Search Results for: Tim Murphy

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Frederic J. Brown / AFP / Getty Images

This week, we’re sharing stories from Gabriel Thompson, Tim Murphy, Deborah Netburn, Tove Danovich, and Sirin Kale.

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Bending the Straight Line of Queer History


Manuel Betancourt | Longreads | March 2018 | 8 minutes (2,170 words)


Confronted by a historical record that mostly excludes and often disparages them, queer communities have long been forced to write their own histories — or, more often, to scrub them clean. After all, such histories can be dangerous to write, and the act of memorializing can sometimes feel like just another burden to bear.

In Feeling Backward: Loss and the Politics of Queer History, Heather Love warns against this, writing that “given the new opportunities available to some gays and lesbians, the temptation to forget — to forget the outrages and humiliations of gay and lesbian history and to ignore the ongoing suffering of those not borne up by the rising tide of gay normalization — is stronger than ever.”

Three recent novels, all of them decades-spanning narratives centered on LGBTQ characters, are attempts to connect recent queer history with contemporary gay life. Alan Hollinghurst’s The Sparsholt Affair, John Boyne’s The Heart’s Invisible Furies, and Tim Murphy’s Christodora are each expansive visions of post-war queer life. Set in London, Dublin, and New York City respectively, they tell stories about men and women living in the decades before and after gay liberation, through the AIDS crisis, and into the present. They depict everything from restroom cruising encounters and gay conversion therapy appointments to ACT UP meetings and late-night Grindr hookups. And they ask us to consider how past traumas haunt the 21st century.
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What I Learned About Love While Getting High

Longreads Pick

Veteran HIV/AIDS reporter and Christodora author Tim Murphy’s devastating recollection of a drug addled love affair he had with an older gay couple in the wake of 9/11.

Author: Tim Murphy
Source: BuzzFeed
Published: Oct 15, 2016
Length: 14 minutes (3,595 words)

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Photo: Peter Frick-Wright

Below, our favorite stories of the week.

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This Land Should Be Your Land: A National Parks Reading List

(Yellowstone National Park / Flickr)

When President Obama walked out of the Oval Office earlier this year, he left behind more land protected under federal law than any of his predecessors. President Trump appears intent on challenging that legacy, recently ordering a sweeping review of national monuments with an aim to “balance” the protection of these lands. (The Bureau of Land Management also recently added banners to its website to evoke the wondrous vistas of coal mining and oil drilling.)

It’s not yet clear whether Trump will actually try to revoke Obama-era designations—or whether he’d succeed if he does—but the land protected under federal law has been a mix of majesty and mystery ever since Ulysses S. Grant signed the Yellowstone National Park Protection Act designating the nation’s first national park. Writers have used their craft to ask fascinating questions and expose the weird underbellies of national parks, monuments, and federal lands since long before Trump ever expressed an antipathy toward them.

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Brook Stephenson / AP, Fryderyk Gabowicz / AP, Photo illustration by Katie Kosma

Michael A. Gonzales | Longreads | January 2018 | 13 minutes (3,186 words)


Something happened on the day he died

Spirit rose a metre and stepped aside

Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried

(I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar)

— David Bowie, Blackstar


Last October, when it was announced that the SoHo bookstore McNally Jackson would moving in June, 2019 from its Prince Street location after 14 years (a decision that now seems to have been reversed), two people immediately came to mind: genius artist David Bowie, who in his lifetime was a frequent customer, and my late buddy Brook Stephenson, who worked at the shop for 11 years before his sudden passing on August 8, 2015. A few months before he died, over that year’s Memorial Day Weekend, I crashed at his Crown Heights crib while visiting from Philly. The neighborhood had changed a lot in the year since I’d moved, and Brook joked how one bar owner wasn’t very nice and welcoming to “the indigenous peoples” in the hood.

Only 41 when he died on a Saturday evening at a friend’s wedding reception, in my imagination he was taking pictures, one of his many passions sandwiched in between writing, traveling, cooking and drawing. Later I heard he had been dancing when he suddenly collapsed, foiled by an unknown heart problem. It was early Sunday morning when I heard the bad news from photographer Marcia Wilson. Although Marcia and I were friends, we rarely spoke on the phone, so my Spidey sense began tingling the moment I peeped her name on the caller ID.

“I was wondering if you had heard about Brook?” she began. Though I rarely cry, even in the presence of death’s stupid face, for the rest of the day and most of the week I was in a fog, shocked that yet another really good friend was gone. Brook and I had been buddies since meeting over a delicious chicken wing platter at our mutual friend’s baby shower in 2005. Since then more than a few friends have died, including writers Jerry Rodriguez, Tom Terrell, and Robert Morales, and former Rawkus Records publicist Devin Roberson, the woman I was with the same day I’d met Brook. However, his unanticipated death 10 years after our meeting at a joyful event made me feel as though I’d accidentally stepped off a cliff. Almost four years later, I’m still falling.
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An Oral History of Detroit Punk Rock

Negative Approach playing the Freezer, Detroit, early 1982. Photo by Davo Scheich

Steve Miller | Detroit Rock City | DaCapo Press | June 2013 | 39 minutes (7,835 words)


Detroit is known for many things: Motown, automobiles, decline and rebirth. This is the story of Detroit’s punk and hardcore music scenes, which thrived in the suffering city center between the late-1970s and mid-80s. Told by the players themselves, it’s adapted from Steve Miller’s lively, larger oral history Detroit Rock City, which covers everyone from Iggy and the Stooges to the Gories to the White StripesOur thanks to Miller and DaCapo for sharing this with the Longreads community.

* * *

Don Was (Was (Not Was) bassist, vocalist; Traitors, vocalist, producer; Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Iggy Pop): So in the seventies I used to read the Village Voice, and I started seeing the ads for CBGB and these bands with the crazy names…and I told Jack [Tann, friend and local music producer] about it: “There must be some way to create something like that here. There must be bands like this here.” I formed a band called the Traitors, and Jack became a punk rock promoter, which wasn’t the way to approach music like that. It was supposed to look cooler than to go in like P. T. Barnum.

Mark Norton (Ramrods, 27 vocalist, journalist, Creem magazine): We were trying to figure out what was next. I called CBGB in ’75 or early ’76; there was a girl who tended bar there named Susan Palermo, she worked there for ages. And she would tell Hilly Kristal: “Hey, there’s this crazy guy from Detroit—he’s calling again.” I’d say, “Could you just put the phone down so I could listen to the groups?” I heard part of a set by the Talking Heads like that. It sounded like it was through a phone, but I was getting all excited, you know—this sounds like what I like. My phone bill was incredible, $200 bucks. In the summer of 1976 I went to New York City. I saw the second Dead Boys show at CBGB. I saw the Dictators. Handsome Dick and his girlfriend at the time, Jodi at the time, said, “Who are you?” I said, “I’m from Detroit.” They said, “Have you ever seen the Stooges?” “Yeah man, I saw them millions of times, the best shows, the ones in Detroit.” I was thinking, “none of these people have seen shit.’

Chris Panackia , aka Cool Chris (sound man at every locale in Detroit): The only people that could stand punk rock music were the gays, and Bookie’s was a drag bar, so they accepted them as “look at them. They’re different.” “They’re expressing themselves.” Bookie’s became the place that you could play. Bookie’s had its clique, and there were a lot of bands that weren’t in that clique. Such as Cinecyde. The Mutants really weren’t. Bookie’s bands were the 27, which is what the Ramrods became. Coldcock, the Sillies, the Algebra Mothers, RUR. Vince Bannon and Scott Campbell had…Bookie’s because it was handed to them basically. You know, “Okay, let’s do this punk rock music. We got a place.” To get a straight bar to allow these bands that drew flies to play at a Friday and Saturday night was nearly impossible. What bar owner is going to say, “Oh yeah, you guys can play your originals, wreck the place, and have no people”? Perfect for a bar owner. Loves that, right? There really wasn’t another venue.

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Harper Reed went from running a T-shirt community to running digital operations for Obama’s reelection campaign. Inside the team’s top-secret efforts to refine voter targeting to a granular (or: “creepy”) level:

By the 2000 election, political data firms like Aristotle had begun purchasing consumer data in bulk from companies like Acxiom. Now campaigns didn’t just know you were a pro-choice teacher who once gave $40 to save the endangered Rocky Mountain swamp gnat; they also could have a data firm sort you by what type of magazines you subscribed to and where you bought your T-shirts. The fifth source, the increasingly powerful email lists, track which blasts you respond to, the links you click on, and whether you unsubscribe.

In the past, this information has been compartmentalized within various segments of the campaign. It existed in separate databases, powered by different kinds of software that could not communicate with each other. The goal of Project Narwhal was to link all of this data together. Once Reed and his team had integrated the databases, analysts could identify trends and craft sharper messages calibrated to appeal to individual voters. For example, if the campaign knows that a particular voter in northeastern Ohio is a pro-life Catholic union member, it will leave him off email blasts relating to reproductive rights and personalize its pitch by highlighting Obama’s role in the auto bailout—or Romney’s outsourcing past.

“Inside the Obama Campaign’s Hard Drive.” — Timothy Murphy, Mother Jones

More from Tim Murphy