else. For me, as a music fan, visuals kind of steal away the purity of the song.
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The Information Sage

On Edward Tufte, the  great data visualization (read: charts and graphs) theorist and author of 1983’s The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, one of the most successful self-published books ever produced.

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First Impressions

The discovery of 30,000-year old, perfectly preserved cave paintings in southern France offer a glimpse into a world that 21st-century humans can never hope to understand. The article that inspired Werner Herzog’s “Cave of Forgotten Dreams.”

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The Story of V

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.

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Javier Marias: The Art of Fiction No. 190

In the past the only people who wrote autobiographies or memoirs were very important, those who had a crucial role in the history of their own country—Napoleon, Goethe—or were witness to major events or people who had singular, adventurous lives. Otherwise, it is ridiculous to write your autobiography.
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Why She Fell

On tragedy, mythology, and the spectacular crash of the Spider-Man musical and its creator, Julie Taymor.

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First Banana

A profile of Steve Carell, whose last appearance as Michael Scott in The Office airs tonight.

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Interview: Nancy Wilson

An interview with Heart guitarist and film composer Nancy Wilson.

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Untimely

Henry Luce and Time vs. Harold Ross and The New Yorker. What was at stake in the epic magazine rivalry of the 20th century?

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These Beats Work

On the producer Timbaland, then best known for collaborations with Missy Elliott, Aaliyah, and Ginuwine.

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Rude Boys

The birth of the Beastie Boys—an oral history on the 25th anniversary of Licensed to Ill.

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Brotherhood

On Sebastian Junger’s War and the documentary Restrepo by Tim Hetherington, who was killed in Libya yesterday.

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Tavi Says

A profile of 14-year-old fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson.

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How to Build a Universe That Doesnt Fall Apart Two Days Later

Time is speeding up. And to what end? Maybe we were told that two thousand years ago.

On the shortcomings of both reality and fiction.

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The Zen of Eminem

A review/interview/profile:

Let's settle on the bald facts: Eminem has secured his place in the rap pantheon.

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Robert Frank’s Unsentimental Journey

A profile of the famed photographer.

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Picasso’s Erotic Code

When they met, he was 45 and she was 17. In her 14 years as his mistress, she appeared in countless paintings, including Guernica.

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Interview: Norm MacDonald

It’s like when they fucking show—I know nothing about plays and shit, but sometimes they’ll show a play on TV, and it’s fucking shit, because you’re like, “What the fuck, am I supposed to think that’s a moon?” Like it’s a cardboard moon or some shit.
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A Simple Medium

On Chuck Lorre, creator of the #1 (Two and a Half Men) and #2 comedy on American television, former cruise ship guitarist, composer of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song, and recently antagonist of Charlie Sheen.

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The Murder of Leo Tolstoy

The author attends a Tolstoy conference as a grad student. She wears flip-flops, sweatpants and a flannel shirt, and tries to determine if Tolstoy was murdered.

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"I Am So, Like, Sick of Movies and Shit"

After a final film, Kevin Smith is going to retire to a life of podcasting and speaking tours. Or so he says.

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Killing Orson Welles at Midnight

On Christian Marclay’s film The Clock.

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How Radiolab Is Transforming the Airwaves

The emergence of a radio phenomenon popular amongst young demographic believed lost to interactive distractions.

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On the Set of Apocalypse Now

It was the middle of the day in the steamy Philippine jungle and the sun was merciless. Director Francis Ford Coppola, dressed in rumpled white Mao pajamas, was slowly making his way upriver in a motor launch.
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It’s Not Beautiful

A profile of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

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Inside David Foster Wallace’s Private Self-Help Library

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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The Misfit

On David Milch; Yale fraternity brother of George W. Bush, literature professor, longtime junkie, creator of NYPD Blue, Deadwood (which was in production when this profile was written), and the forthcoming racetrack-set HBO series Luck.

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"Astral Weeks"

A decade later, on the then twenty-three-year-old Van Morrison’s 1968 album Astral Weeks.

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Too Much Information

On David Foster Wallace’s unfinished novel, The Pale King, and his legacy.

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Utopia & Dystopia

Why utopias are best understood as fiction games, and how they quickly become dystopias when realized.

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Between Hell and History

On Don DeLillo’s Underworld.

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The Voyeuristic Adventures of Errol Flynn

The swinging life and boozy death of the original ladies man, and the story of “the coroner that tampered with his cold, lifeless venereal warts.”

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Hollywood's Leading Geek

A profile of Zack Snyder, director of Watchmen, Dawn of the Dead, and the upcoming Superman series.

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Creative Indeed

A profile of Grace Coddington, creative director of Vogue and break-out star of The September Issue.

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Hollywood Shadows: A Cure for Blocked Screenwriters

Barry Michels is Hollywood’s most successful therapist cum motivation coach with an approach that combines Jungian psychology, encouraging patients to embrace their dark side, and “three-by-five index cards inscribed with Delphic pronouncements like THE HIERARCHY WILL NEVER BE CLEAR.”

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The Ascension of Peter Zumthor

Peter Zumthor, who recently won the Pritzker Prize after a career of few buildings and mostly modest-in-size projects, on the “architecture of actually making things”

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Predilections

A profile of the filmmaker Errol Morris as he prepared to release The Thin Blue Line after a decade of limited distribution, semi-poverty, and a side career as a private detective.

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A Pryor Love

On the life and career of Richard Pryor, as he neared the end of both.

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Interview: Chris Rock

"Howard Stern's a bad motherfucker, man..if I had to be on six hours a day, it would be just as nasty and foul and not sophisticated. The fact that you're going to see me do an hour every four years? Reduce Howard Stern to an hour every four years, you'd have the most brilliant comedian who ever lived. It's not even close."
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This Is It: Ten Years of the Strokes

An oral history of the Strokes.

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Latter-Day Saints

On Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and their new Broadway musical about Mormons, which “may just be their highest artistic achievement yet.”

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Why Are Movies So Bad? Or, The Numbers

Hollywood makes bad movies because “rotten pictures make money.”

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Coke, Hookers, Hospital, Repeat

GQ moved up the release of this Charlie Sheen profile: "The fucking AA shit. The sobriety shit. It was always for other people. I just wanted to get a job back and get enough money to tell everybody to go fuck themselves and then roll like Errol Flynn and Frank Sinatra—the good parts of those guys."
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Can't Be Tamed: A Manifesto

On existing as a girl in the boy’s club that is the world.

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The Rude Warrior

Five years ago, Mel Gibson was one of Hollywood’s few genuine family-men and a leading box office attraction; inside his wild descent from star to pariah.

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Whatever Happened to Alternative Nation? Part 10: 1999

“By the time we got to Woodstock 99 …” In a grim finale, the nineties get their Altamont.

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Death in the Snow

In 2001, a young Japanese woman walked into the North Dakota woods and froze to death. Had she come in search of the $1 million dollars buried nearby in the film Fargo?

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Marilyn

On photographing the former Norma Jeane Mortenson. ”I think she was the best light comedienne we have in films today, and anyone will tell you that the toughest of acting styles is light comedy.”—Billy Wilder

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Playboy Interview: Bob Dylan

Six months after playing an electric guitar at the Newport Folk Festival, a rambling Dylan holds forth on style, songwriting, and fame. “People have one great blessing—obscurity—and not really too many people are thankful for it.”

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The Day the Movies Died

The Top Gun effect; how Hollywood became a factory for sequels, comic book and video game adaptations, and anything else easily marketed to under-25-year-old males.

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The God In the Trash

The oracular works of Philip K. Dick.

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The Hardy Boys: The Final Chapter...

On writing what you loathe. Leslie McFarlane, ghostwriter of the early Hardy Boys novels, was so ashamed of the work he couldn’t even bring himself to name the books in his diary. “June 9, 1933: Tried to get at the juvenile again today but the ghastly job appalls me.”

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Comedy Isn't Funny

SNL in its grim twentieth season through the lens of first (and only) year cast-member Janeane Garofalo.

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The Weinstein Way

How the Weinstein Brothers barked their way into an empire and then lost it.

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Whatever Happened to Alternative Nation? — Part 9: 1998

“You’re either with Korn and Limp Bizkit, or you’re against them.” The birth of nu-metal.

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The Last Wailer

A trip to Kingston, Jamaica to track down Bunny Wailer, a reggae legend now living “in his own private Zion.”

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The Novelist and the Sheikh

On the Cairo knifing of 82-year-old Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz and its aftermath.

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His Own Best Straight Best Man

On Mark Twain’s recently released memoir.

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A Conversation between Kenneth Koch and John Ashbery

“What you say is very unclear, but I suppose you mean that since I find one of your remarks illogical and since I like your poems, that therefore I must like poems which are illogical. But I don’t find your poems either logical or illogical. If you want this interview to have the logic of a poem and not ordinary logic we will have to start over again.”

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Will Oldham Interviews R. Kelly

On Sam Cooke, theme parties, and the importance of McDonald’s-related jingles when street performing.

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Show the Monster

A profile of director Guillermo del Toro.

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Holden Caulfield’s Goddam War

J.D. Salinger on the beaches on D-Day, marching through concentration camps, and in liberated Paris.

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Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

On the young and ascendant Frank Sinatra, “who ruled crowds by seductive magnetism and surrounded himself with courtiers, but had once been an adolescent alone in his room listening to Bing Crosby on his Atwater-Kent.”

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The Forger's Story

Searching for (and easily finding) Mark Augustus Landis, the man behind the “longest, strangest forgery spree the American art world has known.”

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Burning Man and the Metropolis

When (temporary) cities swell; a short history of the Burning Man festival.

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Playboy Interview: John Mayer

Here’s what I really want to do at 32: fuck a girl and then, as she’s sleeping in bed, make breakfast for her. So she’s like, “What? You gave me five vaginal orgasms last night, and you’re making me a spinach omelet? You are the shit!” So she says, “I love this guy.” I say, “I love this girl loving me.” And then we have a problem.
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Literature and Exile

A 2000 speech on the impossibility of all forms of exile, particularly literary.

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Becoming Cary Grant

On his 80th birthday; how Archie Leach, “the Bristol-born son of a part-Jewish suit presser,” became the greatest leading man of his generation.

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The Goat Boy Rises

On the late comedian Bill Hicks, just as a performance on Letterman is deemed unfit for network TV.

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Interview: George Lois

George Lois never actually worked at Esquire, he simply designed the most iconic magazine covers of the 60s as a moonlighting gig while revolutionizing (and, generally pissing off) the advertising industry by day.

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Metamorphosis

How a burst blood vessel transformed the mind of a deliberate, controlled chiropractor into that of an utterly unfiltered, massively prolific artist.

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David Fincher Gets the Girl

A profile of the director, written from the set of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

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More Harm Than Good

On Huck Finn, the book Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word, and the evolution of language and race in America.

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Interview: Francis Ford Coppola

“As we enter into a new age, maybe art will be free. Maybe the students are right. They should be able to download music and movies. I’m going to be shot for saying this. But who said art has to cost money?”

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Meet the Shaggs

From 1968-1973, the three teenage Wiggins sisters, guided by a domineering father, played their strange music at New Hampshire ballrooms and recorded a single album. The Philosophy of the World LP goes for over $500 today, but the intervening decades were not kind to the Wiggins’.

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Wake Up, Geek Culture, Time To Die

On how 21st century culture shifts killed the nerd and what lies ahead.

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Nollywood: Lights, Camera, Africa

On the evolution of Nigeria’s booming film industry, which produces 50 full-length features a week.

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Next stop, Forbidden City

The fever-dream life and death of Chinese poet Gu Cheng.

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Unpacking My Record Collection

Walter Benjamin, mp3s, and what collecting says about us.

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Barry Hannah in conversation with Wells Tower

“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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Why Nicolai Ouroussoff Is Not Good Enough

The uneasy dance of the architecture critic, the big-name architect, the towering new building, and the city beneath it.

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Winona Forever

A profile of Winona Ryder.

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Interview: Bob Rafelson

An interview with mind behind both Five Easy Pieces and The Monkees.

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Master of Play

A profile of video game artist Shigeru Miyamoto, the man behind Super Mario Bros.

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The Next Golden Child

A profile of 12-year-old actress Elle Fanning, Dakota’s sister.

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Inhaling the Spore

A trip to the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles.

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Interview: Danny Boyle

The director of Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours on his aversion to America, the advantages of small budgets, and the challenges of directing the opening ceremony for the London Olympics.

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Christian Bale May Kill Someone Yet

"Why are you putting all that muddle in your brain that's not needed to be there?"

An interview about why giving interviews is totally worthless.

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The Last Wife

A profile of the late artist and author Norris Church Mailer, who stayed with her husband Norman despite his notorious philandering.

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13 Ways of Looking at Liz Lemon

Thoughts on an emerging brand of feminism and the ridiculousness of claiming that Tina Fey is unattractive.

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Angry Middle-Aged Man

A profile of Larry David, with a focus on his years as a struggling stand-up. “I was hoping that somehow I could get some kind of cult following and get by with that.”

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Can Rem Koolhaas Kill the Skyscraper?

A globe-trotting, pre-CCTV profile of architect Rem Koolhaas.

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The Professor of Micropopularity

A profile of Focus Features CEO James Schamus.

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MFA vs. NYC

On America’s two literary fiction cultures and why one will endure.

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My Lost City

When New York was perpetually on fire.

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E.M. Forster, Middle Manager

On the BBC radio addresses of E.M. Forster: ”For one thing, he won’t call what he is doing literary criticism, or even reviewing. His are 'recommendations' only. Each episode ends with Forster diligently reading out the titles of the books he has dealt with, along with their exact price in pounds and shillings.

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James Frey's Fiction Factory

James Frey is starting a publishing company, paying young writers (very poorly) to reverse engineer a Twilight-esque hit.

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The Miracle in Bilbao

The story that certified Gehry as a genius and the Guggenheim Bilbao as the building of the late 20th century.

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David Lynch Keeps His Head

A “fanatical Lynch fan from way back,” David Foster Wallace visits the set of Lost Highway, never actually talks to the director, and writes a profile.

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Crimes of the Art?

What happens when a decades old video, featuring the artist Larry Rivers’ prepubescent daughters bare-chested, is claimed both as child pornography and as an important part of the archive of a major American painter.

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“I’d Like to Be Trusted Again.”

A profile of of Courtney Love.

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Fading Horrors of the Grand Guignol

The macabre, ultra-violent plays put on at the Grand Guignol defined an era in Paris, attracting foreign tourists, aristocrats, and celebrities. Goering and Patton saw plays there in the same year. But the carnage of WWII ultimately undermined the shock of Guignol’s brutality, and audiences disappeared.

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Generation Why?

The difference between a social network and a movie about a social network, and what it says about the Facebook generation.

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The Early Woody Allen 1952-1971

The young Woody Allen writes jokes for supper club comedians, decides he will never make it as a performer and then does, idolizes and is snubbed by Mort Sahl, and develops the comic persona which will make him a star.

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How Annie Got Shot

If Annie Leibovitz sold her work through the traditional channels of the art world, she would have amassed a small fortune. But at the tail end of a career that has snubbed art galleries and collectors, she is destitute.

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Excerpted from 'Listen to This'

“I hate classical music: not the thing but the name. It traps a tenaciously living art in a theme park of the past. It cancels out the possibility that music in the spirit of Beethoven could still be created today.”

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The Complete BMF Series

A single-page version of Shalhoup’s reporting on the Black Mafia Family, one of the largest cocaine empires in American history.

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Prada Prostitutes

Booker winner Howard Jacobson on the bumper crop of hooker memoirs and what they say about our understanding of paid sex.

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The Unsocial Network

Behind the scenes of Conan vs. Leno. An excerpt from The War for Late Night.

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The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Himself

Tony Kushner and the burdens of being one of the last public intellectuals in American theater.

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Violence, Nudity, Adult Content

As CEO of HBO, Chris Albrecht was responsible for putting The Wire, The Sopranos, and Sex and the City on the air. Then he choked his girlfriend outside a Vegas casino, got fired, and took a job running Starz.

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Fascinating Fascism

On a book of photographs shot by Leni Riefenstahl in the 1950s and 1960s depicting an African tribe.

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R. Crumb: The Art of Comics, No. 1

An interview with R. Crumb on how he adapted Genesis into comic form.

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More Dispatches from the R. Kelly Trial

Featuring the debut of the “Ghost Sex Defense.”

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Dispatches from the R. Kelly Trial

The “Shaggy Defense,” the “Little Man Defense,” and more—live from R. Kelly’s 2008 child pornography trial.

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The Life and Times of Rusty Warren

The life and times of female comedy LP sensation Rusty Warren, whose bawdy hits like ‘Knockers Up’ commanded the charts and the lounges of the 1960s Midwest.

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I Did Abominable Things

Tony Kaye was one of the biggest commercial directors of his time. Then he directed American History X and, by his own admission, completely lost his mind.

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The Final Comeback of Axl Rose

Four years after a disastrous MTV performance had led him to avoid the public, Rose was back on stage.

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The End of the Story

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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Why Me?

A profile of the perpetually disappointed Alec Baldwin.

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Creating his 'Living World in a Box'

How the mind behind Lemmings and Grand Theft Auto plans to push gaming further.

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Before Greg Giraldo Was Greg Giraldo

Ten years ago, Esquire did a piece about Harvard Law grads who had eschewed their degrees. One of them was the late comedian.

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Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page & Rock Magic

In this profile of the band, William Burroughs is interested in two things: big-time rock shows and random conversational tangents.

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It Was Delicious While It Lasted

The world’s most renowned chef, Ferran Adrià, says that the only way he can push forward the art form of cooking is to close his own restaurant.

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Condos of the Living Dead

A mid-boom critique of New York City’s high-priced, mostly glass condo buildings.

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Bring It On Home

Behind the scenes with Kenny Powers, on set filming the 2nd run of Eastbound & Down, probably the only American TV series that would set an entire season in Mexico.

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Friending Aaron Sorkin

A profile of Sorkin, who wrote The Social Network. “I don’t feel like a nerd,” he says, “but I think I understand them.”

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Making It Up As You Go Along

An 1992 interview with Martin Scorsese. On Goodfellas, “I figured to do it as if it was one long trailer, where you just propel the action and you get an exhilaration, a rush of the lifestyle.”

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Getting Made The Scorsese Way

An oral history of Goodfellas.

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Everything Alright?

At three NYC comedy theater/schools, students and students-turned-instructors (a “benign pyramid scheme”) pursue the elusive simulacrum of human interaction that is longform improvisation.

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Me Media

A 2006 profile of Mark Zuckerberg as Facebook opened from a college-only site to a public social network.

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Inventing Facebook

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.”

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War Games

Movies about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have failed to connect with viewers, but video games on the topic have broken sales records.

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A Visit to Val Kilmer’s New Mexico Ranch

Where crazy things seem normal and normal things seem crazy.

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Alice in Jungleland

How a childhood gorilla-hunting safari and a string of sexless marriages led Alice Sheldon to become reclusive sci-fi legend James Tiptree Jr.

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The Face of Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, on the eve of the release of The Social Network, believed to be a deeply unflattering portrait of him and the genesis of his company.

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Madonna Rocks the Land

Scenes from Madonna’s first major tour and an author struggling to explain the 26-year-old’s massive, surging appeal.

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America Is a Joke

A profile of Jon Stewart, who’s now run The Daily Show for more than a decade.

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The Unfinished

David Foster Wallace’s struggle to surpass “Infinite Jest.”

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The Ecstacy of Influence: A Plagiarism

Our debt, conscious or unconscious, to what has come before, and what it can tell us about copyright, the public domain, and the complicated relationship between creators and consumers.

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Sweatpants in Paradise

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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An Interview with William Gibson

An interview with William Gibson on the “dark, dark world of marketing, advertising, and trend forecasting.”

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Chef on the Edge

David Chang’s manic quest for a flawless restaurant.

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All the News That’s Fit to Animate

Jimmy Lai, a Hong Kong tabloid tycoon, thinks he’s found the future of journalism: an animation assembly line that can crank out clips recreating–or anticipating, or imagining–breaking news.

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About Motorcycles

The poet and his love affair with Italian motorbikes (and also lots of women.)

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Kanye West Has a Goblet

A profile of Kanye West written in the style of an all-access magazine piece - using only quotes and statements that Kanye West has made on Twitter and other web outlets.

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Secrets of Magus

A 1993 profile of Ricky Jay, one of the world’s great sleight-of-hand conjurers, historian of unusual entertainments and confidence scams, and bibliomaniac; who rarely performs and never for children.

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In the Land of the Juggalos

Horror-rap’s annual festival draws thousands of clown-makeup wearing Juggalos - devotees of Insane Clown Posse - for a weekend devoted to spraying Faygo soda, rioting, and discussions of the occult.

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For the Love of Culture

Why our entire understanding of copyright is due for an overhaul.

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Penetrating Aether

When Bob Dylan met Allen Ginsberg; a chapter from Sean Wilentz’s forthcoming Bob Dylan in America.

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The James Franco Project

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?

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Orientalist Party Music

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

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The Lies of Laura Albert, a.k.a. JT LeRoy

For nearly a decade, Laura Albert lived a double life as troubled teen turned cult writer J.T. Leroy, writing books, chatting constantly with celebrities, and convincing another woman to appear as J.T. Leroy in public.

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Islam’s Answer to MTV

A new Egyptian TV channel called 4Shbab—“for youth” in Arabic—aims to get young people interested in Islam through music videos and reality shows.

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The Comedian’s Comedian’s Comedian

A profile of Garry Shandling.

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Jukeboxes on the Moon

Slumdog Millionaire, the 2008 Mumbai attacks, and the arrival of "New India" in the American imagination.
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Van Morrison's Moments of Disbelief

An interview with Greil Marcus on the songs of Van Morrison and why people are afraid of imagined things.

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Roald Dahl’s Darkest Hour

An excerpt from a new biography explores the trio of tragedies that struck Dahl’s family just as his career was taking off.

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The Music-Copyright Enforcers

There is someone whose job it is to try to extract royalty money from anyone who plays music in a place of business. Most people do not react well to this request.

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Pynchon in Poland

A Pynchon conference in Lublin, Poland may say more about the men (yes, only men) who attend Thomas Pynchon conferences than the works of the reclusive author.

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Stealing Mona Lisa

Was the 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre actually a smokescreen to obscure an even more audacious art crime?

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King of Comedy

The making of Caddyshack.

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That 70's Look

An interview with cinematographer Harris Savides on the enduring appeal of the visual style of films shot in the 1970s.

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Destroy All Monsters

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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Vanishing Act

The forgotten life of Eva Tanguay, perhaps America’s first rock star.

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Monopoly Killer

How a dental equipment salesman from Germany named Klaus Teuber invented the perfect board game, Settlers of Catan.

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Love in the Age of the Pickup Artist

What the great romantic novels of history can tell us about “seduction theory” and the cult of the pickup artist.

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The Stories of One Brooklyn Block

Vignettes of the residents of South Elliot Place.

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I Was with Coco

A writer for Conan O’Brien on how The Tonight Show really ended and on how his boss got screwed.

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Bill Murray Is Ready to See You Now

Bill Murray grants a rare interview and appears to admit, among other things, that he occasionally approaches strangers from behind on the streets of NYC, puts his hands over their eyes, and says “guess who.”

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Toughing It Out

In March of 1991, Vanilla Ice had the #1 album in the country (To the Extreme), a movie about to be released (TMNT II: The Secret of the Ooze), and a dogged belief that his 15 minutes weren’t about to end.

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I Was Russell Crowe’s Stooge

An awkward journalist-Russell Crowe friendship turns even more awkward.

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David Mitchell Bends Fiction

A interview with David Mitchell, author of the recent The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet and Cloud Atlas, on stretching a fictional universe across multiple novels and centuries of real history.

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The Mark of a Masterpiece

The man who keeps finding famous fingerprints on uncelebrated works of art.

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Face to Face: Alex Ross

An interview with New Yorker critic Alex Ross about his book The Rest is Noise and why there’s really no such thing as “classical music.”

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The Rumpled Anarchy of Bill Murray

A 1988 profile of Bill Murray, then at the peak of his box office power and living in a secluded farmhouse in the Hudson River Valley.

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The Killer’s Trail

The many identities of Andrew Cunanan, Versace’s murderer.

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The “Thriller” Diaries

The story of the most popular music video of all time, including memories of a then-25-year-old Michael Jackson on and off the set. Director John Landis: “I dealt with Michael as I would have a really gifted child.”

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Madness in Morocco

How Warren Beatty seduced the studios into making the comedy Ishtar, which set the modern bar for cinematic debacles. (An excerpt from Peter Biskind’s Star.)

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The Hit Parade

Clay Shirky, writing in 1999 on the Web eclipsing TV’s reach: “We will always have massive media, but the days of mass media are over, killed by the explosion of possibility and torn into a thousand niches.”

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A Modern Mess

The rise and fall of Design Within Reach.

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Fresh Hell

The boom in dystopian fiction aimed at young adults.

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A Kind of Vast Fiction

An email dialogue between David Gates and Jonathan Lethem on writing fiction in the age of online experiences.

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The Vietnam Oscars

The 1979 Oscars pitted Hal Ashby’s Coming Home against Michael Cimino’s The Deer Hunter, wildly different films both on the the topic of the Vietnam War.

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The Mad Liberationist

Born in Germany, raised in Montana, now living in New York, comedian Reggie Watts describes his style as “culture sampling.”

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The Easy Rider Road Trip

The Onion's Keith Phipps retraces the route Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda followed in Easy Rider.
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Regard the Scuttlebutt as True

The head of the Social Security Administration’s secret life as a respected poet.

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Pat Dollard’s War on Hollywood

He was just another coked-up agent (repping the likes of Steven Soderbergh) when he disappeared into Iraq, shooting heaps of footage he would attempt to package into a pro-war documentary. And that was just the beginning.

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He Didn’t Stop Believin’

In need of a new lead singer, Journey settled on an unknown 40-year-old from the Philippines whose clips they found online. Arnel Pineda was perfect: just a small-town boy, living in a lonely world.

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See America First

A 1970 review of Dennis Hopper’s Easy Rider.

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Candidate With A Diff’rence

In 2003, Gary Coleman ran for governor of California. But what he really wanted was to have never come to Hollywood in the first place.

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M.I.A.’s Agitprop Pop

The contradiction-rich world of Maya Arulpragasam.

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Shades of Greene

Zadie Smith on Graham Greene, the master of “ethical ambivalence.”

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Mad About the Boys

Lou Pearlman, the guy responsible for the Backstreet Boys and ‘NSync, bilked his investors of $300 million and fled the country. But the boys say he was interested in more than just money.

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The Afterlife of Stieg Larsson

After his untimely death at age 50, prior to the publication of any of his novels, Larsson is posthumously at the center of a publishing empire built on the international success of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

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The Disappearance of Ford Beckman

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

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Nick Nolte: Malibu’s Mad Scientist

How the actor ended up with a house full of tourniquets and syringes, an unflinching belief in the restorative powers of “ozone,” and the brain scan of someone who has “experienced the equivalent of blunt trauma.”

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The Holy Grail of the Unconscious

Jung’s ‘Red Book’, a secret journal of dreams and drawings, has been in a Swiss vault for the better part of a century. The burden of its care has fallen on his descendants, who have reluctantly allowed it to be published.

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Whatever Happened to N.W.A’s Posse?

The where-are-they-now stories of MC Ren, DJ Scatch, Sir Jinx, Kid Disaster, Candyman, and everyone else on the cover of 1987’s N.W.A. and the Posse.

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Not TV

How HBO went from sitcoms starring Delta Burke and O.J. Simpson to The Wire. The view from a former HBO employee who witnessed the channel’s rise to prominence firsthand.

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The Runaway Genius

The struggle behind the making of Terence Malick’s first movie in twenty years and the two producers who, depending on your source, either made it possible or nearly ruined it.

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California Schemin’

How did a pair of young rappers from Scotland, laughed off the stage for their accents, land a deal with Sony and start partying with Madonna? They pretended to be American.

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Obsessed With As The World Turns

“As a middle-aged queer, I could not break cover. And, as a middle-aged black man, I was embarrassed that these white boys from this melodrama mattered to me anyway.”

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The Passion of David Bazan

During the 90s, David Bazan was Christian indie-rock’s first big crossover star. Then he stopped believing.

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AV Club Interview: Norm McDonald

“I think talk shows have kind of lost that. It’s mostly about super famous people telling long, dull stories about their swimming pools or something.”

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The Paralyzed Cyclops

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

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After the Flood

A review of Treme, the new HBO show about post-Katrina New Orleans from David Simon, creator of The Wire. “The series virtually prohibits you from loving it,” Franklin writes, “while asking you to value it.”

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Growing up Gaga

From Stefani Joanne Germanotta to Lady Gaga: the self-invented, manufactured, accidental, totally on-purpose creation of the world’s biggest pop star.

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Video games: the addiction

Tom Bissell was an acclaimed young writer when he started playing Grand Theft Auto. For the last three years he has been sleep deprived, cocaine fueled, and barely able to write a word—and he has no regrets.

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Inside the music business in China

As labels big and small attempt to gain traction in the world’s largest market, they’re learning that selling pop is never simple in the epicenter of piracy.

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Bitter Spoils

The secret history of the Wildensteins, the art world’s richest and most powerful family, whose legendary vaults likely include counterfeits and works stolen by the Nazis.