For a publication that encouraged readers to “Be Less Stupid”, recently defunct US website The Awl published a lot of stupid pieces. Yet it was the combination of sometimes weird, sometimes culturally acute writing that fostered a cult following in a publishing environment unfriendly to non-marketable styles of writing.

Launched in 2009, The Awl, followed by sister publication The Hairpin in 2010, found a niche in its overlap of cultural commentary and absurdist writing. Pieces ranged from art criticism to how the moon is a useless space rock deemed unworthy of the attention we devote to it. Many alumni of the websites moved on to more prestigious publications like The New Yorker and The New York Times.