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The Problem With Erik: Privilege, Blackmail, and Murder for Hire in Austin

A tale of bizarre goings-on in Austin, Texas. If you were blackmailed, would your first choice be to hire a hitman? It was for Erik Maund, which—unsurprisingly—escalated things further. With strong reporting from Katy Vine and Ana Worrel, this story races along to a tragic conclusion that could have easily been avoided. Two days later, Erik...

Fri Jun 21, 2024 15:57
How 3M Executives Convinced a Scientist the Forever Chemicals She Found in Human Blood Were Safe

Decades ago, Kris Hansen showed 3M that its PFAS chemicals were in people’s bodies. Her bosses halted her work. As the EPA now forces the removal of the “forever chemicals” from drinking water, Hansen is wrestling with the secrets that 3M kept from her—and from the world. This ProPublica investigation was co-published with The New Yorker: In...

Fri Jun 21, 2024 14:25
The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

This story was funded by our members. Join Longreads and help us to support more writers. In this week’s edition: Remembering an AIDS activist Keeping the secrets hidden in blood The missing “chacmool” women from Carlos Castaneda’s cult An international stolen bike organization The chef who makes...

Fri Jun 21, 2024 14:25
The Case of the Missing Chacmools

Carlos Castaneda became a bestselling writer in the ’70s. Famous around the globe for his Don Juan books, he was (and is) a New Age icon, despite being later called out for fabricating these stories. He then disappeared from the spotlight, bought a compound in Los Angeles, and formed a cult, which consisted of dozens of followers—mostly young women...

Thu Jun 20, 2024 18:54
The Cousin I Never Knew

Sophie Vershbow dug through years of letters, diaries, and ephemera to profile her cousin Jeffrey Bomser, who died at age 38 of complications related to AIDS. Bomser was a ray of light in the community; he used his privilege to speak out against stigma and advocate for clinical trials, but above all, took every opportunity he could to help others with...

Thu Jun 20, 2024 17:24
Pork, Love, and Money: Life According to La Piraña Lechonera

This is a joyous account of the singular experience of dining at La Piraña Lechonera, a restaurant run by chef Angel Jimenez. Open on summer weekends, La Piraña is as much about the atmosphere as the food—and is run in a style that most capitalist ventures would balk at. There is noise, smells, and grease aplenty in Abe Beam’s great piece. While...

Thu Jun 20, 2024 15:55

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