New York, July 14 The cover essay by Tom Wolfe recounts how Clay Felker—who died last week—corralled the New Journalism trailblazers of the 1960s to chronicle an exuberant New York in magazines. "His Show me! instincts led him directly … toward styles of life that made big news." Wolfe rattles off the incendiary stories shepherded by New York's founding editor: Gail Sheehy on prostitution, Jimmy Breslin on "the first Bad Boy professional athlete" Joe Namath, Nik Cohn's feature that served as the basis for Saturday Night Fever, Wolfe's own profile of then-New Yorker editor William Shawn (which created a media stir and made it known that there were now two big-time New York magazines), Barbara Goldsmith and Diane Arbus' collaborative feature on Andy Warhol's Factory girls (which nearly sunk the magazine). "He had a way of convincing you that his dream was as good as action accompli," Wolfe remembers. … Friends, colleagues, and acquaintances testify to how Felker "remade American journalism." No one was better at covering New York's "local pageant of ambition, the yearning and hustling and jostling of power [and] status," Kurt Andersen writes.
Time, July 14 The cover story assesses Mark Twain in the context of contemporary society, connecting his "edgy drollery" to the "golden age of sarcasm" of Stewart, Colbert, et al. As part of Time's annual "Making of America" issue, the piece puts Twain's life and writings in perspective and finds current relevance in much of what he had to say about politics, humor, religion, and even torture. In affirming Twain's mark on everything that came after him, the article endorses the idea that Twain was "the nation's first rock star."… A piece looks at the respective gambling vices of John McCain and Barack Obama: craps and poker. "For centuries, the nation's political leaders have loved their games of chance. Andrew Jackson owned fighting cocks and raced horses. Richard Nixon helped finance his first congressional race with his World War II poker winnings." But for McCain and Obama "games of chance have been not just a hobby but also a fundamental feature in their development as people and politicians."
GOOD, July/August 2008 The cover package of the "Travel Issue" features a guide to the best places to experience pollution tourism—the "most spectacular disasters man has wrought on the environment," including California's Salton Sea and Nevada's Apex Landing—in addition to a half-dozen dispatches from "places you didn't think had tourists," such as Venezuela, Pakistan, and Kosovo. … In another piece, a journalist rides Amtrak trains from coast to coast to discern why America's rail system is so awful compared with those in Europe and Asia, and why people still continue to hop aboard. "Amtrak faces an interesting challenge—to capture the nostalgic romance of the rails while offering a service fit for the 21st century. … Good thing for Amtrak, that romantic notion of the rails is alive and well. … The experience is an important sell; nobody ever mentions reliability or practicality."… A feature examines six shadowy organizations—including the Freemasons, the Skull and Bones, and the Bilderberg Group—and reports on the difference between their perceived and actual power.
Outside, August 2008 The cover feature names the 20 best places to live, towns that "have withstood hard times and reinvented themselves as havens of the good life," particularly with regard to eco-friendliness and outdoor activities. … A guide to the Olympics features Michael Phelps' plight to usurp Mark Spitz as the "Greatest Olympian Ever," the boom in Chinese babies named Aoyun ("Olympics"), and 18-year-old cycling legacy Taylor Phinney, scion of two Olympians. … A piece chronicles the author's experiences in the "World's Toughest Bike Race," a fat-tire trek from the Canadian border to Mexico through the Great Divide made by a handful of supreme talents and another "two dozen underemployed dreamers who may have gotten ourselves in over our heads."… A short profile examines skateboarding pioneer Jay Adams, the Dogtown legend who "invented the moves and … originated the anticapitalist vibe that modern skaters like Tony Hawk and Shaun White have harnessed to become multi-millionaires."
TODAY IN SLATE
Smash and Grab
Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?
Even When They Go to College, the Poor Sometimes Stay Poor
Republicans Want the Government to Listen to the American Public on Ebola. That’s a Horrible Idea.
The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented
Tom Hanks Has a Short Story in the New Yorker. It’s Not Good.
Marvel’s Civil War Is a Far-Right Paranoid Fantasy
It’s also a mess. Can the movies do better?
An All-Female Mission to Mars
As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.