What’s the major difference between renting a movie at Blockbuster and streaming it on Netflix? As Justin Heckert reports for The Ringer, as the last Blockbuster video stores close, the people of Alaska won’t just miss the blissful comfort and simplicity of family movie night. They’ll miss the human interaction that can be the best part of visiting the video store in person: the colorful people, the jokes, the laughs, and the delightful camaraderie of discovering a shared favorite film at the checkout counter.
Justin Heckert profiles Anthony Carbajal, a 28-year-old photographer with the inherited form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Before the disease slowly robs him of his ability to move, to swallow, and to breathe, Anthony is making the most of now by inventing hacks to allow him to make photographs. “I like to live in the present,” he said, “About 90 percent of the time, I’m looking forward to the time I do have.”
The surreal story of the worst fire in Gatlinburg, Tennessee in 100 years. The fire, which was started by kids playing with matches, began small and crept across the Smokey Mountains to threaten residents as they slept in their beds. Ultimately it took the lives of 14 people, displaced 14,000 more, and consumed 2000 properties in under 24 hours.
Paul Mason ballooned to 980 lbs. eating to forget childhood abuse and horrific loneliness. Mason lost 700 lbs. after bariatric surgery and discovers that, despite the experiences now available to him with newfound mobility, happiness remains elusive; dramatic weight loss does nothing to treat the underlying depression and emotional trauma that caused him to eat to excess in the first place.
How Inception changed the way we listen to movies.
How did a boring Nintendo game from 1987 become the most coveted cartridge ever?
Twenty-four years ago, in an act of ghastly malice, a Missouri father plunged a needle filled with HIV-positive blood into his baby son’s vein. No one expected the son to live—but he thrived.
What a difference 10 years makes: Justin Heckert’s 2005 Atlanta magazine feature about two men in Georgia whose marriage was not recognized by the state.
A group of volunteers helps make sure people are not alone when they are dying:
I sat in the room with the volunteers. Every three hours one of them would leave, and someone else would appear in the doorway. Amanda, Denise, Martha, and others. Noon, midnight, 2 a.m., 6 p.m., a rhythm.
They had found NODA in various ways. Amanda Egler read about it in a news app on her phone. Her grandmother had died the previous year, and it was fresh in Amanda’s mind that the death had been something of beauty, that her grandmother had been conscious until the very end, thankful that a constant flow of people were in her presence, sitting with her, the room never empty. Amanda read about NODA and considered what it might be like to die alone. “This is something very simple, but so important,” she said. “Because everyone is going to die, and to give three hours of your life, at the end of someone else’s, seems like the right thing to do.” She went to the first NODA volunteer meeting, just to listen.
A 29-year-old combat veteran returns home, then decides to try to walk on as a kicker for Wyoming:
“Noble took a job for his uncle’s hay-brokerage company, throwing bales from trucks into the barn lofts of thoroughbred horse farms, sometimes 720 of them a day. He told the stories of walking dusty streets and climbing mountains in Afghanistan, of recognizing Coke bottles full of sand with wires sticking out as IEDs. Stories of the other men of 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines, of air strikes and snipers, being on a squad searching for a month for a high-target member of al-Qaeda. Stories of friends getting wounded, and killed. He went to the bowling alley with his old buddies, and patrons stopped to talk to him, and he was feted with free meals and drinks, and when he went to a high school football game, he would be announced, then stand on the bleachers and turn around and wave and feel the applause turn to him instead of the field. The first few months were as though he were home on leave, as though he were still a hero, and then the novelty of his presence wore off, and everything went back to the way it had been before he left.
“He got bored, and he got angry. It felt as if there was nothing for him, as if he were still in high school, hanging out with his old friends, who hadn’t changed, and who, as time passed, treated him as though he hadn’t either. He went to bars and listened to arguments and complaints about problems that were petty compared with what he had seen. He did not want to be home anymore. ‘I’m not the type of guy who goes out to look at the stars and wonder about things,’ he says, but one night a few months after he came home, he did just that.”