Matt Giles | Longreads | May 2017 | 15 minutes (3,772 words)
Last month, Pearl Jam was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Introduced by David Letterman, who looked resplendent with his chin-length beard, it was a fitting honor for one of the greatest rock groups of all time. “I feel like maybe we’re about halfway there to deserving an accolade of this kind of stature, but this is very encouraging,” said Eddie Vedder, Pearl Jam’s lead singer, as part of his acceptance remarks.
What was left unmentioned by Vedder and his fellow bandmates was the collaboration that directly preceded Pearl Jam’s formation more than 25 years ago in Seattle—a supergroup that enjoyed its own moment in the spotlight last year.
Temple of the Dog only released one album, but after a two-decade hiatus, the group reformed in June and announced a multi-concert tour across the United States. Normally, this wouldn’t have made headlines, but it did because Temple of the Dog was a mix of soon-to-be superstars from Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, including Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, Matt Cameron, Mike McCready, Chris Cornell, and Vedder (who didn’t tour, but was in the original lineup). These rock gods had never officially toured as Temple of the Dog (there have been a few shows here and there, and every few years a video of Cornell and Vedder jamming out to “Hunger Strike,” the band’s hit single, goes viral), but this tour was the first time the musicians got together as the early-’90s super group. “We’re essentially a baby band,” Ament told Rolling Stone in a recent oral history of the band. “We’re 25 years down the road, but we’ve never toured.”
The tour renewed the attention paid to Temple’s “Hunger Strike” music video. Released three times over the ensuing decades, the video — sparse, loaded with symbolism, and an ode to both the city of Seattle and Andy Wood, the Mother Love Bone singer whose death both launched and inspired Temple’s founding — gained notoriety for helping to foment the wave of the ’90s video genre. You know what they look like: dark colors, set in nature, elderly individuals writing on a chalkboard, anthropomorphism, warped graphics, unconventional camera angles, and more. The TV sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” mocked the style in the 2013 episode, “PS I Love You”; the episode featured the alt-rock backstory of Robin Scherbatsky, whose breakout hit had all the ’90s music video trappings (including extras clad in flannel).Read more…
A funny thing happened after colonists, disguised as Native Americans, dumped 300-some chests containing tea into the Boston Harbor: The importance of tea—both politically and culturally—in the United States was over, and the people needed something else to drink. That void was filled by coffee, which first arrived in North America courtesy of Captain John Smith, but until the Boston Tea Party, coffee was a niche beverage: just .19 pounds per capita was consumed in 1772.
Following the Revolutionary War, a period in which John Adams wrote of the troubles “wean[ing]” himself off tea, Americans had fallen in love with the coffee bean, drinking 1.41 pounds per capita by 1799, and the infatuation skyrocketed for the next 150 years. Coffee was enjoyed by all classes—Park Avenue socialites and coal miners alike could take their coffee black or with a dash of cream. And as boiling the grounds with water gave way to the percolator and the electric drip coffeemaker, Americans put the pot on more and more often, drinking an astonishing 46 gallons per person a year—a record that will never be topped.Read more…
In the April issue of Elle magazine, Molly Langmuir questions the societal and dietary norms that preach ‘fat is bad.’ Langmuir spoke with Sally Fallon, who, for two decades, has preached the health benefits of enjoying animal proteins, organ meats, and raw milk and yogurt (while avoiding all things processed), and reveals that food—like all else—isn’t binary. Enjoying fatty foods doesn’t have to just be a cheat day indulgence.
Raised in Palos Verdes, California, by parents she calls “the original foodies,” Fallon got an English degree at Stanford in 1970 and settled in Washington, DC, with her then husband (they later divorced), who worked in the aerospace industry. “I knew in my bones this low-fat thing was wrong,” she said. But she didn’t have evidence until she read Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, published in 1939 by an intrepid dentist named Weston A. Price, which documented his world travels studying diets and health. His conclusion? Various diseases, cavities, even “personality disturbances,” were rare among groups who ate like their ancestors— lots of meats or seafood, plenty of fat, and, if they ate carbs, whole grains—but rampant among those who’d adopted a modern diet, with heaps of white flour and sugar.
Fallon eventually had four kids and fed them foods like liver and raw milk—she credits this with their continued good health and in 1995 she put Price’s beliefs into practical form in the self-published Nourishing Traditions. At first, Fallon stored the books in her garage and shipped out a few copies a month, but “it started to grow and grow,” she said. Even Atkins blurbed her book, gushing that the first chapter “is so right on target that I feel a little guilty for taking her ideas.” There are now 740,000 copies in print.
Over lunch—a tomato soup into which she’d stirred an entire container of crème fraîche and a dip made from cheese, butter, and cream—she said that at her farm, she does things “the old-fashioned way,” meaning it’s a multispecies realm with pigs that eat the leftover whey, cows that eat the grass, chickens that eat anything they scratch out of the ground, and cats that eat the mice. The living-history–museum vibe carries over into the 150-year-old main house, a precisely decorated three-story affair filled with antique china and Oriental rugs. (There are a few incongruous nods to the present: a swimming pool, a wine fridge.) Fallon does her writing at an enormous antique desk, on which sits a glass paperweight I mistook for a crystal ball. “I don’t see the future,” she said. Then she laughed. “Yes, I do! And it’s butter!”
The growth of food writing has evolved with the explosion of all the food-watching that accompanied programs like Top Chef and Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, and we’re way past the days of Craig Claiborne or Ruth Reichl reveling about an up-and-coming chef in an out-of-the-way corner of a yet-to-be-gentrified-neighborhood somewhere.
The James Beard awards—otherwise known as the Oscars of food—were announced earlier this week, and befitting the honor’s nearly 30-year history, let’s toast sparkling rosé and caviar-topped amuse-bouches to the best food writing published in 2016 (here is the full list of winners).
David Grann is the ultimate writer’s writer. The reporter and staff writer for The New Yorker has a way of discovering nuggets of an idea (the bare minimum of a pitch), and then, through intrepid and painstaking research, crafting pieces that tend to stick with readers for years.
“Many of the characters are driven by obsession,” Grann once told Nieman Storyboard. “But I’m also interested in what these characters are obsessed with, so it’s not just their obsession, it’s the object of their obsession…I’m looking for multiple elements. On one level, there is a story that is compelling, there are characters that are interesting, but also there are some intellectual stakes.”
For his upcoming book, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the F.B.I., Grann details the murders committed against members of the Osage Nation—which subsequently became the first case investigated by the FBI—and spent more than three years researching and reporting events that happened nearly a hundred years ago. Josh Dean similarly had been interested in writing about the Osage Nation killings, when he was informed by his agent that Grann had, in Dean’s words, “been working on this book quietly for two years.”
I literally fell out of my chair. I admire David Grann; he is one of the best at this thing. I read his stories voraciously. I know what David Grann is doing…One, I know he is going to do an amazing job. He has a two year head-start. If it hadn’t been him…why would I [write the book]? I went into a shell and drank for six days.
While Killers of the Flower Moon will undoubtedly become a blockbuster hit one day (Imperative Entertainment paid a whopping $5 million for film rights), another of Grann’s works will debut in theaters this week. “The Lost City of Z” came to life as a New Yorker feature in 2005, and according to Grann, it was one of his rare pieces that felt incomplete as a magazine article. “It was the first piece I’d done for The New Yorker where I finished and I said, one, I’m not sick of it, and, two, there are so many more places to go. There were still doors to open,” he told Interview magazine. The article became a book, which was published in 2009, and now a film starring Charlie Hunnam and Robert Pattinson.
Hunnam stars as Percy Fawcett, a turn-of-the-century English explorer who disappears in a quest to prove the existence of an ancient and influential civilization in the Amazon. In reporting Fawcett’s travels, Grann journeyed to the jungles where Fawcett vanished, as well as plumbed through his diaries and life, turning what had initially been a piece about this lost civilization into an all-encompassing biography—all the better for its adaptation to screen.
It’s impossible to compose a “best of” list for Grann’s writings, so below is a primer for some of his most compelling New Yorker pieces, which includes some of his earlier (and often overlooked) work. Read more…
The winners of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize were announced today — on the 170th birthday of Joseph Pulitzer — and though there were some surprises, the majority of the honors were bestowed on some of the year’s most talked about pieces of writing. For example, Colson Whitehead won for his ground-breaking work of fiction, The Underground Railroad. And C.J. Chivers of the New York Times snagged a Pulitzer for his heart-breaking portrayal of a soldier grappling with his life stateside in “The Fighter.”
The entire list of the other Pulitzer recipients can be found here, but below is a compendium of some of the celebrated works. Read more…
The opening bars to Run-D.M.C.’s classic “My Adidas” are among the greatest lines in all of rap:
My Ahhh-didas, walk through concert doors
And roam all over coliseum floors
I stepped on stage, at Live Aid
All the people gave, and the poor got paid
And out of speakers I did speak
I wore my sneakers but I’m not a sneak
My Adidas touch the sand of a foreign land
With mic in hand, I cold took command
My Adidas and me close as can be
We make a mean team, my Adidas and me
It wasn’t just that D.M.C. kicked off the hit track, which blared from playgrounds and suburbs in 1986 (and beyond), in such an explosive, heavy-hitting manner; “My Adidas” was a clarion call for the group’s love of Adidas Superstar sneakers—essentially the first ever product placement in a mainstream crossover hit. And the group didn’t have to get paid to rap about their favorite shoe (though they did: After a group of Adidas executives saw a Run-D.M.C. concert at Madison Square Garden in 1986, and witnessed the crowd hold up their Adidas sneakers when “My Adidas” was performed, the shoe company signed the rappers to a $1.5 million endorsement deal).
The Superstars, which Adidas first introduced in 1969, were the ultimate playground sneaker. Ideal for playing basketball, the thick rubber padding around the shoe’s toe, which inspired nicknames like “shell tops” and “clam toes,” protected a player’s feet. They were also ideal for brushing up and wearing out; the Superstar transcended its initial purpose and became a shoe adored by both sneakerheads and those who wanted something sleek to wear with a suit.
We’re living in period rife with nostalgia, so it makes perfect sense that the Superstars — a sneaker perfect for the time period it was introduced as well as now — would still be sought after. According to NPD Group, a market research company, the Superstar was the nation’s best seller by dollar sales in 2016—the first time in the history of tracking this market that Nike wasn’t in the top spot. Read more…
According to the Brewers Association, craft beer hasn’t slowed down, and the brewers only continue to grow, making up nearly 22 percent of the beer industry’s retail value. The rise of craft—or the “end of craft” depending on how you view it—owes its success to the the authenticity and devotion to full-bodied flavors, as well as a homemade, independent spirit.
Which is why, on National Beer Day, we’d like to share our recent interview with Josh Bernstein, the dean of craft beer writers and one of the first to fully articulate the innumerable sensations, like the hit of a Mosaic hop on the tongue, that accompany a sip of beer. Bernstein, who recently released, Complete IPA: The Guide to Your Favorite Craft Beer, spoke with Longreads about his—and the nation’s—obsession with India Pale Ales and the growing evolution of craft beer.
Americans love IPAs, but how has the beer style changed in the past decade?
Back then, IPAs were all about aggression. Bitterness is great, but it turns as many off as it turns on. Big burly IPAs served a purpose, but they fell along with the imperial IPA pushWhat’s interesting to me is that IPAs are not all about bitterness, and brewers have begun to utilize hop varieties in different ways. The sledgehammer aspect of IPAs has disappeared, and been replaced with nuance.
[Hop varieties] Mosaic and Citra emphasized tropical, fruity, citrusy aromas. We are in this flavor-questing world right now. We want flavor in everything we do, from Thai takeout to beers, and hop varieties play within this new world. People start to spin IPAs in different directions: white IPAs, black IPAs, etc. People spun the color wheel to accentuate flavors like tropical fruits. The creativity has trickled down and it is dizzying. It used to be that Northeast IPAs were made in the English tradition, in which the malt was profound. Yhey were dark and sweet, which contrasted to the brightness of west coast IPAs. The last three years, though, Northeast IPAs have transformed to this hazy, juicy, and fruity beer with none of the bitterness.
IPAs have created a new template for beer that people can agree upon. The consumer wants flavor, and IPAs deliver in spades.
What was the tipping point for IPAs?
Definitely the beers of Vermont: Alchemist’s Heady Topper and Hill Farmstead. In 2012, I was stuck—snowed in—in Burlington. It was the best and the worst thing to happen to me. The local co-op had plenty of Heady, and I spent a long blizzard weekend drinking my way through their selection, and I saw the future of what these flavors could be. When you start to look at what is happening now, a decade of hop varieties have begun to trickle out from the ground. Brewers started to create hop crosses—like Citra, which debuted in around 2007—and use new ingredients to create distinct beers.
How does craft beer continue to grow from here?
There is a national evolution and international evolution, and we are at the beginning of this change. Beer styles grew up in geographic regions thanks to the water and the intellect of brewers, but with the rise of the international economy, beer styles are now moving quickly. Hops are like the marijuana industry—full of crazy strains and flavors. With hop research, we are seeing the very beginning of what is possible. It’s what comes of the ground that will determine where IPAs and craft beer goes.
There’s also research that has to be done to determine how long these flavors will last, shelf-wise. Ben Edmunds at Breakside Brewery is doing research on how to keep a juicy flavor without falling off. IPAs in particular are like fragile butterflies—they need to be consumed fresh—and because IPAs are a crowded market, you have to innovate to stand out. You can’t just brew an IPA and expect it to be good, or draw interest.
Tired Hands in Philadelphia is making a milkshake IPA, and Great Notion Brewing in Portland specializes in Northeast IPAs. Brewers are helping push tastes in different directions by researching different ways that flavors can fit together
Will IPAs always be dominant?
We are a nation of lager drinkers, and there is a rise in pilsners right now, but after twenty people come to the bar and ask for an IPA, brewers have to make one. Take Carton’s Boat beer. I talked to [owner and brewer] Augie Carton at a party, and he first called Boat a koslch because no one had called a low alcohol IPA a session IPA back then. And even when people complain that there are too many IPAs on tap, you talk to any bartender and ask what is selling, it’s IPAs.
If IPAs are king, is there another style you see bursting into the craft beer conscience?
Dry hopped sours are percolating. It doesn’t sound great, like drinking orange juice after brushing your teeth, but the chemical interaction and interplays just work.
I used to love Dogfish Head’s 60 Minute IPA, but now with all the different options availible, I haven’t had one in a while. Last month I revisited 60 Minute and I had a much different reaction—it didn’t hit me the way it used to. Is that something we’ll see, brewers tweaking their flagship recipes to fit the new craft sphere?
Legacy brewers have realized the IPA is key going forward, and they’re seeing shifts in American tastes and global tastes. It’s great to go back to beers you’ve forgotten and find out why they were elegant beers. Your palette matures and you tend to look for those big memorable flavors that used to stand out for you. But since education is so much higher these days, brewers are altering recipes to accommodate for new flavors.
Breweries adapt: New Belgium [Ranger] and Sierra Nevada [Torpedo] adds IPAs to their roster, and Sierra Nevada even comes out with a gose last year [Otra Vez]. IPAs and other styles change. A little more citrus in there, or some tropical notes. There are more than 5,000 craft breweries in the United States—you have to stay current.
There were 44 fouls called on Monday night during the college basketball national championship game between North Carolina and Gonzaga. It was an obscene amount of whistles for a game that is supposed to represent the sport’s creme, and it made the game, which was won by the Tar Heels—a year after a stunning buzzer beater by Villanova’s Kris Jenkins ended UNC’s season in spectacularly heart-breaking fashion—nearly unbearable to watch.
This wasn’t supposed to happen. A rule change by the NCAA several years ago allowed for a greater freedom of movement on the perimeter; no longer were guards getting bumped and hand checked as they navigated screens. And along with the shortening of the shot clock to 30 seconds (from 35 seconds), the college game was imbued with flow, spacing, and speed.
I am a pizza apostate. Not only do I use a fork and knife whenever I eat pizza, I also sometimes bypass my normal slice joint for the siren call of deliciously buttered-and-garlic salted crust that only Dominos can deliver.
Domino’s has always understood the importance of not having to go anywhere. Although you can still walk into a restaurant if you must, there are at least a dozen ways to order a Domino’s pizza in absentia. Some are self-explanatory: mobile apps, Apple Watch, Facebook Messenger. Others need some explanation. To order via Twitter, you must create an online account, save a pizza as your favorite (known as your Easy Order), and connect it to your Twitter account. Then tweet a pizza emoji to @dominos. “We’ll know who you are, what pizza you want, your default location and payment,” Maloney says. “We send a ‘Sounds awesome, are you sure?’ You send a thumbs up.” But if you want to order something other than your favorite, you’re out of luck.
Maloney clears away the remains of our lunch (Pacific Veggie, thin crust) to show me option 12 on his phone: zero-click ordering. “This will freak you out,” he says. “What’s the easiest way to order? When you don’t have to do anything.” One day Maloney and Garcia were in the car with their ad guys, dreaming of how to one-up Amazon’s one-click ordering. Three months later they had their zero-click app, which does require one click to start. “Tap the Domino’s icon to open it and find my Easy Order,” Maloney says. That’s it. “I have 10 seconds before it automatically places the order.” A big countdown clock appears on Maloney’s screen. If he does nothing, his Easy Order, a 12-inch hand-tossed pizza, will be on its way to his home.
While Dominos is at the forefront of our fast food, it isn’t the only company to have paired food science and tech to deliver a product that is utterly craveable. The following are some of the best pieces in the past several years to capture this culinary shift. Read more…