A few random stories I enjoyed recently:
- I really liked Paul Duggan’s story in the Washington Post last Friday about a D.C. couple who were surprised when a massive package of marijuana was delivered to their house. A drug dealer was supposed to pick the package up from the front steps, but apparently mistimed it. While the story is interesting on its face, what I was really fascinated by was how Duggan wrote it. He doesn’t reveal what the news is until the 20th graf. Instead, he uses a strong, detailed narrative to tell a story, and then after the reveal, it turns into almost an issue story, examining how common this technique is used to deliver drugs and how D.C. police are handling the issue.
- This Slate piece on the history of the relationship between Whales and humans contains this incredibly fascinating tidbit:
In Australia in the early 20th century, shore whalers at Eden, on the coast of New South Wales, co-operated with a pod of orca led by a bull male named Old Tom. The killer whales—so-called by early hunters because they saw these whales killing their own kind—would herd humpbacks passing by on their migration south toward the Antarctic. The orca would corral the unsuspecting great whales into the cup of Two-fold Bay. There the human hunters would row out to harpoon them. As the carcase sank to the shallow sea bed, the orca would be allowed to claim their part of the bargain: the humpback’s tongue, the only part of the animal they relished. Twenty-four hours later, bloated with gas, the dead humpbacks would rise to the surface for collection by the whalers.
- And finally a trio of really good political profiles: First, an in-denial Rod Blagojevich in Esquire:
“Where the fuck is Woodward and Bernstein? It’s shocking that this could happen in America. Because I’m telling you, I am innocent of every single allegation. Every one. I’ve been falsely accused, I’ve been lied about, I’ve been maliciously treated. Worse than that, my family and my children have to suffer. And larger than that, the people of Illinois had their governor stolen from them based on false accusations that were made knowingly.”
So you’re saying …
“He falsely accuses me, falsely says things that the four hundred hours of taped conversations would show, and after he does it — by taking snippets of conversation out of context — he goes into court and gets a protective order that prevents those tapes from being heard by the public and prevents me from telling you what’s on those tapes. Now how’s that America?”
- An eminently practical but profane Rahm Emmanuel in The New Republic:
And then there are the f-bombs, which Emanuel reels off like a verbal tic, sometimes embedding them in other words with Germanic aplomb. There is, for example, “Fucknutsville” (his pet name for Washington) and “knucklefuck” (an honorific bestowed on Republican opponents). In administration meetings, Emanuel will occasionally announce, “I think it’s fucking idiotic, but it’s your call.” (That would be Rahm-speak for: “You have more expertise than I do on this subject.”) He’s even been known to use the imprecation as a term of endearment, as when he signs off friendly phone calls: “Fuck you. See you later. I love you.” As Phil Kellam, one of Emanuel’s star recruits from the 2006 election cycle, recently joked to me, “If you could sum up Rahm Emanuel, it would be: big ideas, big mouth, big heart, little finger.” (Emanuel lost half his middle finger in a teenage accident.)
Among those most fluent in the Emanuel vernacular are members of the Obama economic team, with whom the chief of staff interacts constantly. For example, on February 10, 2009, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner delivered a speech laying out the various steps he would take to revive the financial system. The pundits promptly panned it, and the markets began to swoon. Both had expected Geithner to deliver a detailed set of remedies; instead, the secretary offered only the broad contours of a strategy.
Emanuel went ballistic. “He was like, ‘How could they have let expectations get so out of whack?’” recalls one official. Soon after, he began to take a special interest in Geithner’s work– in the way that a Jewish mother can be said to take a special interest in her son’s romantic life.
- And a Scott Brown whose appeal seems mainly driven by sex in The New York Times Magazine:
“You’re gorgeous!” shouted one woman standing about a dozen feet behind him. “Turn around so we can see your face.” Two other women held up a large sign with a message for Brown, or rather his daughters. “Our Sons Are Available,” it read.
This mob scene repeated itself that night in Falmouth, a town on Cape Cod, and the next night in Worcester. To prevent people from rushing at and smothering him, Brown promised over and over again to stay as long as necessary to shake every hand. In Falmouth, where a long line stretched out the door and into the 15-degree cold, Nancy Sawyer, 40, told me she was reminded of a Kiss concert from her youth. Ruth Eldredge, 49, said she had decided on her dream ticket for 2012: Romney for president and Brown for vice president, with a promise that they’d make Palin secretary of state. “They’d be so good-looking that people would just love us,” she said, meaning Republicans. “They’re beautiful!”