Photo: Benjamin McMahon

Top of The Pops | Our Most Read Pieces of 2018

Catch up on everything you may have missed from throughout this year

by Amuse Team
Dec 27 2018, 12:00pm

Photo: Benjamin McMahon

We can understand that, with such a constant barrage of pieces coming up on-site every day, that you may have missed a couple of gems. Never to fear! We haven’t taken it personally. Instead, we’ve concocted the perfect antidote to any crippling FOMO you may be contending with: a run-down of our most riotously successful pieces of 2018. Sit back, catch up, and enjoy what the world has been reading this year - you won’t be disappointed.

Adam Bloodworth meets an entrepreneur in Peckham to investigate the piquant red pepper spread, ajvar, which dominates the tables of the Balkans like Hummus does in the Middle East. Philip Evans, the man in question, is on a mission to make this Macedonian delicacy as ubiquitous as its Levantine rival, but does it have the potential to take the world by storm?

Way off in the Northern Cape of South Africa, the intentional community of Orania houses close to a thousand white separatists, eager to avoid integration with the rest of the now-desegregated nation. But they’re not just stuck in the past, they insist - they now have their own cryptocurrency, and they want you to know about it.

The image of a beauty pageant conjures (rightful) sentiments of objectification, sexism, sleaze, and all-round unpleasantness. Well, maybe that’s because we do them so poorly, and left men in charge of the whole process. In northern Niger, they have a more radical conception of what a beauty pageant can be: an endless dance-off, led by women, where judges pick a winner and sleep with the victor of their choosing.

Patrick McCormack has a deeply intriguing photographic style - perhaps because his subject is so inherently peculiar. Prowling around the outer reaches of Nowheresville, and all the strange corners of America that bleed strangeness, McCormack snaps the seemingly benign, revealing the implacable eeriness of cloudy New England.

Nude beaches, anything-goes jacuzzis, wipe-down furniture - Hedonism II is a destination like no other, I think it’s safe to say. We sent Alex Temblador to investigate this Caribbean swingers’ paradise, to see what all the fuss was about, and whether it justifies its reputation.

Air travel has lost all its glamour. There’s nothing particularly fancy or luxe about the hours spent in a cramped, sweaty tin box being fired across the continents, quietly resenting the loud breathing of fellow passengers. But it wasn’t always this way - air travel used to be cool; damn cool. And also astonishingly sexist.

It takes a lot to scare Stephen King, one would expect. But there was something so spooky, so troubling, so otherworldly about the Stanley Hotel that he took to penning not one but two books off the back of his stay: The Shining, and Pet Sematery. Watch out for the twin rooms.

Is tourism gradually killing all of the undisturbed beauty spots that have stood, pristine and lilo-free, for thousands of years? Is wanderlust a toxic impulse, which leads well-meaning travellers to extinguish the very kind of freedom and abandon that they seek? The answer is: yes, if you’re not extremely careful.

Thirty-two years after the greatest ecological calamity in human history, Pripyat - the small Soviet factory city which housed the Chernobyl Nuclear Reactor - has finally, finally, hosted its first rave, with radiation finally coming down low enough to allow revellers and DJs to have a very, very time-restricted street party.

Sometimes headlines really do speak for themselves. We sent Rowan Kennedy out to the dried-up remnants of what was once a thriving Uzbek port, to dive headlong into what they’re calling the Burning Man of Central Asia. And once you read his dispatches from the field, you’ll be planning your trip out there for next year.

Best of 2018