Editor's Note — June 13, 2013, 2:39 pm

Introducing the July 2013 Issue of Harper’s Magazine

A global-warming get-rich-quick scheme, a magic-mushroom murder, and more

July 2013

Our cover story this month takes on some of the biggest crises of the day: financial fraud, climate change, and water shortages. All three come together in the story of Otto Spork, a Canadian dentist who persuaded hundreds of investors to buy into a phony plan to sell water from Iceland’s glaciers directly to the drought-prone nations of the world. After his scam collapsed — leading some to compare him to Bernie Madoff — he disappeared. Our reporter McKenzie Funk spent five years chasing after Spork, traveling from Ontario to Iceland to Palm Beach and talking with a variety of shadowy informants and grifters looking to cash in on climate change. Funk’s Spork saga (say it three times fast) is a crash course in the absurdity of the financial world and a preview of the thirsty future that awaits us all.

In “Blood Spore,” the intrepid Hamilton Morris delves into the 1980 murder of Dr. Stephen Pollock, whose pioneering research on magic mushrooms also made him into something of a mycological kingpin, selling psychedelic spores via mail order. This true-crime story takes the author from San Antonio, Texas (where Pollock died), to Amsterdam, where two entrepreneurs known as the Truffle Brothers manufacture nearly 20,000 tons of fungal gold per year. Morris never quite unravels the mystery of Pollock’s death, although a conversation preserved on an ancient cassette tape points glaringly toward collusion by the local police. But he does provide a vivid, comical, and frequently surreal window into the world of mycological obsessives, who wander the earth with their “eyes perpetually narrowed, minds bent on finding the precious fruit others squash under heel and haunted by the knowledge that no matter how hard they look something will always have escaped them.”

Elsewhere in the issue, Mark Edmundson deplores the state of American poetry, with its narcissistic tone and puny ambition. Thomas Frank considers a trio of Eighties-era empire builders (Margaret Thatcher, Al Neuharth, and Howard Phillips), Jeff Madrick argues that bankruptcy isn’t so bad after all,  and Jane Smiley surveys several new memoirs — a form she calls “tempting but treacherous.” Russell Mokhiber’s Annotation, “Plaque Ops,” reveals the corporate conquest of Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. And Julie Hecht’s story, “May I Touch Your Hair?,” looks back to summers spent at the beach during the Fifties — a touching remembrance of a coiffure-fixated childhood.

Share
Single Page

More from Harper’s Magazine:

Official Business March 17, 2015, 4:01 am

Radio Hustle

Listen to the broadcast version of “American Hustle,” Alexandra Starr’s story, for the April 2015 issue of Harper’s Magazine, about how elite youth basketball exploits African athletes.

Official Business January 8, 2015, 3:57 pm

The Art of Outrage

We defend Charlie Hebdo’s right to publish its cartoons—and our right to critique them.

Memento Mori September 2, 2014, 5:33 pm

Charles Bowden (1945–2014)

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

July 2016

American Idle

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

My Holy Land Vacation

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The City That Bleeds

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

El Bloqueo

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Vladivostok Station

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Ideology of Isolation

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
"We all know in France that as soon as a politician starts saying that some problem will be solved at the European level, that means no one is going to do anything."
Photograph (detail) by Stefan Boness
Post
Tom Bissell on touring Israel with Christian Zionists, Joy Gordon on the Cuban embargo, Lawrence Jackson on Freddie Gray and the makings of an American uprising, a story by Paul Yoon, and more

Freddie Gray’s relatives arrived for the trial in the afternoon, after the prep-school kids had left. By their dress, they seemed to have just gotten off work in the medical and clerical fields. The family did not appear at ease in the courtroom. They winced and dropped their heads as William Porter and his fellow officer Zachary Novak testified to opening the doors of their police van last April and finding Freddie paralyzed, unresponsive, with mucus pooling at his mouth and nose. Four women and one man mournfully listened as the officers described needing to get gloves before they could touch him.

The first of six Baltimore police officers to be brought before the court for their treatment of Freddie Gray, a black twenty-five-year-old whose death in their custody was the immediate cause of the city’s uprising last spring, William Porter is young, black, and on trial. Here in this courtroom, in this city, in this nation, race and the future seem so intertwined as to be the same thing.

Artwork: Camels, Jerusalem (detail) copyright Martin Parr/Magnum Photos
[Report]
How to Make Your Own AR-15·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Even if federal gun-control advocates got everything they wanted, they couldn’t prevent America’s most popular rifle from being made, sold, and used. Understanding why this is true requires an examination of how the firearm is made.
Illustration by Jeremy Traum
Article
My Holy Land Vacation·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"I wanted to more fully understand why conservative politics had become synonymous with no-questions-asked support of Israel."
Illustration (detail) by Matthew Richardson
Article
The City That Bleeds·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Here in this courtroom, in this city, in this nation, race and the future seem so intertwined as to be the same thing."
Photograph (detail) © Wil Sands/Fractures Collective

Average speed of Heinz ketchup, from the mouth of an upended bottle, in miles per year:

25

After studying the fall of 64,000 individual raindrops, scientists found that some small raindrops fall faster than they ought to.

The Playboy mansion in California was bought by the heir to the Twinkie fortune, and a New Mexico man set fire to his apartment to protest his neighbors’ loud lovemaking.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Mississippi Drift

By

Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'

Subscribe Today