The making of a comedy classic, first published in Premiere Magazine:
HAROLD RAMIS: We very quickly came up with a model: Dan was the heart of the Ghostbusters, I was the brains, and Bill was the mouth.
I found my character on the front page of an abstract architectural journal. There was a picture of a guy and an article about his work. I didn’t understand a word, but his image was great. He was wearing a retro three-piece tweed suit, wire-rim glasses, and his hair was standing way up. I thought, “That could be my guy.” I took the name Egon from a Hungarian refugee I went to grammar school with, and Spengler was from [noted historian] Oswald Spengler.
PUBLISHED: Feb. 26, 2014
LENGTH: 14 minutes (3562 words)
Every week, Syracuse University professor Aileen Gallagher helps Longreads highlight the best of college journalism. Here’s this week’s pick.
Twenty former Capcom employees and business partners look back on the creation and massive success of the game that 'helped revolutionize the industry': Street Fighter 2.
So I remember being down in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and we're launching the game down there. And I didn't even have the earnings back yet. I mean, they were coming in — we had one unit in Sunnyvale Golfland; the other one was in Milpitas. So I had my testers go out there and I said, "Hey man, I've gotta have some kind of idea what's in there." So they said, "Well we opened the cash box up. We haven't even hit the weekend yet, just been cruising through the week." And ... I think it was like $650 that was in there. I go, "That's not bad. That's not bad." So I said, "Well, let me just do a little surmising. Eh, it'll probably end up doing about 800. That's a really good report." So I'm down in Florida basically telling my distribution network, "I think it's gonna be about an $800 a week game, based on testing in Milpitas." And then seven days came up after my distributor meeting, and the thing made $1,300.
So one of the things that we quickly found was, Golfland says, "We're having problems with the players, because everybody's backed up on the unit. Can we get another one?" "Yes, you can get another one." We bring another one out. Now I'm afraid if I put a second one in there I'm gonna cannibalize it. I'm gonna have two doing $600. Not the case at all. They both do 14. So now we know we've got a juggernaut on our hands. Sunnyvale Golfland and Milpitas, I believe at the peak, were probably operating up to 15 units inside there. And you know, the game went through the ceiling.
PUBLISHED: Feb. 3, 2014
LENGTH: 76 minutes (19037 words)
Former players, broadcasters, fans and city officials look back on the Giants-A’s series and the devastating 6.9 quake that rocked Candlestick Park and the Bay Area:
"McGwire: We thought the whole place was burning up like in 1906.
"George Thurlow, fan, upper deck: The mood of the crowd was jubilant and excited and Wow, that was cool until the first radio announcements began. The first one that I have written down was, ‘The Bay Bridge is down.’
"Dolich: They didn’t say a piece collapsed. It was, ‘The Bay Bridge collapsed.’ You can only think, Oh my god, this is a horror movie coming true.
PUBLISHED: Oct. 25, 2013
LENGTH: 47 minutes (11754 words)
Ten years after the singer-songwriter’s death, friends and bandmates tell the story of his life and career:
“I had a copy of the finished cassette on me all the time and I was listening to it all the time. I had a lot of friends at Sub Pop and Matador and Cavity Search and all these record labels, and I was hanging out with them because I was promoting [Heatmiser], and I needed these labels to put their bands on tour with my band, but I didn’t burst into Cavity Search Records like, ‘You have to play this! It’s the best thing you’ve ever heard and you need to release it right now.’ I was probably just like, ‘I’ve got this solo cassette by Elliott.’ ‘What? Elliott does solo stuff?’ I put it on and their jaws dropped. They released it without changing a thing. That’s Roman Candle.”
PUBLISHED: Oct. 21, 2013
LENGTH: 84 minutes (21189 words)
On Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and an oral history of the "outlaw country" movement that coalesced in Austin as a reaction to the polished "countrypolitan gloss" in Nashville, led by RCA executive Chet Atkins:
"Liquor by the drink had finally become legal in Texas, which prompted the folkies to migrate from coffeehouses to bars, turning their music into something you drank to. Songwriters moved to town, like Michael Murphey, a good-looking Dallas kid who’d written for performers such as the Monkees and Kenny Rogers in L.A. He was soon joined by Jerry Jeff Walker, a folkie from New York who’d had a radio hit when the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band covered his song 'Mr. Bojangles.' In March, Willie played a three-day country festival outside town, the Dripping Springs Reunion, that would grow into his Fourth of July Picnics. Then he too moved to Austin and started building an audience that didn’t look like or care about any Nashville ideal. By the time the scene started to wind down, in 1976, Willie and Austin were known worldwide."
PUBLISHED: Oct. 13, 2013
LENGTH: 45 minutes (11438 words)
The population of nuns in the United States has dwindled to less than 60,000, and just 12% of them are under the age of 60. With convents closing down, sisters are left to fend for themselves: The Catholic Church covers retirement funds for priests, "the sisters have no such safety net. When their orders run out of money, that’s it."
"'Why would you want to be a nun if the archdiocese is going to treat you like they do?' Ann Frey at the Wartburg said. 'Their whole lives they’ve been obedient and done what they were asked to do, and now nobody is helping them?'"
"Neil Burke, a 24-year-old who spends a lot of time with the sisters at the nursing home, feels the same indignation. He could be volunteering with priests, but he doesn't like them much. 'If they need anything, they ask and just get it,' he said. Instead, he’s compiling an oral history of the sisters at the Wartburg that will hopefully be completed by 2016. He can list the ways women are mistreated by the church off the top of his head: 'They can’t give homilies, celebrate mass, consecrate the host, or become priests.'"
PUBLISHED: July 23, 2013
LENGTH: 10 minutes (2741 words)
Organizers, demonstrators, and speakers remember one of the most significant political rallies in U.S. history:
"A. Philip Randolph gave a speech that is just ignored too much. He gave the speech for jobs and economic rights, and he did it with incredible power. Then my heart was in my mouth for John Lewis, the then 23-year-old SNCC leader from Troy, Alabama. If you look at that speech today, it was still the most radical. And then of course Dr. King was the culmination. Mahalia Jackson sang, not to be believed. If you look at clips of the march, you see Bayard running around and talking, he never stopped. He’s organizing everything except when Mahalia sings."
PUBLISHED: July 4, 2013
LENGTH: 23 minutes (5871 words)
How Time Warner Cable's NY1 became an iconic news channel in New York City:
Roma Torre: I would have been in the office at nine o' clock because that's when I arrive. But because it was a primary election day, and I was covering politics at the time, they told me to come in at two o'clock on September 11th. I was at home, and my daughter had just started kindergarten. My husband ran in and said, 'Turn to CNN!' I heard the woman who replaced me at the anchor desk speaking on CNN and that's because CNN's antenna was knocked out because they were on top of the World Trade Center. NY1's was on top of the Empire State Building. For a while, we were the only game in town. CNN was putting us on their air because they had no means of transmission. I got dressed so fast and jumped in the car and started driving, which was kind of foolish because I didn't have a game plan. Of course, from Jersey, all roads were closed getting into the city. I did a u-turn in Route 46 and decided to go North and went to Tarrytown and parked the car because I heard on the radio that Metro North was running. When I got to Grand Central Terminal, I miraculously found a cab and got one block until firefighters stopped the cab to ask if he could please let them in to take reinforcements to the tower. I was like, 'Of course!' So I walked to the west side. I really didn't get into the office until about seven or eight o' clock that night and I set out from my house at 10 a.m.
PUBLISHED: May 23, 2013
LENGTH: 43 minutes (10896 words)