September started off for me with a trip to the U.S. Open with my kids: who are now quite accomplished in grunting and toweling off, and a bit less so in actually swinging rackets. But it reminded me of one of my favorite sports essays of all, David Foster Wallace’s meditation on Roger Federer. Here is an excerpt from that marvelous piece:
“Beauty is not the goal of competitive sports, but high-level sports are a prime venue for the expression of human beauty. The relation is roughly that of courage to war.
The human beauty we’re talking about here is beauty of a particular type; it might be called kinetic beauty. Its power and appeal are universal. It has nothing to do with sex or cultural norms. What it seems to have to do with, really, is human beings’ reconciliation with the fact of having a body.”
That wasn’t the only great sports essay this summer, though. I also thoroughly enjoyed Leta Shy’s piece in Self about Allyson Felix, who, spoiler alert, won gold again this past week at the World Championships in Doha. (Which, for the record, I have been writing about neurotically, back and forth with Knox Robinson, natch.) And then there’s the story of Jared Lorenzen, the NFL quarterback, and Super Bowl winner, who loved to eat more than he loved the game.
Moving into a decidedly non-athletic realm, David Samuels sat down on Neil Young’s porch and produced a marvelous profile of the aging, cantankerous troubadour. “I’ve got great melodies but the words are all profanities,” Young says.
Evan Ratliff, meanwhile, dug deep into the last days of Jamal Kashoggi, and Rachel Aviv has published another dark, essential investigation, this time into an abusive man serving on the police force in a town an hour south of Atlanta. And, yes, you absolutely need to read Wired’s cover story, by Lauren Smiley, about a murder investigation that turns on an unlikely witness: the victim’s Fitbit.
Lastly, I recently returned to this wonderful Buzz Bissinger caper about a stolen violin. Or, actually, I shouldn’t call it a violin. Here’s how the conversation happens between the Milwaukee police chief and the men at the scene of the crime:
“Sarge, Chief Flynn.”
“What do you got?”
“I got a guy here. Somebody robbed his violin.”
“Listen to me very carefully. This is not a violin. This is a fucking multi-million-dollar musical instrument. Call the cavalry.”
The cavalry was called, and … well you need to read the story to hear what happened next.
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