Long time Sports Illustrated columnist and ESPN commentator Rick Reilly is retiring from the business at age 56.
Reilly didn’t invent the human interest sports story, but he may have perfected it. His “Life of Reilly” columns at SI were full of ordinary athletes performing with incredible handicaps. He wrote of their families, their teammates, and their communities with love and respect.
And man, could he write. Reilly and P.J. O’Rourke are the reasons I decided to try my hand at writing so late in life. Reilly had an ability to boil down the essence of a story until nothing but shining truth remained.
Reilly reminisced about some of the people he wrote about along the way at ESPN.com:
I’d notice how Michael Jordan never appeared before us until his tie was tied, his $3,000 suit buttoned, his silk pocket square just so. From him, I learned professionalism.
I watched safe after safe fall on John Elway’s head — Super Bowl losses, divorce, the loss of his twin sister and his beloved dad — and yet he refused to allow himself one ounce of self-pity. From him, I learned grit.
I’d see how Jim Murray would get up out of his chair in the press box to greet each of the dozens of people who just wanted to shake the great sports writer’s hand, even though he could hardly see his chair, much less their hands. From him, I learned humility.
I wrote about the teammates of high school cross country runner Ben Comen, who would finish their 3-mile races and then double back out onto the course to run with Ben and his limping cerebral palsy gait. From them, I learned love.
I discovered the athletes of Middlebury College, who would pick up a severely handicapped fan named Butch, load him into the car and take him to every game, where they’d provide a hot dog, a Coke and a buddy. From them, I learned service.
Never let anyone tell you sports doesn’t matter. Never let them tell you it’s all about the wins, the losses and the stats. Sports is so much more than that. It’s your grandfather and you and the way a Sunday Bears game bonds you like Super Glue. It’s what you ask of yourself to break four hours in the marathon. It’s the way your softball buddies can still laugh about you hitting the ump instead of the cutoff man 30 years later.
From his perch at SI, Reilly brought readers into the world of sport like no other writer of this or any other generation. Using the drama and sweep of sports to tell the most intimate of stories was inspired writing and the fact that he could pull it off most of the time speaks to his talent and his heart.
Reilly has not been forthcoming about his plans for the future except to say he’ll be living in Italy. His fans will look forward with anticipation for whatever genius flows from his pen.
A year or more ago I heard about this project called Liberty Island, supposed to give those of us whose politics make us pariahs with most of traditional publishing — though not Baen Books — a haven where we could meet our fans. I keep meaning to contribute to them, but of course, the last year I spent more time sick than well, and consequently I’m so far behind on books and contracts, I can practically see myself around the corner.
Well, they are up now (and have a story by Frank J. Fleming). And I’ve secured an interview with Adam Bellow, Liberty Island’s publisher and CEO. Bellow is a longtime nonfiction editor, currently running Broadside, the conservative nonfiction imprint of HarperCollins. He is also the author of In Praise of Nepotism, a lively contrarian take on an eternally divisive topic.
And, yep, sure, as soon as I get a weekend to pound it out, I’ll do a novella for Liberty Island.
Sarah Hoyt: I heard of Liberty Island back when it was in the planning stages. I understand it is an online magazine-cum-community center for writers and readers on the right side of the spectrum. Is this true? What do you want to tell us about Liberty Island?
Adam Bellow: We started Liberty Island to help the new wave of conservative storytellers connect with their natural audience. Even before launching the site we’ve discovered dozens of new voices on the right that you won’t find anywhere else. These are talented and creative people who have previously been excluded from mainstream culture because they hold the wrong views and didn’t go to the right schools or attend the approved writing programs. This just confirms our hunch that something like Liberty Island is desperately needed.
SH: Who is the audience for Liberty Island? What is “conservative fiction”? Shouldn’t good stories just stand on their own?
AB: Great literature stands on its own, but the productions of popular culture often carry a hidden freight of ideology that reflects its authors’ biases. Sometimes not so hidden — the evil conservative businessman is essentially the default villain in Hollywood these days. But think about what happens when great stories are told from a conservative perspective: you get Tom Clancy, or Brad Thor, or James Patterson, or Vince Flynn. Mega-bestselling authors with a huge following. Our audience is anyone who loves great pulp writers like those guys. At Liberty Island you will find dozens of stories like these, in genres ranging from humor to thriller to SciFi. These writers aren’t heavy handed in the least – their conservative outlook is sometimes explicit but just as often merely implied or completely submerged. Besides, a case can be made that traditional pulp genres are inherently conservative.
SH: In what way do you intend to distinguish yourself from other online magazines?
AB: Liberty Island combines a magazine, a free range self-publishing platform, and a community of readers and writers who share a commitment to the values of freedom, individualism, and American exceptionalism. It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.
SH: What made you think of the project – and commit to it and work so hard for it?
AB: Two things: first, an impulse to carry the culture war into the field of popular culture. And second, the writers themselves. In 25 years as an editor of nonfiction books I’ve watched the conservative intellectual project thrive and flourish. But like others on the right I’ve been dismayed by the slowness of conservatives to challenge the liberal dominance of popular culture. It’s not enough to carp and criticize the frequently substandard and offensive crap that liberals produce. As Andrew Breitbart used to say, we have to make our own—and it has to be good. But recently we began to notice an exciting development: hundreds, indeed thousands of conservative and libertarian writers were seizing the opportunity afforded by new digital technologies to produce and publish original works of fiction. Others were making music, video, graphics, and other forms of entertainment right on their laptops at home. These were ordinary men and women all over the country, working in isolation, doing their best to hone their art and find an audience. Yet no one seemed to know that they existed. So we started talking about what we could do to help them. Liberty Island grew out of those discussions.
At 9am on Wednesday, February 12th, I got wind of a Chicago Tribune article announcing the Orland Park Public Library was calling a last-minute “special meeting” on a legal holiday at 6pm to discuss and vote on continuing to allow access to pornography, including child pornography, on their computers, or to install filters as requested by both the public and the mayor of the village. This struck me as exceedingly strange because their regular meeting was already scheduled to occur the next Monday, the 17th. Why was there a sudden rush to vote?
The open position on the board was being filled at the “special meeting” as well. So they had decided to not only swear in a new member but also immediately vote on the most controversial issue their library had ever faced in a hurried, cobbled-together meeting giving the public one day’s notice. In the Illinois Open Meetings Act (OMA) it was discovered they possibly broke two provisions in calling this meeting. First, the public notice was in question. The OMA requires 48 hours notice be given to the public in an easy-to-find location on their website and in their building. The website homepage was empty of any such notice, the Events calendar was also devoid of any notice (even though the regularly scheduled meeting appeared there), their Facebook page did not include any notice and their Twitter account also did not tweet any notice of the special meeting. The only notice that appeared was buried many clicks into their website where no member of the public would think to look. These are the steps a person would have to go through to find the “public notice.”
Go to www.orlandparklibrary.org then click ABOUT then ABOUT US then scroll down and click on BOARD OF TRUSTEES and then finally find the PDF OF AGENDA.
There is no reasonable way to argue that this is easy for the public to find when normally, if the Library has something it wants people to know (like the “warning” they posted about me or Library closing dates) they put it on the Library’s home page, Facebook and Twitter!
Further, the Open Meetings Act in IL states;
“All meetings required by this Act to be public shall be held at specified times and places which are convenient and open to the public. No meeting required by this Act to be public shall be held on a legal holiday unless the regular meeting day falls on that holiday.”
In Illinois, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday is a legal holiday and the government is shut down on that day. I found this out because I called the Attorney General’s office to report the illegal meeting and get an emergency injunction and they were closed (conveniently enough for the Library.) Chicago public schools also had the day off, Springfield government offices were closed and I found the law passed in Illinois by the legislature indeed making Abraham Lincoln’s birthday a legal holiday. The Library board held an illegal meeting.
Worse than that, they held all the controversial issues to vote on for this illegal meeting of which the public had no notice and were unable to attend. By provision in the OMA, special meetings are not required to allow public comment. The Board was able to vote on keeping obscene material available on their computers without having to worry about those bothersome taxpayers having anything to say about it.
The Hillary Clinton 2016 speculation began a while ago. Time is on topic this week with Clinton’s leg and black pump on the cover.
Over at Slate, Amanda Hess finds this cause for concern.
Clinton’s presumptive bid to become the first female president does position her as a powerhouse poised to stomp through the patriarchal status quo. But when publications like Time frame that feminist pursuit with images of women in pointy heels that leave feminized male “victims” in their wake, they undermine the female politician’s power even as they attempt to acknowledge it.
I surmise that these female domination images are acceptable when talking about flailing men—The Munk Debates used a similar image for “The End of Men”—but counterproductive stereotyping when talking about actual powerful women. Why?
Hess doesn’t state the mechanics of how such images undermine female power. I will. Women who found their power on breaking the glass ceiling cannot allow dominance imagery because they assume that they cannot withstand an attack, open or stealth, that they are against men. They assume they must engage in passive aggressive argument to win votes, which is ill-served by heel-grinding imagery. It’s also a tacit admission that women cannot dominate men without their consent.
My colleague Walter Hudson recently ripped into the ignorance of Jesse A. Meyerson’s Occupy-hipster treatise, “Five Economic Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For.” The article was published in Rolling Stone magazine, the flagship publication of Wenner Media, a privately owned company. To clarify: ”Privately held companies are not required to file financial disclosure documents with government regulators such as the SEC, so detailed financials usually are not readily available to the public.”
In other words, the publisher of the magazine that prints articles informing readers they should advocate for:
- “Job guarantees” through the non-profit (i.e. taxpayer funded) sector
- A “universal basic income” funded through (taxpayer-based) Social Security
- The creation of a “simple land-value tax”
- A taxpayer-funded “sovereign wealth fund”
- Taxpayer-funded state-owned public banks
doesn’t need to tell you one darn thing about the amount of taxes they do (or don’t) pay. Who knows? Wenner Media might just qualify as one of Meyerson’s despised “megacorporations”. The fact that the company’s co-founder, Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner, is worth a cool $700 million makes you think twice, unless you’re some twentysomething hack who has a proclivity for overusing the word “blow.” Did the editors have to cut out his Beavis and Butthead-like chuckles from the text? No wonder the guy is advocating for a government-funded job watering that fern in his Williamsburg apartment (or, as he prefers to call it, “urban farming”); the only reason he managed to swing a writing gig is because he’s a glorified mouthpiece for the same yuppie political hucksters he claims to be fighting against. That’s right, Meyerson’s a Tool for the Machine. Huh-huh-huh, I said tool.
Forget the fact that the guy who thinks we have an unemployment problem because available jobs are “menial” and “boring” is also the same guy who believes putting every adult on an auto-pay system will actually improve individual well-being, stimulate the economy, and spark a cultural renaissance in “painting murals.” You can’t reason with stupid. You can only laugh at the irony of a Marxist hippie ideology being parroted in a magazine created by a Marxist hippie that has become a pathetic homage to ideas so dense and ridiculous that their owners, like Jann Wenner, long ago left them in the dustbin to pursue successful truths, like capitalism, the free market, and the ability to own private corporations.
Congratulations, kid, you’ve been duped. But at least Mr. Wenner and the 30% of Rolling Stone readers whose income exceeds $100,000 a year were kind enough to redistribute some of their money your way.
Working sure feels good, doesn’t it?
At nearly five years old, my firstborn routinely disputes rules with his mother and me. Cookies shall be served for dinner, he declares. Though he must ultimately yield to our authority, we cannot claim to have actually changed his mind. As far as he is concerned, cookies remain the first and best option.
This tendency among youth to reject the thinking of their elders continues even into adulthood and leaves them vulnerable to manipulation by those who would use that trait to fulfill ulterior motives. “Do you always do what your parents say?” more than one tempter has asked.
It’s that age-old desire to break free of generations past which Rolling Stone contributor Jesse A. Myerson appeals to in his recent piece “Five Economic Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For.” A brief list of the political left’s most radical policy proposals, the piece launches from the suggestion of youth superiority. Myerson writes:
Here are a few things we might want to start fighting for, pronto, if we want to grow old in a just, fair society, rather than the economic hellhole our parents have handed us.
Silly elder, reform is for kids. The list includes guaranteed jobs, which you won’t necessarily need because there’s also a guaranteed income and public ownership of everything. It’s basically Gotham under the revolution of Bane.
It’s not what Myerson presents so much as what he takes for granted which deserves rebuttal. His proposals proceed from unspoken assumptions which have been promoted in the popular culture by an organized Left, manipulating the nation’s youth into sacrificing their future. Here are 6 lies millennials must reject to live free.
Last week we agreed – well, at least I agreed, since I am after all writing this – that the purpose of writing is to be read by as many people as possible and that the best way of knowing there are people reading and enjoying your work is to sell it. No one is going to give you money for your writing just to make you feel better. Okay, maybe your mom. But she isn’t going to keep doing it. So, if you’re making a living from your writing you have to know people are enjoying it.
Besides being a useful indicator of popularity, money is good for all sorts of things. For instance, the local grocery store takes it in exchange for food (and takes more of it each week it seems) and no matter how much we explain to our bank that we’re running what amounts to a non-profit cat shelter for delinquent cats, it still insists on having us pay our mortgage in cash instead of warm fuzzies. (I know, I know. Very narrow minded of them.)
So, you’ve finished your manuscript, be it a novel or a short story, or even a collection of articles on delinquency in cats, and you’re looking for a way to market it. But how exactly do you go about it?
Well, first of all, you don’t know how lucky you are. When I finished my first novel, back in pre-history (it was 1985 and we chiseled our work on slabs of rock) I honestly had no idea what to do with it. As it turned out, I should have burned it, but since I didn’t know it at the time, I went to the library, got a copy of Writers’ Market and proceeded to send it out to all sorts of inappropriate places, from whence it was returned at speed (The Writers’ Market is more reliable for non-fiction, and event here the listings are often outdated by the time it goes to print.) It was years before I found the appropriate places (which as it turned out also returned it at speed.)
Nowadays, you can do a lot of the research for where to market your book on line. Sites like Ralan list markets for Science Fiction, Mystery, Fantasy and Horror ranging from the professional-paying to literary and little. I was actually chuffed to find out they still existed. They used to be my go-to market listing back ten years ago when I was regularly submitting to magazines. (I haven’t done that in about ten years, because I’ve been submitting to by-invitation anthologies, and fulfilling book contracts. It’s one of those problems you trade up for in the writing field.) A friend of mine also uses something called The Grinder Diabolical Plots which is a combined submission tracker and market resource.
There’s good news this week for beleaguered celebrity chef Paula Deen: not only will Hoffman Media continue to publish her magazine, but they will also pick up her new cookbook, Paula Deen’s New Testament, for publishing. Celebrity Cafe broke the news on Wednesday:
The company that publishes Paula Deen’s magazine will also publish her new cookbook.
Hoffman Media began publishing Cooking With Paula Deen six times a year beginning in 2005. The magazine reaches approximately 350,000 readers. Hoffman Media is one of the few companies that still support Paula Deen.
In a press release, the company stated:
In response to recent news coverage, Hoffman Media, LLC (HM), a leading special-interest publisher based in Birmingham, Alabama, and publisher of Cooking with Paula Deen magazine, today announced that it is continuing to publish the magazine.
Eric Hoffman, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Hoffman Media, released the following statement:
“Hoffman Media has worked closely with Ms. Deen since 2005. The recent images portrayed by the media do not reflect the person we know on a personal or a professional level.
“In the eight years that we have collaborated with Ms. Deen, we have witnessed her consistent generosity toward numerous charities, from hunger relief and battered women to a Savannah-based orphanage, to name a few. Most recently, she launched The Bag Lady Foundation to empower women and families in their time of need.”
In closing, Mr. Hoffman said: “We are aware of the hurt that has been generated in the media in recent weeks. To be clear, Hoffman Media does not condone the use of offensive, discriminatory language or behavior. With that said, we feel that Ms. Deen’s apology for past indiscretions was heartfelt and genuine. Our partnership will move forward with greater sensitivity and understanding.”
Yes, I know:
She advocated for legal abortion and contraception.
She made the world safe for Sex and the City.
Worst of all, she insisted on wearing mini-skirts well after menopause.
I’ve always had a soft spot for “outsider” female writers of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. It’s hard to imagine two women more different than Grace Metalious and Jacqueline Susann, yet I inhaled both their biographies.
Helen Gurley Brown was part of the same cohort of fiercely ambitious, sometimes uncouth “literary” females of the era.
But while those novelists created vivid fictional worlds in which to play out their fantasies of beauty, romance, fame, and revenge, Helen Gurley Brown’s accomplishment was far more audacious:
She too imagined, in pointillistic detail, her ideal realm — then set about remaking an entire society to match her personal vision.
The old joke goes, “It’s Sinatra’s world — we just live in it,” but it would be more accurate to say we’re living in Helen Gurley Brown’s.
Not everyone is happy about that.
However, there ARE three things to love about the brash publishing icon.
The second wholesome value is, we are told with a straight face, that Cosmo actually has a traditional attitude toward sex:
Cosmo happens to be fairly traditional about sex itself. Brown believed that it was O.K. to sleep with married men (it was their wives’ responsibility to keep them faithful, she argued), but White eliminated that from the formula. (“A total no-no,” she said.) The magazine also assumes that you’re having sex with a boyfriend or a husband (there’s not much in the way of same-sex relationships), and not with a one-night stand. “We certainly talk about sex mostly in terms of relationships,” White said, “and most of our readers have told us they’re in relationships, and they want the sexual information for their relationship.” White also sees the hookup culture boomeranging back to more traditional standards. “One thing I do think that women will evaluate in the coming years,” she said, “is casual sex. Is it really what you want to be doing, casual sex, a lot of casual sex? Is it what you feel good about?” But if it’s your thing, that’s fine too. “We don’t pass judgment,” she said.
Are these seriously what pass for wholesome values these days?
While I applaud White’s (rather tepid) skepticism of the hook up culture, there is a contradiction here. Her magazine does not sell relationships. It sells sex (as you can see by looking at some recent covers). Just like in the hook up culture, in the pages of Cosmo, the primary way that members of the opposite sex relate to each other is not emotional, intellectual, or spiritual–but sexual, pure and simple. If this is having it all, then count me out.
Related at PJ Lifestyle: