Mr. Bailey’s Class

“Before he was Philip Roth’s biographer, Blake Bailey taught the eighth grade. His students say he made them feel special. They worshipped him. They trusted him. He used it all against them.”

Source: Slate
Published: Apr 29, 2021
Length: 27 minutes (6,763 words)

The Welfare Queen

A deep dive into the life of Linda Taylor, a con artist who was villainized in the 1970s by Ronald Reagan as being a “welfare queen.” Her crimes were much worse than that:

In another Tribune story, Bliss and Griffin noted that Linda Taylor had been arrested twice in the 1960s for absconding with children, though she wasn’t convicted in either case because the little ones were returned. The reporters also laid out a possible motive. “Chicago’s welfare queen,” they wrote, “has been linked by Chicago police to a scheme to defraud the public aid department during the mid-1960s by buying newborn infants to substantiate welfare claims.”

This theory is a little hard to believe. Given Taylor’s ability to fabricate paperwork, acquiring flesh-and-blood children seems like an unnecessary risk if all you’re looking to do is pad a welfare application. Her son Johnnie believes his mother saw children as commodities, something to be acquired and sold. He remembers a little black girl—he doesn’t know her name—who stayed with them for a few months in the early 1960s, “and then she just disappeared one day.”

Author: Josh Levin
Source: Slate
Published: Dec 19, 2013
Length: 68 minutes (17,038 words)