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FAVORITES

Bad Paper (The New York Times Magazine): My latest nonfiction book, Bad Paper, was excerpted as the cover of the magazine.  It tells the true story of a former banker and a former armed robber who go into business together and purchase $1.5 billion worth of bad debt for pennies on the dollar.  You can it read on the New York Times' website.  

The Cop (The New Yorker): Darren Wilson was not indicted for shooting Michael Brown. Many people in Ferguson question whether justice was done.  Click here to read my article in the New Yorker.

Bank of the Underworld (The Atlantic Monthly): In 2006, Arthur Budovsky launched a digital currency system called Liberty Reserve. It took off, and was soon processing millions of transactions. Budovsky says he just wanted to modernize banking. Prosecutors claim he ran a massive money-laundering operation that helped criminals around the world move $6 billion in dirty money.Read my latest article in the Atlantic Monthly.

Pay Up (The New Yorker): "A Debt Collector Struggle to Stay Out of Debt" -- Read my dispatch from Buffalo in the Money Issue of the New Yorker. Click here to read.

The Freegan Establishment (The New York Times Magazine): How a group of Dumpster-diving, currency-scorning, society-rejecting outcasts came to embrace homeownership in Buffalo. Sort of.  Read text only or see on the New York Times' website.

 

JOURNEYS TO DISTANT & SURREAL PLACES

City of Amma (New York Times):  Imagine a city -- complete with high-rises, parks, and universities -- devoted to a single guru.  Welcome to the empire of Amma.  Her followers are devoted to her charities.  But is this all too good to be true?    - Link to Article  

No One Told Me Learning Yoga Would Involve Snakes (The New York Times Magazine): Read my personal essay by clicking here.

Secrets of the Temple (The New Yorker): Life at this temple in Southern India was quiet until two secret vaults were discovered.  One vault contained $20 billion dollars worth of treasure.  The other vault, which is supposedly cursed, remains unopened.  So what lies inside?  My ten-page article chronicles the story.   Click here to read -- but please note that the last line of the article is cut off -- it should read: "No, let it be."  You can also view story in pictures: Click here to view a slideshow.

The Nazi Underground (The New Yorker): Is treasure buried beneath the mountains of Poland?  Click here to read.

Iceland's Big Thaw (The New York Times Magazine): Yes, the country is recovering — by forgetting about banking and rediscovering its essential weirdness. Ever try cod sperm?  Read Here

Norse Fantasy (The New York Times Magazine): Read an essay about my brush with death in a blizzard in Iceland – and how such adventures are best left to the realm of fantasy. Click here to read on the New York Times' website.

Jungle Boy (The New Republic): Henry David Thoreau has long been hailed as America's premiere hermit, but times are changing; now meet Donald, the legendary hermit of Kauai. - Text Only

The Last of the Malibu Hillbillies (LA Weekly): Meet lasso-twirling Millie Decker, who at age 83 is the last of the Malibu hillbillies. - Text Only

Hot Town (The New Republic): This is a dispatch from Centralia, Pennsylvania, a burning town that no one wants to leave. - Text Only

Castaway (Boston Magazine): Read about the last real frontier woman in New England, who lives on a lonely island right in the middle of Boston Harbor. - Text Only

The Promised Land (Commonweal): A visit to the fortified Jewish settlement of Hebron. - Text Only

 

STORIES ABOUT ME & MY FAMILY

Family Feud (Smithsonian Magazine): What happens when two sides of a family -- one Jewish, the other German and gentile -- are feuding over whether they are actually related? Text Only  | Link to Website

The Day of the Salamander (The New York Times Magazine): Jake's latest essay tells the story of a small salamander that nearly brought ruin to his family. - Text Only

Fire Walkers (The Revealer): Read about my adventures with fire walkers in India.  Click here to read the article in The Revealer

Gone and Back (Outside): A personal essay on an ill-fated journey to Jerusalem in a car with no gas. - Text Only

Next Year (The Jerusalem Report): What's it like to spend Passover floating down the Nile? - Text Only

 

CHARACTER STUDIES

The Rise of the Outsider (New York Magazine): Have You Heard This Man? Record stores ignored him. MySpace didn't exist. But Gordon Thomas went viral anyway. Text Only  

Ruins (The New Yorker): Profile of the Syrian artist, Mohamad Hafez.  Read about his obsession with the ruins of his homeland of Syria. - Read on the New Yorker website.

A Jolly Green Giant (The New Yorker): Profile: Read about Bernie Goetz, the former vigilante who now moonlights as a vegetarian activist. - Text Only

Stardust (The New Yorker): Marcy Braunstein is the biggest Rod Stewart fan of all time; and, recently, Jake made a pilgrimage with her to visit Rod in LA. Read his "LA Postcard."

A Baghdad Rescue Operation (New York Magazine): How one Navy officer whisked Iraqi art out of the country - and into Soho. Text Only

 

STORIES ON ART, MUSIC, & POP CULTURE

Emotional Buildup (The New York Times Magazine): What happens when charity, entertainment, and profit-making merge in a hugely popular TV show?   Read text only or see on the New York Times' website

Visionary to the Mainstream (The New York Times ): Lee Trink has made a career out of finding white rappers, Christian metal bands, and other unlikely acts and turning them into smash sensations. He just found his next big challenge... - Text Only

Selling the Beat (The New Yorker): The Trackboyz have  built a reputation as the two hottest producers in hip-hop. "It was almost like selling drugs," says Mark Williams. "You don't advertise, but the word gets out and people find out what you do. Before long, everybody was buying beats from us." - Text Only

Ian McShane Interview (Esquire): Read my interview with the actor who made the TV show, Deadwood, famous. - Link to Article

School for the Starry-Eyed (Psychology Today): Why do teenage brains crave the attention that fame promises? Text Only 

Hollywood's Little Helpers (Entertainment Weekly): In this excerpt from Jake's book, ''Fame Junkies,'' he considers what drives the men and women who work long hours catering to the whims (and tantrums) of Hollywood celebrities.  - Link to Article

 

EXTREME ATHLETES & STUNTMEN

Balls & Blood (Sports Illustrated): First played in the 16th century, revived in 1930, an infernal, no-holds-barred version of soccer known as calcio fiorentino keeps the good citizens of Florence, Italy, battling and reveling. - Text Only

House of Pain (New York Observer): Meet Christopher Kwiatkowski -- real estate developer by day, champion kickboxer by night.  Read Here.

And the Buff Shall Inherit the Earth (Outside): Meet the Bible Belt's latest star. In his article, Jake profiles a Christian fitness guru named Ben Lerner who is preaching a new brand of Christianity that stresses piety, fitness, and extremely firm abs. Text Only | Link to Website

Without a Barrel (Outside): Meet Kirk Jones, the daredevil who went over Niagara Falls -- without a barrel -- and then joined the circus. - Text Only 


Op-Eds

Will Guys With Guns Replace the Agency Elizabeth Warren Created? (New York Times)The world that I described in my book, Bad Paper, may soon be thriving again under a Trump presidency.  (Click here to read.)

 The Mixing Magic of Halloween (The Wall Street Journal):  I live in a city divided by race and class. But trick-or-treaters roam free, ignoring barriers.  - Text Only 

Hurricane-Proof House (The Wall Street Journal): Is it possible to build a hurricane-proof house? Yes. And it's cheap, easily built, and environmentally friendly too. Read my Op-Ed in the WSJ. - Text Only

Breaking News (The Wall Street Journal): Did you know that one day, not long ago, CNN devoted 37 times more coverage to Britney Spears than to the genocide in Darfur? Read my Op-Ed in the WSJ. - Text Only      

Afraid of the Dark (The Wall Street Journal):  Why do we cower in the darkness?  Read my latest Op-Ed

A Debt Collector's Day (New York Times): I recount my experiences as a debt collector.  Read on NYT website.

The Magical Skyscraper (The Wall Street Journal): A developer of Iraqi-descent, named Bashar Issa, has plans to build a skyscraper in Buffalo, New York. Can this single act of vision and boldness save an entire city? Read my Op-Ed in the WSJ. - Text Only

The Price of Fame (Forbes): Though they would never admit it, some disgruntled movie executives may feel that Heath Ledger failed them by not taking better care of himself. The truth of the matter, however, is that it is the studios that have failed Mr. Ledger. - Text | Forbes Website

 

THE HUMAN BODY & ITS FAILINGS

Kidney Picking (Slate): Human kidneys are some of the rarest commodities in the world; so why are so many of them ending up in the trash? Link to Site | Text Only

Penny a Pound (Slate): Should the government pay you to lose weight? Link to Website | Text Only

Weight Problem (Boston Magazine): Weight-loss surgery has become a gold rush for both hospitals and doctors. Thousands of people undergo the procedure each week. Is it safe? They don't care. For them, anything is better than being so heavy. - Text Only