Our Favorite Observer Stories of 2018

Our favorite stories of the year, from Anthony Bourdain to Arielle Charnas.

Observer's Best Stories of 2018
We wrote them all on a (very nice illustration of a) golden typewriter Kaitlyn Flanagan for Observer

In my first year as editor of the Observer, one of the things I’ve been happiest with is the range of deeply excellent work we’ve been able to publish. Not too many publications can say they’ve put out stories about the Mueller investigation and the true deep state conspiracy we all should be terrified of: Subway pumping out fake bread smell to brainwash you into buying a five-dollar footlong. And of course we’ve covered scandals galore, fashion gone wrong, power players from the politics, business, tech, real estate, PR, art, and restaurant worlds, super-influencers who are everyone’s best friend online but feel far too alone off it, and the man Anthony Bourdain. 

And so this is that most navel-gazey of stories: the one about our own stories from 2018, that we really, really liked. ‘Tis the season of giving—yourself healthy dose of credit, I suppose. But get in there.

A guest cabin on SuperShe Island, Kristina Roth's women-only retreat in the middle of the Baltic Sea.
A guest cabin on SuperShe Island, the women-only retreat in the middle of the Baltic Sea. Courtesy of SuperShe Island

Welcome to SuperShe Island, Where Men Are Banned and Flowers Are Dinner

If Goop and The Wing had a tiny Nordic baby, it might look like SuperShe Island off the coast of Finland, where women seek Namaste for $5K per week—and happiness is served one bowl of bone broth at a time.

A woman points a gun at her television set.
Murderinos unite! Tara Jacoby for Observer

Why Do You Love Murder Shows? Ten Women Explain.

There are simple answers to the question of what draws people into the murderino craze—trying to figure out how serial killers think, wanting to feel safer after being armed with the right knowledge, living in Jeffrey Dahmer’s childhood home—but the complex ones are far, far more interesting.

Sleep=big, big money
Sleep=big, big money Kaitlyn Flannagan for Observer/Getty Images

A Solid Night’s Sleep Is the New Luxury Good. Have Fun Affording It.

A wide-ranging look at the boom of the often suspect business of Big Sleep, and how the classic American value of literally working so hard you collapse is somehow what birthed it.

Arielle Charnas, the super-influencer founder of style blog Something Navy Courtesy Something Navy

Something Navy’s Arielle Charnas Is More Successful Than Ever—But at What Price?

With 1.1 million Instagram followers, a ludicrously successful partnership with Nordstrom for her line Something Navy and a beautiful family, Arielle Charnas’ life is perfect…right? And the one you want too? Well, yes and no.

Jerry Saltz with a work by Marilyn Minter at the Brooklyn Museum. Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Brooklyn Museum

Jerry Saltz Has a Pulitzer and I Have Questions

Saltz is the world’s most visible art critic, and few question that he’s very good at it. But should his pervasive solipsism and personal views on things other than art have been taken more into consideration before being awarded a Pulitzer?

Sacha Gervasi, the director of HBO's My Dinner With Hervé—on his epic final interview with Fantasy Island's Hervé Villechaize.
Sacha Gervasi, the director of HBO’s My Dinner With Hervé. Kaitlyn Flannagan

The Incredible True Story Behind Hervé Villechaize’s Legendary Final Interview

One could easily call George Gurley the most essential writer in Observer history. After some time away doing cool George Gurley stuff, he’s back in action with a gripping Sacha Gervasi interview that involves no less than one knife pulled by Fantasy Island‘s Villechaize, on the final night of his life.

George Takei
George Takei Mat Hayward/Getty Images

George Takei’s Accuser Has Changed His Story of Drugging and Assault

One of the biggest things we all learned (andhopefully never forget) amidst #MeToo is that few things are often as they seem—which certainly turned out to be the case in the twisted saga of George Takei.

Owen (CHRIS PRATT) meets the vicious T. rex in "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom." When the island's dormant volcano begins roaring to life, Owen and Claire (BRYCE DALLAS HOWARD) mount a campaign to rescue the remaining dinosaurs from this extinction-level event. Welcome to "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom."
Remember the good old Sam Jackson saying “hold onto your butts” days? Universal Pictures

For the Love of God, Will Someone Put ‘Jurassic World’ Out of Its Misery?

Rex Reed has feelings. About a coke-snorting Bradley Cooper, about a microwaved Matthew McConaughey, and in this particular case, about dinosaurs.

Anthony Bourdain. Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images

Anthony Bourdain, Suicide, and Grace

Everyone wrote lots of words about Bourdain, but Film Crit Hulk’s still shimmer hauntingly in my head to this day.

Star Wars Solo Last Jedi
Attack of the Fandom Kaitlyn Flannigan/Observer

Racism, Misogyny & Death Threats: How Star Wars Fans Turned to the Dark Side

A terrifying look at how a Sith-seeming fringe of Star Wars fans began brutally hating on far more than just Jar-Jar.

John Boyega as Finn and Daisy Ridley as Rey in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
John Boyega as Finn and Daisy Ridley as Rey in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Lucasfilm/Walt Disney Pictures

The Beautiful, Ugly, and Possessive Hearts of Star Wars

Something of a companion piece to the above story, done in inimitably Hulk-y fashion.

Posters of missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi stuck to a police barricade outside Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
Posters of Jamal Khashoggi on a police barricade outside Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

NSA: White House Knew Jamal Khashoggi Was In Danger. Why Didn’t They Protect Him?

It’s almost impossible to single out a best from John Schindler, who has covered a ton of ground in 2018, but he was as early as anyone on what the White House did and didn’t know about murdered Saudi agitator and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Miss Massachusetts 2017 Jillian Zucco enters the stage to participate in Miss America 2018.
Miss Massachusetts 2017 Jillian Zucco participating in Miss America 2018. Donald Kravitz/Getty Images for Dick Clark Productions

Miss Massachusetts Pageant Swimsuit Skit Mocks the #MeToo Movement

This story of a joke gone wrong set off a chain of events that ended with a beauty queen turning in her sash.

Spam, robocalls, telemarketers and scams are the bane of telephony.
Spam, robocalls, and telemarketers are the bane of telephony. Pixabay

How to Take Revenge on Those Shady Robocallers That Use Your Area Code

Public service at its finest (and most necessary).

Glenn Greenwald. Kaitlyn Flannagan for Observer

Glenn Greenwald on Sucker Journalists—and Why There’s No Silver Bullet Coming for Trump

Glenn Greenwald has opinions. Not everyone likes them! We got them all.

Jeffrey Dahmer and the house he called home.
Jeffrey Dahmer and the house he called home. Getty Images/Kaitlyn Flannagan for Observer

Meet the Rock Star Who Lives Happily in the House Where Jeffrey Dahmer First Killed

You’ve presumably heard “Christmas Wrapping” at least 15 times in the last month (which is a positive thing—it’s a fantastic song!). Now hear about the guy who wrote it, then years later, bought Jeffrey Dahmer’s childhood home—on purpose.

Observer’s PR Power 50. David Soto for Observer

The Most Powerful PR Firms of 2018

Ever year we spend monstrous amounts of time figuring out who deserves to land on our Power Lists—including artists, restaurateurs, and commercial real estate titans—but the PR Power 50 is our longest-running of the bunch.

“Plane Bae” is voyeurism at isn’t most apparent. Kaitlyn Flannagan for Observer

#PlaneBae Proves Technology Has Turned Us All Into Stalkers and Glory Hounds

Remember when you cared deeply about #PlaneBae? She didn’t want you to.

Ann Coulter Kaitlyn Flannagan for Observer

Ann Coulter Is Sad That She No Longer Gets Invited to Dinner Parties

In case you’re putting together a guest list…

Justin Bieber, Kristen Stewart and Wiz Khalifa. Kaitlyn Flannagan for Observer

Dissecting the Sleazecore Trend—and Why It Looks Better on Women

Turns out it is easy being sleazy—if you’re Cara Delevigne and not Justin Bieber.

Red Lobster-Best Mom Restaurant?
The scientific method at work. Kaitlyn Flannagan/Observer

What’s the Ultimate “Mom Restaurant”? An Extremely Scientific Study.

You’re certain it’s going to be Olive Garden, until you remember Cheesecake Factory exists…

Death row inmates are making a killing with their paintings. Is it art or highway robbery?
Death row inmates are making a killing with their paintings. Is it art or highway robbery? Kaitlyn Flannagan/DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images

Inside the Creepy Underground World of Serial Killer Art, Where Manson Means Money

Why are artworks painted by John Wayne Gacy and Charles Manson selling for top dollar? Who’s collecting them? And is any of this the least bit healthy?

Somewhere in America. Nic McPhee/Flickr Creative Commons

What Happens in High School Doesn’t Stay in High School

The Brett Kavanaugh hearing sparked an unexpected reconnection, not for the happiest of reasons.

Italy’s Belmond Caruso Hotel. Courtesy Belmond Hotel Caruso

Why Everyone From Jackie O to Justin Bieber Has Flocked to Italy’s Belmond Caruso Hotel

All the history you need to talk yourself into heading to Ravello this year.

The Montauk Monster
The Montauk Monster Eli Neugeboren for Observer

10 Years Later The Montauk Monster Is Still a Weird, Gross, Dark Mystery

Fancy people, funeral pyres, cryptozoologists, government testing facilities, Gawker—this one’s got everything, other than clear final answers to the questions “where did it end up?” and “what the hell was that disgusting thing anyway?”

It’s not illegal—and actually terrifyingly easy—to buy or sell a tiger in the United States.
It’s not illegal—and actually terrifyingly easy—to buy or sell a tiger in the United States. Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

America Has a Tiger Problem

In which our reporter tries to buy a tiger on the Internet, and discovers a disturbing world of animal mistreatment driven by cheap thrills and a few bucks.

Zac Posen is a regular follower of the latest Japanese tech shows. Zac Posen/Kaitlyn Flannagan for Observer

Zac Posen Talks Fashion in the Era of Artificial Intelligence

What’s the place of humans in tomorrow’s fashion landscape? Will AI gone wild decide we should all start wearing frocks?? Zac Posen gets into it all.

Dancer, choreographer and dance company founder Paul Taylor photographed by Jack Mitchell in 1986.
Dancer, choreographer and dance company founder Paul Taylor photographed by Jack Mitchell in 1986. Getty Images

Remembering Paul Taylor, Dancemaker of Genius

Robert Gottlieb, our dance critic of two decades, on the dearly departed Taylor: “He was his own man, and that man was Americanpart optimistic Mark Twain boy on a raft, part tragic Melville man on a crazed, doomed mission. And always the radiant and suffering Whitmancelebrating and lamenting in his jaundiced way what it is to be human; utterly aware of who and what we humans are.”

Music fans attend the 2015 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival.
Music fans attend the 2015 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival. Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Coachella

Music Festivals Are Orgies of Privilege (and Probably, Actually Quite Bad)

We’re a long way from Woodstock. Or hell, even Woodstock ’99.

Stadium dining is now next-level. These gourmet tacos were found at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona. Sarah Sachs/Arizona Diamondbacks/Getty Images

Food at Movie Theaters, Stadiums, and Even on Amtrak is Suddenly Amazing—But Is That Bad?

It might be! But damn is that poolside yellowtail crudo delicious.

Anne St. Marie photographed by Tom Palumbo, c. 1954. Patricia Bosworth

Why I Left My Husband Out of My Memoir About Love

A beautiful piece of loop-closing, by Patricia Bosworth.

Our Favorite Observer Stories of 2018