Having lived through and written extensively about past disasters, Rebecca Solnit senses as well as anyone what comes next. We’re still in the middle of a global battle, but slowly talk of “after” will come, and we will need guidance from those who have endured similarly treacherous stretches. “It is too soon to know what will emerge from this emergency,” Solnit writes, “but not too soon to start looking for chances to help decide it.”
Sunday Long Read correspondent Ellyn Ritterskamp explores the lives of 11 women and their relationships with Title IX, the 1972 landmark U.S. law that altered the sports landscape for women. Ellyn’s subjects span generations, and include a long-time Division I athletic director, a former WNBA star, and a 10-year-old who is the only girl on her Little League team.
Dr. Anthony Fauci once explained the method he uses for dealing with political leaders in the times of crisis: “I go to my favorite book of philosophy, ‘The Godfather,’ and say ‘It’s nothing personal, it’s strictly business.’”
The pandemic has also had a devastating impact on the journalism business. News organizations that had been operating on slim margins have now lost nearly all their advertisers and many of their subscribers, and yet journalists' work is more important than ever. Thankfully, we are seeing solidarity and cooperation between journalists. Reporter Paige Cornwell, for example, has started a furlough fund to help out with next month’s rent and to help put food on the table. This month, please consider subscribing to your local newspaper, if you’re able, and today, enjoy these important stories by local reporters.
In a matter of days, Sandy Brown lost her husband and her son to the coronavirus. She also lost the ability to grieve. Every death to the virus has a story. Take some time to read about Freddie Lee Brown Jr. and Freddie Lee Brown III.
Vitalina Williams left Guatemala years ago to start a new life in Salem. She worked long hours in the service industry, found love, and a new home. Then the virus arrived and swept everything away like a hurricane. Her story—beautifully told by the Globe—is about the American dream and the vulnerability of low-wage workers.
Honestly, now is probably not the ideal time to sink into this story about our dying oceans. But then again, that’s the problem: there is no time to wait. “Because we live on land, we often think of the climate crisis as a terrestrial event,” Jeff Goodell writes, giving a cogent voice to an environment dealing with its own unprecedented change. “But as the planet heats up, it’s what happens in the ocean that will have the biggest impact on our future.”
An irresistible fan-boy profile of Weird Al, with sharp prose about all sorts of things, including Yankovic’s face: “He still looked oddly young, as if his face had been locked into place, for copyright reasons, in 1989” and “He uses that face to mimic music-world cliches: rock-star sneer, boy-band smolder, teen-pop grin, gangsta-rap glower.” Even if you aren’t a Weird Al fan, Sam Anderson may help you understand why Weird Al can still, after all these years, trigger “tantric nerdgasms.” (By the way, years ago a friend met Weird Al, and ended up spending an afternoon with him: “The nicest, coolest, funniest dude I’ve ever met.”)
How a video clip from 1992 that recently dropped in Mike Sielski’s inbox connected two young athletes whose lives would end tragically. On a week when we’re highlighting fantastic Coronavirus work from local newspapers, it’s fitting we feature this lovely piece by one of America’s finest sports columnists that will tug hard at your heart.
Nadja Drost joined a group of Cameroonian and Pakistani migrants as they traversed the Darien Gap, one of the world’s most dangerous regions. More migrants than ever are crossing the Colombia-Panama border to reach the United States. A courageous, well-reported story.
When sports stopped, “sports journalist” Clay Travis pivoted to “telling the truth” about the dangers—or lack thereof—of the Coronavirus. Travis was dead wrong, but it turned out to be a very sound business decision.
John Prine, the 73-year-old midwestern mailman turned Nashville songwriting legend, died last week after a battle with COVID-19. As Craig Jenkins writes in this beautiful tribute, Prine’s “music was a celebration of the fullness and the randomness of life.”
Game recognizes game: The great songwriter Jason Isbell’s ode is one of the most beautiful tributes we’ve read, an essay that is an effortless prose poem, like Prine’s timeless lyrics. “His songs sounded like they’d been easy to write,” Isbell writes, “like they’d just fallen out of his mind like magic.”
Zhang Ning will soon be reunited with her husband. He left the couple’s hometown of Wuhan to visit relatives in late January, and just days later the central Chinese city suddenly went into lockdown, leaving him unable to return for over two months. But China is now easing travel restrictions as its COVID-19 epidemic subsides, allowing him to finally come home.
Zhang couldn’t be less excited.
“I’ve told him I’ve decided to divorce him,” the 34-year-old tells Sixth Tone.
This nothing-but-fun piece, excerpted from George Plasketes' book about Warren Zevon, traces the origin of "Werewolves of London" to Phil Everly who told Zevon he had just seen Werewolf of London (1935) on TV and wouldn't the idea make for a great song about a dance craze. It never sent dancers to the floor, but 40-plus years on it still makes people laugh. "The romp is comic noir, featuring a stylish werewolf on his way to Lee Ho Fooks for a “big dish of beef chow mein” and another “drinking a piña colada at Trader Vic’s,” Plasketes writes. In compiling the song's compete history, Plasketes makes the obvious connection between "Werewolves" and "Sweet Home Alabama" that had never occurred to me and notes how Kid Rock sampled both songs for his "All Summer Long." Ahh-ooh!
Classic Read curator Jack Shafer writes about media for Politico.
The Big Picture has been doing a lot of the recommendation shows lately, cruising through short riffs on movies that would make for good quarantine screening. Here they take on the Criterion Channel collection, though a lot of these movies are also available elsewhere to stream and buy if you don’t subscribe. Special guests include Barry Jenkins, Sam Esmail, Erin Lee Carr, the Safdie brothers, and many more. To be honest, I’m not going to watch a lot of these, but it sure is fun to hear smart people talk about great films they love.
Risk is an occupational hazard for photojournalists who subscribe to Robert Capa’s “Close Enough” rule. AP photographer Emilio Morenatti lost his leg in a bomb blast in Afghanistan in 2009. Accustomed to covering fires, floods and wars, Morenatti and other conflict photographers now rise to the challenge of documenting a killer they can’t see. Based in his native Spain, Morenatti spent the past two weeks following healthcare workers in Poble Sec, one of Barcelona’s oldest neighborhoods. His series of photos, published on April 10, document the fear, misery and isolation of the home-bound elderly, shunned from hospitals prioritizing younger, healthier patients with higher chances of survival. Shot in the low, soft light of ancient, narrow apartments, Morenatti’s images of COVID-19 house calls contrast the religious artifacts and rumpled bed linens of seniors’ homes with caregivers’ startling modern gowns and masks. Squeezing into cramped corners, Morenatti and his camera are unseen as they humanize the crisis, bringing us close to the invisible enemy.
Patrick Farrell, the curator of The Sunday Still, is the 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winner for Breaking News Photography for The Miami Herald, where he worked from 1987 to 2019. He is currently a Lecturer in the Department of Journalism and Media Management at the University of Miami School of Communication.
The clip is five minutes long and, oooooh boy, lives up to its billing.
Paul Kix is a best-selling author, an editor, and the host of the podcast, Now That's a Great Story, where novelists, journalists, screenwriters and songwriters talk about their favorite work, the one that reveals their artistic worldview. For insights from writers that go beyond what's covered in the podcast, like the entry above, please sign up for Paul's newsletter.
Todd McFarlane’s CV is long and impressive: legendary comic book artist, creator of Spawn, and CEO of his own toy company, just to list the highlights. He’s also not short on opinions—especially controversial ones. In this Q&A, veteran journalist Rob Salkowitz, who knows the industry as well as any reporter, touches on a variety of topics—including McFarlane’s foray into crowdfunding, the long-gestating Spawn feature film (which the comic writer/artist plans to write AND direct), and McFarlane’s view on the crippled direct comics market. It’s that last point that is the most relevant and interesting, as McFarlane—who isn’t beholden to any master—cuts loose on what comics can and, in his eyes, should do. It makes for interesting, unfiltered reading from one of the industry’s lasting and independent voices.
Alex Segura is an acclaimed author, a comic book writer written various comic books, including The Archies, Archie Meets Ramones, and Archie Meets KISS. He is also the co-creator and co-writer of the Lethal Lit podcast from iHeart Radio, which was named one of the Five Best Podcasts of 2018 by The New York Times. By day, Alex is Co-President of Archie Comics. You can find him at www.alexsegura.com.
Founder, Editor: Don Van Natta Jr. Producer, Editor: Jacob Feldman Producer, Junior Editor: Étienne Lajoie Senior Recycling Editor: Jack Shafer Senior Photo Editor: Patrick Farrell Senior Music Editor: Kelly Dearmore Senior Podcast Editor: Jody Avirgan Senior Editor of Esoterica: Ryan M. Rodenberg Senior Originals Editor: Peter Bailey-Wells Sunday Comics Editor: Alex Segura
Digital Team: Nation Hahn, Nickolaus Hines, Megan McDonell, Alexa Steinberg Podcast Team: Peter Bailey-Wells, Cary Barbor, Julian McKenzie, Jonathan Yales Webmaster: Ana Srikanth Campus Editor: Peter Warren Junior Producers: Joe Levin and Emma Peaslee
Contributing Editors: Bruce Arthur, Shaun Assael, Nick Aster, Alex Belth, Sara J. Benincasa, Jonathan Bernstein, Sara Blask, Greg Bishop, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, Maria Bustillos, Steve Caruso, Kyle Chayka, Chris Cillizza, Doug Bock Clark, Anna Katherine Clemmons, Stephanie Clifford,Rich Cohen, Jessica Contrera, Jonathan Coleman, Pam Colloff, Bryan Curtis, Seyward Darby, Maureen Dowd, Charles Duhigg, Brett Michael Dykes, Geoff Edgers, Jodi Mailander Farrell, Hadley Freeman, Lea Goldman, Michael N. Graff, Megan Greenwell, Bill Grueskin, Justine Gubar, Maggie Haberman, Reyhan Harmanci, Virginia Heffernan, Matthew Hiltzik, Jena Janovy, Bomani Jones, Chris Jones, Peter Kafka, Paul Kix, Mina Kimes, Peter King, Michael Kruse, Tom Lamont, Edmund Lee, Chris Lehmann, Will Leitch, Steven Levy, Jon Mackenzie, Glynnis MacNicol, Drew Magary, Erik Malinowski, Jonathan Martin, Betsy Fischer Martin, Jeff Maysh, Jack McCallum, Susan McPherson, Ana Menendez, Kevin Merida, Katherine Miller, Heidi N. Moore, Kim Morgan, Eric Neel, Joe Nocera, Ashley R. Parker, Anne Helen Petersen, Jo Piazza, Elaina Plott, Joe Posnanski, S.L. Price, Jennifer Romolini, Julia Rubin, Albert Samaha, Bob Sassone, Bruce Schoenfeld, Michael Schur, Joe Sexton, Ramona Shelburne, Jacqui Shine, Alexandra Sifferlin, Rachel Sklar, Dan Shanoff, Ben Smith, Adam Sternbergh,Matt Sullivan, Wright Thompson, Pablo Torre, Kevin Van Valkenburg, Nikki Waller, John A. Walsh, Seth Wickersham, Karen Wickre and Dave Zirin.
Contributor in memoriam: Lyra McKee 1990-2019
Header Image: Art Streiber
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