Christopher Bonanos

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A bunch of great articles from this year that made me rethink assertions, informed me or entertained me. All available for free.

  • Getting Bin Laden(Nicholas Schmidle, New Yorker): The best long-form journalism of the new century. Perfect writing and editing. Will be read with equal fascination 50 years from now.
  • The Movie Set That Ate Itself,” (Michael Idov, GQ): Intrepid reporter with a deadpan sensibility ventures onto the most insane movie set ever.
  • Better, Faster. Stronger“ (Rebecca Mead, New Yorker): Wicked portrait of a Silicon Valley self-help guru. Reading this piece is a good way to learn how to write profiles.
  • ‘”The Elusive Big Idea(Neal Gabler, New York Times): I don’t agree with most of the assertions of this essay, but it’s deeply intelligent and provocative.
  • Douglas Rushkoff(Peggy Nelson, HiLowbrow.com): Deep and probing interview with the media ecologist.
  • Who Invented The Seven-Game Series?“ (Michael Weinreb, Grantland): Reporter asks simple question others gloss over, finds interesting historical and analytical info.
  • Zell to L.A. Times: Drop Dead(Laurie Winer, L.A. Review of Books): Great writing about Sam Zell and the painful decline of the Los Angeles Times.
  • Show the Monster(Daniel Zalewski, The New Yorker): Brilliant Guillermo del Toro portrait for fans of film or great writing.
  • The Man Who Inspired Jobs(Christopher Bonanos, The New York Times): Polaroid founder Edwin H. Land was oddly omitted from Steve Jobs’ obits, but this lucid, insightful essay remedied that oversight. Better yet: Bonanos is apparently working on a book about Polaroid.
  • All the Angry People (George Packer, The New Yorker): The most revealing reporting yet about the genesis and meaning of Occupy Wall Street.

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Polaroid has faltered badly in the digital age, but that company’s genius inventor Edwin H. Land was to his time what Steve Jobs was to ours, and, yet, his name is probably unfamiliar to most people just two decades after his death. Christopher Bonanos has an excellent piece in the New York Times about the Land-Jobs link. An excerpt:

“Most of all, Land believed in the power of the scientific demonstration. Starting in the 60s, he began to turn Polaroid’s shareholders’ meetings into dramatic showcases for whatever line the company was about to introduce. In a perfectly art-directed setting, sometimes with live music between segments, he would take the stage, slides projected behind him, the new product in hand, and instead of deploying snake-oil salesmanship would draw you into Land’s World. By the end of the afternoon, you probably wanted to stay there.

Three decades later, Jobs would do exactly the same thing, except in a black turtleneck and jeans. His admiration for Land was open and unabashed. In 1985, he told an interviewer, ‘The man is a national treasure. I don’t understand why people like that can’t be held up as models: This is the most incredible thing to be — not an astronaut, not a football player — but this.’”

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Land demonstrates the Polaroid instant camera, 1948:

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