Solace

Jeff Wiehe: Rhonda Berger won’t talk about the phone call, other than to say, “I was on the phone with her the whole time.”

The call came early Friday from her daughter, who was trapped in a bathroom – smoke and gas attacking her lungs. Berger’s daughter was with her two roommates as the Willows of Coventry apartment around them burned so intensely the floor began to fail.

At some point, the 19-year-old college student suffered a heart attack, Berger said, and later her heart would suffer further damage from failed CPR attempts to revive the woman, who died Saturday from smoke inhalation.

Berger won’t talk about the last hour with her daughter, either, one spent tucked away with family in a room at St. Joseph Hospital with a sign asking for privacy hung outside the door.

This Could Cause A Ruckus

I enjoyed this little snippet from Wikipedia’s entry on narrative journalism:

Also, Narrative journalism has not yet found a definite home in the newsroom due to the nature of news reporting. Long-form writing is something that most journalists are not trained for, and incredible hard-news beat reporters are not necessarily great storytellers.

Appreciation: Appreciation

Erik Wemple: Everyone knows big changes are afoot in Style and its thematic cousins at the Post. A new co-managing editor, Raju Narisetti, was recently hired to oversee these fiefdoms—Style, Weekend, Washington Post Magazine, etc. (Narisetti did not respond to interview requests for this item.) There’s no telling what Style will look like after Narisetti is finished with it.

But why start out with Appreciations? Is that where new management wants to make a statement?

If so, here’s what’s at stake: Will the paper be smaller yet still distinctive, or smaller and just like every other paper?

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The Story Behind One Line

Lane DeGregory: INVERNESS

He found it four years ago when he was cleaning out closets. His sheet music: Chopin, Beethoven, Debussy, all buried inside a dusty box. He hadn’t seen those songs in almost 50 years.

The pages were torn and taped; the dog-eared corners had yellowed. But Bill Lotz, now 71, could still read every note.

“Come with me,” he told his wife, Suzi. “We’re going to buy a piano.”

Suzi looked at him, surprised. They had been married six years and she never knew he played.

When they got to the Crystal River music store, she thought Bill would plunk out Chopsticks.

Instead, Clair de Lune filled the air: graceful, gentle and dynamic. A bit halting, in spots. But after a half-century, Bill’s hands still remembered.

A Question

Mailbag: I’m looking for great sports features/narratives/stories about a father and son or a coach and player in a similar relationship.

Anyone know of any?

Wary, In Arkansas

Anne Hull: BRINKLEY, Ark. — Wayne Loewer’s truck reveals a lot about his life. A 12-gauge shotgun for duck hunting rests on the floorboard. A blue thermal lunch bag containing elk meat is shoved under the seat, left in haste that morning by his teenage son rushing to catch the school bus.

Binoculars in the console help Loewer scan his 2,900 acres of rice, soybeans and corn.

The dashboard radio is set to classic rock, playing the same Lynyrd Skynyrd tunes from Loewer’s high school days, when Brinkley was still a thriving small town with stores and a movie theater.

His muddy truck is 900 miles from the kiosks crowding Pennsylvania Avenue selling “Hope Won” T-shirts. But more than miles separate Loewer from the coming celebration in Washington over Barack Obama’s inauguration as president.

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Big Guns

David Maraniss: In taking the oath of office as the first African American president in the nation’s nearly 233 years, one man reached a singular achievement. But at four minutes after noon yesterday, Barack Hussein Obama was inevitably transformed — no matter what happens during his administration — from an individual, a politician, to an icon and a symbol. Here was history at its most sweeping and yet intimate.

Wil Haygood: Eugene Allen, who worked for more than three decades as a White House butler — some of those years during an era of brutal segregation when he often had to use back doors despite his employer’s rarefied address — sat in the shadow of the Capitol dome yesterday and watched Barack Obama become the first African American president of the United States.

Henry Allen: Then President Barack Obama stepped to the lectern, surveyed the uncountable crowd, and delivered his Inaugural Address, his clear, insistent, youthful voice that somehow has the lifting quality of an airplane taking off, winging west toward the Lincoln Memorial and across the country.

Seen from the Mall, from bleachers, from a distant seat in a winter tree, he was just another in a long history of tiny humans up there, bustling around against the shoulder-y bulk of the Capitol.

Jumbo screens relayed his image to the crowd — images rule now, wisdom has it — and Obama once more had a smooth, cool, minimalist one. But people had come, in a way they haven’t come in a while, not just to see him but to hear him, to listen to his words, to compare his speech with the other speeches that have enthralled audiences since his campaign began.