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The Yunited States of Yuge by Caity Weaver for GQ

The week's best reads, carefully curated by Don Van Natta Jr. and Jacob Feldman. Today's guest editor is Taffy Brodesser-Akner.



   SUNDAY — July 24, 2016   

EDITORS' NOTE: Welcome! This week, one of our most recommended writers, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, takes her turn at the wheel.


Taffy is a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine and GQ, though she has also written for The Wall Street Journal, ESPN The Magazine, Fast Company, The Hollywood Reporter, Cosmopolitan, Salon, and pretty much every other outlet of note. Her story on sugar daddies and SeekingArrangement made our Best of 2015 list. We have also featured her work on Bachelor Nation, Don Lemon, America's Most Haunted Road, and a Famous Life Coach. Today, she turns the tables and recommends her favorite stories of late. We think you'll really enjoy her selections.


This week was a blessing in that it was the first time in a while that I sat down to my computer and didn’t hear news either about a black man getting shot by police, or the refusal to investigate or indict the police who shot the black man. (We made it all the way to Wednesday before that happened). Instead, God looked down upon us and saw that we needed a fucking break, for lo he knew that the RNC was going to be a doozy, and so he sent us the Taylor Swift/Kim Kardashian/Kanye West event that shook the only corner of the world I was willing to listen to. I devoured news report upon think piece upon analytics chart upon investigative read about Kim taping Kanye on the phone with Taylor, who agreed to a lyric in his song that she later denied she knew about. This event will stand as my generation’s Watergate (though after Taylor said that Kim publishing the video in which Taylor laughingly agrees to the lyric was “character assassination,” I suppose it is also this generation’s Chappaquiddick except with no one actually dead, which is a pretty pointy difference.)
To my delight, the week quickly grew more tawdry as the RNC picked up steam/noxious gases: Professional afterthought Scott Baio came out of forced retirement from relevance to call our former Secretary of State of this fine country a c-word, and to remind us that like a fine cheese or a thigh bandana, douchery smells grosser as it gets older.
Then there was the time that a prospective First Lady plagiarized text in her national convention speech from a sitting First Lady’s national convention speech. And of course, this week also introduced us to Tiffany Trump, who has supplanted Marla Maples as my favorite Trump (though Donald Trump, Jr., remains my favorite Donald Trump). Then Ted Cruz toppled the Republican Party with his third-act revenge speech, and oh my god it was amazing/holy shit we are in so much trouble.
Also amazing: Some of the stories I read this week, and the fact that the wonderful Don and Jacob have given me free rein to share my favorites, along with the favorites of some of my favorite editors. It was a real honor to be chosen to contribute in the last days of our democracy and free press. Here goes!


The Yunited States of Yuge

By Caity Weaver

 (~30 minutes)

My favorite line of Caity Weaver’s review of Trump properties for GQ is her intro to the Irish one: “If you live in America, you probably feel one of two ways about Donald Trump: worried about the fiery carnage that will result the moment this human fireworks caboose collides with the Oval Office, or excited to witness a lively pyrotechnic display. But how do the unfortunate wretches from other nations feel about the prospect of Trump as a global leader? What happens when an American cyclone is unleashed on the world?”


We Are All Witnesses

By Jordan Ritter Conn

 (~20 minutes)


This story by Jordan Ritter Conn on The Ringer, about Samaria Rice, the mother of the late Tamir, will kick you in the guts, it’s so spare and well-written.



The Tamir Rice Story: How to Make a Police Shooting Disappear

By Sean Flynn

(~35 minutes)


Speaking of poor Tamir Rice, this GQ story by Sean Flynn about how and why no one got indicted in the case will have you googling HELP I NEED TO MOVE TO CANADA. The reporting here is great.  


'Hope is an embrace of the unknown'

By Rebecca Solnit

 (~20 minutes) 


After you read those, quickly read this Rebecca Solnit essay on living in dark times, for The Guardian.


Can a Woman's Voice Ever Be Right?

By Jordan Kisner

 (~15 minutes)


This New York Magazine Cut cover story by Jordan Kisner is a great read about how women correct their voices so that their pitch and tenor will no longer irritate men, and how that fails, and how you should just talk how you want because honestly, we’ll never win, my friends.


The Philosopher of Feelings

By Rachel Aviv

 (~40 minutes)

I really liked this profile on Martha Nussbaum by Rachel Aviv in The New Yorker, which was sent to me by a friend—I didn’t know who Nussbaum was—and I swallowed it whole and can’t stop thinking about it. 


Reign, Supreme

By Kyle Chayka

 (~35 minutes)

Kyle Chayka’s account of the rise of the streetwear brand Supreme on Racked was fascinating and really fun to read. Everything I read of Kyle’s is great. 

Military Coup Was Well Planned and Very Nearly Succeeded, Say Turkish Officials

By Kareem Shaheen

 (~10 minutes)


Here’s a really intense story in The Guardian by Kareem Shaheen about how the attempted coup in Turkey went down. 


The Bicycle Problem That Nearly Broke Mathematics

By Brendan Borrell

 (~15 minutes)


Don sent me this story about how bikes work, by Brendan Borrell, printed by Nature but published on Scientific American, and I didn’t expect it to be this gripping.


Dance, Little Sister

By Karen Good Marable

 (~20 minutes)


This, by Karen Good Marable on The Undefeated, about majorettes in Mississippi is not just a great read (I died of assignment envy on this one)—but its design takes us another step forward into understanding how story design on the Internet is a game changer. 


The Encyclopedia of Matt Damon

By Anna Peele

 (~25 minutes)


Cover stories on nice-seeming people are harder, because they risk being boring. That’s what makes this Anna Peele cover on Matt Damon so innovative: It’s an amazing amount of reporting, and a really creative format.  


A Terrifying Journey Through the World's Most Dangerous Jungle

By Jason Motlagh

 (~50 minutes)


A reminder that journalists are amazing, from Jason Motlagh at Outside.



A Reporter's Role in the Notorious Unsolved Mystery of 'D.B. Cooper' (and an update)

By William Browning

 (~10 minutes)

A second reminder that journalists are amazing: This two-part mystery on CJR, written by William Browning, was exactly the kind of strange-story-revisited I love.



Donald Trump's Ghostwriter Tells All

By Jane Mayer

 (~35 minutes)

Here is Jane Mayer’s gripping profile of a soul-searching Tony Schwartz, who did his job ghostwriting Trump’s big 80s memoir a little too well.



Inside The Fraternity Of Haters And Losers Who Drove Donald Trump to the GOP Nomination

By McKay Coppins

 (~40 minutes)


Another great contribution to the “Why Trump is My Fault” oeuvre is McKay Coppins on Buzzfeed, though you have to think it’s a circumstance like asking yourself if you’re a narcissist: If you have the wherewithal to worry that you brought Trump to power, probably you didn’t.



What Really Happened at Politico

By Luke Mullins

(~30 minutes)


I read this Luke Mullins story for the Washingtonian on how it all went wrong at Politico with popcorn.


After the Fall

By T.J. Quinn and Simon Baumgart

 (~30 minutes) 


This ESPN story by T.J. Quinn and Simon Baumgart about the aftermath of a young man killed by his best friend will have your heart in your throat. 


Ichiro Suzuki, Still Connecting

By Tommy Tomlinson

 (~20 minutes) 

Speaking of sportsball, I thought the structure and telling of this Ichiro Suzuki story was lovely. Stay til the end. I love a killer last line.


Letter From Munich (1972)

By E.J. Kahn

 (~5 minutes)

The most startling thing about New Yorker staffer E.J. Kahn's observed piece about the Munich Olympics terrorist attack is how quickly the games, the city, and the world normalized the killing.


Jack Shafer writes about media for Politico.

LEDE OF THE WEEK: We Are All Witnesses

Samaria Rice was lying in bed one morning this month when she began to wonder if she should watch a man die.




Donald Trump's Ghostwriter Tells All

“I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.”

—Tony Schwartz (Also: Same)


'Hope is an embrace of the unknown'

You row forward looking back, and telling this history is part of helping people navigate toward the future. We need a litany, a rosary, a sutra, a mantra, a war chant of our victories. The past is set in daylight, and it can become a torch we can carry into the night that is the future.

—Rebecca Solnit


NUT GRAF OF THE WEEK: The Tamir Rice Story

That’s how a dead child, how Tamir Rice, eventually becomes a half-remembered name on a long and miserable list of other half-remembered names. When strangers think of him, if they think of him, it will be with a weary sigh as they try to sort out which one he was, and where. Maybe they will recall something about a toy gun and the cops thinking it was real and, well, mistakes happen—because isn’t that what the grand jury’s decision effectively meant?



By Bruce Feirstein

 (~5 minutes)

There are so many great articles I want to post about Trump, but really what I keep thinking of is Spy Magazine, how they were onto Trump from the beginning, how perhaps we’d never be here if they’d stayed in business. A valiant effort—if only, if only. Buy a subscription to anything today in its honor. 


From Nieman Lab:
Here Are 6 Reasons Why Newspapers Have Dropped Their Paywalls

Of the 98 U.S. newspapers with circulation higher than 50,000, nearly 80 percent have some sort of paywall, according to an American Press Institute study published earlier this year.


From Torkildson:

The paywall is censorship, yes!
Denying poor readers access
to stories that need
to spread with all speed.
Charging for truth hurts progress.


Tim Torkildson is a retired circus clown. His work has appeared in The New York Times and The Huffington Post. He is currently re-inventing the limerick, one anapest at a time.

Talking Heads - Nothing But Flowers (HQ)

      Nothing But Flowers

By Talking Heads

Read Later
Founder, Curator: Don Van Natta Jr.
Producer, Curator: Jacob Feldman
Senior Editor of Recycling: Jack Shafer
Senior Limerick Editor: Tim Torkildson

Contributing Editors: Bruce Arthur, Alex Belth, Sara Blask, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, Chris Cillizza, Rich Cohen, Pam Colloff, Maureen Dowd, Brett Michael Dykes, Maggie Haberman, Reyhan Harmanci, Jena Janovy, Bomani Jones, Mina Kimes, Tom Lamont, Jonathan Martin, Betsy Fischer Martin, Ana Menendez, Kevin Merida, Eric Neel, Anne Helen Petersen, S.L. Price, Albert Samaha, Bruce Schoenfeld, Joe Sexton, Dan Shanoff, Ben Smith, Wright Thompson, Pablo Torre, John A. Walsh, and Seth Wickersham


Header image: Zohar Lazar

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