Daily Briefing

Deep buzz for the content-deprived

Every weekday, while you get showered and dressed, we pluck these dewy- fresh, breaking stories from the info-clogged byways of the datasphere. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and stoke up on everything you need to know, or at least enough to fake it.

L.A.'s Cool-Kid Backyard Concert Series -- Kensington Presents
Sara Lieberman,The Daily Beast | Backyard Concerts | October 17, 2014

A pop-up concert series in Los Angeles is bringing together up-and-coming musicians with an eclectic audience for a pot-luck backyard concert. What more could a West Coast hipster want?

On a cool California night in October 2013, a large harp stands upright on the porch of a house in Los Angeles’s Angeleno Heights neighborhood. Just in front of it, a long table is packed with creative potluck dishes...

High Hitler: Nazi Leader Was A Meth Addict, Says New Documentary
Ishaan Tharoor, The Washington Post | Hitler's Drugs | October 15, 2014

Adolf Hitler is remembered as many things: a genocidal warmonger, a hateful ideologue, a failed art student. But the phrase "drug addict" is usually not high among the list of epithets. A new documentary, to be aired this weekend by Britain's Channel 4, digs into the Führer's "hidden drug habit." Based on details in a 47-page American military dossier compiled during the war, Hitler was taking a cocktail of 74 different drugs...

Richard Flanagan's Way With Intimacy
Amelia Lester, The New Yorker | Flanagan's Way With Intimacy | October 15, 2014

Richard Flanagan, who yesterday became the third Australian to win the Booker Prize, for his novel “The Narrow Road to the Deep North,” was born in Tasmania. More than mere biographical detail, this remote island and its troubled, often violent history is one of his obsessions...

The Secret Casualties Of Iraq's Abandoned Chemical Weapons
C.J. Chivers, The New York Times | Secret Casualties of Iraq's Chemical Weapons | October 15, 2014

The specialist swabbed the shell with chemical detection paper. It turned red — indicating sulfur mustard, the chemical warfare agent designed to burn a victim’s airway, skin and eyes.

All three men recall an awkward pause. Then Sergeant Duling gave an order: “Get the hell out.”...

On Actions Taken, Or Not: Review of 'Worthy Fights'
Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times | Parsing Panetta's 'Worthy Fights' | October 12, 2014

The most interesting news in former Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta’s memoir, “Worthy Fights,” concerns his disagreements with the Obama White House over Syria, Iraq and the budget crisis — disagreements that have been outlined in recent interviews and in testimony before Congress. Still, Mr. Panetta elaborates on such subjects here, and these passages — in what is otherwise an often opaque and evasive book — shed light on the distressing events now unfolding in the Middle East as the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, rolls through large sections of Syria and Iraq...

From Didion To Dunham, Female Essayists Seize The Day
Lucy Scholes, The Daily Beast | Female Essayists Seize The Day | October 12, 2014

Joan Didion's trailblazing nonfiction set a forbiddingly high standard, but a slew of idiosyncratic writers are proving that her example may be inimitable but it is also inspiring.

“There is nothing gutsier to me than a person announcing that their story is one that deserves to be told, especially if that person is a woman,” writes Lena Dunham in the introduction to her essays-cum-memoir Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned.” But does simply announcing one has a story automatically legitimize its telling?...

Paying Respects, Pentagon Revives Vietnam, And War Over Truth
Sheryl Gay Stolberg, The New York Times | Remembering Vietnam | October 10, 2014

It has been nearly half a century since a young antiwar protester named Tom Hayden traveled to Hanoi to investigate President Lyndon B. Johnson’s claims that the United States was not bombing civilians in Vietnam. Mr. Hayden saw destroyed villages and came away, he says, “pretty wounded by the pattern of deception.”Now the Pentagon — run by a Vietnam veteran, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel — is planning a 50th anniversary commemoration of the Vietnam War...

The Self-Made Man
John Swansburg, Slate | The Self-Made Man | October 10, 2014

The  story of America's most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

The Greatest Ancient Picture Gallery
William Dalrymple, The New York Review of Books | Caves Of Ajanta | October 9, 2014

In the winter of 1844, Major Robert Gill, a young British military draftsman, set off from Madras into the independent princely state of Hyderabad to record a major new archaeological discovery. Some years earlier, in 1819, a British hunting party in the jungles of the Western Ghats had followed a tiger into a remote river valley and stumbled onto what was soon recognized as one of the great wonders of India: the painted caves of Ajanta...

Saul Steinberg At One Hundred
Ian Frazier, The New Yorker | Saul Steinberg At 100 | October 8, 2014

He said that he always tried to draw like a child. The portrait photo he engineered of his adult self holding hands with a life-size cutout photo of himself at age six shows how seriously he took this idea. The goal was to draw like a child who never stopped drawing that way even as he aged and his subject matter became not childish...