This week I celebrated the summer solstice watching a fiddle band atop a hill with sweeping views of the Maine coast and hillsides as the sun slowly lowered into a purple sunset. What did you do to mark the beginning of summer? One of our posts this week fits the summer theme: We interview an investigative sports reporter about her contrarian piece on the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. And for a bit more summer inspiration, may I recommend the album on my turntable (see below)?
Susan Dominus and “Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage?” The New York Times Magazine writer talks about how her controversial story changed her views on non-monogamy — and made her appreciate her own marriage more. This quote is wonderful: “Reporting this story, I did suddenly think that my marriage is one of the best things I have in my life, and yet I don’t appreciate it, we don’t really rejoice in it, we don’t dedicate ourselves to it, we don’t spend enough time making it better. I did really feel like I was coasting, rather than being really present in my relationship.”
The soundtrack: “Marriage Is for Old Folks,” by Nina Simone. She has such fun with this song, and it fits the story so well. Like this line: “One husband, one wife, whaddya got/Two people sentenced for life.”
One Great Sentence
“We cross our bridges as we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and the presumption that once our eyes watered.”
Tom Stoppard, “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.” Read why we think it’s great.
Bonnie Ford and “The Promise Rio Couldn’t Keep.” As other outlets predicted disaster for the 2016 Olympics water events in polluted Rio de Janeiro, the writer for ESPN’s Outside the Lines painted a picture more reflective of the lived human experience than a purely data-driven one. This is a great interview by Medill student Kara Voght, who’s taking part in our series “Tomorrow’s journalists exploring the masters of today.” If you’re a journalism professor — or a student — and are interested in participating, drop me a line. I love having the next generation on Storyboard.
The soundtrack: “Dirty Water,” by the Standells. One of the best garage-rock songs of all time. And it’s nice to give a hometown band some love (even if they’re not exactly praising the quality of the water in the Charles, or much else about Boston).
What I’m reading online: Last week I totally forgot to mention the best read of the week, a story that went viral about a woman who drowned a rabid raccoon in a Maine pond. I love this not just because it’s standout local journalism a few towns over from me. Everything about it is well-told: the hilarious lede, the quotes that are so good you almost can’t believe them, the wonderful bits of color scattered throughout. You may have already read it by now, but I didn’t want to neglect a shout-out to the writer, Alex Acquisto.
This Nick Paumgarten New Yorker profile of Josh Tillman, who performs as Father John Misty, peels back all the layers of artifice around the singer. I’ve had “I Love You, Honeybear” on repeat in my car for its revelatory feeling of a cynic overcome by love, but one friend says he read an insufferable interview with Tillman and can’t listen to him. This profile riffs off that obnoxious persona, and tries to see the human behind it.
And if you’re in need of another rabbit hole to fall into online, may I suggest the wonderful Public Domain Review? I happened on it this week and found this “who-knew?” piece on W.E.B. Du Bois’ genius for data visualization and beautiful graphic design. But I could have spent way too much time scrolling their archives of material in the public domain.
What’s on my bedside table: “Anything Is Possible,” by Elizabeth Strout. I just got this, the latest book from the brilliant Maine writer, at the library. (Can I take a moment to praise local libraries and how they make the newest hardbacks available to all?) In the opening story, she manages to capture the arc of one man’s life in just three paragraphs, from second-generaton dairy owner to janitor at his kids’ new rundown school “wearing a white shirt that had Tommy stitched on it in red.” That mini-novel ends with these words: “Well. They had all lived through it.” It’s the “well” that makes it wonderful.
What’s on my turntable: “Supernova,” by Ray LaMontagne. It’s the first week of summer, and this album feels very summery to me. I remember listening to it on a portable turntable on a hilltop in Malibu, sitting next to a vintage airstream. He was singing about hitching a ride down PCH, and I could see PCH below me with its stream of beachgoers and surfers. The sound of his voice echoed off the canyons, and that 70s California vibe seemed exactly right.
If you want to chat about storytelling (or music), I’m Storyboard editor Kari Howard, and you can reach me at email@example.com. Or you can find me at @karihow on Twitter.