Overcoming the Past in This Week’s 5 Best Long-Reads
A hotel haunted by WWII, Puerto Rico's culinary comeback and a nightmarish fertility doc.
Our weekly dive into the best the Internet has to offer in long-form pieces doesn’t necessarily have to have a connecting thread, but sometimes an underlying theme just presents itself. This week’s leitmotif feels like it’s all about overcoming the past. For some of those who experienced the horrors of WWII, that past is tied up in a Parisian hotel that won’t let them go. For at least 50 half-siblings, it’s their previously unknown parentage. In Puerto Rico’s culinary scene, it’s overcoming the devastating effects of back-to-back hurricanes that decimated the island. In addition, museum curators have to overcome the fear of destroying priceless works from the past in order to do their jobs. And finally, Kit Harington—poor successful, beautiful Kit Harington—had to deal with people shouting at him on the street (and other more interesting things).
It’s been almost 75 years since the fall of the Nazis and the end of World War II, but try telling that to patrons and employees of Paris’ Hotel Lutetia. Smithsonian Magazine visited the storied hotel (newly renovated in 2014), where it and many others swear “the ghosts of Nazis, French resistance fighters and concentration camp survivors” still live on. Looming grand and eerie as the city’s only remaining luxury inn on the Left Bank, the Hotel Lutetia is dripping in history—both known and yet to be discovered.
Fertility doctors are supposed to help people who wish to conceive a child become parents in the face of myriad medical problems. But Donald Cline took that responsibility and grossly violated it, at least 50 times. Without ever telling his patients, Cline apparently took it upon himself to use his own sperm to impregnate the women who came to him for artificial insemination, The Atlantic discovered. The truth behind the parentage of these dozens of now-adults was confirmed by DNA tests, like those available by 23andMe or Ancestry.com, that each person bought on a whim or received as a well-intentioned gift.
Hurricanes Irma and Maria battered the island of Puerto Rico in 2017, destroying homes, tearing down infrastructure, and ending thousands of lives in the aftermath. It also derailed a budding agricultural and culinary scene that was bubbling just under the surface. Now, nearly a year and a half since the dual monsters made landfall, chefs, farmers and entrepreneurs are returning and rebuilding. The New York Times‘ foodie extraordinaire Julia Moskin experienced it firsthand and took her readers along for the amazing culinary trip as only she can.
Gallery and museum curators responsible for handling expensive—sometimes priceless—works of art and pieces of antiquity face an incredible amounts of risk: potential tragedy in transit, wicked weather and clumsy colleagues. So how do these guardians of past and of the future go about the not-so-mundane logistical tasks required to bring artistic treasures to the public?. The Guardian spent time discovering the “ferociously guarded secret” behind moving masterpieces; a heavily protected world.
In a surprisingly candid interview with Variety, the King in the North, Jon Snow himself—OK, actually, it’s actor Kit Harington—opened up about how he had to overcome the (spoiler alert, but, honestly, you’ve done this to yourself by now) death of his character on Game of Thrones. Harington knew Jon would be back in the very next season, but rabid Thrones fans who accosted him on the street did not. “When you become the cliffhanger of a TV show, and a TV show probably at the height of its power, the focus on you is f—ing terrifying,” he recalled. “You get people shouting at you…‘Are you dead?’ At the same time you have to have this appearance. All of your neuroses—and I’m as neurotic as any actor—get heightened with that level of focus.”
This article was featured in the InsideHook newsletter. Sign up now.
Suggested for you