Scientology leader David Miscavige has been trumpeting his church’s “milestone year,” but the mysterious religion is alienating scores of its most faithful followers with what they call a real estate scam. With anger mounting and defectors fleeing, this may be more than a fleeting crisis; it may be a symptom of an institution in decline.
Swordplay! Solemn introspection! Intense feelings for inanimate objects! A writer for the beloved, then-imminently departing comedy series, reflects on his time in the trenches.
Four Canadian film students were assigned a project: Create a YouTube hoax video that gets 100,000 views. They got nearly 42 million instead. Here’s the definitive behind-the-meme look at how — and why — their homework snowballed into one of the most popular and rapidly spread videos ever.
The monthlong Python Challenge in the Everglades is part controversial preservationist initiative, part sensationalistic media stunt, and all slinking through swamps trying to kill giant deadly reptiles.
The most hellish thing about hyperacusis is that it renders the slightest mundane sound so unbearably loud that suicide seems like the only relief. The second most is convincing people that this condition is real.
On March 24, 1998, two children shot up a middle school near Jonesboro, Arkansas, killing five, wounding ten, and setting the benchmark for a horrifying trend in America. This is the story of how the close-knit rural community healed — and didn’t — and what places like Newtown can learn from its example.
The once and future Van Halen frontman has parlayed the sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll of his youth into a wild middle age, and he wants to teach us all about it. Drinking, smoking, and swinging swords on a Saturday night at home with the last true rock star.
Last September, a car chase through Arizona turned from afternoon diversion to tragedy to referendum on media ethics, but lost in the noise was any sense of who was on the run or why. This is the story behind the spectacle.
Army medic Nicholas Walker returned home from Iraq after 250 combat missions, traumatized and broken. His friends and family couldn’t help him. Therapy couldn’t help him. Heroin couldn’t help him. Pulling bank heists helped him.
Thanks to a small but devoted core of true believers and an infusion of Silicon Valley research funds, the once-revered, much-reviled science of cryopreservation may itself be coming back from the dead. Welcome to Alcor, where death is merely a temporary setback.
For the fourth year in a row, the Nathan’s 4th of July hot dog-eating contest was without its original superstar thanks to an ongoing, bilious contract dispute. It’s hard to prove you’re still the champ when you don’t have any opponents, and it’s hard to plan your future when your golden opportunity implodes in scandal.
Nothing is more emblematic of the American dream than chaotic mining and drilling towns such as Williston, North Dakota, and the people who flock to them in search of fortune. And no one knows better how these communities work — and don’t — than the traveling topless dancer.
The “umami” craze has turned a much-maligned and misunderstood food additive into an object of obsession for the world’s most innovative chefs. But secret ingredient monosodium glutamate’s biggest secret may be that there was never anything wrong with it at all.
That a high-concept, fast-talking farce based on a board game was a box office bomb in 1985 is no huge mystery. But figuring out how it became an enduring favorite is a Hollywood whodunit for the ages. (The prime suspect: you, in the living room, with the remote control.)
In an economically depressed Maine county, Bill Sheldon is the kingpin of a $40 million baby-eel industry that may be doomed to extinction. Find out what happens when a community full of armed fishermen and elver dealers stop being polite and start getting real.
In 2004, David Sneddon disappeared while hiking in China. But what seemed at first like a tragic accident may be something far more sinister: His family believes he is among the thousands of civilians who have been mysteriously abducted and imprisoned by North Korean agents.
Though I’ve lived and been out in San Francisco for years, my parents are still in Taiwan and conservative — and homophobic — as the culture around them. When I was nearly “outed” me while I was there to celebrate my mother’s birthday, I didn’t want to take the opportunity to come clean.
Self-styled (literally) movie star Melissa Leo has, over the course of three decades of work, carved out an almost impossible career path for an actress: peaking in her fifties, simultaneously courting and trolling Hollywood, and not giving a shit how any of that makes her look.
Born in Germany but raised in Missouri, “Wild Bill” Suess served in the Army, then did time for various crimes. But he didn’t know what prison really was until strict immigration laws left him to fend for himself at a grim shelter in a foreign country he was now forced to call home.
One night at a music festival, someone put something in my drink. What happened next was humiliating and taught me how common these incidents are, and how easy, and wrong, it is to blame the victim.
In September, after a year of being bullied online, Rebecca Sedwick threw herself off a three-story cement silo, sparking an international freak-out over the responsibility social media networks like Ask.fm have in fostering this kind of harassment. But for Rebecca’s family, friends, and neighbors, the problem isn’t technology or opportunistic startups — it’s people.
After having lived in the United States, going back home to India in 2013 means readjusting to more than modest dress and unwanted stares. It means confronting a past I’d rather forget.
In the ’90s, a gynecologist named Gao Yaojie exposed the horrifying cause of an AIDS epidemic in rural China — and the ensuing cover-up — and became an enemy of the state. Now 85, she lives in New York without her family, without her friends, and without regrets.
Julia Pastrana was born in the 1830s in Mexico, severely deformed and covered in hair, then became an international sensation. After she died in 1860, her mummified remains became an equally public curiosity, and only now, 153 years later, is she finally resting in peace.