A writer visits the home of Bryan Saunders, an artist known for his self-portraits created under the influence of a variety of drugs:
"We turn to the next one. 'Whoa,' I say. This one could not be less Xanax-like. The drawing is spindly and paranoid, and the page is patterned with real-life bullet holes. They pepper Bryan's stomach and neck. I ask Bryan how they got there and he explains that he used a gun borrowed from a friend. He propped up the page from the sketchbook and repeatedly shot it. 'I remember bouncing into the walls like a fly going bong, bong, bong,' he says. The drug that elicited this reaction was called Geodon.
"'Geodon?' I say.
"Bryan Googles it. 'It's for symptoms of schizophrenia,' he reads, 'so it's an anti-psychotic agent, I guess.'
"'Did you get it from somebody with schizophrenia?' I ask.
"'No, I got it from a doctor,' Bryan says. And this is when Bryan tells me the other way he acquires many of his drugs. He sometimes visits psychiatrists, tells them about the art project, and asks them for 'samples of some pain pill or sedative I've never tried. I say, 'Can you write me a prescription for just one so I can do my drawing?' And I take my book with me and show them my art project. And they always give me some crazy, crazy anti-psychotic pill instead.'"
PUBLISHED: Nov. 30, 2012
LENGTH: 11 minutes (2942 words)
An interview with the journalist (see his recent stories
) about what makes a good story:
"I spent three months and I just couldn't do it. And the reason was because I kept on meeting people who worked in the credit industry and they were really boring. I couldn't make them light up the page. And, as I said in The Psychopath Test, if you want to get away with wielding true malevolent power, be boring. Journalists hate writing about boring people, because we want to look good, you know? So that was the most depressing one. To the extent that I would like get up in the morning—I've never really told this to anyone, but I'd get up in the morning, I'd go downstairs to breakfast and I'd, like, look at my cereal and burst into tears. And then I'd think, it's only like nine hours until I can sit down and watch TV. After three months of that, I was thinking, I'm actually getting depressed here. So I abandoned it. My editor in New York keeps reminding me that, if I'd carried on with the credit-card book, it would have come out exactly when the banks collapsed and everyone would have turned to me. But I just couldn't do it."
PUBLISHED: Nov. 12, 2012
LENGTH: 10 minutes (2654 words)
It's a beautiful, clear night outside on deck 4. Ahead of us are the lights of another cruise ship. A few days later – when we reach Puerto Vallarta – I spot it again. It's called the Carnival Spirit. Forty-three people have vanished from Carnival cruises since 2000. Theirs is the worst record of all cruise companies. There have been 171 disappearances in total, across all cruise lines, since 2000. Rebecca is Disney's first. A few days ago, Rebecca's father emailed me: "Would like to inform you the number of people missing this year has just gone up to 17. A guy has gone missing in the Gulf of Mexico. The Carnival Conquest." By the time I get off this ship, the figure will have gone up to 19.
When someone vanishes from a cruise ship, one of the first things that happens to their family members is they receive a call from an Arizona man named Kendall Carver. "When you become a victim, you think you're the only person in the world," Carver told me on the phone. "Well, the Coriams found out they aren't alone. Almost every two weeks someone goes overboard."
PUBLISHED: Nov. 11, 2011
LENGTH: 18 minutes (4510 words)
Phoenix didn't know this when he first donned the suit about a year ago, but he's one of around 200 real-life superheroes currently patrolling America's streets, looking for wrongs to right. There's DC's Guardian, in Washington, who wears a full-body stars-and-stripes outfit and wanders the troubled areas behind the Capitol building. There's RazorHawk, from Minneapolis, who was a pro wrestler for fifteen years before joining the RLSH movement. There's New York City's Dark Guardian, who specializes in chasing pot dealers out of Washington Square Park by creeping up to them, shining a light in their eyes, and yelling, "This is a drug-free park!" And there are dozens and dozens more. Few, if any, are as daring as Phoenix. Most undertake basically safe community work: helping the homeless, telling kids to stay off drugs, etc. They're regular men with jobs and families and responsibilities who somehow have enough energy at the end of the day to journey into America's neediest neighborhoods to do what they can.
PUBLISHED: Aug. 10, 2011
LENGTH: 20 minutes (5200 words)
It was the French psychiatrist Philippe Pinel who first suggested, early in the 19th century, that there was a madness that didn't involve mania or depression or psychosis. He called it "manie sans délire" – insanity without delusions. He said sufferers appeared normal on the surface, but they lacked impulse controls and were prone to outbursts of violence. It wasn't until 1891, when the German doctor JLA Koch published his book Die Psychopathischen Minderwertigkeiten, that it got its name: psychopathy.
PUBLISHED: May 21, 2011
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4421 words)
"I've got a brother," she finally says. "He's a disabled vet from Vietnam. We haven't heard from him in a while, so I think he might be deceased. I'm a realist." Bina48's eyes whir downward. "He was doing great for the first ten years after Vietnam. His wife got pregnant, and she had a baby, and he was doing a little worse, and then she had a second baby and he went kooky. Just crazy." "In what way did he go crazy?" I ask. I can feel my heart pound. Talking to Bina48 has just become extraordinary. This woman who won't meet the media is talking with me, compellingly, through her robot doppelgänger, and it is a fluid insight into a remarkable, if painful, family life.
PUBLISHED: March 8, 2011
LENGTH: 18 minutes (4721 words)
America's nastiest rappers in shocking revelation – they've been evangelical Christians all along
PUBLISHED: Oct. 9, 2010
LENGTH: 12 minutes (3141 words)