The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race
The case against agriculture.
The case against agriculture.
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.
An abridged history of violence in "America's first suburb."
Note: Elon Green is a contributing editor to Longform.
On the closing of New York’s Fulton Fish Market.
It smells of truck exhaust and fish guts. Of glistening skipjacks and smoldering cigarettes; fluke, salmon and Joe Tuna's cigar. Of Canada, Florida, and the squid-ink East River. Of funny fish-talk riffs that end with profanities spat onto the mucky pavement, there to mix with coffee spills, beer blessings, and the flowing melt of sea-scented ice. This fragrance of fish and man pinpoints one place in the New York vastness: a small stretch of South Street where peddlers have sung the song of the catch since at least 1831, while all around them, change. They were hawking fish here when an ale house called McSorley's opened up; when a presidential aspirant named Lincoln spoke at Cooper Union; when the building of a bridge to Brooklyn ruined their upriver view.
How the spirit became a billion-dollar business.
Michael Roper, owner of Chicago’s Hopleaf bar and restaurant, recalls what bartending was like in the early seventies. While Smirnoff was considered top shelf, he remembers lesser varieties such as Nikolai, Arrow, Wolfschmidt, and another brand that was then ubiquitous called Mohawk. “Mohawk was cheap, cheap, cheap,” Roper remembers. “Mohawk had a factory just outside Detroit along the expressway and . . . all their products were made there. It’s almost like they turned a switch—whiskey, vodka, gin. And it was all junk.” Still, by 1976, vodka had surpassed bourbon and whiskey as the most popular spirit in America. Roper attributes vodka’s rise partially to women, who started drinking more spirits and ordering them on their own: “Women were not going to like Scotch—that was for cigar-smoking burly men,” he speculates. “And . . . it was unladylike to drink Kentucky whiskey. But it was considered somewhat ladylike to have a fancy cocktail with an olive in it.” He also remembers when a salesman first brought Miller Lite into his bar, explaining “it’s for women.” In a similar vein, Roper considers vodka a low-calorie option with “a less challenging flavor.”
On America’s relationship with the right to bear arms, from the Founding Fathers to the Black Panthers and the Ku Klux Klan.
The history of management consulting.
On the history and study of pica:
Indeed, we have long defined ourselves and others by what we do and do not eat, from kashrut dietary restrictions described in Leviticus to the naming of Comanche bands (Kotsoteka—buffalo eaters, Penateka—honey eaters, Tekapwai—no meat) to insults—French frogs, English limeys, German krauts. But poya seemed to beg a different question: what was one to make of people who ate food that wasn’t food at all?
Part one of a planned nine-part serialized biography of Harrison Gray Otis, the “inventor of modern Los Angeles.”
Future installments will include Otis’s interlude as “emperor of the Pribilofs,” his military atrocities in the Philippines, his bitter legal battles with the Theosophists, the Otis-Chandler empire in the Mexicali Valley, the Times bombing in 1910, the notorious discovery of fellatio in Long Beach, and Otis’s quixotic plan for world government.
Uncovering Southern California’s country music roots.
On the rise of the modern city – and the rise of missing persons.
On the evolving design and industrialization of the American outdoors.
The intertwining histories of two men who defined twentieth century European style.
John Demjanjuk has had a huge year. Twenty years after being sentenced to die, he finally climbed to the pinnacle of the Wiesenthal Center's list of Nazi war criminals this April, shortly after the Germans filed the arrest warrant that allowed the OSI to put him on the jet to Munich.
Nearly 10,000,000 men were killed in the conflict, 65 million participated, and now we are left with two.
In June, 1942, a German submarine dropped four young Nazi agents off on a Florida beach. Their mission was to blow up bridges, factories, and Jewish-owned department stores. Among them was Herbert Haupt, the 22-year-old son of a German-American family in Chicago.
When they met, he was 45 and she was 17. In her 14 years as his mistress, she appeared in countless paintings, including Guernica.
The Civil War started 150 years ago today. A primer on how and why.
When Chicago’s Stevens Hotel opened in 1927, it was the biggest hotel in the world. By the time it was closed, it had bankrupted and caused the suicide of a member of the Stevens’ family (which included a seven-year-old future Justice John Paul Stevens), and changed the city forever.
The strange life of Boston Corbett, the soldier who killed John Wilkes Booth in 1865.
Like hundreds of other local slaves — [they] had been pressed into service by the Confederates, compelled to build an artillery emplacement amid the dunes across the harbor. They labored beneath the banner of the 115th Virginia Militia, a blue flag bearing a motto in golden letters: “Give me liberty or give me death.”
Why utopias are best understood as fiction games, and how they quickly become dystopias when realized.
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.
After the 1919 Black Sox scandal, Ring Lardner, America’s first great sportswriter, walked away from the game.
The long, happy, surprising life of 77-year old Donald Gary Triplett, the first person ever diagnosed with autism.