Heavy reading: A golf club, an outing, a suicide and Frank Sinatra.


For the hundredth time, thanks to Dave Zirin of The Nation for sportswriting that actually matters, on a daily basis. Zirin places sports into context, as a part of life, not removed from it. I only wish he had time to bring the same skills into beer writing, which is in a wretched state these days.

On Saturday, Zirin was tweeting about this saga. It begins here:

Dr. V’s Magical Putter; The remarkable story behind a mysterious inventor who built a “scientifically superior” golf club, by Caleb Hannan (Grantland)

… I play golf. Sometimes poorly, sometimes less so. Like all golfers, I spend far too much time thinking of ways to play less poorly more often. That was the silver lining to my sleeplessness — it gave me more time to scour YouTube for tips on how to play better. And it was then, during one of those restless nights, that I first encountered Dr. Essay Anne Vanderbilt, known to friends as Dr. V.

As soon becomes evident, this is not a story about a golf club. It is about a suicide, and a writer getting the story, whatever the outcome (in this case, chilling), because “The Story Is The Most Important Thing” — as lucidly critiqued here by a fellow writer.

SINATRA’S COLD IS CONTAGIOUS: Hostile Subjects, Vulnerable Sources & The Ethics of Outing, by Maria Dahvana Headley (GLITTERING SCRIVENER blog)

THERE ARE THINGS ABOUT BEING A WRITER THAT SUCK. One of them is that as a writer, you’re sometimes sold a bill of bullshit.

Here is a prime example: The Story Is The Most Important Thing.

This line is a lie, but in order to make students pay for writing instruction – and sometimes in order to fuel our own egos as writers who often professionally neglect the people in our lives so that we can sit in silence making things up – we have to have a culture in which story matters more than anything else.

The Dr. V story is sobering enough, and Headley’s deadly accurate corrective edifying, but what of colds? Specifically, what the hell is meant by “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold”? Read all about it here:

FRANK SINATRA HAS A COLD, by Gay Talese (April, 1966 in Esquire; 2007 reboot)

In the winter of 1965, writer Gay Talese arrived in Los Angeles with an assignment from Esquire to profile Frank Sinatra. The legendary singer was approaching fifty, under the weather, out of sorts, and unwilling to be interviewed. So Talese remained in L.A., hoping Sinatra might recover and reconsider, and he began talking to many of the people around Sinatra — his friends, his associates, his family, his countless hangers-on — and observing the man himself wherever he could. The result, “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,” ran in April 1966 and became one of the most celebrated magazine stories ever published, a pioneering example of what came to be called New Journalism — a work of rigorously faithful fact enlivened with the kind of vivid storytelling that had previously been reserved for fiction. The piece conjures a deeply rich portrait of one of the era’s most guarded figures and tells a larger story about entertainment, celebrity, and America itself. We’re very pleased to republish it here.