Posts Tagged: Longreads
10

Why Are We So Terrible At Contacting Aliens?

In Stanislaw Lem's 1968 novel His Master's Voice, a message bubbles up from an underground fringe community that comes to be regarded as a message from an alien civilization.

A group of scientists are secretly assembled by the United States government to crack the message. For the most part, they fail. They run through some math, come up with a genome, use it to pop out a useless goop that can sort of kind of teleport things with absolutely no precision, and continue to search for meaning in the message. They fail.

The book served as a sort of treatise on the problem of communication with an extraterrestrial society. Such [...]

103

I Am An Object Of Internet Ridicule, Ask Me Anything

I moved to New York City, and I needed to make money. I wasn’t having luck getting a job. It's a common tale.

My solution was to grab my typewriter that I bought at a yard sale for 10 dollars and bring it to a park. I’d write stories for people, on the spot—I wouldn’t set a price. People could pay me whatever they wanted. I knew that I had the gift of writing creatively, very quickly, and my anachronistic typewriter (and explanatory sign) would be enough to catch the eye of passersby. Someone might want something specific; they might just want a story straight from my imagination. I [...]

13

To Tlön: Let's Invade Reality

On November 24, 1948, Vernon Sullivan disappeared. Two years earlier he had caused a scandal in Paris when Editions du Scorpion published his first novel, I Spit on Your Graves. Sullivan was black, but passed as white. He was tired of reading about "good blacks" in American novels, "the type that whites affectionately pat on the back" and he wanted to write something that portrayed a harder world, the one he knew from life. His book was brutal, sexually explicit, and racially taboo. Its protagonist is Lee Anderson, a blond, blue-eyed black man who arrives in the Midwestern town of Buckton intent on avenging the lynching of his baby brother. [...]

4

Extermination Alone

The dust was everywhere. It nestled into crevices of wood and fabric, into the plush fur of bears and tigers and dogs and rabbits and indeterminate species of stuffed toys. It settled over dried flowers: Red roses burnt black, white carnations leavened into dusky repose. Candles, curved faces flush with saints and saviors, towered in ashy, extinct clusters. Gusts coughed up low, dirty clouds through which visitors shuffled, trance-like. A town of prairie dogs peeked up and around from their burrows of the stuff, surveying the shrines and memorials, eye-level with the human feet and ankles and shoes and sandals and boots. Buses, climbing an adjacent grade, wheezed into chalky [...]

15

The Letter

William Shawn began work at The New Yorker in 1933, was appointed managing editor in 1939 and, quite shortly after the death of founding editor Harold Ross, became the magazine's editor in 1951.

In 1985, 34 years later, Shawn was still the editor, but Peter Fleischmann, the son of founding partner Raoul Fleischmann, owned only 25% of shares in The New Yorker. Paine Webber owned the next largest share, and the Newhouse family's Advance Publications already owned around 17% of the publication. Advance wanted, and got, the rest, for a price something like 20 times current revenues, according to the Times.

The employees, however, were not happy [...]

71

If God Wanted Us To Be Vegans, Why Did He Leave Holes In Vegan Logic?

There aren’t a lot of people who specialize in spotting flaws in the ethical logic for veganism. That’s quite possibly because no one cares about obscure intellectual discourses over animal rights. I certainly didn’t while I was a vegan. After I saw the light and stopped eating animal products my first year at The University of Texas, I read bits of Tom Regan’s The Case for Animal Rights, Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation and Carol Adams’ The Sexual Politics of Meat, but I could never get into them. I rejected animal farming because it was violent, gruesome, cruel and needless. I didn’t need academic theorizing to keep me convinced.

But after [...]

14

Marvelous Spinster Barbara Pym At 100

A note in Barbara Pym's diary instructs: "Read some of Jane Austen's last chapters and find out how she manages all the loose ends." Next entry, a fairly typical one: "The Riviera Cafe, St. Austell is decorated in shades of chocolate brown. Very tasteless, as are the cakes." This was written in 1952. She was 38, had published two novels, Some Tame Gazelle and the resplendent Excellent Women, and was at work on the next. It had taken 15 years of dutiful revising and circulating it around for Some Tame Gazelle to find a publisher. During the rewrites she had tried to heed her agent's advice to "be more wicked, [...]

1

Won't You Save These Homeless Long Words? Send Help Now, Some Stories Are Going Unread!

Longreads wants you to become a member. What do you get? The thing I like best is exclusives: advances on stories before publication. Also I like it when some weirdo I don't know recommends a bunch of stories that maybe I haven't seen before. I do like that! Anyway I gave them thirty whole dollars for a year's membership. That's right, for just $2.50 a year you can keep some starving words from being homeless, won't you give today.

3

An Incredibly Long Conversation With Tim Rutili Of Califone

If you don’t like reading interviews about musical performers taking mushrooms, washing meat out of semi trucks, and about biblical figure Moses creaming his robe, Billy Corgan’s friends, Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock’s jaw, or first girlfriends dying way, way too soon, then just don’t click on this, or touch it or however you were planning on interacting with this, just stop.

If you like Califone, you know that their new record Stitches is very good, and you love how the music they make is an amalgamation of organic, folksy-type string instrumentation combined with technology (and by technology, I mean broken, misused/abused technology or often just the sound of electronic [...]

6

Empathy

"I only understood a little, but things were not going well." —Max Payne

The first weird thing that happened to me in South Korea was when I was doing a favorite thing: sitting in my boxers, eating pistachios. I was in front of my computer talking to a friend from home when someone knocked on my door. This was unusual. I’d only just moved to Korea to teach English and no one knew where I lived and no one had any reason to visit. Reasons for others to intrude into your life accumulate without your awareness all the time, and in strolled five police officers clad in black track [...]

15

What Comes After The Twink?

The first time someone called me a twink, it was 2003 and I was standing at the urinal in the basement of a laser-and-smoke-filled club in Toronto. I was 19, rail-thin and still in my excitable stage of post-coming out euphoria, which, in my case, meant wearing cut-off jeans and raising my hands above my head when I danced. That night, I had gone to the club with two new friends of mine, one of whom, an aspiring actor, kept telling me about this amazing drug, "poppers," he had just tried. Like most of our Friday evenings, we spent the night flailing our gangly limbs on the dance floor to [...]

33

Porn Star Problems

I moved to New York in the death throes of a bad relationship. He was my college boyfriend and we started dating when I was twenty. He was charismatic and outspoken, he seemed smart and he was really, really tall. In addition to all that, he could dress himself competently so I pretty much thought he was perfect. As I matured a little, I realized the things you like in college (or on “asshole vacation,” as I like to call it) shouldn’t be the things you like as an independent, free-thinking adult with a real-life job and real-life responsibilities. Or, at least, they shouldn’t be if you plan on doing [...]

51

I Was Paid $12.50 An Hour To Write This Story

I didn't know what I would get paid to write this article. I didn't ask. It doesn't matter. It won't make a tangible dent in paying the rent on my apartment in Brooklyn, or, for that matter, rent on an apartment in any other city. By the time I finish the research, the interviews, the writing, and the editing, whatever small sum—$30, $125, $200—this site pays me will pale in comparison to the effort. It's not "worth it" in a traditional monetary sense. I'm doing it for exposure (maybe hire me?), because I'm interested in the topic, and because it's immediately relevant to my so-called career as a [...]

4

How To Write About Tragedy And/Or Lindsay Lohan: Advice From Stephen Rodrick

Stephen Rodrick, a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine, of late best known for the single best story on Lindsay Lohan ever, has a new book out today called The Magical Stranger: A Son’s Journey Into His Father’s Life. His father, Commander Peter Rodrick, died in 1979 when his Prowler crashed into the ocean. The book traces the aftermath of his father’s death for his young family, and its ripple effects in Rodrick’s adult life—but is also a book documenting military life today. It's also really good, particularly in the way it calibrates the telling of such an openly emotional story. It’s not easy [...]

5

How Did Pumpkin Become Beloved? Labor, Nostalgia, Refreshment And White Women

This story begins, like so many before it, with a marathon session of “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.” Specifically, the show’s 1999 Halloween episode, “Episode LXXXI: The Phantom Menace.” (STTW has a real gift for prophecy.) Sabrina, played by Melissa Joan Hart, is a faux black sheep with a heart of gold; her manager (cum boyfriend cum soon-to-be-war-photographer) is as auspicious as he is handsome—which is a lot—but is also a bit dunderheaded. The setting: a Central Perk knockoff:

JOSH: Y’know, I’m really surprised our special pumpkin flavored coffee hasn’t been more popular.

SABRINA: Do you think it has anything to do with the fact that it’s a hideous shade [...]

13

Taking The Silver Cure

In 2002, RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan told a reporter from Blender about his post-9/11 health routine: drinking colloidal silver daily. "During the Black Plague, a lot of rich people didn't get sick… because of the metal intake—the silver in their bodies from their silverware and dishes," he said. Blender published the article under the excellent headline "IS THE RZA TURNING BLUE?" He has not, as far as we know.

Recently I sent an email to Silver List, a listserv of colloidal silver enthusiasts who share their experiences and advice about making and taking the liquid, asking for people who would talk to a journalist. I included a [...]

15

Rich Kids Of The Internet: Inside The Astounding Troll-Hole That Is Elite Daily

The website Elite Daily is "the premier online destination for aspiring men and women alike." It is the first true editorial product of the post-sex-tape era. It specializes in two kinds of attention-trawling: Luxurious images of beautiful people doing things that require a lot of money, like looking at each other on yachts and driving along cliffs and also frank and sexist outrage trolling. One article informs the reader, "How To Always Get What You Want," while another offers "The 10 Signs She’s The Perfect Mistress." The site's original slogan was "How much is enough?" The undeclared nouns there were things like money, women, cars, boats, sex.

[...]
20

The Other Person Is You

All I had to do in Albuquerque was rent a car and drive away from the place. I had asked the people at the rental car place for the smallest, cheapest car possible, and the attendant described my choices to me, stressing that one of them was bigger but got better gas mileage, and so I said, sure, that one is fine, why not. When he handed me the bill to sign, I discovered that the car he had led me to choose was in fact $150 more than the other one. "That," I said, pushing the list of charges back to him over the counter, "was so fucking lame." [...]

10

Lisa Exits "The Room"

About ten minutes into The Room, a film that is considered the worst ever made, the actress Juliette Danielle has to make love to her fiancé, who is played by the film's writer and director, Tommy Wiseau. They are atop a bed of rose petals. Soft R&B plays. The camera lingers over Johnny’s pale bottom. Cascades of mermaid-length black hair spill over his back cleavage. As he thrusts into what seems to be Lisa’s belly button, she looks at him chidingly, as if he’s a soused comic who’s just told a fairly racist joke at an open mic.

Like most soft-core sex scenes, the love scene in The Room is [...]

7

Exposing The Evil Cult Of Bilderberg, With Your Host Alex Jones

We were talking about the imminence of global tyranny. Kathy Brafford, a middle-aged woman from Olivia, N.C., fought back tears. All afternoon she'd been holding a spray-painted placard that read "Bilderberg Evil Cult EXPOSED." I asked her to elaborate. "Devil worship, for one. Certainly pedophilia," she said, gesturing toward the Westfields Marriott Hotel. "Must be at least a couple pedophiles in there. Read the Book of Revelation and see what God does to ‘em." Her voice quivered. "There's a special place in Hell for these people."

Kathy was first made aware of the Bilderberg Group by multi-platform media personality Alex Jones, whose three-hour radio broadcast she listened to each weekday. [...]