This week, we lost Rob Ford. Brussels got hit. Jian Ghomeshi was found not guilty. Obama went to a baseball game in Havana. Twitter partied for its 10th. And a fish got braces to correct a missing jaw. 

Artist/provocateur/sassy writer/sometimes-porn actor Zak Smith claims that this Medium piece—on the shattered reputation of the mainstream's favorite porn star, James Deen—was commissioned for "A Very Old and Important American Magazine" that didn’t have the courage to publish it. Whatever, Smith manages the difficult feat of writing a story of sexual abuse that is both engaging to read and savage when it needs to be. His version of Deen, corroborated by those he knows in the industry, is basically Patrick Bateman—his porn star shallowness not a performance for the cheap cameras, but the entirety of him.

"Unlike Bill Cosby or Woody Allen, the man doesn’t have to be hunted through a funhouse reflecting the work, the man shown in the work, and evasions and inventions from interested parties. When the media presented Deen they inevitably presented a terrifying rigid emptiness because he was a terrifying rigid emptiness — only they called it a prince instead of a terrifying rigid emptiness. James told reporters he liked his stage name because ‘“it helps people associate it with the iconic rebel attitude’” and instead of the reporters going ‘“Why do you talk like you’re trying to sell me pants?’” they printed it. Perhaps in the era of the personal brand, people are so totally not expected to be human that inhumanity passes unremarked and uninvestigated."

Comma Club
This piece calls out our obsession with leaders and reimagines them as narrative devices—there to make sense of the “causes, nature, and consequences of organizational activities.” But who leads best: a leader with “a sense of submerged irony and wistful self-awareness,” or a leader who believes they have all the answers?

Here’s a new podcast we really likeThe Rewrite dives deep into some of America’s most epic longform feature writing. This week, The New Yorker’s Patrick Radden Keefe talks Northern Ireland.

From down under, this is James Bradley in The Monthly with a slithery, elegant appreciation of eels—their migration paths and behaviors that persist despite the man-made environments in their way.

The "Voyages" issue of The New York Times Magazine this week is an epic collection of high sea adventure. Leanne Shapton channels just a touch of Rebecca Solnit in her very personal cataloging of the artifacts of the Franklin expedition. And Kim Tingley's beautiful report on the wave pilots of the Marshall Islands, detailing the dying art of navigating by sense rather than instrument, is a feature we've been meaning to write for The Alpine Review for a long while. Thanks for saving us the trouble, Kim!

Usually, when you need to choose a color, you pull out a swatch book. But on those rare occasions when you need ​just the right brown—say, pigment from the resin on a mummy's wrapping—you're going to have to break into this Harvard library. 

Last week we linked to NPR's odd stance of pretending podcasts don't exist on-air. Nick Quah, in his excellent Hot Pod newsletter (you should subscribe!) has some excellent follow-up regarding the fallout. He hits on a key question that community and public radio stations have struggled to answer for the better part of the last decade: if the charter of a broadcast station is to serve a local community, and a local community is no longer best served by a broadcast station but by newer forms of media delivery, then what is the station ​for? 

However! This piece on Editor and Publisher argues that as newspapers move beyond paywalls, they should look to the NPR membership-community significance model for future inspiration. Wait, didn't we just say this model was dying? Oh whatever. 

On games you never thought you needed: Firewatch is the “run away from everything awful in your life and hide in the wilderness for the summer but wherever you go there you are” simulator. 

The release of ​Kanye’s TLOP​ was preceded by a slew of Twitter posts announcing changes to the tracklist and album title. The launch itself involved a listening party and fashion show in MSG that was live-streamed on Tidal. Finally, the campaign was rounded off by a pop-up shop in NYC earlier this week. Now the album remains exclusive to Tidal, where certain tracks are still being updated with tweaked lines, new verses, even different beats. Is this all just marketing poppycock or is it the work of a truly modern artist

But look, wasn't Walt Whitman doing this Kanye act centuries ago with “Leaves of Grass”—his never-ending, never-not-revised masterpiece? Was that Poetry as a Service? Seriously, read this account and tell us you couldn't just find and replace one name with the other.

This is a great explanation of the Hulk Hogan trial, an event which could truly redefine freedom of expression on the internet. And of course, our favorite John Herrman with his take too.

And here’s a little newsletter love for a new letter by LA-based author Amelia Gray. She’s funny, quick, and full of great opinions. She recommends books, offers up little Q&A snippets, and tells stories of tall writers and short actors, like Tom Cruise. 

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Illustration by Chris Lange.