I started using Instapaper on a plain ol’ iPod—I know, right?—around June, and I’ve since starred about 180 items, a number that, for the most part, doesn’t include the people and places I can’t not read: The Awl, and pretty much everything about it; Deadspin, particularly every word from Tommy Craggs and Katie Baker; The Journal’s sports section, because, among other reasons, you won’t find anyone funnier than Jason Gay. If Alan Sepinwall compiled his “Mad Men” recaps into a book, that is a book I would buy, even though I’ve already read the entire thing many times over. I’m terrified (in a good way, I think) that something I write will one day catch the eye of Tom Scocca. We subscribe to The New Yorker and New York, and we’ve lingered in McNally Jackson’s magazine section every two weeks or so since the summer. (So, thanks, Sarah!) This year, I powered through a lot of old Observer stories, which isn’t much of a surprise, and many of the most memorable pieces I read or re-read were from past years, which, again, isn’t much of a surprise. Also, I savored Nick Paumgarten’s profile of Mike Francesa and Chris Russo while writing this, and it just got better, and more intimidating, each time.
Then there are the oft-cited standouts from this year: Chris Jones’s profile of Roger Ebert, plus anything Jones writes on his blog; David Grann’s tour de force about, well, everything; Jay Caspian Kang’s essay on gambling for The Morning News, which was, simply, awesome. Plus, many, many more. But you know all those, because you apparently know how to use the Internet. So here are five pieces that I really enjoyed and, more important, that I haven’t seen on other lists. (And if they were, then: great! I’m glad I liked them as much as you did.) Two more caveats: I could have just as easily and arbitrarily included five different stories, and I am, of course, hopelessly biased toward at least one of these.
Chip Brown, “The NBA’s Oligarch and His Power Games” (The New York Times Magazine, October)
“Pretend you are putting a gun against my back,” said the Russian billionaire.
Lauren Collins, “Angle of Vision” (The New Yorker, April)
“Abdu, you’ve got to fire this motherfucker.”
“George, I cannot. It is not possible, George.”
Andrew Corsello, “The Biggest Little Man in the World” (GQ, April)
It is then, at long last, that a phrase Pacquiao’s people use to explain his mysterious ways—which isn’t an explanation at all but a surrender—begins to seem adequate. Because he is Pacquiao.
Nate Freeman, “The Mayor of Main Street” (Towerview, March)
He may have the reputation of being a Falstaff, but after just a few minutes with Galanis, it’s clear he’s much more of a Prince Hal. When you see him and talk to him, you eventually come to the same conclusion three years of Duke students have: if Steven Galanis is throwing a party, you want to be there.
Pitchfork Reviews Reviews, “talked to barack obama, the president of the united states, about pitchfork” (Pitchfork Reviews Reviews, July)
and i am looking barack obama in the eye and i say, “i write a blog about a popular music website!”
And, as the last author might write: OK, that’s it, have a good holiday!
- me: Should we make a YouTube video for your nucleosis?
- Peter: (mono)rail...(mono)gamy...her(mano)
- me: HERMANO!
- Peter: really need to find that guy