Springsteen may today be a man who splits his time between a horse farm in his native Monmouth County, a second home in New Jersey, and luxury properties in Florida and L.A., but Born to Run is an emphatic refutation of the notion that, as a songwriter, he can no longer connect to the troubled and downtrodden. Especially in its early chapters, the book demonstrates how honestly Springsteen has come by his material. Cars, girls, the Shore, the workingman’s struggles, broken dreams, disillusioned vets—it’s all right there in his upbringing.
“One of the points I’m making in the book is that, whoever you’ve been and wherever you’ve been, it never leaves you,” he said, expanding upon this thought with the most Springsteen-esque metaphor possible: “I always picture it as a car. All your selves are in it. And a new self can get in, but the old selves can’t ever get out. The important thing is, who’s got their hands on the wheel at any given moment?”
Aaron Gilbreath| Longreads | December 2018 | 25 minutes (6,357 words)
When other writers and I get together, we sometimes mourn the state of music writing. Not its quality — the music section of any good indie bookstore offers proof of its vigor — but what seems like the reduced number of publications running longer music stories. Read more…
Before I became a bona fide football fan, a development that nearly all of my friends find as disturbing as if I’d become a dog murderer, I only knew of two football people: Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. I knew them because they were both Hollywood Handsome, with gleaming white teeth, and square jaws, which seems to be a minimum requirement to become an NFL quarterback. I didn’t differentiate between them other than that one was blond and the other was not, and I couldn’t tell you what teams they played for, only that they were both quarterbacks, and rich and famous.
But now that I’ve been a football fan, specifically a Seattle Seahawks football fan, I have come to loathe Tom Brady and the Patriots with an intensity I once reserved for Pavement. (They should have given the ball to Marshawn; Pete, baby, a slant pass? Why did you burn a timeout? Let us never speak of this again, etc. etc.) Read more…
Graydon Carter is ending his quarter-century-long turn at the helm of Vanity Fair, leaving large shoes (or, more precisely, a large, probably smoky, corner office) for whomever inherits the post to fill.
Michael Grynbaum at the New York Times broke the story of Carter’s departure, recounting a conversation held over Carter’s West Village kitchen table, in a room that is, of course, “adorned with a stuffed perch fish from the 19th century (an idea Mr. Carter said he borrowed from the Earl of Snowdon, ex-husband of Princess Margaret), a ‘Resist’ poster and a “Dump Trump” illustration by their 8-year-old daughter.”
I spent a recent weekend at my grandparents’ house on Long Island with my friend Alexis, who noticed a basket in their living room holding decades of back issues of food magazines, as well as a well-curated archive of Vanity Fair issues dating back to the mid ’90s. My grandmother had kept every issue featuring British royals (particularly Princess Diana, whose death marked the only time I’ve ever seen my grandmother — who lost her own mother very young — cry) or Kennedys (American royals) on the cover. The only outlier was a “Game of Thrones” cover (also royalty, technically). We spent the weekend poring over all of them, gleefully reading aloud to one other from regular features like Dominick Dunne’s Diary (my favorite included a defense of Martha Stewart, at the time both a felon and a friend, and an excoriation of a Kennedy who had spoken ill of Dunne on television) and noticing a delightful formula that seemed to serve as the architecture of each issue: a luxurious profile of some obscure royalty or old money scion; a less flattering look at some arriviste nouveau riche; a true crime story, ideally committed by someone wealthy or pretending to be wealthy; a glowing writeup of a new Hollywood darling; a reverent paean to a worthy Old Hollywood icon. These tropes were the bones of each issue and they held up well, decades later. Read more…
“Food has become entertainment,” Meehan said. As David Kamp showed in The United States of Arugula, a chef like Alice Waters can be a product of 1970s counterculture just like any musician. And Waters is much more likely to be available to talk about her motivations.
“Those of us who have pursued this course are on the pleasure beat,” Gordinier told me. “It doesn’t mean we partake of the pleasure the entire time. It means we’re interested in the way culture engages with pleasure, and what the pursuit of pleasure says about us. The defining pleasure of the ’60s was music. To some extent, the defining pleasure of the ’70s was film. The defining pursuit of our time now is food.”
At The Ringer, editor Bryan Curtis examines the rise of modern food writing and the confounding popularity of writing about food. Everyone’s doing it. Why is everyone doing it? Food writing is the new Applebees but at Lonchero prices, and something smells fishy. See? It’s harder than you think.
Below, our favorite stories of the week.
Our recent Longreads Member Pick by National Magazine Award winner Andrew Corsello from GQ is now free for everyone. Special thanks to our Longreads Members for helping bring these stories to you—if you’re not a member, join us here.
“My Body Stopped Speaking to Me,” is a personal story about Corsello’s near-death experience, first published in GQ in 1995. Read more…
For this week’s Member Pick, we’re excited to share “My Body Stopped Speaking to Me,” a personal story from GQ writer and National Magazine Award winner Andrew Corsello about a near-death experience. The piece was first published in GQ in 1995. Corsello explains:
I was circling the drain in the spring of 1995—convalescent, out of money, literally within days of quitting the business—when David Kamp, a friend from college who’d become a senior editor at GQ, called to ask if I’d be interested in a staff-writing job. ‘You know I’m damaged goods, right?’ I asked. He didn’t, but made things happen anyway. The day I arrived at GQ, David introduced me to the mag’s longtime editor, Art Cooper, an old-school manly man’s man who’d have insisted on christening my arrival with a hard drink or three (even though it was 11:00 a.m.) had David not preempted it. ‘Now, Art,’ David explained as Art took my hand, ‘you can’t take it personally when Andrew declines the drink you’re going to offer him—he’s been told by doctors he can never drink again.’ Art asked why. Over the next 15 minutes, I told him the bizarre story of my near-death from liver failure six months before. ‘Wow,’ he said. ‘That’s your first piece for the mag!’ At which point I reflexively wondered, ‘But what’s the angle?’ And, answering myself, said, ‘How about, “If I were in an HMO, I’d be dead”’? Before I could finish my next sentence, Cooper said, ‘Nah, just write the story.’ But what about, you know, the health care angle… ‘Huh?’ Cooper said. ‘Forget that. Just…write the story, like you just told it.’ But what about… We went back and forth several more times, with me burping up inane buzz-crap like ‘nut graf’ and ‘policy relevance’ and Cooper saying ‘Write the story.’ Finally, half laughing, half pissed, he growled, ‘Just write the fucking story.’ So I left his office, sat at my new desk, created a new file, sat staring at the screen for several minutes and then realized: The story was already written, and written as well as it ever could be (at least by me), in my journal. Creating this piece, which Kamp edited, was almost entirely a matter of splicing journal entries together.
Even now it amazes and annoys me: that until the moment Art Cooper told me to write the fucking story, it had never even occurred to me to use in my published work the voice in which I had been speaking to myself for years. That is, it hadn’t occurred to me to publish work…in my own voice. How stupid is that? All this is to say that this story, or rather the editorial injunction that birthed it, taught me that a vivid writing voice is less a matter of talent—far less—than license. Dave Kamp’s headline for this piece plays at multiple levels.
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Illustration by Kjell Reigstad