best obit ever

Best obit ever. “She was born the second child of six in 1919 as Frances Dorothy Gibson, daughter to Kathleen Heard Gibson and Calvin Hooper Gibson, an inventor best known as the first person since the Middle Ages to calculate the arcane lead-to-gold formula. Unable to actually prove this complex theory scientifically, and frustrated by the cruel conspiracy of the so-called “scientific community” working against his efforts, he ultimately stuck his head in a heated gas oven with a golden delicious apple propped in his mouth. Miraculously, the apple was saved for the evening dessert. Calvin was not.”

rayne, home of nice prisoners

Some guy named Paul visits my hometown on a bike ride across America. He finds Rayne “full of good people” — even the felons.
“I asked at the police station about a spot to put up the tent, and the police chief spoke to me…He decided I should sleep on the bench in the police station and I thought he was kidding but he wasn’t and then he left for the night without telling any of the other employees why I was there, but it worked out alright. There were some inmates who were on some kind of a work release deal so they had the right to walk around the police station and did janitorial work. They were interested in my trip, especially Hubert who was a big black guy and very cool…They hung out with me for a while and got me food, prison food, for dinner and breakfast the next morning.
“As I said goodbye, Hubert said some thoughtful things. ‘What you’re doing is free, it’s what being free is all about. If I could, if I were younger and had my finances in order and weren’t in here [jail], I’d be doing something like what you’re doing. It’s free.'”

decade-old eye drops

I’m moving to a new apartment next weekend (boring story, don’t ask), so I’m in the midst of a pre-move life cleansing. Selling old books to Half Price Books. Throwing out ancient clothes. Just generally trying to trim my personal bundle of belongings.
The true beneficiary of all this may be you, The Reader, since I have tentative plans to post photos of, among other things, my past fashion mistakes. (For example, there was a period when I wore green pants almost every day. With sweater vests. Yes.)
As a taste: I was cleaning out my bathroom cabinet and throwing out things that have expired. The best of the bunch was a Visine bottle that had expired in December 1994. More than a decade ago. I (or, more likely, my grandmother) must have bought it after high school graduation, apparently working from the belief that no man should go off to college without eye drops.
Thankfully, I don’t think I’ve needed eye drops once during that time. Truth be told, eye drops kinda freak me out.

how to be a literary journalist

Would you like to be one of the so-called “literary journalists”? The sort of scribe whose byline evokes a sort of intellectual respect, the kind of scribbler who gets months or years to craft a magazine piece of sterling clarity? Would you someday like to call John McPhee your spiritual godfather?
May I suggest a three-step process?
1. Buy The New New Journalism by Robert Boynton. It’s a series of interviews with lit-j superstars on their jobs: how they find stories, how they interview, how they organize, how they write. It’s refreshingly craft-oriented and practical. Writing is a solitary profession, and it’s great to see the quirky systems writers assemble for themselves to be productive. (Gay Talese’s involves a pair of binoculars, corkboard, and a photocopier set at 67% zoom.)
The list of interviewees is impressive: Talese, Susan Orlean, Ron Rosenbaum, William Langewiesche, Michael Lewis, and my personal idol Calvin Trillin.
2. Buy The Complete New Yorker Book and DVD. Yes, it’s $100. (Actually, just $63 at Amazon.) But come on! It’s eight DVDs with the complete text of every issue of The New Yorker, 1925 to the present.
Seriously, the complete text. Which means you get a healthy subset of everything ever written by all those folks listed above. The complete A.J. Leibling! All the Malcolm Gladwell you can handle! Calvin Trillin’s brilliant U.S. Journal stories from the ’70s! McPhee McPhee McPhee! Sy Hersh after Sy Hersh! White and Lardner and Angell, oh my! “In Cold Blood,” “Hiroshima,” and “Eichmann in Jerusalem,” in the orignal forms!
This may expose me as a geek, but I’m about to wet my pants with excitement.
3. Work really hard.


My knowledge of women’s clothing is limited to the chiffon sundresses I wear on hot summer days. That and the thongs I wear to eliminate awkward panty lines. And those cute midriff-exposing cut-off t-shirts!
But enough about my fictional crossdressing. Erin McKean, Friend of Crabwalk and occasional commenter ’round these parts, has launched A Dress A Day. You’ll never guess what it is: a web site featuring a dress each day! Strangely enthralling.
Erin’s day job is chief wordslinger for Oxford’s American dictionaries. And sorry guys: she’s taken.