Kibbles & Bits
Okay, it must be said: I admire how so many bloggers I read can somehow find a way to spend perhaps just 3-4 odd moments here and there to post something worth saying. With the right combination of brevity and just the right link, it's an art form. One which I'll never get the hang of. No, I haven't the knack for short, so I won't even try (my style being more narrative is one way to put it; long-winded is another). At least after today. Here's an attempt at how it might go:
You Only Thought They Were F---ED. The once-hot Fuckedcompany.com was all the rage during the dot-com era, when the guy behind it got ahold of lots of good insider leaks from companies teetering on the brink and published them. At its peak, 1,200 subscribers paid $75 a month access to the choicest bits. But it's fallen off the radar screen lately. I hadn't come across the name in perhaps a year. Until, that is, I read in the Wall Street Journal recently that the company still brings in about $300,000 a year from a blend of subscriptions and ads. Hell, that's at least twice what Working With Words racks up. That must mean we're really F---ed up...
Witnessing History. My friend Ayad Rahim left for a return trip to his native Iraq this week, to be on hand for the historic vote this weekend. Please pray for his safety, and keep track of his travels and observations on his blog. The Plain Dealer's Global Village column mentioned him briefly this morning, and he's due to be on WCPN next week. We'll warn you when as soon as we get the word. Or you can just check his blog, where he's so longwinded that he makes me look like a piker.
Call Me Genius. I've settled on a new stretch goal for this year: winning a McArthur genius grant. I'd consider accepting it even if it doesn't happen till next year. Or perhaps the year after. Wish me luck.
Re-encountering Legendary Craftsmanship. When you pursue serious journalistic writing for a number of years, you tend to hear and read about various legendary articles, sometimes dozens of times, and yet you may never read them. Occasionally, they'll be reprinted in a book collection or anthology. More recently, we get them via the web. I have in mind articles such as Gay Talese's 1966 Esquire profile of Sinatra, "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold," in which he never gets to interview the singer but instead writes about the many layers of protection around him. Another such alleged marvel of literary profiling has always been Kenneth Tynan's celebrated New Yorker profile of Johnny Carson, justly so, it turns out. Well, here it is. Click, read and enjoy. Notice how much longer New Yorker stories used to be in 1978 (at least twice as long as anything that runs today). Even the best "long-form" journalism of today is tighter than it once was. And for a great recent look at Talese's thoughts about his craft and his career, do check this out.