Enjoy the best longform journalism. Every Sunday.

There’s an Entire Industry Dedicated to Making Foods Crispy, and It Is WILD by Alex Beggs for Bon Appétit



The week's best reads, carefully curated by Don Van Natta Jr. and Jacob Feldman.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

EDITORS' NOTE: Happy Sunday! A special good morning to our new subscribers—and our new members. We’ve enjoyed a surge of both in recent weeks; thanks for joining us and welcome! If you have any questions, suggestions or even a bit of kudos, please don’t hesitate to drop us a line:

Next Sunday, there will be no SLR. We’ll return on the Ides of March. But during our week off, please keep your suggested pieces coming via our email address or on Twitter: #SundayLR. We couldn’t do this without you.

Now for this week’s jam-packed list…

Don & Jacob

Don and Jacob's Favorites

   The Great Buenos Aires Bank Heist
By Josh Dean for GQ 
 (~35 minutes)

Josh Dean sets up this crime yarn perfectly, mixing drama and mystery to reel us in. The story then turns into a classic group caper tale. There’s the mastermind, the engineer, the retired criminal in for one more job. You know the deal. But Dean—and his subjects—keep it fresh. And readers are rewarded for sticking around, because after the gang is caught, when the book and movie deals start rolling in, it becomes clear that the price of crime isn’t what it once was.

   My Ex-Boyfriend’s New Girlfriend Is Lady Gaga
By Lindsay Crouse for The New York Times
 (~5 minutes)

“It was an emergency: My ex-boyfriend, I learned, had a new girlfriend. Lady Gaga.” What would you do when confronted with that news flash (delivered, naturally, via your phone at your desk on a Monday morning)? If you’re Lindsay Crouse, a staff editor for the NYT’s Opinion section, you’d say, “Yes. Yes, yes, yes.”

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   A Very Hot Year
By Bill McKibben for The New York Review of Books
 (~15 minutes)

“It is far too late to stop global warming, but these next ten years seem as if they may be our last chance to limit the chaos,” writes Bill McKibben, who authored a prescient, widely ignored piece about global warming’s dangers for The New York Review of Books way back in 1978. This piece is a five-alarm warning that, for the sake of all of us, won’t be ignored.

➢ The anti-Greta: A conservative think tank takes on the global phenomenon


   A Family Massacre
By Katherine Laidlaw for Toronto Life
 (~15 minutes)

By all appearances, Menhaz Zaman was the perfect son. Respectful, obedient, studious, though desperately shy around strangers. Then, one night last summer, he confessed to killing his family with a crowbar.


   How a Shipwrecked Crew Survived 10 Days Lost at Sea
By Eric Barton for Outside 
 (~10 minutes)

One man, suffering from a severe concussion, starting sleeping 18 hours a day. Another took to his banjo to sign a series of morose songs about never seeing his family again. The last—our narrator—gave the group a 10 percent chance of survival. Here’s what happened next.


   You’re Likely to Get the Coronavirus
By James Hamblin for The Atlantic
 (~15 minutes)

What a week, huh? Well, here’s some more good news.

➢ Yes, it is worse than the flu: busting the coronavirus myths


   Suckers List: How Allstate’s Secret Auto Insurance Algorithm Squeezes Big Spenders
By Maddy Varner & Aaron Sankin for The Markup and Consumer Reports
 (~5 minutes)

Algorithms can do whatever you’d like them to do, including being used to big-spending Maryland residents out of higher insurance premiums and capping deserved discounts at 0.5 percent across the board. 


   Madoff Wants Leniency. My Dad Received None.
By Ian Fisher for Bloomberg 
 (~5 minutes)

The penal system is trending toward compassion for elderly inmates. So why should Bernie Madoff get sprung from prison to die when judges imprisoned Ian Fisher’s father, a much smaller-time Ponzi schemer, with just weeks to live?


   Replaying My Shame
By Emily Gould for The Cut
 (~20 minutes)

I admired Emily Gould’s whip-smart, snark-soaked writing at Gawker a dozen or so years ago. Gould ushers us back to that pre-Twitter, old-timey era—a simpler time, right?—giving us a guided tour to her triumphs, enemies and humiliations and how much of it still lingers. “Being hated quickly became something that I took for granted as the price of doing business,” she writes, “and I leaned into it.”

➢ Why High-Achieving Women Pretend Their Lives Are a Mess


   A Murder Trial in Reverse
By Jennifer Gonnerman for The New Yorker
 (~30 minutes)

Two men sent to prison for murder as teenagers are fighting to clear their names in court. But it’s difficult, even with strong evidence supporting their innocence, as Jennifer Gonnerman reports in this fascinating story.


   The Bible That Oozed Oil
By Ruth Graham for Slate
 (~20 minutes)

The miracle Bible of tiny Dalton, Georgia produced some 400 gallons of other-worldly oil, the faithful said. Then Ruth Graham rode into town. 


   What Bernie Sanders Should Have Said About Socialism And Totalitarianism in Cuba
By Masha Gessen for The New Yorker
 (~5 minutes)

It always feels like a privilege to get to read Masha Gessen’s clear, powerful work.

➢ Three Cheers for Socialism
➢ What the Story of the Vermont Reds Tells Us About Bernie Sanders


   Portugal's Radical Drug Policy Is Working. Why Hasn't the World Copied It?
By Susana Ferreira for The Guardian  
 (~20 minutes)

How’s this for a rarity? A level-headed look at one country’s drug policy, and what the rest of the world should (and shouldn’t) learn from it. 


   A Week in Manila with Manny Pacquiao: Senator, Boxer. . . And Future President?
By Tim Keown for ESPN 
 (~30 minutes)

The presidency is arguably not even a matter of if—it’s a matter of when. For Pacquiao, being where he is right now—a Senator and the Philippines’ most famous person—is “God’s will.” So what does God want for Pacquiao next?

➢ That Time Obama Pardoned a Guy Who Stole Charlie Sheen's Honus Wagner Card


   For Hilary Mantel, There's No Time Like the Past
By Alexandra Alter for The New York Times
 (~10 minutes)

Profiling an author is tough, especially when they’ve already put out a memoir. But Alexandra Alter still manages to show us a new side of Hilary Mantel before she releases the long-anticipated conclusion to her Thomas Cronwell saga—which, Mantel notes, is still not really over. 

➢ “I Fail Almost Every Day”: An Interview with Samin Nosrat


   'How do I convince the Home Office I'm a lesbian?'
By Kirstie Brewer for BBC 
 (~10 minutes)

Being a member of the LGBTQ community still is a matter of life and death in some countries. Angel, a Zimbabwean woman, tries to prove something she has kept to herself for so long. A heartbreaking read from Kirstie Brewer of the BBC. 


    Brooks Koepka, the World's Best Golfer, Has Some Issues With Golf
By Daniel Riley for GQ
 (~25 minutes)

Is Brooks Koepka golf’s anti-hero? Daniel Riley takes a trip inside the star’s mind and finds out why Koepka finds golf... boring. 

   There’s an Entire Industry Dedicated to Making Foods Crispy, and It Is WILD
By Alex Beggs for Bon Appétit
 (~15 minutes)

Could a food be too crispy? Alex Beggs visits Frito-Lay HQ to find out.

➢ The Diet Industrial Complex Got Me, and It Will Never Let Me Go
➢ Starbucks: A reconsideration


   Wikipedia Is the Last Best Place on the Internet
By Richard Cooke for WIRED
 (~20 minutes)

Remember when we all thought the crowdsourced encyclopedia was a goofy symbol of everything that was upside-down about the Internet? Quietly, Wikipedia, now the world’s eighth-most-visited website with six million articles and 3.5 billion words, has become a shining resource of so much that’s right.


   The awakening of Norman Rockwell
By Tom Carson for The Highlight by Vox
 (~25 minutes)

Tom Carson hooked us with this surprising piece about Norman Rockwell’s late-in-life political awakening, which inspired him to paint “The Problem We All Live With,” the famous Civil Rights-era painting inspired by Ruby Bridges.


   The invention of the bachelor pad
By Joanna Scutts for Curbed
 (~15 minutes)

Here’s the history of the bachelor and his beloved “pad”— Hugh Hefner plays an influential role (surprise, surprise). 


   Murder in Fairfield County—Part IV
By Rich Cohen for Air Mail
 (~10 minutes)

Part 4 of the compulsively readable, can’t-put-downable story by Rich Cohen for Air Mail


   The Old Normal [$]
By Andrew J. Bacevich for Harper's
 (~20 minutes)

An autopsy of America's thirst for war.

Last Week's Most Read

   Murder in Fairfield County—Part II
By Rich Cohen for Air Mail 

   Murder in Fairfield County—Part I
By Rich Cohen for Air Mail

   I Found the Exact Moment When Bernie Sanders Became 78
By Heather Schwedel for Slate 


Lede of the Week

   My Ex-Boyfriend’s New Girlfriend Is Lady Gaga, by Lindsay Crouse

I was eating bodega grapes at my desk on a recent Monday morning, gearing up to wrangle my inbox, when my phone started buzzing:
“Check Facebook.”
“Check Twitter.”
“Are you OK?”
It was an emergency: My ex-boyfriend, I learned, had a new girlfriend.
Lady Gaga.
“Lolol” if you want. (Everyone I know did.)


Quotation of the Week

   For Hilary Mantel, There’s No Time Like the Past, by Alexandra Alter

“She was imprisoned in her own home for a week while the press went absolutely bonkers… incredibly funny, if inconvenient for her.”

— Hilary Mantel’s literary agent, Bill Hamilton

The Classic Read
from Jack Shafer

   How The Hot Zone Created the Worst Myths About Ebola (2014)
By Tara C. Smith for io9 
 (~10 minutes)

There is good sensationalism—a purple story about a tranquilizer-dart dropping an urban beer into a life-net held by firemen—and bad sensationalism like Douglas Preston's book about Ebola. This take-down of Preston, made timely by the emergence of COVID-19, was written by infectious disease epidemiologist Tara C. Smith, and reminds us not to believe everything we read just because it's written so well.


Classic Read curator Jack Shafer writes about media for Politico.

The Sunday Long Pod
from Jody Avirgan

   Studio 360: The Final Episode (Apple | Spotify)

Studio 360 is coming to an end, and this final episode is a worthy send-off. Alec Baldwin and Kurt Anderson talk about some of Kurt’s favorite moments from the show, and then a fascinating discussion about how to best end a series. I’ll miss this show dearly, but there is so much great audio in the archives: if you haven’t heard them, dive into the American Icons series; and if you have a few minutes, here’s a piece I once did about toilet-trained cats and Charles Mingus.

Jody Avirgan is a podcast host and producer, most recently with 30 for 30 Podcasts and FiveThirtyEight. You can find his work and newsletter at

The Sunday Still
from Patrick Farrell

It’s All About Perspective

There are many layers to the story of convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein. Shooting for AP, photographer Mary Altaffer uncovered another last week when she turned her lens on the female news corps at the Manhattan courthouse reporting on Weinstein’s trial. Among the best shots in Altaffer’s photo essay is her Feb. 18 image of freelance photographer Caitlin Ochs squeezing through the window of a women’s restroom to capture an overhead photo of Weinstein. Demonstrating the power of looking beyond the obvious action, Altaffer provides context with a wide frame that shows the bathroom and the photographer’s contortions to get the shot, telling a story about those telling the story.

Patrick Farrell, the curator of The Sunday Still, is the 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winner for Breaking News Photography for The Miami Herald, where he worked from 1987 to 2019. He is currently a Lecturer in the Department of Journalism and Media Management at the University of Miami School of Communication.

The Kix Picks
from Paul Kix

American Factory

The flu leveled me this week, which meant that between fever dreams I had the time to watch movies waiting patiently in my queue. American Factory was one of them. It's a documentary about a Chinese company, Fuyao, that a few years ago opened a shuttered manufacturing plant in Dayton, Ohio, giving hope to a community that had been decimated by GM leaving town in 2008. Fuyao is not GM though, and the clash of cultures is at once the conflict of the film and the least complicated part of the story. The documentary is nuanced, empathetic to its heroes and villains alike. It allows the people who fill the frame to represent themes larger than their lives. The fears and benefits of the global economy play out in this glass-manufacturing plant, and the ending is a gut punch, and yet somehow the only way the movie could end. 

Paul Kix is a best-selling author, an editor, and the host of the podcast, Now That's a Great Story, where novelists, journalists, screenwriters and songwriters talk about their favorite work, the one that reveals their artistic worldview. For insights from writers that go beyond what's covered in the podcast, like the entry above, please sign up for Paul's newsletter.

The Sunday Cover
from Étienne Lajoie

   The New Yorker
Cover illustration by Brian Stauffer

Étienne Lajoie, the curator of The Sunday Cover, is a journalist based in Toronto.

The Su♬day Sou♬dtrack
from The Editors

50 Foot Woman
By Hannah Williams & The Affirmations

The Sunday Comix
from Alex Segura

   We hired 2 comic creators from the world of DC and Marvel to tell the full story of why Trump was impeached, and what he got away with
By Josh Adams and Anthony Del Col for Insider 
 (~5 minutes)

Graphic storytelling isn’t limited to tales of superheroes or anthropomorphic creatures. It has a long, storied history in the nonfiction space—whether it’s telling historical narratives or recounting events in comic book form. You can add this piece, by veteran comic book writer Anthony Del Col and artist Josh Adams, to the pantheon, as the two pros recount Donald Trump’s impeachment—and what led up to it—and his subsequent acquittal. It’s evocative, effective, and well-sourced.

Alex Segura is an acclaimed author, a comic book writer written various comic books, including The Archies, Archie Meets Ramones, and Archie Meets KISS. He is also the co-creator and co-writer of the Lethal Lit podcast from iHeart Radio, which was named one of the Five Best Podcasts of 2018 by The New York Times. By day, Alex is Co-President of Archie Comics. You can find him at

The Sunday Long Thread
from @JonelleMercury

Y'all ready for an emotional roller coaster? This is my MTA story (which I still cannot believe actually happened).

Read the whole thread here

The Sund&y Ampers&nd
from The Editors
The Last Laugh
from The Editors

   Did You Know About John C. Reilly’s Hot Son?
By Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz for The Cut
 (~5 minutes)

"Congrats to John C. Reilly for having such a hot and cool son."

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Founder, Editor: Don Van Natta Jr.
Producer, Editor: Jacob Feldman
Producer, Junior Editor: Étienne Lajoie
Senior Recycling Editor: Jack Shafer
Senior Photo Editor: Patrick Farrell
Senior Music Editor: Kelly Dearmore
Senior Podcast Editor: Jody Avirgan
Senior Editor of Esoterica: Ryan M. Rodenberg
Senior Originals Editor: Peter Bailey-Wells
Sunday Comics Editor: Alex Segura


Digital Team: Nation Hahn, Nickolaus Hines, Megan McDonell, Alexa Steinberg
Podcast Team: Peter Bailey-Wells, Cary Barbor, Julian McKenzie, Jonathan Yales
Webmaster: Ana Srikanth
Campus Editor: Peter Warren
Junior Producers: Joe Levin and Emma Peaslee


Contributing Editors: Bruce Arthur, Shaun Assael, Nick Aster, Alex Belth, Sara J. Benincasa, Jonathan Bernstein, Sara Blask, Greg Bishop, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, Maria Bustillos, Kyle Chayka, Chris Cillizza, Doug Bock ClarkAnna Katherine Clemmons, Stephanie Clifford, Rich Cohen, Jessica Contrera, Jonathan Coleman, Pam Colloff, Bryan Curtis, Maureen Dowd, Charles Duhigg, Brett Michael Dykes, Geoff Edgers, Jodi Mailander Farrell, Hadley Freeman, Lea Goldman, Michael N. Graff, Megan Greenwell, Justine Gubar, Maggie Haberman, Reyhan Harmanci, Virginia Heffernan, Matthew Hiltzik, Jena Janovy, Bomani Jones, Chris Jones, Peter Kafka, Paul Kix, Mina Kimes, Peter King, Michael Kruse, Tom Lamont, Edmund Lee, Chris Lehmann, Will Leitch, Jon Mackenzie, Glynnis MacNicol, Drew Magary, Erik Malinowski, Jonathan Martin, Betsy Fischer Martin, Jeff Maysh, Jack McCallum, Susan McPherson, Ana Menendez, Kevin Merida, Heidi N. Moore, Kim Morgan, Eric Neel, Joe Nocera, Ashley R. Parker, Anne Helen Petersen, Jo Piazza, Elaina Plott, Joe Posnanski, S.L. Price, Jennifer Romolini, Julia Rubin, Albert Samaha, Bob Sassone, Bruce Schoenfeld, Michael Schur, Joe Sexton, Ramona Shelburne, Jacqui Shine, Alexandra Sifferlin, Rachel Sklar, Dan Shanoff, Ben Smith, Adam Sternbergh, Matt Sullivan, Wright Thompson, Pablo Torre, Kevin Van Valkenburg, Nikki Waller, John A. Walsh, Seth Wickersham, Karen Wickre and Dave Zirin.

Contributor in memoriam: Lyra McKee 1990-2019

Header Image: Alex Lau

You can read more about our staff, and contact us (we'd love to hear from you!) on our website: Help pick next week's selections by tweeting us your favorite stories with #SundayLR.

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