Raab Rage

Catching up on my magazine pile, I came across a great story by Scott Raab, one of the most interesting writers working today. Years ago, when I was living overseas, my then-girlfriend (now wife) sent me a copy of his story in GQ on the Promise Keepers, “The Triumph of His Will.” It made a huge impression on me, and it remains one of my favorites stories. His new piece on Corey Booker has the same mix of humor, outrage and pathos and reminded me how his audacious writing can be so much fun.

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The Underworld

Madison Magazine doesn’t usually send people into the bowels of the earth, but recently I got to do some spelunking for an assignment. The story is in the August issue, and it tells about my quest for a lost cave in the town where we were living: “Sitting at the library one day, I was looking at an old map of the area around Madison when I saw something strange. It was called ‘Richardson Cave’ and it wasn’t far from my house in Verona. When I looked for it on modern maps, it was gone.” You can read the rest here, if you like.

What We Loved: Dancing Across the Planet

From this week’s What We Loved at World Hum: Last week, our second daughter came into the world, a tiny little thing. It’s an amazing time, but there’s also something about it that makes me feel like I’m already living in the past, as if today is just a photo that she will stare at while trying to imagine the world back then. Last week, I also watched Matt Harding’s dancing video. On the face of it, I thought it sounded like your typical self-promotional YouTube stunt. But by the time I got done watching it, I had tears running down my cheeks.

This might be because I’m feeling a little hormonal at the moment. But it could also be something else: With all the reasons to be pessimistic about the world our girl might grow up in, seeing Matt dancing his way across the planet reminded me of a simplicity, an optimism, a joy, a naïveté, a beauty and a laughter I too have found in the world. It’s a kind of love letter to humanity, and it makes me hopeful that when our girls finally walk out our door to see it for themselves, that they will fall in love with it, and that they will find themselves dancing, too.

Dislocation

Just quick note to say that as of this week, you’ll find me in Minneapolis, in the shadow of the Mall of America. And while I’ll miss Madison’s Squirrel Diorama, its Brat Fest, working for Madison Magazine and a few other things about the Badger State, it also feels great to be a in new place full of lutefisk and lakes. (Not to mention some fine Somali, Laotian and Mexican food.)

Too Much Information

Sometime around 1993, I read an amazing essay by David Quammen. It was called “Thinking about Earthworms” and in it, Quammen talks about something that’s always in the back of my mind, something that has gotten, if anything, worse. I finally got a chance to write about this in a piece for the new Poets & Writers called Way, Way Too Much Information. Quammen’s essay isn’t available online, but you can get it either in Out of the Noosphere: The Best of Outside Magazine (a fantastic collection) or in Quammen’s own Flight of the Iguana.