A few seconds pass.
“Hi, Sam,” James Franco says.
Anna Wintour and Sean (Diddy) Combs were among a number of celebrities who attended yesterday’s U.S. Open semifinal between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Wintour was cheering for Federer, Combs for Djokovic. Their actions were observed. Their thoughts have been imagine.
Anna Wintour was surprised by her seat location for Saturday’s men’s semifinal between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. There was no room in the Federer box, her typical perch, so she had been forced to slum three rows up, behind the south end of the court. Not great, not bad, she thought, adjusting her red-and-yellow flower print dress as she sat down.
Across the court, Sean (Diddy) Combs had settled into the second row of Djokovic’s box, behind his coach and family. Diddy wore a navy baseball cap and white Polo shirt. White after Labor Day? Anna scoffed, eyes peeking above her sunglasses. Federer pulled a new racket from a plastic bag emblazoned with his “RF” logo. Anna nodded. Now that’s style. The sun had come out from behind the clouds and the court was heating up. Ball kids shielded the players with silver umbrellas. Diddy held one hand above his eyes, shielding them from the sun as he looked at a man being spotlighted on the JumboTron: Who’s Stanley Tucci?
Throughout the first two sets – Federer won both – Diddy had held his daughter in his lap. After the second, he had walked off with her into the stadium concourse. When he came back, she was gone. Gotta focus now, Diddy thought, handing out water bottles to others in the Djokovic box. No time for babysitting. Djokovic put a cap on – more protection from the sun – and broke Federer immediately. Between serves, Djokovic bounced the ball again and again, as he always did. Federer twirled his racket, over and over – ten, fifteen, twenty times – to while away the boredom. Hit the ball, Novak, Anna seethed. It was Fashion Week, and she had places to be. But this would not be a short match. Djokovic won the next two sets, giving up just five games. Diddy jumped up and down, pumping his fist. Crap crap crap, Anna thought. She looked at the JumboTron. Who’s Sandy Koufax?
Fifth set, 5-3, 40-15: Federer serving for the match. Anna’s legs shook nervously. She crossed her arms. Stay cool. Stay cool. The crowd screamed for Federer. Enough of this shit, Diddy thought. He and Djokovic had met at a party – details were scant – and hell if he was going to let his pal down now. The Djokovic box sat glumly in their seats, but Diddy stood up and clapped, a lone beacon of optimism. Djokovic looked around the court. Did he see Diddy? We’ll never know. But a moment later he unleashed an unholy backhand return that left no hope of a Federer reply. The crowd groaned. Djokovic lifted his hands and shook his head at the crowd’s favoritism. Are you not entertained? They were now, save for Anna. Oh, get on with it. Two more points to Djokovic and Anna lowered her head into her lap, covering the back of her neck with her hands. ComeoOnRogerComeOnRogerComeOnRoger. He did, with an ace. Anna looked up. He missed a forehand. Anna looked back down. A double fault – game, Djokovic – and Anna rose from her seat, eyes still locked on the ground, and retreated from sight.
Fast forward: 6-5, 40-15, match point for Djokovic. Djokovic bounced the ball twenty-one times. Federer twirled his racket. Diddy sat with his hands clenched. The Federer fans were in distress. Where’s Anna, our champion? Shelby Bryan, her beau, had gone looking for her. No luck. Federer’s return was long. Diddy pounded his chest. Djokovic danced to “Gonna Make You Sweat.” Diddy danced, too. US open was crazy! Good times!!!! Diddy thought, before typing that exact sentiment into Twitter. Congrats to da boy Novak! Great match! Now the party begins! LeeeeGoooo!!!!
At age 42, Ted Mann found out that his biological father was Ted Nugent:
Mann pulled out his iPhone to look at photos from the trip: Big Ted and Little Ted kneeling before a grill covered with elk steaks; Little Ted aiming a rifle (his girlfriend: “I think you just got sexier”); the contents of Big Ted’s pockets—handgun, ammo, handkerchief—displayed as part of a lesson in “what a man should carry”; father and son, arm in arm, holding a semiautomatic rifle and an Uzi. “I couldn’t believe it,” Mann said. “Here I am, a grown man, and I wanted to make sure I hit the bull’s-eye so I could show my dad I can shoot.” Mann flicked to another photo: a deer carcass hanging from a tree. “He sends me random shots of everything he kills now,” he said.
Here’s the story I wrote about Ted Nugent and his son in The New Yorker.
A few weeks late, but here’s an account of my afternoon with Mike Tyson. He likes pigeons:
Suddenly, Tyson looked up, focussing on something in the distance. A flock of pigeons from a neighboring coop was flying in circles. “Man, that hawk is hitting this guy’s bird!” Tyson sprang out of his chair and hobbled across the roof—boxing was not good to his body—bobbing between satellite dishes and piles of two-by-fours.
More on Tyson and his pigeons available.
“If you tell me, ‘Write a play about two lovers who meet at a cafe,’ O.K., I can do that,” he said. “But if you tell me to write a play about a centaur and a unicorn falling in love on the Moon — and make it work — that’s going to be the hottest play. You’re going to win awards.”
I’ve got a friend, whom I’ll call Patrick, because that’s his name and he feels absolutely no shame admitting the fact that he really doesn’t like Oprah Winfrey (The reasons are many, but I’ll note only that his longtime girlfriend watches Oprah regularly). A few years ago, Patrick was driving home and passed a house whose owner had attached an “Oprah 4 President” t-shirt to a fence surrounding her yard. Patrick reported to me that he drove by a few days later, and – wouldn’t you know it! – the shirt was gone. I didn’t ask where it went.
I largely shared Patrick’s view. But, earlier this year, Oprah picked a book for her Book Club that I already wanted to read (you know the one). I was intrigued. So, I ordered a copy online – no purple sticker – and created my oprah.com username. Patrick did not join me.
It took all of two days for a commenter to declare, of the book: “it killing me already.” (All comments very sic’d.) Among the hundreds of comments, I counted 34 uses of the words “bored” or “boring”—to the first few chapters, “the part about the birds,” the whole thing. One reader questioned Franzen’s understanding of motherhood. Another pined for John Grisham and Debbie Macomber.
More about Oprah’s Book Club and why it’s kind of great.
The RSS feed is operational. Enjoy.
Now on the California pavement, we struggled to maintain consciousness. As if fueled by our ruin, the partying intensified. We observed as near nuclear tanning spells erupted, accompanied by fierce freaking and what seemed like an endless session of putting hands up. We heard the obstructed bellow of the queen as she released her horrible, unmentionable shrieking: “Aoaoaoao oh aoaoaoao!”
More anthropological field analysis of the California Gurl, here.
Update: Now accepting submissions to replace the majorly clunky “Mystery First Sentence.” Our current leader comes from Eric: the Lede of Omission.
Sam Anderson’s New York magazine profile of James Franco is fantastic:
The show’s most prominent piece is a big barnlike structure made of plywood, the kind of playhouse a perfect father might build for his 9-year-old son. I step inside to find a small room lined with plywood benches. It’s sweltering. On the far wall, a video is being projected: footage of a plywood house burning to the ground. One of the other visitors walks out, and suddenly there are only two of us, here in the house that contains an image of its own destruction, and the other person is James Franco.
I stand very still, like a hiker who’s just seen a bear. Franco’s publicist has recently informed me that—after all these months of e-mailing (he always responds immediately, and likes to sign off with “Peace”) and brief conversations—Franco and I are no longer allowed to talk. He’s signed an exclusivity agreement with another magazine. Under no circumstances am I to speak to him, I’m told, not even to say hello. I can see him now in my peripheral vision: He looks not like a grad student or a hipster but like an international golden boy, a corporate spokesman—unmasked and cleanly shaven, dressed in a gray Gucci suit and pointy black Gucci shoes. His hair is sculptural, bushy but managed. Surely, I think, if someone sees us together, I will be thrown out. On the opposite wall, the flames have stripped the house to its frame, reducing it to some kind of glowing black non-substance, half-wood, half-ash.
A few seconds pass.
“Hi, Sam,” James Franco says.
Franco’s career is source of constant fascination in these parts, and Anderson’s article does nothing but add to it – though, we’d like to know more, seriously, about the logistics of it all.
But the more important point here is to launch my first personal salvo against what I will call the Mystery First Sentence Lede of Omission. In this case:
James Franco will not stop bouncing around.
Where is Franco? On a trampoline? Hopped up on drugs? Yes, what Anderson means is that “I have a found a moment where Franco is bouncing around, and the act of bouncing around is a very important metaphor here.” But every time an article starts with this faux-mystery (See: Every Esquire profile from the past six months; almost any newspaper column about an individual), I feel just a little insulted. Tell us where he is, and what he’s doing, then, later – like Anderson did, again, in the second paragraph! – make your point. Don’t tease us.
The titles do all of the work this week:
June 15, 9:55 a.m.
Q Train – 7th Avenue to Times Square
There’s a baby being changed: orange diaper, pink pants, green blouse. Let’s call her Sally. She’s producing a horrifying sound – like the screeching of the subway brakes disharmonizing with a dying animal.
Mom’s face does not change throughout the dirty process: she does not want to be doing this here, on the subway, but she must. No one gets off to board another car, though they could.
The deed done, she bounces Sally on her lap, then holds her over her left shoulder, patting her back all along. The crying finally stops; a pacifier is the solution. Now that the child has calmed, down the mother cannot take her eyes off Sally. For a few moments, the faintest of smiles crosses her lips.