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How New York City Lost Boxing by Ali Watkins for The New York Times

 

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

Sunday, March 15, 2020

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 campaign politics 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.

Katherine's Favorite
 

   One Doctor’s Life on the Coronavirus Front Lines. ‘If We Fail, What Happens to You All?' [$]
By Anonymous for The Wall Street Journal 
 (~10 minutes)

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. 

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   Two Women Fell Sick From the Coronavirus. One Survived.
By Sui-Lee Wee and Vivian Wang for The New York Times
 (~10 minutes)

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 Dos and Don’ts of ‘Social Distancing’
By Kaitlyn Tiffany for The Atlantic
 (~10 minutes)

This is not, in fact, anything particularly feature-like or lengthy. But it is the most to-the-point and helpful piece I read this week about corona, and what we’re supposed to be doing.

➢ Out of An Abundance of Caution, I Have No Clue What to Do
 


 

   Prayers in Vegas, slumped shoulders in N.H. — inside the final days of Warren’s campaign
By Jess Bidgood and Liz Goodwin for The Boston Globe 
 (~15 minutes)

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.

 
 

   The Week Bernie Sanders Realized He Was Losing
By Ruby Cramer for BuzzFeed News
 (~10 minutes)

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.”

 
 

   We Are All Irrational Panic Shoppers
By Helen Rosner for The New Yorker
 (~10 minutes)

“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 Is How You Live When the World Falls Apart

 
 

   Last Stop, Joe Biden
By Benjamin Wallace-Wells for The New Yorker 
 (~5 minutes)

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.

 
 

   Everyone’s a Curator Now
By Lou Stoppard for The New York Times
 (~10 minutes)

“They use curating as a manifestation of smartness—that something intelligent has happened here,” he said. “It is, most of the time, something very banal. Menus are curated.”

 
 

   How New York City Lost Boxing
By Ali Watkins for The New York Times
 (~10 minutes)

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.

 
 

   People Inside America’s First Coronavirus Containment Zone Are Confused And Angry
By Albert Samaha for BuzzFeed News
 (~5 minutes)

A look from inside the seemingly arbitrarily drawn containment zone where people really don’t know what’s going on.

➢ How a blogger in Florida put out an early warning about the coronavirus crisis

 


   Why All the Warby Parker Clones Are Now Imploding
By Maya Kosoff for Marker 
 (~15 minutes)

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.

 
 

   How Outdoor Voices, A Start-Up Darling, Imploded
By Sapna Maheshwari and Erin Griffith for The New York Times
 (~10 minutes)

That said, the Times’ inside look at how the company has fallen apart is also an interesting exploration of business factors, without one clear answer.

➢ Reiki Can’t Possibly Work. So Why Does It?

 


   A Photographer’s Parents Wave Farewell
By Eren Orbey (photographs by Deanna Dikeman) for The New Yorker
 (~5 minutes)

This is really one of those ones that as soon as you look at the first photo and start reading, you know where it’s going—but this is sad and lovely, with wonderful photos.

➢ 25 Songs that Matter Now

 


   Murder in Fairfield County Part VI
By Rich Cohen for Air Mail
 (~20 minutes)

The final chapter in the Fotis Dulos story.

Last Week's Most Read


   You’re Likely to Get the Coronavirus
By James Hamblin for The Atlantic

   My Ex-Boyfriend’s New Girlfriend Is Lady Gaga
By Lindsay Crouse for The New York Times

   The Great Buenos Aires Bank Heist
By Josh Dean for GQ

 


Lede of the Week
 

   Harvey Weinstein’s Stunning Downfall: 23 Years in Prison, by Jan Ransom


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

 


Kicker of the Week
 

   Elizabeth Warren, sitting at her kitchen counter, reflects on her run: ‘I thought it was worth fighting for another approach’, by Jess Bidgood

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.’

The Classic Read
from Jack Shafer

   Ahab and Nemesis (1955)
By A.J. Liebling for The New Yorker 
 (~30 minutes)

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 Science and 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 Sunday Long Pod
from Jody Avirgan

   The Atlantic: Floodlines (Apple | Spotify)

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.

Katherine's Pod Pick

   What Happened to Elizabeth Warren? (Apple | Spotify)

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?”

The Sunday Still
from Patrick Farrell


Window on the World

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.

The Long View
from The Editors

Why new diseases keep appearing in China
By Vox

The Vox Atlas team delivers another fascinating mini-doc, racking up nearly 12 million views in a week.

The Kix Picks
from Paul Kix


Flattening the curve

It says so much and, as the New York Times explains, has a nice little story behind it too: 

The first version of the graph was created at the end of February by Rosamund Pearce, a visual-data journalist for The Economist, drawing from a C.D.C. paper titled “Community Mitigation Guidelines to Prevent Pandemic Influenza.”

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 Sunday Cover
from Étienne Lajoie

   The New Republic

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

The Su♬day Sou♬dtrack
from Katherine Miller

Titanic Rising
By Weyes Blood

 

This was the best album of 2019, and the disco-Karen-Carpenter vibe is ideal for being trapped inside.

The Sunday Comix
from Alex Segura

   The most tragic moment in Batman’s history almost looked like this
By Susana Polo for Polygon
 (~10 minutes)

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.

The Sunday Long Thread
from @jeffgreer

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.

Read the whole thread here

The Sund&y Ampers&nd
from The Editors
The Last Laugh
from Katherine Miller

   NBC must release all 20 seasons of ‘Law & Order’
By Brandy Jensen for The Outline
 (~5 minutes)

Gotta happen.

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Founder, Editor: Don Van Natta Jr.
Producer, Editor: Jacob Feldman
Producer, Junior Editor: Étienne Lajoie
Senior Recycling Editor: Jack Shafer
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: Peter Bailey-Wells, Cary Barbor, Julian McKenzie, Jonathan Yales
Webmaster: Ana Srikanth
Campus Editor: Peter Warren
Junior Producers: Joe Levin and Emma Peaslee

 
 

Contributing Editors: Bruce Arthur, Shaun Assael, Nick Aster, Alex Belth, Sara J. Benincasa, Jonathan Bernstein, Sara Blask, Greg Bishop, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, Maria Bustillos, Kyle Chayka, Chris Cillizza, Doug Bock ClarkAnna Katherine Clemmons, Stephanie Clifford, Rich Cohen, Jessica Contrera, Jonathan Coleman, Pam Colloff, Bryan Curtis, Maureen Dowd, Charles Duhigg, Brett Michael Dykes, Geoff Edgers, Jodi Mailander Farrell, Hadley Freeman, Lea Goldman, Michael N. Graff, Megan Greenwell, Justine Gubar, 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, Susan McPherson, Ana Menendez, Kevin Merida, Katherine Miller, Heidi N. Moore, Kim Morgan, Eric Neel, Joe Nocera, Ashley R. Parker, Anne Helen Petersen, Jo Piazza, Elaina Plott, Joe Posnanski, S.L. Price, Jennifer Romolini, Julia Rubin, Albert Samaha, Bob Sassone, Bruce Schoenfeld, Michael Schur, Joe Sexton, Ramona Shelburne, Jacqui Shine, Alexandra Sifferlin, Rachel Sklar, Dan Shanoff, Ben Smith, Adam Sternbergh, Matt Sullivan, Wright Thompson, Pablo Torre, Kevin Van Valkenburg, Nikki Waller, John A. Walsh, Seth Wickersham, Karen Wickre and Dave Zirin.

Contributor in memoriam: Lyra McKee 1990-2019


Header Image: Christopher Lee


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.

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