Trying to land an interview with Kendrick Lamar is tough. But at least you get to listen to his music a lot.
A personal essay I wrote for Complex about trying to interview Kendrick Lamar.
(Photo from The Atlantic)
Earlier this year I was asked to write a story on Frank Deford’s career for the National Endowment for the Humanities. Deford was named one of the 2012 National Humanities Medalists and I was asked to write 800 words on Deford’s life, career and legacy. It wasn’t easy. Writing about a legend is never easy, and it shouldn’t be. They’re a legend for a reason and I’m a nobody for a reason.
Speaking with Deford eased my misery and fears, though. We spoke for nearly and hour and I was heartbroken to only get 800 words to write about him. His quotes alone deserved more than that. I did my best to bring his life and career to light, but I had to leave so much out. Now, I am sharing some of the best things he told me.
This was a busy year. It wasn’t as busy as I had hoped, but it was still the busiest I’ve ever had as a writer and journalist. I ran a newspaper all year by myself and still found time to write plenty of other stuff — mostly about soccer — for plenty of other sites. Here’s a few things I wrote this year.
Glen Stout Lives Way Up There — The Classical
A Path Less Travelled (Zak Boggs’s Journey) — New England Soccer Today
The Hydra — Worcester Mag
Revolution Revisited: Taylor Twellman — New England Soccer Today
Revolution Revisited: Adin Brown — New England Soccer Today
Two Minutes With…Bob Cousy — Worcester Mag
Looking back: Bane Worcester and hardcore 10 years later — Worcester Mag
This was the year that Internet publishing leaped out in front and flexed its muscle in the writing world. It’s also the year where the celebrity profile seemingly died off a beautiful death, slowly but surely they seem to get shorter and shorter and I get more and more grateful with every copy of GQ and Esquire that slides through my door once a month.
Sports writing hit an all-time high this year. Grantlad pushed the boundaries early on, but then sites like The Classical (disclaimer: I have written for them and currently working a piece for them) and SB Nation Longform.
Here are a few of my favorites, but certainly not all of them.
One of my favorite columns of the year came from The Classical editor David Roth, except it was featured on Sports on Earth. "DEATH OF THE UNDERDOGS" was a perfect piece about how the MLB postseason became predictable and yet perfect in some sort of way because we still had baseball.
Speaking of Roth and The Classical, one of my favorite pieces on soccer this year came early in the year by Moacir P. De. SÁ Pereira. Pereia wrote about the evolution of French Club PSG and its fan-culture, which I knew was off the wall and scary, but I didn’t know all of the details and this five-part series shed more light than I thought possible on the team and its culture.
My favorite piece I read (and waited for to arrive in my mailbox) was Chris Jones’ story on the Zanesville, Ohio animal massacre in the March edition of Esquire.
My favorite celebrity profile was Chris Heath’s profile of Micahel Fassbender in the June edition of GQ. Fassbender is a supremely talented actor, and yet still a mystery despite this revealing, and somewhat short, profile of the up-and-coming movie star.
Mark Sundeen’s piece in Outsider "WHY NOAH WENT TO THE WOODS" blew me away and still has me thinking.
Finally, "Coach" William Browning on SB Nation’s new longform site took my breath away from start to finish.
And then there is the masterwork done by Charles Pierce “The Bomb That Didn’t Go Off” from Esquire. A must-read on the way homegrown terrorism has grown and continues to grow. There is no one better than Pierce when it comes to telling the story of modern America and the craziness.
There were plenty more, I just can’t think of them now.
In February I drove five-plus hours to meet and interview Glenn Stout, series editor of The Best American Sports Writing and author of numerous books, for a profile I wanted to write. Stout was more than welcoming and willing to give me any and all the information I needed for the story.
While writing the profile of Stout — which took months because I wrote it whenever I had a few minutes after working one of my many jobs — a new project came up that he was asked to be involved in. I got an email one day explaining that there was something new, but it wasn’t finalized yet. Then I got a phone call and Stout told me all about a project he had been asked to work on for SBNation, the sports blogging network. He was ecstatic about the idea of working with writers on longform stories for the traditionally short blog post oriented site.
This was all great and well, but it didn’t find a place in my story, which ran in August on The Classical, one of my favorite sites on the Internet, so I held off on the idea of writing about Stout’s new project until it came closer to the site’s launch. Today is that day: the site launches and the world will be introduced to another longform oriented sports site, this time, though, it will be under the control of the man who judges sports writing every year for the preeminent collection.
With that said, Stout and I passed along some emails about the new project. Stout graciously answered my questions about the what’s and why’s of SBNation’s new project. Here is my interview with him: