EDITORS’ NOTE: We've got some fun news to share this morning. Look at our new website! We've been working with webmaster extraordinaire Ana Srikanth to rebuild our home on the internet from scratch. We hope you'll find it more streamlined, easier to navigate, and filled with fresher content. To celebrate the launch, we've got a great Original to share as well, which you can read about below. Though we couldn't wait to share the website with you, we're still putting the finishing touches on, so apologies in advice for any messy spots you run into. Please do tell uswhat you think!
But enough about us. Let's get to one of our most wide-ranging sets of recommendations ever.
“I never thought I would be a singer-songwriter,” Paul McCartney says. “Who dreams of that?”
Now 76 (!), McCartney tells Chris Heath why he’s just released another album and discusses long-ago acid trips and a few of the Beatles’ eyebrow-raising sexual escapades. Bonus: 46 footnotes featuring a lot of things you probably know and a few things you probably don’t.
Next time you’re on a plane or train, walk up the aisle while peeking over the passengers’ shoulders. You’ll see most people—often, everybody—scrolling on their phones and tablets through images on Instagram and Facebook—or binge-watching the latest must-see series. With too few exceptions, everyone is luxuriating in the warm glow of video and the printed word is hard, if not impossible, to spy.
Will Self calls this phenomenon the “tyranny of the virtual.” But rather than condemn its existence, he tries, in this essay, to understand it, maybe even make peace with it. It “is my determination, as a novelist, essayist, and journalist, not to rage against the dying of literature’s light,” Self writes, “but merely to examine the great technological discontinuity of our era, as we pivot from the wave to the particle, the fractal to the fungible, and the mechanical to the computable.”
People are leaving Twitter, deleting Facebook, even boycotting Amazon. But it’s hard to imagine avoiding Google—search and Gmail and Android and Maps and YouTube and … and I think that has helped it avoid scrutiny about its effect on our world. However, questions are starting to mount, which makes it all the more significant when Mark Bergen and Austin Carr find that Larry Page, the company’s co-founder and ‘de facto leader,’ is “more withdrawn than ever,” spending time on his Caribbean island thinking about self-flying vehicles rather than testifying in front of Congress.
British journalist Alex Hannaford, who lives in Texas with his family, wrote letters to 50 American mass killers in an attempt to get inside the minds of those responsible for mass shootings. Twelve wrote back...
Broken By Meg McConahey for The Press Democrat (~20 minutes)
Living beneath Highway 101 in Santa Rosa, Calif., Steve Singleton and Michelle Last have survived as a homeless couple for nine years. But as they’re both struggling to overcome physical ailments, life on the streets just gets harder. A lyrical story by Meg McConahey, with phenomenal black-and-white photographs by Erik Castro.
All the instincts and impulses that helped Mark Zuckerberg build Facebook—ignore the critics, focus on turbo-charging growth, push the boundaries of privacy—have exacerbated the company’s numerous problems. Now Zuckerberg finds himself at the center of an emotional debate about the moral character of Silicon Valley and its leaders' sense of right and wrong. Does he have what it takes to fix Facebook?
Europeans are very familiar with all the trendlines in the United States—intensifying polarization, conspiracy theories, attacks on the free press, loyalty obsession. A brilliant essay by Anne Applebaum.
In 2016 and 2017, 32 residents of Durango, Colorado, committed suicide. As Kate Siber, a Durango resident for 13 years, reports, town leaders fought back, committed to finding creative ways to try to reduce a suicide rate three times the national average. What they have already accomplished might help other Rocky Mountain towns erase the grim “suicide belt” label.
Two all-girls baseball teams talk about the place of girls in the male-dominated sport during the year's most important tournament: the annual Baseball for All (BFA) national tournament in Rockford, Illinois.
A riveting investigative study of the occupational hazards of building oil and gas pipelines. Antonia Juhasz relies on analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics embedded in a gripping narrative of the final hours of two men who died building the Dakota Access Pipeline.
From Starke, Florida, Scott Korb writes a penetrating essay on his white privilege and the racist history of the state of Florida, where his father was killed by a drunk driver in May 1982, when Korb was just five years old.
“It seemed like everyone knew what to think but me.”
Elaina Plott landed not one but two stories in the newsletter last week. The first was a cover story for Pacific Standard about the residents of Tangier Island, Virginia, and their unique relationship with God, Trump, and climate change, which scientists say is likely to wipe their island from the map within the next 25 years. Her second story was a personal reflection on gun violence for The Atlantic, where she is a staff writer. In this week's episode, Elaina and Jacob discuss the details of both stories, the intersections of personal and political discourse, the way Elaina (an Alabaman who went to Yale and works in D.C.) approaches her work, and more.
"The smell of death was overpowering the moment a relief worker cracked open one of the hospital chapel’s wooden doors. Inside, more than a dozen bodies lay motionless on low cots and on the ground, shrouded in white sheets. Here, a wisp of gray hair peeked out. There, a knee was flung akimbo. A pallid hand reached across a blue gown."
Why were more than a dozen patients killed by doctors and nurses at New Orleans' Memorial hospital after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city? Sheri Fink's masterpiece.
Classic Read curator Jack Shafer writes about media for Politico.
With images of downed trees and flooded streets dominating Hurricane Florence coverage, this photo by Andrew Carter of The News & Observer captured the exhausting anxiety of evacuation – should I stay or should I go? – and the relief of rescue in the expressions of Robert Simmons Jr. and his shoulder-riding kitten, named Survivor. Carter, a multi-tasking reporter for the Raleigh newspaper, wisely framed his subjects off-center. The flooded street is layered in the background for context. At first glance, viewers are drawn to the weary face of Simmons, whose eyes then direct you to his clinging companion and the floodwater beyond the small jon boat. The accompanying video by visual journalist Travis Long documents the rescue boat’s efforts in New Bern, N.C., but it’s the single world-stopping still image, which went viral, that tugs at hearts and sums up the storm’s emotional and physical impact.
Patrick Farrell, the curator of The Sunday Still, is the 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winner for Breaking News Photography for The Miami Herald, where he has worked since 1987. He is currently a Lecturer in the Department of Journalism and Media Management at the University of Miami School of Communication.
Third Coast is the most prestigious audio prize around, and each year they put together a playlist of their winners - everything from short news pieces to long investigative series. CBC, Ear Hustle, The NYT, Reveal… lots of the best shops in radio are represented here. Fire up the playlist, get inspired.
Sunday Pod curator Jody Avirgan is the host of FiveThirtyEight's politics podcast and is heading up the new "30 for 30" podcast documentary series from ESPN.
One of our favorite new shows this year—OK, it’s our favorite show, slightly edging out “Succession”—is HBO’s “Barry,” a very funny but also deadly serious 30-minutes romp, starring (and co-created by) “Renaissance Man” Bill Hader, formerly of “Saturday Night Live.” The show has a cool Elmore Leonard vibe while teeming with empathy. Don’t just take our word for it. Check out this salute from “Barry” superfan Jason Parham, who writes, “It’s a show that squarely asks: Can a person actually remake himself?”
On August 23, 2018, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), published a 'viewpoint' by John Ioannidis entitled "The Challenge of Reforming Nutritional Epidemiologic Research." Dr. Ioannidis—a researcher at Stanford—found that the field of nutrition research "needs radical reform." In support of his view, the author cites prior studies about the health effects of consuming bacon, eggs, coffee, hazelnuts, and mandarin oranges.
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.
Thanks to Nirvana's landmark 1991 album, Nevermind, the Grunge-era was in full-on steamroll mode by the time "Singles," directed by former Rolling Stone writer Cameron Crowe, hit theaters on this week in 1992.
Starring Matt Dillon and Bridget Fonda, the Seattle-based, flannel-plastered love story featured cameos by burgeoning alt-rock icons Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam and the late leader of Soundgarden, Chris Cornell. But more important than their brief appearances in the film, their signature voices made a powerful impact on the movie's soundtrack.
Featuring songs from not only Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, this expertly selected collection boasts an emphasis on Seattle-bred talent but doesn't stop there. Gems from new (at the time) acts including Screaming Trees, Smashing Pumpkins and Alice in Chains, mingled with legends Paul Westerberg and Jimi Hendrix make this the rare, dust-resistant time capsule jewel that's aged far better than the soul patch Dillon sported in the movie.
Long Play curator Kelly Dearmore is the Music Critic for the Dallas Morning News. Yes, he's heard your son's demo tape, and he thinks it's fantastic.
The Wall Street Journal:"Food manufacturers are combining advances in laser vision with artificial-intelligence software so that automated arms can carry out more-complex tasks, such as slicing chicken cutlets precisely or inspecting toppings on machine-made pizzas. At a sausage factory, more-powerful cameras and quicker processors enable robots to detect the twisted point between two cylindrical wieners fast enough that they can be cut apart at the rate of 200 a minute."
No robot ever made a meal
that had a lot of taste appeal.
They may be swift and quite precise,
but noshers pay an awful price
when automated butchers reign
and algorithms cook our grain; 'Spaghetti a la Fortran' reeks
of pasta bland served up by geeks.
And when my steak is android grilled
I do not think I'll be too thrilled.
I'm going to the woods to hunt
my venison, to be upfront;
so when I carve a joint or two
I'll know I will not find a screw.
Sunday Limerick writer Tim Torkildson is a retired circus clown who fiddles with rhyme. All his verses can be found at Tim's Clown Alley.
The Sund&y Ampers&nd from Nick Aster
The Sunday Ampersand is chosen by Nick Aster. Nick most recently served as founder of TriplePundit.com, a leading publication focused on sustainability and corporate social responsibility.
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 Limerick Editor: Tim Torkildson Senior Podcast Editor: Jody Avirgan Senior Editor of Esoterica: Ryan M. Rodenberg
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
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, 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, Chris Lehmann, Will Leitch, Glynnis MacNicol, Drew Magary, Erik Malinowski, Jonathan Martin, Betsy Fischer Martin, 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, 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, John A. Walsh, Seth Wickersham and Karen Wickre.
Header Image: Collier Schorr
You can read more about our staff, and contact us (we'd love to hear from you!) on our website: SundayLongRead.com. Help pick next week's selections by tweeting us your favorite stories with #SundayLR.