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My Runaway Childhood

After an abuse-filled upbringing, the author left home for good at thirteen, legally emancipated herself from her mother, and had to take control of her own life.

PUBLISHED: July 14, 2014
LENGTH: 14 minutes (3748 words)

The Secret Life of an Obsessive Airbnb Host

Determined to quit his tired government job, one D.C. office drone saves $25,000 by renting his apartment nightly and secretly sleeping on the office floor.

I was on track, according to a slap-dash Excel budget, to resign in a year. An extra $1,350 a month was flowing into my coffers. Although it wasn’t raining cash, I was matching what I made with what I saved by paring down my lifestyle expenses. The final factor in my favor was that my plan coincided with Airbnb’s asymptote-like upsurge in popularity. After receiving my first batch of positive reviews, the reservations poured in. Sleep came easier on my camping mat, and I dreamed in eighties montages about being a runaway Airbnb success story.

But there is a reason it’s not called Murphy’s Theory.

PUBLISHED: May 22, 2014
LENGTH: 14 minutes (3550 words)

Grief Has No Deadline

She spent two decades as a local reporter covering L.A.’s grisliest crimes. But when the victim is a member of her own family, she learns what hard news feels like from the other side:

Memories of that night are a mosaic: the flashing lights, police cars, yellow tape, and Lil Bit’s car, stopped in the middle of the intersection of Century and San Pedro, where the shooting took place. Then to the lobby of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where we multiply—more family, more friends. We form an entourage. A guard directs us to the hospital’s chapel, where the matriarchs of the family are sitting—Lil Bit’s grandmother, Alberta, and my mother, Ida. The room fills with us: aunts, uncle, sisters, brother, stepmother, cousin. Then his twin walks in, not knowing what has happened—until he looks around the room at everyone who has gathered, at everyone’s faces, and he knows. “No!” he says, and I remember wanting to make this go away, to bring Lil Bit back for all of us, but especially for him. Had I been reporting the story, I would have taken notes to remember the details, like the tears in the eyes of the hospital’s social worker as she talks to us.

PUBLISHED: Feb. 6, 2014
LENGTH: 18 minutes (4505 words)

Growing Up Clown

The son of a circus clown discovers what's beneath the painted-on smiles:

I remember she’d blink open her eyes and study the image in the mirror: the inverted music notes under her eyes; the triangles above them; the exaggerated, untiring smile bending up into her cheeks. It was a smile that reminded all who chanced upon it that the hilarity would not relent, that the jokes would not stop, that the comedy would not end—for what happens when the comedy ends? What happens when the laughter dries up, and the mouth reverts to its resting state?

PUBLISHED: Jan. 16, 2014
LENGTH: 9 minutes (2497 words)

Nick Brown Smelled Bull

Brown is a 50-year-old British man who took a class on positive psychology when he “smelled bullshit”—a widely cited paper published in American Psychologist claiming there was a “positivity ratio” for happiness:

He had been poring over the original papers that informed Fredrickson and Losada’s 2005 article—papers written or co-written by Marcial Losada. They seemed “sketchy,” Brown says. In his research on business teams, for instance, “the length of the business meetings weren’t even mentioned.”

“Normally you have a method and the method says we selected these people and we picked these numbers and here’s the tables and here are the means and here’s the standard deviation,” Brown says. “He just goes: ‘Satisfied that the model fit my data, I then ran some simulations.’ The whole process was indistinguishable from him having made the data up.”

PUBLISHED: Oct. 28, 2013
LENGTH: 22 minutes (5515 words)

Legends Never Die

A look back at the movie "Kids," two decades later:

"The kids were a crew of about sixteen, maybe forty if the outer circle was around. The core clique was all in Kids, with roles ranging from starring to un-credited. Their surrogate parents were Rodney Smith, Eli Morgan Gesner and Adam Schatz, the then twenty-something founders of Zoo York. Previously, Rodney had founded SHUT, the first local brand to design boards that could withhold the blow of curbs, rails, and jumps to accommodate the changing face of New York skating. Zoo York’s Meatpacking District headquarters was their clubhouse, and Eli, a club promoter, was the crew’s link to New York nightlife—he developed the skating ramp inside the infamous Tunnel nightclub."
PUBLISHED: May 2, 2013
LENGTH: 27 minutes (6817 words)

Longreads Member Exclusive: Watch Dog, by Kerri Anne Renzulli & Narratively

This week, we're excited to share a Member Pick from Narratively, the New York-based (and Kickstarter-backed) storytelling site that launched last fall and has been featured on Longreads in the past.

"Watch Dog," by Kerri Anne Renzulli, will be published in a two weeks, and they were kind enough to make the story available early to Longreads Members. Renzulli, a journalist and Columbia grad student, investigates the difficult task of training guide dogs for New York City—and helping develop relationships between the dogs and their future owners.

Support Longreads—and get more stories like this—by becoming a member for just $3 per month.
PUBLISHED: April 25, 2013
LENGTH: 13 minutes (3425 words)

Longreads Member Exclusive: The Junket

This week we're thrilled to feature Mike Albo's "The Junket" as our Longreads Member pick. Albo is the author of The Underminer and Hornito, and "The Junket" was recommended by Longreads managing editor Mike Dang, who writes: 

"I've never read a piece by Mike Albo that I didn't like. He's written for lots of glossies and websites like The Awl and Narratively, and his pieces are always honest, relevant and brutally funny. This week's exclusive is no different. 'The Junket' is Albo's novella about the story behind how he lost his part-time column at a prominent newspaper in New York that he calls 'The Paper' due to a media firestorm that unfairly accused him of violating the publications's ethics policy when he went on an all-expenses-paid media junket to Jamaica. It's also a story about the difficulties of earning a living as a full-time freelancer in an expensive city, and how independent contractors, who don't earn a steady salary or receive benefits of any kind from the places they consistently work for, are so easily disposable. 'The Junket' is a thinly veiled, fictionalized account of what happened to Albo, but it's wickedly funny, and will ring true for anyone who's ever had to file an invoice and cross their fingers for a paycheck."

You can support Longreads—and get more exclusives like this—by becoming a member for just $3 per month.

AUTHOR:Mike Albo
PUBLISHED: Dec. 19, 2012
LENGTH: 55 minutes (13819 words)

Lost in Space

Searching for love, meaning—and yes, sex—after 10 years in the online hookup scene:

"I am at my local hipster restaurant, in Park Slope. The young straight guys next to me are talking about how the dating website Plenty of Fish has a new GPS-oriented smartphone app that finds women nearby, listing their profiles and proximity, and of course, showing a photo.

"'Look at this one!' says one guy, tapping and stroking his phone, 'I hooked up with her last week.' They all gather around and look at her. 'She’s, like, three hundred feet away from here.' They are practically shivering with excitement at the ease and abundance of potential partners suddenly available to them.

"I sit at the end of the bar and laugh to myself like an old, salty sea captain. Once again, gay guys are a step ahead."
AUTHOR:Mike Albo
PUBLISHED: Oct. 8, 2012
LENGTH: 20 minutes (5208 words)