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    Posted on Jul 3, 2013

    9 Longform Stories We're Reading This Week

    For the fourth year in a row, the Nathan's Fourth of July contest will be without its original superstar, who'll be attempting a hot dog-eating world record 13 miles away. Read Emily Fleischaker's profile of Takeru Kobayashi and these stories from around the web.

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    1. Takeru Kobayashi’s Declaration Of Independence — BuzzFeed

    "Kobayashi would love to go gullet-to-gullet with other professional eaters, young upstarts who have studied and improved upon his philosophy and methods, but he believes that would mean ceding control of his career, of his very particular, peculiar talent. So instead he competes against patsies, but really, he’s just competing against himself."

    2. Love and Loss in a Small Texas TownD Magazine

    D Magazine / Elizabeth Lavin

    Do not miss Zac Crain's powerful essay about his hometown, West, TX. His family's former home, which stood near the explosion site, is now gone. "The fertilizer plant stood about 500 yards away, always looming in the distance. I could see that plant, and smell it, every day I was there."

    3. The Rock 'n' Roll Casualty Who Became a War HeroThe New York Times Sunday Magazine

    New York Times / Jason Everman

    "Jason Everman has the unique distinction of being the guy who was kicked out of Nirvana and Soundgarden, two rock bands that would sell roughly 100 million records combined." The story of how he survived that and finally found success in the U.S. Special Forces.

    4. The FBI Renews The Search For One Of Its Own — BuzzFeed

    Six years ago, Robert Levinson, a retired-FBI-agent-turned-private-investigator, was kidnapped in the Persian Gulf. To this day, no one knows where he is, but his family — and the government — aren’t ready to give up the hunt.

    5. Wanted: Macho Men with Mustaches"The Believer

    In the wake of last week's historic Supreme Court decisions, Nicole Pasulka tells the unlikely tale of how a subversive gay disco group became a mainstream hit machine. "'Macho Man' made it to number twenty-five on 1978’s Billboard Hot 100 chart and hit platinum. Either the Village People had found an audience beyond the gay discos or a lot of people were pumping up their disco tits. In fact, both were kind of true."

    6. Mona Eltahawy on Egypt’s Next RevolutionSmithsonian

    Smithsonian / Clayton Cubitt

    A profile of the Egyptian-born activist as her country again is on the brink, by Ron Rosenbaum. "'What we need even more than regime change,' she tells me, 'is a social and a sexual revolution that believes in individual freedoms, that believes essentially in removing the internal Mubarak. The regime oppressed everyone — but beneath that the culture repressed women.'"

    7. In the Line of WildfireOutside

    Outside / Kyle Dickman

    Kyle Dickman embeds with Hotshots, an elite group of wildlife firefighters. The risks they and others of their profession take have been keenly felt this week.

    8. Balloon Boy's Tween Heavy Metal Career Lifts Off — Gawker

    Gawker / Victor G. Jeffreys II

    The saga continues: Four years after Richard Heene thought his six-year-old had ascended the sky in a $700 balloons, his three homeschooled sons have organized a tween heavy metal band called Heene Boyz.

    9. The ProphetEsquire

    HO / AP

    Luke Dittrich fact checks the story of neuroscientist-turned-heaven confirmer Dr. Eben Alexander. This much-discussed cover story is available behind a $1.99 paywall.