Enjoy the best longform journalism. Every Sunday.

What Happened to 'The Most Liberated Woman in America'? by Alex Mar for Atlas Obscura

The week's best reads, carefully curated by Don Van Natta Jr. and Jacob Feldman. Today's guest editor is Reyhan Harmanci.



   SUNDAY — JUNE 12, 2016   

EDITORS' NOTE: Good morning! For the first time, our newsletter is in the very capable hands of a guest editor: Reyhan Harmanci, the editor-in-chief of Atlas Obscura and an SLR contributing editor.


Atlas Obscura, a frequent pick here, is a media company devoted to telling stories about (and hosting events in) the world's hidden wonders. Previously, Reyhan worked at (in reverse chronological order) Fast Company, Modern Farmer, BuzzFeed, The Bay Citizen and the San Francisco Chronicle. She lives in Brooklyn.


The guest editing rules of the road depend on her. Reyhan took over practically all of this week's curating duties, from her favorite story of last week to the Sunday Soundtrack. We think you'll agree Reyhan has set the bar pretty high for each of our 30 contributing editors, all of whom will get a chance to take The Sunday Long Read out for a spin. Take it away, Reyhan...


Hello! What a delight to be guest-editing my favorite email, with a personal click-through rate of 100 percent. Huge thanks to Don and Jacob for entrusting me with their weekly link-filled baby.

And what a week.

Where to begin? This week was all about the match-ups—Cleveland vs. Golden State; Bernie v. Hillary; Bernie bros v. the AP; Trump v. Hillary; Trump's social media team v. Hillary's social media team; Sprint v. MetroPCS; pig v. kangeroo; Bill Simmons vs. ESPN; Garlic Bread Memes vs. gender norms; Chad vs. the world’s ham supply. We buried Muhammad Ali, gained the first female presidential nominee of a major party and that was all before the announcement that Gawker declared Chapter 11 and may be selling itself to something called Ziff Davis.

It’s not clear to what degree Friday’s media news is theater or a mortal wound, but it does feel like the end of an era. Like many people currently employed in media, Gawker was my portal into the world of New York publishing. I remember poring over entries from my boxy laptop in San Francisco after college, memorizing the names and juicy details of people whom I’d never meet (Julia Allison! Col Allen! The Hipster Grifter!) and aping the style of its writers to my writing audience, I.E., coworkers. I read every post, sometimes multiple times, wanting very badly to be a part of that world—so much so that, in 2004,  I decided that I should send an unsolicited email to then-editor Choire Sicha with a great idea. What about West Coast Gawker? Specifically, Bay Area Gawker? What about a really long, self-conscious, “funny” explanation of this pretty basic idea?

Horrifically, Gmail has saved this relic.

It’s really embarrassing.

Here is part of it:


“The interweb.” “Dear Choire.” I want to die. It goes on for about 1,000 more words, two of the most unfortunate words being "daddy Denton". But it’s not surprising at all that an early 20-something would send terrible emails. What is crazy is that Choire wrote back.


The answer, sadly, was not at all. I remember having to google the letters “VC.” But the fact that I got any response, that I could email someone across the country at the most important media site and have them write back and not ask for clips or credentials or mutual friends or former editors or any of those things that would have immediately revealed my status as a total nobody—that was a powerful and new thing. When Valleywag eventually launched, I felt a little frisson of insider knowledge that I would never have otherwise been entitled to. The people who actually got their starts at Gawker properties have already begun taking over the world. Fuck Peter Thiel.


Now to some great stories!

How 'Silicon Valley' Nails Silicon Valley

By Andrew Marantz

 (~30 minutes)

Okay, I read more impressive and more jaw-dropping and more moving and certainly longer stories this week than my favorite. But if I had to Kondo The Sunday Long Read, I would probably end up with this piece. It’s delightful. Who knew that HBO's "Silicon Valley" has hundreds of consultants? Hundreds! Some deft work is done here to parse the meaning of the show’s popularity among the people whom it viciously satirizes, but really, stay for T.J. Miller ignoring Elon Musk. And, of course, the Rollerblade incident.

Choosing a School for My Daughter in a Segregated City

By Nikole Hannah-Jones

 (~50 minutes)

Nikole Hannah-Jones on what it’s like for a Brooklyn parent to choose schools is the only person I really want to read on the subject. Just great.

Blindsided: A Dream Engagement Turned Nightmare

By Mary Milz

(~30 minutes)

For someone who has never set foot in Indianapolis (and frankly has no real desire to), I’ve sure clicked on many Indianapolis Monthly stories this past year. This crime piece is vivid, mysterious, startling.
McDonald's: You Can Sneer, But It's the Glue That Holds Communities Together

By Chris Arnade

 (~10 minutes) 


The kind of story that does such a good of job describing something you’ve walked by a hundred times, you wonder how it hadn't been written already.
Welcome to Larry Page's Secret Flying-Car Factories

By Ashlee Vance and Brad Stone

 (~15 minutes)

Refreshing to see that Bloomberg is committed to staying weird. This whole package is bonkers but hard to top FLYING CARS.
What Happened to 'The Most Liberated Woman in America'?

By Alex Mar

 (~35 minutes)


Can I self-promote in this thing? [Of course! It’s journalism. —Editors]  Alex Mar went to Reno to meet one of the wildest women around.
I Told My Doctors My Drug History. Yet They Gave Me Opioids Without Counseling

By Seth Mnookin

 (~15 minutes)


Seth Mnookin, a former heroin addict, got prescribed painkillers. Where is the safety net?
Bill Simmons Breaks Free

By Lacey Rose

 (~25 minutes)


You know a story is good when the main subject has to apologize after it runs.
Body on the Moor

By Jon Manel

 (~20 minutes)


To be honest, I found the packaging and parallex to work against this piece but you can’t deny a great mystery. A man found sitting dead. Why?
The Audition

By Sydney Brownstone

 (~20 minutes)
At Profiles Theatre the Drama—and Abuse—Is Real

By Aimee Levitt and Christopher Piatt

 (~65 minutes)

Two very disturbing stories this week told of how sexual predators lure their victims, and how the system keeps them quiet. Sydney Brownstone goes deep into a fraud allegedly perpetrated by a freelance photographer in Seattle. In Chicago, Aimee Levitt and Christopher Piatt reveal abuse that happens...on stage. (Both of these stories make you appreciate, once again, the reporting commitment of alt-weeklies.)

The Big Uneasy

By Nathan Heller

 (~40 minutes)

Social issue protests on college campuses can be very confusing for Olds like me. But this story both critiqued and appreciated the student perspectives. One line in particular— “Student movements have an odd habit of ending up on the right side of history” —has stuck with me.
Stolen Language: The Strange Case of Meghan Trainor's Blaccent

By Carvell Wallace

 (~10 minutes)


Carvell Wallace on the “black accent” is worth your time.
Here Is The Powerful Letter The Stanford Victim Read Aloud To Her Attacker

By Katie J.M. Baker

 (~35 minutes)


Hard to believe any subscriber of this email newsletter would have not read the victim’s impact statement from “Emily Doe” but read it again.

Hillary the Pol (1994)

By Connie Bruck

 (~160 minutes)

If you don't like Hillary Clinton, drum your fingers for a couple of years and there will be a brand new Hillary Clinton to dislike. Two decades ago, Connie Bruck caught onto her skills at metamorphosis.


Jack Shafer writes about media for Politico.

I Told My Doctors My Drug History. Yet They Gave Me Opioids Without Counseling

It was roughly halfway into a Saturday evening flight from Miami to Boston when I began to wonder if I was going to survive the night.



How 'Silicon Valley' Nails Silicon Valley


“Real startups go through all the sh*t you see on the show, as well as even crazier sh*t. If anything, the writers might have to leave out true things in order to seem more realistic.”


—Venture Capitalist Roger McNamee



By Bruce Arthur

 (~5 minutes)


In his personal ode to Mr. Hockey, who died Friday at 88, #SundayLR contributing editor Bruce Arthur summed up Gordie Howe's legacy in his home country: "He was a boy with dyslexia from a small town in the Prairies who married his childhood sweetheart, grew up to become the greatest hockey player of his time, and maybe ever... Gordie Howe did what he had to do to create space in an unforgiving game and to earn himself respect, and off the ice was a gentleman. It’s a Canadian ideal, in its way." For more, we recommend the remembrances from Sports Illustrated, The Globe and Mail, The Ringer, and Vancouver Sun.


Suggested BuzzFeed Articles

By Jory John

 (~5 minutes)


Oldie but goodie: the listicle that McSweeney's made for BuzzFeed that BuzzFeed actually made.

Manning-Lamo Chat Logs Revealed

By Evan Hansen

 (~90 minutes)

It’s not an oral history per se but the Manning/Lamo chat logs remain one of the most upsetting things that I’ve read online.


From The Los Angeles Times: 
Scorching TV Ad Targets Trump for Mocking Reporter's Disability

"A group that backs Hillary Clinton is expanding its scathing assault against Donald Trump in battleground states with a new ad highlighting his mocking of a reporter with a disability."

From Torkildson:

The comic gets paid to insult
But Donald should be an adult.
Unless, all along,
we all got him wrong—
he's starting a Don Rickles cult!


Tim Torkildson is a retired circus clown. His work has appeared in The New York Times and The Huffington Post. He is currently re-inventing the limerick, one anapest at a time.

The Pitch Meeting for Animaniacs

By Abbey Fenbert

 (~10 minutes)

Late on this. But who cares. Animaniacs.

Everclear - Santa Monica

      Santa Monica

By Everclear

Read Later
Founder, Curator: Don Van Natta Jr.
Producer, Curator: Jacob Feldman
Senior Editor of Recycling: Jack Shafer
Senior Limerick Editor: Tim Torkildson

Contributing Editors: Taffy Akner, Bruce Arthur, Alex Belth, Sara Blask, Chris Cillizza, Rich Cohen, Pam Colloff, Maureen Dowd, Brett Michael Dykes, Maggie Haberman, Reyhan Harmanci, Jena Janovy, Bomani Jones, Mina Kimes, Tom Lamont, Jonathan Martin, Betsy Fischer Martin, Ana Menendez, Kevin Merida, Eric Neel, Anne Helen Petersen, S.L. Price, Albert Samaha, Bruce Schoenfeld, Joe Sexton, Dan Shanoff, Ben Smith, Wright Thompson, Pablo Torre, John A. Walsh, and Seth Wickersham


Header image: Michael Tunk

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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