Hope you all had a wonderful Independence Day; the Lewis family sure did. Had a terrific time at a playground in Central Park with our little man, then a picnic lunch under a big ole’ tree in Central Park, followed by dinner and watching fireworks from our window. Macy’s fireworks have been in the same place (over the East River) for the last four years, but somehow the view from our bedroom window was much, much better than in past years. Anyway, it was a great day. Life is awesome.
Two excellent pieces of writing/journalism to share today, sandwiched around a fabulous TV show we just finished watching.
First, from the Washington Post, comes this beautifully reported and told story by Stephanie McCrummen. It’s about a Muslim doctor in Minnesota named Ayaz Virji, who several years ago moved to a small town in the state and was welcomed warmly.
Then, the 2016 election happened, and things changed quite a bit. Now, Virji feels cold shoulders and stares where he goes, and to help combat the anti-Islam feeling that suddenly seems pervasive around him, he’s gone around to three small towns in Minnesota to essentially, explain the truth about Islam.
“Ayaz wasn’t sure (explaining Islam) was his responsibility, but how else would people learn?” she writes.
The story takes several surprising turns, and is absolutely beautifully written by McCrummen. Read this for a look at one small way 2016’s election changed everything.
**Next up, my wife and I just finished binge-ing Season 2 of the sublimely excellent Netflix series “Master of None.” I raved about Season 1 last year, because Aziz Ansari’s look at love, food, New York City, religion and everything else that interests him was so fresh and new.
Season 2, which was released two months ago, is miles better. Ten episodes, of varying length and subject matter, explore so many things that broadcast television wouldn’t touch. There’s an entire episode about Ansari’s character Dev explaining to his family that he’s not a devout Muslim anymore. There’s a fantastic, Woody Allen movie-esque episode of three different slices of life for New York City residents, starring a group of foreign-born cabdrivers, a deaf couple arguing about their sex life, and doormen in a swanky building and the interesting predicaments they’re often put in.
There’s a wonderful season-long romance between Dev and the gorgeous Alessandra Mastronardi, and the penultimate episode of the season will break your heart. The season starts in Italy, moves to New York, and gets sensational performances from guest stars like Angela Bassett and Bobby Cannavale.
Seriously, “Master of None” is expertly written and directed. Maybe the best thing I’ve seen on TV this year. Streaming on Netflix now, I highly, highly recommend it.
**Finally today, my man Jeff Pearlman continues to grind out a weekly Q and A on his blog with fascinating people from all walks of life, and his most recent Quaz is near and dear to my heart.
Steve Rushin was a big inspiration for me as a young sportswriter; his prose in Sports Illustrated each week was truly like none other. Twenty-six years later, I still remember his game story in SI from the 1991 World Series, maybe the best I’ve ever seen, between the Twins and Braves, and memorized the story’s opening (Rushin’s lede: “The truth is inelastic when it comes to the 88th World Series. It is impossible to stretch. It isn’t necessary to appraise the nine days just past from some distant horizon of historical perspective. Let us call this Series what it is, now, while its seven games still ring in our ears: the greatest that was ever played.”)
His wordplay can be dazzling “I ate Frosted Flakes right out of the box, and she was on boxes of Frosted Flakes” and the next cliche Rushin uses will be his first. He’s an original, brilliant writing voice, and may be the first sportswriter to marry a women’s pro basketball legend (Rebecca Lobo).
He opens up with Jeff about his career, how fluky it was that he got to SI in the first place, and where journalism is going. His story about the letter he got from President George W. Bush five years after meeting him is hilarious.
Anyway, the interview is a damn entertaining read, just like all of Rushin’s stories.