What didn’t kill them made them stronger. We hope.
In 2013 intrepid individuals at Slate put their mental and physical health on the line for the sake of a story. Some challenged themselves to week-long endeavors: eating nothing but pumpkin spice-flavored foods and beverages, wearing copious amounts of Axe body spray, and fumbling through the tween weaving fad of the year. Others endured short-term, but emotionally and psychologically taxing, hardships: A late-riser trekked through Manhattan at 4 a.m.; a video producer binge-watched all of The Walking Dead in search of every bit of Rick Grimes’ whisper-yelling; our science and health writer was frothed at by RFK, Jr.
Through their first-person reporting, these Slate writers learned unexpected truths about themselves, the world, and the awfulness of Axe body spray. We hope. We salute them.
Laura Helmuth, “So Robert F Kennedy Jr. Called Us To Complain…”
“Slate doesn’t give equal time to creationists, and given the overwhelming evidence, we would never publish a story claiming that vaccines cause autism. But it’s fascinating, in a horrified head-shaking sort of way, to hear how anti-vaxxers think. I requested a transcript or video of Kennedy’s speech to the 2013 AutismOne/Generation Rescue Conference, but neither the conference hosts nor Kennedy’s office provided them. I can tell you what he said to me instead.”
L.V. Anderson, “The Six People You Meet in Manhattan Before 8 AM”
“I’d always thought my distaste for getting up early was correlated with my misanthropic tendencies—but was it possible I could avoid people more effectively if I awoke before dawn? I had to find out.”
Dahlia Lithwick, “Axes of Evil”
“After decades of smelling like a flower or a fruit, for the first time ever, I smelled like teen boy spirit. I smelled the way an adolescent male smells when he feels that everything good in the universe is about to be delivered to him, possibly by girls in angel wings. I had never smelled this entitled in my life. I loved it. I wanted more.”
Bryan Lowder, “The Pumpkin Spice Diet”
“If you wanted to subsist entirely on commercial pumpkin spice creations for a day, you could have pumpkin spice Pop-Tarts with a cup of pumpkin spice coffee diluted with pumpkin spice Coffee-mate for breakfast; pumpkin spice peanut butter spread on pumpkin spice English muffins for lunch; pumpkin spice Pringles, pumpkin spice beef jerky, or pumpkin spice almonds for a snack; pumpkin spice fettuccini for dinner; and pumpkin spice pudding for dessert. Heck, you could even do this for a week—which is exactly what my editors asked me to do.”
Chris Wade, “Rick Grimes in Whispered Intensity”
Katy Waldman, “Rainbow Loon”
“I was not keen to go hawk starburst key chains to sixth graders. But I did want to experience the social side of Rainbow Loom—which is how I found myself at a bar last weekend with two friends, one weaving kit, and no dignity.”