EDITORS' NOTE: We've made it to another Sunday in this neverending month. This week was especially painful for the SLR team, as it marks one year since the writing world lost rising star (and SLR contributor) Lyra McKee.
Theoretically, mass torts seeking damages for thousands of people who can’t afford to sue on their own that are paid for by third parties should help hold corporations accountable. Theoretically.
But in this messy but riveting tale from the bayou, Francesca Mari explains how a powerful plaintiff’s lawyer known for fighting for “the little guy” swept in after the BP oil spill to represent 40,000 hard-hit Gulf Coast seafood-industry workers, most of them Vietnamese.
A $2 billion settlement was landed. There was just one problem...
(Yes, another story from The Atlantic, which has shined during the pandemic.)
With this human-centered, moving story from Kentucky, Beth Macy reminds us that, when one crisis emerges, the others don’t disappear. In fact, many are only made worse by the pandemic. But when it comes to the country’s opioid epidemic, encouragingly, there are reasons for hope. Please let Macy introduce you to Nikki King.
We’ve already highlighted many heart-wrenching but essential Covid diaries. This one, by an E.R. doctor detailing how the pandemic has overwhelmed our hospitals, is the one to read if you haven’t read any previous diary or if you can bear to read only one more.
“Give up,” someone close to Mitch McConnell told Jane Mayer when she showed interest in trying to understand the Senate Majority Leader’s larger principles. “You can look and look for something more in him, but it isn’t there. I wish I could tell you that there is some secret thing that he really believes in, but he doesn’t.”
Jane Mayer never gives up. (For more on McConnell’s backstory, we recommend NPR’s Embedded podcast.)
As ESPN deputy editor Ryan Hockensmith put it on Twitter, this story is “not quite Tiger King... but the story of the Buffer brothers has guns, shocking family secrets, Tom Brady, Donald Trump, a life-changing episode of Friends and a whole lot more.”
“The choice to listen to new music prioritizes, if for one listen only, the artist over you,” writes Jeremy D. Larson. You’ll remember this period like you remember your first love. Why not attach music to it?
NYT media columnist (and SLR contributing editor) Ben Smith asks his boss, NYT executive editor Dean Baquet, why the Times didn’t immediately write about a sexual assault allegation against Joe Biden. Baquet’s answers have triggered further questions and discussion.
“As a curator of quality programming, (Sarah) Barnett has the impeccable credentials of being British, having been an art-history major, and having spent the first 12 years of her career working for the BBC in London,” Sophie Gilbert writes. She also orders tequila on the rocks, “explaining that straight alcohol gives her fewer hangovers.” What we’re saying is, we’d binge a Barnett biopic, if she ever runs out of other ideas.
On July 30, 1966, two days before she expected to be married, Estelle Evans received a letter from her lover. She was 22, fairly fresh to New York, sharing an apartment near Columbus Circle with her roommate, Laura (last name withheld for privacy reasons), and trying to earn some kind of coin as a model. Michael was nearly 34 and claimed to be a reporter investigating some secret government operation in war-torn Vietnam.
Everybody's elevator nightmare. Trapped. Nobody hears your screams. Time dilates as there is no watch or phone available to count the seconds, minutes, and hours. You've got to piss, so you piss. You pass the time by inspecting the contents of your wallet, noting the differences between an old $20 bill and a new one. You become delirious from dehydration and imagine quite rationally that you'll never be rescued. This disturbing feature by Nick Paumgarten about Nicholas White's urban nightmare makes your quarantine look like a stroll in a meadow.
Classic Read curator Jack Shafer writes about media for Politico.
There’s been lots of great reporting about the new economic reality (Planet Money comes to mind) but this episode contained the most heart about what it’s like for the part of America that is keeping things running. Funny and sad and informative, it’ll help you understand this moment.
Coffins stored in parking garages. Parks turned into morgues. Unclaimed bodies stacked in mass graves. As covid-19 coverage shifts from overwhelmed health systems to the rising death toll, the images have become jarring. Shooting for AP in Spain last week, award-winning, Brazilian-born photojournalist Felipe Dana covered overwhelmed Barcelona funeral homes tasked with the disposal of infected corpses. The saddest statement: Dana’s April 14 photograph of a covid-19 victim, wrapped, sealed and strapped to a gurney, awaiting cremation in a hallway next to a bicycle. Dana’s choice to include the two-wheeled symbol of life and movement next to the anonymous lifeless body on four wheels is a jolting juxtaposition. Set against the backdrop of a blank concrete wall, the photo conveys the stark line between the living and the dead in a country reeling from the world’s highest coronavirus death rate.
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.
I tend to like the smoothness of the Scotches from the "Glen" family: Glenlivet, Glenmorangie, Glendronach if you can find it. Lagavulin by contrast is super peaty, and I don't like peaty. But I do like Lagavulin. I got a 16-year-old bottle as a gift from my wife for Christmas and even though it smells like gasoline when you splash a pour over ice, Lagavulin finishes well. It doesn't scorch the throat. I had a glass last night for a digital happy hour—which should be its own recommendation—and will have it again tonight when I FaceTime with another friend.
Here's to good conversations and new whiskeys.
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.
Mainstream comic’s relationship with Heaven and Hell has been, unsurprisingly, convoluted—and dictated by societal trends and controversies. In this neat overview, a comic book historian takes a look at how the medium evolved in terms of its treatment of not only the Almighty, but the dark underworld—including factors like the introduction of the Comics Code Authority (and its many levels of influence), and today’s more freewheeling approach. A fun dose of off-kilter history.
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.
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, Steve Caruso, Kyle Chayka, Chris Cillizza, Doug Bock Clark, Anna Katherine Clemmons, Stephanie Clifford,Rich Cohen, Jessica Contrera, Jonathan Coleman, Pam Colloff, Bryan Curtis, Seyward Darby, Maureen Dowd, Charles Duhigg, Brett Michael Dykes, Geoff Edgers, Jodi Mailander Farrell, Hadley Freeman, Lea Goldman, Michael N. Graff, Megan Greenwell, Bill Grueskin, Justine Gubar, Maggie Haberman, Reyhan Harmanci, Virginia Heffernan, Matthew Hiltzik, Jena Janovy, Bomani Jones, Chris Jones, Peter Kafka, Jordan Kisner, Paul Kix, Mina Kimes, Peter King, Michael Kruse, Tom Lamont, Edmund Lee, Chris Lehmann, Will Leitch, Steven Levy, 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, Kevin Nguyen, 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: Oliver Munday
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.