An account of house party thrown by a troubled teen in Florida:
During Justin's game of beer pong, the ball bounced to the floor and rolled beneath the table, where it came to rest in a sticky, thick brown substance. Justin was mildly grossed out, but didn't think much of it. He carried the ball to the kitchen sink and rinsed it under the faucet. Then he resumed the game.
As Mark Andrew was leaving the party, Tyler asked if they could speak privately. Tyler went outside and ordered all the kids standing there to get back into the house, so that his neighbors wouldn't call the cops. Once everyone was inside, Tyler turned to Mark.
"Dude, I did some things. I might go to prison. I might go away for life. I don't know, dude, I'm freaking out right now."
PUBLISHED: Dec. 18, 2013
LENGTH: 30 minutes (7692 words)
Longreads Best of 2013 continues with a postscript by Rolling Stone's Sabrina Rubin Erdely, on her story about Georgia and Patterson Inman, heirs to the Duke fortune.
Our story picks of the week, featuring The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Motherboard, Lapham's Quarterly, and a guest pick from Nicole Greenfield.
Animal rights activists uncover the dark underbelly of factory farming:
Carlson’s secretly recorded footage, compiled over more than a month, triggered a cruelty indictment and cost the dairy a major buyer. The takedown, in 2008, was Carlson’s first assignment. Hired out of college by Kroll Advisory Solutions to gather business data, he left to find work at a nonprofit firm devoted to social justice. Neither the Polaris Project nor the Environmental Investigation Agency called back, but Mercy for Animals did. After several weeks of training, he hired on at Willet, a giant dairy in Locke, New York, that churned out 40,000 gallons of milk a day. So damning was his footage of standard factory-farming practice – chopping the tails off calves without anesthesia; gouging the horns off their heads with hot branding irons, also without anesthesia; punching cows, kicking calves, beating desperately sick downers – that Nightline ran it on national TV, confronting Willet’s CEO on camera. “Our animals are critically important to our well-being, so we work hard to treat them well,” droned Lyndon Odell of the 5,000 cows standing in lagoons of their own shit. Shown tape of the tortured calves, and pressed on whether a cow feels pain, he rolled his shoulders and mumbled, “I guess I can’t speak for the cow.” It bears saying here that nothing would have come from the tape if left to the whims of Jon Budelmann, the Cayuga County DA. “We approached him with our evidence and he told us to fuck off – he wasn’t going to take on Big Dairy,” says Carlson. “It was only after we went to the media with the tape that he got off his ass and brought charges.” (Budelmann later cleared Willet of any wrongdoing, telling the Syracuse Post-Standard that while Willet’s practices might seem harsh to consumers, they’re “not currently illegal in New York state.”)
PUBLISHED: Dec. 10, 2013
LENGTH: 29 minutes (7298 words)
Our story picks of the week, featuring Rolling Stone, Alex Buono, the Washington Post, New York magazine and Orion, with a guest pick by E.A. Mann.
Did U.S. Special Forces commit war crimes in Afghanistan? Matthieu Aikins investigates the discovery of 10 missing Afghan villagers who had been buried outside a U.S. base. Officials say a translator was solely responsible, but he and other witnesses say there’s more to the story:
I tell Kandahari that multiple witnesses claim to have seen him participate in abusive interrogations, and that another had seen him execute Gul Rahim, but he flatly denies ever killing anyone. He says that he had left Nerkh soon after Batson was injured, after quarreling with Kaiser. The Americans were trying to frame him for their own crimes, he says. “They knew what was happening,” he says. “Of course they knew. If someone does something on the base, everyone sees it. Everyone knows everything that’s going on inside the team.”
PUBLISHED: Nov. 6, 2013
LENGTH: 33 minutes (8309 words)
As our Longreads Member Drive continues (sign up here to join us), we wanted to share more of our Member Picks with everyone, to show how your financial support helps us find and share outstanding storytelling from the past and present. Today we’re thrilled to feature "Quebrado," by Jeff Sharlet, a professor at Dartmouth, contributing editor for Rolling Stone and bestselling author. The story was first published in Rolling Stone in 2008 and is featured in Sharlet's book Sweet Heaven When I Die. Thanks to Sharlet for sharing it with the Longreads community.
PUBLISHED: Oct. 24, 2013
LENGTH: 36 minutes (9133 words)