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Dogsbody Does Dublin

Four dispatches from the 100th anniversary of Bloomsday.

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

Downtown Is for People

On the then-new phenomenon of dead downtowns.

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

Secrets of Magus

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

Looking for Hemingway

On George Plimpton and the founders of The Paris Review.

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

Destroy All Monsters

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

Papa

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

Meet the Shaggs

From 1968-1973, the three teenage Wiggin 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 have not been kind to the Wiggins.