Search Results for: Outside

Turning Love and Grief into Outsider Art

Photo by Chris Bethell

After one artist’s partner and parents died, he transformed his small London house into his greatest work of art, room by room, covering and filling the space with collage, sculpture, painting, and writing. At Vice, Joe Zadeh takes readers through Stephen Wright’s House of Dreams, where he lives, takes his morning tea, and receives visitors who feel compelled to share their own stories. Wright never intended for his house to become a public shrine, but he’s pleased it did. As he tells Zadeh, “It’s about being human. We are all here to support each other in some way. So it’s not a problem. My heart is big enough to do that.” All in all, this is a love story.

The purely decorative aspect of the House of Dreams fell away and powerful subtexts flooded in. Objects were still chosen for their colours, but also for the memory or symbolism attached to them. Stephen wanted things that were chipped or smelled or sticky or stained. He wanted things that were unwashed. A trace of DNA was important to him. He wanted jackets with mess spilled down them, shoes with a stench, combs with hair in – materials that had life in them. These objects quickly began to fill the walls throughout the house. When he walked from room to room, he could sometimes smell a complete stranger. He liked that.

He cried as he created, but the physical grind of the work itself became a source of solace: the birthing of a sculpture, the mixing of cement, the tedium of mosaicing, the endless sorting of objects. He fed off it. Working with his hands felt like a connection to his parents. He wanted to feel exhausted at the end of each day, he wanted to be hardly able to get into bed.

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Outside Voices

Longreads Pick

After never knowing a moment’s privacy, Sloane Crosley finally moves into the one-bedroom apartment of her dreams in the city that never sleeps. And then she never sleeps again, because all of her windows face Jared.

Source: The New Yorker
Published: Mar 16, 2018
Length: 25 minutes (6,250 words)

Outside the Manson Pinkberry

Longreads Pick
Source: The Believer
Published: Nov 6, 2017
Length: 20 minutes (5,150 words)

Why the “Black Grateful Dead” Thrives Outside of Top 40 Radio

Frankie Beverly from Maze performs in Chicago in 1986. (Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)

For the Undefeated, music writer and essayist Bruce Britt offers a compelling history of soul band Maze, featuring Frankie Beverly, whose ebullient hits like “Before I Let Go,” “Joy and Pain,” and “Happy Feelin’s” have been mainstays of black American social gatherings for nearly half a century. Deeply entrenched racial divisions in the music industry have allowed Maze to become one of American music’s best kept secrets.

Betty Shaw experienced Maze’s engrossing stagecraft firsthand. She was 25 when she first saw the band in 1978. At the time, Shaw was a recently separated mother of three with dim employment prospects and a deeply troubled mind. One day, she took her sister up on an invitation to attend the Kool Jazz Festival in Milwaukee. There, during Maze’s performance of “Happy Feelin’s,” Shaw had an epiphany. “It was such an experience,” she recalled. “I had never even heard ‘Happy Feelin’s’ … but the way Frankie presented the song, it was giving you the feeling like everything is going to be all right. The song says, ‘I’ve got myself to remind me of love,’ and since I have this love in me, I’m not going to give up on life. It was like a turning point in my mind.”

With Maze winning converts on the road and Arnold converting the nation’s programming directors, the stage was set for Maze to become a crossover breakthrough. Yet, despite all the hard work, debut album sales stalled at around 600,000 copies. It was an impressive showing by ’70s industry standards but far from the million-plus units that Arnold had envisioned. He believes Capitol didn’t try hard enough to help the album realize its tremendous sales potential.

“I had a lot of fights with my pop promotion department because they would never expose the album to white FM,” Arnold said. “That first time I saw Maze at the Fillmore West, the whole audience was white. I know if white people were exposed to Maze, they’d like it, but the belief at the time was, ‘Well, white people really don’t want to listen to black music.’ And I’m saying, ‘Look — it’s not just ‘black’ music!’ ”

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Can an Outsider Ever Truly Become Amish?

Longreads Pick

One of the rarest religious experiences you can have in America is to join the Plain.

Source: Atlas Obscura
Published: Mar 29, 2016
Length: 28 minutes (7,014 words)

Can an Outsider Ever Truly Become Amish?

Two sisters in their traditional, everyday, Lancaster County Amish attire. Photo: Tessa Smucker

Kelsey Osgood | Atlas Obscura | March 2016 | 28 minutes (7,014 words)


Atlas ObscuraOur latest Exclusive is a new story by Kelsey Osgood, and is co-funded by Longreads Members and published by Atlas Obscura.

Author’s Note: “Alex” and “Rebecca” are not the real names of two people interviewed. They felt strongly that they should not be identified by name out of respect for their faith’s general belief in the body above the individual.

The road that runs through the main village of Berlin, Ohio, only about 90 minutes south of Cleveland, is called “Amish Country Byway” for its unusual number of non-automotive travelers and it’s true that driving down it, you’ll have to slow down for the horse-drawn buggies that clog up the right lane. But those seeking the “real” Amish experience in downtown Berlin might be disappointed. It’s more Disney than devout: a playground for tourists full of ersatz Amish “schnuck” (Pennsylvania Dutch for “cute”) stores selling woven baskets and postcards of bucolic farm scenes.

You only see the true Holmes County, which is home to the largest population of Amish-Mennonites in the world, when you turn off Route 62 and venture into the rolling green hills interrupted periodically by tiny towns with names like Charm and Big Prairie. You’ll likely lose service on your cell phone just as the manure smell starts to permeate the air. On my visit this past summer, I saw Amish people–groups of children sporting round straw hats, the young women in their distinctive long dresses–spilling out of family barns, where church services are held, in the distance. The Amish don’t have any spiritual attachment to a geographical location, the way Jews have to Jerusalem or Mormons to Salt Lake City; this spot, along with Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, is probably the closest they come to an idea of God’s Country. Read more…

Outside Man

Longreads Pick

How the producer of the Hangover movies became one of the most effective advocates for prison reform in California.

Author: Jesse Katz
Published: Mar 1, 2015
Length: 25 minutes (6,330 words)