Category Archives: Uncategorized

301. Grantland

I was 20 when Grantland launched.

I was short on experience and long on ambition. I had passed the phase of my life where I loved everything Simmons wrote, but I admired the boldness to which he committed to staking out a corner of the journalism world not always accepted by the reigning kings.

To be honest, I just wanted to work there. By not taking itself so seriously, the site served as a beacon of irreverence. It was unswervingly cool, especially for young writers of a certain mindset and ambition. And it had some really damn good writing.

Over the years, as the journalists it influenced themselves become more influential, the impact Grantland had will be lionized and (probably) exaggerated. Because journalistic tastemakers loved Grantland, this process is already happening on Twitter hours after the announcement.

In fact, a lot of analysis and eulogies and autopsies are going to occur over the next few days, but those don’t interest me much.

To me, the site’s lasting impact has nothing to do with what went wrong and why. It mattered because it taught a bunch of young people like me that the industry can still be the meritocracy we all envision it to be when we enter it.

Doesn’t matter what you write; if it’s good, someone will listen.

297. Jimi Hendrix drew a picture of Elvis Presley that looks like Donald Trump

It’s 1957, and Elvis and the Jordanaires are in Seattle. The crowd is about 90 percent teenage girls, but one of the few boys in the audience is a 14-year-old Jimi Hendrix.  

Elvis makes a big impact on Young Hendrix, especially with his swagger. At one point during the show, Elvis asks everyone to stand at attention for the national anthem. Then, he launches into “Hound Dog.” The King in his kingdom.

A few months after the show, Hendrix draws a picture of Elvis surrounded by the names of his hit songs.

It looks exactly like Donald Trump.

Like, exactly.


296. DEAR ███████

** All potentially incriminating emotional intelligence has been redacted by the Central Nervous System to preserve the safety and security of the status quo and the emopolitik. We appreciate your understanding. **  

transmission incoming

Dear ████████,

Hey. It’s me.

You’re going to ███████ ████ this letter ██ ███████, I’m sure, but you can’t honestly ████ ████, not ████ ████, not the part of you that I ███████ just as it ███████ ███. I know ██████ also ████ the chemistrickery, the bubbling ripple ████ █████ the ███████. Wild.

███████ once taught me that the worst thing you can do is ████ ████ ███████, so I will hide behind that and pretend like I’m ███not ██████ ██ ████ ██ ████.

I’m 95 percent certain ██████ wrapped ██ ████ ███████, perhaps inextricably, and that actually makes sense because ████ ███ ██. At least, ████ ██ ███ ████ I ████ ████ broken ground on with a golden ceremonial shovel.

Everyone says, “████, you ████ ███ ███ ██ can’t ████.” And that’s not true! At least, I don’t think it is. Maybe there is a █████, lasting and immature ████ ██ ██ that █████ ██ ███ and ████ a kiss to taste like ███████████ ██ ██. █ █████ ███ needed that flavor in most ██████ of my ████.

I’d ████ ███ if you were ██████, I’d ████ ███ even if you were ██████ ██ ███████, and I’d ████ ███ came right up to me, stared at me with those ██████████ eyes and said, “█████ ████ ████.”

███ I’m here, █████ in ████, ███████ if there is a slice ██ ████ ████, however thin, ███ ██. Won’t you? Can you? I understand ██ ████ a sense of maturity, duty and obligation, ██████ ████ ███ fearless gamble for adventure ██ █████ ███ baldly appealing.

Just know this:  █ █████ ████ ██████ ███ ██ ████ ███ and that’s not gonna change.

████, █████

end transmission

279. Two lines that made me put my book down

“He had short-cropped hair and a jawline lean and sharp enough to cur cake. He wore a gray suit with, unlike other board members, no pocket hankie. He had an economy of style and, like a gifted athlete, an economy of movement, as if he were conserving his energy for a meaningful explosion.”

That’s Michael Lewis describing a 1980s hatchet man inside Salomon Brothers in Liar’s Poker.

What I love about this is there’s nothing flashy or particularly clever. Sometimes good writing is in the unassuming details and the workmanlike job of getting from big idea to the next. Shouldn’t need more than a simple paragraph to say everything necessary about something.

“Now Alan found himself in the odd position of having to defend a woman who had tunneled through him so many times and so recklessly that he felt lucky to appear, from a distance, whole.”

That’s Dave Eggers describing a mid-fifties divorced man reflecting on his ex-wife in A Hologram For The King.

Perfect arrangement of words.

266. The Two Reporters

There are two reporters; let’s call them Wilson and Smith. Each is doing a story on a noted public figure, who we’ll call Jameson. Wilson covers Jameson regionally as an extension of his beat, meaning he has a solid rapport with him and talks to him often enough that the two are on a first-name basis.

Smith is a feature reporter, deployed by his national media company to trail Jameson for a week or two and gather enough information for a comprehensive magazine piece.

One afternoon on the job, the two reporters find themselves in a public hallway alone with the Jameson. Each senses the opportunity, but Wilson gets to him first.

In the course of answering Wilson’s questions, Jameson recounts a humorous, telling anecdote about pancakes that is tailor-made for the news. In fact, Wilson is so engrossed in his pancake conversation he doesn’t even notice Smith, who also hears the anecdote while he waits for his chance to ask Jameson his own question.

Wilson wraps up his interview with Jameson and leaves. The next day he files his beat report, using the pancake story extensively and framing Jameson within its fluffy, buttery details. Wilson’s report enjoys a brief turn as the story du jour on Sports Twitter, primarily because of The Pancake Story. The public is fascinated with Jameson, and Wilson’s reporting rides the zeitgeist.

A week later, Smith’s piece hits the web. It’s long, thoroughly researched and delicately written — vintage Smith — and about two thirds of the way down, Smith includes a graf that offhandedly mentions The Pancake Story.

Now, it can be reasonably assumed that Smith never read Wilson’s original piece. Wilson, after all, writes many more pieces for a smaller market of readers. But Wilson reads Smith’s piece — after all, it’s a long, national feature on a topic he himself covers — and when he gets to the bit about the pancakes, however, he becomes furious.

Smith stole my thunder, Wilson thinks. He must have been skulking around during my one-on-one interview with Jameson… Maybe even eavesdropping on the interview! Fueled by a sense of professional justice, Wilson brings the issue forcefully — damningly even, in Wilson’s own eyes — to his followers.

Now out in the ether, Smith strongly and publicly rebukes the accusation. Jameson made those comments in a public hallway, Smith reasons, and what was he supposed to do, put away his notebook? Ask for permission? Plug his ears?

Predictably, no one wins the Twitter spat, but it does have one useful outcome — it informs me of enough details so I can ask you, the reader, this:

Is either reporter in the right?

263. Pyrrhic

Did you guys know we’re all gonna die?  

Did you guys know your mind and body will imperceptibly (and then suddenly quite perceptibly) slow, fail, wither, cease? One day you’ll be here, the next day you won’t. Your family, too. Your pets, parents, and children. Everyone you’ve ever met or will meet. Everyone you’ve ever loved, feared, betrayed, scolded, admired, belittled and appreciated — they’re all gonna die too.

Did you guys know there’s a patch of garbage in the Pacific Ocean the size of Texas? Plastics and sludge are systematically choking the life out of an ecosystem thanks to our general waste mismanagement. They recently found a shark — one of the few not slaughtered for Japanese shark fin soup — carved up inside because of undigested polyethylene.

Did you guys know that Hemingway once begged his wife, with tears in his eyes, to not take him to his electroshock therapy appointment? Or that Tesla died penniless, crazy and in love with a pigeon?

Did you guys know that Tony Romo had the best QBR in the league before breaking his collarbone today? That the very hopes for the Cowboys’ season — one so tinged with promise and toughness and talent — likely fractured right along with Antonio Ramiro Romo’s left clavicle on the dirt-brown grass at Lincoln Financial?

222. Geno & Joe

Geno Smith had his jaw broken today by a rookie teammate, a defensive end coming to collect $600 Smith owed him.  a I spent some of the morning trying to figure out if the New York media turns the Jets and Mets into punchlines or if they do it themselves. I suppose it’s a little of both.

More interesting to me, the sports history nerd, is that Geno isn’t the first Jets QB to suffer a broken jaw.

In 1967, in a bloodfeud game against the Oakland Raiders, Joe Namath got physically tortured; hit low, hit late, hit hard. The Raiders that day were vicious and cheap, and Ike Davidson caught Namath as he was rolling to his left, blowing his helmet off his head and breaking his jaw.

Namath stayed in the game and threw for 370 yards in the Jets loss. Al Davis added insult to injury by having a photo of the hit blown up and displayed at Raiders HQ.


Instead, we got Geno’s lame Terminator Instagram picture. I was born in the wrong decade.

Postscript: The Jets’ big opportunity for revenge came during the infamous “Heidi Bowl,” when NBC executives chose to cut away from a narrow Jets/Raiders game to broadcast a heartwarming TV movie about an orphan girl.

It’d be like if ESPN inexplicably started showing the new Annie movie during Monday Night Football.

NBC’s half-hearted attempt to make ameliorate the situation blew up in its face when it displayed the score of the game –revealing Oakland’s dramatic comeback win — across the screen during the movie’s emotional climax.

218. On death

“Picture a very swift torrent, a river rushing down between rocky walls. There is a long, shallow bar of sand and gravel that runs right down the middle of the river. It is under water. You are born, and you have to stand on that narrow submerged bar, where everyone stands. The ones born before you, the ones older than you, are upriver from you. The younger ones stand braced on the bar downriver. And the whole long bar is slowly moving down that river of time, washing away at the upstream end and building up downstream.

“Your time, the time of all your contemporaries, schoolmates, your loves and your adversaries, is that part of the shifting bar on which you stand. And it is crowded at first. You can see the way it things out, upstream from you. The old ones are washed away and their bodies go swiftly by, like logs in the current. Downstream where the younger ones stand thick, you can see them flounder, lose footing, wash away.

“Always there is more room where you stand, but always the swift water grows deeper, and you feel the shift of the sand and the gravel under your feet as the river wears it away. Someone looking for a safer place can nudge you off balance, and you are gone. Someone who has stood beside you for a long time gives a forlorn cry and you reach to catch their hand, but the fingertips slide away and they are gone. There are the sounds in the rocky gorge, the roar of the water, the shifting, gritty sound of sand and gravel underfoot, the forlorn cries of despair as the nearby ones, and the ones upstream, are taken by the current. Some old ones who stand on a good place, well braced, understanding currents and balance, last a long time. A Churchill, fat cigar atilt, sourly amused at his own endurance and, in the end, indifferent to rivers and the rage of waters.

“Far downstream from you are the thing, startled cries of the ones who never got planted, never got set, never quite understood the message of the torrent.”

John D. MacDonald

217. Solar energy, Nutella, democracy, my voice

You get to the bottom, and you can feel it, feel the cold, rocky edge of it all scrape your face, and you realize that’s why it’s called rock bottom.  

“We have been made aware,” she writes. “It’s taken care of.” Don’t end a sentence with a preposition. Don’t end a sentence with a preposition. Don’t end a sentence with a preposition.

Somewhere in the dusty lazy Susan of the mind an old Oasis song plays one decibel too loud.

And I want you to know / I got my mind made up now / But I need more time 

Suddenly you realize  that you talk to all your ex-girlfriends, even the ones that live overseas, even the ones that told you they hated you, always would hate you, hate your penchant for emotional forgery and your constant masochistic tendency to grow bored with the warmth of a beautiful, boring woman. You talk to them, and you say kind and genuine things about them. You compliment their new boyfriends, who all have long hair and sometimes have the same name as you.

She is electric / Can I be electric too?

You read the blotter report in the newspaper the other day. A friend of a friend had been arrested for a vaguely sexual offense in the next town over. It made you nauseous.

“I like it when you’re under the ocean and all you can feel is calm,” she writes. “Will you write about me?”

This weather is making everyone crazy. People’s brains are baking in the sun. Stand up, dammit. Stand up! One foot after the other. Reach up, dig your fingers in. You’re on the curb with the bread, your sunglasses are gone and you will have to learn everything all over again.

August is not august.