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The Top 5 Longreads of the Week July 12, 2013    


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1. 'Why Did You Shoot Me? I Was Reading a Book' Radley Balko | Salon | July 8, 2013 | 30 minutes (7,500 words) An excerpt from Radley Balko's new book Rise of the Warrior Cop, on the militarization of U.S. police forces and the reasons SWAT teams have been able to conduct raids for seemingly minor alleged crimes:

"In 2007 a Dallas SWAT team actually raided a Veterans of Foreign Wars outpost for hosting charity poker games. Players said the tactics were terrifying. One woman urinated on herself. When police raided a San Mateo, California, poker game in 2008, card players described cops storming the place 'in full riot gear' and 'with guns drawn.' The games had buy-ins ranging from $25 to $55. Under California law, the games were legal so long as no one took a 'rake,' or a cut of the stakes. No one had, but police claimed the $5 the hosts charged players to buy refreshments qualified as a rake. In March 2007, a small army of local cops, ATF agents, National Guard troops, and a helicopter raided a poker game in Cary, North Carolina. They issued forty-one citations, all of them misdemeanors. A columnist at the Fayetteville Observer remarked, 'They were there to play cards, not to foment rebellion. . . . [I] wonder . . . what other minutiae, personal vices and petty crimes are occupying [the National Guard’s] time, and where they’re occupying it. . . . Until we get this sorted out, better not jaywalk. There could be a military helicopter overhead.'"

See also: "What Does It Take to Stop Crips and Bloods From Killing Each Other?" (John Buntin, New York Times Magazine)
2. The Father You Choose Mark Warren | Esquire | July 8, 2013 | 23 minutes (5,845 words)The writer on the man who became his father figure:

"A few years ago I was working on a book project, and the deadline was crushing me. I hadn't given myself enough time to write, and I was panicking, so I left Jessica and the kids in New York and moved out to Princeton with Dieter for a month, to race the clock. I quickly established a routine of working day and night, and without a word being said, Dieter made himself my twenty-four-hour valet. Every morning as I awoke, he'd bring me a cup of coffee. 'Would you like to see the menu?' he'd ask. 'Or shall we just have the chef whip up something for you?' If I fell asleep on the couch, he would cover me with a blanket. It was the fall, and every morning he and I would take a walk in the changing colors, and we would talk through the day's writing, and every couple days, Dieter would read pages for me and tell me what he thought.

"He knew that I'd given up on my own father, and he looked on me with a kindness for which I was not at all prepared, that it seemed he had been waiting for just this moment to bestow. Sometimes it was almost too much for me to bear. As he made us dinner, he would ask me about my life and say such encouraging things with love and without qualification, and I would look at him and think,
Are you real?"

See also: "The Recluse" (Jon Mooallem, Radio Silence, 2012)
3. First the Fence, Then the System Lauren Markham | VQR | July 8, 2013 | 34 minutes (8,623 words)What happens to children who enter the U.S. illegally and alone after they're caught by the Border Patrol:

"If you’re caught, say you’re an adult so they don’t send you back.

"Say you’re a kid so they don’t send you back. If you say you’re a kid, they won’t take you to prison.

"Practice your Mexican accent. They’ll drop you off in Mexico. It’ll be easier to get back in.

"Jordi looked young, but he insisted he was nineteen. As a result, he was transferred to an adult detention facility in Corpus Christi. 'I couldn’t walk for two months after the accident. I got a cast and a wheelchair for two weeks. I was only in the hospital for like five hours, then I went to the prison.' At Corpus Christi, he was given an orange uniform and locked in solitary confinement. 'I really don’t know why,' Jordi said, laughing. 'Maybe because I didn’t know anyone—​but I really don’t know.' After ten days alone, he was moved into a crowded cell, then sent to a nurse to inspect the progress of his leg. She seemed suspicious of his age, studied his face. He insisted he was nineteen. But with each visit, she asked him again, until finally, after about three weeks, Jordi confessed he was actually fifteen."

See also: "Los Infiltradores" (Michael May, American Prospect)
4. The Road to Resilience: How Unscientific Innovation Saved Marlin Steel Charles Fishman | Fast Company | July 8, 2013 | 19 minutes (4,759 words) How a Baltimore company that specialized in making metal bagel baskets decided to make a big change to save itself:

"Within five years of buying Marlin, Greenblatt was getting killed. Chinese factories suddenly started making bagel baskets. Marlin sold its baskets for $12 apiece and with 36 baskets to equip a typical bagel shop made $450 when a company added a location. Chinese factories were selling baskets for $6 each. Marlin's customers were switching to save $200 a store. And Marlin would never be able to match its Chinese competitors on price. 'My steel was costing me $7 a basket,' says Greenblatt. 'We were going to go extinct.' It would have been smarter for him to buy bagel baskets from China for $6 each and sell them for $6.50."

More Fast Company: "UFC Tries To Prove It's Capable Of A Knockout" (Luke O'Brien, November 2012)
5. Love and Loss in a Small Texas TownZac Crain | D Magazine | June 25, 2013 | 34 minutes (8,531 words)The writer visits West, Texas, the town where he grew up, and talks to residents who experienced the fertilizer plant explosion that destroyed its surrounding area on April 17, 2013:

"Less than a minute later, he saw a bright flash and heard a deep boom. 'I thought I was imagining this, but others saw it, too: for a split second, I could see wavy, ripple-y air,' he says. 'It was the shockwave. I could see it hover. I could see it come right above the treeline.' Then he was blown onto his back on the driveway. Out front, Becky was thrown into the grass. And inside, Abby was buried under collapsed drywall. A ceiling fan fell on her, too.

"Jeff doesn’t know how long he was on the ground. When he was able finally to go back to the house days later, he saw what could have been. On the driveway, maybe a foot from where he had been standing, there was chalky residue from where a piece of concrete had landed, before smashing against the back of his house. In his mother Carolyn’s backyard there was a 16-foot length of auger pipe, a foot in diameter, thrust into the back wall, near the roofline. Judging from its path—where it clipped a tree, smashed through a fence, and landed hard enough to gouge a foot-deep gash in Carolyn’s lawn before cartwheeling into her house—it, too, had been headed straight for him."


More D Magazine: "The Last Hat Salesman" (David Ritz, March 2013)
College Longreads Pick: 'Magazine Junkies,' by Nolan Feeney, Northwestern Nolan Feeney | NewCity Lit | March 2013 | 12 minutes (2,995 words) Every week, Syracuse University professor Aileen Gallagher helps Longreads highlight the best of college journalism. Here’s this week’s pick: 

For readers, summer travel offers a chance to discover a new bookstore or read a magazine you've never encountered before. This week's College Longreads selection takes us to City Newsstand in Chicago, a magazine store that carries many titles you've heard of (The Economist) and several thousand you haven't (RubberStampMadness). Nolan Feeney, a recent graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School, used City Newsstand as a backdrop for a bigger story about changes in the business of magazines. Feeney wrote this story for class last fall, and NewCity Lit, a digital supplement to the Chicago magazine, picked it up in the spring. Today, Feeney covers pop culture and Internet culture for Forbes.com.


More college picks by Aileen Gallagher

Featured Longreader
Shannon Proudfoot @sproudfoot
Shannon is a staff writer at Sportsnet magazine. Previously, she was a national writer with Postmedia News.
"It might not constitute a genre, exactly, but my favorite sort of journalism dives into obscure subcultures with their own rules, etiquette, heroes and hacks. This story is one of my all-time favorites of that type. The main character is unforgettable, perfectly drawn with a few brilliant details and vernacular dialogue. And the writing just crackles—clever, cheeky and nimble, but never getting in the way. Read this snippet and just try not to smirk: 'Reg pulled the now quite embittered-looking ferret out of his mouth and stuffed it and another ferret into his pants. He cinched his belt tight, clenched his fists at his sides, and gazed up into the gray Yorkshire firmament in what I guessed could only be a gesture of prayer.' It would have been easy to go for the cheap laugh at the expense of the odd in a story like this, but Donald Katz’s obvious affection for his subject pushes this into a sublime little realm for me."
The King of the Ferret Leggers: The Classic Tale of Sportsmen Who Put Carnivores Down Their Pants Donald Katz | Outside | 1987 | 10 minutes (2,937 words)
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