NPR’s Robert Krulwich has an amazing long Cold War story to tell. WITH VIDEO, DAMMIT!:
They weren’t crazy. They weren’t being punished. All but one volunteered to do this (which makes it all the more astonishing.)
File under “things that actually really happened that you will want to read about right now.”
Another kind of “for white people” work is much easier to grasp. It conveys up front the notion that white people are a breed apart, morally, spiritually, intellectually. “Birth of a Nation,” “Gone with the Wind,” and “The Searchers,” yeah, sure, but also the first scene of the first episode of HBO’s “The Wire,” a moment that seemed so condescending to me that I could go no further with the series that virtually every white writer I know loves to pieces.
The opening of the series is a murder-scene conversation between a young hood-rat witness and a sage, world-weary white detective about the death of a lowlife named Snotboogie:
MCNULTY watches as the body, now bagged, is hauled into the back of the MORGUE WAGON.
MCNULTY: I got to ask you. If every time Snotboogie would grab the money and run away, why’d you even let him in the game?
MCNULTY: If Snotboogie always stole the money, why’d you let him play?
WITNESS: You got to. This America, man.
The WITNESS looks away, oblivious to the poetry of it. MCNULTY turns around, takes in the scope of the tragedy that is Baltimore.
Yes, of course, the Witness wouldn’t grasp the poetry of his own words. Of course, this is McNulty’s moment to sigh deeply at the “tragedy that is Baltimore.” This America, man.
“Mad Men” doesn’t condescend in that way, but I still find it hard to relate to. Money and status seem to be on the line in nearly every encounter. That’s why one character, a formerly slim, icy and glamorous blond who has become plump and was rechristened by “Mad Men” fans on the internet as Fat Betty, is a tragicomic figure in this show’s universe.
The direction and music seemed designed to convey that nothing is sadder than being overweight and shoved to the margins of the rat race. Betty is living through the aftermath of a divorce and a cancer scare, sure, but the fact that she can’t suffer these misfortunes in style, like Jackie O strutting down Madison Avenue, compounds the tragedy. It made me think of John Cassavetes’ brutal kiss-off to middle-aged Gena Rowlands in “Opening Night”: “You’re not a woman to me anymore.” Fat Betty is the flipside of chubby, lonely but bubbly Queen Latifah staring down the abyss in the comedy Last Holiday.
A few months ago, an author named Marie Calloway became instantly internet-famous by publishing a story titled “Adrien Brody” on Tao Lin’s Muumuu House website. The story told of the protagonist’s affair with what appeared to be the editor of a famous New York magazine named like a letter, a mathematical sign and a number. Many people found it scandalous. I didn’t.
Here’s the story that picks up where that one left off. It’s called “Jeremy Lin”. I don’t really know what it is, but I read it all the way through, in one go, which is much more than I can say for most 11,000 word stories out there. So, here it is. Enjoy!
“Jeremy Lin” by Marie Calloway
I emailed Jeremy Lin a story that I wrote at the behest of my friend. Not soon after, he emailed me back with this reply, “I liked it, if you make the capitalization normal and send it to me I’ll publish it on the website of my publishing company, muumuuhouse.com.” A few minutes later, he sent me a follow up email, “I got an idea. I’m going to France on December 3rd because they’re translating my books. If you are in Paris from December 4 on 7:45AM until December 10 on 5:45PM, you can stay in my hotel room with me. But you have to ‘cover’ the entire trip, as if you are a journalist, in the style of all your other pieces, then get it published somewhere. (I’ll help you find a venue). If I were rich I would pay for your plane ticket but I honestly have like $300 right now. But I am willing to pay half the amount of your plane ticket later, when the piece is published. I’ll pay $700 of the ticket price after the piece is published. The piece should be at least 10,000 words.”
I replied, “Okay, I edited the story so the capitalization is standard. I have attached it to the email. As for Paris, I’m interested but I might have trouble getting the funds. I’ll keep you updated. Thank you very much for your interest in me and my writing of course. I feel very flattered.”
“No Problem. Sweet re: Paris. Sweet re: story. I will post it in one to seven days.”
We emailed back and forth, fixing technical details in the story. Then he published it on the Muumuu House website. We arranged to chat on Gchat one afternoon about Paris.
“Hey. I feel like I was in a really social mood when I thought of the idea, now I feel like it’ll be way too stressful,” he typed.
“Okay. I probably couldn’t get the money anyway.”
NO. MARIE CALLOWAY WILL NOT SULLY THE NAME OF JEREMY LIN.