Citizen Walmart

From the archives. The world’s biggest supermarket chain reaches out to small American farmers and helps turn them into consistent suppliers. “Walmart gave me three dollars over the price of the market last year,” says a strawberry farmer. It may be a public-relations play, in which case this piece is the return; and/or it may be capitalism at its far-sighted best — co-opting the locavores instead of fighting them (6,480 words)

I Told You When I Came I Was a Stranger

Discussion, with audio, of Leonard Cohen’s first public musical performance, at the 92nd Street Y in New York in 1966. “When, out of nowhere, he picks up a guitar and, for the first time ever before a large audience, delivers a song — a thin, reedy version of The Stranger Song, voice shaky as it never was in reading his prose — you realise that this is a man made to speak to millions” (1,377 words)

The Mercenary Position

Entertaining review of The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, by Brad Stone, which includes some “truly archaeological digging” into Amazon’s history and ideology. Central question: Is Amazon a missionary company, or a mercenary one? “Missionaries have righteous goals and are trying to make the world a better place. Mercenaries are out for money and power and will run over anyone who gets in the way.” (2,600 words)

Pages From William Vollmann’s FBI File

Vollmann’s account of being a suspect in the Unabomber manhunt is paywalled, but these pages from his FBI profile make compelling reading. “Vollmann has experienced much in his brief life. He reportedly owns many guns and a flame-thrower. He advocates the elimination of television and automobiles. How many challenges remain for William T. Vollmann? Serial bombing, perhaps? As a means to change the world?” (800 words)


“China was driving demand for the gill plates of manta rays and was stealing West Africa’s fish, and Philippine authorities detained a Chinese crew after their ship ran aground on a protected coral reef while carrying eleven tons of illegal pangolin meat. A seal boarded the Royal Navy’s HMS Bulwark, and the Ukrainian Defense Ministry denied reports that three military dolphins had deserted in search of sex” (680 words)

An Exercise In Intimidation

President Kennedy’s assassin was caught without locking down Dallas. Why the over-reaction in Boston? “Governor Patrick has signaled future terrorists that when they attack American targets they will likely get twice the bang for their buck. Not only will they kill and maim innocents in the immediate vicinity of the bombs; they’ll have the added satisfaction of seeing millions of free people cowering far from the scene of the crime” (862 words)

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