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.
Alan Young has been running the same scam for years: posing as a member of The Temptations and smooth-talking his way into luxury hotel rooms and prostitutes. Despite his clear charm, he admits he has “no skills other than being a con man.”
Gang-bang buffet tables, deeply earnest 'Letters to the Editor,' ghost-writing Kierkegaard references into model bios in Barely Legal, and how a half-decade of reviewing porn eroded the thin line between the author's alter egos and self.
On the joys of watching the winningest tennis player of all time play live at Wimbledon.
Tracking a rumored gerbil infestation through China’s bureaucracy.
A profile of Edna Buchanan, a Pulitzer Prize-winning crime reporter for the Miami Herald during its heyday.
Frédéric Bourdin was an imposter. His "trail of cons," for which he used five languages and dozens of identities, extended for years across Europe and America.
The writer on his father's religious devotion to personal style. Among the maxims: "the turtleneck is the most flattering thing a man can wear"; "there is nothing like a fresh burn"; and "always wear white to the face."
Ted Nelson's Xanadu project began in 1960 and was supposed to be the universal, democratic hypertext library that would help human life evolve into an entirely new form. It didn't go that way.
Update: The software was finally, quietly released in April.
Thomas Sweatt torched D.C. for decades and was finally jailed for killing one person. During a year-long correspondence from prison with a reporter, he confessed there were more.
Published across three consecutive issues and later adapted into the book (and mini-series) Generation Kill, the story of bullets, bombs and a Marine platoon at war in Iraq.
Previously: Evan Wright on the Longform Podcast.
The first piece of gonzo journalism, annotated.
A profile of the Los Angeles Clippers owner, an oft-sued real estate baron with a documented racist streak and a penchant for heckling his own players, on the occasion of him winning an NAACP lifetime achievement award.
The story of Rick James.
Excerpted from Scary Monsters and Super Freaks.
A profile of a previously unknown rookie pitcher for the Mets who dropped out of Harvard, made a spiritual quest to Tibet, and somewhere along the line figured out how to throw a baseball much, much faster than anyone else on Earth.
Wealthy businessman Merv Bodnarchuk put together a curling Dream Team. Then he put himself in the lineup.
On heading home for Thanksgiving:
How I envy people who enjoy the company of their parents without the aid of pharmaceuticals.Reprinted from Home for the Holidays and Other Calamities.
“Jeffrey Levitt stole and misappropriated a grand total of fourteen million, six hundred ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred forty-seven dollars and fifty-eight cents. He stole all that. It was the largest single white-collar crime in Maryland history, almost bringing down the state’s entire savings and loan industry.” And it still wasn’t enough.
After a botched bank robbery in 1990, Sture Bergwall, aka Thomas Quick, confessed to a string of brutal crimes. He admitted to stabbings, stranglings, incest and cannibalism. He was convicted of eight murders in all, and after the final trial he went silent for nearly a decade. But a few years ago, Bergwall came forward again—there was one more secret he had to tell.
Cycles of boom and bust in the drilling town of Williston, N.D., as seen from the perspective of an itinerant dancer filling one of three slots at the only strip club in town, Whispers.
From a Tokyo smash-and-grab to driving a car through the window of a Dubai jewelry shop, how a ragtag band of Balkan thieves set a new bar for audacious heists.
A member of the Pink Panthers, Milan Poparic, escaped from prison yesterday.
The hunt for a secretive network of British men obsessed with accumulating and cataloguing the eggs of rare birds.
Riding along on the Lunch Express.
Riding along on the Lunch Express.
The rise and fall and rise of Hill flack Kurt Bardella, and what it says about D.C. culture.
How Robert Gottlieb quelled a rebellion and saved The New Yorker.
Note: Elon Green is a contributing editor to Longform.
How a secretive Israel billionaire seized control of an untapped iron ore deposit beneath one of Africa’s poorest countries.
She was Becky Sue Turner, then Lori Erica Ruff. Now she’s Jane Doe.
She was Becky Sue Turner, then Lori Erica Ruff. Now she’s Jane Doe.
Seven years after being fired from The Replacements, their founding guitarist is an thirty-three-year-old unemployed line cook living amongst memories in Minneapolis. He would be dead within two years.
On photographer Garry Winogrand and the unedited archive of more than half a million exposures he left behind.
On an artist who’s spent nearly 50 years bending the rules of space and light, and his life’s work, an extinct volcano in Arizona where he has been developing a network of tunnels and underground rooms since 1974.
"I think what Kanye West is going to mean is something similar to what Steve Jobs means. I am undoubtedly, you know, Steve of Internet, downtown, fashion, culture. Period. By a long jump. I honestly feel that because Steve has passed, you know, it’s like when Biggie passed and Jay-Z was allowed to become Jay-Z."
What the bountiful sex lives of bonobos—they enjoy deep kissing, oral sex, dry humping, and polyamory—can teach us about humanity.
In the ’50s and ’60s, the Reverend Will Campbell marched with MLK Jr. and worked to desegregate the University of Mississippi. Later, broke, he took a job as Waylon Jennings’ roadie and occasional spiritual guru. Afterward, his ministry grew even stranger and more itinerant.
In Ramapo, New York, the immigrant community and the growing population of Hasidic Jews had eyed each increasing wariness for years. Then the Hasidim took over the public schools, schools their children do not attend, and proceeded to gut them.
Inside the most sensational murder in the history of study abroad.
A profile of Gina Rinehart, the richest person in Australia.
A trip to the Famous Poets Society convention/contest in Reno.
“Modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer. It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug.”
“This is the story of Billy Conn, who won the girl he loved but lost the best fight ever.”
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.
It was a 3-mile footrace. Thousands were in attendance. So how did Michael LeMaitre disappear?
The haunted past of Amy Bishop, a University of Alabama neurobiologist who shot six colleagues during a staff meeting.
In 1936, Karp Lykov whisked his family into the Siberian wilderness to escape Bolshevik persecution. They remained there, alone, until discovered by a helicopter crew in 1978.
Dr. Elisabeth Targ became famous for running scientific experiments that appeared to prove the healing power of faith. Then she got sick and became a test subject herself.
There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."
The story was told by Sports Illustrated, CBS News, and countless others: linbeacker Manti Te’o, Heisman trophy candidate and the face of Notre Dame football, was playing brilliantly despite the tragic loss of his girlfriend to leukemia early in the season. The reporters missed one key element of Te’o’s story, however: the girl hadn’t died. She couldn’t have. She didn’t exist.
From pinball prohibition in 1940s NYC to Dave & Buster’s, the rise and fall of the American arcade.
The story of Universe 25, a mouse utopia that became an overcrowded hell, and its implications for the future of humankind.
“For people who pay close attention to the state of American fiction, he has become a kind of superhero.”
On wearing a concealed handgun and how it changed the author’s worldview.
How Jerry Lee Lewis got away with murdering 25-year-old Shawn Michelle Stevens, his fifth wife.
Dan Akroyd, John Belushi, cocaine, and the making of The Blues Brothers.
He was the father of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (a school of therapy that some would liken to scientific brainwashing), a guzzler of cocaine, and a highly paid lecturer with fabricated credentials. He was present when a young woman shot herself in Santa Cruz—but did he pull the trigger? A “parable for the New Age.”
On the U.S. government’s pursuit of a legendary hacker.
Analysis of the divisive murder case.
Gretchen Molannen was perpetually aroused. She couldn’t work or sleep.
On December 1, the day after this story was published, she killed herself.
A father’s life, one year after the death of his three daughters in a fire.
A community says its children are being targeted by a group of pedophiles. But did widespread sexual abuse actually take place?
Jack Whittaker won a $314 million Powerball jackpot. This bit of luck would destroy him.
He was a nobody who became a porn star, a porn star who became a destitute freebaser, an addict who set up his dealer to be robbed, and finally witness to a retaliatory massacre at the house they called Wonderland.
“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.”
In Colorado and beyond, a negotiated surrender in the war on drugs.
The afterlife of 486 frames of Kodachrome II 8mm film shot by Dallas clothing manufacturer Abraham Zapruder.
Why people stampede, and what can be done to prevent “crowd disasters.”
A week in the author’s life when it became impossible to control the course of events.
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.
Michael Quinn took on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – and lost.
Thirteen years ago, NFL wide receiver Rae Carruth conspired to kill the woman carrying his child. The woman, Cherica Adams, died. The child, Chancellor Lee Adams, did not.
The former editor of the New York Observer, profiled.
Unprecedented access to six months in the life of the President of the United States.
Writing a “stunt memoir” in the waterpark capital of the world.
On JFK and the 1960 Democratic National Convention.
Two brothers dreamed of baseball stardom. One would end up killing the other.
On “soldiers for credibility” and the tug of war over truth.
The false promise and double standard of integration in the Obama era.
Autobiographical cartoonists on truth and lies.
“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?”
Vidal on Midge Decter, homophobia and a proposed alliance between Jews and gays.
The emotional toll on drone pilots.
Three years after her gold-medal performance – and amidst rumors of a fall from grace – the author travels to Transylvania to track down gymnast Nadia Comaneci. He also enjoys several drinks with her coach, Bela Karolyi.Part of our Olympics primer, on the Longform blog.
Libertarian, futurist, billionaire: a profile of Peter Thiel.
The story of the Norway massacre, as told by the survivors.
A longtime Harper’s contributor considers America as he dies: “When I died, I died of many things: the failing systems; the weakening of age; the exhaustion of the long war against dying. Finally, I succumbed to the lack of ethics in a California hospital, killed by filth and neglect.”
The rise and fall of the “most far-flung, most organized, and most brazen example of homosexual extortion in the nation’s history.”
Surfing San Francisco with a true believer.Part of our collection of stories on surfing for Slate.
On June 4, 1989, the bodies of Jo, Michelle and Christe were found floating in Tampa Bay. This is the story of the murders, their aftermath, and the handful of people who kept faith amid the unthinkable.
What would drive a man to stand outside the Vatican embassy nearly every day for 14 years?
Wikipedia entry for “Traction Park,” central New Jersey’s most dangerous mid-1980’s amusement park.
In a Plano bowling alley one night, Bill Fong came so close to perfection that it nearly killed him.
On caring for a bipolar parent amidst a broken mental health care system.
One night in Newark with Chris Christie and Bruce Springsteen.
“No one is beyond the reach of Bruce!” he screams over the noise of the crowd, and then screams it again, to make sure I understand: “No one is beyond the reach of Bruce!”
The bizarre story of the disappearance of “downtown legend” John Lurie after a former friend resolved to take his life.
An American mystery writer and an Italian journalist join forces to identify a serial killer that targeted couples having sex in cars in the rolling hills above Florence.
Perpetually reinvented through experimental chemistry, manufactured in Asian mills, packaged in foil with names like White Slut Concentrated and Charley Sheene for use as “hookah cleaner,” distributed in college town head shops, snorted and injected by hardened addicts and high school thrill seekers alike, bath salts may be the strangest and most volatile American drug craze since crack. And they’re (quasi) legal.
A profile of life in Owsley County, one of the poorest in the country.
The Penn State sex abuse scandal as told through a father, a son and “Victim 1.”
She was a thirteen-year-old from the Chabad Lubavitch community who would dip into a barbershop bathroom to swap her orthodox clothes for those of a streetwalker. Her pimping and rape allegations against a group of black men in their twenties, repeatedly recanted and then reaffirmed, would send the D.A.’s office into disarray.
On conspiracy theories in sports, from the ‘85 NBA draft lottery to Michael Phelps’ gold medal performance in the 100-meter butterfly.
It’s a club “filled exclusively with people who do not want to be members.”
“Robert Victor Sullivan, whom you’ve surely never heard of, was the toughest coach of them all. He was so tough he had to have two tough nicknames, Bull and Cyclone, and his name was usually recorded this way: coach Bob “Bull” “Cyclone” Sullivan or coach Bob (Bull) (Cyclone) Sullivan. Also, at times he was known as Big Bob or Shotgun. He was the most unique of men, and yet he remains utterly representative of a time that has vanished, from the gridiron and from these United States.”
How a surgical innovation allowed Dallas Weins to find a new face.
A profile of the singer as he returns to the stage for the first time in a dozen years.
The story of William Morgan: American, wanderer, Cuban revolutionary.
On the perils and poisons of mining for gold in southeastern Peru.
A cop kills a fellow officer during a drug bust and claims it was an accident. Others suspect that it wasn’t.
In short order, eight gay men in Texas were murdered by teenage boys.
On “Poor Hartley,” the son of Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
In 1979, a Pulitzer was given to “an unnamed photographer of United Press International” who documented a mass execution in Iran.
His name is Jahangir Razmi – and, nearly three decades later, he wants the credit.
How killing by remote control has changed the way we fight.
Attending the two-day-long “Crap$ 101” course, where aspiring craps players learn the Golden Touch system of betting, visualize dice tosses, and pursue the elusive “controlled throw.”
The story behind the story that ended Dan Rather’s career.
She survived an evil, gruesome attack. Her partner did not. An account of a victim, a widow, telling her story on the witness stand.Update, 4/16/12: This piece was just awarded the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing.
A profile of Colin Duffy: fifth-grader, suburban New Jersey resident, ruler of the backyard, player of video games, boy.
He is a cheerful old farmer who jokes as he serves rice cakes made by his wife, and then he switches easily to explaining what it is like to cut open a 30-year-old man who is tied naked to a bed and dissect him alive, without anesthetic.
A profile of Candy Barr–porn star pioneer, burlesque legend, and Texas folk hero.
Teaching Emily Dickinson at Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, Florida.
After two people are found dead in Yellowstone National Park, a team of investigators tracks down the unlikely culprit: a grizzly bear.
An investigative look at the killing of Trayvon Martin.
Is a serial killer on the loose in Wellfleet? An investigation.
A clandestine meeting between Western journalists and Hezbollah fighters in a Beirut strip mall.
Lessons learned about Washington from investigating how the “grand bargain” fell apart.
"I remember lying on my side, dust everywhere, and I looked down and saw my arms were split open and squirting blood and I had just two bloody stumps above my knees," said Marine 1st Lt. James Byler, 26, who was blown up a few weeks before Mark Litynski. "My first coherent words to my Marines were, 'Hey! check my nuts!'
On the mysterious disappearance of a beloved coding legend (and his code) with stops along the way for a short history of programming languages, an ethnography of code-based communities, and an inquiry into what it means to “die young without artifact.”
Stylistically speaking, in terms of clothing, they arrived in shirts and pants and shoes (there’s really no other way to say it). They had haircuts, but it didn’t really look it. While other bands were mumbling or over-enunciating their dreary positions or penny-candy philosophies, Pavement kind of screamed for a generation. But they did it in a way that was so deeply American that it was almost Scandinavian.
Playwright Will Eno profiles the band and their cult as they grow up and prepare for a reunion.
A profile of the world’s most notorious weapons trafficker.
The 2011 Tohoku Japan earthquake and tsunami, as experienced by eight schoolchildren.
Lance Butterfield was the captain of the football team, had a 4.0 GPA and a girl he loved. It wasn’t enough for his dad. And then his dad became too much for him.
Part of our guide to Skip Hollandsworth's true crime writing at Slate.
A profile of the “acrobatic genius of the trapeze”:
As he spoke, he looked up at the pipes and swings in the arena ceiling. A mechanic was working on the rigging, but Tito spoke thoughtfully, for he seemed to be seeing something else. "Sometimes I see movies of myself in the air and I say, 'Jesus, how can I do that?' I wonder who do I think I am ... but, yes, I do admire myself in films sometimes as if I am watching another person. I have sometimes dreamed my tricks at night, you know, and then tried to master them from the dream."
On solitary confinement:
"Two or three hundred years from now people will look back on this lockdown mania like we look back on the burning of witches."
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.
The excerpts from a diary of an anonymous Russian special-forces officer who served twenty tours of duty in Chechnya during the Second Chechen War (1999-2009). He tells of torture, civilian killings, female suicide bombers and becoming desensitized to it all.
The landmark article that changed the way communities were policed:
This wish to "decriminalize" disreputable behavior that "harms no one"- and thus remove the ultimate sanction the police can employ to maintain neighborhood order—is, we think, a mistake. Arresting a single drunk or a single vagrant who has harmed no identifiable person seems unjust, and in a sense it is. But failing to do anything about a score of drunks or a hundred vagrants may destroy an entire community. A particular rule that seems to make sense in the individual case makes no sense when it is made a universal rule and applied to all cases. It makes no sense because it fails to take into account the connection between one broken window left untended and a thousand broken windows.
When computer science legend Jim Gray disappeared, his friends and colleagues – including Bill Gates and Larry Ellison – used every technological tool at their disposal to try to find him.
An investigation into the myth of actress Frances Farmer’s lobotomy.
The story of a young man on the run in the slum he dreams of escaping.
The story of Olympic boxing hopeful Quanitta Underwood, who was sexually abused by her father as a child.
The story of a high school star who died minutes after hitting a game-winner to end an undefeated season, and the family and friends he left behind.
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.
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.)
Sixty-nine years after publication, Fortune revisits “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men” – a story it commissioned but did not run.
Why “Father of Botox” Arnold Klein, whose famous clients once included Michael Jackson and Elizabeth Taylor, thinks everyone’s out to get him.
Undercover as a student at Phoenix University, the largest for-profit higher education company in the country and the second-largest enroller of students (behind the SUNY system), where only 12 percent of first-time students graduate and the ad budget accounts for 30 percent of overall spending.
Inside the lives of Sri Lanka’s Tamils as they emerge from a multi-decade war that defined and nearly destroyed them.
A fifteen year history of the music site Pitchfork detailing its prescient take on the relationship between culture and consumption.
On the Italian island Lampedusa— “politically Europe, but geographically Africa”—as a wave of African immigrants is due to arrive from Libya by boat, ruining the tourist season.
How a rugby legend came out and made history.
Specialists Solomon Bangayan and Marc Seiden fought together in Bravo Company’s 3rd Platoon in Iraq. Both were killed.
Here’s how they made it home.
The story of Standard Motor Products, a 92-year-old family-run auto parts manufacturer, and the transformation of the U.S. manufacturing industry.
In a dark echo of Rear Window, a wheelchair-bound hacker seizes control of hundreds of webcams, most of them aimed at young women’s beds.
Covering a presidential candidate and the people who cover presidential candidates aboard the press buses Bullshit 1 and Bullshit 2 on the 2000 John McCain campaign trail.
From The Longform Guide to the Campaign Trail on Slate.
On touring America and the culture of trailer parks in the early 1950s.
On the utility of euphemisms:
In the upper reaches of the British establishment, euphemism is a fine art, one that new arrivals need to master quickly. “Other Whitehall agencies” or “our friends over the river” means the intelligence services (American spooks often say they “work for the government”). A civil servant warning a minister that a decision would be “courageous” is saying that it will be career-cripplingly unpopular. “Adventurous” is even worse: it means mad and unworkable. A “frank discussion” is a row, while a “robust exchange of views” is a full-scale shouting match. (These kind of euphemisms are also common in Japanese, where the reply maemuki ni kento sasete itadakimasu—I will examine it in a forward-looking manner—means something on the lines of “This idea is so stupid that I am cross you are even asking me and will certainly ignore it.”)
On a child diagnosed with autism:
The worst part was that I knew he sensed it, too. In the same way that I know when he wants vegetable puffs or puréed fruit by the subtle pitch of his cries, I could tell that he also perceived the change—and feared it. At night he was terrified to go to bed, needing to hold my fingers with one hand and touch my face with the other in order to get the few hours of sleep he managed. Every morning he was different. Another word was gone, another moment of eye contact was lost. He began to cry in a way that was untranslatable. The wails were not meant as messages to be decoded; they were terrified expressions of being beyond expression itself.
A 21-year-old falls into a coma from which he’ll never emerge. His mother, desperate to grant his wish of becoming a father, has his sperm preserved. Two years later, after a fruitless search for other alternatives, she finds a willing doctor and tries one last option: carrying her son’s child herself.
On February 10, 1982, Lucy Dixon’s daughter was raped. Against all odds, she and her family brought the man to justice.
In October 2006 a four-year-old from Corpus Christi named Andrew Burd died mysteriously of salt poisoning. His foster mother, Hannah Overton, was charged with capital murder, vilified from all quarters, and sent to prison for life. But was this churchgoing young woman a vicious child killer? Or had the tragedy claimed its second victim?
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.
After the United States demanded the extradition of a drug lord, a bloodletting ensued.
On H.H. Holmes “an old hand at corpse manipulation and insurance fraud,” who built a house of death in 1890s Chicago.
After losing his sight at age 3, Michael May went on to become the first blind CIA agent, set a world record for downhill skiing, and start a successful Silicon Valley company. Then he got the chance to see again.
Jade Wiley is eight years old. She spent three weeks living in her car with her mom, her dad, two dogs and a cat. Pelley: Did you think you were ever gonna get out of the car? Jade Wiley: I thought I was going to be stuck in the car. Pelley: How did you keep your spirits up? Jade Wiley: By still praying to God that somebody'd let us stay in a hotel.
On the occasion of Hamid Karzai’s visit to the White House, a fever dream tour of the Afghanistan war through the eyes of the leaders who gave birth to its narrative.
The author travels to Mexico to meet a retired assassin and kidnapper, now himself a target of the faceless cartels that once employed him
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.
I’ve read stories from people who say they always knew they were attracted to the same sex, or that they figured it out at a young age. I’m not one of them.
A profile of a breakout male porn star:
The porn machine churns out performers to satisfy every fantasy, be it MILF, dwarf, fat, granny, or gang bang. But if you’re interested in watching a young, heterosexual, nonrepulsive man engage in sex, James Deen is basically it.
Years of guilt and shame over an obsession with hardcore porn drives the Orthodox Jewish-raised author to meet the the personalities behind the darkest and most distrurbing X-rated subgenres and ask, “Do you ever feel guilty?”
Ida Tarbell’s classic write-around of the world’s only billionaire:
He was a silent boy — a silent young man. With years the habit of silence became the habit of concealment. It was not long after the Standard Oil Company was founded, before it was said in Cleveland that its offices were the most difficult in the town to enter, Mr. Rockefeller the most difficult man to see. If a stranger got in to see any one he was anxious. "Who is that man?" he asked an associate nervously one day, calling him away when the latter was chatting with a stranger. "An old friend, Mr. Rockefeller." "What does he want here? Be careful. Don't let him find out anything." "But he is my friend, Mr. Rockefeller. He does not want to know anything. He has come to see me." "You never can tell. Be very careful, very careful." This caution gradually developed into a Chinese wall of seclusion. This suspicion extended, not only to all outsiders but most insiders. Nobody in the Standard Oil Company was allowed to know any more than was necessary for him to know to do his business. Men who have been officers in the Standard Oil Company say that they have been told, when asking for information about the condition of the business, "You'd better not know. If you know nothing you can tell nothing."
On a pair of Israeli psychologists who between 1971 and 1984 “published a series of quirky papers exploring the ways human judgment may be distorted when we are making decisions in conditions of uncertainty.”
An investigative reporter goes undercover at a dealership to learn the tricks of the trade, of which there are many.
A family of Georgia churchgoers contracted the plague of their time, HIV. Some survived, some didn’t—this is the story of their family over thirty years.
The world’s fastest growing economy isn’t China; it’s the “unheralded alternative economic universe of System D” aka the $10 trillion global black market.
Ten years ago, a man moved to Marsing, Idaho. He had a strange accent and didn't know much about cattle. The folks in Marsing were a little skeptical at first, but when he built a house and started a family, he earned his neighbors' acceptance. Last February, while buying hay, he was cornered by federal agents and arrested for violent crimes tied to the Boston Mob. And the town wondered: Who the hell is Jay Shaw?
Thomas Pynchon walks down a New York City street in the middle of the morning. He has a light gait. He floats along. He looks canny and whimsical, like he'd be fun to talk to; but, of course, he's not talking. It's a drizzling day, and the writer doesn't have an umbrella. He's carrying his own shopping bag, a canvas tote like one of those giveaways from public radio. He makes a quick stop in a health-food store, buys some health foods. He leaves the store, but just outside, as if something had just occurred to him, he turns around slowly and walks to the window. Then, he peers in, frankly observing the person who may be observing him. It's raining harder now. He hurries home. For the past half-dozen years, Thomas Pynchon, the most famous literary recluse of our time, has been living openly in a city of 8 million people and going unnoticed, like the rest of us.
Alumni report in secret on Delphian, the mysterious boarding school that Scientology built in the mountains of Oregon.
An early take on the dark side of cyberspace:
Like many newcomers to the "net"--which is what people call the global web that connects more than thirty thousand on-line networks--I had assumed, without really articulating the thought, that while talking to other people through my computer I was going to be sheltered by the same customs and laws that shelter me when I'm talking on the telephone or listening to the radio or watching TV. Now, for the first time, I understood the novelty and power of the technology I was dealing with.
THEY SAY YOU never hear the one that hits you. That's true of bullets, because, if you hear them, they are already past. But your correspondent heard the last shell that hit this hotel. He heard it start from the battery, then come with a whistling incommg roar like a subway train to crash against the cornice and shower the room with broken glass and plaster. And while the glass still tinkled down and you listened for the next one to start, you realized that now finally you were back in Madrid.
On the Red Sox’s historic implosion:
Drinking beer in the Sox clubhouse is permissible. So is ordering take-out chicken and biscuits. Playing video games on one of the clubhouse’s flat-screen televisions is OK, too. But for the Sox pitching trio to do all three during games, rather than show solidarity with their teammates in the dugout, violated an unwritten rule that players support each other, especially in times of crisis.
The world’s foremost Sherlock Holmes expert found dead in a locked room, leaving no note.
There was something else, he said, something critical. On the eve of his death, he reminded me, Green had spoken to his friend Keen about an "American" who was trying to ruin him. The following day, Gibson said, he had called Green's house and heard a strange greeting on the answering machine. "Instead of getting Richard's voice in this sort of Oxford accent, which had been on the machine for a decade," Gibson recalled, "I got an American voice that said, 'Sorry, not available.
A tony bedroom community in Los Angeles, a kidnapping gone horribly wrong, and the birth of a teenage fugitive.
Steve Jobs, age 29.
"It’s often the same with any new, revolutionary thing. People get stuck as they get older. Our minds are sort of electrochemical computers. Your thoughts construct patterns like scaffolding in your mind. You are really etching chemical patterns. In most cases, people get stuck in those patterns, just like grooves in a record, and they never get out of them. It’s a rare person who etches grooves that are other than a specific way of looking at things, a specific way of questioning things. It’s rare that you see an artist in his 30s or 40s able to really contribute something amazing. Of course, there are some people who are innately curious, forever little kids in their awe of life, but they’re rare."
From Vallejo to San Jose, a tour of local government despair:
The relationship between the people and their money in California is such that you can pluck almost any city at random and enter a crisis.More Lewis: the complete financial disaster tourism series to date.
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.
The original article on Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s, published a month before the release of Moneyball.
The aftermath of a revolution:
Amid all the chaos of Libya’s transition from war to peace, one remarkable theme stood out: the relative absence of revenge. Despite the atrocities carried out by Qaddafi’s forces in the final months and even days, I heard very few reports of retaliatory killings. Once, as I watched a wounded Qaddafi soldier being brought into a hospital on a gurney, a rebel walked past and smacked him on the head. Instantly, the rebel standing next to me apologized. My Libyan fixer told me in late August that he had found the man who tortured him in prison a few weeks earlier. The torturer was now himself in a rebel prison. “I gave him a coffee and a cigarette,” he said. “We have all seen what happened in Iraq.” That restraint was easy to admire.
A trip to Scotland and an investigation of enduring belief:
I remember reading about the deathbed confession, and how strangely sad it made me, even though I had not, at that point, believed in the monster for years. How much sadder, I wondered, would it make those who still believed in the existence of a monster in Loch Ness?
A first-person account of an arrest:
I stared at the yellow walls and listened to a few officers talk about the overtime they were racking up, and I decided that I hated country music. I hated speedboats and shitty beer in coozies and fat bellies and rednecks. I thought about Abu Ghraib and the horror to which those prisoners were exposed. I thought about my dad and his prescience. I was glad he wasn’t alive to know about what was happening to me. I thought about my kids, and what would have happened if they had been there when I got taken away. I contemplated never flying again. I thought about the incredible waste of taxpayer dollars in conducting an operation like this. I wondered what my rights were, if I had any at all. Mostly, I could not believe I was sitting in some jail cell in some cold, undisclosed building surrounded by “the authorities.”
After acting erratically and trying to skip out on a dinner bill, she was detained briefly in Malibu before being released in the middle of the night. Twenty-four years old and in an unfamiliar area, she had no car, no phone, and no wallet. A year later, her body was found in a nearby canyon. On the search for answers.
September 11, 2001:
“I felt like I was intruding on a sacrament,” said one firefighter, Maureen McArdle-Schulman. “They were choosing to die and I was watching them and shouldn’t have been, so me and another guy turned away and looked at the wall, and we could still hear them hit.”
A profile of a serial sex offender:
This is a story about how hard it is to be good—or, rather, how hard it is to be good once you’ve been bad; how hard it is to be fixed once you’ve been broken; how hard it is to be straight once you’ve been bent. It is about a scary man who is trying very hard not to be scary anymore and yet who still manages to scare not only the people who have good reason to be afraid of him but even occasionally himself. It is about sex, and how little we know about its mysteries; about the human heart, and how futilely we have responded—with silence, with therapy, with the law and even with the sacred Constitution—to its dark challenge. It is about what happens when we, as a society, no longer trust our futile responses and admit that we have no idea what to do with a guy like Mitchell Gaff.
Then for a moment it stops. An old woman, with a shawl over her shoulders, holding a terrified thin little boy by the hand, runs out into the square. You know what she is thinking: she is thinking she must get the child home, you are always safer in your own place, with the things you know. Somehow you do not believe you can get killed when you are sitting in your own parlor, you never think that. She is in the middle of the square when the next one comes.
On the start of the high school football season in Odessa, Texas. An adaptation published alongside the release of Bissinger’s 1990 book of the same name, which lead to the movie and the show.
The life history of an unassuming Sudanese man, Noor Uthman Muhammed, who has spent the last nine years in Guantánamo Bay prison.
In 1956, an ocean liner named the Andrea Doria sank off the coast of Cape Cod. Half a century later, deep-sea divers—the author included—were still risking their lives to explore it.
As editor-in-chief of Variety, Peter Bart was one of the most powerful people in the entertainment industry. This piece got him suspended.
As Europe, led by Greece and Ireland and followed by Portugal and Spain, tumbles towards economic catastrophe, only one nation can save the continent from financial ruin: a highly reluctant Germany.
It’s 11 p.m. when Larson at last agrees to meet me in the lobby of the Hampton Inn, next door to the Gurnee Grand. He’s just come out of a marathon closed-door meeting with his fellow exiled senators. Tall, gap-toothed, and handsome, but with a squished, broad nose, Larson appears in a fitted black overcoat, a sedate suit with a Wisconsin flag lapel pin, and an athletic backpack. He looks shockingly young, younger than his thirty years, and seems to be relieved that I am even a few years younger myself. We jump in my Chevy and head for the town’s late-night diner: Denny’s. By the time we settle into a booth, Larson has dropped the routine political affectations—the measured language, the approved talking points, the inauthentic humor. We’re cracking up comparing Republicans to evildoers on South Park and shit-talking mutual acquaintances in Milwaukee. And then, just as Larson is about to take a bite of his veggie burger, I ask the freshman senator if he is scared. “What would I be scared about?” he replies.
A profile of Phoenix Jones, real-life superhero.
The coldest of cases: During 1884-85, seven women and one man were brutally murdered in Austin, Texas.
Live from the World Series of Poker.
I felt, in some substantive yet elusive way, that I had had a hand in killing my mother. And so the search for a bed became a search for sanctuary, which is to say that the search for a bed became the search for a place; and of course by place I mean space, the sort of approximate, indeterminate space one might refer to when one says to another person, "I need some space"; and the fact that space in this context generally consists of feelings did not prevent me from imagining that the space-considered, against all reason, as a viable location; namely, my bedroom-could be filled, pretty much perfectly, by a luxury queen-size bed draped in gray-and-white-striped, masculine-looking sheets, with maybe a slightly and appropriately feminine ruffled bed skirt stretched about the box spring (all from Bellora in SoHo).
Yemen on the brink of hell:
In a sense, south Yemen itself offers a grim cautionary tale about the events now unfolding in Taiz and across the country. Until 1990, when the two Yemens merged, South Yemen was a beacon of development and order. Under the British, who ruled the south as a colony until 1967, and the Socialists, who ran it for two decades afterward, South Yemen had much higher literacy rates than the north. Child marriage and other degrading tribal practices came to an end; women entered the work force, and the full facial veil became a rarity. It was only after Ali Abdullah Saleh imposed his writ that things began to change. When the south dared to rebel against him in 1994, Saleh sent bands of jihadis to punish it. The north began treating the south like a slave state, expropriating vast plots of private and public land for northerners, along with the oil profits. Tribal practices returned. Violent jihadism began to grow.
An early profile of Mrs. Murdoch that made her husband very angry.
On the world’s longest foot race, which takes place entirely within Queens, N.Y.:
Such were the hazards last summer in Jamaica, Queens, at the tenth running of the Self-Transcendence 3,100. The fifteen participants—all but two of them disciples of the Bengali Guru Sri Chinmoy, who has resided in the neighborhood for forty years—hailed from ten countries on three continents. They ran in all weather, seven days a week, from 6:00 a.m. to midnight, or until their bodies compelled them to rest. If they logged fewer than fifty miles on a given day, they risked disqualification. By their own reckoning, the runners climbed eight meters per lap, mounting and descending a spectral Everest every week and a half. They toiled in this fashion for six to eight weeks, however long it took them to complete 5,649 circuits—3,100 miles—around a single city block.
Is the streaming Swedish music service, now making its U.S. debut, the best shot the industry has at staying profitable and relevant?
How Frank and Jamie McCourt bought the Dodgers for “for less than the price of an oceanfront home in Southampton” and eventually became entangled in one of the most expensive divorces in California history, which laid bare their finances and confirmed what many already knew: they had bankrupted one of the most storied franchises in baseball.
In all, the McCourts reportedly took $108 million out of the team in personal distributions over five years—a sum that Molly Knight, a reporter with ESPN who has extensively covered the story, notes is eerily similar to the cash payment that she says Frank McCourt has claimed he made for the team.
During the Great Floods of 2011, the Mississippi unleashed deadly currents and a flow rate that could fill the Superdome in less than a minute. Defying government orders, the author and two friends canoed 300 miles from Memphis to Vicksburg. This is their story.
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.
It started with a candle in an abandoned warehouse. It ended with temperatures above 3,000 degrees and the men of the Worcester Fire Department in a fight for their lives.
Behind a financial fraud lay a secret plan to create a “mothership for con artists worldwide”:
Gamboa's tale involves secret ore deposits, hidden stocks of Soviet nuclear armaments, the Queen Mary ocean liner, portions of Antarctica, a new version of the Bible, allegations of fake deaths and miraculous resurrections, and a collection of some of the most colorful aliases ever to grace America's criminal and civil case dockets. (According to court documents, Korem also answers to the names Tzemach Ben David Netzer Korem and Branch Vinedresser.)
The need for a new letter on an old manual machine leads the author to the shop of Martin Tytell, now in his seventh decade as repairman, historian, and high priest of typewriters.
On the development of South Korea’s New Songdo and Cisco’s plans to build smart cities which will “offer cities as a service, bundling urban necessities – water, power, traffic, telephony – into a single, Internet-enabled utility, taking a little extra off the top of every resident’s bill.” The demand for such cities is enormous:
China doesn't need cool, green, smart cities. It needs cities, period -- 500 New Songdos at the very least. One hundred of those will each house a million or more transplanted peasants. In fact, while humanity has been building cities for 9,000 years, that was apparently just a warm-up for the next 40. As of now, we're officially an urban species. More than half of us -- 3.3 billion people -- live in a city. Our numbers are projected to nearly double by 2050, adding roughly a New Songdo a day; the United Nations predicts the vast majority will flood smaller cities in Africa and Asia.
When she died in 1952, author Margaret Wise Brown left the rights to Goodnight Moon to a nine-year-old neighbor named Albert Clarke. The book became a classic. Clarke, living entirely off the royalties, became a deadbeat.
This past Memorial Day weekend, Steven T. Florio, the president and CEO of Conde Nast Publications, made a dramatic change at The New Yorker, the most illustrious of the 17 magazines he runs for billionaire S.I. "Si" Newhouse Jr. He fired his own brother.
Ricky Rodriguez was born in the role of the messiah. His father was David Berg, the leader of the polygamous/incestuous cult The Children of God, which published a book documenting his early life:
In 1982 a shop in Spain printed several thousand copies of a book that was then distributed to group members around the world. Bound in faux leather, illustrated with hundreds of photographs, the 762-page tome meticulously chronicled Ricky's young life and was intended as a child-rearing manual for families. Its title, The Story of Davidito, was stamped in gold. With its combination of earnest prose and unabashed child pornography, it is perhaps the most disturbing book ever published in the name of religion.Eventually, he left the cult and found work as an electrician. But revenge called him back.
A profile of Ayman al-Zawahri, the Egyptian doctor who became Bin Laden’s #2 and has now taken over Al-Qaeda.
A profile of driver A.J. Foyt on the eve of what was supposed to be his final Indy 500.
“Radically brilliant. Absurdly ahead of its time. Ridiculously poorly planned.” An oral history of the National Sports Daily.
In 1992, a Chinese freighter tipped violently in a storm dumping a load of plastic floatee toys—7,200 red beavers, 7,200 green frogs, 7,200 blue turtles, and 7,200 yellow ducks—to the open sea. This is their story.
A journey to Disney World with kids and weed.
500 feet below ground with Ohio coal miners:
I followed them underground, home, to church, to the strip club where they drink and gossip and taunt and jab and worry about one another. I listened while they worried about Smitty, the loner of the group, who had just ordered himself a mail-order woman.
On Kimora Lee Simmons, then the head of the Baby Phat clothing company and wife of Russell Simmons.
“Let me take off my glasses,” she says, removing her large frames. “I want you to see my eyes. I will beat a bitch’s ass!”
Peggy Jo Tallas, a soft-spoken bachelorette, spent much of her adult life doing two things: taking care of her ailing mother and robbing bank after bank dressed as a pudgy, bearded cowboy.
A selection from our guide to bank heists for Slate.
On the shared life of Tatiana and Krista Hogan:
[T]he girls’ doctors believe it is entirely possible that the sensory input that one girl receives could somehow cross that bridge into the brain of the other. One girl drinks, another girl feels it.
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.
Since being revealed as a CIA operative and selling Blackwater, Erik Prince has set to work building U.A.E. a mercenary army, made up heavily of Colombian and South African troops, to be used “if the Emirates faced unrest or were challenged by pro-democracy demonstrations in its crowded labor camps or democracy protests like those sweeping the Arab world this year.”
A study of the Mississippi River, its history, and efforts by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to hold it in place.
Manny Pacquiao, possibly the greatest boxer of his era and still in his fighting prime, on the campaign trail for a congressional seat in the remote, untamed Southern province of the Phillipines that spawned him.
On the talent, ego, and late father of Bryant Gumbel.
Five Mexican fishermen head out with enough supplies for several days. They’re gone for nine months. A story of survival in the South Pacific.
The author came late to basketball. A profile of his favorite player:
He creates a sense of danger in the arena and yet has enough wit in his style to bring off funny ideas when he wants to.
A travelogue through the contradiction-rich and predominantly Muslim Southern Thailand.
On the shady underworld of door to door magazine sales teams, in which teens roam the country in vans, con locals with sob stories, party constantly in cheap motels, and leave behind a trail of rapes, fiery crashes, and new subscriptions.
What one learns about Jose Canseco while trying, unsuccessfully, to interview Jose Canseco.
How two love-struck, type A high schoolers almost got away with murder.
We ate in our own restaurants, stayed in our own hotels, and hired our own guides. We moved through a parallel Paris—and a parallel Rome, Milan, and so on.
The reporter takes a whirlwind guided bus tour of a Europe with a group of Chinese tourists.
On former Knicks savior Stephon Marbury and his post-NBA life playing in China.
The life of Robert Earl Hughes, who at more than 1,000 lbs. was named largest man on earth by the Guinness Book of World Records.
How skateboard legend Mark “Gator” Anthony was born again, first as a street preacher, and then as a rapist and murderer.
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.
Manny Ramirez is a deeply frustrating employee, the kind whose talents are so prodigious that he gets away with skipping meetings, falling asleep on the job, and fraternizing with the competition.
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.
How a herbalist who used to swim naked with Allen Ginsberg became one of conservative talk radio’s most vicious—and listened to—hosts.
How Lalit Modi built a billion-dollar cricket empire—only to be exiled from his sport and homeland.
Rodrigo Rosenberg, a highly respected corporate attorney in Guatemala, began, in the spring of 2009, to prophesy his own murder. The unraveling of a political conspiracy.
Did A.Q. Khan sell nuclear secrets on the black market? The fame had unbalanced him. He was subjected to a degree of public acclaim rarely seen in the West—an extreme close to idol worship, which made him hungry for more. Money seems never to have been his obsession, but it did play a role.
The unlikely ascent of A.Q. Khan, the scientist who gave Pakistan the Bomb, and his suspicious fall from grace.
The story of Dean Corll and his accomplices, who killed over 20 teenage boys in the Heights neighborhood of Houston in the early 1970s, and the families searching for their missing sons.
In the 1880’s, a shabbily dressed man popped up in numerous America cities, calling upon local scientists, showing letters of introduction claiming he was a noted geologist or paleontologist, discussing both fields at a staggeringly accomplished level, and then making off with valuable books or cash loans.
A profile of a 25-year-old Spanish sensation.
One of the most valuable cars in the world crashes going 200 mph on the Pacific Coast Highway. Its owner claims to be an anti-terrorism officer. In fact, he’s a former executive at a failed software company—and a career criminal. The unraveling of an epic con.
On Johnny Carson, a cold man in a hot seat; I once asked a bright young Manhattan journalist whether he could define in a single word what made television different from theatre or cinema. "For good or ill," he said, "Carson.’”
On January 27th in Lahore, an American named Raymond A. Davis stopped his Honda Civic and shot two Pakistani men, then made a failed attempt to flee. Beyond those basic facts, little is agreed upon, and the murders have ignited a diplomatic crisis, which only intensified with the revelation that Davis was a CIA subcontractor.
An undercover report on Afghanistan’s drug-smuggling border police that is now heavily used for intelligence training.
A first-person account of the author’s time spent volunteering with a group of Burmese activists in Thailand, who turn out to be not Korean but in fact Karen, members of Burma’s persecuted ethnic minority. In the course of her time there, they show her videos of their risky forays across the border, and she shows them MySpace.
The perilous routes through which information—video footage, secret documents, radio broadcasts—flow in and out of North Korea through its porous borders with China.
Memories of the author’s teenage years, when his father pulled up stakes on a comfortable life in Baltimore to reinvent himself as the head of a S&L bank in Los Angeles.
The definitive story of a ubiquitous software. PowerPoint’s origins, its evolution, and its mind-boggling impact on corporate culture.
How a tiny inner core made the Aryan Brotherhood the most feared prison gang in America; coded messages, murders on the outside, and the knowledge that those who are already in for life cannot be punished further.
Daniel Kish is entirely sightless. So how can he ride a bike on busy streets? Go hiking for days alone? By using a technique borrowed from bats.
She was last seen leaving a pickup bar, her body was found the next morning in the dirt beside a football field. He was ten. Thirty-six years later, the author investigates his mother’s murder.
Henry Heimlich saved untold choking victimes when he invented his maneuver in 1974. Since then, he’s searched in vain for another miracle treatment—pushing ethical boundaries along the way. Now at the end of his career, Heimlich has hired an investigator to find an anonymous critic working full-time to destroy his legacy.
The American medical establishment has gone to extraordinary lengths—some of which read like conspiracy theory—to discredit the notion (and its most visible promoter, Dr. Atkins) that carbohydrates, not fat, are the cause of obesity. It looks like they were wrong.
“The entire system set up to monitor and regulate Wall Street is fucked up. Just ask the people who tried to do the right thing.”
On 30 years of Long Island politics.
A comprehensive history of the case against the Menendez brothers, built primarily on secret audio recording made by their self-promoting therapist.
The story of three months spent training reporters in Saudi Arabia, where the press is far from free. “I suspected that behind the closed gates of Saudi society there was a social revolution in the making. With some guidance, I thought, these journalists could help inspire change.”
Brooklyn, Illinois has one of the most dense clusters of strip clubs and rubdown parlors in the entire country, drawing patrons from nearby St. Louis and its suburbs. Inside the clubs with the dancers, a strip club scholar, the mayor, and the regulars whose dollars keep the depressed local economy afloat.
During his 35 years as a member of the Church of Scientology, Oscar-winning writer and director Paul Haggis went “all the way to the top.” The story of why he left, and what happened once he did.
Emmanuel “Toto” Constant, the founder of a barbaric Haitian paramilitary group, vanished from Port-au-Prince and resurfaced as a real estate agent in Queens.
On Sam Cooke, theme parties, and the importance of McDonald’s-related jingles when street performing.
The Bohemian Grove is an exclusive, all-male club made up of Presidents, ambassadors, and other world leaders, with a 33 year waiting list for membership. Their booze-soaked annual retreat outside of San Francisco had never been infiltrated—until this story.
Paul Wayment made a profound mistake, left his 2-year-old son alone in his truck as he tracked deer in the wilderness. The boy was gone when he returned. The story of a collective struggle to find a just punishment.
Bruce Wisan received one of the toughest assignments ever thrust upon an accountant; to take control of the assets (and by proxy, followers) of the polygamist Mormon breakaway sect, F.L.D.S., after their prophet, Warren Jeffs, went on the lam and their compound was raided.
Nobody loved chimpanzees more than St. James Davis and his wife LaDonna; the couple spent more than 30 years—and gained a modicum of fame—raising one as their son. Then they almost died in a brutal chimp attack.
A profile of then-First Lady Barbara Bush, published just before the 1992 presidential election. The lede: “Even Barbara Bush’s stepmother is afraid of her.”
The diary of a Scranton, PA National Guardsmen tasked with guarding the highest profile prisoner in U.S history: a surprisingly amiable Saddam Hussein.
Most military experts agree that robots, not people, will inevitably do the fighting in ground wars. In Tennessee, a high-end gunsmith is already there. The story of Jerry Baber and his robot army.
How a young state rep from Missouri, seemingly guaranteed political greatness, ended up behind bars.
How a burst blood vessel transformed the mind of a deliberate, controlled chiropractor into that of an utterly unfiltered, massively prolific artist.
Guz Dominguez says he was trying to help baseball players from Cuba; the U.S. government says he was smuggling athletes. The truth is more complicated.
Mattathias Rath made a fortune selling cure-all vitamins in Europe before moving his business to South Africa, where he launched a massive campaign against retroviral AIDS medications and in favor of his own vitamin cocktails. When scientists, AIDS non-profits, and even Medecins San Frontieres objected, he sued.
On the last day of their junior year at Harvard, one roommate kills the other, then hangs herself. The press descends. A year later, a reporter searches for the real story.
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’.
But the web is not just some kind of magic all-absorbing meta-medium. It's its own thing. And like other media it has a question that it answers better than any other. That question is: Why wasn't I consulted?
From the 1940s through the early 70s, incoming freshman at Harvard, Yale, Vassar, Wellesley, and several other top schools were photographed nude in the name of science–bogus science, as it turned out. Most of the photos were destroyed, but not all.
“It is simply not possible to envision any conceivable modern, urban-based economy shorn of its subways, its tramways, its light rail and suburban networks, its rail connections, and its intercity links.”
“The world before the railways appeared so very different from what came afterward and from what we know today because the railways did more than just facilitate travel and thereby change the way the world was seen and depicted. They transformed the very landscape itself.”
A ragtag band of pirate-Jihadists grab Americans from a diving resort in the Phillipines and lead them on an odyssey through the jungles of an archipelago with the competing interests of the Phillipines’ Navy and Army, the U.S. Military, and the C.I.A. thwarting their rescue.
The fever-dream life and death of Chinese poet Gu Cheng.
Mince pie was once more American than the apple variety. It was also blamed for “bad health, murderous dreams, the downfall of Prohibition, and the decline of the white race,” among other things. Then it disappeared.
A young girl is reported missing. The detective assigned to her case quickly discovers she’s been gone for years. The story of his search for justice.
On a desolate, six-mile stretch of Indian beachfront, the bulk of the world’s big ships are dismantled for scrap. Though a ship is usually worth over $1 million in steel, the margins are low, the leftovers are toxic, and the labor—which employs huge numbers of India’s poor—is wildly dangerous.
A profile of Yao Ming published during his second season in the NBA.
Steven Seagal spent a few years in Japan and returned to open a dojo in L.A.. Jules Nasso was the wiseguy producer behind all of Seagal’s hits. When it all fell apart, Seagal reputedly offered money for a contract killing, and Nasso may have been caught on tape arranging to extort Seagal through the Gambino Family.
A grandmaster on the computers that have bested him and how we have misunderstood the implications of artificial intelligence.
A couple, well-known New York artists, decamp to L.A., where she intends to direct a movie about a rock star trying to leave a cult. Beck, a friend, signs on, then (possibly under pressure) drops out. Their behavior grows strange, and they rant of constant harassment by Scientologists. They return to New York—to die.
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.”
A profile of Rafael Pérez, an infamously corrupt LAPD officer and the inspiration behind the Vic Mackey character on The Shield.
“Twenty-two years after being sent to prison for an unspeakable crime he did not commit, Calvin Willis walked out a free man, the 138th American exonerated by DNA evidence. He has won his freedom, yes, but how does a falsely accused man reclaim his life?”
In 1976, newly appointed Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens voted to reinstate capital punishment in the United States. Thirty years later, he argued that it’s unconstitutional. Here, he explains why he changed his mind.
Scenario-based forecasts on the future of America, in the style of the C.I.A’s National Intelligence Estimate.
An oral history of a family in Mexico City, in transition from poverty to the lower-middle class, as they scramble to organize the burial of a slum-dwelling aunt.
A history of entrepreneurship in New York City, starting with shipping magnate Jeremiah Thompson’s big gamble in the 1820s: scheduled departures.
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.
How to spend $1.2 million per month on your laundry in Kuwait; the system of kickbacks and non-competitive contracts that made Halliburton/KBR the near-exclusive contractor in the Iraq war zone.
A review of several books on Rupert Murdoch first criticizes the authors for not grasping the many sides of their subject, then offers a thesis of its own. He’s “not so much a man, or a cultural force, as a portrait of the modern world.”
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.
For the last two decades, the varied personalities behind the Vidocq Society—retired cops, sketch artists, FBI agents—have gathered in Philadelphia to tackled cold-case homicides over lunch. They claim to have solved more than half.
The difference between a social network and a movie about a social network, and what it says about the Facebook generation.
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.
The article that spawned a school of thought; an elegy for the age of the megahit and a primer for the niche-based future.
A single-page version of Shalhoup’s reporting on the Black Mafia Family, one of the largest cocaine empires in American history.
At 25, Stephen Glass was a reporter wunderkind, regularly filing incredible pieces for the largest magazines. When suspicion fell on his sources, things started to really get strange. It wasn’t just sources and organizations he was inventing, but whole stories.
In 1997, a logger-turned-activist named Grant Hadwin cut down a very special tree. Then he bought a kayak and disappeared.
How two Italian teenagers hacked the Soviet space program and may have heard the dying breaths of a lost cosmonaut.
Spilling to nearly book-length across two issues of Rolling Stone; a Manson-contemporary cult group rises out of a jug band, builds a fortress in the Boston ghetto, bullies control of a community newspaper, swallows a successful actor, fractures, splits for California, and attempts to describe to the reporter the enigma that is Mel Lyman.
There was no doubt: Jeremy Gross had brutally murdered a convenience store clerk. All that was left to decide was his punishment. Death or life without parole? The story of a capital murder trial, as seen from the jury box.
The comeback of Marty Reisman, the most flamboyant figure in the history of table tennis, and the self-proclaimed greatest hardbat player ever.
She moved to Cape Cod to escape the glitzy Manhattan world she born into. The only witness to her murder was her 2 1/2-year-old daughter. Everyone she knew, it seemed, was a suspect.
‘Your Black Muslim Bakery’ commanded vast influence in Oakland, offering jobs and self-empowerment to ex-cons , until this story revealed a history of incest-rapes and kidnappings. Another journalist investigating the story was later murdered.
Would you rather have one marshmallow now or two in a few minutes? How a kid’s answer to that question can predict his or her life trajectory.
A mid-boom critique of New York City’s high-priced, mostly glass condo buildings.
How the illegitimate son of Liberian ex-President (and accused cannibal) Charles Taylor went from being a small time Florida hoodlum to one of Africa’s most notorious killers.
Matthew Weigman was blind, overweight, 14 and alone. He could also do anything he wanted with a phone. Sometimes that meant calling Lindsay Lohan. Other times it meant sending a SWAT team to an enemy’s door.
Notes from the Friars Club roast of Don King.
A trip to the Russian baths helps author start to see the good in his terrible eyesight.
A game called Spacewar is developed by early computer engineers in their spare time, improved in University comp-sci labs, and ultimately made available in coffeeshops for ten cents per game.
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.
A profile of Viktor Bout, believed to be the largest arms trafficker in the world. A Russian who bought his first cargo planes at age 25, Bout has been in the news recently after being arrested in Thailand.
Riots in Athens, the shadowy Vatopaidi monastery, and a quarter million dollars in debt for every citizen. Welcome to Greece.
Albert Talton started with some recycled newsprint and a cheap printer from Staples. By the end, he’d put more than $7 million into circulation.
How misdirected incentives in the bewildering medical supply industry keep innovative, life-saving equipment from reaching hospitals.
The rise and fall of the Seven-Seven - stationed in the war zone of 1980’s Crown Heights, Brooklyn - and how an idealistic young recruit became part of cash-snatching, drug-reselling, renegade clique of cops
How the U.S. Army went evangelical and turned a war into a crusade.
If you walk into New York’s best restaurants without a reservation, what does it take to get a table?
They robbed 27 banks in 15 years, one of the most prolific streaks in American history. Then they got caught.
A profile of Jimmy Connors on the eve of the 1978 U.S. Open. Connors’ legendary confidence, honed by his mother since childhood, was in freefall. (He would go on to win the final in straight sets.)
The author investigates the massive wildlife die-off in the Salton Sea by rafting from its tributaries in Mexico.
The poet and his love affair with Italian motorbikes (and also lots of women.)
A blow by blow account of the seizure of a French cruise ship by Somali pirates.
The original story of Christopher McCandless’ fateful trip into the Alaskan wilderness.
A profile of the man who helped invent the modern art of presidential spin and came to embody the blurry line between journalist and government official.
For sixty years, the weekly Evening Whirl attacked the drug lords, whoring preachers, and hypocritical bourgeoisie of St. Louis’ black community, sometimes in rhyming Iambic couplets.
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.
A Barclays analyst leaves for a routine laser treatment and is never heard from again. Ten months later, authorities find her body under a concrete slab at the house of her doctor, who was in fact not a doctor at all.
A firsthand account of prison’s dysfunctional relationships. The writer wasn’t able to gain access through official channels, so he completed guard training and took a job as a Sing Sing corrections officer.
The bloody, often surreal, fight for Kosovo’s independence was led by a man moonlighting as a roofer in Switzerland.
In the early 1960s, Middle Eastern guys in Brooklyn introduced America to Arabic rock-and-roll.
After two New Jersey homes were robbed of their silver—only their silver—in the same night, the local police got a call from a detective in Greenwich, Connecticut. “I know the guy who’s doing your burglaries.”
Where does Strawberry-Kiwi Snapple come from? Givaudan is part of a tiny, secretive industry that produces new flavors.
A reporter heads to Nauru, a tiny island nation in the Pacific, to track down the hub of a worldwide money-laundering operation—a shack filled with computers, air-conditioners, and little else.
How phone phreakers, many of them blind, opened up Ma Bell to unlimited free international calling using a technical manual and a toy organ.
An obsessive marine biologist gambles his savings, family, and sanity on a quest to be the first to capture a live giant squid.
Three Dallas prostitutes were found dead in as many months. Charles Albright might be the last person you’d suspect–unless you knew about his unique, lifelong obsession.
Pat Robertson was 29 years old, possessionless, and living in a Bed-Stuy brownstone when he announced that God had told him to buy a fledgling TV station in Virginia. Here’s what happened next.
Jacob Riis, writing in 1899, on how a childhood spent in New York City’s tenements led a 15-year-old boy to be convicted of murder.
How PCC, once an inmate soccer team and now Brazil’s most notorious prison gang, coordinated seven days of riots throughout São Paulo using mobile phones.
The pain and beauty of U.S. military funerals. The author follows fallen soldier Joe Montgomery from field to grave.
Vignettes of the residents of South Elliot Place.
The Estonia was carrying 989 passengers when it sank in 30-foot seas on its way across the Baltic in September 1994. More than 850 lost their lives. The ones who survived acted quickly and remained calm.
Inside the real lives of trolls–those who intentionally provoke, confuse, and generally screw with strangers online–whose pranks balance gleeful malice with organized efforts against Scientologists.
The shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later culture of the 101st Airborne Division, an execution of captured Iraqi prisoners, and how far up the chain of command responsibility lies.
Inside the bleak world of Joe Francis, the man behind the “Girls Gone Wild” franchise.
A war correspondent decides to rent a house in Baghdad to save money. Complications ensue.
A trip to a lobster festival leads to an examination of the culinary and ethical dimensions of cooking a live, possibly sentient, creature.
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.
The complex, highly evolved world of Moscow’s subway-riding stray dogs.
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.
Race relations at the gigantic and soul-crushing Smithfield slaughterhouse, where annual turnover is 100 percent: 5,000 people are hired, 5,000 quit.
Mykal Riley’s last-second three-pointer kept thousands of fans out of the path of tornado. Just as remarkable? That Riley was there to shoot the three in the first place.
On his journey from phenom to champion to wannabe rock star to Emmy-winning commentator, John McEnroe hasn’t changed much.
Less than a week after Katrina, Michael Lewis goes home to New Orleans.
When Japanese men in their teens and twenties shut themselves in their rooms, sometimes for a period of years, one way to lure them out is a hired “big sister.”
An oddball team of ship salvage mercenaries is tasked with uprighting a tipped two-football-field-long cargo ship before it sinks into the darkness of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands.
When Clark Rockefeller snatched his daughter during a custody dispute, what the D.A. called “the longest con I’ve seen in my professional career” came unraveled, and the trail led to bones buried in a California backyard.
After the explosion of the Columbia shuttle in 2003, two American astronauts aboard the International Space Station suddenly found themselves with no ride home.
A first person account of the cigarette based market for services and goods within a WWII P.O.W. camp.
April Savino, a teenage homeless runaway, lived in Grand Central Terminal from 1984 until 1987 when she committed suicide on the steps of a nearby church.
The lonesome death of Arnold Rothstein, notorious gambler, inspiration for a the character Meyer Wolfsheim in The Great Gatsby, alleged fixer of the 1916 World Series, opiate importation pioneer, mobster and Jew.
In 1970, he was plucked from Saigon to attend West Point. He got his degree and went home to fight, but instead spent six years in a reeducation camp. Then, somehow, he ended up teaching high school in D.C.
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.
It’s the biggest environmental lawsuit in history. The people of Lago Agrio, an oil-rich area in the Ecuadorean Amazon, are suing Chevron for $6 billion after decades of spills. The case has been underway since 1993.
In an Oklahoma City neighborhood usually left off city maps, the federal government is implementing its $300 million anti-poverty plan: teaching poor Americans how to get married.
How $100 million in diamonds, gold and jewelry disappeared from Antwerp Diamond Center’s supersecure vault.
Argentina’s Lio Messi, the best soccer player on the planet, stands all of 5’7” and needed growth-hormone injections to get there.
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.
Banned in Russia and cut by Conde Nast from the GQ website, this story (presented in full) details the intrigue behind the Moscow apartment bombings, blamed on Chechens, that allowed Putin to rapidly ascend to power.
In the days after 9/11, a photo of an unknown man falling from the South Tower appeared in publications across the globe. This is the story of that photograph, and of the search to find the man pictured in it.
The arson case that may have led Texas to execute an innocent man.
He was an 18 year old Marine bound for Iraq. She was a high school senior in West Virginia. They grew intimate over IM. His dad also started contacting her. No one was who they claimed to be and it led to a murder.
The nation watched live as Robert O’Donnell rescued Baby Jessica from that well in Texas in October, 1987. Then they stopped watching, and Robert O’Donnell was lost without the attention.
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.
Pitcairn Island is impossibly remote, populated by descendants of a ship of British mutineers. Revelations that child molestation and rape had been a way of life for generations exposed them to the outside world.
Inside the twisted, half-conscious world of Jure Robic, the Slovene soldier who might be the world’s best ultra-endurance athlete.
Using several email addresses and a lot of exclamation points, teenager Jonathan Lebed worked finance message boards in the morning before school and made almost a million bucks. Then he made the head of the S.E.C. look like a fool.
How Todd Marinovich, engineered from birth to be the greatest quarterback of all time, ended up a heroin junkie while still playing pro football. A 2010 National Magazine Award winner.
The defining, minute-by-minute account of the 2008 attacks in Mumbai.
Working from a tiny shop in Chinatown, Sister Ping helped thousands of Chinese immigrate illegally by boat. By the time one of her ships ran aground, the F.B.I estimated her total profits at $40 million.
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.
Recently, African Elephants have been killing people, raping rhinos, and exhibiting uncharacteristically aggressive behavior. An investigation reveals deep similarities between elephants’ and humans’ reaction to childhood trauma.
The rise and fall of a chubby Idaho pizza delivery boy turned weed kingpin.