Trolling Hell: Is the Satanic Temple a Prank, the Start of a New Religious Movement -- or Both?

Categories: Longform

The most controversial new work of art in the United States is a sculpture that resides in an undisclosed warehouse location in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Hardly anyone knows where it is, and few have actually seen it. The people who commissioned the piece have warned the artist not to publicly identify himself.

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The Queens Graffiti Mecca 5 Pointz Was Never Just About the Painting on the Outside

C.S. Muncy
Nicole Gagne doesn't remember the fall itself, or any of the month that followed. She spent almost all of it in a hospital bed, pumped full of a painkiller that had the happy side effect of causing temporary amnesia.

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An Upstart New York Architect Dreams Up a Swimming Pool in the East River

Categories: Longform

All images courtesy and Dynamic Theories
This was not, Dong-Ping Wong insisted for the millionth time, a prank phone call. No, please don't hang up. He just wanted to talk about how to clean pool water.

But the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene official on the other end of the line still wasn't entirely convinced. No, she hadn't read Wong's email, but she didn't need to; she'd spent the past 45 minutes listening to this man, who claimed to be an architect, talk about building a pool in the East River. And filling it with . . . river water?

"Does your mother know what you're doing?" the woman asked him. Wong was used to this.

"OK," he said, "let's assume I'm a crazy person. Just give me one last thing. Indulge a crazy person. Have you seen the video I sent you?"

She hadn't.

He told her he'd wait.

She pressed play. Phone to his ear, Wong could hear his own voice in the background: "We're here because we want to build a floating pool."

"You do look crazy," she said finally. And, at least in terms of the video, maybe he did: disheveled black hair, tie-dye-spattered T-shirt, round grandfather glasses. Beside him on a couch, staring into the camera, were two similarly scruffy men, also wearing T-shirts. All three were hunched toward the camera, elbows on their knees. This was a business pitch?

Wong said nothing. A minute went by.

"Oh," the woman said.

Another minute. Wong heard her clear her throat as the video faded out.

"You know, I'm a bit of an artist myself," she said. "I understand when people try to do creative things.

"You do look crazy," she added. And then she told him what he needed to know.

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The Prisoner's Daughter: What if your dad had been doing time for murder for as long as you'd known him?

Categories: Longform

Photograph by Celeste Sloman
Amanda Rosario remembered a big gray room, and she remembered the smell of it. She hated the smell of it. She was on her mom's lap, she remembered, and her dad sat across from them. Her mom wore dark jeans and her dad had a thin face. That's all she remembered of the last time she saw him. She was three at the time.

She was six when she figured out that the big gray room was inside a prison and that her dad was in prison. There was no single moment of enlightenment. She learned the information gradually, in pieces she had to put together. She was a perceptive child, headstrong and curious. When adults gathered in the living room or kitchen, she eavesdropped behind a wall. They often talked about her dad, and when they did their voices were sad. They talked about visiting him. She sometimes heard them mention the word "prison."

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How New York Comedian Michael Che Willed His Way to SNL and The Daily Show

Photo: Laura June Kirsch
"Why do you have to be so dirty?" a voice called from the darkness. "The show's called Cartoon Violence, but it's not about cartoons. There should've been a warning!"

Michael Che paused. He was onstage in August 2013 during his second show at Scotland's annual Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It's true, few would mistake Che for a clean comic. (Earlier he'd confessed to the audience what he loves most about Brits: "They say 'cunt' a lot. I don't know how saying it got such a bad rap; it's literally my favorite thing on the planet.") Yet within industry circles, he's a far cry from the world of shock comedy, where perfunctory filth often supplants punch lines of consequence.

He tried his best to answer the question posed by the heckler, a white-haired woman. "My favorite cartoon is Tom and Jerry, because it's violent," he explained. "But kids are watching it, so it's, like, ridiculous. You ever been slapped in the face with a rake? It's hard! It's like . . . I'm talking about some serious shit, but what I'm saying sounds ridiculous coming out of my mouth."

"Can you tell me one clean joke?" she pressed.

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Eight Reasons Why Congress Offers the Worst Job in America

Categories: Congress, Longform

Scott Anderson
Imagine, in a moment of suspended belief, that your job pays 174 grand a year. And comes with a $1.3 million expense account. And a staff of eighteen Ivy League yes-men whose sole duty is to bray loud and wide about the miracle that is you -- when they're not babysitting your kids or fetching your dry cleaning, that is.

You get free travel to anywhere on the globe. A private dining room and a private gym replete with swimming pool, sauna and steam bath.

Best of all, you're only required to show up for the equivalent of four months per year.

Former congressman Tom Tancredo had this life for a decade. By the time it was over, he'd caught that affliction known to anyone who hates his job: a fear of Monday mornings. "As I drove to work, I'd get a knot in my stomach, and it would just start to grow," Tancredo says.

Here's why:

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Longform: Cecily McMillan Faces Prison Time. Where's the Justice in That?

Photo by Zach D. Roberts
Police remove Cecily McMillan from a bus they'd commandeered for prisoner transport at Zuccotti Park on the night of St. Patrick's Day

Read our May 19 update to this story here.

On a normal day, it's not hard to get to the 11th floor of 100 Centre Street, the hulking gray building that houses much of Manhattan's criminal court system. You pass through a set of gold-rimmed doors and a metal detector and step into a dingy elevator, where no one speaks and some of your fellow riders might be in handcuffs, fresh from central booking in the basement.

On Monday, May 5, though, the crowd trying to get into Judge Ronald Zweibel's courtroom had a harder time. Security had set up a second screening post outside the courtroom doors. Phones were not permitted. Purses were pawed through, wallets opened, and everyone was wanded a second time for weapons. Inside, 33 officers ringed the room.

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Who Were Those Masked Men, Anyway?

Categories: Longform

Witnesses told police that the robbers were three white males in their thirties or forties.
At 8:09 a.m. on Valentine's Day 2012, Liloutie Ramnanan pulled her sedan into the parking lot of the Pay-O-Matic Check Cashing on South Conduit Avenue in South Jamaica, Queens. She'd worked as a teller there for 16 years. It was a steady job. It paid better than minimum wage and business was good. The economy had been improving but there remained enough distrust in traditional banks to keep a steady stream of customers at her window.

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How Democrats, Republicans, and Big Medicine Sabotaged Obamacare From the Start

Categories: Longform

Daniel Borman/Creative Commons
Early in his presidency, Barakc Obama tried to get the youth involved in the fight for healthcare reform with events like this 2009 rally at the University of Maryland.
It was the winter of our discontent, 2009. A season of bank failures, massive layoffs and $5-a-gallon gasoline.

Finally, a fractured country could at least agree on one thing: This had to change.

So President Barack Obama set out to deactivate the next bomb awaiting the U.S. economy, the one ticking inside our bloated, beleaguered health system.

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Bill de Blasio's Pledge to Abolish Horse-Drawn Carriages is Running Away From Him

Categories: Longform

Jesse Dittmar
Carriage driver Christina Hansen, left, and carriage owner and driver Stephen Malone pose with Malone's horse Tyson, and another horse, Wee Red, at the Clinton Park stables.
Jesse Dittmar
The smell of the Clinton Park Stables arrives before the sight of them, a mixture of straw and manure and horse sweat. It rises from the pavement of 52nd Street, just east of the Hudson River, across from De Witt Clinton Park, from which the stables take their name. The smell makes you swivel your head around, searching for a phantom pony.

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