HALFTIME ADJUSTMENTS 005: Elemental
There’s always another halftime coming around. Take a few minutes and check out some good writing from this week and earlier. What, you’re going to sit and watch commercials?
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Top image: Charleston, S.C., by me, 3/15/13
Fine reading from the week:
• “In an Hour, A Church Changed Forever,” Doug Pardue and Jennifer Berry Hawes, Charleston Post and Courier
There’s been so much powerful, passionate, thought-provoking writing this week in the wake of the tragedy in Charleston, from Charles Pierce on how these horrors are no longer “unthinkable” to Ta-Nehisi Coates lasering in on the Confederate flag to Jeb Lund detailing the rhetoric and fear-mongering that have led to this environment. But to me, the most affecting work was the most straightforward: this accounting of what happened in the course of a single hour on Wednesday night, starting from when a Bible group study formed and a 21-year-old stranger walked in and was welcomed.
• “Lost and Found,” Jeff Schultz, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Jeff Schultz, an AJC writer with whom I’ve shared many a press box and sideline, wrote this remarkable story about how his son’s addictions wounded, but ultimately strengthened, their entire family. It’s powerful, direct storytelling, not least of which because the Schultz family seemed so perfect on the surface. Read this one and pass it around.
If you learn anything about the journey [out of addiction], it’s that the time clock in all of our heads — school, career, marriage, family — goes away. It’s about recovery and happiness, and you get there when you get there.
• “A Father’s Day Tale, Only In Indiana,” Gregg Doyel, Indianapolis Star
This is a perfect little story: Doyel saw a basketball goal at a house by the interstate, decided to go talk to the people who owned the house, and came up with a great story of fatherhood and basketball.
Cars were honking, and Steve Mohr figured it was Indiana’s way of saying hello. In the summer Steve and his friends jabbed a 500-watt quartz light in the ground, aimed it at the basket and shot until 2 or 3 in the morning. Henry and Norita never knew.
Cars on I-74 honked, and it wasn’t until years later Steve figured out why: That 500-watt quartz light was aimed at the goal, and the driveway — and the interstate.
“We were blinding them!” Steve says, laughing in that big old farmhouse he lives in now, the one where Henry grew up.
• “Did Abby Score?”, Brian Phillips, Grantland
Phillips is one of those cats who makes the arcane fascinating, the mundane interesting, the unfamiliar accessible. Here he is talking initially of Abby Wambach and the U.S. Women’s National Team, but in truth about the way that in America, you can have glory and victory and celebrity … but you generally get no more than two.
Thanks to the legacy of 1999, the split in the fan base, the uphill climb faced by women’s sports in general, and every other factor — the identity and destiny of the entire program can seem to turn on one moment, one goal, in an amazingly transparent way. Is the balance right? Are we winning? Are we selling shirts? Are we inspiring girls? Are we the best in the world? So often, all of those questions come down to this: Did Abby score?
• “Back Home Again in Indiana,” Allison Copenbarger Vance, SB Nation
A portrait of A.J. Foyt as he returns to Indy for the Indy 500. Foyt is 80 now, his time fading in the distance, but the man’s one of motorsports’ legends, in part because of anecdotes like this one, involving Foyt’s driver Takashi Sato, his friend Jack Housby, and rival driver Sage Karam:
After the race, Karam, the young driver who was involved in the wreck with Sato at the beginning, approaches. Housby stands up and says something to him. Karam leans closer and yells in his face, something A.J. might have done back when he was younger and didn’t take crap from anyone. He still doesn’t. He’s pissed. No one is going to talk to Housby like that. As Karam starts to walk away, A.J. yells at him and walks toward him. A few guys from Karam’s pit crew come up beside him.
“Move back,” A.J. says as he prepares to punch the 20-year-old driver. More people come and break up the fight.
• “From Rush With Love,” Brian Hiatt, Rolling Stone
The best music writing makes you want to put on the music being discussed, and man, did this piece do that. I was a Rush freak in high school — wasn’t everyone? — and this brought back all those feelings of being in on a huge, expansive secret in a way that’s no longer possible. Sure, nobody other than fellow white dudes ever listened to Rush for more than a few seconds, but we were a part of something larger than ourselves, and those songs still take me back. And Hiatt, the lucky bastard, got to watch them up close in rehearsal. Like Rush, this is mandatory reading for a very specific audience.
Back then, they had songs so epic that they actually continued from one album to the next, including, memorably, “Cygnus X-1: Book One: The Voyage.” They had Lee nailing fierce bass-guitar parts while shrieking like he had an overdrive pedal in his throat, hitting notes that made Robert Plant sound like Leonard Cohen. They had Peart pairing polyrhythms with polysyllables, and Lifeson summoning proto-thrash riffs, classical-gas acoustic bits, ringing chords and increasingly outré leads. They were brasher and louder than their stately prog forebears, Yes and Genesis … “We were young,” says Peart, quoting himself, inevitably, “and foolish and brave and fun.”
• Ted Turner’s Greatest Race, ESPN 30 for 30 (short video)
When I was growing up in Atlanta, Ted Turner was a god. A Southern-accented bulldog with a gift for fast talk and slick deals, Turner was nonetheless able to back up his gab; in addition to owning the Braves and Hawks, the guy was a yachting champion, and this video stems from those days. A tale of a treacherous night yachting during a race off the coast of England that claimed 15 lives, this is an unexpectedly intense 10 minutes and a much-needed preservation of a forgotten sports story.
My stuff, because this is the price you pay for getting this free:
• Spoke with Gary Player this week for the Grandstanding podcast, and he absolutely unloaded on Chambers Bay, site of the current U.S. Open. This was fun stuff. Subscribe to Grandstanding if you haven’t already.
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Thanks for reading. Get back to the game.