This is a selection of articles Jeanne Marie Laskas has written for GQ, Esquire and some other fine publications.
Her work is also archived at Longform.org, which recommends new and classic non-fiction from around the web.
We’ll be updating frequently, so keep checking back!
“The Dark Side of the Moon” GQ, December 2014. He was a war-hero fighter pilot. He was an MIT rocket scientist. He was a lot of impressive things, and then Buzz Aldrin went to the moon, which is maybe all you know about one of the most famous men on earth—a guy who’s been frozen, like a footprint in lunar dust, in America’s mind for forty-five years now. But the thing about Buzz is that he still wants way more than the moon. (photo credit:Pari Dukovic)
“The New Face of Richard Norris” GQ, August 2014. For fifteen years, Richard Norris had a face too hideous to show. Then, one day, a maverick doctor gave him a miracle too fantastic to believe. Richard got a face transplant, a new life, and a new set of burdens too strange to predict. What’s it like to live with a face that wasn’t yours—and that may never quite be?
“The GQ Cover Story: LeBron James” GQ, March 2014. Welcome to the magical world of King James. It’s nice, right? Always sunny. Palm trees. A pair of championships, working on a third. The Decision? That worked out just fine. And at the center of it all, always making and remaking his world exactly as he likes it: the most stylish empire-builder in sports. “This thing is about more than just basketball,” he says. Sort of makes you wonder: What will the King conquer next? (photo credit: Terry Richardson)
“Oops, You Just Hired the Wrong Hitman” GQ, November 2013. Say you want someone, you know, eliminated —a lover, a business partner, a mother-in-law.There are guys out there who will do that. For a price. Then there’s another kind of guy. A guy who looks and acts just like a regular hit man.Prison tats, do-rag. But instead of doing the job, he turns sides and then you realize that you were his target all along. (photo credit: Jonathon Kambouris)
“Have You Heard the One About President Joe Biden?” GQ, July 2013. That’s No Joke. Consider: He is the most quietly effective politician in D.C. (Don’t laugh.) The “Most Influential Vice President in History.” (Seriously, stop laughing.) One of our nation’s most senior statesmen. (Look it up!) So why is the man who could be the next president also the butt of so many jokes? Jeanne Marie Laskas gets to know the most misunderstood man in Washington. (photo credit: Martin Schoeller)
“Guns ‘R Us” GQ, September 2012. Fast and Furious. Conceal and carry. The Dark Knight theater shootings. In America these days, it seems like everyone is packing heat. In fact, we’re the most heavily armed populace on the planet. So where do most of us go when we need a shiny new Glock or a convenient AK-47? Increasingly to mega-shops like Sprague’s Sports in Yuma, Arizona. That’s where Jeanne Marie Laskas ventured recently, spending a few shifts behind the counter and seeing for herself how we shop, sell, justify, and even come to love the deadliest things among us. (photo credit: David Graham)
“He Didn’t Mean to Hurt You” GQ, September 2012. Last season, Ndamukong Suh became the most vilified man in football, the poster boy for gratuitous violence and dirty play. But Suh’s not just a 300-pound destruction machine. He knows what you think of him. He understands the game and his role in it. And he’s happy to explain things, really, just give him a minute—but try not to mention The Stomping. (photo credit: Carlos Serrao)
“Bob Dole: Great American” GQ, July 2012. He lived through the Depression, then took a bullet for his country, then served it for 50 years. Now, at 88, he tells us what lies ahead. (photo credit: Jeff Reidel)
“Hecho en América” GQ, September 2011. Between talk-radio blather and election-season bravado, it’s easy to have an opinion about immigration, and easier to forget that people—actual people—pick our food. Now and then we might glimpse them out the car window, but few of us realize that what we eat depends on them, and fewer still have any idea what their world is like. Jeanne Marie Laskas spends a season with a group of these nomads—the constant wanderers who put fruit on our table. (photo credit: Christopher Lamarca)
“The People V. Football” GQ, March 2011. When Jeanne Marie Laskas started reporting on the devastating impact of repeated hits to football players’ brains in 2009, the NFL was still in denial. By now the evidence is irrefutable, and every bloody Sunday (and Monday and Thursday) it becomes a little harder not to cringe with each collision. But if you’re a guy like former star linebacker Fred McNeill who’s living with the effects of those hits, the question is: How can we keep watching the game—and how can we keep asking our kids to play it? (photo credit: Robert Maxwell)
“¿Qué Pasa, Lou?” GQ, May 2010. According to Lou Dobbs, we’ve been completely wrong about him. Wrong about his stance on illegal immigrants. Wrong about his reasons for quitting CNN after twenty-seven years. And wrong about his newfound political aspirations. Well, we might actually be right about that last thing. Jeanne Marie Laskas meets the man we thought we knew. (photo credit: Jeff Riedel)
“Game Brain” GQ, October 2009. Let’s say you run a multibillion-dollar football league. And let’s say the scientific community—starting with one young pathologist in Pittsburgh and growing into a chorus of neuroscientists across the country—comes to you and says concussions are making your players crazy, crazy enough to kill themselves, and here, in these slices of brain tissue, is the proof. Do you join these scientists and try to solve the problem, or do you use your power to discredit them? (X-ray image by: Nick Veasay)
“The Goal is Five Rings” GQ, August 2009. Ben Roethlisberger is only 27. He already has two Super Bowl rings and a $100 million contract with the most storied franchise in football. How much longer does he want to stick around? Until he’s the best ever. (photo credit: Nathaniel Goldberg)
“Traffic” GQ, April 2009. At any given moment, on any given morning, there are roughly 6,000 planes on their way to somewhere, from somewhere, over American airspace. Getting them safely down to the ground will depend upon the efforts of a small group of controllers who, nearly without fail, get the job done despite long hours, grim working conditions, and ancient technology. A journey to the tower at LaGuardia Airport in New York City to find out how it all happens. (photo credit: Kevin Cooley)
“Inaugurate This!” GQ, November 2008. Jimmy Kimmel does solemnly swear to faithfully execute the role of beloved late-night host (even if Jay Leno ends up taking his job at ABC) and will to the best of his ability preserve, protect, and defend his right to satirize, send up, and ridicule anybody (including all 742 members of his family, but not including his ex, Sarah Silverman) who gets in his way. (photo credit: Mark Seliger)
“Empire of Ice” GQ, September 2008. On a $500 million man-made island in the frozen Arctic Ocean, just off the coast of a vast, uninhabitable tundra known as Alaska’s North Slope, a pipeline begins. In temperatures that hover around forty-five degrees below zero, in perpetual darkness, a tight-knit band of roughnecks spends twelve hours a day, seven days a week, drilling down, down into the earth and pulling up precious crude. If you want to know how badly we need oil, here is your answer. (photo credit: Christopher Lamarca)
“This is Paradise” GQ, April 2008. Two centuries of heedless gorging and historic wastefulness has left us with an intractable environmental problem: What do we do with our trash? More specifically, what do we do with the 250 million tons (that’s five pounds per person per day) of pizza boxes, beer bottles, shredded lettuce, old refrigerators, and half-eaten burritos that we throw away each year? (photo credit: Alec Soth)
“G-L-O-R-Y!” GQ, January 2008. GQ enters the world of hot, peppy, and insanely underpaid NFL cheerleaders. (photo credit: Lauren Greenfield)
“Icon: Joe Paterno” GQ, October 2007. “Why it happens, how it happens—honest to god, I don’t know. I just know that it’s something that’s very, very difficult to explain. I run out of that tunnel, the crowd’s there and the whole—just a little something about it you can’t quite… I don’t know. If somebody asked me to take two weeks to describe it, I’d still have a tough time. It would sound corny.”(photo credit: Kurt Markus)
“Underworld” GQ, May 2007. Why do we even have coal mines? That question is what led Jeanne Marie Laskas to spend a few weeks 500 feet belowground, getting to know the men behind the invisible economy this country couldn’t live without. (photo credit: James Nachtwey)
“The Closet” GQ, October 2006. Two years after ex-New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey stunned the country by announcing he was gay, he talks to Jeanne Marie Laskas about living the lie. (photo credit: Jason Schmidt)
“AWOL” GQ, October 2005. What makes a soldier desert his country and risk arrest by the government and rejection from his family and friends? Joshua Key talks to Jeanne Marie Laskas about what it’s like to desert the army and country he once believed in. (photo credit: Jeff Riedel)
“The Coward” GQ, July 2004. On his first day in Iraq with the Special Forces, Staff Sergeant Georg-Andreas Pogany saw something so horrific, he suffered a panic attack. The U.S. military responded by humiliating and berating him, taking away his weapon, sending him home, and charging him with cowardice, a charge punishable by death. For the first time since returning home, Pogany tells his entire story in stunning detail.
“Bay” Esquire, July 2001. Do you smell that? That’s another Michael Bay movie burning up the box office. And if that bothers you, if you think he’s just another schlockmeister with fancy cars and testosterone problems, all he can say is, shame on you. Shame on you! (photo credit: Larry Sultan)
“How to Tell A Story” Esquire, November 2000. If you can tell a good story, nothing else much matters. Take Al, for example. He lives next door. He’s about fifty. He’s on my porch. He’s here to collect money for some hay we bought from him.
“Oh My God, We’re Not Blond Anymore” Esquire, July 1999. The transformation of Mary Bono.
“America is Bull” Esquire, January 1999. On the rodeo. “He’s ready to ride. He’s draped over the pen, his lower lip holding a good wad of Copenhagen. Watching bulls. Spitting. Watching bulls. Spitting. He could spit and watch bulls all day. Plenty of days he does.”
“Night Prom” Allure, October 1995. Each year, millions of high school girls go into a hair, makeup, and primping frenzy in preparation for the prom. With the night in sight, senior Christ Romeo’s aced it all, even nail tips, but now she’s up against the Big One: Her dress –it’s, like, a disaster. (photo editor: Claudia Lebenthal)
“The Land of Plenty” Allure, February 1995. Babette is typical: She’s not obese, she doesn’t have an eating disorder, she doesn’t devour five gallons of ice cream at a sitting. But like a third of all Americans, she just can’t get thin. (photo editor: Judith White)
“What’s Driving Tom Cruise” Life, June 1990. Where life and art meet: In his new movie, Days of Thunder, Tom Cruise plays a racer driven to become the world’s greatest driver. In real life, Tom Cruise is an actor driven to become the world’s greatest actor.