1. Christian and Kelly Clancy’s Unlikely Empire — BuzzFeed
While Odd Future are the face of hip-hop’s DIY audacity and Frank Ocean is R&B’s most compelling ascendant superstar, their managers (and guardian angels) are making the most of the music industry’s slow implosion. Read it on BuzzFeed.
2. The Promise: The Families of Sandy Hook and the Long Road to Gun Safety — The Brookings Institution
Matt Bennett delivers a comprehensive look at the past, present and future of gun control. “Time and again, high-profile gun crimes — from assassinations to mass shootings — had seemed to galvanize public opinion. Yet time and again, this sense of urgency had faded, as the gun lobby slowed momentum in Congress to a crawl and then, often, to a halt.” Read it at the Brookings Institution.
3. Unity with the Universe — ESPN
A beautiful, careful essay by Wright Thompson about master fly fishing rod designer-cum-guru Tom Morgan, who, paralyzed by multiple sclerosis, relies upon his wife Gerri in nearly every respect. An ode to their love and trials, the Montanan country that envelops them, and their Melvillian quest for perfection. Read it on ESPN.
4. Jack Handey is the Envy of Every Comedy Writer in America — The New York Times Magazine
Dan Kois profiles the former Saturday Night Live writer — who, yes, is a real person — and has written a first novel called The Stench of Honolulu. “The novel also functions as a kind of thought exercise. The exercise is: What if the “Deep Thoughts” guy was a character in a book?” Read it in The New York Times Magazine.
5. An Oral History of “Intervention” — BuzzFeed
Natasha Vargas-Cooper explores how a cable show navigated the opposing forces of recovery and good TV. A history of the A&E hit, now cancelled, from the mouths of producers, interventionists, directors, and a recovered huffer. Read it on BuzzFeed.
6. The Only One — SB Nation
A look at 18-year-old Seth Jones, who was recently drafted No. 4 overall to the Nashville Predators. “…Jones, an African-American, wasn’t the first player chosen on this stormy, sultry June day in Newark, N.J., it’s clear that, given his upbringing, ethnicity, position and marketability — that he will likely be the most important.” Read it on SB Nation.
7. Makers of War — WIRED
Matthieu Aikins embeds with the DIY arms makers Aleppo, who, prior to the Syrian civil war, were ordinary men, leading ordinary lives. “After two years of increasingly vicious combat, the civil war has become a battle of annihilation, one increasingly tainted by sectarian extremism and human rights abuses on both sides. Nearly 100,000 people have died, and the rebels all know that they too will likely join the dead if the government of Bashar al-Assad prevails.” Read it in WIRED.
8. The Life and Death (and Life?) of the Party — Texas Monthly
Robert Draper examines Texas’ Democratic Party — which five decades ago ruled the state — and the recent “Battleground Texas” push, aided by the likes of the Castro brothers and Wendy Davis. “The reality, however, is that the GOP has no intention of standing on the sidelines while its electoral support sails off into the wild blue yonder.” Read it in Texas Monthly.
9. The Prancercise Lady Copes With the Dark Side of Internet Fame — The Broward Palm Beach New Times
A surprisingly fun read about the Prancercise Lady — Joanna Rohrback — and the life she’s led since the internet found her retro, horse-imitative form of light exercise. “‘Embarrassed?’ asked Rohrback, who’s amassed a cult following thanks to the revealing tightness of her spandex. ‘If my camel toe doesn’t embarrass me, why would this? I’m not embarrassed at all!’” Read it in The New Times.