There are lots of great long reads lists out there, including Longreads, our partner in publishing "Filthy and Gorgeous: An Oral History of the First Year of The Stranger." But what's one more? Here's ours:
• Ta-Nehisi Coates on President Barack Obama's intelligence, accomplishments, connection to the creative life of the country, leadership, and style.
"In the waning days of President Barack Obama’s administration, he and his wife, Michelle, hosted a farewell party, the full import of which no one could then grasp."
• Clara Jeffrey on why it's time to fight like hell.
"It would be counterproductive to say, as some have, that all those who voted for Trump are stone-cold racists. People voted for him for various and complicated reasons. But it must be said that all who voted for Trump did not find naked bigotry and misogyny to be disqualifying. Some discounted it, and some thrilled to it. That is gutting."
• Wesley Morris on the persistent taboo of black male sexuality in pop culture.
"These are banner times for penises onscreen... We’ve gotten more gender-neutral, more feminist, more comfortable with our various bodies, more used to seeing dudes in gym locker rooms, better at Instagram and Snapchat and Tumblr — and so, too, have we gotten more O.K. with penises. Some penises, anyway."
• Eli Saslow's profile of a white nationalist who saw the light.
"The room was filled in part by former heads of the Ku Klux Klan and prominent neo-Nazis, but one of the keynote speeches had been reserved for a Florida community college student who had just turned 19. Derek Black was already hosting his own radio show. He had launched a white nationalist website for children and won a local political election in Florida. 'The leading light of our movement,' was how the conference organizer introduced him, and then Derek stepped to the lectern."
• Jon Mooallem on the amateur cloud society that (sort of) rattled the scientific community.
"A cloud is only water, but arranged like no other water on earth. Billions of minuscule droplets are packed into every cubic foot of cloud, throwing reflected light off their disordered surfaces in all directions, collectively making the cloud opaque. In a way, each cloud is an illusion, a conspiracy of liquid masquerading as a floating, solid object."
• David Remnick's profile of Leonard Cohen, published right before Cohen died.
"Cohen greeted us. He sat in a large blue medical chair, the better to ease the pain from compression fractures in his back. He is now very thin, but he is still handsome, with a full head of gray-white hair and razory dark eyes. He wore a well-tailored midnight-blue suit."
• Zadie Smith on the connections between writing and dancing.
"One of the most solid pieces of writing advice I know is in fact intended for dancers—you can find it in the choreographer Martha Graham’s biography... Graham writes: 'There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost.'"
• Nathan Heller on the student activism roiling liberal-arts colleges.
"Copeland has taught at Oberlin since the nineteen-seventies. He was puzzled by many things about today’s students—'They do not make eye contact! They do not look into your motherfucking eyes!'—but what galled him most was their apparent eagerness to go over their professors’ heads."
• Margaret Talbot on the attorney fighting revenge porn.
"Goldberg tries to impress on her clients that they should not feel ashamed. I once asked her how she responds to the argument that people who value their privacy should not send naked pictures in the first place. Goldberg replied that this was judgmental and reductive. She mentioned the case of Erin Andrews, the former ESPN reporter, who was filmed, without her knowledge, by a man staying in an adjoining hotel room. 'Are you just supposed to never take your clothes off?' she said. 'You can’t get naked, you can’t take a shower?'"
• Joseph O'Neill's short story "Pardon Edward Snowden." (This is fiction, unlike everything above, but it's one of the best pieces of writing I read this year, and Seattle poet Heather McHugh is mentioned in it.)
"Re the Dylan Nobel, Liz said, 'It’s depressing. I can’t separate it from the Trump phenomenon.'"