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Best of 2010

75 articles
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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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The Chess Master

A grandmaster on the computers that have bested him and how we have misunderstood the implications of artificial intelligence.

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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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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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The Quaid Conspiracy

Randy Quaid and his wife Evi have fled to Canada and are living in their car. They are seeking asylum from the menace of the “Hollywood Star Whackers.”

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Google and Money!

Where the actual online money is centralized, and where Google will have to go to continue chasing it.

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The Case of the Vanishing Blonde

"From the start, it was a bad case. A battered 21-year-old woman with long blond curls was discovered facedown in the weeds, naked, at the western edge of Miami, where the neat grid of outer suburbia butts up against the high grass and black mud of the Everglades."
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What Good Is Wall Street?

“For years, the most profitable industry in America has been one that doesn’t design, build, or sell a single tangible thing.” The case for why investment banking is socially useless.

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Start-Up City

A history of entrepreneurship in New York City, starting with shipping magnate Jeremiah Thompson’s big gamble in the 1820s: scheduled departures.

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La Violencia

Scenes from the new Tijuana: two teenage brothers from the country club set descend into the cartel underworld, bored federales guard the acid pit where hundreds of bodies were erased, families picnic through a chain-link border fence.

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Burger Queen

A profile of April Bloomfield, chef at The Spotted Pig.

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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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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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My Summer on the Content Farm

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

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The Myth of Charter Schools

A critique of Davis Guggenheim’s Waiting for 'Superman'.

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Interview: Matt Taibbi

On Ayn Rand becoming a cult hero to Wall Street insiders and others items that make Matt Taibbi angry.

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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 Online Threat

Are we at war? The U.S. government’s evolving response to cyber security and its impact on privacy.

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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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The Last Patrol

After nearly a year in Afghanistan—during which almost half of their unit was killed or injured—paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne have one more mission before they go home.

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Smash

The comeback of Marty Reisman, the most flamboyant figure in the history of table tennis, and the self-proclaimed greatest hardbat player ever.

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The Murderers of Mexico

The narcocorrido-immortalized Pacific coast traditionalists, the kidnap-crazed Gulf coast Zetas, and massacres that no longer seem tied to a discernible purpose; inside the ruins of the Mexican-American border.

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Keeping It Kosher

A rare co-mingling between Hasidic Jews and their Crown Heights neighbors within Brooklyn’s ‘Basil Pizza & Wine Bar.’

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Later

What we can learn from procrastination.

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Ray Gosling: “I Just Said It”

Why did a veteran BBC on-air personality confess on camera to a mercy killing he did not commit?

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Depression’s Upside

If the fittest survive, why are so many people still depressed? An evolutionary theory on the benefits of painful rumination.

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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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Inside D.C.’s Food-Truck Wars

This isn’t truck-on-truck violence. It’s the taxpaying owners of brick-and-mortar restaurants—along with a host of other powerful District players—who are waging the attack.

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In the City of Death

In Torreón, north of Mexico City, cartel gunmen are freed from a prison, commit a massacre at a wedding that includes the band, and then return to custody.

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Innocence Lost

In 1992, Anthony Graves was arrested for brutally murdering a family in the middle of night. He had no motive. There was no physical evidence. The only witness recanted. And yet Graves remains behind bars.

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Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds

Riots in Athens, the shadowy Vatopaidi monastery, and a quarter million dollars in debt for every citizen. Welcome to Greece.

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Dirty Medicine

How misdirected incentives in the bewildering medical supply industry keep innovative, life-saving equipment from reaching hospitals.

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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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Inside the Secret World of Trader Joe’s

It makes as much money as Whole Foods while stocking 90 percent fewer products. The Trader Joe’s business model explained.

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Skin

A Holocaust detective story: could a lampshade pulled from the ruins of Katrina really be Buchenwald artifact made of human remains?

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College Dropout Factories

Across the country, little-known schools are accepting almost everyone who applies, cashing a lot of checks, and offering so little support that only the most determined students leave with a degree.

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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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Tycoon, Contractor, Soldier, Spy

The boyish CEO of America’s largest and most controversial mercenary force, Blackwater, also happened to be a C.I.A. agent.

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Washington, We Have a Problem

A day in the political life of Barack Obama.

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Poor Little Rich Girls

Two sisters, heirs to the Bronfman fortune, may have blown $100 million supporting the cult-like group NXIVM.

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The War for Drugs

How Juarez became the murder capital of the world.

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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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The Mussolini of Ass

How sex scandals have made Silvio Berlusconi even more powerful in Italy.

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Night

Tony Judt on his own amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and the experience of being “left free to contemplate at leisure and in minimal discomfort the catastrophic progress of one’s own deterioration.”

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“I said, ‘Fuck you, O. J.’”

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

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Letting Go

Should modern medicine shift its end-of-life priorities, focusing less on staving off death and more on improving a patient’s last days?

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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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One Boy, Two Girls, and Homicide

A teenage love triangle turns tragic in Pinellas Park, Florida.

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The Ballad of Colton Harris-Moore

The 19-year-old “Barefoot Bandit”—on the run since 2008 and famous for stealing Cessnas without flying lessons, among other feats—was captured this week in the Bahamas. Here, the view of Colt from his hometown.

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Moscow's Stray Dogs

The complex, highly evolved world of Moscow’s subway-riding stray dogs.

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Cary in the Sky with Diamonds

In the 1950s, L.S.D. became a Beverly Hills’ therapy fad, and it profoundly changed idols like Cary Grant.

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TV’s Crowning Moment of Awesome

How a card-counting former meteorologist from Las Vegas made the first perfect Showcase bid in the 38-year history of The Price Is Right.

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The Decisive Ones

In post-Shock and Awe Baghdad, the relationship between a war reporter and his Iraqi guide falls apart.

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“Paywall Will Underperform”

An interview with Clay Shirky on “why no medium has ever survived the indifference of 25-year-olds.”

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The Anosognosic’s Dilemma (Parts 1-5)

Through a series of interviews and historical inquiries, Errol Morris dissects Anosognosia, ”a condition in which a person who suffers from a disability seems unaware of or denies the existence of his or her disability.”

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The Runaway General

“Stanley McChrystal, Obama’s top commander in Afghanistan, has seized control of the war by never taking his eye off the real enemy: The wimps in the White House.”

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The Legend of Black Superman

In the 1980s, Billy Ray Bates, once dubbed “the Legend,” drank himself out of the NBA and ended up playing in the Philippines. For a few wild years, his legend grew–both on the court and in the bars.

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Afghanistan: ‘So This is Paktya’

Night raids by the “Hash Monster” and other perils facing American soldiers at a remote base in the wilderness of the Paktya Province as they attempt to turn over power to the Afghan Army.

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Lost Exile

The rise and fall of The Exile, Russia’s angriest English-language newspaper.

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All The Dirt That’s Fit To Print

How the National Enquirer became a 2010 Pulitzer contender without straying from its roots as a supermarket tabloid.

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The Enemy Within

The Conficker ‘worm’ has replicated itself across tens of millions of computers. Only a few hundred people have the knowledge to recreate how, and no one (except its anonymous maker) fully understands why.

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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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Barely Legal Whores Get Gang-F***ed

An excerpt from Zak Smith’s We Did Porn detailing an appearance by porn star Sasha Grey on The Tyra Banks Show.

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The Dividing Line

On the day of the earthquake, two men went into Haiti’s Soccer Federation headquarters. Only one came out.

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The NYPD Tapes: Inside a Bed-Stuy Precinct

In 2008, a Brooklyn cop grew gravely concerned about how the public was being served. So he began carrying a digital sound recorder, secretly recording his colleagues and superiors.

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High Rollers, Triads, and a Vegas Giant

Las Vegas casinos operating in Macau rely on “junkets” to bring in the gambling elite, but the money and murder for hire trails lead straight to the Triads.

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The Dirtiest Player

In the wake of a brazen but mysterious Philadelphia gunfight, Marvin Harrison, the man who holds the NFL record for receptions in a season, may find himself with a permanent record of a different sort.

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Been There. Done What?!

Jillian Lauren, wife of Weezer bassist Scott Shriner, grew up middle class and now lives in a three-bedroom house in L.A. In between, she was a part of a royal harem in Brunei.

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The Wrong Man

The story of how federal authorities blew the biggest anti-terror investigation of the past decade—the post-9/11 anthrax attacks—and nearly destroyed an innocent man.

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Betting on the Blind Side

Sitting alone in his San Jose office, Michael Burry saw the bubble in the subprime-mortgage market before anyone else. So he convinced Wall Street to let him bet on it, even though few were betting on him.

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The Great West Coast Newspaper War

Murderous editors, allegations of insanity, connections to the Church of Satan, illegal predatory-pricing schemes, and more than $21 million on the line—the crazy alt-weekly war in San Francisco has it all.

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You’re Not a Rape Victim Unless Cops Say So

This is the story of the night Hannah was not officially raped in Washington, D.C.

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Rachel Uchitel Is Not a Madam

Celebrity, bottle service, and Tiger Woods’ unintentional introduction of “halfway hooker” into the American lexicon.