Wayne Simmons, Max Stark, ‘Unplanned America’ and More: Today’s Recommended Reading


Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing some of the best content on the Internet, but keeping an eye on all of the great writing that other folks on the ‘Net are doing, too. Today, we find out how Wayne Simmons’ real identity came to light, how a mixed-race person should respond to accusations of cultural appropriation, what a former tenant thinks about Max Stark (hint: apparently, he wasn’t as bad as everyone wanted to make him seem), and how three drunk bros ended up with a series that is now streaming on Netflix.

Rolling Stone’s Reeves Wiedeman explores the rise and fall of former FOX News correspondent Wayne Simmons who, until now, had tricked everyone into believing that he was once a CIA operative.

How Wayne Simmons got away with pretending to be a CIA operative for well over a decade is still largely a mystery, but that’s exactly what makes the story of his instant success (and his ultimate demise) so captivating.

But according to prosecutors, Simmons was living a lie. Last October, the government charged him with multiple counts of fraud, saying he had never worked for the CIA at all. Prosecutors alleged that Simmons used his supposed intelligence experience not only to secure time on Fox and an audience with Rumsfeld, but also to obtain work with defense contractors, including deployment to a military base in Afghanistan.

Racked’s Gina Mei ponders where someone of mixed-race heritage should fit in regard to the debate on cultural appropriation.

The cheongsam is a traditional Chinese dress, and thus, is an oft-referenced item in the argument of ethnically-indebted clothing. Though Mei’s Chinese heritage should entitle her to wear it, she believes that her mixed-race heritage (she’s half-Italian) complicates the matter.

Of course, clothing is an essential part of self-expression —€” and for mixed-race people, it can be a means of connecting with an identity often denied to us. But choosing to wear a culturally significant garment when you aren’t “passing” can also feel like a radical act of defiance.

Gothamist’s Jesse Jarnow reflects on his personal interactions with the murdered slumlord Max Stark, who he once called his landlord.

2014 started with a murder—that of the real estate developer Menachem “Max” Stark. Due to his reputation as a dishonest money-hungry “slumlord,” Stark’s death was not covered in the most respectable way, but what do his actual tenants have to say about him?

At least in the experience of myself and most of the dozen or so former neighbors I remain in touch with, Max wasn’t a slumlord. He was an opportunistic real estate investor from Williamsburg. If something was going wrong in the building, he was always easy to get on the phone.

VICE’s Tim Ryan explains how he made Unplanned America, a drunkenly conceptualized docuseries that eventually got picked up by Australia’s SBS2 channel, and is now available to stream on Netflix.

When you think about what could come from three broke, drunk, millennial men setting off on a cross-country trip in an old Toyota Corolla, you’d be forgiven for not immediately thinking “a Netflix-ordered docuseries.” But for Tim “Gonzo” Ryan, Nick Maher, and Pawel “Parv” Jarecki, that’s exactly what happened with Unplanned America.

On the road in the US, we were the entire crew. Usually, the people on camera aren’t the same as the people behind it. You’d stay in nice hotels, and have at least $100 each for food every day to keep healthy working 16-hour shoots. Not for us. Forget about the comfort of separate rooms, we slept in shared tents, on couches, and on floors. Splurging meant a night in a joint called something like “Banana Bungalow”—an exotic description for a hostel filled with drunk Aussie travelers. To be fair, we were pretty trashed most of the time too.