This week’s posts captured the lunacy and sorrow of life. In the former, writer Mac McClelland talks about her hilariously awful expedition with extreme birders (yes, there is such a thing) for Audubon magazine. In the latter, journalists the world over joined together to honor Mexican journalist Javier Valdez Cárdenas on the one-month anniversary of his assassination. The name of the campaign, “Our voice is our strength,” is such a powerful, and beautiful, one for journalists.
Mac McClelland and “Delusion Is the Thing With Feathers.” I absolutely loved McClelland’s article about a crazy birding expedition in Cuba. So many things were wonderful: the headline referencing an Emily Dickinson poem; the decision to use the third person instead of the first; the bold move of having a paragraph consist solely of one exclamation mark; and the laugh-out-loud humor of the piece. As contributor Katia Savchuk writes: “McClelland reveals the impeccable timing of a comic and the unexpected rhythms of a Beat writer (who happens to be funny).”
The soundtrack: “Feathery,” by Milky Chance. “Even though love is going to kill me/I will try.” That line seems to fit the extreme birders, whose love/obsession may yet kill them.
One Great Sentence
“The great mistake is to live in Mexico and to be a journalist.”
Javier Valdez Cárdenas, from his 2016 book, “Narcoperiodismo.” Read why we think it’s great.
Honoring slain journalist Javier Valdez: Today, and always, our voice is our strength. Storyboard contributor Julie Schwietert Collazo interviewed Ricardo Sandoval Palos, one of the organizers of the #ourvoiceisourstrength campaign, and this is his moving answer about why, after all the murders of Mexican journalists, the killing of Javier Valdez was the straw that broke the camel’s back: “So why is Javier’s death a tipping point? Javier’s was a leading voice in Mexico’s coverage of this terrible wave of violence. Despite his personal modesty, as a stellar columnist among a community of journalists who censored themselves, he was a defender of Mexican democracy. He represented the best kind of coverage professional journalism can offer amid crisis and conflict. And since many journalists around the world knew him and relied on him, his murder has hit close to home.”
The soundtrack: “Shine a Light,” by Spiritualized. One of my favorite bands, and this song never fails to move me. “When I’m tired and all alone/Lord shine a light on me.” Hopefully, the global campaign showed Mexican journalists that they may be tired, but they’re not all alone.
What I’m reading online: Paying a price for 8 days of flying in America. In a pretty heavy week, I needed some escapism, so I went to this New York Times piece by the reliably funny Sarah Lyall about the hell that is air travel in America today. The story is full of priceless lines, but I have to go with one about a “caste system that can turn an airplane into a microcosm of ‘The Hunger Games.’ The elite bask in an airborne version of Panem, enjoying over-the-top frivolities distant from the tedium of normal life, while the masses scrap over scant resources, dreaming of revolution.”
On a darker note, I hope to feature this Marshall Project story by Maurice Chammah soon on Storyboard. It’s about a father wrongfully accused of sexually abusing his children. Question marks in headlines have become an overused clickbait device, but this time it works: “Katie’s father went to prison for raping her and her brothers. It was an unthinkable crime that broke her family apart. So why couldn’t she remember it?”
What’s on my bedside table: “To the Lighthouse,” by Virginia Woolf. I got this for 20 cents at my local library (along with a clutch of Hardy Boy books — my high-low haul). A endlessly praised book, and a beautiful cover. I had never read it before, which is a bit hard to believe, because at the very least I love the Isle of Skye, where it’s set. I’m just starting on it now. But the opening of the second paragraph is stunning: “To her son these words conveyed an extraordinary joy, as it were settled, the expedition were bound to take place, and the wonder to which he had looked forward, for years and years it seemed, was, after a night’s darkness and a day’s sail, within touch.”
What’s on my turntable: “Full Moon,” by Kris and Rita. That would be Kris Kristofferson and his then-love, Rita Coolidge. I see on Wikipedia they had gotten married three weeks before the release of the album. Someone I know said he saw Coolidge playing on the Sunset Strip back in the ’70s and Kristofferson was in the audience with a look of total adoration on his face. Sigh.
If you want to chat about storytelling (or music), I’m Storyboard editor Kari Howard, and you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can find me at @karihow on Twitter.