You’ve been busy this year. And while you’ve been busy, you may have missed some of this year’s best longreads. We know we did.

But we managed to sneak in a few during the year. These were some of our favourites.

FOOD

At Majordomo, Jonathan Gold Is Unsure Whether to Praise Chef David Chang – Or Bury Him – LA Times

A good restaurant review doesn’t just help you choose where to eat, but also informs and entertains. Even if you had zero interest in eating at Momofuku Majordomo in Los Angeles, you’d be hard-pressed to not enjoy this meditation on the city’s complex, cosmopolitan and often misunderstood food culture. Vital Koreatown addresses. Music references. Entire paragraphs exploring the complications of chef-journalist chumminess (“the disclosure statement alone might take up this entire column”). This piece features all this and more. Another classic, compelling piece of J Gold brilliance and proof – as if we needed it – why his passing in July was such a blow for the media.
– Max Veenhuyzen, editor, Broadsheet Perth

The Last Conversation You’ll Ever Need to Read About Eating Right – Grub Street
Articles on nutrition aren’t usually on the top of my reading list, but this (LONG) discussion between writer Mark Bittman and Dr David L. Katz is an exhaustive, hilarious and incredibly myth-busting look at the assumptions we make about food. In this era of competitive wellness on social media, it’s refreshing to read someone else is also confused about coconut oil and appreciates beans on a health level but not on a gas level. Real talk.
– Sinead Stubbins, deputy editor, Broadsheet Studio

How the Home of the So-Called “Best Burger in America” Truly Collapsed – Eater
This story is a follow-up to a Thrillist piece that went bananas online earlier this year, in which a food writer names the “best burger in America”. It’s a cheeseburger at Stanich’s, a lo-fi neighbourhood burger joint in Portland. Then, that writer watches in horror as the business shuts down, seemingly because it was unable to handle the onslaught of burger tourists he’d sent its way. The original piece was well-written and entertaining, sure, but it failed to report on some other crucial – and more sinister – goings-on at that burger joint that more likely contributed to its demise. This Eater piece takes us step-by-step through the entire ordeal, and drives home that whether a story is about politics or pizza, there’s almost always more to find if you dig deep enough.
– Ellen Fraser, editor, Broadsheet Melbourne

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POLITICS, HISTORY AND CULTURE

The Danger of President Pence – the New Yorker
Donald Trump set a new low bar for people-we-never-thought-we’d-see-in-the-White-House. While surely any guy is better than Trump, his sycophantic vice president, Mike Pence, comes with his own problems. Namely, “he’s the inside man of the conservative money machine,” writes journalist Jane Mayer in this revealing profile. Democrats and Republicans alike tell Mayer that a Pence White House would be a Koch brothers White House, since Pence is so chummy with the libertarian, anti-tax, anti-regulation, billionaire industrialist siblings. Unsurprisingly, Pence wouldn’t be interviewed for the story, but Mayer speaks with his mum, brother and a host of Washington DC insiders who know exactly what makes this guy tick. She visits his hometown in Indiana, where a local newspaper editor tells her: “Mike Pence wanted to be president practically since he popped out of the womb. Pence exudes a low-key humility but he’s very ambitious, even calculating, about the steps he’ll take toward that goal.” The story is filled with revelatory, juicy quotes like that. If Trump gets impeached, this is the guy America – and the world – gets next.
– Katya Wachtel, Broadsheet editorial director

An Oral History of Action Park – Mental Floss
Oral histories are the brute force method of long-form journalism. A relatively easy way of fitting into one story all the good quotes and gabby sources. This feature on New Jersey’s infamous Action Park is the perfect example – a gut-busting tale of one of the looniest amusement parks that ever existed. Action Park’s very ’80s ride-at-your-own-risk approach to entertainment led to attractions such as the Wave Pool, the Tarzan Swing and the Cannonball Loop – a waterslide with a 360-degree turn (true story) – and incidents such as an all-in melee that broke out after one of the park’s “gladiators” bop-sticked the bejesus out of a patron. This feature by Jake Rossen on Mental Floss is by turns hilarious and frightening.
– Matt Shea, editor, Broadsheet Brisbane

The Genius Neuroscientist Who Might Hold the Key to True AI – Wired
I read a lot about tech and the physical sciences. I’m sick of hearing about machine learning, blockchain and other trendy technologies, despite their incredible potential. This story is different. The topic – something called the “free energy principle” – could fundamentally alter our understanding of what it means to be alive, rather than just help us build self-driving cars or decentralised banks. It’s a discovery about ourselves – one that seems incredibly hard to understand, let alone explain. To me, that’s a small but significant hint at its gravity. Historic discoveries (atomic theory, for example) are usually perplexing – confronting, even – to the people of the day. This feels like peeking into our descendants’ far more enlightened minds.
– Nick Connellan, Broadsheet publications editor

Inside the Segregated Pubs of Outback Australia – Vice
“They're called ‘animal bars’ and they're unbelievably wrong.” That’s how Julian Morgans and Stephen Smit’s article begins. It’s an exposé on the hidden concrete rooms out the back of some pubs in the Northern Territory, which from 10am to 2pm cater specifically to Indigenous drinkers. This is a fascinating and nuanced story about alcohol consumption in the Territory and about a practice most of us know nothing about, but when told feel horrified it exists. But like many of these long-form Vice stories, it’s not simply a case of this-is-bad-let’s-get-rid-of-it. Read on to find out why.
– Sarah Norris, editor, Broadsheet Sydney

The Cost of Telling a #MeToo Story in Australia – New York Times
A year and two months, almost to the day, since American actress Alyssa Milano opened the social-media floodgates by tweeting the words “me too” and the global #MeToo movement took off, with the exception of former TV star Don Burke, few Australian perpetrators have been successfully prosecuted. Since then, actors Craig McLachlan and Geoffrey Rush, and ex-New South Wales Labor leader Luke Foley, among others, have all sued or threatened to sue their accusers for defamation. The legal, financial and emotional burden Australia’s lack of protections for free speech places on victims of sexual misconduct means our own #MeToo moment is muted. In this New York Times piece, speaking to Bari Weiss, Yael Stone details her own allegations against Rush despite fearing the consequences, and perfectly articulates how our legal system echoes the same power imbalances that allow #MeToo stories to happen.
– Joanna Robin, Broadsheet subeditor and Things to Do editor

Maybe She Had So Much Money She Just Lost Track of It – the Cut
I find stories about the influencer economy/scam artists/anything that vaguely sounds like it could be a plot from Gossip Girl, endlessly fascinating. Vanity Fair ran the original piece that looked into the crimes of international scam artist Anna Delvey, but it was Jessica Pressler’s New York Magazine longread that had me hooked. Being an It Girl grifter sure sounds complicated!
– Sinead Stubbins, deputy editor, Broadsheet Studio

The Fading Battlefields of World War I – the Atlantic
Okay, so this is a less of a longread and more of a long look. This year marked 100 years since the end of World War I. This assortment of photos shows the scarred geography of the deadly Western Front across France and Belgium, now “reclaimed by nature or returned to farmland.” Not all of these photos show that transformation, but those that do, with trenches now etched into green meadows and woody forests, are eerie and intriguing and beautiful all at once.
– Katya Wachtel, Broadsheet editorial director

MUSIC AND LITERATURE

Smashed: The Pulp Poetry of Charles Bukowski – the New Yorker
Many may have skipped past this entry the minute they saw the word “poetry”. But Charles Bukowski poetry is different. It’s for people like me who don’t like poetry. As Adam Kirsch writes in this piece, “It is a testament to Bukowski’s genuine popularity that, at a time when most poetry books can’t be given away, his are perennially ranked among the most frequently stolen titles in bookstores.” He has sold millions of books and his work has been translated into more than a dozen languages – “a commercial success of a kind hardly known in American poetry since the pre-modernist days of popular balladeers like Edgar A. Guest.” Kirsch deftly explains why.
Katya Wachtel, Broadsheet editorial director

In Conversation: Quincy Jones – Vulture
Michael Jackson was a greedy, Machiavellian thief. The Beatles were actually terrible musicians. Marlon Brando doing the cha-cha and sleeping with Richard Pryor. These are just a few of the jaw-dropping claims made in this wildly entertaining interview with legendary musician and producer Quincy Jones, who seems to be old and acclaimed enough not to give a shit about keeping secrets anymore.

"What’s something you’ve worked on that should’ve been bigger?"

"What the fuck are you talking about? I’ve never had that problem. They were all big," goes a typically bold reply from Jones. But when you're the guy who produced Thriller, We Are the World, and have nothing left to prove you may as well back yourself. This was widely circulated and you may have read it already but do yourself a favour, read it again. It's that good. And if you really want to find out how interviewer David Marchese got all of those juicy quotes, listen to his episode of the Longform podcast for some serious journalism nerding.

Post Malone Is the Perfect Pop Star for This American Moment. That’s Not a Compliment. – Washington Post
There are music journalists and music critics. The former often lean away from the work of the latter, preferring to investigate and ask someone about their art rather than simply evaluating it. The twist is, of course, that the journos eventually get pegged to do the criticism anyway, because they’ve best come to understand the context in which an artist’s work gets made. Which is perhaps a roundabout way of explaining why this piece from Jeff Weiss is so good. Weiss is one of the most respected hip-hop journalists in the US, with an ability to place rap music and its regional variations within the context of wider American culture. In this Washington Post review he deftly mixes the two, using Post Malone’s inaugural Posty Fest to systematically dismantle the Dallas-raised rapper, recently pegged by Nielsen as 2018’s most popular musician. Written just before the mid-term elections breathed a bit of hope back into the American left, you can feel Weiss’s despondency about a country that has lost its collective mind, lurching to the right and electing a real-estate-tycoon president before deciding the pop artist of the hour is a dead-eyed, walking bastardisation of rap music. Enjoy.
– Matt Shea, editor, Broadsheet Brisbane

THE ROYAL WEDDING

I Also Went to the Royal Wedding – New York Times

In my opinion Caity Weaver is better at writing celebrity profiles than anyone on the planet (plus she somehow manages to insert herself into the story without ever feeling like a loudmouth who has crashed a party). Among the deluge of the royal wedding coverage, this felt like a life raft on which you could perch yourself, look around and say, “Wow, this whole thing is really strange, isn’t it?”
– Sinead Stubbins, deputy editor, Broadsheet Studio