EDITORS’ NOTE: Unfortunately, Erik Malinowski is passing the torch when it comes to curating the always entertaining Sunday Ampersand. We thank him for creating the funny, quirky and popular feature and are glad that he's sticking around as a contributing editor. His departure means we are looking for his successor. If you're interested or have any nominations, please email us!
This is the rare celebrity profile that excoriates its subject, using a film actor’s preposterous words, behavior and bloviating self-pity to puncture his blinding lack of self-awareness and current predicament, nearly broke, living in the “gilded prison” of a rented mansion in north London. At 55, Johnny Depp is very sad, even morbid, as he discusses his struggles with depression, his complicated relationships with his late mother and ex-wife and the fact there’s practically nothing left of the $650 million he was paid for films that grossed $3.6 billion.
He craves understanding for a wide array of perceived injustices by the long-time money managers and lawyers he’s suing (and who have counter-sued him), while ticking off oher perceived slights (“It’s insulting to say that I spent $30,000 [per month] on wine,” he says. “Because it was far more.”). But Depp will be pitied for reasons he and his lawyer likely never imagined when they recruited Stephen Rodrick to write this man-in-full, 72-hour marathon Rolling Stone profile. There are more than a few jaw-dropping revelations and cringe-worthy passages, but this one ranks among my favorites:
Depp is evangelical in the uses of narcotics and thinks they could have expedited the capture of Osama bin Laden.
“You get a bunch of fucking planes, big fucking planes that spray shit, and you drop LSD 25,” he says. “You saturate the fucking place. Every single thing will walk out of their cave smiling, happy.”
I missed this story when it first appeared a couple weeks back, but for all the obvious, horrific reasons, the profile of one of the only American attorneys working with asylum-seekers and deportees in Tijuana bubbled up again this week. From a masterful, cinematic opening to the powerful kicker, Daniel Duane takes you into Nicole Ramos’ life in a city being flooded with newcomers from both the North and South. You won’t leave the same.
Arthur and Kathleen Breitman tried to build a “safe place” for cryptocurrency. The key word is “tried.” This is one rock ’em, sock ’em read, described, aptly by Wired’s editors, as “a crypto-tragedy in three acts.”
If you don’t enjoy anything else in this profile (and there’s a ton more to take away), you’ll appreciate Vinson Cunningham’s successful efforts to capture Stephen A. Smith’s unique inflections and intonations—ways of speaking that have helped make his one of the most famous voices alive. (Full Disclosure: Stephen A. is an ESPN colleague of Don’s.)
In a nondescript MIT office building, with five layers of protection standing between them and the rest of the world, scientists are experimenting with directly changing the course of a wild species’ evolution.
OneTaste offers “sexuality wellness” to its clients, winning enthusiastic endorsements from Khloe Kardashian and Tim Ferriss. But according to Ellen Huet’s investigation for Bloomberg, some former customers say the 14-year-old company pushed them into five-figure debt and sexual servitude.
This fascinating piece tells the tragic story of Joe Howlett, a 59-year-old lifelong sailor and fisherman who died trying to rescue an entangled whale. More broadly, the piece explores the challenges—and costs—of trying to conserve the ocean’s most extraordinary animals.
Two years after Prince’s death in an elevator at Paisley Park, his opulent estate/studio in Chanhassen, Minnesota, is open to the public but “feels like a husk.” By the way, the V.I.P. tour costs $100 (parking is extra) and takes about an hour and forty minutes.
Politico’s Michael Grunwald visited The Villages outside of Orlando, a retirement community advertised as “Florida’s friendliest hometown,” for a glimpse of the Republicans’ political future, which is unabashedly Trump-friendly.
The greatest alpinist of his generation was a quiet, unassuming Canadian named Marc-André Leclerc. Four months ago, Leclerc joined climber Ryan Johnson for a first climb outside Juneau. They never came back. A nine-day search produced more questions than answers.
The Belgian international football star begins this astonishing, inspirational essay this way: “I remember the exact moment I knew we were broke. I can still picture my mum at the refrigerator and the look on her face.”
Critic-novelist Renata Adler left no weapon in her armory untouched in 1980 when she ravaged the life work of
New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael. The brilliance and cruelty of her techniques cannot be described, only quoted. Give a gander:
"Although it is true that Ms. Kael can hardly resist a restatement, or a repetition, or a meaningless amplification ('ditsey little twitches,' 'ruthless no soul monsters'; 'incomprehensible bitch,' 'obnoxious smartass'); although she seems at times to have a form of prose hypochondria, palpating herself all over to see if she has a thought, and publishing every word of the process by which she checks to see whether or not she has one; it is also, equally, true that she can hardly resist any form of hyperbole, superlative, exaggeration ('poisonously mediocre,' 'wickedest baroque sensibility at large in America')."
Having read Adler, you'll never read Kael again without flinching.
Johnny Depp isn’t here yet. Still, his presence is all around the 10,500-square foot rented mansion at 16 Bishopswood Road in London’s Highgate neighborhood.
He is here in the busy hands of Russell, his personal chef working up the Peking duck. He is here in the stogie-sized joint left by the sink in the guest bathroom. He is here in the never-ending reservoir of wine that is poured into goblets. And he is here in a half-done painting upstairs that features a burning black house, a child Johnny and an angry woman who resembles his mother, Betty Sue.
And then he is actually here. He is in the living room, crooning his entrance: “Oh, my darling, oh, my darling, my darling Clementine. You are lost and gone forever, my darling Clementine.”
Before the Pulse shooting, this was the deadliest act against LGBTQ in the US. 45 years ago in New Orleans, 32 people died when a gay bar in the French Quarter was set on fire. Released for streaming from ABC News' investigative team, this doc deftly examines the experience of tragedy in a marginalized community.
A revealing oral history of punk band Gaslight Anthem’s move from its native New Jersey to LA, where it recorded its masterpiece album, “The ’59 Sound.”
THE SUNDAY STILL
A Hero Off the Pitch: In Russia on World Cup assignment, Los Angeles-based Reuters photographer Lucy Nicholson found a “dramatic diversion” outside her hotel when a thunderstorm flooded the medieval city of Nizhny Novgorod in western Russia. While fans cheered their favorite teams, a dapper gentleman in a shirt and tie rescued two women from their stranded cars. The sun eventually returned, the flood waters subsided and the soccer-watching continued along the banks of the Volga River, but not before Nicholson demonstrated the multitasking skills of a sports and news photographer.
Sunday Still revisited: Lots of buzz – and a controversial Time magazine cover illustration – prompted by last week’s powerful photograph by Getty photographer John Moore of a young girl in a pink shirt crying while her mother was searched by a Border Patrol agent. The mother and child were later reported to be kept together while being detained. Whether that was a result of the noise surrounding the viral image or not, there is no questioning the photograph’s role in the sudden policy reversal that followed. The impact of the still image endures.
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 Distinguished Executive-in-Residence in Emerson College’s Department of Journalism.
"People sometimes make their admirable deeds and accomplishments hard to spot, such as by giving anonymously or avoiding bragging." That is the first sentence of the abstract to a thought-provoking new academic paper in the journal Nature Human Behaviour. Think about the last time you saw a large donor list hanging on the wall of a new building. There are almost always a handful of entries for "Anonymous." Why do people donate anonymously? Three researchers—Moshe Hoffman, Christian Hilbe, and Martin Nowak—explore the answer in what they describe as a "signal-burying game."
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