Outside Reading — The Big Not-So-Easy edition

lost love
(via the Once Around the Kitchen Facebook page)

The Bars of New Orleans Are Closed. They’re Still Getting the City Through This. by John Stanton

We are lucky in our household. Transitioning to a work-from-home model was easy for us, and our employers are incredibly supportive of the shift. We know we’re lucky, and out hearts go out to the people that don’t stand on the same sturdy girder, especially in those communities that are heavily reliant on tourism dollars. I made trips to New Orleans with some regularity in the years following Hurricane Katrina. It took a decade before the city felt fully and properly alive again, the way I remembered it from before the storm. The COVID-19 shutdown isn’t leveling the city with property damage in the same way, but closing all bars and restaurants and wiping clean the slate of spring festivals is devastating in a whole other way. Writing in Slate, John Stanton explains the bar culture of the city and spotlights some of the ways displaced workers are coming together in support of one another and the whole town. I’m eager to get back to New Orleans and slap my money on the bar and do my small, tipsy part to help them recover.


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What I Learned When My Husband Got Sick with Coronavirus by Jessica Lustig

A deputy editor with The New York Times Magazine, Jessica Lustig had the unwanted opportunity to write about the COVID-19 pandemic from first-hand experience, providing heartrending details about her family’s experience when her spouse contracted the disease. Thankfully, he has improved since this article was written and published, which makes the harrowing details a little easier to take. As the right wing’s brigade of dolt zealots begins their predictable turn towards clanging pots and pans together and screaming about how the shutdown was and is an overreaction, personal reporting like this is vital.


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Live, From a Connecticut Backyard, It’s … a Sport! by Christopher Clarey

I have a lot of affection for the early days of ESPN, before the network signed contracts with all the major U.S. sports leagues and the program schedule was filled with oddball athletic pursuits from around the globe. So I’m downright delighted with article, printed in The New York Times, which marvels at the airing of a dinky sports championship staged on someone’s personal court. There are wonderful details and charming quotes throughout. Shut the NFL down forever, and let’s all commit to platform tennis fandom.


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To borrow the recent phrasing of a good friend of mine, I sure do miss the boys of summer. It would be a good time to lets a day’s worth of games play out in the background while puttering around the house. (To be clear, I’m not advocating for the Writing for MEL, Noel Murray expounds on the compensatory pleasure of dialing up ol’ ball games instead. The nostalgia factor is significant for me, especially because my heart is warmed by the visible seams of older sports broadcasts, with clunky graphics and more patient approach to the cutting between different camera angles. And Murray even finds space to throw poison darts at the announcing work of Joe Morgan, itself a beloved bygone pastime.

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Fountain City (2010) by Michael Chabon

After completing his debut novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Michael Chabon got to work on a follow-up. It proved unwieldy and unworkable, partially inspiring the mountain of pages that swamped Grady Tripp in Wonder Boys, Chabon’s actual second published novel. Years later, Chabon took some of the scraps of Fountain City, the unfinished work, added self-withering annotations, and gave it to McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern to publish as part of the unique periodical’s thirty-sixth issue. Releasing this material at all is a gutsy move, because the writing is, as might be expected for a discarded early novel, not particularly good. Combined with Chabon’s reflections, though, it makes for a fascinating read, a skilled author reckoning with his former self.

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