And a strange, rotten bit of fish it seemed to this new pack, though they, too, had been young in ‘72. They were in schools, or coming out to first jobs. They, too, had long hair, and tight pants over slender legs … and if sex were money, they all would have been rich.
Let’s stay here for a moment. We’ve got two children who’ve just taken a dagger. They don’t yank out the dagger. Someone might see it. Besides, if they leave it there, maybe nobody can put another one in. And so scar tissue begins to form around it. They don’t realize it, but the dagger soon becomes part of who they are. They end up protecting it, in a way, rather than pulling it out to look at it and learn about it. They end up dedicating their lives to hiding it-strategizing, lying, manipulating others to make sure their eyes go somewhere else: to the strong, smart, confident, golden children they both seem to be. Fabricating who I thought I should be, R.A. would say later, and trying to live up to that.
- Gary Smith in SI
I find Lance Armstrong reprehensible for having passed off fiction as documentary. Two dear friends of mine had their bodies sliced up, pumped with chemicals and radiated, but they still wasted away before my eyes and died, the disease feasting on their bones like soft fruit, flooding their lungs, robbing them of their voices and keen intellects and finally stopping their generous hearts. I am and will always be more moved by the bravery they demonstrated while losing than I would ever be by the amoral celebrity who “beat” cancer.
Jack got a burst of energy every time he touched the ball. No matter what the defenders did, they just weren’t there. Faith Baptist was double- and triple-teaming him. He was calm. He was apart from himself, and the numbers. But he knew what he wanted. He wanted to score. Everything felt very slow, and he began not to worry about making or missing. He just wanted to shoot, and deal with the numbers later.
A few minutes later, Schrader yelled cut. The crew packed up. Pope went to check on Lohan. He noticed that she and Gavin had been drinking, which was understandable for a young woman shooting a sex scene with three porn stars. Quietly, Pope told Lohan that he could get her a driver to take her home. But she refused, jumped into her Porsche and headed down the dark, narrow road toward the P.C.H. They all hoped they would still have a lead actress in the morning.
I sometimes imagine that death might be more tolerable if I passed away in my sleep, although the reality is, no form of dying is acceptable to me with the possible exception of being kicked to death by a pair of scantily clad cocktail waitresses.
This is the Murray of legend—punkish, confident, a modern incarnation of a line that stretches from Puck and Pan to Brer Rabbit and Groucho. (Or as Harold Ramis, his longtime, sometimes estranged collaborator and friend, once described it to me, “All the Marx Brothers rolled into one: He’s got the wit of Groucho, the pantomimic brilliance and lasciviousness of Harpo, and the Everyman quality of Chico.”) It’s the Murray whose on-screen persona seems undivorceable from his exploits off. And it’s the Murray frankly idolized by men who were a certain age when he was in his prime, men not overly blessed with good looks, wealth, or athletic prowess, for whom the actor seemed to have sprung forth, as surely as John Wayne, with an alternative blueprint for manhood: self-possessed, on the side of good, exquisitely capable of making one’s way through the world.
We break the earth. For energy, for water, for resources. Coal. Oil. Gas. Silver. Gold. Salt. Even chalk. We break the earth for all of these things. We always have.
Speaking in a gravelly mixture of urban slang and old-fashioned street-crime lingo, he told us that he was born in Memphis but grew up in Chicago, where, at age thirteen, he learned how to pick pockets at what he called “whiz school,” under the tutelage of two local cannons named High Pocket and Finger Wave Dave. “I been playing since I was knee-high to a shit-ball,” he said. “At first, I was a moll buzzer. I used to play in the ghetto. Then I started playing Skokie, then I started playing downtown in the Loop. They got Shot-Jims down there, and if you can play at that level and beat a chump, right there on the corner in front of they face—believe me, you can play.” (Rough translation: “I started out stealing from women’s purses in my neighborhood, and then I started to ply my trade downtown, where I got so good that I was able to steal wallets out of men’s jacket and pant pockets even under the eagle eye of undercover police officers trained in the ways of my profession.”)
- Adam Green
You could call this desire — to really have that awareness, to be as open as possible, all the time, to beauty and cruelty and stupid human fallibility and unexpected grace — the George Saunders Experiment. It’s the trope of all tropes to say that a writer is “the writer for our time.” Still, if we were to define “our time” as a historical moment in which the country we live in is dropping bombs on people about whose lives we have the most abstracted and unnuanced ideas, and who have the most distorted notions of ours; or a time in which some of us are desperate simply for a job that would lead to the ability to purchase a few things that would make our kids happy and result in an uptick in self- and family esteem; or even just a time when a portion of the population occasionally feels scared out of its wits for reasons that are hard to name, or overcome with emotion when we see our children asleep, or happy when we risk revealing ourselves to someone and they respond with kindness — if we define “our time” in these ways, then George Saunders is the writer for our time.
You know those monks who get really good at life and realize that life isn’t as fair and compassionate as they are? There are seemingly two options from there: End up on fire in a public square or get even quieter.
I’m not calling Kobe Bryant a monk. That’s not what I’m doing. I’m just asking you to think about it.
In turn, Cramer talked to me about writing. He flooded my office with knowledge on “depth of words,” the “gift of someone telling you his secrets or the secrets of others,” and why it is important to “strip the bull—— away from the people that we worship as heroes.” He loathed the casual use of that word. Hero. Not necessarily to tear them down but “to actually know them like we only thought we knew them in the first place.”
It was rapid-fire journalism school. “Write sentences that are absolute. … Don’t be afraid to ask open-ended questions that will put some of the thinking back on the reader. … Don’t deify this damn guy; humanize the hero!”
Taylor was leg-whipped during a game once in Washington. Happens all the time. Common. He was sore and had a bruise, but the pregame Toradol and the postgame pain medicine and prescribed sleeping pills masked the suffering, so he went to dinner and thought he was fine. Until he couldn’t sleep. And the medication wore off. It was 2 a.m. He noticed that the only time his calf didn’t hurt is when he was walking around his house or standing. So he found a spot that gave him relief on a staircase and fell asleep standing up, leaning against the wall. But as soon as his leg would relax from the sleep, the pain would wake him up again. He called the team trainer and asked if he could take another Vicodin. The trainer said absolutely not. This need to kill the pain is what former No. 1 pick Keith McCants says started a pain-killer addiction that turned to street drugs when the money ran out … and led him to try to hang himself to break the cycle of pain.
At the end of “Clouds,” the script flashes back to the scene of the fall, where, upon closer inspection, Guy manages to grasp the hand he leapt for and “watches his lifeless body fall to the concrete below.” Another hand “emerges” and pulls Guy up.
The script continues:
“Welcome. We’ve been waiting for you.”
Guy emerges into the cloud. Fade to white.
Decades later, the operators say, the images are vivid. The slender fellow in the jacket and tie, bending his knees at the platform’s edge. The reveler stumbling on the tracks at dawn, wobbly in her evening best, unable to stagger away in time. An arm reaching up, hopefully, then disappearing in a flash.
“As cruel as it makes it sound, for the individual it’s over,” said Curtis Tate, a former operator whose train struck and killed a man in 1992. “It’s just beginning for the train operator.”
I didn’t know it then, but Cramer was one of those few writers, one of those few people, who change everything, and influence scores of people — some extraordinary writers and tons of imitators — in their wake. He wrote with all of the verve and inventiveness of Wolfe, but whereas Wolfe was not above keeping a contemptuous distance from his subjects, Cramer inhabited his people, body and soul. No one had ever humanized on the page they way Richard did. No one.
Now it was no hobby: Ted fished harder and fished more than any man around. After his divorce from Doris, he’d made his home in Islamorada, bought a little place on the ocean side, with no phone and just room for one man and gear. He’d wake before dawn and spend the day in his boat, then come in, maybe cook a steak, maybe drive off to a Cuban or Italian joint where they served big portions and left him alone. Then, back home, he’d tie a few flies and be in bed by 10:00. He kept it very spare. He didn’t even have a TV. That’s how he met Louise. He wanted to see a Joe Louis fight, so Jimmy took him to Lou’s big house. Her husband was a businessman from Ohio, and they had a TV, they had everything. Lou had her five kids, the best home, best furniture, best car, and best guides. Though she wasn’t a woman of leisure, she was a pretty good angler, too. She could talk fishing with Ted. Yes, they could talk. And soon, Lou would have a little money of her own, an inheritance that she’d use to buy a divorce. She wanted to do for herself, she said. And there was something else, too. “I met Ted Williams,” Louise said. “And he was the most gorgeous thing I ever saw in my life.”