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Big Stories

9 Longform Stories We're Reading This Week: Ad Rock, Hit Men, And Maury

What's more valuable to a band these days — a record deal, or selling a song to a big ad campaign? This week for BuzzReads, Jessica Hopper discusses how the ad industry may be saving independent music. Read that and these other great stories from around BuzzFeed and the web.

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1. How Selling Out Saved Indie Rock — BuzzReads

Chelsea Lauren / WireImage / Getty Images

Not long ago, the idea of selling a song for a commercial would have been seen as career suicide. Now, thanks to the music industry’s implosion and the rise of a new generation of artist-friendly ad execs, bands (like Tegan and Sara) can barely survive without doing so. But has the bubble already burst? Read it at BuzzReads.

2. Oops, You Hired the Wrong Hit ManGQ

Jonathan Kambouris for GQ

A riveting piece by Jeanne Marie Laskas about a hit man who's really working for the government. "The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives employs an army of guys like him whom nobody's ever heard of and nobody is supposed to know about." Read it at GQ.

3. Lead or DieFast Company

Teru Kuwayama for Fast Company.

The story of one Marine Lieutenant Colonel who's taken a regiment of Afghani fighters under his wing in an unorthodox fashion. "Treglia's bold approach is now changing the course of events on the ground in Afghanistan. Indeed, it may be one of the best hopes we have for enabling the Afghan Army to protect its country effectively when U.S. troops withdraw in 2014." Read it at Fast Company.

4. Should This Inmate Get a State-Financed Sex Change Operation?The New Republic

Courtesy of Michelle Kosilek / Via

An in-depth look at Michelle Kosilek, a gender-dysphoric convicted murderer who was allowed to undergo state-paid sex-change surgery — to much uproar. Nathaniel Penn argues that "much of the reaction seemed to question whether gender dysphoria is really a severe mental illness." Read it at The New Republic.


6. The Nazi AnatomistsSlate

Courtesy of the German Resistance Memorial Center / Via

In this somewhat disturbing article, Emily Bazelon reports on an unlikely historical lineage. The rumor that reared its ugly head during the last presidential election — that rapes cannot result in pregnancy — has its origins in the minds of sick Nazi scientists. Read it at Slate.

7. From Here to Paternity — Grantland

Timothy McAuliffe for Grantland

Bryan Curtis goes behind the scenes as Maury enters its 16th season. "Maury Povich is 74 years old. These are his savvy-veteran years. Back in the 1990s, a bunch of us watched Maury — and Jerry and Montel and Sally Jessy — because we were told they were bringing Western civilization to its knees. We wanted tickets to the apocalypse. These days, nobody much complains about Maury." Read it at Grantland.

8. How to Spend Your Entire Income Building a Car that Must Travel 100 Miles on a Single Gallon of Gas — Longreads

An excerpt from Jason Fagone's new book, Ingenious, about an eccentric and speed-loving Illinois couple. "I first became aware of Kevin and Jen during a phone call with an X Prize staffer in February 2010. A guy [at the foundation] suggested I look into Illuminati Motor Works, which is what Kevin was calling his project. 'Battery-powered dreamboat,' I wrote down. 'Illinois cornfield. White guys.'" Read it at Longreads.

9. Over the EdgeSB Nation

Jeremy Markovich for SB Nation

Jeremy Markovich reports from an annual gathering of thousands on the highest and longest arch span in the Western Hemisphere, a bridge outside of Fayetteville, W. Va.: "it is, in effect, one of the only places in America where you can easily watch a BASE jump happen live, in person, and on schedule, every 20 seconds." Read it at SB Nation.