Enjoy the best longform journalism. Every Sunday.

How the U.S. Triggered a Massacre in Mexico by Ginger Thompson for ProPublica.

The week's best reads, carefully curated by Don Van Natta Jr. and Jacob Feldman. This week's guest editor is Peter King.



      Brighten Our Sunday!

   SUNDAY — JUNE 18, 2017   

EDITORS' NOTE: Happy Father's Day! To celebrate, we've roped in another great guest editor, football writer Peter King, who crafts an epic of a column every Monday and helps run The MMQB website.

He's been at Sports Illustrated for nearly 30 years after spending time at The Cincinnati Enquirer and Newsday. He's a three-time winner of the National Sportswriter of the Year Award (Oh, and he just turned 60!).


We think you'll really like what he's brought to show and tell this week...



Happy Father's Day. And thanks to Don Van Natta Jr. and Jacob Feldman for giving me the chance to suggest some stories this week. I love long stories, and they do a wonderful job compiling such great ones. Every Father's Day, I think of how my father helped give me the gift of reading. On Saturdays and Sundays of my youth, we’d drive to the news dealer in our little town of Enfield, Conn., midway between Boston and New York City, and on Saturday he’d buy four or five papers, and on Sunday three of them, and we’d go home and devour them. I’d read the great Boston Globe Sunday sports section in the early seventies and think, If I could ever write for the Globe, that’d be my dream.

That was 45 years ago, give or take, and here we are now. I write a column called Monday Morning Quarterback about pro football, and now I edit and write for The MMQB. Last week in my column, in a section my mom and dad would truly appreciate, I did my annual Father's Day Book List, a part of the column I started years ago because I think we bury our heads in our phones and don’t read enough. Books, I mean. (My go-to this spring: “The Phenomenon,’’ by Rick Ankiel—the cursed-and-redeemed baseball phenom—and Tim Brown.)

But mostly I write about football. I was not born with the Defordian gift of singing prose, and, try as I might, I could not work hard enough to will it to happen. I just turned 60, and the way I have survived (I think) is by taking people where they cannot go, and by telling them things they did not know. So, when I write a longer piece, my gift has to be information. The great thing about the business of journalism is that you can thrive by being either a strong writer or strong reporter. I love reading either style. And I have tried to mine a few pieces of each style here.

Side note: One of the reasons I had so much fun doing this is because it made me realize how much amazing journalism there is out there right now. I tend to get stuck in my football cocoon too much, and I miss this. Ask me again, Don and Jacob!

The Bullet, the Cop, the Boy

By James D. Walsh

 (~30 minutes)


Five years ago, an 18-year-old New Yorker, Ramarley Graham, was shot and killed by a New York City police officer. In so many cases such as this one, the tabloid headlines scream, and then they fade, and then, years later, people wonder, "Whatever happened to that Ramarley Graham story?'' This is a step-by-step story that honors both sides—the killer and the killed—with respect and great detail.
My daughter died at Sandy Hook. Megyn Kelly's interview with Alex Jones is an insult.

By Nelba L. Marquez-Greene

 (~5 minutes)


The author, parent of one of the Newtown shooting victims, writes eloquently about why NBC's decision to give Alex Jones airtime with new star Megyn Kelly, regardless of how she grills him, hurts. "I wish her death were only a hoax,'' Marquez-Greene writes, and the pain all comes back. "Deniers and hoaxers cause real harm to their followers." Important reading. The Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly show was wounded by the decision to air an Alex Jones interview anytime, but particularly on Father's Day.
Why Aren't You Laughing?

By David Sedaris

 (~20 minutes)


We look to David Sedaris for laughter and irony and more laughter. We do not look at him for a story about his mother's alcoholism. We should. "I'm forever thinking of all our missed opportunities—six kids and a husband, and not one of us spoke up!'' Sedaris wails.
Who in the White House Will Turn Against Donald Trump?

By David Remnick

 (~10 minutes)


Not many smarter than Remnick—about anything. The best thing I read all week about the silly televised Cabinet love-fest was this sentence from Remnick: "Even as the members declared, Pyongyang-style, their everlasting gratitude and fealty to the Great Leader, this concocted dumb show of loyalty only served to suggest how unsustainable it all is.'' How embarrassed those in the circle of fake love must have been. Remnick wonders how long it will last. Not long, he thinks.
The Transformation of Markelle Fultz

By Adam Himmelsbach

 (~15 minutes)


A player cut from his high school varsity team four years ago might be the first player picked in Thursday night's NBA Draft (though it looks like he'll be going to Philly after a trade with the Celtics). As Himmelsbach writes after a visit with the precocious Fultz, this is a 19-year-old kid gifted in more ways than just with a basketball. He's a pretty cool person.
How the U.S. Triggered a Massacre in Mexico

By Ginger Thompson

 (~50 minutes)


The story of the destruction of a Mexican border town, with more depravity than you'd think humans are capable of, will stay with you for a long time. Thank God for ProPublica (and National Geographic, which co-published the piece).
The Long, Lonely Road of Chelsea Manning

By Matthew Shaer

 (~50 minutes)


"Without Chelsea Manning,'' a former assistant secretary of state told Shaer, "Julian Assange is just another fringe actor." Shaer wrote this really well—including the oddity of following Manning into a Manhattan Starbucks eight days after she was released from federal prison. Manning on feelings of gender disorientation is so well worth your time.
Out of the Shadow

By Jayme Fraser

 (~30 minutes)


How does an 8-year-old girl survive being raped three times in one night in her own bed by a complete stranger? After 30 years, a Montana victim shares the story that could have wrecked her life forever.
A Vicious Cycle

By Monica Rhor

 (~15 minutes)


Child Protective Services in Texas employs people on the front lines of one of the most troubling aspects of our society. They try to prevent runaways from running again. It's hard.
Why You Can't Help But Act Your Age

By Anil Ananthaswamy

 (~15 minutes)


I had no clue (I bet you didn't either) that you can train your brain to think younger, as this story suggests: Old men in New Hampshire, told to think back to a bygone era and think of events in that era, had better memory and learned at the level of younger people.
Robert Mueller Chooses His Investigatory Dream Team

By Garrett M. Graff

 (~15 minutes)


The detail work of the Mueller/Trump/Russia investigation will be painstaking and full of the most needle-in-a-haystack puzzle pieces. I remember in the investigation of the Ray Rice domestic violence case involving teams and the league and D-list employees how the Mueller investigative team tracked down every phone call made or received by pertinent characters on a certain day. Multiply that times 50 here, and you’ll have some idea of the forensics work the team will need to do. It’s not just phone records. This could involve money-laundering and organized crime in parts of the world we’re not expert in. Great detail uncovered by Graff.
Everyone loves L.A.—and that's the problem

By Steve Lopez

 (~5 minutes)


Los Angeles is too expensive. Too many people want to live there. The locals are tormented by it all. But it's not just the city and the tenants crying poverty. It's the landlords—some with good reason.

Don't Mess With Roy Cohn (1978)

By Ken Auletta

 (~60 minutes)


The key to understanding Donald Trump's two-timing, double-dribbling, underhanded, short-sheeting, double-dealing deceits can be found in this comprehensive profile of dirty fighter and red-baiter Roy Cohn, Trump's friend, attorney, and mentor. It proved indispensable in the writing of my column this week, but that's not why I recommend it. It may be one of the most artfully turned profiles to have graced my eyes. You should be so lucky as to read it.

Jack Shafer writes about media for Politico.

Ear Hustle: Cellies (Apple Podcasts)

 (~25 minutes)


The winner of Radiotopia’s “PodQuest” contest, this has been on of the most anticipated new podcasts of the year, and the first episode doesn’t disappoint. I could say a lot about how Ear Hustle gives us a glimpse into a world that we normally don't get to see, but the moments that struck me were the most universal: the relationships, the honesty, the quirks. I’m really glad this show exists.


Jody Avirgan is the host of FiveThirtyEight’s politics podcast and is heading up the new 30 for 30” podcast documentary series from ESPN.

Donald Trump's Suite of Power

At the bar of the Trump International Hotel in Washington, you can order a crystal spoonful of Hungarian wine for $140. Cocktails run from $23 for a gin and tonic to $100 for a vodka concoction with raw oysters and caviar. There’s a seafood pyramid called “the Trump Tower” that costs $120, or you can hit BLT Prime, a restaurant where the $59 salt-aged Kansas City strip steak comes with a long-shot chance of seeing the President sitting nearby. It’s the only restaurant in town where he has dined.


Minnesota Officer Acquitted in Killing of Philando Castile

“My son loved this city, and this city killed my son. And a murderer gets away. Are you kidding me right now? The system in this country continues to fail black people and will continue to fail us.”

—Valerie Castile, the mother of Philando Castile, shot and killed by police office Jeronimo Yanez, who was acquitted of all charges Friday in the 2016 shooting.


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By Craig R. Whitney and Alan Cowell

 (~15 minutes)

The most important man in post-Hitler Germany united the country at last, east and west, and served as chancellor from 1982 to 1998. The Berlin Wall fell in 1989, with Kohl in power. An emotional chancellor Angela Merkel paid tribute Friday by saying, “It will take some time before we realize what we have truly lost.”


By Peter King

 (~15 minutes)


McGinn, one of the most respected football writers of the modern era, left the Packer beat after 38 years to live a different life in Ann Arbor. He gives a clarion call to those who will succeed him, everywhere. From McGinn: “All these team websites are just a pox on our business. All the coverage is slanted … Be independent. Think for yourself. These teams are trying to co-opt you; they are trying to brainwash you. Get beyond that. You have to be a journalist. You have to be a newspaperman.’’

My Last Conversation With My Father

By Robin Wright

 (~5 minutes)


When a final conversation does not involve speaking, it can be poignant and unforgettable. The final words from Robin Wright’s father were not spoken, and she’ll never forget them.



From The New York Times:
In many places, $664,000 can buy you a nice house. For that price in Hong Kong, you can buy a slab of concrete, roughly 17 feet long and 11 feet wide, to leave your luxury car.


From Tim:

There was a young man in Hong Kong

Who bought a sedan for a song.

But parking—good lord!—

He could not afford.

He has nothing left but a thong.

Tim Torkildson is a retired circus clown who fiddles with rhyme. All his verses can be found at Tim's Clown Alley.

Unrealized: The Story of Ike Ibeabuchi, the Great Lost Heavyweight

By Eric Raskin

 (~40 minutes)


What talent. And what a disturbed person. “He’s the only fighter I ever worked with who was mentally ill,’’ said one of Ibeabuchi’s matchmakers. It gets more interesting from there.

U2 - Ordinary Love (Live on The Tonight Show)

Ordinary Love

By U2


I love U2. My wife and I have seen them 22 times—and I’m thrilled to say our gift to each other this year is a trip see the band at Croke Park in Dublin in July. Some vacation. Anyway, one of their less noted numbers is one I just love: “Ordinary Love,’’ which I’ll suggest in two forms: the music video, and then the live version from “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.’’ Live, it's a gem. Enjoy both.

Read Later

Founder, Curator: Don Van Natta Jr.
Producer, Curator: Jacob Feldman
Senior Recycling Editor: Jack Shafer
Senior Limerick Editor: Tim Torkildson
Senior Podcast Editor: Jody Avirgan

Header Image: Mark Smith, special to ProPublica

Contributing Editors: Bruce Arthur, Alex Belth, Sara J. Benincasa, Sara Blask, Greg Bishop, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, Chris Cillizza, Rich Cohen, Pam Colloff, Maureen Dowd, Brett Michael Dykes, Lea Goldman, Maggie Haberman, Reyhan Harmanci, Virginia Heffernan, Matthew Hiltzik, Jena Janovy, Bomani Jones, Peter Kafka, Mina Kimes, Peter King, Tom Lamont, Glynnis MacNicol, Drew Magary, Jonathan Martin, Betsy Fischer Martin, Ana Menendez, Kevin Merida, Eric Neel, Lizzie O'Leary, Ashley R. Parker, Anne Helen Petersen, Joe Posnanski, S.L. Price, Albert Samaha, Bruce Schoenfeld, Joe Sexton, Jacqui Shine, Rachel Sklar, Dan Shanoff, Ben Smith, Matt Sullivan, Wright Thompson, Pablo Torre, Kevin Van Valkenburg, John A. Walsh, and Seth Wickersham

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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