Dear David

We want more stuff like this: To get to the place where they like George W. Bush more than any other place in America, you fly west for a long time from Washington, then you drive north for a long time from Salt Lake City, and then you pull into Gator’s Drive Inn, where the customer at the front of the line is ordering a patty melt.

“Patty melts! No one makes patty melts anymore,” she is saying to the counterman, Ryan Louderman, who knew she wasn’t local as soon as he heard the sound of a car being locked. “Can I get it without onions?” she says. “And can I get mustard? On the side? Dijon mustard?”

“I don’t think we have Dijon mustard,” says Louderman, who is 15 and would have voted for Bush if he could have. “I think we only have regular mustard.” But he writes it down anyway and gives the order to Pat Orton, the owner and cook.

“No onions? With mustard?” says Orton, who voted for Bush in 2004 and 2000. “Oh, God, we get some weird ones”

Annagain

Make that five: “Hall has red hair and pearly skin. She was born in Kankakee, Ill. Chili pepper lights hang in her kitchen; Southern folk art and pink flamingos abound. In the middle of this bright whimsy is Badie, an austere modern jazzman, as cool as midnight itself, dealing with his homelessness, anger and unsure future.
“This is life in New Orleans now: tenuous, with strange forgings and new beginnings. No one is saying how long the arrangement will last.”

Advocacy Journalism

Former Times Herald-Record publisher Jim Moss: “And there’s a question for us at the newspaper. Do we simply hold up a mirror and report dispassionately about what we see, or is there a positive, albeit less objective, role for us?
The accompanying editorial report is where we came down on this question.
This report required our open minds. It required research and discussions with scores of Newburgh residents. But it is not a news story bound by journalistic requirements of objectivity. Indeed, we come to this as people and as a business with a rooting interest in the this city.”
Thus, this report Promised Land, from John Doherty and Tim Logan. It’s a great read, and I’d love to know what you all think about crossing the line. Tim, John, how did you feel about it?

The Showman

Sometimes, when I really, really like something I read online, I click the print button twice with a kind of subliminal string – Maybe this will disappear from the WWW, and then maybe, because you never know, one of my copies will be lost or misplaced, so I better print two, just in case. Just in case.

I print Michael Brick twice a lot. I did this one three times:

Then the shots are gone, and 2 o’clock is gone, and the last customers are gone in outsize camouflage, cockeyed caps and big jeans and no belts. The showman takes out a duffel bag, and there are pictures of square sunglasses and leisure suits, chest hair and Pete on drums. Bearded Pete and his girl camera-ready before brown wallpaper long out of fashion.

“When I croak, I have this bag,” the showman says. “I’m not alone. I’m not afraid. When you’re yourself, you say, ‘I did what I had to do.’ “

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Writers With Writers

Stumbled across The Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers. Looks pretty good.

From the pitch:

Ian McEwan: “The dream, surely, that we all have, is to write this beautiful paragraph that actually is describing something but at the same time in another voice is writing a commentary on its own creation, without having to be a story about a writer.”

Jamaica Kincaid: “All of these declarations of what writing ought to be, which I had myself–though, thank god I had never committed them to paper–I think are nonsense. You write what you write, and then either it holds up or it doesn’t hold up. There are no rules or particular sensibilities. I don’t believe in that at all anymore.”

Cheaper version at Amazon.

I

Kruse passed on two pieces from the West Coast, back to back: “Both used I (not only that, but “I” was a major character, and HAD to be), and both made me read to the end. Definitely good reading. Maybe a good lesson.”