The Tribal Rites of Saturday Night →
by Nik Cohn Vincent was the very best dancer in Bay Ridge—the ultimate Face. He owned fourteen floral shirts, five suits, eight pairs of shoes, three overcoats, and had appeared on American Bandstand. Sometimes music people came out from Manhattan to watch him, and one man who owned a club on the East Side had even offered him a contract. A hundred dollars a week. Just to dance.
The Origami Lab →
by Susan Orlean One of the few Americans to see action during the Bug Wars of the nineteen-nineties was Robert J. Lang, a lanky Californian who was on the front lines throughout, from the battle of the Kabutomushi Beetle to the battle of the Menacing Mantis and the battle of the Long-Legged Wasp.
Dead Man Laughing →
by Zadie Smith My father had few enthusiasms, but he loved comedy. He was a comedy nerd, though this is so common a condition in Britain as to be almost not worth mentioning. Like most Britons, Harvey gathered his family around the defunct hearth each night to watch the same half-hour comic situations repeatedly, in reruns and on video. We knew the “Dead Parrot” sketch by heart. We had the...
The Accidental Rebel →
by Paul Auster IT was the year of years, the year of craziness, the year of fire, blood and death. I had just turned 21, I was as crazy as everyone else.
Is Pornography Adultery? →
by Ross Douthat Nothing in the long history of erotica compares with the way millions of Americans experience porn today, and our moral intuitions are struggling to catch up. As we try to make sense of the brave new world that VHS and streaming video have built, we might start by asking a radical question: Is pornography use a form of adultery?
The $20 Theory of the Universe →
by Tom Chiarella When it comes to the language of money, credit cards are nouns. Dull, concrete, limited by rules and restrictions and creepy fine print, credit cards have all the élan of aluminum foil. Personal checks - the coward’s stand-in for cash - are ugly and static pronouns. But a twenty-dollar bill, now, that’s a thing of beauty. Nothing static about a twenty. Used...
Jesus Shaves →
by David Sedaris “And who brings the chocolate?” the teacher asked. I knew the word, and so I raised my hand, saying, “The Rabbit of Easter. He bring of the chocolate.” My classmates reacted as though I’d attributed the delivery to the Antichrist. They were mortified.
Race: The Issue →
by Joe Klein On a pleasant spring evening, several weeks before the city was convulsed by the rape of the woman jogger in Central Park, Richard Ravitch found himself in the heart of Queens, as he often does these days, pressing his long-shot candidacy for mayor - trying to sell optimism to a room full of pessimists.
Words About Words →
by Nora Ephron Addicted to L-U-V About three years ago, I stumbled onto something called Scrabble Blitz. It was a four-minute version of Scrabble solitaire, on a Web site called Games.com, and I began playing it without a clue that within 24 hours - I am not exaggerating - it would fry my brain. The Girl Who Fixed the Umlaut Shit. Now what? She’d fallen asleep with her Palm Tungsten T3 in...
The Science of Success →
By David Dobbs Genes that create dysfunction in unfavorable contexts can also enhance function in favorable contexts. Genetic sensitivities to negative experience may be the downside of a bigger phenomenon: a heightened genetic sensitivity to all experience.
by Nick Tosches It was 3 o’clock in the morning and the master bedroom of Graceland was still. Elvis Presley lay in his blue cotton pajamas dreaming. It was the same old dream. He walked through Tupelo in the late afternoon on a summer’s day, toward the home of the virgin Evangeline. He was smiling as he turned a corner and entered a street where lush hackberry trees swallowed...
J-School Confidential →
by Michael Lewis The idea of a school of journalism first dawned on Pulitzer in 1892, while he was confined to a dark room, suffering from asthma, insomnia, exhaustion, diabetes, manic-depression and failing eyesight. It took Pulitzer more than a decade to persuade Columbia to accept his money. Even then, the critics’ main question was never really answered: What would they teach at the...
The Itch →
by Atul Gawande It was right after a shingles episode. The blisters and the pain responded, as they usually did, to acyclovir, an antiviral medication. But this time the area of the scalp that was involved became numb, and the pain was replaced by a constant, relentless itch. She felt it mainly on the right side of her head. It crawled along her scalp, and no matter how much she scratched it...
California Stories →
by Joan Didion Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream This is a story about love and death in the golden land, and begins with the country. The San Bernardino Valley lies only an hour east of Los Angeles by way of the San Bernardino Freeway but is in certain ways an alien place: not the coastal California of subtropical twilights but a harsher California, haunted by the Mohave just beyond the...
The Last Meal →
by Michael Paterniti A two-ounce songbird. A lemon-sized tumor. An imperial appetite for death, flesh, and the immortal gesture. It was time for dinner. (Re-posted with working link)
The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race →
by Jared Diamond Astronomy taught us that our earth isn’t the center of the universe. From biology we learned that we weren’t specially created by God but evolved along with millions of other species. Now archaeology is demolishing another sacred belief: that human history over the past million years has been a long tale of progress.
Ketchup and Fries →
by Malcolm Gladwell The Ketchup Conundrum Salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami; Heinz ketchup pushes all five of these primal buttons. How many things in the supermarket run the sensory spectrum the same way? The Trouble with Fries “The french fry,” he once wrote, “would become almost sacrosanct for me, its preparation a ritual to be followed religiously.”
My Misspent Youth →
by Meghan Daum It was the summer of 1987, and I was in the process of learning how to drive a stick shift. My father is a composer and he allowed me to drive him to Manhattan in our Plymouth Horizon in order to drop off some lead sheets to a music copyist he worked with. The music copyist lived on West End Avenue and 104th Street, in a modest four-room apartment in a 1920s-era building. The...
Invisible Man →
By Lawrence Otis Graham I’m a 30-year-old corporate lawyer at a midtown Manhattan firm, and I make $105,000 a year. I’m a graduate of Princeton University (1983) and Harvard Law School (1988), and I’ve written eleven nonfiction books. Although these might seem like good credentials, they’re not the ones that brought me here. Quite frankly, I got into this country club...
Citizen Kubrick →
by Jon Ronson Stanley Kubrick’s films were landmark events - majestic, memorable and richly researched. But, as the years went by, the time between films grew longer and longer, and less and less was seen of the director. What on earth was he doing? Two years after his death, Jon Ronson was invited to the Kubrick estate and let loose among the fabled archive. He was looking for a solution...
Riding the Rays →
by Douglas Adams So here, I thought, was the angle. I would write an article about taking a Sub Bug all the way to Hayman Island, finding a friendly manta ray and doing, effectively, a comparative test drive. Now any sane, rational person might say that that was a thoroughly stupid idea, and indeed a lot of them did. However, this is that article: a comparative test drive between an underwater...
by Chris Jones Only one hundred single-serving pouches of instant were allotted for him on Expedition Six, stowed in the galley in a metal drawer with a black net stretched over its mouth to make sure the pouches wouldn’t float away. But for all the care in the universe, it’s been more than two months since the shuttle delivered him and his coffee to the International Space Station,...
Jungle Law →
by William Langewiesche In 1972, crude oil began to flow from Texaco’s wells in the area around Lago Agrio (“sour lake”), in the Ecuadorean Amazon. Reporting on an emotional battle in a makeshift jungle courtroom, the author investigates how many hundreds of square miles of surrounding rain forest became a toxic-waste dump.
Inconspicuous Consumption →
By Virgina Postrel About seven years ago, University of Chicago economists Kerwin Kofi Charles and Erik Hurst were researching the “wealth gap” between black and white Americans when they noticed something striking. African Americans not only had less wealth than whites with similar incomes, they also had significantly more of their assets tied up in cars. The statistic fit a stereotype...
The Perfect Essay →
by Cave City Sink Tetw asked: What is your favourite essay? Cave City Sink replied: The summer after I graduated from college, I worked at a toy distribution warehouse in rural Kentucky. It was an enormous enclosed space, a cave of cinder block and steel. I would feel dizzy when I looked up into the darkness above me….
The Uncollected Essays →
By David Foster Wallace The ultimate David Foster Wallace resource. A complete list of his uncollected fiction and essays (links to everything that’s online). The site also hosts a full list of published essays from his books (also has links where available).
Strange Rumblings in Aztlan →
by Hunter S. Thompson (via Cmonstah) Ruben Salazr is a bonafide martyr - not only in East L.A., but in Denver and Santa Fe and San Antonio, throughout the Southwest. The length and breadth of Aztlan - the “conquered territories” that came under the yoke of Gringo occupation troops more than 100 years ago, when “vendito politicians in Mexico City sold out to the US” in...
The Last American Hero Is Junior Johnson. Yes! →
by Tom Wolfe Ten o’clock Sunday morning in the hills of North Carolina. Cars, miles of cars, in every direction, millions of cars, pastel cars, aqua green, aqua blue, aqua beige, aqua buff, aqua dawn, aqua dusk, aqua aqua, aqua Malacca, Malacca lacquer, Cloud lavender, Assassin pink, Rake-a-cheek raspberry. Nude Strand coral, Honest Thrill orange, and Baby Fawn Lust cream-colored cars are...
The Blind Man Who Learned To See →
by Michael Finkel Daniel Kish has been sightless since he was a year old. Yet he can mountain bike. And navigate the wilderness alone. And recognize a building as far away as 1,000 feet.
Typewriter Man →
by Ian Frazier One afternoon in 1994 the ekey on my favorite Olympia stopped working. E is not a rarity, like @ or %, that you can mostly do without. The Manhattan Yellow Pages has so many listings under “Typewriters” that you might think getting someone to fix a manual would not be hard…
The Curious Case of Sidd Finch →
by George Plimpton “I never dreamed a baseball could be thrown that fast. The wrist must have a lot to do with it, and all that leverage. You can hardly see the blur of it as it goes by. As for hitting the thing, frankly, I just don’t think it’s humanly possible. You could send a blind man up there, and maybe he’d do better hitting at the sound of the thing.”