Despite what Taylor Swift thinks, 2017 as a whole saw the world plunge into all kinds of darkness, with some of the most ridiculous headlines that turned the world into a real-life version of The Onion. But amidst all the terrible things, there was still great journalism being done everywhere. No list is comprehensive (I feel like I have to say this for every year-end list I put together), but below you will find ~100 stories that I really enjoyed this year, and I think you will too:
Persons of Interest
Linda Rodriguez McRobbie profiled people with a rare condition that allows them to remember everything in “Total recall: the people who never forget.” Chris Gayomali talked to Austin Lawrence a.k.a. The Vape God. Lauren Schwartzberg profiled the people behind the Supreme Saint streetwear shopping bot. Molly Fischer’s sublime and scathing profile of Rupi Kaur, the Instagram poet. Rachel Monroe wrote about Manson bloggers and the world of murder fandom. Oliver Franklin-Willis profiled Romain Pizza, the surgeon who has performed surgery on over a thousand wild animals. Andrew Goldman on the rise and fall of F. Lee Bailey, the lawyer who set O.J. Simpson free. Sam Anderson got a glimpse into the mind of the notoriously private non-fiction writer John McPhee. Jesse Lichtenstein on Jonny Sun, the viral Twitter sensation turned author.
Caity Weaver spent some time with Dwayne Johnson. Rawiya Kameir’s profile of Cardi B was perfect. I still re-read Brad Pitt’s GQ Style interview in which he makes matcha green tea and discovers R&B music once in awhile. Clover Hope on the making and unmaking of Iggy Azalea. Alex Pappademas traveled to Beijing to find Jackie Chan still hustling at the age of 63. Mimi O’Donnell remembers Philip Seymour Hoffman. An illuminating profile of Terrence Malick from Eric Benson. ASAP Ferg’s Sunday routine. The reinvention of Joe Budden. Somehow, Maisie Williams is cooler than Arya Stark. Eddie Huang on Steve Harvey. Have you heard of Toronto City councillor Norm Kelly, better known as @norm on Twitter? All he does is take from black culture and give nothing back.
Shouts to Desus and Mero for their success this year and this wonderful GQ&A. I watch a lot of episodes of “Hot Ones” but my favorite was the one featuring The Mayor of Flavortown Guy Fieri. John Mayer on The Grateful Dead and streetwear. A story I didn’t know I wanted but definitely needed: the oral history of Kanye West’s lost puppet comedy television pilot. Shouts to Jeff Weiss for standing up for journalism and Los Angeles. All of his stuff is worth reading, I particularly loved his revisit of Ghostface Killah’s Supreme Clientele. BoJack Horseman is still delivering some of the best television episodes, here’s a deep dive on the heartbreaking dementia episode from Season 4. Gita Jackson on why black men love Dragon Ball Z. Claire Dederer grapples with the pop culture question: what do we do with the art of monstrous men?
The World We Live In
How fake news turned a small town upside-down. Jia Tolentino on how children’s books are explaining President Trump. Bomani Jones wonders exactly what Colin Kaepernick is a distraction from? Hillary Clinton’s post-election life. Meet the people who battle to to be the top reply to a Trump tweet. Why Gregg Popovich can’t stop himself from talking about Trump. Jeanne Marie Laskas with a beautiful story on the letters people wrote and sent to Obama. Ta-Nehisi Coates on the first white president. A heartbreaking piece from Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah on the making of Dylann Roof: American terrorist. Aram Roston and Joel Anderson on the moneyman behind the Alt-Right. A story about a KKK sign in Georgia and how it reflects a sign of the times. What happens when neo-Nazis invade a small town. David Roth on the President of blank sucking nullity. Have smartphones destroyed a generation (spoiler: I think so)? Also, how smartphones can hijack our minds. John Lanchester on Facebook. Alyssa Bereznak on the rise of Instagram playgrounds. A catfish story that actually has a happy ending. Brihana Joy Gray wrote my favorite essay on cultural appropriation this year. A deep dive from Michael Hobbes and the Huffington Post Highline team on why millennials are facing the scariest financial future of any generation since the Great Depression.
Pablo Torre on LeBron James’ second career and his plan to become a global entertainment icon. Mike Piazza: owner of a soccer team in Italy. How LaVar Ball got our attention and spoke it own plan into being. The NFL players who played exactly one game in their careers. I learned a lot in this story about Jon Lester, the baseball pitcher who overcame the yips in his own way. Ben Reiter on the complicated life and death of Hideki Irabu. Michael Vick’s essay to Atlanta. The story of a basketball court in Paris that has existed since 1893. The exciting life and lonely death of basketball vagabond Jackson Vroman. How NBA bust Darko Milicic found success and happiness back in Serbia. Andrew Keh on how Finland’s sports culture has a couple of screws loose. Jeff Pearlman on the fallout from sportswriting’s filthiest fuck-up.
And the rest...
Taffy Brodesser-Akner on why the ideal Iceland only exists in your mind. Ocean Vuong on being generous in your work. Sarah Baird on the toxic saga of Japan’s Tsukiji fish market. When happens when scientists go through airport security? That time the TSA found a scientist’s 3-D printed mouse penis. The growing world of bespoke porn. R.I.P. Dave Bry, who wrote in the New York Times’ Letter of Recommendation section about talking about the weather. The underworld of mattress bloggers and the mattress companies who really want to sell you their product. Amanda Mull on New York Fashion Week’s disdain for fat people. Norimitsu Onishi on how a generation of Japan faces a lonely death. An Egyptian bodega owner in New York is also a part-time television pundit. Stephen Thomas on how loneliness has reached epidemic levels in the past few decades. A week inside Hong Kong’s coffin homes. The improbable origin of Microsoft Powerpoint. Inside Canada’s high church of cannabis. David Roth explains the ratio: the triple crown of bad tweets. Matthew Rettenmund on the rise and fall of Playgirl Magazine.