Sometimes a piece of writing just smacks you in the gut, totally out of nowhere, and your jaw drops at the beauty of the words. (Yeah yeah, I know I’m a writer and a sap, but bear with me, this is worth it).
The New York Times’ “Modern Love” column usually produces good stuff, but it’s usually about an adult sexual relationship, and it’s often funny and entertaining.
But this week … wow. A writer named Jessica Strawser tells a moving story about the first holiday season she had to experience without her best friend, who had been killed in the past year by an abusive ex-boyfriend. Strawser goes to the cemetery around Christmastime and meets an interesting man there, doing his own ritual and… I don’t want to give any more away. Just read it, smile at the power of love, then hug someone you love.
Really an extraordinary column.
**Next up, this cracked me up and apparently went viral on the Web Tuesday. During a C-Span appearance by Brad and Dallas Woodhouse, two brothers who are political pundits on opposite sides of the aisle, they got a call from a “Joy in Raleigh, N.C.”
Turns out it was their Mom, who proceeded to scold her boys for never getting along.
“I was hoping this would be the year you went to your in-laws for Thanksgiving,” she said. “And I want peace when you come here at Christmas.”
Hilarious stuff. I love the brothers’ reaction when they realize it’s their momma on the line.
**Finally today, I just finished an excellent book I want to recommend to anyone on your list who loves politics. Five years before Bill Clinton ran for President and we learned that America really didn’t care much who a politician had shtupped over the years, there was another major political force whose career was ended because of a possible affair he may have had.
The name “Gary Hart,” if you’re 30 or older, probably means one thing to you: Presidential candidate/frontrunner to win in 1988 who in 1987 was caught by reporters cavorting with a young blonde named Donna Rice, and the ensuing sex scandal ruined Hart’s chances forever in just a few days.
Matt Bai, formerly of the New York Times Magazine, has written a fabulous new book about Hart called “All the Truth is Out,” about the Hart scandal and how it changed the way politicans are covered, forever.
Before Hart, politicians’ affairs pretty much were kept secret by reporters; hell, JFK, LBJ, FDR, all had extra-marital relations. But with the explosion of cable TV and increasing pressure to “be first” and be salacious, the late 1980s ushered in a new era of political coverage.
And when the Miami Herald got a tip that Hart was fooling around, and then stalked him and “caught” him outside his Washington D.C. apartment, well, all the rules were forever changed. (As an ex-reporter I’m torn about what the Herald did; yes they were chasing a legit story, but they did it in a very sleazy way.)
Bai is clearly sympathetic to Hart, and he makes a really strong case on why this one affair shouldn’t have ruined him forever. Hart was a brilliant politician but didn’t have Clinton’s charm and political skills which is probably why Clinton won two terms and Hart is a footnote.
It’s a really interesting book about a fascinating man and a pivotal moment in how politics are covered. Check it out here.