Hail the new (Gangrey) Fellow

Here I am, officially my first day back in the Memphis cubicle, and the news comes through my email — Gangrey friend and contributor Colleen Kenney is among the 13 U.S. journalists selected as a 2007-08 Knight-Wallace Fellow.

This is how Colleen informed me, via email:


Colleen’s study topic is a doozy: Applying Poetry Techniques to Narrative Writing.

I know Colleen’s talent and charm will earn her a warm embrace from the University of Michigan’s unbelievable MFA program. The Fellowship will be better for having her, and I’m already eager to see what Colleen produces after eight months to study and improve.

Let me be the first to offer a thunderous round to you, Colleen. Here’s hoping this is just the beginning of a long (Gan)grey line of future Knight-Wallace Fellows.

And let this serve as my re-entry back into Mr. Montgomery’s neighborhood.

Hey, y’all.

And congrats again, Colleen.

Find the full list at here.

11 inches

Sometimes we see things that are hard to stand. And this story is hard to read. But Ben made something beautiful and powerful out of it.

Angel T. Jimenez bought a length of nylon rope from Home Depot, climbed high into an oak tree by the Hillsborough River and ended his life with his secret in his pocket.

Read it.

Breaking The Point

Greg Bruno’s report: On the evening of April 8, 2000, midway through her second semester at the U.S. Military Academy, Cadet Kristina Thompson passed out drunk in a Washington, D.C.-area hotel room.

When she awoke, dizzy and disoriented, she found herself naked, a male classmate thrusting into her.

But Thompson, then 21, waited nearly a year before reporting the sexual assault. She was afraid Academy leaders would blame her for socializing with an upperclassman.

She was right to worry.

Hike Into Horror

LAT’s Thomas Curwen with part 1: JOHAN looked up. Jenna was running toward him. She had yelled something, he wasn’t sure what. Then he saw it. The open mouth, the tongue, the teeth, the flattened ears. Jenna ran right past him, and it struck him — a flash of fur, two jumps, 400 pounds of lightning.

It was a grizzly, and it had him by his left thigh. His mind started racing — to Jenna, to the trip, to fighting, to escaping. The bear jerked him back and forth like a rag doll, but he remembered no pain, just disbelief. It bit into him again and again, its jaw like a sharp vise stopping at nothing until teeth hit bone. Then came the claws, rising like shiny knife blades, long and stark.

Here To Eternity

His magazine piece (thanks, Kevin): This story begins on an August afternoon in 2002 when the baby needed a nap. Or possibly in a different year with a different baby taking a different nap: We had several children in quick succession, and some of the details have blurred. On the vast scale of time that this tale will ultimately encompass — a scale so stupendous the human mind cannot fathom it — a year or two, give or take, is nothing.

What I can say with certainty is that this story begins in Colorado, near the town of Estes Park. The wife, kids and I were visiting my in-laws at the YMCA of the Rockies, a big, wholesome spread in an alpine valley northwest of Denver. A baby needed a nap. I decided to take her for a peaceful drive. A quiet car is like Xanax for a baby, and I would be free to admire some mountain vistas. On impulse, I asked my mother-in-law, Marilyn Sue Mohler Ball, if she would like to ride along. We had never done anything of the kind, just the two of us, before. To my surprise, she said yes.

He Lived To Tell About It

Kruse with an Encounter: BROOKSVILLE – Dan Weaver was telling stories outside his food trailer called The Olde Smokehouse the other day at the Hernando County Fair. He’s 55. Sometimes he lives in Gibsonton and sometimes in Ohio, but mainly he stays in the camper he pulls with his van. He talked for a good long while.

He talked about his signature Amish Dagwood sandwich – home-cooked bacon, ham and hard salami and three different kinds of cheese on a six-inch hoagie roll. He talked about how it weighs almost a pound and how one time a guy ate two whole Dagwoods and a part of a third before he had to quit.

He talked about how he started running carnival rides in 1968. About how he started buying some rides in ’70. About how he sold some rides in ’76.

About how in ’77 he got the trailer and started making the Dagwood.

He talked about how life on the road can be a drag but how he can’t give it up because he likes to see different people and do different things.

And then, after all that, he talked about what happened to him at a little fair in Austintown, Ohio, in the summer of ’78.

Waiting For The Call

Read Corey Kilgannon’s story: There have been higher points in Rohan Davey’s career — starring in big-time college bowl victories, dominating the N.F.L.’s European league and collecting two Super Bowl rings from his three years with the New England Patriots — but there he was last week in Uniondale, sitting and scowling and scribbling his name for fans, seated next to Sparky the Dragon, the team’s fire-snorting mascot.

On The Virginia Tech Shooting

From Cory Golden, via email: If you were a feature writer assigned to this, and you had your choice what you went after, where would you be drawn? How would you make your story different from the mass of material being generated by newspapers, magazines, TV and the Net?

Reporters are surely drawn to different aspects of an event like this: are you the sort of person who’d want to reconstruct that fateful morning? Focus on one victim? Try to piece together the information about the shooter? And the choices reporters make about how to write a story — do you write the crap out of it? Or, do you step back and let people speak to readers through their quotes? — are going to be unique, as well.

I’d also be interested to hear from reporters who’ve covered a tragedy, be it a shooting or a bus crash or a natural disaster, etc., that fast becomes a huge media event about how they handled it and, in that stressful environment, found their own story to tell, in their unique voices. When they look back now, what did they do that they believe still stands up? What would they do differently, given the chance?

An Attack, Then The Pointing Of Fingers

His story: They told the police that they thought it would be easy to rob the gay man. It was not easy.
The gay man ran away when they punched him, they said on videotaped statements played yesterday in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn. He climbed over a guardrail along the Belt Parkway, stopped a lane of traffic, waved his cellphone as if to call for help, stumbled into the next lane and was hit by a car.
They said they dragged the gay man off the road and searched his pockets for money and drugs but his pockets were empty. They went home and drank beer and the gay man died in a hospital.