The writer on his experience raising awareness about street children:
"I recall a bleeding boy of only three or four in a doorway in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. He’d been beaten by a group of older children and was hunched over in the fetal position. His clenched fist clutched a hunk of bread that he had valiantly refused to surrender to his assailants: dry bread saturated with blood. Then a girl in Morocco, on the edge of Zagora and with the desert behind her, who put down the tray of food she was selling and showed me how she could write her name. A billowy sleeve concealed her hand as she traced into the dirt the letters of the only word she could spell. It was as if she’d conjured it from some hidden compartment. And in Bucharest, Romania, I watched a boy in a sagging, buttonless overcoat upturn the bins outside McDonald’s. With expert skill, he flicked through the rubbish, prising open boxes, rooting out unfinished food. He chucked the remains of burgers over a wall to some waiting friends. Then — like a champion smoker attempting to accommodate 50 cigarettes at once — he rammed as many chips as he could into his mouth and sucked on them."
PUBLISHED: May 16, 2013
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4287 words)
The writer visits a farm in the town of Lyme, Conn. with a group of biologists to learn what's driving the population of pathogen-laden ticks:
It's startling to look at the graphs of tick-borne diseases over the past few decades. They’re mostly going in the wrong direction. The research on Lyme disease is fairly recent, sparked in the mid-1970s after a cluster of children around Lyme developed fever and aches. They were diagnosed with juvenile arthritis—a peculiar diagnosis for so many children in one place. Their parents searched for an explanation, and eventually Allan Steere, a doctor at Yale, figured out that they suffered from an infectious disease. The fact that they all came from a rural part of the state suggested that an insect or some other animal had delivered the infection. In 1982, Willy Burgdorfer, an entomologist with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, discovered corkscrew-shaped bacteria in black-legged ticks from Long Island. He exposed the bacteria to serum from people with Lyme disease and discovered that their antibodies swarmed around the microbes. That was a sign that these bacteria—which would later be named Borrelia burgdorferi after him—were the cause of Lyme disease.
PUBLISHED: April 30, 2013
LENGTH: 23 minutes (5793 words)
The Korean-born writer wrestles with her relationship with her mom—and how to tell her how she feels:
"I then did what any normal kid would do and yelled and yelled about how embarrassing it was to have her at school with me during lunch of all times. She presented me with a sack of cheeseburgers that I could give out to my friends. I refused the damp bag and screeched about how it was so cheap that she didn’t spring for bright red boxes with toys for them as well. I made her take the burgers back with her. If I were an actress and had to think of something sad to make me cry in a scene, I would think about this moment. This and the time I was 13 when I kicked my mom across a room and ran away for two days because she tried to ground me — for breaking curfew after my friend Jacinta stole money from her dying grandmother so we could rent out a nightclub and write the names of those blackballed on the sign outside. For the record: I don’t know why people have kids."
PUBLISHED: April 26, 2013
LENGTH: 9 minutes (2316 words)
An investigation of the drone strikes that killed Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old American-born son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki:
"One day in early September, Abdulrahman woke up before the rest of the house. He tiptoed into his mother’s bedroom, took 9,000 Yemeni rials—roughly $40—from her purse, and left a note outside her bedroom door. He then snuck out the kitchen window and into the courtyard. Shortly after 6 am, the family’s guard saw the boy leave but didn’t think anything of it. It was Sunday, September 4, 2011, a few days after the Eid al-Fitr holiday marked the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Nine days before, Abdulrahman had turned 16.
"A short while later, Abdulrahman’s mother woke up. She started to rouse his siblings for morning prayers and then went to wake him, but Abdulrahman was not in his bedroom. She called for him and, while searching the house, found his note. In it, he apologized for leaving without telling her and said that he missed his father and wanted to find him. He also said he was sorry for taking the money. 'When his mother told me about the letter, it was just like a shock for me,' Abdulrahman’s grandmother Saleha told me. 'I said, "I think this will be just like bait for his father."' The CIA, she feared, 'might find his father through him.'"
PUBLISHED: April 23, 2013
LENGTH: 20 minutes (5050 words)
A writer and longtime Black Flag fan hitchhikes to Texas to audition for the band as it searches for a new bass player:
"It dawned on me: Black Flag did not have a bass player. I could be that bass player! I decided right then and there to find out where Ginn was living, hitchhike across the country, and persuade him to let me try out—just as I had attempted to do at 16. I knew all the old songs, and I figured that thumbing it instead of flying or taking a bus would prove to Ginn that I had dedication.
"Ginn, I knew, had for the past few years been based in a small town called Taylor, just outside Austin, Texas. That morning’s New York Post told me that the weather in Austin was presently a rejuvenating and springlike 70 degrees. There was no reason not to go."
PUBLISHED: April 9, 2013
LENGTH: 16 minutes (4005 words)
In 1983, three whitewater guides attempted a record-breaking speed run down the Colorado River in dangerous waters. Their story is adapted from The Emerald Mile
, which will be published in May:
"For Grua, Petschek, and Wren, getting tossed was brutal and blunt. 'The flip was instantaneous—there was nothing rhythmic or graceful or easy about it at all—it was just boom
,' said Petschek, who was summarily dumped into the river.
"Grua was holding his oars as tight as he could. As the boat toppled, they flew from his hands, and he followed Petschek into the current. But the worst punishment was reserved for Wren."
PUBLISHED: April 8, 2013
LENGTH: 24 minutes (6159 words)
The Friday Night Lights author on his shopping addiction:
"I own forty-three pieces of Gucci—twelve leather jackets, six evening jackets, five pairs of pants, six pairs of boots, four shirts, seven pairs of gloves, and three scarves. I own items from Acne, Affliction, Alexander McQueen, Alexander Wang, Balmain, Band of Outsiders, Belstaff, Bottega Veneta, Brooks Brothers, Burberry, Chanel, Charles David, Diane von Furstenberg, Helmut Lang, Ines, Jan Hilmer, J.Crew, Jimmy Choo, Jitrois, Jos. A. Bank, Joseph, Junker Designs, Loewe, Lucchese, Marc Jacobs, Mr. S Leather, Nike, Northbound Leather, Prada, Rag & Bone, Ralph Lauren, Roberto Cavalli, Saint Laurent, 7 For All Mankind, Thomas Wylde, Valentino, Versace, and Wesco. I also have had several pieces custom-made for me by an amazing designer named Carla Dawn Behrle, who specializes in leather; they're worth every penny and more, given her fastidiousness and attention to detail. I apologize to those letters of the alphabet I have not gotten to yet. Zara, don't give up hope."
PUBLISHED: March 26, 2013
LENGTH: 26 minutes (6645 words)
How an underfunded, understaffed crime lab in Hamilton County, Ohio manages to operate:
"On our tour we stop first in the trace evidence office, where analysts look for hair, fibers, paint chips, and other material left at a crime scene. The firearms office, which has a backlog of about 350 cases, has outgrown its own room and its machines have spilled into the trace evidence room; as a result, whenever trace evidence analysts have to look for gunshot residue—say, when they’re scouring a suspect’s garment to see if there’s any indication he fired a weapon—they must move the material two floors away to another office, to avoid contamination during testing or examination of the gunshot residue. The hallway outside is lined with microscopes and printers, and a folding ping-pong table nearby is pulled out whenever a large item needs to be spread out and examined."
PUBLISHED: March 22, 2013
LENGTH: 13 minutes (3313 words)
A profile of Scott Lindquist, a blind Alaskan who harvests icebergs for a living:
"Quickly, Lindquist grabs his most important tool: his son Hank’s old hockey stick, which he uses partly for good luck and partly because it works well for hooking ice. 'Ease it back,' he shouts at the captain, who idles the boat. Lindquist lies on his belly at the bow, extending his torso over the water, and starts pulling on the berg. The wind has just picked up, and Lindquist’s target is bobbing around like a giant candy apple dusted with powdered sugar. The boat rises and falls on the waves, the water slapping Lindquist. When he finally pulls the berg within arm’s reach, one of the crew scurries up and tries to steady the ice with the pike pole as Lindquist attempts to twist in the ice screws. But with each motion, the berg bobs away stubbornly. After more than an hour of failed attempts, Lindquist says it’s time to move to calmer waters. 'I like hanging out in front of a glacier,' he tells me, wiping the water from his face, 'but sometimes you gotta go where the getting is good.'"
PUBLISHED: March 8, 2013
LENGTH: 15 minutes (3940 words)