Posts tagged longreads

Every generation creates its own monsters. Folk tales tell of witches and wyrms in the woods, my TV-infused generation feared Jaws in lakes and Bloody Mary in the mirror. This generation gets its monsters from the Internet.

Slenderman is a pure product of electronic media. He appears in places we rarely frequent, these days – abandoned, crumbling halls, deep woods, a playground with a rickety steel jungle gyms.

He is a suburban ghoul with his own history and his own methodology and, of late, he has become the object of controversy due to an attack in Wisconsin during which two girls stabbed another in order to appease Slenderman’s dark needs.

It was a horrible story and it underlies how little we understand about the psychology of a generation weaned on the Internet and how images can morph from fiction to fact in the course of half a decade.

Slenderman’s origin is surprisingly clear. Unlike most urban legends, we can trace his provenance with absolute certainty.

He was born on June 8, 2009, on a forum site frequented by Photoshop pranksters.

He belongs to a guy in Florida named Eric Knudsen who has a young daughter and is surprised as much as anything that his demon hasn’t yet been thrown onto the slag heap of forgotten memes.

An entire history, an entire corpus, has grown up around him in a way that would have been impossible a decade ago. He is the first pure product of the Internet, a demon spawned not out of a specific place but out of bits. Here’s some of his story.

My grandfather, born in 1919, grew up playing football in a wooded corner of the British empire.

The eldest son of a family of bright-eyed troublemakers from the southern Indian district of Palakkad, Kerala, he wore knee socks and a chip on his shoulder to the local missionary high school, where beatings from teachers quivering with rage were the chief method of keeping boys in line. 

Tempers ran high on the playground. 

Thanks to what must have been a combination of extreme arrogance and extreme vulnerability, my grandfather’s boyhood was marked by a determination to start or escalate fights. 

Playing “soccer,” as he called it from beginning to end of his life—Edwardian slang has a certain tenacity, as North Americans will know—he was an aggressive and inconsistent forward, not notably destined for success on the field. 

Although some of his brothers and friends would play the game for a great part of their lives, my grandfather gave it up relatively quickly. In the middle of the Second World War, he boarded a train for Bombay: a metropolis then, as now, suffocating in its love of cricket. 

On the churning streets of the vast city, he found himself stepping aside sometimes for trucks full of European soldiers, who were either passing through on their way to other theatres of war or enforcing imperial law in a restless city. 

The Dream-Time of the World Cup | Roads & Kingdoms

My grandfather, born in 1919, grew up playing football in a wooded corner of the British empire.

The eldest son of a family of bright-eyed troublemakers from the southern Indian district of Palakkad, Kerala, he wore knee socks and a chip on his shoulder to the local missionary high school, where beatings from teachers quivering with rage were the chief method of keeping boys in line.

Tempers ran high on the playground.

Thanks to what must have been a combination of extreme arrogance and extreme vulnerability, my grandfather’s boyhood was marked by a determination to start or escalate fights.

Playing “soccer,” as he called it from beginning to end of his life—Edwardian slang has a certain tenacity, as North Americans will know—he was an aggressive and inconsistent forward, not notably destined for success on the field.

Although some of his brothers and friends would play the game for a great part of their lives, my grandfather gave it up relatively quickly. In the middle of the Second World War, he boarded a train for Bombay: a metropolis then, as now, suffocating in its love of cricket.

On the churning streets of the vast city, he found himself stepping aside sometimes for trucks full of European soldiers, who were either passing through on their way to other theatres of war or enforcing imperial law in a restless city.

The Dream-Time of the World Cup | Roads & Kingdoms

VEDAD IBISEVIC ACCELERATES his black Mercedes-Benz into Stuttgart traffic, almost outrunning the memory of his family crammed into an overcrowded bus, fleeing another home. His memories are always there, exerting both lift and drag. Today he is a star striker in the German Bundesliga. 

Twenty-two years ago, in a four-month period, the following things happened to him and his Bosnian family: Serb neighbors invaded his mother’s village, Pijuke, and called out familiar names on a bullhorn, promising that no one would be hurt. 

They murdered everyone who emerged. The ethnic-cleansing militia tortured and killed as many Muslims as they could find, burning down every house. 

They split his grand­father’s head open and carved a cross into the chest of a local shop owner, a man who kept chocolate in his store for children like Vedad. Eleven of the estimated 100,000 killed in the Bosnian civil war died on May 8, 1992, in a little town surrounded by rolling green hills and grazing white sheep. 

The soldiers forced 7-year-old Vedad and his family from their nearby city of Vlasenica and sent them fleeing, from Bosnia to Switzerland to St. Louis. Vedad slept in forests and buses and refugee camps. 

He hid in a hole. Soldiers burned down his father’s village, a place named Gerovi, which was where Vedad had always felt most at peace as a child. Soccer had taken hold of his imagination there, at a field next to the river, down a narrow path from the town. 

Gerovi was his favorite place in the world, and like everything else he’d known in the first eight years of his life, it was gone. His fingers curl around the steering wheel as he drives away from practice. 

He is here and he is there. When the war started, there wasn’t room in the family’s two bags for him to bring a soccer ball or for his sister to carry her new doll, though she did squeeze the doll’s shoes into their luggage. His past throws a poignant shadow onto his present, making something as emotionally insignificant as a doll’s shoes or this car, an AMG-designed, twin-turbo, 577-horsepower E63 sedan, seem like a triumph of the human spirit. He once fled a war in a bus, and now his feet rest on stainless steel racing pedals. 

The distance between these things can be dizzying. An old Bosnian love song plays on his stereo. The music reminds him of home, which reminds him of the goal he scored against Lithuania last year, which sent his nation to its first World Cup. 

"People from other countries," he says, "they don’t understand. To them, it’s just another soccer game and the goal I scored is just a goal. But it’s not just a goal. I think the people who know me and know my family members, they have the same feeling. It’s not just a goal. It’s much more than that. It’s the whole story." 

Nothing can stay buried - Bosnia-Herzegovina forward Vedad Ibisevic returns to homeland

VEDAD IBISEVIC ACCELERATES his black Mercedes-Benz into Stuttgart traffic, almost outrunning the memory of his family crammed into an overcrowded bus, fleeing another home. His memories are always there, exerting both lift and drag. Today he is a star striker in the German Bundesliga.

Twenty-two years ago, in a four-month period, the following things happened to him and his Bosnian family: Serb neighbors invaded his mother’s village, Pijuke, and called out familiar names on a bullhorn, promising that no one would be hurt.

They murdered everyone who emerged. The ethnic-cleansing militia tortured and killed as many Muslims as they could find, burning down every house.

They split his grand­father’s head open and carved a cross into the chest of a local shop owner, a man who kept chocolate in his store for children like Vedad. Eleven of the estimated 100,000 killed in the Bosnian civil war died on May 8, 1992, in a little town surrounded by rolling green hills and grazing white sheep.

The soldiers forced 7-year-old Vedad and his family from their nearby city of Vlasenica and sent them fleeing, from Bosnia to Switzerland to St. Louis. Vedad slept in forests and buses and refugee camps.

He hid in a hole. Soldiers burned down his father’s village, a place named Gerovi, which was where Vedad had always felt most at peace as a child. Soccer had taken hold of his imagination there, at a field next to the river, down a narrow path from the town.

Gerovi was his favorite place in the world, and like everything else he’d known in the first eight years of his life, it was gone. His fingers curl around the steering wheel as he drives away from practice.

He is here and he is there. When the war started, there wasn’t room in the family’s two bags for him to bring a soccer ball or for his sister to carry her new doll, though she did squeeze the doll’s shoes into their luggage. His past throws a poignant shadow onto his present, making something as emotionally insignificant as a doll’s shoes or this car, an AMG-designed, twin-turbo, 577-horsepower E63 sedan, seem like a triumph of the human spirit. He once fled a war in a bus, and now his feet rest on stainless steel racing pedals.

The distance between these things can be dizzying. An old Bosnian love song plays on his stereo. The music reminds him of home, which reminds him of the goal he scored against Lithuania last year, which sent his nation to its first World Cup.

"People from other countries," he says, "they don’t understand. To them, it’s just another soccer game and the goal I scored is just a goal. But it’s not just a goal. I think the people who know me and know my family members, they have the same feeling. It’s not just a goal. It’s much more than that. It’s the whole story."

Nothing can stay buried - Bosnia-Herzegovina forward Vedad Ibisevic returns to homeland

Don Zimmer, who died yesterday at eighty-three, was an original Met and an original sweetie pie. His sixty-six years in baseball were scripted by Disney and produced by Ken Burns. (Grainy black-and-white early footage, tinkly piano, as he marries for life at local home plate in bushy, front-porchy Elmira, New York; smiling baggy-pants young teammates raise bats to form arch.) 

As a stubby, earnest third baseman and utility infielder, he compiled a .235 batting average over twelve seasons for six teams, including the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers, the Chicago Cubs, those 1962 ur-Mets, and the Washington Senators. In the off-seasons, he played ball in Puerto Rico and Cuba and Mexico. 

Turning coach, he was hired eleven times by eight different teams (there were three separate stints with the Yankees) and along the way managed the Padres, Red Sox, Rangers, and Cubs. Two championship rings as a player with the Dodgers, four as a coach with the Yanks. He finished up with the Rays, in his home-town Tampa: a coach, then a local presence. 

But never mind Disney: only baseball could have produced a C.V. like this, and it’s not likely to happen again. I think Zim is best remembered as the guy right next to manager Joe Torre on the right-hand side of the Yankees dugout in the good years: a motionless thick, short figure, heavily swathed in Yankee formals. 

The bulky dark warmup jacket and the initialled cap neatly and monastically framed his layered white moon-face, within which his tiny, half-hidden eyes remained alive and moving. He could also run and yell, of course. Boston fans—no, fans everywhere—will not forget the night he charged Pedro Martinez on the mound in that Fenway Park playoff fracas in 2003—and instantly wound up on his back, like a topped-over windup toy. 

Zim burned hard, and the hoots and yells and laughter that ran through the fiercely partisan Back Bay stands were familial and affectionate. 

Postscript: Don Zimmer, 1931-2014

Don Zimmer, who died yesterday at eighty-three, was an original Met and an original sweetie pie. His sixty-six years in baseball were scripted by Disney and produced by Ken Burns. (Grainy black-and-white early footage, tinkly piano, as he marries for life at local home plate in bushy, front-porchy Elmira, New York; smiling baggy-pants young teammates raise bats to form arch.)

As a stubby, earnest third baseman and utility infielder, he compiled a .235 batting average over twelve seasons for six teams, including the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers, the Chicago Cubs, those 1962 ur-Mets, and the Washington Senators. In the off-seasons, he played ball in Puerto Rico and Cuba and Mexico.

Turning coach, he was hired eleven times by eight different teams (there were three separate stints with the Yankees) and along the way managed the Padres, Red Sox, Rangers, and Cubs. Two championship rings as a player with the Dodgers, four as a coach with the Yanks. He finished up with the Rays, in his home-town Tampa: a coach, then a local presence.

But never mind Disney: only baseball could have produced a C.V. like this, and it’s not likely to happen again. I think Zim is best remembered as the guy right next to manager Joe Torre on the right-hand side of the Yankees dugout in the good years: a motionless thick, short figure, heavily swathed in Yankee formals.

The bulky dark warmup jacket and the initialled cap neatly and monastically framed his layered white moon-face, within which his tiny, half-hidden eyes remained alive and moving. He could also run and yell, of course. Boston fans—no, fans everywhere—will not forget the night he charged Pedro Martinez on the mound in that Fenway Park playoff fracas in 2003—and instantly wound up on his back, like a topped-over windup toy.

Zim burned hard, and the hoots and yells and laughter that ran through the fiercely partisan Back Bay stands were familial and affectionate.

Postscript: Don Zimmer, 1931-2014

In about 40 minutes, Cindy Manit will let a complete stranger into her car. An app on her windshield-mounted iPhone will summon her to a corner in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood, where a russet-haired woman in an orange raincoat and coffee-colored boots will slip into the front seat of her immaculate 2006 Mazda3 hatchback and ask for a ride to the airport. 

Manit has picked up hundreds of random people like this. Once she took a fare all the way across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito. Another time she drove a clown to a Cirque du Soleil after-party. 

“People might think I’m a little too trusting,” Manit says as she drives toward Potrero Hill, “but I don’t think so.” Manit, a freelance yoga instructor and personal trainer, signed up in August 2012 as a driver for Lyft, the then-nascent ride-sharing company that lets anyone turn their car into an ad hoc taxi. 

Today the company has thousands of drivers, has raised $333 million in venture funding, and is considered one of the leading participants in the so-called sharing economy, in which businesses provide marketplaces for individuals to rent out their stuff or labor. 

Over the past few years, the sharing economy has matured from a fringe movement into a legitimate economic force, with companies like Airbnb and Uber the constant subject of IPO rumors. (One of these startups may well have filed an S-1 by the time you read this.) 

No less an authority than New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has declared this the age of the sharing economy, which is “producing both new entrepreneurs and a new concept of ownership.” 

How Airbnb and Lyft Finally Got Americans to Trust Each Other | Business | WIRED

In about 40 minutes, Cindy Manit will let a complete stranger into her car. An app on her windshield-mounted iPhone will summon her to a corner in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood, where a russet-haired woman in an orange raincoat and coffee-colored boots will slip into the front seat of her immaculate 2006 Mazda3 hatchback and ask for a ride to the airport.

Manit has picked up hundreds of random people like this. Once she took a fare all the way across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito. Another time she drove a clown to a Cirque du Soleil after-party.

“People might think I’m a little too trusting,” Manit says as she drives toward Potrero Hill, “but I don’t think so.” Manit, a freelance yoga instructor and personal trainer, signed up in August 2012 as a driver for Lyft, the then-nascent ride-sharing company that lets anyone turn their car into an ad hoc taxi.

Today the company has thousands of drivers, has raised $333 million in venture funding, and is considered one of the leading participants in the so-called sharing economy, in which businesses provide marketplaces for individuals to rent out their stuff or labor.

Over the past few years, the sharing economy has matured from a fringe movement into a legitimate economic force, with companies like Airbnb and Uber the constant subject of IPO rumors. (One of these startups may well have filed an S-1 by the time you read this.)

No less an authority than New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has declared this the age of the sharing economy, which is “producing both new entrepreneurs and a new concept of ownership.”

How Airbnb and Lyft Finally Got Americans to Trust Each Other | Business | WIRED

Tourism, Construction and an Ongoing Nuclear Crisis at Chernobyl

We climb eight flights of stairs. Eight more remain. This is sturdy Soviet concrete, dusty as death, but solid. So I hope, anyway. My guide, Katya, who is in her early 20s, has informed me that the administrators of the Exclusion Zone that encompasses Chernobyl do not want tourists entering the buildings of Pripyat for what appears to be an unimpeachable reason: Some of them could collapse. 

But the roof of this apartment building on the edge of Pripyat, the city where Chernobyl’s employees lived until the spring of 1986, will provide what Katya says is the best panorama of this Ukrainian Pompeii and the infamous nuclear power plant, 1.9 miles away, that 28 years ago this week rendered the surrounding landscape uninhabitable for at least the next 20,000 years. 

So we climb on, higher into the honey-colored vernal light, even as it occurs to me that Katya is not a structural engineer. And that the adjective Soviet is essentially synonymous with collapse. And what do I know? Nothing. I am just a curious ethnic hyphenate, Russian-born and largely American-raised. In 1986 we lived in Leningrad, about 700 miles north of the radioactive sore that burst on what should have been an ordinary spring night less than a week before the annual May Day celebration. 

Considering that Communist Party General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev wasn’t told for many hours what, exactly, had transpired at Chernobyl (“Not a word about an explosion,” he said later), you can safely extrapolate to what the Soviet populace learned on April 26: absolutely nothing. 

But a couple of days after the disaster, a family friend from Kiev called and said we had better cancel our planned vacation in the Ukrainian countryside. 

Then details started falling into place, as workers at a Swedish nuclear power plant detected radiation, eventually determining that it came from the Soviet Union. 

That forced the ever-defensive Kremlin’s hand, which admitted on April 28 that an accident had happened at Chernobyl. “A government commission has been set up,” a statement from Moscow assured. My father, a nervous physicist himself, was not mollified. 

I remember, as clearly as I remember anything of my Soviet youth, his telling me to stay out of the rain. 

Tourism, Construction and an Ongoing Nuclear Crisis at Chernobyl

Tourism, Construction and an Ongoing Nuclear Crisis at Chernobyl

We climb eight flights of stairs. Eight more remain. This is sturdy Soviet concrete, dusty as death, but solid. So I hope, anyway. My guide, Katya, who is in her early 20s, has informed me that the administrators of the Exclusion Zone that encompasses Chernobyl do not want tourists entering the buildings of Pripyat for what appears to be an unimpeachable reason: Some of them could collapse.

But the roof of this apartment building on the edge of Pripyat, the city where Chernobyl’s employees lived until the spring of 1986, will provide what Katya says is the best panorama of this Ukrainian Pompeii and the infamous nuclear power plant, 1.9 miles away, that 28 years ago this week rendered the surrounding landscape uninhabitable for at least the next 20,000 years.

So we climb on, higher into the honey-colored vernal light, even as it occurs to me that Katya is not a structural engineer. And that the adjective Soviet is essentially synonymous with collapse. And what do I know? Nothing. I am just a curious ethnic hyphenate, Russian-born and largely American-raised. In 1986 we lived in Leningrad, about 700 miles north of the radioactive sore that burst on what should have been an ordinary spring night less than a week before the annual May Day celebration.

Considering that Communist Party General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev wasn’t told for many hours what, exactly, had transpired at Chernobyl (“Not a word about an explosion,” he said later), you can safely extrapolate to what the Soviet populace learned on April 26: absolutely nothing.

But a couple of days after the disaster, a family friend from Kiev called and said we had better cancel our planned vacation in the Ukrainian countryside.

Then details started falling into place, as workers at a Swedish nuclear power plant detected radiation, eventually determining that it came from the Soviet Union.

That forced the ever-defensive Kremlin’s hand, which admitted on April 28 that an accident had happened at Chernobyl. “A government commission has been set up,” a statement from Moscow assured. My father, a nervous physicist himself, was not mollified.

I remember, as clearly as I remember anything of my Soviet youth, his telling me to stay out of the rain.

Tourism, Construction and an Ongoing Nuclear Crisis at Chernobyl

Just before the coast disappeared into sea and sky, Jerrie Mock switched on her airplane’s long-range radio and found only silence. She tried again and again, leaning her ear to the speaker, and still heard nothing, not even static.

When Mock departed from Columbus that morning, she had heard the tower controller’s voice on a loudspeaker. “Well, I guess that’s the last we’ll hear from her,” he told the crowd gathered to see her off to Bermuda. He was joking, but suddenly his words had the ring of truth.

In an aircraft not much larger than a cargo van, surrounded by gasoline tanks, Mock was completely alone, navigating to a speck of an island with a compass and paper charts. Unable to report her positions or call for help, she could have become another Amelia Earhart: a woman trying to circle the world, lost at sea, never to be found.

Yet Earhart was a full-time aviator with a passenger who served as navigator; Mock was a full-time mother of three flying solo. Earhart had crossed both oceans; Mock, a licensed pilot for only seven years, had never flown farther than the Bahamas. Compared with Earhart’s brand-new, twin-engine airplane, Mock’s single-engine Cessna was 11 years old, with fresh paint covering the cracks and corrosion.

Suddenly — and suspiciously — cut off from communications, Mock considered turning back. She wasn’t flying around the world to become rich or famous. Initially, she hadn’t even realized she could set a record. Her original impetus for making the trip: She was bored. 

How An Ohio Housewife Flew Around The World, Made History, And Was Then Forgotten

Just before the coast disappeared into sea and sky, Jerrie Mock switched on her airplane’s long-range radio and found only silence. She tried again and again, leaning her ear to the speaker, and still heard nothing, not even static.

When Mock departed from Columbus that morning, she had heard the tower controller’s voice on a loudspeaker. “Well, I guess that’s the last we’ll hear from her,” he told the crowd gathered to see her off to Bermuda. He was joking, but suddenly his words had the ring of truth.

In an aircraft not much larger than a cargo van, surrounded by gasoline tanks, Mock was completely alone, navigating to a speck of an island with a compass and paper charts. Unable to report her positions or call for help, she could have become another Amelia Earhart: a woman trying to circle the world, lost at sea, never to be found.

Yet Earhart was a full-time aviator with a passenger who served as navigator; Mock was a full-time mother of three flying solo. Earhart had crossed both oceans; Mock, a licensed pilot for only seven years, had never flown farther than the Bahamas. Compared with Earhart’s brand-new, twin-engine airplane, Mock’s single-engine Cessna was 11 years old, with fresh paint covering the cracks and corrosion.

Suddenly — and suspiciously — cut off from communications, Mock considered turning back. She wasn’t flying around the world to become rich or famous. Initially, she hadn’t even realized she could set a record. Her original impetus for making the trip: She was bored.

How An Ohio Housewife Flew Around The World, Made History, And Was Then Forgotten

Micheline Bérnard always loved Lionel Desormeaux. Their parents were friends though that bonhomie had not quite carried on to the children. 

Micheline and Lionel went to primary and secondary school together, had known each other all their lives—when Lionel looked upon Micheline he was always overcome with the vague feeling he had seen her somewhere before while she was overcome with the precise knowledge that he was the man of her dreams. 

In truth, everyone loved Lionel Desormeaux. He was tall and brown with high cheekbones and full lips. His body was perfectly muscled and after a long day of swimming in the ocean, he would emerge from the salty water, glistening. 

Micheline would sit in a cabana, invisible. She would lick her lips and she would stare. She would think, “Look at me, Lionel,” but he never did. 

When Lionel walked, there was an air about him. He moved slowly but with deliberate steps and sometimes, when he walked, people swore they could hear the bass of a deep drum. His mother, who loved her only boy more than any other, always told him, “Lionel, you are the son of L’Ouverture.” 

He believed her. He believed everything his mother ever told him. Lionel always told his friends, “My father freed our people. I am his greatest son.” In Port-au-Prince, there were too many women. Micheline knew competition for Lionel’s attention was fierce. She was attractive, petite. She wore her thick hair in a sensible bun. 

On weekends, she would let that hair down and when she walked by, men would shout, “Quelle belle paire de jambes,” what beautiful legs, and Micheline would savor the thrilling taste of their attention. Most Friday nights, Micheline and her friends would gather at Oasis, a popular nightclub on the edge of the Bel Air slum. She drank fruity drinks and smoked French cigarettes and wore skirts revealing just the right amount of leg. 

Lionel was always surrounded by a mob of adoring women. He let them buy him rum and Cokes and always sat at the center of the room wearing his pressed linen slacks and dark tee shirts that showed off his perfect, chiseled arms. 

At the end of the night, he would select one woman to take home, bed her thoroughly, and wish her well the following morning. The stone path to his front door was lined with the tears and soiled panties of the women Lionel had sexed then scorned. 

On her birthday, Micheline decided she would be the woman Lionel took home. She wore a bright sundress, strapless. She dabbed perfume everywhere she wanted to feel Lionel’s lips. She wore high heels so high her brother had to help her into the nightclub. 

When Lionel arrived to hold court, Micheline made sure she was closest. She smiled widely and angled her shoulders just so and leaned in so he could see everything he wanted to see within her ample cleavage. At the end of the night, Lionel nodded in her direction. He said, “Tonight you will know the affections of L’Ouverture’s greatest son.” 

There is No “E” in Zombi Which Means There Can Be No You Or We by Roxane Gay - Guernica

Micheline Bérnard always loved Lionel Desormeaux. Their parents were friends though that bonhomie had not quite carried on to the children.

Micheline and Lionel went to primary and secondary school together, had known each other all their lives—when Lionel looked upon Micheline he was always overcome with the vague feeling he had seen her somewhere before while she was overcome with the precise knowledge that he was the man of her dreams.

In truth, everyone loved Lionel Desormeaux. He was tall and brown with high cheekbones and full lips. His body was perfectly muscled and after a long day of swimming in the ocean, he would emerge from the salty water, glistening.

Micheline would sit in a cabana, invisible. She would lick her lips and she would stare. She would think, “Look at me, Lionel,” but he never did.

When Lionel walked, there was an air about him. He moved slowly but with deliberate steps and sometimes, when he walked, people swore they could hear the bass of a deep drum. His mother, who loved her only boy more than any other, always told him, “Lionel, you are the son of L’Ouverture.”

He believed her. He believed everything his mother ever told him. Lionel always told his friends, “My father freed our people. I am his greatest son.” In Port-au-Prince, there were too many women. Micheline knew competition for Lionel’s attention was fierce. She was attractive, petite. She wore her thick hair in a sensible bun.

On weekends, she would let that hair down and when she walked by, men would shout, “Quelle belle paire de jambes,” what beautiful legs, and Micheline would savor the thrilling taste of their attention. Most Friday nights, Micheline and her friends would gather at Oasis, a popular nightclub on the edge of the Bel Air slum. She drank fruity drinks and smoked French cigarettes and wore skirts revealing just the right amount of leg.

Lionel was always surrounded by a mob of adoring women. He let them buy him rum and Cokes and always sat at the center of the room wearing his pressed linen slacks and dark tee shirts that showed off his perfect, chiseled arms.

At the end of the night, he would select one woman to take home, bed her thoroughly, and wish her well the following morning. The stone path to his front door was lined with the tears and soiled panties of the women Lionel had sexed then scorned.

On her birthday, Micheline decided she would be the woman Lionel took home. She wore a bright sundress, strapless. She dabbed perfume everywhere she wanted to feel Lionel’s lips. She wore high heels so high her brother had to help her into the nightclub.

When Lionel arrived to hold court, Micheline made sure she was closest. She smiled widely and angled her shoulders just so and leaned in so he could see everything he wanted to see within her ample cleavage. At the end of the night, Lionel nodded in her direction. He said, “Tonight you will know the affections of L’Ouverture’s greatest son.”

There is No “E” in Zombi Which Means There Can Be No You Or We by Roxane Gay - Guernica

Fighting dirty: Behind Boxing’s Brain Damage Crisis

At 46, “Terrible” Terry Norris has the lean, muscled frame of a former pro boxer. He’s just a little taller than average, with a thick, black Van Dyke framing a bright smile. 

Gray creeps in at the edges of his beard, but his shaved head seems the only concession to age, a paring away of the intricately razored box cut of his heyday, now some 20 years gone. 

These days, he teaches cardio boxing in a converted garage north of Hollywood; upstairs, he shares a loft with his wife, Tanya, who also teaches and runs his gym.

 During classes he looks fit and powerful, his fists still preternaturally fast. Only when he speaks, in a low, raspy murmur bordering on unintelligible, do you wonder at the damage he’s suffered.

He started boxing when he was nine years old, a black kid growing up in Lubbock, Texas, a conservative, predominantly white industrial city best known as the birthplace of Buddy Holly. His mother wanted to keep her mischievous son, “Terrible,” off the streets; his father was a former fighter. 

At 19 he turned pro. World Boxing Council light-middleweight champion at 22. Three more titles followed; he finished his career at 47-9, with 31 knockouts, and joined the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Fighting dirty: Behind Boxing’s Brain Damage Crisis

At 46, “Terrible” Terry Norris has the lean, muscled frame of a former pro boxer. He’s just a little taller than average, with a thick, black Van Dyke framing a bright smile.

Gray creeps in at the edges of his beard, but his shaved head seems the only concession to age, a paring away of the intricately razored box cut of his heyday, now some 20 years gone.

These days, he teaches cardio boxing in a converted garage north of Hollywood; upstairs, he shares a loft with his wife, Tanya, who also teaches and runs his gym.

During classes he looks fit and powerful, his fists still preternaturally fast. Only when he speaks, in a low, raspy murmur bordering on unintelligible, do you wonder at the damage he’s suffered.

He started boxing when he was nine years old, a black kid growing up in Lubbock, Texas, a conservative, predominantly white industrial city best known as the birthplace of Buddy Holly. His mother wanted to keep her mischievous son, “Terrible,” off the streets; his father was a former fighter.

At 19 he turned pro. World Boxing Council light-middleweight champion at 22. Three more titles followed; he finished his career at 47-9, with 31 knockouts, and joined the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Vincent Canzani spent most of his evenings at Easton Town Center, an upscale outdoor shopping mall that seems like a great idea from April to October in Columbus, Ohio, and a less great idea the rest of the year. The routine began when Canzani managed a tire shop — he’d close down the store in the evening, then head to a cigar shop at Easton called the Tinder Box. With an iPad in one hand and a cigar in the other, Canzani would park himself in the shop’s lounge or sit on the adjacent patio at Fadó, an Irish pub. After quitting Mr. Tire, this little corner became Canzani’s second home. He came by five or six days a week and even picked up a shift selling cigars one day a week. An avid photographer, he took portraits of employees and shot various events at the shop.

It was a warm night on June 21, 2013. Canzani was shooting the breeze with fellow Tinder Box employee Todd Gordish. After Gordish closed the shop at 10 p.m., he and Canzani walked over to Easton’s movie theater to catch an action flick. 

They made plans to go to a Columbus Clippers baseball game the next day, then parted ways around 12:30 a.m. Canzani wasn’t ready to go home quite yet, probably because “home” had become indefinable. Ever since moving back to Columbus from northern Ohio after his marriage of 10 years ended in 2012, his birthplace felt like a different town. 

"I Killed A Man": What Happens When A Homicide Confession Goes Viral

Vincent Canzani spent most of his evenings at Easton Town Center, an upscale outdoor shopping mall that seems like a great idea from April to October in Columbus, Ohio, and a less great idea the rest of the year. The routine began when Canzani managed a tire shop — he’d close down the store in the evening, then head to a cigar shop at Easton called the Tinder Box. With an iPad in one hand and a cigar in the other, Canzani would park himself in the shop’s lounge or sit on the adjacent patio at Fadó, an Irish pub. After quitting Mr. Tire, this little corner became Canzani’s second home. He came by five or six days a week and even picked up a shift selling cigars one day a week. An avid photographer, he took portraits of employees and shot various events at the shop.

It was a warm night on June 21, 2013. Canzani was shooting the breeze with fellow Tinder Box employee Todd Gordish. After Gordish closed the shop at 10 p.m., he and Canzani walked over to Easton’s movie theater to catch an action flick.

They made plans to go to a Columbus Clippers baseball game the next day, then parted ways around 12:30 a.m. Canzani wasn’t ready to go home quite yet, probably because “home” had become indefinable. Ever since moving back to Columbus from northern Ohio after his marriage of 10 years ended in 2012, his birthplace felt like a different town.

"I Killed A Man": What Happens When A Homicide Confession Goes Viral

The late comedian George Carlin once said, “It’s called the American Dream because you need to be asleep to believe it.” But locked in a 5-by-9 cell, behind maximum-security walls, a 6’1, 175-pound living nightmare of a jailhouse fighter had his own American Dream and he wanted it televised nationwide. 

For a short time, that dream instilled enough fear that it gave the light heavyweight champion insomnia. Promoter Don King, sports’ most successfully rehabilitated ex-con, himself a man who newspaper columnist turned novelist and screenwriter Pete Dexter once described as “easiest to imagine as a disease,” someone who “for 15 cents will put boys in the ring and girls on the street,” wouldn’t go near this convict’s request to promote his next fight. 

Even King, Mr. “Only in America!” in all his devious genius, couldn’t believe any fighter, let alone the public, would want any role in the twisted saga of James O. Scott. Some 30 or 40 years ago, just how important was boxing to America? It transcended sport. 

And boxing had Muhammad Ali. On Sept. 15, 1978, only three weeks before James Scott fought Eddie Gregory, the No. 1-ranked contender for the light heavyweight championship in New Jersey’s Rahway State Prison, Muhammad Ali fought his rematch against Leon Spinks for the heavyweight crown in front of more than 63,000 fans at the Superdome in New Orleans. Cable TV was in its infancy. There were only four national television channels and 90 million people — 73 percent of American households — watched the fight on ABC. It was bigger than the Super Bowl and Ali reclaimed his championship in front of more eyes than any sporting event in television history (it’s still in the top 10 today). 

So how in the world did a career-criminal snatch the keys to this kingdom from his cage in Rahway and convince Home Box Office to tag along and let him loose in every living room in the country? 

Gold In the Mud: The twisted saga of jailhouse boxer James Scott’s battle for redemption - SBNation.com

The late comedian George Carlin once said, “It’s called the American Dream because you need to be asleep to believe it.” But locked in a 5-by-9 cell, behind maximum-security walls, a 6’1, 175-pound living nightmare of a jailhouse fighter had his own American Dream and he wanted it televised nationwide.

For a short time, that dream instilled enough fear that it gave the light heavyweight champion insomnia. Promoter Don King, sports’ most successfully rehabilitated ex-con, himself a man who newspaper columnist turned novelist and screenwriter Pete Dexter once described as “easiest to imagine as a disease,” someone who “for 15 cents will put boys in the ring and girls on the street,” wouldn’t go near this convict’s request to promote his next fight.

Even King, Mr. “Only in America!” in all his devious genius, couldn’t believe any fighter, let alone the public, would want any role in the twisted saga of James O. Scott. Some 30 or 40 years ago, just how important was boxing to America? It transcended sport.

And boxing had Muhammad Ali. On Sept. 15, 1978, only three weeks before James Scott fought Eddie Gregory, the No. 1-ranked contender for the light heavyweight championship in New Jersey’s Rahway State Prison, Muhammad Ali fought his rematch against Leon Spinks for the heavyweight crown in front of more than 63,000 fans at the Superdome in New Orleans. Cable TV was in its infancy. There were only four national television channels and 90 million people — 73 percent of American households — watched the fight on ABC. It was bigger than the Super Bowl and Ali reclaimed his championship in front of more eyes than any sporting event in television history (it’s still in the top 10 today).

So how in the world did a career-criminal snatch the keys to this kingdom from his cage in Rahway and convince Home Box Office to tag along and let him loose in every living room in the country?

Gold In the Mud: The twisted saga of jailhouse boxer James Scott’s battle for redemption - SBNation.com

Meet Ursula Franklin. 

The 92-year-old metallurgist pioneered the field of archeometry, the science of dating archaeologically discovered bronzes, metals, and ceramics. 

Her research into spiking levels of radioactive strontium in baby teeth factored heavily into the U.S. government’s decision to institute a nuclear test ban. 

She delivered the Massey Lectures—an important, annual series of talks delivered by Canadian public intellectuals—in 1989, and she was the first woman to be named University Professor at the University of Toronto, the university’s highest position. 

She was also born in Munich in 1921, and was imprisoned in a Nazi work camp for the last 18 months of the war. 

I spoke to her recently by phone. It was a snowy day in Toronto, she said and she was happy to stay inside. “I’m here and ready and have a cup of tea and a pad of notes,” she told me, “and so I’m happy to meet you.”

Amazing Structure: A Conversation With Ursula Franklin - The Atlantic

Meet Ursula Franklin.

The 92-year-old metallurgist pioneered the field of archeometry, the science of dating archaeologically discovered bronzes, metals, and ceramics.

Her research into spiking levels of radioactive strontium in baby teeth factored heavily into the U.S. government’s decision to institute a nuclear test ban.

She delivered the Massey Lectures—an important, annual series of talks delivered by Canadian public intellectuals—in 1989, and she was the first woman to be named University Professor at the University of Toronto, the university’s highest position.

She was also born in Munich in 1921, and was imprisoned in a Nazi work camp for the last 18 months of the war.

I spoke to her recently by phone. It was a snowy day in Toronto, she said and she was happy to stay inside. “I’m here and ready and have a cup of tea and a pad of notes,” she told me, “and so I’m happy to meet you.”

Amazing Structure: A Conversation With Ursula Franklin - The Atlantic

It’s 4:30 P.M., early December 2004, and a caravan of Humvees rumbles out of Camp Victory carrying Staff Sergeant Jeffrey S. Sarver and his team of bomb-squad technicians from the U.S. Army’s 788th Ordnance Company. 

As Sarver’s team bounces down Victory’s rutted roads, the convoy passes a helipad where Chinooks, Black Hawks and Apaches thump in and out, some of them armed with laser-guided missiles and 30-millimeter cannons that fire fist-size shells. Sarver sees the Bradley and Abrams tanks sitting in neat rows, like cars at a dealership, their depleted-uranium bumpers aligned with precision. 

All that lethal hardware is parked, more or less useless against the Iraqi insurgency’s main weapon in this phase of the war: improvised explosive devices made from artillery shells, nine-volt batteries and electrical tape—what the troops call IEDs. 

As they leave the front gate, Sarver is in high spirits. 

He grabs the radio and sings out in his West Virginia twang, “Hey, ah, do you want to be the dirty old man or the cute young boy?” “I’ll be the boy,” comes the response with a laugh. It’s Sarver’s junior team member, Specialist Jonathan Williams. 

"Okay, cute boy. This is dirty old man, over." "Roger, ol’ man. We’re en route to the ah-ee-dee." 

The Man in the Bomb Suit: The Story That Inspired The Hurt Locker

It’s 4:30 P.M., early December 2004, and a caravan of Humvees rumbles out of Camp Victory carrying Staff Sergeant Jeffrey S. Sarver and his team of bomb-squad technicians from the U.S. Army’s 788th Ordnance Company.

As Sarver’s team bounces down Victory’s rutted roads, the convoy passes a helipad where Chinooks, Black Hawks and Apaches thump in and out, some of them armed with laser-guided missiles and 30-millimeter cannons that fire fist-size shells. Sarver sees the Bradley and Abrams tanks sitting in neat rows, like cars at a dealership, their depleted-uranium bumpers aligned with precision.

All that lethal hardware is parked, more or less useless against the Iraqi insurgency’s main weapon in this phase of the war: improvised explosive devices made from artillery shells, nine-volt batteries and electrical tape—what the troops call IEDs.

As they leave the front gate, Sarver is in high spirits.

He grabs the radio and sings out in his West Virginia twang, “Hey, ah, do you want to be the dirty old man or the cute young boy?” “I’ll be the boy,” comes the response with a laugh. It’s Sarver’s junior team member, Specialist Jonathan Williams.

"Okay, cute boy. This is dirty old man, over." "Roger, ol’ man. We’re en route to the ah-ee-dee."

The Man in the Bomb Suit: The Story That Inspired The Hurt Locker