Jeff Pearlman

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Playing for pay

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So the wife and I host a bi-monthly podcast, The Sports Parent. You can check it out here. In fact, please check it out here.

Our latest episode concerns an issue that particularly fascinates me. Namely, the paying of youth athletes in exchange for accomplishments. Yes, this happens.

Exhibit A: Our son Emmett is 10, and just wrapped a season with the Cowboys. Although the team failed to win a game, it was a wonderful year, highlighted by an amazingly optimistic coach and Emmett’s emergence as the team’s starting quarterback. There was one child in particular who routinely made people smile. He was a big, jolly lug of a boy—always grinning, always optimistic, never down. And while he was probably the least-talented member of the Cowboys, he was the one we all rooted for the most. You could not not love this child.

Anyhow, before one game the boy’s dad (who, for the record, was really nice) told me he offered his son $20 for every pulled flag.

“Whoa,” I said. “Twenty bucks. Can I be your son?”

“I think it’ll motivate him to do better,” he said.

Hmm …

I loved this dad. I loved his child. I hated this idea. It just seemed … what’s the word? Corrupting.  This boy was pure innocence. He played for fun and joy, and worried not about being subpar. Hell, I don’t even know if he was aware that his play was subpar. Then, suddenly, Pop’s reminding you with his financial offer to improve and step up.

Again, I hated this idea.

Take a listen to The Sports Parent. Tell me what you think …

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Dirty Dancing with Greg Gianforte

Dirty Dancing and Greg Gianforte: the time of our lives.

Dirty Dancing and Greg Gianforte: the time of our lives.

Life is interesting.

Earlier tonight, ABC aired a made-for-TV Dirty Dancing remake that I had the great misfortune of watching for, oh, 10 minutes. As means of comparison, back in 1998, Russ Bengtson and I were somewhat addicted to Chips 99, the made-for-TV movie based upon the 1970s hit TV show. It was so bad it was good in its utter badness, and we were glued to the screen like gnats to a moldy pear. The new Dirty Dancing viewing experience was eerily similar, and I wondered whether the general viewing population would feel as I did.

Oh, yes.

Twitter was brutal. #DirtyDancing trended for hours, and 99 of 100 offerings were like this …

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I must say, all of this reaffirmed my faith in humanity, which had been shaken after the election of the orange puddle. Maybe, just maybe, we’re not complete and total across-the-board morons. Maybe, just maybe, we have some sense.

But here’s the bigger test: Around the same time Dirty Dancing was melting eyeballs and souls, a Montana Republican named Greg Gianforte was making news (and trending) for assaulting a Guardian reporter who had the audacity to ask a legitimate question about the CBO report. Here’s the audio …

Gianforte and his opponent, Democrat Rob Quist (who Yahoo identifies as “a populist progressive cowboy poet known for his career as a bluegrass singer”), are locked in a tight race, with the Republican leading by a projected six-point margin entering Thursday’s vote to fill the U.S. House seat vacated in March by now-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

So here’s my question: How do Montanans respond to physical assault?

Do they follow the November trend, which saw many praising the orange puddle for his verbal assaults and physical threats against the media? Do they love the smell of blood and the flexing of muscle? Are they OK with Gianforte’s post-melee statement, when he clearly lied about what transpired and pinned the altercation directly on the reporter? In short, is this what (and who) we have become? Is this what we accept?

Or, like the reaction to Dirty Dancing, do we have a line we refuse to cross?

Do we resist our worst impulses?

Can we stop pushing Manu out the door?

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So two nights ago I was at the gym watching SportsCenter (yes, it’s still on), and they were paying all these odes and tributes to Manu Ginobili, the soon-to-be-retired San Antonio Spurs guard. It was beautiful and lovely and befitting of a man who will—if one takes into account the full body of his NBA and international work—ultimately wind up in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

With one small problem: It doesn’t sound like he’s about to retire.

Truly, this struck me as a perfect entry in the don’t-let-the-facts-kill-a-lovely-narrative book of sports journalism. Ginobili has not said he plans on retiring. He hasn’t even really hinted that he plans on retiring. The most he said is it’s something he needs to think about. But, if you listened to his comments after the Spurs’ Game 4 loss to Golden State, it seemed awfully clear that he wants to continue playing next season, at age 40.

Sooooo … why are we pushing him out?

I’m not sure. We like heartwarming stories? The Spurs clearly want him out? The playoffs have been, drama-wise, awful? We hate the idea of the lifetime Spur coming back in 2017-18 as a Net or Knick or Pacer?

I don’t know.

But it’s contrived.

I am exasperated by our simplemindedness

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So the above Tweet was posted yesterday by an (alleged) concerned parent after the terrorist attack in Manchester. As you can see, it was retweeted 21,000 times. Which is righteous.

A bunch of hours later, there was a follow-up Tweet. A positive update. The kid was fine …

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Now, it turns out the whole thing was a hoax. The boy was never missing, the Tweeter was some attention-seeking asshole, etc, etc. Just awful, cruel, mean-spirited bullshit. But, for a moment, let’s turn back time and act as if we don’t know it was a con.

This is one of the Tweets that followed the “My son is okay!” update …

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I don’t know Dr. Rose Hanson. According to her linkedin page, she’s the director of consumer advocacy for the state of Ohio, as well as an adjunct professor at Indiana Wesleyan University. She holds multiple degrees, was a volunteer at the YMCA, clearly has marvelous intentions and an enormous heart.

But, well, WTF?

In the immediate aftermath of a senseless suicide bombing that killed 22 people (many of them children), how the hell can anyone read a Tweet of some random guy turning up healthy and conclude, “Praise God!!!! Prayers do work!”? I’m at a loss here. Prayers work? Prayers work? What?

Here, this is Saffie Rose Roussos—age 8. She attended an Ariana Grande concert, and now her life is over …

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This is Georgina Bethany Callander. She was 18. She attended an Ariana Grande concert, and now her life is over …

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This is John Atkinson. He was 26. He attended an Ariana Grande concert, and now his life is over. You can help pay for his funeral here

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This is three of 22. Did their prayers not work? Was God not listening? Does he act in “mysterious ways”? Does he have a plan for everyone? Are the people who died now his little angels, floating on a cloud?

I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be crass or callous. But I’m really angry. Why? Because I’m sick and tired of contrived bullshit in the aftermath of awfulness. You know what? Maybe we need to feel the pain. Maybe we need to be crushed that lives have extinguished, without lathering the burn with “she’s in a better place.”

Personally, I am of the very strong opinion that prayers don’t work; that God isn’t listening; that it’s up to humanity to figure this stuff out. And, truly, why is that so awful? Maybe dying in a car accident, or a plane crash, or a suicide bombing isn’t God’s plan. Maybe life is often brutal, and we need to make the best out of very bad situations.

Maybe accepting that is, ultimately, the way to go.

It started with a Tweet: How I constructed the Tupac-Long Beach Poly story

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In case you missed this, I wrote a story for Bleacher Report that appears today. It concerns a 1996 encounter between Tupac Shakur and the Long Beach Poly football team. Headline: TUPAC, GLOCKS AND IN-N-OUT.

The keys:

• It took place at the In-N-Out Burger in Barstow, California.

• Long Beach Poly was returning home after a miserable night-before loss to a team in Las Vegas.

• Tupac was driving to the Bruce Seldon-Mike Tyson fight in Las Vegas.

• Things turned heated.

• Tupac was shot later that night.

Now … where to begin?

How about here …

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Last September Mike Guardabascio, an excellent writer for the Press-Telegram in Long Beach, fired off the above series of Tweets. I wasn’t a follower of Mike at the time, but apparently an editor at Bleacher Report was—because I was sent a screen shot of Mike’s thoughts with an e-mail that read, “This interest you?”

Answer: Yes!

Why? First, because I love Tupac. Like, love, love, love Tupac. Were I to make a list of my top-five all-time favorite musical artists, it would read: 1. Hall & Oates; 2. A Tribe Called Quest; 3. Tupac; 4. MC White Owl; 5. Dixie Chicks. Second, because I’d been toying with the idea of making my next book a Tupac Shakur biography. So this was right in my wheelhouse. Third, well, because it simply sounded like a cool-yet-challenging piece. Was it true? Was it fiction? Besides the contents of Mike’s Tweets, I had no idea.

The fun is in the dig.

Things started slowly. I paid for a subscription, found a team photo of the 1996 Long Beach Poly football squad and, one by one, began tracking down players and coaches. This, truly, is the beauty of social media. A whole slew of the guys are either on Twitter or Facebook (or both), and five (Marques Anderson, Larry Croom, Samie Parker, Ken-Yon Rambo and Darrell Rideaux) played in the NFL.

(Wait, pause for a moment. I attended Mahopac High School in upstate New York. The school has been around for nearly a century, and produced a single NFLer—Dave Taub, who was cut in training camp by the Eagles and Rams. Long Beach Poly had five future pros in 1996 alone. That’s batshit insane.)

Anyhow, save for Anderson the NFL guys all spoke, and they were magnificent. The crown jewel was Rideaux, who had worked in sports media and possesses an elephantine memory for details and, specifically, the details of September 7, 1996. He laid out a precise timeline of what happened, and also guided me toward the necessary participants of the In-N-Out encounter. This is not a criticism of Mike’s Tweets (like, not even a slight criticism), but what he heard was, largely, incorrect. Yes, Tupac had a confrontation with the football team. Yes, it happened in Barstow. No, Tupac didn’t flash a gun and no, Jerry Jaso, the head coach, didn’t save the day. The confrontation lasted all of four or five minutes, involved Tupac and Suge Knight and was, well, riveting. Again, here’s a link to the story.

I wanted to make this one good. So, among other things, I dined with Jerry (the head coach) in Huntington Beach; I interviewed, oh, 20 members of the team (players and coaches); I purchased Mike’s book on the history of Long Beach football; I spoke with the investigator of the case and snagged a comment from Death Row’s head of security; I visited the Long Beach Poly campus and knocked on the door of a former player who, I was initially told, was first to approach Tupac (he was a nice guy who said there had been a mistake. He drove home from Vegas with his parents); I had a long discussion with Reggie Williams of Ambrosia for Heads about Tupac’s legacy, and also checked in with Kevin Powell, America’s foremost Tupac Shakur historian.

One of the final pieces was driving out to Barstow to take a gander.

Now, why would I make that trip, 21 years after an incident took place? Well, multiple reasons. First, because I always like setting the scene, or at least having the meat and potatoes to set a scene. Second, because I wanted to know more about Barstow. I wound up visiting the town museum, interviewing a couple of local historians, taking a guided tour around town, chatting with ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez, my longtime friend and one of Barstow’s favorite sons. (Paul saw via Twitter that I was in his old turf and texted, “What the hell are you doing in Barstow?”) Third, because—why not? Part of the absolute thrill of this job is the opportunity to see new places, experience different things. I wanted to go to Barstow because I’d never been to Barstow. So I hit up in In-N-Out, counted the tables and chairs, interviewed an employee, hit up the outlet mall and spoke with a security guard as he smoked his Marlboro. Journalism isn’t a desk job, dammit.

Anyhow, it was a ridiculously enriching experience. There are lots of things I love about being a journalism, but topping the list would be finding a sliver of lost time and breaking it down.

I hope you enjoy the result.

PS: It sorta gets lost in the narrative (my bad), but general retellings of Tupac’s final night have him meeting Suge in Vegas. That was not the case.

Your thoughts and prayers

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As you’ve surely heard by now, another awful terrorist attack took place last night at an Ariana Grande show in Manchester. Twenty two people were killed, 59 others were injured. Among the dead was Saffie Rose Roussos, a local 8-year old, and an 18-year-old college student named Georgina Callander. As the day continues, we’ll inevitably hear more tragic stories of more young lives expunged.

Thank God we have thoughts and prayers.

Lots and lots and lots of thoughts and prayers.

Thoughts and prayers from Justin Timberlake.

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Thoughts and prayers from Ted Lieu and Ilkay Gundogan.

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Thoughts and prayers from Luke Messer.

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And the people at Radikal Records.

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And this guy.

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Twitter is overflowing with thoughts and prayers. And, to be clear, I know people mean well. And I know there’s a sense of hopelessness; a sense of wanting to somehow help the un-helpable. The power of terrorism is that it leaves people feeling lost and confused and wayward. It causes us to seek out normalcy, where there’s nothing normal about one entering an arena filled with children and blowing himself up.

So we do what comes naturally to our brains, and we offer our thoughts and prayers.

But here’s the thing: It’s bullshit. Five million people repeating the same three words is the equivalent of no one saying them at all. “Thoughts and prayers” has turned into air. It’s a mindless saying without a sliver of oomph. I can’t imagine it brings the family members of victims much comfort, at least not any more than “Welcome to Target” or “Have a nice day.” We type it robotically; quickly. Hell, I’m presuming 85 percent of those who say it don’t actually fall to their knees and pray for the victims. It’s just the thing to say. Again—that doesn’t mean you’re not sad. But … yeah.

So what to do? I don’t know. Find the address of a victim’s family and send a card? Make a donation to an organization that promotes peace? Take your son for ice cream and tell him you love him? Step away from the laptop, bask in the sun and realize life is—at its core—beautiful?

I don’t know.

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Kim Lionetti

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So here’s a Quaz first …

I met Kim Lionetti on a blind date.

It took place, oh, two decades ago, when we were both young and up and coming and doing the whole New York City thing. And while we only went out once or twice, it was the rare go-nowhere romance that transformed into a genuine friendship.

All these years later, Kim remains one of my all-time favorites, as well as a go-to person when it comes to the literary world. Having spent much of her career as an editor at Berkley Publishing, 13 years ago she switched the representation, and now works as an agent at BookEnds, where she specializes in women’s fiction, mystery, young adult and romance. Kim’s titles include, well, hey, take a look …

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Today, Kim explains why print still has legs; why authors need to think about their audiences and how a jerk writer can make one’s life miserable. You can visit BookEnds here, and follow Kim on Twitter here.

Kim Lionetti, here’s something to read—the 310th Quaz …

JEFF PEARLMAN: So Kim, you’re a literary agent. And all we hear about is the decline of print—newspapers dying, magazines dying, etc … etc. Yet books … it seems sorta, eh, not as bad. I dunno, I can’t tell. So tell me—where are we?

KIM LIONETTI: Well, there’s certainly been a gigantic shift in the industry over the last 15 years, with the rise of ebooks and Amazon. Print numbers are down quite drastically since I first started out in the business over 20 years ago and only some of that has been replaced with ebook sales.  With that said, I’m confident the readers are still there and always will be.  I’ve already sold more books in the first five months of 2017 than I have in any previous year, so clearly book publishing is alive and strong.

I think it’s still an industry in transition. Publishing companies are continuing to consolidate and find ways to operate as leanly as possible. While some authors are doing well with self-publishing, most are finding it difficult to attract readership in a very crowded marketplace, and are finding traditional publication with the big houses more attractive again.

Another encouraging sign to me is the health of the young adult market which decidedly favors print books over digital. Hopefully the voracity of their readership will translate to other markets as they grow older.

J.P.: When we first met you were an editor working on, I believe western-themed romance novels. I’ll write that again, because it’s super fun: western-themed romance novels. Please explain what that was, how it happened, what it was like.

K.L.: Oh Jeff, I can see I need to school you a bit here. I think you’re referring to the adult westerns I was working on, which are very different from western-themed romance novels, as a matter of fact. The adult westerns, some of them first started by Playboy and with series titles like LONGARM and SLOCUM, were books about lawmen of the Old West catching bad guys and bedding damsels and harlots alike. They were squarely written to a male audience. Western-themed romance novels are written primarily for women. Key difference in content is the length of the love scenes. Adult westerns were much more wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am.

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J.P.: I imagine you received a gazillion manuscripts a year. So how does this process work? Is it even worth it for an unknown writer to send you, cold, his/her book? What happens to the drafts when you get them? Do you have an assistant go through them? A dog? No one?

K.L.: As a matter of fact, BookEnds doesn’t accept unsolicited manuscripts. Writers query us first, meaning they email us (actually we have a form now through our website) with a description of their book, and then we let them know if we’re interested in taking a look. These days I receive about 200 queries a month, but we have seven agents on staff now, and receive at least 1,500 queries a month combined.

We’ve had interns read for us at times, but for the most part we read them all ourselves.

J.P.: How can you tell when a book is good? Like, do you have to read the whole thing? Half? Are you ever intrigued by a writer while not actually liking the book? Or vice versa?

K.L.: Sometimes I read a page and know it’s not going to work. Other times I have to read the whole book before I can make a decision. It varies widely.

I primarily represent fiction, so mostly I just want to be engaged by the voice, the characters, and the story. If all of that falls into place, then I’m going to offer representation.

There have been plenty of times that I’ve liked the writing, but the story just didn’t grab me. In those cases, I’ll offer revision suggestions and ask them to resubmit, or just ask them to be sure and contact me with their next book if they still find themselves looking for an agent.

With her client, the author C.C. Hunter.

With her client, the author C.C. Hunter.

J.P.: You have a son with autism, and on the Book Ends website your bio includes, “Kim is dedicated to representing the stories and voices of individuals with special needs and their families.” But what does that actually mean? And how, exactly, does having an Autistic son impact who you are? How you go about life?

K.L.: There’s a significant movement in book publishing right now to represent diversity and #ownvoices, particularly in young adult books. Along with representing people of every race, religion, sexuality, and gender identity, it’s important to me that individuals with disabilities are represented as well. Not just a developmental disability, like Nicky’s, but any special need. The more voices we see from these perspectives, the better the rest of the world will be able to understand and relate.

I think the most significant way Nicky’s autism has affected me, personally, is it’s made me see what’s important in life. I used to care much more about what other people think and I’d get hung up on trivialities. It’s important to me that Nicky’s proud of the person he is. So from the start I’ve never let any of us shy away from the “label.” I’m super open about being an autism mom and sharing my experiences. The more all of us talk about it, the less “other” it becomes. In fact, my 8-year-old daughter just spoke to her third grade class about her brother for Autism Awareness Day.

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J.P.: I’m not asking for names, but what’s it like dealing with really difficult writers? Do you find yourself soothing egos? Managing expectations? And, again, without names (unless you choose to volunteer), what’s your personal story of dealing with a diva/divo?

K.L.: Managing expectations is definitely part of my job. Overall, I’ve been lucky with the clients I work with, but to be honest, that’s part of the reason I decided to become an agent. So that I’d have the power to choose who I wanted to work with.

My worst experience with an author was when I was still working as an editor. One of the more successful books I worked on was written by a misogynist pig. He was horribly condescending and made his publicist cry at one point. It came time to decide if we’d buy more books from him. I told my publisher I thought life was too short to keep dealing with a guy like this. And while she agreed he was despicable, she said I had to offer on his next book. I get it. It was just good business sense. But at that moment, agenting became much more attractive to me, because at least then I’d be directly compensated (in the form of commission) for the success of jerks like him and ultimately I’d have the power to say goodbye if I didn’t want to deal with him anymore.

J.P.: How does working in the field impact your reading habits? Are you as passionate as books as ever? Do you just wanna kick back and watch the Real Housewives?

K.L.: Obviously, I went into this industry because I love to read. Sometimes, my aging eyes need a break and I catch up on Netflix, but I try to read “non-work” books as much as possible, for fun and also to keep abreast of the competition. I find that when I read a really great book for pleasure, it reinvigorates me and makes me hungry to go out and find more clients with books that excite me.

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J.P.: Greatest moment of your career? Lowest?

K.L.: I’m not sure I have one greatest moment. It’s certainly a high point when a client hits the New York Times’ bestseller list, but I get just as excited when I get to call a new author with their very first offer of publication. I love my job.

The lowest was probably when I dealt with that aforementioned writer at my old job.

J.P.: You’re not gonna like this, but there have been times when I’ve gone through a hard edit with someone who doesn’t work as a writer and I think to myself, “What the fuck do you know?” So Kim—what the fuck do you know? 

K.L.: I’m not a expert writer, but I’m an expert reader. I think the biggest trap writers can fall into is writing only for themselves. If you’re looking for commercial success, you have to remember to write for an audience. So, I’ll tell you what I know. I know what I want to read. I know what readers want to read. And I also know what editors want to read. That’s what makes me a good agent.

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• Rank in order (favorite to least): Kim Fields, Hakim Warrick, Haines Shoe House, Pam Dawber, the designated hitter, “The Lord of the Rings,” Dana Rohrabacher, the day after Easter, Drip Café: Drip Café, Pam Dawber, the day after Easter, Haines Shoe HouseThe Lord of the RingsHakim WarrickKim Fieldsthe designated hitterDana Rohrabacher

• One question you would ask Gheorghe Mureșan were he here right now?: How’s the weather up there?

• Five all-time favorite non-fiction books: I pretty much never read nonfiction. So feel free to insert Jeff Pearlman titles here. 😉

• Five all-time favorite fiction books: These change by the week, but excluding my clients’ work: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape by Peter Hedges; Election by Tom Perrotta; A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern; Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen; Big Little Lies by Lianne Moriarty

• Three memories from your senior prom: Voluminous blue metallic dress; Voluminous Aqua Net hair; Gay best friend as date

• Ever thought you were about to die in a plane crash? If so, what do you recall?: I heard the first plane flying overhead the morning of 9/11 on my walk to work, which was 20 blocks up from the World Trade Center, and watched the first tower fall from our office window. So, ever since then I’m much more of a nervous flier. Mostly when I get scared, I think of my children and how they need me, especially Nicky.

• Celine Dion calls. She has a literary project she wants you to represent. It’s about her farts smelling like sardines and it’s called, “Celine: My Farts Smell Like Sardines.” You in?: Easy out. I don’t represent nonfiction.

• In exactly eight words, make a case for arm wrestling in winter: Cabin fever can make anything seem reasonably entertaining.

• Three all-time favorite non-Carrie Underwood/Kelly Clarkson American Idol contestants: Jennifer HudsonPhillip Phillips (my son’s all-time favorite artist); Chris Daughtry

This happened. How should I feel?: Relevant.

Why is it bad for me to think Hillary Clinton was a lousy candidate?

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So the other day Joe Biden noted in a speech that he thought Hillary Clinton was a subpar presidential candidate. Because I: A. Love Joe Biden; and B. Agree with Joe Biden; and C. Am still furious over the election, I posted the CNN article on my Facebook page.

The aftermath was, well, not so amazing. Some agreed, some didn’t—and a solid number suggested (or simply said) that there is more than a hint of sexism to the points being made.

I find this infuriating. And a bit lazy.

I’ve been addicted to presidential elections since 1980, when Ronald Reagan beat Jimmy Carter and an upstart named John B. Anderson to become the nation’s 40th commander in chief. I absolutely love elections—the emotions, the passions, the efforts to move people. I also think I understand (as much as an amateur can understand) the dynamics of big stage electoral politics. There are great candidates, good candidates and shit candidates. In fact, let’s rank all the mainstream presidential candidates from 1980 until now, based upon their abilities to run—and win—a campaign.

• 1. Ronald Reagan: One of my all-time least favorite presidents. But an absolute master at making people feel good about themselves and good about their country. See—that’s the key. It’s all about messaging; about moving people; about convincing those on the fence that you care more than the other guy.

• 2. Barack Obama: I mean, very Reagan-esque in his ability to evoke emotion and convey concern. Also felt cool and fresh and unique; like our generation’s JFK. That’s powerful stuff.

• 3. Bill Clinton: It’s weird, right? All that baggage, all those secrets, all that womanizing—but you wanted to sit and have a slice of pie with the man. He was less detached than Obama, less grandfatherly than Reagan. He was your pal.

• 4. George W. Bush: Also—your pal. Never seemed smart, accomplished, particularly eloquent. But he exuded the whole “I’m just a man from Texas who likes steak and music.” I repeat: He was your pal.

• 5. George H. W. Bush: As an elder statesman I love the elder Bush—but he won because: A. Reagan; B. Michael Dukakis shot himself in the foot on about 800 occasions. Minimal charisma as a candidate. But, hey, he won.

• 6. Donald Trump: Inexplicable. A selfish, inherited-his-money narcissistic asshole who bragged about groping women. But he tapped into enough of something. And, truly, that’s how you win elections. You con folks into believing your bullshit is gold (That said, he lost the popular vote. And not by a small margin.)

• 7. John McCain: I might be in the minority here, but McCain wasn’t an awful candidate. His three main problems: 1. He ran into the buzzsaw that was Barack Obama; 2. Fatigue after eight years of a Republican president; 3. The worst VP choice in modern history. Now, in his defense, McCain desperately needed a spark, and Palin—on paper—was worth the risk. But the vetting was so preposterously bad, it drops McCain a long way.

• 8. Hillary Clinton: She won 3 million more votes than Donald Trump. So why was she a flawed presidential candidate? Several reasons—not all her doing. First, there was Clinton fatigue, just as Jeb facd Bush fatigue in the GOP primary. Second, she failed to campaign in some major states. Third, she does not inspire. I mean, look, she’s incredibly inspiring. Her backstory, her achievements. No question. But a presidential election is not about that. People need to be moved by your words; they need to hear you speak and say, “Fuck, yes! I’m voting for that person!” And Hillary Clinton doesn’t have that. I voted for her because she’s smart and competent, and a million times better (in all measures) than the orange puddle. But while there was certainly sexism here, and Russia here, a nonsense scandals here—Hillary Clinton did not run a strong campaign. And, yes, Donald Trump is the worst human on the planet. And yes, it’s unfair that they’re judged differently. It’s bullshit. But it is what it is. Elections aren’t held in black holes. You have to grapple with the circumstances of flawed humanity.

• 9. Bob Dole: Such a weird candidate. Ran against Bill Clinton in 1996. Honorable man, actually has a keen sense of humor. But never flashed his charisma, his charm. Just seemed like an old robot sent from 1928 to see what’s up in the world.

• 10. John Kerry: He ran against a wounded candidate. He was a man with a long and distinguished record. He had metal embedded in his leg. And … he … refused … to … fight … back. And it cost him.

• 11. Walter Mondale: Just 1984 roadkill for Reagan. He knew he couldn’t win, Reagan knew Mondale couldn’t win. Nice guy, but …

• 12. Mitt Romney: I’ve never seen a person who looked more presidential. Well, like a presidential robot. Just no real sense of human touch.

• 13. Michael Dukakis: I love this guy—200th Quaz. But he was steamrolling George H. W. Bush for months—then got pummeled as the Bush campaign tossed every shard of nastiness his way. Folded, shriveled, died. Sad, because he’s a great man.

• 14. Al Gore: I mean … ran the biggest wuss campaign ever. Clinton-Gore years were fantastic for America, and Gore ran away from them. Stiff, awkward, gawky, robotic. No good.

• 15. Jimmy Carter: By 1980 he was toast. Just as Reagan made you want to wave a flag, Carter made you want to hide it.

He knew … he knew

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“I think [Donald Trump] became a Pied Piper. He spun a web of stories to the rest of the owners that all this could be accomplished, and it could be accomplished if you followed what he believed in and the people that he knew and his ability to get to people who we couldn’t get in order to raise the level of income from the networks, to get the interest of Pete Rozelle and the rest of the National Football League in terms of the accommodation of a few teams. And away he’d go being the savior of what was the United States Football League.”

— Chet Simmons, Commissioner, USFL

July 27, 2009


Showtime Book
Love Me, Hate Me Barry Bonds Book
Sweetness Walter Peyton Book
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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life