About a month ago, I published a story about a hiker who traveled south from New York to Florida. He met hundreds of people along the way, befriending many and smiling at all. He went by the moniker "Mostly Harmless" and told no one his actual name. In July of 2018, he was found dead in his tent. Since then, thousands of people have joined groups devoted to figuring out who he was, but no one has. My story got over 1.5m readers, but no one recognized him. I've received tips that he worked as a guide in Central Park, that he played in a punk band in Louisiana, that he bowled in Newport News Virginia, that he might have been the illegitimate son of a meth dealer between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. But none has panned out. If you recognize him, please let me know.
But there are many other wonderful things to read and listen to as well. Let's start with audio where, for the first time, I just heard Jack Hitt's extraordinary recounting of a performance of Hamlet inside of a prison. Listen to it inside of a nutshell and you'll find yourself a king of infinite space. I loved, too, this wonky podcast about the magic of the TikTok algorithm and how it actually works.
I also was captivated by a heartbreaking story about Luther and Johnny Htoo, who led a resistance army in the jungles of Burma at age 9, about the time I was reporting on that part of the world. Now they are 32 and struggling with alcohol and adulthood.
Given the news this weekend, it's worth revisiting this haunting Laura Secor story about an Iranian scientist who refused to work as an informant for the FBI. And Wesley Morris's brilliant essay on his mustache.
If you haven't yet, you should also read Lauren Smiley's piece about what happened when a Washington town became convinced that they were being invaded by Antifa, and Darren Loucaides' essay about the hacker who upturned the politics of Brazil.
We all need to think a lot about the coronavirus, as the numbers continue to spike upwards. Which means it's worth digging into this terrific essay about the strange, twisted saga of Hydroxychloroquine and this one about why America keeps getting it wrong. "Army ants," Ed Yong begins, "will sometimes walk in circles until they die."
And if you're as obsessed about running as I am, here's an insightful and pained essay about a man who, three times, came within seconds of qualifying for the Olympic Trials. And so, if you've finally digested your socially-isolated Thanksgiving turkey, it may be time to head out for a jog.
But first, can you help me find Mostly Harmless?
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