I had forgotten about this tradition, but I love it (and not least because it prompts me to reflect on the magazine pieces I've enjoyed). I suspect i'll be back with more (and hopefully they will be less political), but I want to mention Sean Wilentz's New Yorker piece from the fall on what I will un-ironically call Glenn Beck's intellectual heritage in the John Birch Society and ultraconservative Mormonism:http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/10/18/101018fa_fact_wilentz?currentPage=all
Pico Ayer on Istanbul, from National Geographic: http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/city-guides/istanbul-traveler/
I was actually less than overwhelmed by the TJ's piece, because there wasn't a lot of meat there, largely because no one currently in the organization talked. The New Yorker piece Russ mentions was quite good, but there hasn't been a really strong piece that stuck with me in the way that (for instance) the Willingham piece a few years ago did.
I was very moved by "Letting Go," by Atul Gawande, in the New Yorker this summer -- and it also made me think long and hard about end-of-life issues. http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/02/100802fa_fact_gawande
I learned very little new from that TJ's piece. Although I was a little !!! to discover that my tiny little town was one of only five to get a new store this year.
I found the New Yorker article on Shigeru Miyamoto in the most recent issue to be a fascinating look at a man who's shaped a lot of cultural imagery and his industry. (Naturally, there's a whole raft of other subjects any serious look at video games entails.)
Might I recommend the Long Reads twitter feed? http://twitter.com/longreads
Along those lines, http://givemesomethingtoread.com/
Whatever else one thinks of him, Christopher Hitchens' "So, it seems I'm about to die from cancer" piece was extremely well done. http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2010/09/hitchens-201009
Loved the Wilentz piece also, and enjoyed Jill Lepore's piece on the Tea Party:http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/05/03/100503fa_fact_lepore
A few more:The NYMag piece on Madoff in prison.NYMag, "Growing Up Gaga"
This piece was my most haunting of 2010. I can't bring myself to say favorite.
Good recommendation -- this one was fascinating.
Two New York Times magazine articles stick out to me right now: one on the teenagers fighting for the Dream Act, and one on women who are trying to make a difference in the world through personal acts and efforts (running marathons to help women in the Congo, etc.) and what that has meant for them personally and for their causes.
I enjoyed this article from Outside magazine back in January about Colton Harris-Moore. http://outsideonline.com/outside/culture/201001/colton-harris-moore-plane-steal-1.html