Journalism

THE GREATEST HITS

Between 1966 and 2000, I wrote a zillion pieces for magazines. Luckily for you, many were for magazines that no longer exist or magazines that didn’t start putting articles online until the millennium. Still, I’ve been able to gather a representative selection on this screen. I have some favorites. Not that the laundry list below has second-tier work, but here are the pieces I’m proudest of.

The Woman Who Beat the Klan
The best piece I ever wrote: In 1981, in Mobile, Alabama, some members of the Ku Klux Klan lynched 19-year-old Michael Donald. They were never arrested. This is the story of how Morris Dees, of the Southern Poverty Law Center, won some justice for Michael’s mother.

The World of Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol died on a Sunday morning. I spent that day reading books about him. On Monday I interviewed his friends and colleagues. On Tuesday, I wrote 7,000 words. The following Monday, this was the cover story of New York Magazine. A week later, Tina Brown offered me a job at Vanity Fair.

Diana Vreeland: Empress of Clothes
Mrs. Vreeland was a legend, and as we know, legends often construct their own myths. I saw the woman behind the legend and wrote that story. It was considerably more interesting than the one her friends knew.

A Fatal Romance At Yale
He was a poor Chicano boy from Los Angeles. She was a rich girl from Westchester. At Yale, they became lovers. You know what happened: she broke up with him, he couldn’t accept that.

Trouble Boys
John Pius Jr, 13, was murdered in a Long Island schoolyard in 1979. Four teens were quickly arrested. One confessed — but did they do it? (Only Part 1 is online.)
35 years later, the case resurfaced. Here’s the New York Times piece.

The Cheever Chronicle
I spent an enjoyable summer reading every word John Cheever wrote. We took a bike ride. We talked and talked. What a privilege.

Turning Hard Assets Into Liquid Options
Thanks to my America Online stock options, I was, for the first time in my life, worth more alive than dead. So I bought wine “futures” — Bordeaux bottled in 2000, to be delivered to me in 2003. But in 2003 I had a different life.

Robin Williams, 1983: Even Then, You Could See Life Was a Struggle
Before “Mrs. Doubtfire” was released, I profiled Robin. We laughed and laughed. But under the laughter…

The 1964 Civil Rights Murders: The Struggle Continues
Three civil rights workers — Mickey Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney were killed in Mississippi in 1964. Twenty five years later, their families organized a memorial to the three men held on the anniversary of their murder in the county where they were killed.

Here Comes the Night: Death in the 60s
In a single year, I lost four friends. I saw that as a sign: the night is coming for my generation. And for me.

The Pied Piper of Park Avenue
I had a dream one night: New York private school kids, children of the rich, marching toward Harlem to do good works. That became a 7-part series in the New York Observer, its first since “Sex and the City.”

On Goldman Pond
What wouldn’t Goldman Sachs do? Good question. One thing it might: in tough economic times, buy up the houses on East Hampton’s Georgica Pond from overextended homeowners. This story is fiction, but it makes such sense than some readers were confused.

NOT AVAILABLE: “The Fuhrer Over est – Werner Erhard of est: How the king of the brain-snatchers created his private empire” (New Times Magazine, 1976.)
When I profiled him, Werner Erhard was the king of the human potential movement. He hired a private detective to find out what I learned about him, then threatened a huge lawsuit if we published anything negative. He didn’t know I had a box of his discarded memos — and est’s tax returns.
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HARVARD MAGAZINE
Andrew Sullivan: World’s Best Blogger?
Al Franken: You Can Call Me Senator
John Weidman: Storytelling with Sondheim

THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE
Damian Woetzel
Who Needs America Online?
Play It Alone, Brickman
The Department Store as Theater
Merchandising Disco for the Masses

THE NEW YORK TIMES SUNDAY REVIEW
If I Were President
Leonard Cohen: King of Pop?
The Pivot: The Move of the Moment
The Trending Culture: Now you see it, now you don’t

THE NEW YORK TIMES STYLE SECTION
Close to Home: When Furnishings Say Family
Class Notes: A teacher who told her students to ‘write dialogue that’s natural’ finds herself out of a job.
Talking to Joe McGinniss
A Hamptonite Biker Pedals All the Way
Is South Beach Big Enough For Two Hotel Kings?

NEW YORK
Nora Ephron: Scenes from a Marriage
The Rise and Rise of Arianna Stassinopoulos (Huffington)

VANITY FAIR
Barry Levinson: From ‘Tin Men’ to “Rain Man’

THE LOS ANGELES TIMES
What Digby Says
First Act: Howard Rosenman
Critical Mass: Dave Hickey

ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST
Michael J. Fox and Tracey Pollan
Michael Crichton
Victoria Hagan
Gilles Mendel and Kylie Case
Ann McNally

DEPARTURES
Cesaria Evora

MEDIA BISTRO
Feeling Bad for Judy Miller: It’s Possible
The Internet Tail Will Come to Wag the Internet Dog (2005)
Why I Steal
Hopefully not: Ten usage and grammar errors that could (or should) cripple a career
Tim Russert and the Dead Woman: Real Men Always Cry
There’s an editing error in this piece. This is wrong: “And whatever it is, why is Russert gunning for a ‘gotcha’ moment? That’s not what he does. And yet here’s an attack for the highlight reel—one of the biggest names in television news is telling us that it doesn’t matter how unimportant you are, if you get the facts wrong, he’s going to be a hellhound on your trail.” As everybody who watched “Meet the Press” knows, Russert was the king of “gotcha.” It should read: “Why is Russert gunning for a ‘gotcha’ moment? Because that’s what he does. The person on the other end doesn’t matter; here’s an attack for the highlight reel. One of the biggest names in television news is telling us that it doesn’t matter how unimportant you are, if you get the facts wrong, he’s going to be a hellhound on your trail.”

NEW YORK OBSERVER
Food Fight at the PEN Gala: I’m With Charlie
The PEN and Met Galas: A Tale of Two Seatings
Denzel Washington
Judy! Judy! Judy! Judith Miller Carried Water for the USA’s Worst Debacle Since Vietnam

GOOD MEN PROJECT
The summer I learned to drink

VOGUE
Linda Ronstadt

TATLER
Michelle Pfeiffer

OBITUARIES
‘How Do We Treat the Little People, Joan?’ I Asked. And She Said, ‘Why, We Treat Them Better. We Only Shit on People at Our Level or Higher.’

YOUR TANGO
Sex and Drugs Made Me a Man

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
Fewer Books: A Rescue Plan for Barnes & Noble

NPR
‘Dodsworth,’ ‘Identity Theory,’ CC Adcock
‘The Killer Inside Me’
Mitch Hedberg
‘Alexander Nevsky’