EDITORS' NOTE: Happy Sunday! We hope you're doing well in these chaotic times, and that maybe a heap of quality stories can help fill some time in our now eerily quiet, sports-missing days.
Today you're in the immensely qualified hands of Katherine Miller, a reporter and editor for BuzzFeed News, where she covers presidential campaignpolitics but also writes about off-ball topics like time and music streaming. In a week when time seemed to lose all meaning, who better to guest-helm the SLR?
Good morning. Obviously, the coronavirus has shut down most activity. The last two weeks, however, have also been the critical moment of the Democratic nomination for president.
If you buy into the theory that politics—or sports, or anything else where celebrity enters the mix—amplifies the normal individual experience into giant proportions, then this is the time where things become painful/elated.
Candidates, staff, volunteers, and supporters alike, live the results in real time, against every expectation, or even KNOWING that they will lose ahead of time. It's really tough, and that's part of the reason the last few weeks have been borderline nasty: The mix of the real distinctions between the candidates, combined with the hopes fulfilled/crushed.
I write and edit campaign political coverage (if there was a major piece about a presidential candidate the last five years, I've probably read it), and I really love reading about these kinds of moments, where you get a true sense of a candidate as a complicated figure, or a single person's relationship to that candidate, or a part of America, or a movement. I know that's not every reader's taste when it comes to politics, but it is mine as reader and editor, and it extends way out beyond politics into cultural or sports writing, or even writing about a doctor in China during a pandemic.
My favorite, favorite kind of piece runs something like "warm melancholy" or "celebratory sadness," but anything with that sort of specificity in emotion and individuality hits home with me.
This un-bylined piece is about a few days inside Wuhan with a doctor working night and day, and concurrently dealing with regular concerns (what her kid is doing, home, alone). It’s alarming and normal at the same time, and therefore gripping.
Another very difficult story to read about two young women, a doctor and a nurse, in China and how ill they became from the virus—with the people around them left to figure out exactly what happened, without many clear answers.
The Boston Globe had true access to Elizabeth Warren in the last few weeks of her campaign—they were there, in the room, while she waited for returns on the night of the Iowa caucus and backstage before she spoke on Super Tuesday when her campaign was essentially over. As a friend said, imagine you’re watching someone complain about that thing we all hate (when someone looks at their phone, goes “whoa,” and says nothing else)—except it’s Elizabeth Warren telling her son not to do that as her presidential campaign is ending in slow motion.
This, meanwhile, is the best inside look at Bernie Sanders grappling with the fact that the moment is slipping away, and this campaign—the culmination of 40 years of political work—is not going how they had planned. Ruby Cramer’s got all the inside details of why the campaign made this decision or that decision, and how each ultimately traces back to Sanders himself. “As the news broke, a senior aide stood in the fairgrounds parking lot near a line of SUVs, visibly shaking with nerves.”
“The store is premised on a fantasy of endless abundance, and there’s something intensely satisfying in finding the bottom of the allegedly bottomless pit.” Helen Rosner’s trip to Costco and an Upper West Side grocery store.
This isn’t a particularly long piece, but throughout the 2020 campaign, Benjamin Wallace-Wells’s pieces on the candidates always have at least one, if not two or three, really sharp insights into the culture—stuff where I’m always like, “Oh, I didn’t even think of that.” This one, on the sort of automatic acceptance of Biden as the nominee without much consideration of why, has two of those.
This story manages to capture both the very swift end of someone’s career and the complicated if/then dynamics of boxing in New York, once a big place for fighting, and now a place where the affluent are the only ones keeping boxing gyms open, but at the semi-exclusion of the people who might train in them.
There have been a few great stories about what happened with Outdoor Voices, the athletic/athleisure company whose founder is out and whose valuation is way down the last few weeks. But this piece on some of the fundamental business constraints on the venture-backed, direct-to-consumer start-ups like OV is very interesting.
Harvey Weinstein, the movie producer who dominated Hollywood for decades, was sentenced on Wednesday to 23 years in prison for sex crimes, as the six women who had testified against him watched from the courtroom’s front row, holding one another, some in tears.
Quotation of the Week
“Personally I would never go on a cruise ship because I don’t like cruises.”
— Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
And as Wednesday wound down, Warren said, she and her husband, Bruce Mann, did something they did not have much time for while she was a presidential candidate: They started watching the 3½-hour movie ‘The Irishman.’
Appetizer, main course, rich dessert, and digestif all rolled into one, this A.J. Liebling coverage of the 1955 match between light-heavyweight champion Archie Moore (188 pounds) and heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano (188 pounds) at Yankee Stadium isn't for hungry fight fans only. Like almost everything Liebling wrote, ranging from war to food to politics to the press to the awfulness of Chicago, "Ahab and Nemesis" requires no previous knowledge of the subject. Liebling serves as guide, piloting you through the particulars to tell a story about people. While I don't believe the veracity of all the quotations gathered here—Liebling has long been suspected of "sweetening" things he overheard—I do come away from this piece feeling that I WAS THERE when Rocky eliminated Archie with a knockout at 1:19 in round 9 of 15. This is Liebling at his best. For more Liebling fight coverage, grab copies of his boxing anthologies, The Sweet Scienceand A Neutral Corner. For more fight action, watch the last rounds of the match or the whole thing.
Classic Read curator Jack Shafer writes about media for Politico.
The story of Hurricane Katrina, but really the story of what happened after the storm, and the systemic failures that led to the tragedy. I've been anticipating this show, The Atlantic’s first big swing at a narrative series, for a while. It’s from one of my favorite reporters, Vann Newkirk. But I didn’t realize they were going to drop all eight episodes at once. It has provided a big meaty story for me to dig into over the last couple days. I wouldn’t necessarily call this comfort-listening, but it’s full of humanity and insight, something we all need right now.
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 jodyavirgan.com.
This is a podcast episode rather than a piece, but has all the same great elements: The Times talked at length with a woman who volunteered for Elizabeth Warren in 2012, her cousin (who ultimately decided to vote for Joe Biden), and Warren’s communications director, who rarely gives interviews like this, and doesn’t give answers you’d expect to this question of “What happened?”
As U.S. nursing homes banned visitors to stall the coronavirus spread, AP photographer Ted S. Warren documented family members trying to communicate with their relatives at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington, one of the worst-hit places in the country, with 63 confirmed infections and 23 deaths. Warren captured a tender moment as nursing home resident Judie Shape, who has tested positive for the coronavirus, blew a kiss to her son-in-law through a glass window on March 11. Warren angled the shot to escape the glare of the window and keep himself out of the reflection while conveying the new reality of families struggling to maintain contact.
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.
It shows two curves for the epidemic over time: A steep peak, if no protective measures are taken, and a flatter slope if people wash their hands, limit travel and practice “social distancing” techniques.
A few days after seeing the Economist infographic, Drew Harris, a population health analyst at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, added a crucial component: a dotted line indicating the capacity of the health care system to care for people with the virus. He posted it on Twitter and LinkedIn, where it quickly took off.
We want to flatten the curve because, as Harris explains, spreading out the tidal wave of cases will save lives, prevent hospitals from being over-crowded and keep society going. The steep red curve, though shorter, will only lead to panic, suffering and unnecessary death.
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 brief life and sudden death of Jason Todd, the second teen to serve as Robin - Batman’s sidekick - has been pored over and rehashed many times. But what many fans don’t know is there was a plan in place to keep the Boy Wonder alive - assuming the 1-800 calls went that way.
Polo does a nice job of not only recapping how Jason Todd died and returned - but where things could’ve gone, and how the character - since revived via Judd Winick and Doug Mahnke’s Under the Red Hood story and subsequent appearances - has grown to be something wholly new to the Batman mythos.
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 www.alexsegura.com.
Thread time! When my brother was 11 and I was 8, he and I came up with a way to use dice to "simulate" college basketball games. We did this all the time: We'd sim the NCAA Tournament, then go outside and play the Final Four and championship game pretending to be the teams.
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Contributor in memoriam: Lyra McKee 1990-2019
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