Web Sites »Longform

new and classic non-fiction articles, curated from across the web, that are too long and too interesting to be read on a web browser

I am so happy to have found Longform, a site that compiles the most interesting articles recently published.

The Apostate (Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology), The Lost Boys, The Movie Set That Ate Itself, and You Say You Want a Devolution? are all fascinating.

I’m a little worried that I have found Longform because it’s costing me sleep!

Their top stories of 2011 is a good place to start and I’ve been using instapaper to collect interesting ones to read later. (Look at me and modern technology!)

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Posted on January 22, 2012

Books »Running With Scissors

by Augusten Burroughs (2002)

So, I am about a decade late in reading the hippest book to have on the train, Running With Scissors, but being behind the times doesn’t hinder the enjoyment of this twisted memoir. Augusten Burroughs‘ story is right up my ally, as I could listen to people gossip about their crazy families all day. I even had a friend who, though I am on bad terms with, I am sometimes tempted to contact just so I can hear the latest on his aunt and uncle hi-jinx.

Very few people, though, can claim a childhood quite as wildly messed up as this one (though I know a few that are at least tied). “Raised” to a very limited degree by an insane poetess mother, given over to en equally nuts Doctor and his unhinged family, having an affair as a preteen with a pedophile, this is a sad tale of adolescence without boundaries, which is no where near as fun as it might sound to an adolescent.

Still, Burroughs manages to make what could be almost unbearable to read pretty hilarious. Looking back with wise and sarcastic wit of an adult, he reminds us that he did, in fact, survive all the madness and has, to the joy of all his readers, lived to tell the tale.

The book was adapted into a movie recently by Glee creator, Ryan Murphy, but was considered to be one of the worst of the year. I can kind of see how the subject matter, always verging on or full on disturbing could be tough to bring to the screen without a really gentle touch (which, from watching Glee is unlikely Murphy’s m.o.).

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Posted on December 7, 2010

Books »The Journey is the Destination

The Journey is the Destination is such a vibrant testament to a life lived to the fullest, which makes the reality of young author, Dan Eldon's end all the more tragic. After years of brave photojournalism: Eldon and three colleagues were stoned and beaten to death by an angry mob in Mogadishu after a botched UN raid killed several locals.

Prior to his sad demise, Eldon was a full-fledged world traveler by the age of seven and the photographs taken in his teens and twenties were published in newspapers and magazines world wide.

This posthumous collection of his colorful, complex visual journals was published by his family and the scrapbooks, made from age 14 to 22, continue to inspire socially conscious artists and young adventurers today, here's a link to several images I posted over on RC.

Though Eldon's isn't a household name, that all may change once Daniel
Radcliff portrays him on the big screen
– but this book and his story can't be forgotten.

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Posted on August 10, 2009

Books »Random Family

random familyRandom Family is an astonishing, eye opening, heartbreaking and completely engrossing saga – and all the more so because it's true. Author Adrian Nicole LeBlanc spent decades with two families in the heart of the most notorious neighborhoods in the Bronx through considerable hardships: drugs, prison, abuse and triumphs: romance, children, small victories.

The tough streets have long been a topic of movies and books, but rarely is the focus on the women. Coco and Jessica are sadly typical of their upbringing, one has five kids before she's reached thirty, the other lands in jail after getting unwittingly involved in her boyfriend's drug trade, but both are compelling, if flawed characters who deal with situations most people I?know would not have the strength to.

The world they live in, with both the dazzling thug culture and the prevailing hopelessness is not glamorized, judged, or played up for our sympathies. LeBlanc is exceptionally even and fair with her depictions and wisely keeps herself out of the story. For better or worse, the story of their lives are told with honesty by the people who lived it.

Much like the tenement photographs “How the other half lives” by Jacob Riis,?Random Family offers a glimpse of the often ignored and misunderstood parts of our country.

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Posted on June 29, 2009

Books »A Massive Swelling

cintra wilson massive swellingCintra Wilson is a beloved, scathing columnist and the author of one of the books I'm constantly recommending to people (the hilarious Brix Pick Colors Insulting to Nature). In A Massive Swelling: Celebrity Re-Examined as a Grotesque, Crippling Disease, she aims her acerbic wit at the insane world of famous people circa 2000; the book would span multiple volumes to cover all the head shaving and beaver flashing that's happened since.

It's not too often that a book will have me chucking aloud while waiting for food or a subway, but there's little use in resisting the perfectly formulated paragraphs of incredible metaphor and insult. Of Celine Dion she says:

“…the most freakishly mutated creatures the Streisand Machine has coughed out onto society”.

She writes that Sigfried and Roy are:

“…completely freaked out on a vision of themselves as beautiful New Age twin alien butterfly Emperors… they look like wealthy, oversexed soap opera matriarchs… clad in exclusively triangular shoulder pad outfits from Star Trek the Next Generation, midriff safari ensembles or leather pants with giant codpieces and ruffly chemises”

Her's the kind of wit prose that I wish I could concoct without needing years to formulate the prefect wording; I'd love to be able to write with such a great combination of clever humor, pop culture savvy, genuine social commentary, and intelligence… or at least become really good friends with her so I could constantly be entertained.

It's a quick read, and so what if her points can become a tad repetitive and almost just border on preachy? These accounts (that were mostly originally published in Salon) of plastic surgery, divas, the world of ice skating and gymnastics, and New Kids on the Block fan mail are priceless and often ingenius.

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Posted on May 4, 2009