Dominick Dunne’s Complete O.J. Simpson Trial Coverage

Dominick Dunne, writing for Vanity Fair:

At nine o’clock we walk into the courtroom and take our places in our assigned seats, and then the door to the holding room opens and in comes O. J. Simpson himself, usually surrounded by Johnnie Cochran, Robert Shapiro, and Carl Douglas. We all stare at O.J. to see what kind of mood he’s in or to which lawyer he’s talking, and we watch him say good morning to members of his family. When Judge Lance Ito comes in, we do not rise, but we do rise on the bailiff’s order to do so as the jury enters. Then the trial begins again, and all day long we watch it, except for our lunch break, when we talk about it, saying things such as “Did you notice if O.J. looked when they showed the picture of Nicole lying in the blood?” The other night, after watching a segment of Hard Copy devoted to O.J. and a drug dealer, I went to a friend’s house for dinner. I had hardly gotten inside the front door when I was confronted by people who wanted to know what had happened in court that day. I had hoped for a little respite from the topic. I wanted to talk about something else for a change, and volunteered that Ethan Hawke was in the room across the hall from me at the Chateau Marmont, and that Keanu Reeves was in the room next to me, and that I had just seen Johnny Depp being interviewed in the lobby. But nobody cared. Polite nods were the most my movie-star name-dropping got. They all wanted to talk about nothing but O. J. Simpson.

If, like me (and many others), you've fallen hard for FX's American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson, you've got some reading you'll want to do. As the show has portrayed, Dominick Dunne covered the trial in-person for Vanity Fair, and the VF archives has all 9 pieces linked up and ready to go. The writing is exquisite, Bret Easton Ellis meets Ernest Hemingway. Dunne is somber, charismatic, funny, and inquisitive. It doesn't get any better than this. The excerpt above is from Part 2, 'All O.J., All the Time.'


The Rolled R’s of Vanessa Ruiz

Ilan Stavans, writing for The New York Times:

The controversy over Ms. Ruiz’s rolled R’s can easily be framed in the context of a troubling strain of anti-immigrant sentiment, rooted in Arizona in this case, but much in evidence elsewhere. At issue is the contested coexistence not only of two languages, but of two cultures. In a public statement, Ms. Ruiz politely pointed out that her pronunciation honors Arizona’s original settlers, who were all Iberian.

But there is an even larger picture that deserves our attention: the miraculous malleability of language.

It will be conversations like this one, conversations that take simple binary arguments and turn them into something more nuanced and insightful, that allow us, as we always have, to progress forward as a society. I, for one, welcome the debate.


Facebook May Host News Sites’ Content, Fit of Shit Ensues

Ravi Somaiya, Mike Isaac And Vindu Goel, writing for The New York Times:

With 1.4 billion users, the social media site has become a vital source of traffic for publishers looking to reach an increasingly fragmented audience glued to smartphones. In recent months, Facebook has been quietly holding talks with at least half a dozen media companies about hosting their content inside Facebook rather than making users tap a link to go to an external site.

I’m shocked/not shocked by the internet’s reaction to this news. On one hand, yes, it is a dumbing-down of sorts. And it will, by extension, put different hierarchies of news outlets all on the same level within the eyes of the FB masses. But at the end of the day, in 2015, you have to pick: do you want to be a fossil in a museum—or an attraction in a well-trafficked zoo?


My Saga, Part 2: Karl Ove Knausgaard’s Passage Through America

Karl Ove Knausgaard, writing for The New York Times Magazine:

On the other side of Duluth, the road continued through the wooded Minnesota landscape, the blazing sunlight filtering through the treetops creating ceaseless, shadowy patterns on the snow-covered asphalt. I had told Mark we would arrive around 5 p.m., but it soon became obvious that we would never get there on time. I tried texting him, but the message didn’t go through, probably because there was no money left on my phone account. Peter offered to call him, and I accepted gladly.

When he hung up, Peter said that Mark sounded like the archetypal American. I asked him what he meant. He shrugged, it was nothing specific, just the way he spoke.

I considered the strangeness of that: That everything Norwegian, all that was particular to the west coast of Norway and to the Hatløy family, had been completely obliterated in just two generations in the U.S. If it had been my grandfather Johannes who had emigrated instead of his younger brother Magnus, I could have been the one sitting there, up in North Dakota, an American waiting for my Norwegian relative who was roughly the same age as me and to my surprise had announced his arrival this very Sunday.

I told Peter. He laughed and said he had never met anyone less American than me.

Part 2, of an overall mind-bogglingly good piece, is not quite as romantic as Part 1 (he gets out of his head more and has to do some actual reporting), but it does the trick. I thought the ending needed a bit more ruminating, but I savored reading this, putting it off the way you save a good bottle of wine for an important night.


Boston’s Winter From Hell

E.J. Graff:

But for those of us living here, it’s not a pretty picture. We are being devastated by a slow-motion natural disaster of historic proportions. The disaster is eerily quiet. There are no floating bodies or vistas of destroyed homes. But there’s no denying that this is a catastrophe. 

A total reframing of this recent spate of storms. I emailed the piece to a friend who lives in Boston, just to, no pun intended, take the temperature of the situation, and see if maybe Graff had been gripped by a bit of fed-up pathos. She confirmed almost everything he said and even added that garbage pickup has started to become sporadic. I think, for some, there’s a sense that, hey, it’s the Northeast, it’s winter, this shouldn’t be surprising. But sometimes it’s the things that we’re expecting that surprise us the most.


Reading David Carr

I wasn’t going to post anything on here about David Carr’s death on Thursday, mostly because every single blog out there already did. But when the Times posted this piece on Friday, a collection of his work hand-picked by his colleagues, the most fitting eulogy I could think of for a writer like Carr, I spent the time since reading/watching all of them and I couldn’t help but share it again. It is all worth your time, I promise, but I’ll highlight just one graf, from this 2009 piece, ‘The Rise and Fall of Media’:

Somewhere down in the Flatiron, out in Brooklyn, over in Queens or up in Harlem, cabals of bright young things are watching all the disruption with more than an academic interest. Their tiny netbooks and iPhones, which serve as portals to the cloud, contain more informational firepower than entire newsrooms possessed just two decades ago. And they are ginning content from their audiences in the form of social media or finding ways of making ambient information more useful. They are jaded in the way youth requires, but have the confidence that is a gift of their age as well.

For them, New York is not an island sinking, but one that is rising on a fresh, ferocious wave.

Rest in peace, Mr. Carr. You are already missed.


The Infuriating Thing About Jon Stewart is Also Why He'll Be Missed

Will Leitch, BloombergPolitics:

Stewart’s genius turned the mix of comedy and politics into a sort of rationalist warfare. He took the audience’s frustrations and fury with the whole process and gave it a voice. Colbert pointed out how ridiculous this all was, but that wasn’t Stewart’s bag; he wanted you to know how much of an asshole everyone was. He was far more moral, far more outraged. He took himself more seriously than most comedians, which was often his Achilles’ heel. (His first show after 9/11, unlike Letterman’s, is difficult to sit through now; you want him to take some deep breaths, remember he’s on TV and just chill for a second.) But that self-righteousness gave his show an undeniable momentum—and power.

When I first heard the news about Stewart leaving, I wondered how he could want to leave before the 2016 election. But this piece helped me to understand it better. Politics, right now, is satirical all on its own. A “fake news” show can’t lampoon something that already lampoons itself.


From Amateur to Ruthless Jihadi in France

Rukmini Callimachi and Jim Yardley, The New York Times:

In the year after the United States’ invasion of Iraq, a 22-year-old pizza delivery man here couldn’t take it anymore. Sickened by images of American soldiers humiliating Muslims at the Abu Ghraib prison, he made plans to go fight United States forces. He studied a virtual AK-47 on a website. Then he took lessons from a man, using a hand-drawn picture of a gun.

It was an almost laughable attempt at jihad, and as the day of his departure approached, the delivery man, Chérif Kouachi, felt increasingly unsure of himself.

When the police arrested him hours before his 6:45 a.m. Alitalia flight on Jan. 25, 2005, he was relieved. “Several times, I felt like pulling out. I didn’t want to die there,” he later told investigators. “I told myself that if I chickened out, they would call me a coward, so I decided to go anyway, despite the reservations I had.”

A decade later, Chérif Kouachi, flanked by his older brother Saïd, 34, no longer had any reservations, as the two jihadists in black, sheathed in body armor, gave a global audience a ruthless demonstration in terrorism.

This is what real journalism reads like.


My Life Under Armed Guard

Roberto Saviano, The Guardian:

For the last eight years, I have travelled everywhere with seven trained bodyguards in two bullet-proof cars. I live in police barracks or anonymous hotel rooms, and rarely spend more than a few nights in the same place. It’s been more than eight years since I took a train, or rode a Vespa, took a stroll or went out for a beer. Everything is scheduled to the minute; nothing is left to chance. Doing anything spontaneous, just because I feel like it, would be ridiculously complicated.

After eight years under armed guard, threats against my life barely make the news. My name is so often associated with the terms death and murder that they hardly register. After all these years under state protection, I almost feel guilty for still being alive.

An important, fascinating essay. I imagine that this will be a movie in a couple, three years.

/via NextDraft


Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Newspaper Edited Important World Leaders Out of An Iconic Picture of The Hebdo March Because They Are Women

Myka Fox, The Loom:

Israeli paper Walla says of the retouching that "Haredi sector daily newspapers operate under the supervision of a 'spiritual committee.'" That committee's task is to censor based on religious beliefs, and when it comes to publishing pictures of women, "the rule is simple: do not advertise."

Draw your own conclusions.