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Vanity Fair, The Rebirth

Condé Nast executives, editors, designers and writers look back on the 1983 relaunch of Vanity Fair, which originally stopped publishing in 1936 and had been folded into Vogue:

As word leaked out that the company was pumping more than $10 million into the magazine, the sniping began. An enterprising Chicago Tribune reporter tracked down Clare Boothe Luce, who had been a V.F. managing editor in the 30s, and asked her what she made of the relaunch. “I do wish the new magazine could be as wonderful as the old,” she said, “but I don’t see how it can.” New York magazine also weighed in, long before the debut, with a skeptical piece reporting that Locke’s job was in jeopardy. Newsweek joined the fun, too, calling the prototype “aggressively ugly” and averring that there was an “uncertainty about Vanity Fair’s editorial focus.”

PUBLISHED: Oct. 15, 2013
LENGTH: 31 minutes (7759 words)

Reading List: Fashion Week

New reading list from Emily Perper featuring picks from Utne Reader, The New Inquiry, Refinery 29, and Newsweek.
PUBLISHED: Sept. 22, 2013

The Summer of Love and Newsweek

The New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg reflects on his early career working as a correspondent for Newsweek in San Francisco, covering Jefferson Airplane, Ronald Reagan and hippies:

"If the S.F. music scene (I quickly learned that 'Frisco' was a no-no) was scarcely known outside the Bay Area, and neither was the larger cultural phenomenon it drew strength from. The word 'hippie'—derived from 'hipster,' the nineteen-forties bebop sobriquet revived sixty years later in Brooklyn, Portland, and food co-ops in between—had been coined only a few months earlier, by Herb Caen, the Chronicle’s inimitable gossip columnist. (At the time, as often as not, people spelled it 'hippy.') Ralph J. Gleason, the Chron’s jazz critic, was the scene’s Dr. Johnson. (Pushing fifty, he was too old to be its Boswell.) Gleason’s protégé was the pop-music critic for the U.C. Berkeley’s student paper, the Daily Californian, Jann Wenner. But the national press had not taken much notice, if any. So getting something into Newsweek was a coup."
PUBLISHED: Aug. 15, 2013
LENGTH: 8 minutes (2143 words)

When Liberian Child Soldiers Grow Up

A generation of children, many of them young girls, fought in Liberia's civil wars. They're now grown up and trapped between their past and creating a future for themselves:

"After handing over her AK-47 and her RPG launcher during a disarmament drive, Mary returned to what she had known before the war: life on the streets, drugs, and prostitution.

"When Schaack, a soft-spoken Liberian social worker with the evangelical humanitarian group Samaritan’s Purse, approached her in late 2003, just months after the ceasefire, Mary told her: 'Move from here that shit. The whole day you passing around and lying to people.' But after a while, Schaack managed to persuade Mary and eight other girls to live for nine months at a Christian mission where they received counseling as well as courses in pastry making and tie dying."
PUBLISHED: July 31, 2013
LENGTH: 16 minutes (4181 words)

Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Our story picks this week include Newsweek, Rolling Stone, The American Prospect, Seattle Times, The New Yorker, and a guest pick by Kristen Majewski.
PUBLISHED: June 28, 2013

You Listen to This Man Every Day

Rick Rubin has produced some of the biggest hits of the past 30 years, from LL Cool J to Black Sabbath. He explains the secrets of the creative process:

"We worked on [the Beastie Boys'] debut album, Licensed to Ill, for a long time, two years in all, which is part of the reason the record is as good as it is. Each song really has a life of its own, because it might be a month between writing two songs. It wasn’t like 'OK, we have six weeks to make an album.' It was natural—the natural flow of making a really good piece of work. I can remember at one point getting a call from Mike D really upset, like, 'What’s going on? Why isn’t our record done yet?' I just said, 'I don’t really have control over that. It comes when it comes.'

"NEWSWEEK: Usually young people are in a rush. Why did you feel like you could take so much time?

"From the beginning, all I’ve ever cared about is things being great. I never cared about when they were done. Because I also feel like I want the music to last forever. And once you release it, you can’t go back and fix it, so you really have to get it right. And that takes time."
PUBLISHED: June 26, 2013
LENGTH: 21 minutes (5406 words)

Top 5 Longreads of the Week

This week's picks include the Washingtonian, Newsweek, Los Angeles Magazine, The Morning News, The Hairpin, fiction from Electric Literature and a guest pick by Elise Foley.
PUBLISHED: May 24, 2013

The Suicide Epidemic

What is it about modern society that is causing suicide rates to rise? An in-depth look at the latest research, and a theory by Dr. Thomas Joiner:

"It’s a 'clearly delineated danger zone,' a set of three overlapping conditions that combine to create a dark alley of the soul. The conditions are tightly defined, and they overlap rarely enough to explain the relatively rare act of suicide. But what’s alarming is that each condition itself isn’t extreme or unusual, and the combined suicidal state of mind is not unfathomably psychotic. On the contrary, suicide’s Venn diagram is composed of circles we all routinely step in, or near, never realizing we are in the deadly center until it’s too late. Joiner’s conditions of suicide are the conditions of everyday life."
PUBLISHED: May 24, 2013
LENGTH: 26 minutes (6696 words)

What Choice?

The problems within the pro-choice movement:

"Some of these leaders and their similarly aged deputies have been reluctant to pass the torch, according to a growing number of younger abortion-rights activists who say their predecessors are hindering the movement from updating its strategy to appeal to new audiences. This tension had been brewing for years, but in 2010, Keenan told Newsweek that she worried that the pro-choice cause might be vulnerable because young people weren't motivated enough to get involved. The complaint struck young activists like Steph Herold, 25, as an effort to place blame on others for mistakes the establishment pro-choice movement has made along the way. 'They are the generation that gave us legalized abortions, but they also screwed up,' says Herold, pointing to the pro-choice establishment's failure to stop the 1976 Hyde Amendment, a law that prohibits federal funding of abortions and disproportionately affects poor women. At a conference last May, Herold heard a women's-clinic owner who has worked in the abortion field for some 40 years echo Keenan's complaint--that young people aren't involved enough in the pro-choice movement. Herold was furious. She stood up and, trembling, walked to a microphone. 'We're counseling your patients and stuffing your envelopes,' Herold told the clinic owner. 'You should be talking to us and not just about us.'"
PUBLISHED: Jan. 14, 2013
LENGTH: 18 minutes (4625 words)