Well, these two things rhyme:
1) this chunk of strike-through text from Patrick Hruby’s “What Roger Goodell’s Youth Football Safety Letter Leaves Out”:
… because if we define football-induced brain trauma problem as the accidental outcome of improper tackling technique as opposed to the inevitable result of the intentional collisions that are part and parcel of tackle football, then horrifying injuries and ruined lives are not the fault of a risky sport that one of our own medical advisors says children under age 14 shouldn’t be playing, but rather the fault of irresponsible people who fail to play it “the right way,” whatever that actually means.
2) a recent episode of the 99 Percent Invisible podcast that includes:
Automotive interests banded together under the name Motordom. One of Motordom’s public relations gurus was a man named E. B. Lefferts, who put forth a radical idea: don’t blame cars, blame human recklessness. Lefferts and Motordom sought to exonerate the machine by placing the blame with individuals.
And it wasn’t just drivers who could be reckless—pedestrians could be reckless, too. Children could be reckless.
This subtle shift allowed for streets to be re-imagined as a place where cars belonged, and where people didn’t. Part of this re-imagining had to do with changing the way people thought of their relationship to the street. Motordom didn’t want people just strolling in.
So they coined a new term: “Jay Walking.”
“The man in the cowboy hat — he saved Jeff’s life,” Ms. Bauman said. Mr. Bauman’s eyes widened. He said: “There’s a video where he goes right to Jeff, picks him right up and puts him on the wheelchair and starts putting the tourniquet on him and pushing him out. I got to talk to this guy!”
The man in the cowboy hat, Carlos Arredondo, 53, had been handing out American flags to runners when the first explosion went off. His son, Alexander, was a Marine killed in Iraq in 2004, and in years since he has handed out the flags as a tribute. — www.nytimes.com/2013/04/17/us/in-grisly-image-a-father-sees-his-son.html?smid=tw-share
I saw this image on Jess Bennett’s Tumblr, thought of Didion’s Where I Was From (which I’ve just re-read), and wondered if the Olivetti she wrote about could possibly be the same model as the one pictured here. And it is:
… I was a year or two out of Berkeley, working for Vogue in New York, and experiencing a yearning for California so raw that night after night, on copy paper filched from my office and the Olivetti Lettera 22 I had bought in high school with the money I made stringing for The Sacramento Union (“Big mistake buying Italian,” my father had advised, “as you’ll discover the first time you need a part replaced”), I sat on one of my apartment’s two chairs and set the Olivetti on the other and wrote myself a California river.
(Source: lamarde, via jessbennett)
I think my answer might be a little bit controversial — I think almost nothing is worth sweating in the first draft. Does a character need to change genders? Do you want to shift the structure? Just do it, and keep moving forward. Finishing a draft of a novel is so hard, and so enormous, that one needs all the momentum possible. If you stop and go back to the beginning every time you want to change something, you will never finish. Just go go go! You will have the time to go back and fix all your mistakes, right your wrongs, etc. Just get to the end of the first draft. The feeling of accomplishment is sweet enough to spur you on to make even the most major changes in revision. — Emma Straub on first drafts, from The Millions. (via thepenguinpress)
During a recent lunchtime run, roughly 15/16th of my brain was properly intent on my Kindle’s text-to-speech voice, which was reading me F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise. The other 1/16th ran loose, free-associating, stringing three beads together to make a weird, little necklace:
Bead 1: Fitzgerald’s description of his main character’s Princeton days.
Bead 2: The fact of Fitzgerald himself having gone to Princeton.
Bead 3: Another favorite writer of mine — Michael Lewis of Moneyball and The Big Short fame — being a Princeton grad.
Just when my mind threatened to abandon the novel entirely in favor of some daydream about a baby-faced, orange-and-black-sweatshirt-clad Michael Lewis reading The Great Gatsby while leaning against an elm outside Nassau Hall, a fatal car wreck in This Side of Paradise yanked me back into the story. Then came this passage:
“I don’t know what happened,” said Ferrenby in a strained voice. “Dick was driving and he wouldn’t give up the wheel; we told him he’d been drinking too much—then there was this damn curve—oh, my God!…” He threw himself face downward on the floor and broke into dry sobs.
The doctor had arrived, and Amory went over to the couch, where some one handed him a sheet to put over the body. With a sudden hardness, he raised one of the hands and let it fall back inertly. The brow was cold but the face not expressionless. He looked at the shoe-laces—Dick had tied them that morning. He had tied them—and now he was this heavy white mass.
This mention of shoelaces threw me clear of the wreckage, clear of the whole novel for a moment, back to Michael Lewis, who I remembered saying this when Ira Glass interviewed him back in 2011:
I’m always attracted to the idea that there’s value in things that other people aren’t looking at. There’s a version of this in watching people when I’m writing about them. I always try to look at the things, the details … that most people don’t pay attention to. Fingernails. Their shoelaces. Things that might have been done unselfconsciously on their person. And so I kind of look for the version of that in the society as well. I just grafted onto a journalism career an idea I encountered as an art history student at Princeton. The great connoisseur Bernard Berenson, who was the kind of first man in to go catalog the Italian Renaissance painters, had this problem that 80 guys painted the virgin in 1410. How do you separate one from the other? They’re all trying to look like each other, more or less. His idea was: Look at the details of the painting that the artist was least self-conscious about. So he looked at the fingernails of the virgin and the toenails of the baby Jesus. And that was how he started to classify, he started to identify the hands of painters. And I just took that idea into the world.
And so, in conclusion, shoelaces.
After seeing the “Treasures of Kenwood House” exhibition at SAM today, I decided to give a little something back to Culture.