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The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Slime Mould (Getty Images)

This week, we’re sharing stories from Matt Hamilton and Garrett Therolf, Lacy M. Johnson, Devin Kelly, Max Bell, and Rainesford Stauffer.

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1. How the State of California Failed Noah Cuatro

Matt Hamilton, Garrett Therolf | Los Angeles Times | August 19, 2021 | 5,000 words

“Before a 4-year-old boy’s killing, authorities wavered on rescuing him.”

2. What Slime Knows

Lacy M. Johnson | Orion Magazine | August 24, 2021 | 3,411

“There is no hierarchy in the web of life.”

3. From a Window

Devin Kelly | wildness | August 15, 2020 | 2,089 words

“Tonight, a dog holds a piece of cardboard in its mouth for an entire block. I don’t know what it finds in such a small, almost useless thing, but then again, I horde so much of what is small and useless, even to me, even to a dog. In most moments, there is something beautiful about trying, even if it’s impossible.”

4. The Bizarre and Tragic Ride of J Sw!ft

Max Bell | theLAnd Magazine | August 26, 2021 | 5,938 words

“What follows is the far more complicated story of how our country’s complex, disturbingly callous, and ever-shifting yet forever intractable immigration policies created years of hell and potentially permanent exile for one of hip-hop’s greatest producers.”

5. Her Name Is Not Honey Boo Boo

Rainesford Stauffer | Teen Vogue | August 25, 2021 | 2,300 words

She grew up on reality TV. Now she’d like you to call her Alana.

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

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This week, we’re sharing stories from David Rohde, Sarah Cox, Wyatt Williams, Joshua Hammer, and Kiana Fitzgerald, Paula Mejía, Matt Sonzala, Donnie Houston, Lance Scott Walker, Brandon Caldwell, Cat Cardenas, Jessi Pereira, and Sama’an Ashrawi.

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1. Trying—and Failing—to Save the Family of the Afghan Who Saved Me

David Rohde | The New Yorker | August 17, 2021 | 2,539 words

“We saw the city full of these strange armed men. With strange clothing and hair styles. We are back in the nineties, you can’t believe these people are back.” The last time the Taliban had seized power, in 1996, their reign had begun with relative calm, but they quickly started conducting house raids, making arrests, and inflicting other abuses.”

2. Inside the Pacheedaht Nation’s Stand on Fairy Creek Logging Blockades

Sarah Cox | The Narwhal | August 16, 2021 | 7,574

“The Pacheedaht Nation has close to 300 members. About 120 live in the Pacheedaht community, less than a 15-minute drive from the blockades. And the inconvenient truth for the protesters, however well-intentioned in their inventive and prolonged efforts to save old-growth, however well-versed in the parlance of acknowledging the territories of Indigenous peoples, is that only a few Pacheedaht members have joined them.”

3. Eating the Whale

Wyatt Williams | Harper’s Magazine | August 18, 2021 | 5,739 words

“A personal history of meat.”

4. The Sopranos of Berlin: A Brutal Crime Family and a Billion Dollar Jewel Heist

Joshua Hammer | GQ | August 18, 2021 | 6,208 words

“For such thieves, there is no more desirable prize than the crown jewels of the great monarchies of Europe. Putting aside whatever cultural significance these treasures may have later accrued—landing them in museums—the simple fact is that these pieces were made of materials that are still quite valuable today. The authorities feared that if they didn’t catch a quick break, pieces of the Green Vault collection would be lost forever.”

5. The 20 Essential Texas Rap Tracks

Kiana Fitzgerald, Paula Mejía, Matt Sonzala, Donnie Houston, Lance Scott Walker, Brandon Caldwell, Cat Cardenas, Jessi Pereira, and Sama’an Ashrawi | Texas Monthly | August 18, 2021 | 7,267 words

“Rap wasn’t meant for Texas. But it was only a matter of time before Texans started rapping, made the genre their own, and regifted it to the world.”

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

The North Tower reflecting pool of the National September 11 Memorial at night in New York City.

This week, we’re sharing stories from Jennifer Senior, Aaron Hutchins, Molly Ball, Diana Hubbell, and Vauhini Vara.

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1. What Bobby McIlvaine Left Behind

Jennifer Senior | The Atlantic | August 9, 2021 | 13,254 words

“Grief, conspiracy theories, and one family’s search for meaning in the two decades since 9/11.”

2. Forgiving Jaskirat Sidhu

Aaron Hutchins | Maclean’s | August 4, 2021 | 5,045

“Who deserves absolution, and when, is one of humanity’s most vexing questions—one families devastated by the Humboldt Broncos tragedy can’t seem to avoid.”

3. What Mike Fanone Can’t Forget

Molly Ball | Time Magazine | August 5, 2021 | 5,745 words

“There is a thin blue line between order and chaos, and at that moment, Mike Fanone was it.”

4. There Has Been Blood

Diana Hubbell | Eater | August 3, 2021 | 6,471 words

“For more than five decades, the Thai palm oil industry has been marred by rampant exploitation, violence, and corporate greed. Thailand is the world’s No. 3 producer of palm oil.”

5. Ghosts

Vauhini Vara | The Believer | August 9, 2021 | 5,992 words

“I didn’t know how to write about my sister’s death—so I had AI do it for me.”

The Cult That Promises to Cure Addiction

Benjamin Rasmussen for The Atavist Magazine

This is an excerpt from The Atavist‘s issue no. 115, “The Love Bomb,” by Daniel Kolitz.

Daniel Kolitz| The Atavist | July 2021 | 10 minutes (2,100 words)

Prologue

On Super Bowl Sunday, three weeks into the 1980s, Dave Cherry had the house to himself. The 15-year-old was sprawled out on his parents’ gold bedspread watching the game, but on the list of things he cared about—Led Zeppelin, the possibility of alternate dimensions, acquiring and inhaling tremendous quantities of weed—football barely ranked. Inertia, a sense of having nothing better to do, was the only thing that kept him watching.

When the game ended, the network cut to Dan Rather, his posture as rigid as his hair. Rather introduced the subject of that week’s 60 Minutes episode: the Palmer Drug Abuse Program. “Few people outside of Texas had ever heard of PDAP,” Rather intoned, “until People magazine reported that Carrie Hamilton, the 15-year-old daughter of TV star Carol Burnett and producer Joe Hamilton, had become a drug addict, and that her parents had sent Carrie to PDAP, where she kicked her habit.”

Cherry, who lived in the suburbs of St. Louis, wasn’t familiar with PDAP, nor with Carrie Hamilton’s recovery, despite Burnett and her family making the daytime talk-show rounds—Dinah Shore, Phil Donahue—to praise the program and its founder, a recovering addict and alcoholic named Bob Meehan. “Some see Mr. Meehan as a miracle worker,” Rather said, “bringing God and clean living back into young people’s lives. Others say he gets those youngsters dependent on him and PDAP in place of their former dependence on drugs and alcohol.”

Meehan appeared on screen, looking like someone’s hazy misconception of 1970s cool: wide white sideburns, bushy blond goatee. Fury seemed to flash behind his orange-tinted aviators. Cherry, the son of strict Southern Baptists, was suddenly interested. Meehan was precisely the kind of guy his parents would despise.

“Now, I’m saying, this program works for a group of people. If it doesn’t work for you, try another one!” Meehan told 60 Minutes. “We’re not controlling you in any way, shape, or form. You don’t like it, leave!”

Meehan called his method of treating substance abuse Enthusiastic Sobriety, or ES. It was a kind of Alcoholics Anonymous for teenagers; it emphasized community and spirituality, but also insisted that participants needed to have fun. Cherry watched footage of cozy group confessionals and larger meetings that looked like pep rallies. Kids traded shoulder squeezes and looks of fervent understanding. A pretty woman, maybe 20 years old, cradled a younger boy’s head as another woman thanked him for filling a void in her life. “I love you,” she said, prompting claps and cheers from the people gathered around her.

A lonely kid, Cherry felt a stir of longing.

Meehan was so animated that, beside him, Rather looked like an expensive wax statue. When Rather questioned him about his $100,000 annual income, a combination of his PDAP salary and payments from a company that ran hospitals where PDAP referred teenagers for inpatient treatment, Meehan grinned. “If I wasn’t making money, you wouldn’t be here today, partner!” he said. Pressed for evidence of the high success rates PDAP touted in its advertisements, Meehan delivered a wandering monologue on the perils of methadone and the definition of success before telling Rather that if 60 Minutes or its host would like to give him $75,000 to conduct a study, he’d be happy to take it.

“Are you saying to me that you don’t have any data to back up your claim that you’re 75 to 80 percent successful?” Rather asked.

“The data we have is quite different from data anybody else has,” Meehan said.

“But when you boil it down, what you’ve got is a guess,” Rather pressed.

“Oh definitely,” Meehan said, inscrutable. “Definitely a guess.”

Rather presented dissenting opinions, from sources who described an environment that seemed designed to keep PDAP participants in thrall to Meehan. A mustached man in a tan leather jacket said that people were being “led to believe that we can’t make it without the program,” prompting Rather to remark, astonished, that this would make participation “never-ending.” Confronted with the notion that PDAP was manipulative and opportunistic, Meehan became even more energetic. “I’ve been a con all my life,” he told Rather. “Just, now I’m using it in a good way, see?”

The segment was in no uncertain terms a takedown. It aired on the highest-rated news program in the country, directly after the biggest event on TV. It should have been Bob Meehan’s undoing. But it wasn’t.

Over the next 40 years, Meehan proved to be a skilled shapeshifter and profiteer. Enthusiastic Sobriety, which as it turned out was even more destructive than 60 Minutes revealed, spread well beyond PDAP. It evolved, taking various names and forms; when one door closed, Meehan found another to open. Recovery programs that he ran or wielded influence over enrolled thousands of young people across the United States. Today, ES outfits run by members of Meehan’s inner circle still exist in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, and North Carolina.

ES also ensnared staff and some clients in what people who’ve abandoned it now call a cult. Meehan and his closest confidants—a group dubbed the Family—controlled every aspect of members’ lives. The story recounted here draws on interviews with 65 former clients, counselors, and loved ones of people involved with ES from its origins in the 1970s through to the present day. Their experiences echo those described in an active online community of former ES followers, who use Facebook and other social-media platforms to tell their stories. Some subjects spoke to The Atavist Magazine on condition of anonymity.

Flopped on his parents’ bed in 1980, Dave Cherry couldn’t have guessed the outsize role he’d one day play in ES, or the extent to which Meehan would come to dominate his life. Years would pass before the two even met. All Cherry knew on that Super Bowl Sunday was that he liked the guy. He thought Dan Rather had given Bob Meehan a raw deal.

***

Part One

Hard facts about Meehan’s life before PDAP are scarce, but he always told a compelling origin story—how he first shot heroin at 16; how the habit soon compelled him to pawn his parents’ furniture; how they committed him to a psychiatric ward; how he escaped and spent the next ten years on and off the streets, using not only heroin but also codeine, quaaludes, cocaine, speed, and alcohol. During this period, according to several people who knew Meehan, he claimed to have robbed several pharmacies, killed several men, and played drums in several small-time jazz ensembles.

In Meehan’s telling, his luck changed in 1971. Released from a Kentucky prison cell, he wound up in Houston, digging ditches for Rice University. At 27, he was mostly toothless—he wore dentures—and bald, save for a grimy curtain of hair running from the peak of his scalp down to his shoulders. A Fu Manchu mustache drooped past his chin. He’d mostly stopped using drugs but still wrestled with booze, and after another short stint in jail, this time for burglary and public drunkenness, he began attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings at Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church.

The gatherings were presided over by Father Charles Wyatt-Brown, a soft-spoken priest beloved by his community. Wyatt-Brown took a liking to Meehan, who was outspoken in meetings. The two began having lunch together. Wyatt-Brown soon hired Meehan as his church’s janitor.

Teens made regular use of the church in those days, playing Frisbee on the grounds and popping inside to use the bathroom. Some of them were drug users, and Wyatt-Brown encouraged Meehan to befriend them, hoping he might set them on a better path. In fact, Wyatt-Brown said, Meehan’s attention was better spent helping children than vacuuming hallways.

Meehan was singularly charismatic, a perpetual motion machine with a comic’s timing and a gift for connecting with kids. It helped that he chain-smoked, cursed incessantly, and had a vast supply of dirty jokes and prison yarns to keep them entertained. Soon, with Wyatt-Brown’s permission, six young people began meeting regularly with Meehan in the church’s basement. They played cards, complained about teachers, talked about crushes. Sometimes Meehan took to the piano, leading sing-alongs. Within six months, the group’s ranks had expanded to 40, and Meehan was formally promoted to the role of youth counselor. Another six months later, attendance had reached 250, and Wyatt-Brown established the Palmer Drug Abuse Program as a nonprofit, with a board of directors to facilitate the program’s growth. Meehan was made director.

Meehan didn’t have formal qualifications to run a drug-treatment program. What he had was life experience and an eye for demand. White middle-class Americans shaped by the promise and comforts of the postwar era were terrified that substance abuse would steal their children’s future. The war on drugs began in 1971, with Richard Nixon declaring illegal substances “public enemy number one.” Within a few years, the so-called parent movement, which preached zero tolerance of marijuana, narcotics, and alcohol, would spread across the country. But Meehan recognized that a top-down approach wasn’t likely to appeal to kids. What rebellious teenager does what their parents or president tells them to do?

Meehan started developing Enthusiastic Sobriety, which was both a theory and a practice. In order to entice teens, he believed, clean living needed to be just as fun—and just as reckless—as the alternative. If teens wanted to grow their hair long, smoke cigarettes, stay out all night, or even drop out of school, parents should let them—whatever kept them off drugs and alcohol was a good thing. Thus liberated, kids could enter the alternate social world of PDAP, which had its own dances, campouts, and house parties, all of them substance-free.

Spirituality was part of PDAP’s deal; much like AA, the program was rooted in the possibility of redemption. If that didn’t seem cool to teenagers, Meehan would be the first to tell them they were wrong. He believed that peer pressure was what drove young people to experiment with drugs and alcohol, and he aimed to use the same tactic to keep them sober. As soon as they walked in the door of a meeting, PDAP newcomers were smothered in hugs and people saying “I love you.” The tactic, called “love bombing,” is now widely recognized as a method for luring people into cults. One PDAP participant recalled thinking, “These guys are like the Hare Krishna or something. They’re going to try to make me sell flowers at the airport next week.”

In the program’s early days, Meehan met and married Joy DeFord, a diminutive, dark-haired divorcée who ran Palmer Memorial’s Alateen program, for teenagers who had alcoholics in their families. Joy came across as a polished Southern belle, a calm counterpoint to her manic husband, though she had quirks of her own, including an interest in hypnotism and homeopathy. The Meehans had a daughter and informally adopted a PDAP participant named Susan Lowry. Joy began running PDAP’s parent group, which held meetings each week. Hers was an essential role—PDAP’s smooth functioning depended on parents buying into the developing ES methodology.

PDAP could be a tough sell for parents. Beyond the smoking and the late nights, there was the fact that PDAP’s counselors looked like they could have been former drug dealers. Some of them were former drug dealers. One young man showed up for his first PDAP meeting, struck up a conversation with a counselor, and quickly realized that he’d “bought dope from the guy before.” When the adults balked about who was supervising their kids, Joy calmed them down. A common refrain was “Would you rather they were dead?”

PDAP was free, funded entirely by community donations. Participants had to commit to 30 days of sobriety, during which they would attend frequent meetings. They could keep coming to PDAP after that—in fact, they were encouraged to make the program the permanent anchor of their existence. Meehan, a fervent follower of AA, implemented a version of the 12 steps in PDAP. Participants made moral inventories and direct amends to those they’d hurt, and they admitted that substances rendered their lives unmanageable. Meehan put his own spin on other steps. His second one was “We have found it necessary to ‘stick with winners’ in order to grow.” To keep old friends around—especially if they used drugs or alcohol, but often even if they were sober—was to court relapse or worse. Once someone had PDAP, they didn’t need anyone else. In the words of one former participant, PDAP was “a whole group of people who were just like me.”

Read the full story at The Atavist

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, resources are available from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, including a 24/7 national helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Additional information on rehab abuse is available via Breaking Code Silence.

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 19: Theo Henderson from We The Unhoused podcast speaks from the steps of LA City Hall as members of Unhoused Tenants Against Carceral Housing (UTACH), a newly formed tenant organization, held a news conference to demand humane treatment in Project Roomkey programs and request a meeting with city officials. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images).

This week, we’re sharing stories from Ciara O’Rourke, Haley Britzky, Alissa Walker, Julie Sedivy, and Arika Okrent.

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1. The Fugitive and the Chameleon

Ciara O’Rourke | Deseret News | August 2, 2021 | 6,154 words

“Mario’s father had gone by many names. Luis Archuleta. Lawrence Pusateri. The man the son knew as Ramon was just a fraction of his way into what may be one of the longest fugitive runs in U.S. history — a 50-year game of cat-and-mouse that played out across the West, from the streets of Colorado to the shores of California and many dusty, sun-bleached points in between.”

2. ‘We Are All Suffering in Silence’ — Inside the US Military’s Pervasive Culture of Eating Disorders

Haley Britzky | Task & Purpose | August 2, 2021 | 6,213

U.S. military service members develop harmful and unhealthy habits to maintain “body composition standards” that are outdated.

3. Theo Henderson’s Podcast Influences L.A. City Policy. For 7 Years, He’s Lived Mostly in the Park.

Alissa Walker| Curbed | October 14, 2020 | 2,505 words

“There are 60,000 unhoused people in L.A. County — (Theo) Henderson prefers ‘unhoused’ because he says ‘homeless’ has become a slur — as many as 40,000 of whom are considered, like him, to be ‘unsheltered,’ living outside the shelter system in tents, informal communities, and camps.”

4. The Strange Persistence of First Languages

Julie Sedivy | Nautilus | November 5, 2015 | 3,440 words

“Spurred by my father’s death, I returned to the Czech Republic hoping to reconnect to him. In doing so, I also reconnected with my native tongue, and with parts of my identity that I had long ignored.”

5. Typos, Tricks and Misprints

Arika Okrent | Aeon | July 26, 2021 | 3,401 words

“Why is English spelling so weird and unpredictable? Don’t blame the mix of languages; look to quirks of timing and technology.”

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

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This week, we’re sharing stories from Jason Fagone, Stephanie Mencimer, Roberta Hill, Kaleb Horton, and Kelundra Smith.

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1. The Jessica Simulation: Love and Loss in the Age of A.I.

Jason Fagone | San Francisco Chronicle | July 23, 2021 | 10,801 words

“The death of the woman he loved was too much to bear. Could a mysterious website allow him to speak with her once more?”

2. Armed Standoffs With the Government, ‘Uber Militias,’ and Ammon Bundy’s Run to Be Idaho’s Next Governor

Stephanie Mencimer | Mother Jones | July 26, 2021 | 8,649

“Does running for office make him less dangerous—or more?”

3. Survivor

Roberta Hill | Toronto Life | July 27, 2021 | 3,917 words

“The discovery of hundreds of Indigenous children’s remains in the spring was particularly hard for me—because I knew I could have been one of them. How I made it through Canada’s residential school system.”

4. The Ballad of the Chowchilla Bus Kidnapping

Kaleb Horton | Vox | July 23, 2020 | 13,872 words

“If you told somebody 26 kids went missing, the most ever in America, that somebody would likely assume they were dead. But they’d survived! All of them! Many potlucks would ensue.”

5. On the Heels of Foot Soldiers

Kelundra Smith | The Bitter Southerner | July 27, 2021 | 1,912 words

“Fueled by the power of love, Black Voters Matter co-founder LaTosha Brown wants the next generation of activists to learn from the music and wisdom of the past and to press on to protect voting rights in the rural South and beyond.”

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

ALSIP, ILLINOIS - MARCH 22: A faded photograph is attached to the headstone that marks the gravesite of Emmett Till in Burr Oak Cemetery on March 22, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

This week, we’re sharing stories from Wright Thompson, Fred Kaplan, Tori Marlan, Casey Gerald, and Sarah Everts.

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1. The Barn

Wright Thompson | The Atlantic | July 22, 2021 | 7,350 words

“In 1955, just past daybreak, a Chevrolet truck pulled up to an unmarked building. A 14-year-old child was in the back. Hi name was Emmett Till.”

2. Why Did We Invade Iraq?

Fred Kaplan | New York Review of Books | July 1, 2021 | 3,828

“The most complete account we are likely to get of the deceptions and duplicities that led to war leaves some crucial mysteries unsolved.”

3. Penniless: Why a Victoria Man Has Gone Two Decades Without Money

Tori Marlan| Capital Daily | July 14, 2021 | 6,687 words

“His last purchases—beer, cigarettes, pot—occurred 18 years ago, he says, on his 31st birthday. He claims he hasn’t spent any money since. It’s true, his friends have told me. No money at all.”

4. Leon Bridges After Dark

Casey Gerald | Texas Monthly | July 19, 2020 | 10,772 words

“On the eve of his third album release, the Grammy-winning artist talks with unparalleled candor about the toll of stardom—and how his best friends saved his life.”

5. Smell You Later: The Weird Science of How Sweat Attracts

Sarah Everts | The Walrus | July 14, 2021 | 4,999 words

“It’s strong reactions like mine to jar fifteen that rouse belief in human sex pheromones, odorous chemicals that catalyze copulation. Insects have them, amphibians have them, mammals have them, so why wouldn’t we?”

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

View of the planet Venus from space. (Getty Images)

This week, we’re sharing stories from Sam Biddle, Leah Sottile, Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson, Megan I. Gannon, and Justin Brake.

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1. The Future Dystopic Hellscape is Upon Us

Sam Biddle | The Intercept | July 5, 2021 | 12,142 words

“The rise and fall of the ultimate doomsday prepper.”

2. How a Trail in Rural Oregon Became a Target of Far-Right Extremism

Leah Sottile | High Country News | July 1, 2021 | 6,150

“A story about a community divided, about extremism and bigotry, about powerful people who try on a working-class identity like a costume.”

3. The Endless Robbing of Native American Graves

Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson | The Washington Post Magazine | July 12, 2021 | 6,114 words

“We have taken Native lands and tried to eradicate Indigenous societies, yet it’s not only what we’ve done to the living that is so deplorable. It’s what we’ve done, and continue to do, to the dead.”

4. Hot Streak

Megan I. Gannon | Popular Science | June 29, 2020 | 2,620 words

Venus is similar to Earth in size and composition, but extreme conditions made it a hellscape. Devoted researchers want to know what caused the planets’ wildly divergent paths. Now they finally have their chance.

5. KTAQMKUK

Justin Brake | Maisonneuve | June 29, 2021 | 7,269 words

“TallBear, a citizen of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate in South Dakota, says thinking about building healthy relations instead of solidifying an identity is a more ethical approach for those trying to make sense of their Indigenous ancestry.”

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

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This week, we’re sharing stories from Jill McCabe Johnson, Stacey Anderson, Megan Pillow, Barry Blanchard, and Elizabeth Rush.

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1. The Night Gary Drove Me Home

Jill McCabe Johnson | Slate | June 16, 2021 | 2,422 words

“It is not a normal thing to do—to acknowledge to yourself that you may have slept with a serial killer.”

2. Beijing Calling: Suspicion, Hope, and Resistance in the Chinese Rock Underground

Stacey Anderson | Rolling Stone | June 24, 2021 | 7,800

“China has produced some of the most vital indie rock on the planet. But can the scene survive gentrification, government crackdowns, and a hit TV show?”

3. Living Memory

Megan Pillow | Guernica Magazine | June 23, 2021 | 5,158 words

“Who, then, are the chroniclers of Black lives in the pandemic?”

4. And Then There Were Twelve

Barry Blanchard | Alpinist Magazine | December 19, 2020 | 4,600 words

“Climbing culture: we come to each other’s aid in times of need. Ethan and Lorne knew they had to stay and help. The four men hunkered down inside the schrund-cave. With each cup of tea they brewed, their spirits rose. They would make it through the night.”

5. First Passage

Elizabeth Rush | Orion Magazine | June 3, 2021 | 4,556 words

“A journey toward motherhood in the age of glacial loss.”

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Black-crowned Night Heron perched against clear blue sky, Long Island, New York (Getty Images)

This week, we’re sharing stories from Lyle C. May, Samuel Braslow, Lindsey Hilsum, Megan Mayhew Bergman, and Anand Menon.

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1. Qualified Immunity: How ‘Ordinary Police Work’ Tramples Civil Rights

Lyle C. May | Scalawag Magazine | June 23, 2021 | 2,807 words

“There is little to no accountability behind the closed doors of police work.”

2. Boxer Patricio Manuel, a Transgender Pioneer, Is Still Looking for His Next Fight

Samuel Braslow | ESPN | June 22, 2021 | 6,489

“Manuel sees sports as the latest front in a culture war that fought — and lost — previous battles over same-sex marriage and trans bathroom bills.”

3. More Than Accomplices

Lindsey Hilsum | New York Review of Books | June 10, 2021 | 3,864 words

“How do we determine the agency of female participants in genocidal regimes, where male supremacy often goes hand in hand with ethnic chauvinism?”

4. Seeking Home Aboard the Night Heron

Megan Mayhew Bergman | Audubon | April 23, 2021 | 2,071 words

“The pandemic prodded me to fulfill a lifelong dream of living on a boat. I’m learning the ropes surrounded by the birds of my North Carolina childhood.”

5. The Missing Note

Anand Menon | Tortoise Media | June 2, 2021 | 4,500 words

“Losing family is like losing your sense of social gravity…. Losing four of them almost at once was correspondingly more unsettling, more destabilizing, and subverted my notions as to who I was.”