Sometimes the best things we read aren't necessarily long, deep thought-provoking articles. Sometimes the best things we read are short blurbs from which we learn something, a piece that makes us laugh, a turn of phrase that is particularly memorable.
That's where I am over the last week. The best thing I read was the weekly Q&A, The Quaz, from Jeff Pearlman's blog.
Pearlman is a deft writer of all things long and short. I recently read his most recent book, "Football for a Buck," which is a fun, wild historiography of the United States Football League. He was a long-time senior writer for Sports Illustrated and penned one of the more memorable sports features of the late 90s -- the famous ride into New York City with then-Atlanta Braves closer John Rocker.
But, for the last 393 weeks -- um, seven years?! -- Pearlman has posted a weekly, short, quirky Q&A with people of every walk of life. It affirms the adage that, truly, everyone has a story to tell. (Ugh, what a cliche!)
I think my favorite Quaz interview was Pearlman's interview with sports writer Dave Kindred. The simplicity of not only what Kindred does, but of Pearlman's questions are what makes it so memorable, so readable.
He once interviewed one of my former students, Amanda Lucci for The Quaz. And, I'll admit, that was the first one I had ever read, though I had been reading Pearlman's work for years.
This week I read Nos. 392 and 393, the former of which left me so sad for a backup point guard on a shitty Division III basketball team. (I don't say "shitty" to take a shot at lower division hoop; I say it because the team has won one game this season.) But, I was only sad for a moment because... what a guy Ryan O'Neil is! A strong writer, a young man with ambition and vision who is supported and loved.
Dive in. Enjoy the feels. Think about the depth. Marvel at the simplicity.
I'm mixing things up a little for this week, which started with the Grammy Awards on Sunday night.
One of the Grammys' big winners was Western Washington's own Brandi Carlile. Going into the day, the Recording Academy made her the most-decorated female artist with six nominations. She ended up winning three of them -- and may have won the night with this goosebump-inspiring performance of "The Joke." Her breakout night simply shattered.
But, for those of us in Seattle (namely the middle-aged lesbians!), Carlile broke out nearly two decades years ago.
The first time I saw Carlile play was at the Paragon, a little restaurant on top of Queen Anne. It had a fireplace. I saw her play at an even smaller restaurant called the Ravioli Station... I'm not kidding.
I've seen her countless times, now, in six states.
Among the most memorable were a post-Seattle Storm show at the Showbox in 2004 and the release of her second studio album, "The Story," in 2007 at the Triple Door. With the commercial success of that album -- and some of you may remember that the title song was on a Chevy commercial in heavy rotation during the 2008 Summer Games -- her star took off.
Seattle loved her first, though, and she thanked us for that. She did a "secret show" at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard the summer before I moved. Carlile seemed as if she was playing for friends. She amazed.
Carlile released her sixth studio album, "By the Way, I Forgive You," last year. I cried through three songs on the first listen. It ripped me apart with its rawness, its maturity, its stark beauty and depth -- a song about drug addiction, another about an unidentified woman found in a field, yet another about motherhood, and one about not giving up on marriage. It occurred to me, Carlile and "The Twins" (her bandmates, identical twins Phil and Tim Hanseroth) grew up. Or, as one of my friends said, "Brandi graduated."
When I saw them play the entire album at The Palace Theater in Albany, New York in May, I could not keep it together; I had tears streaming down my face for most of the show.
So, Brandi and the Twins won three Grammys this week. I listened to the album again and just marveled at the lyrics. I read them. And, without question, these lyrics are the best things I've read this week.
This one also counts as the most important thing I've read this week. And, honestly, I forgot to post last week, but this piece by the brilliant and brave Jessica Luther and Dan Solomon, is the best thing I've read in the last 10 days.
Fifty-two acts of rape. A Christian college. The lawyer who unearthed the Monica Lewinsky affair. And a winning Texas football team. This story has it all. This will haunt me for a long time -- especially as the athletic director overseeing the program now oversees athletics at Liberty University. Especially as Art Briles interviews for other coaching jobs.
But, I will also never forget the women whose lives were forever changed. I hope the same goes for you after you finish reading this fiercely reported and bravely told story.
2019 FIFA Women's World Cup: Media, Fandom, and Soccer's Biggest Stage is available online from Palgrave Macmillan. (Hardback available in September 2021.)
Molly Yanity, Ph.D.