I’m crashing past your recommended five with the following:
What: David Foster Wallace: Consider the Lobster. Gourmet Magazine, 2004.
Why: I could pick any number of DFW articles as my favorite but am going with this one. See too his magnificent tennis reportage such as Federer as a Religious Experience from 2006 or The String Theory from 1996.
What: Charles Bowden: While You Were Sleeping. Harper’s Magazine, 1996.
Why: Back in the mid-90s, Bowden published a harrowing account of life in Juarez, Mexico along the US border. At the time, a number of femicides where being committed. Very much a precursor to what’s happening in the drug wars today.
What: Lawrence Lessig, For the Love of Culture. The New Republic, 2010.
Why: This one’s less about storytelling and more about the legal, cultural and creative importance of open culture and the creative commons. A must primer for anyone interested in independent creativity and production in any field.
What: Hunter S. Thompson, The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved. Scanlan’s Monthly, 1970.
Why: Thompson meets Steadman meets the madness of the Kentucky derby.
What: George Plimpton, The Curious Case of Sidd Finch. Sports Illustrated, 1985.
Why: For the April 1985 issue of Sports Illustrated, Plimpton “discovers” a pitching prospect who will change baseball history. To start, Sidd has a 168 mile per hour fastball that he developed through years spent in a Tibetan monastery perfecting mind-body balance. Even knowing it’s an elaborate April Fools doesn’t diminish the fun.
What: Richard Hofstadter, The Paranoid Style in American Politics. Harper’s Magazine, 1964.
Why: Because the more things change the more things stay the same. Great articles are timeless, right?
What: Gay Talese, Frank Sinatra Has a Cold. Esquire, 1966.
Why: A J-School classic on how to report a story on a subject that never appears.
What: Jim Hogshire: The Electric Cough-Syrup Acid Test. Harper’s 1993.
Why: Ever wonder what it feels like to be a reptile. Take two bottles of Robitussin DM and call us in the morning.
So, that’s what I got. What about you? — Michael
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