Monday, February 17, 2014

Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff

"Detroit was beginning to wear my ass out. I didn't have the usual reportorial detachment anymore. This was home. This was where I lived. This was where I was raising my kid, and my sister's kid dies in some dark basement not six weeks after I arrive. And this morning I'm watching grown men cheer the demolition of a shit box as though it were the Berlin Wall coming down. 
 I looked out the window realizing that Detroit was doing something to me that a story's never done to me before. It was hurting."   (Charlie LeDuff in Detroit, an American Autopsy)

One of the first books of the year under my belt is Charlie LeDuff's "autopsy" for Detroit. It's irreverent, raw and disturbing. There are moments of hope. Moments where you can see something glimmer through the cloud cast over this city…but don't mistake this for a tale of redemption. LeDuff was a staff writer at the New York Times and then went on to be a reporter at the Detroit News. In this book, he dives into his home town and attempts to discover what caused its downfall, explores his own family history, takes you into local firehouses, political corruption and poverty that can make you shudder. It is almost hard to believe this is an American city. Find the NYT book review here.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Coach: Roller Coaster

I remember my father explaining to me why soccer, or football is considered The Beautiful Game. There are many explanations, myths, historical moments that define nations, rabid fans, flowing movements found within 90 minutes, inspiration and ecstasy found in the 2 minutes past the 90, the hand of God and Brazilian magicians that this saying can be traced back to, I am sure.

But what I took away from my father related to this game is the roller coaster you are on from the time between the opening whistle and the final, and how it almost never, ever stops. High school, club, player, coach, fan with painted face or poster board for your son or daughter, the ride is there. The admission fee varies, perspectives create debates that echo as legend. It's gut wrenching. It's sheer joy. It's moments of disbelief when a player you've been pushing to take the next step shocks you into belief.

Frustration can be rampant. Anger, fury, the edge is there and you are tempted to lose yourself in the momentary jump off a cliff and berate an official for clearly watching some game other than the one your four months of work, faith, teamwork and passion have led to. It's laughter when the tension breaks.

It's nerves that make the pre-game gumbo or jambalaya difficult to go down because you know the team across the midfield line needs to win to survive. So do you. It's the fact that when your players step over the line, you pray that you have done what you can to prepare them for the chess match ahead. The die is cast. It's knowing that years of youth can end for a High School player when that final second ticks off the clock. It's having seen that moment in locker rooms and on fields over and over and over again. You've been that player yourself.

It's the march to the finish line. It's the playoffs starting tomorrow after months of work this season, day in and day out on the field with a crew of coaches, a brotherhood of teammates, fans, families, administrative staff and sponsors all wrapped up into two whistles, the start and the finish. Tomorrow is win or go home.

photo credits: Camerajunquie