Enjoy the best longform journalism. Every Sunday.

Seth Rogen and the Science of Rogenomics by Caroline McCloskey for GQ



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

Sunday, May 26, 2019

EDITORS' NOTE: Happy Memorial Day weekend!

We’re thrilled to introduce a new semi-regular, down-list feature, THE SUNDAY COMIX. It will be curated by Alex Segura, the author of the acclaimed Pete Fernandez Miami Mystery series. Alex has also written various comic books, including The Archies, Archie Meets Ramones and Archie Meets Kiss. In his day job, he is co-president of Archie Comics. Alex will scour the digital frontier for extraordinary comics-related features, narratives and artwork for us—and you. Welcome, Alex!

Now to another SLR packed with outstanding journalism…

Don & Jacob

The Sunday Long Read Original

   The Girl Who Chased Frogs
By Lyra McKee for The Sunday Long Read
 (~20 minutes)

Journalist Lyra McKee, a contributing editor to The Sunday Long Read, had just filed the first draft of this story when she was killed while covering violent protests in Northern Ireland on April 18. It is the story of Honduran biologist Meli Flores, whose unresolved 2016 disappearance has left many unanswered questions. In some ways, she is a lost woman of troubled times, much like Lyra McKee. The SLR staff has edited and published this story in the wake of her death as a tribute to Lyra.

Don's Favorite

   The Curious Cons of the Man Who Wouldn’t Die
By Nathaniel Penn for GQ  
 (~40 minutes)

Mark Olmsted, diagnosed with HIV in the 1980s, lived like he was dying. Credit cards were swiped, insurance companies were bilked, meth was Hoovered, even his own death was faked. Only problem was … he lived. And there were receipts.

Jacob's Favorite

   Mireya’s Third Crossing
By Darcy Courteau for The Atlantic 
 (~30 minutes)

Hoping to live legally in the United States, Luz Mirella Zamora was raped making her way towards the border. Then she had to make the treacherous journey again. Then again. Pain, power (and paperwork) abound in this story of modern angels and demons.

➢ I’m from a Mexican family. Stop expecting me to eat ‘authentic’ food.

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   Joe Beef and the Excesses of Restaurant Culture
By Hannah Goldfield for The New Yorker  
 (~25 minutes)


What happens when the ethos of excess, embraced by the partners who built a wildly popular, hedonistic restaurant empire in Montreal, just stops?


   Rapper on the Run
By Meg Bernhard for Narratively
 (~20 minutes)


After Spanish authorities sentenced rapper Josep Miquel Arenas Beltran to prison for “glorifying terrorism,” his fans helped him make a daring escape across the border to France. “It was a really bad experience,” he says. “My hair fell out.”


   Mothering Without Limits
By Lindsay Jones for Topic
 (~20 minutes)

Days after Lindsey Hubley became a mother to her son Myles, she had to reenter the hospital to fight devastating medical problems. But every challenge that motherhood has brought is one to which she has risen. A moving piece by Lindsay Jones.


   The Surreal Life of George Papadopoulos
By T.A. Frank for The Washington Post Magazine
 (~35 minutes)

OK, whose life isn’t surreal in 2019? But Papadopoulos—the trigger for Russiagate who’s now weighing a congressional run from near the Hollywood sign—still might set the pace.


   ‘It’s a Lifelong Burden’: The Mixed Blessing of the Medal of Honor [$]
By Michael M. Phillips for The Wall Street Journal  
 (~20 minutes)

On this Memorial Day weekend, try to make time for this essay about America’s highest award for combat valor. The Medal of Honor is a gift, Michael M. Phillips writes, but also a constant reminder of what’s often the worst day of its recipients’ lives.


   The Curious History of Crap—From Space Junk to Actual Poop
By Ziya Tong for Wired 
 (~20 minutes)

Zia Tong has assembled all the data and trivia about Earth-bound garbage, space debris and “actual poop” that you’ll ever need. Did you know the United States is the world leader in trash production (each American throws out about 90 metric tons of garbage in a lifetime)? Or that defacing the lunar surface is almost 200 tons of forgotten trash (including 96 bags of urine and vomit)?


   Losing Religion and Finding Ecstasy in Houston
By Jia Tolentino for The New Yorker 
 (~30 minutes)

A rule that has served us well: Read everything by Jia Tolentino. This time, she gets personal in an excerpt from her upcoming book.


   Phoebe Waller-Bridge finds God and naughty glee in ‘Fleabag’s’ second season
By Meredith Blake for The Los Angeles Times 
 (~10 minutes)

Fleabag (and Killing Eve) fans have to read this. For the rest of you, you’ll be fans by the end of the story.


   Has wine gone bad?
By Stephen Buranyi for The Guardian 
 (~25 minutes)

You don’t need to be a wine snob to appreciate the heated battle over “natural wine.”


   Inside Google's Civil War
By Beth Kowitt for Fortune 
 (~25 minutes)

“Interviews with 32 current and former employees revealed a demarcation between what several called ‘Old Google’ and ‘New Google.’”

➢ Can “Indie” Social Media Save Us?


   The Bitter Life of a Shattered Jockey: A Mostly True Story
By Patrick Sauer for Deadspin
 (~40 minutes)

“If there’s one thing Mary Bacon was better at than riding horses,” writes Patrick Sauer, “it was crafting her own legend.”


   Secret spectacles
By Joel Gunter for BBC
 (~35 minutes)

The story of a migrant spy.


   The Undercover Fascist
By Ed Caesar for The New Yorker 
 (~50 minutes)

Robbie Mullen was a white nationalist. Until he learned of a plot to kill a politician.  


   Seth Rogen and the Science of Rogenomics
By Caroline McCloskey for GQ 
 (~10 minutes)

Seth Rogen has grown up. Example: “He’s become increasingly sympathetic to his dad’s… habit of wearing a purse. ‘What’s funny is it makes his mother really uncomfortable,’ Rogen said. ‘My grandmother hates when my dad wears a purse. And around her he still wears a purse but in more muted colors. He’ll wear pretty bright purses, generally speaking. He buys his own, like a Le Sportsac or Kipling purse. But then, recently, I found myself talking to my wife, like, ‘Man, I have too much shit in my pockets, I wish there was a thing I had where I was able to keep this shit.’ And she’s like, ‘You mean a purse, you motherfucker?’ He sighed. ‘This is how it happens.’”

➢ Two days with Curvy Wife Guy, the most controversial man in body positivity


   The #SundayLR List: The 100 Most Creative People in Business 2019
By Staff of Fast Company 
 (~10 minutes)

To make things interesting, Fast Company only considers people who have never been profiled by the publication.

➢ The 346 Best Places to Work in 2019


   Mr Trendy Sicko
By James Wolcott for the London Review of Books 
 (~15 minutes)

A scorching assessment of literary brat packer Bret Easton Ellis’ novels-and-podcasting career and his foray into non-fiction—a book called “White,” that’s sort of a podcast for the page. James Wolcott calls BEE’s new book “a lazy Susan of memoir, cultural reflections, pharmacological reports, name-dropping, reputation fluctuations and intermittent sighs.”


   When a Fatal Grizzly Mauling Goes Viral
By Eva Holland for Outside 
 (~15 minutes)

SLR favorite Eva Holland on the one thing as vicious as mother nature—an online horde.


   A tale of two cities
By Maya Gebeily for AFP Correspondent 
 (~10 minutes)

A journalist returns to Mosul, Iraq, to understand what happens when the battles end––and when the journalists leave. She finds a city in ruin, slowly building itself back up. "But how can we faithfully cover a city's attempted resurrection?" Gebeily asks. "If we truly care about getting the story right, we should dive into the ambiguity and directionless of its aftermath."


   The Ghosts of Flight 191
By Bryan Smith for Chicago
 (~10 minutes)

The crash of Flight 191, still the worst single jet aviation disaster in U.S. history, and all the heartache it left in its wake.


   How Sackler Became the Most Toxic Name in Philanthropy
By Norman Vanamee for Town & Country 
 (~20 minutes)

“It’s not a great time to be a Sackler.” Ya think?


   The Sunday Q&A: The Watergate Editor on How Trump ‘Leads the Press Around by the Nose’
By Jeff Stein for The New Republic 
 (~15 minutes)

Barry Sussman, the legendary Washington Post editor for Woodward and Bernstein, talks Trump, Putin and all the things that the mainstream media needs to fix.

➢ Bullock’s Last Stand: Timothy Olyphant on ‘Deadwood: The Movie’ and David Milch

Last Week's Most Read

   The Night the Lights Went Out
By Drew Magary for Deadspin’s The Concourse

   There Is Only One Burrito in America Now, and That Burrito, Unfortunately, Is Chipotle
By Gustavo Arellano for Eater 

   The Shark Attack That Changed Cape Cod Forever
By Casey Sherman for Boston Magazine 


Lede of the Week

   ‘It’s a Lifelong Burden’: The Mixed Blessing of the Medal of Honor [$], by Michael M. Phillips

Gary Beikirch returned from Vietnam filled with rage and racked by guilt and worried he’d kill the next college kid who spat on him.

The former Green Beret medic let his mustache droop, and his hair reach his shoulders. He bought snow shoes and a tick down jacket and, in 1973, went to live in a cave in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. He laid his sleeping bag and camping mat on a bed of leaves and pine needles. He hoped he’d find in the woods the peace and contentment he’d lost in the jungle.

The SLR Podcast

  Jeanne Marie Laskas

The best-selling author, GQ correspondent, and National Magazine Award Finalist is our latest guest. Laskas discusses her books and articles including To Obama: With Love, Joy, Anger, and Hope; her New York Times Magazine article "The Mailroom;" and her GQ article "Game Brain," which inspired the movie "Concussion."

[0:49] Jeanne Marie on her book tour for “To Obama: With Love, Joy, Anger, and Hope
[1:54] How she came up with the idea for the book, based off “Ten Letters A Day: To Obama With Love, and Hate, and Desperation” for New York Times Magazine
[8:07] Jeanne Marie on Joe Biden: The Most Misunderstood Man in Washington for GQ
[18:32] Writing Bennet Omalu, Concussions, and the NFL: How One Doctor Changed Football Forever
[26:50] Jeanne Marie on her writing craft, characters, and narrative arc/Inside the Federal Bureau of Way Too Many Guns
[38:43] Jeanne Marie on advising students

Produced by Julian McKenzie

Subscribe today!

The Classic Read
from Jack Shafer

   No Secrets: Julian Assange’s mission for total transparency. (2010)
By Raffi Khatchadourian for The New Yorker 
 (~25 minutes)

"Assange is an international trafficker, of sorts. He and his colleagues collect documents and imagery that governments and other institutions regard as confidential and publish them on a Web site called," Raffi Khatchadourian wrote in 2010 in his comprehensive portrait of the world's most mysterious man. Journalist? Freedom fighter? Prankster? Asshole adolescent? Khatchadourian covers all the bases. Essential reading for the coming prosecution of Assange under the Espionage Act.

Classic Read curator Jack Shafer writes about media for Politico.

The Sunday Still
from Patrick Farrell

Skyrockets in Flight

Freelance photographer Joe Rimkus Jr., who retired in 2013 from an amazing 40-year career at the Miami Herald, provides a ringside seat to Florida’s Space Coast from his dramatic Instagram feed. On May 23, he captured the launch of the Space X Falcon 9 rocket as it streaked across the sky from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Shooting from Jetty Park in Port Canaveral, his long exposure displayed the trail of fire cutting through clouds and darkness in an arc over the Atlantic Ocean, with the shadow of a lifeguard stand in the foreground providing a sense of place.

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 Long View
from Justine Gubar

   How 'All in the Family' and 'The Jeffersons' Changed TV
Reported by Dan Harris for Nightline/ABC News

A look at why ABC decided on a live reboot of two iconic and controversial sitcoms from the 70’s: All in the Family and The Jeffersons. This revealing and entertaining trip down TV’s memory lane reminds us how the more things change, the more they stay the same.


The Long View curator Justine Gubar is an Executive Producer at Bleacher Report and the author of Fanaticus: Mischief and Madness in the Modern Sports Fan. Reach out to Justine at if you have a suggestion for next week's Long View.

The Sunday Cover
from Étienne Lajoie

   YA for Changing Times [$]
By Sue Corbett for Publishers Weekly

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

The Sunday Esoterica
from Ryan Rodenberg

   Fracking as a Test of the Demsetz Property Rights Thesis

Fracking -- a unique technique for the extraction of oil and gas from land -- is the topic of a new 63-page academic paper that also looks at property rights.  Authors David Dana and Hannah Jacobs Wiseman explain: "[s]ince its introduction in 1967, the account of property rights formation by Harold Demsetz has pervaded the legal and economic literature. Demsetz theorized that as a once-abundant, commonly-shared resource becomes more valuable and sought-after, users will move to more clearly define property rights in the resource."

Sunday Esoterica curator Ryan Rodenberg works as a professor at Florida State University, where he teaches research methods and sports law. He writes a lot of academic articles and some mainstream pieces too.

The Sunday Long Play
from Kelly Dearmore

Earth - Full Upon Her Burning Lips (iTunes | Spotify)
Black Mountain - Destroyer (iTunes | Spotify)

Perhaps its because I'm not much of a stoner than I've long felt the term "stoner rock" is a severely limiting label for some music that I have a particular affinity for. Even the more accessible, universally accepted genre tag "psychedelic" though colorfully descriptive, might sell the finest examples of the sort a bit short. I'm of the belief that the finest stoner rock and/or psychedelic music doesn't require one to be stoned, nor under the influence of any psychedelic aides in order to enjoy.

Friday welcomed two new albums from bands that have long been excelling in the spacey, atmospheric realms where stoner-rock has been known to soar. For over two decades, Washington State's Earth has been a forerunning act for those into droning, instrumental rock. Earth's new Full Upon Her Burning Lips is over an hour's worth of guitar-driven mood and vibe. Canadian psych titans Black Mountain returns with its fifth studio LP, Destroyer, which offers up a mind-bending display of prog-rock that will surely test the limits of your imagination--no drugs necessary.


Kelly Dearmore is a Dallas-based journalist whose work has appeared in the Dallas Morning News, Paste, American Songwriter, the Dallas Observer and Lone Star Music, among other fine outlets.

The Su♬day Sou♬dtrack
from The Editors

Gone Tomorrow
By Lambchop

The Sunday Comix
from Alex Segura

   The Groundbreaking Art of Jim Steranko
By Michael Gonzales for CrimeReads 
 (~20 minutes)

Essayist Michael A. Gonzales pens a heartfelt ode to the game-changing work and stranger-than-fiction life of writer/artist Jim Steranko. The piece spotlights Steranko's seminal work on Marvel's NICK FURY, AGENT OF S.H.I.E.L.D. and the masterful CHANDLER, which, some would argue, should be considered the first graphic novel ever. We see Steranko's work through the eyes of a young fan, new to comics, as he experiences the artist's dynamic, stylistic linework, and how it opened the door to the wider, seedier world of crime fiction for Gonzales. 


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 Sund&y Ampers&nd
from Nick Aster

The Sunday Ampersand is chosen by Nick Aster. Nick was the founder of, a leading publication focused on sustainability and corporate social responsibility. He is also the author of the childrens book We Thought You Were a Platypus.

The Last Laugh
from The Editors

   I Wish I Were a Fancy Men’s Magazine Editor
By Anna Silman for The Cut
 (~5 minutes)

What a lede, by Anna Silman: “Today, Esquire editor-in-chief Jay Fielden left his job at the helm of the original men’s magazine, packed all his belongings into four small, fancy weekend bags and strutted purposefully out the front door of Hearst Tower like a man with a gondola to catch.” From there it only gets better...

Read Later

Founder, Curator: Don Van Natta Jr.
Producer, Curator: Jacob Feldman
Producer, Curator: Étienne Lajoie
Senior Recycling Editor: Jack Shafer
Senior Long View Editor: Justine Gubar
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: Cary Barbor, Julian McKenzie, Jonathan Yales
Webmaster: Ana Srikanth
Campus Editor: Peter Warren

Contributor in memoriam: Lyra McKee 1990-2019

Contributing Editors: Bruce Arthur, Shaun Assael, Nick Aster, Alex Belth, Sara J. Benincasa, Jonathan Bernstein, Sara Blask, Greg Bishop, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, Maria Bustillos, Chris Cillizza, Anna Katherine Clemmons, Rich Cohen, Jonathan Coleman, Pam Colloff, Maureen Dowd, Charles Duhigg, Brett Michael Dykes, Geoff Edgers, Hadley Freeman, Lea Goldman, Michael N. Graff, 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, Lyra McKee, Susan McPherson, Ana Menendez, Kevin Merida, Heidi N. Moore, Eric Neel, Joe Nocera, Ashley R. Parker, Anne Helen Petersen, Jo Piazza, Joe Posnanski, S.L. Price, Jennifer Romolini, Julia Rubin, Albert Samaha, Bob Sassone, Bruce Schoenfeld, Michael Schur, Joe Sexton, Jacqui Shine, Rachel Sklar, Dan Shanoff, Ben Smith, Adam Sternbergh, Matt Sullivan, Wright Thompson, Pablo Torre, Kevin Van Valkenburg, Nikki Waller, John A. Walsh, Seth Wickersham and Karen Wickre.

Header Image: Photograph by Sebastian Mader

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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