I pulled Sports Illustrated out of the mailbox Friday, eager to see the cover shot of Roger Federer celebrating his record 8th Wimbledon title. Just kidding. I’ve been reading the magazine long enough to know the editors’ priorities: There would be a picture on the cover of a man in helmet and pads, as football season is less than two months away.

 So imagine my surprise when I saw a picture of Russell Westbrook, an athlete from a sport that is not in season. You could guess that from the fact that he was not wearing a uniform; he was dressed instead in a hideous, striped, faux jumpsuit. The caption next to him read: “The Fashion MVP.” For our premier sports magazine, fashion MVP (whatever that is) trumps tennis GOAT.

By Thomas Swick • Category: Americans

This week I received an email from an editor to whom I had recently submitted a piece. “This is a wonderful essay,” he wrote, “brilliantly evocative of a time and a place and a state of mind. … But, once again, we simply don't have space to publish essays of this sort these days, as we need to keep more squarely focused on events of the moment.”

I very much appreciated the editor’s thoughtfulness. Many, when they’re not interested in your submission, don’t even bother to tell you. But as gratifying as his comments were personally, they were distressing professionally. I blame the Internet and brute capitalism. In an age when readers can be counted, and views equal revenues, the most popular subjects push out everything else. And the most popular, inevitably, are the most topical. The ultimate goal of the writer – to produce work that is timeless – is now being sabotaged by the dictatorship of the timely.

By Thomas Swick • Category: writing

Woe to the writer working without a platform from a position of privilege.

By Thomas Swick • Category: writing

Cuban toast

07/19/17 08:03

Watching the insipid Weekend in Havana last night I did learn one new thing: You always toast with your left arm (faster to the heart).

By Thomas Swick • Category: Travel

music over art

07/18/17 09:02

The New Times’ Best of Miami issue, which we picked up a few weeks ago at Savor Cinema in downtown Fort Lauderdale, listed the Hollywood Art Walk as the best in South Florida, better than Wynwood’s and better than FAT Village’s. So Saturday evening we drove down to Hollywood Boulevard. Booths were set up to the south and north on 20th Avenue, selling cookies and various crafts. When we reached Harrison Street, we asked a policeman where we might find art. He pointed to the block to our right, where, he was sure, there was at least one gallery.

 There were two. One was closed – for the monthly art walk – while the other featured mostly pottery. We checked a few places for dinner, settling finally on A La Turca.

 While waiting for our food – stuffed eggplant and Beyti kebab – I noticed that the music was emanating from a DJ station in the back of the restaurant. The DJ was about four decades older than most people in that profession. A sign below him carried a list of languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Hebrew. He picked up the microphone and sang an old Spanish ballad. Then another. And another. After the fourth one, a few diners applauded. I walked up to give him a tip.

 “Where are you from?” I asked him.

 “I grew up in Bulgaria and then lived in Israel,” he said. I noticed now that the sign included even more languages, including Bulgarian and Russian. He sang Moscow Nights and then Kalinka. The table of Georgians next to us applauded loudly.

 Often at restaurants the music is overpowering and resented, because it intrudes into people’s conversations. This gentleman’s singing was just the opposite, mellow and appreciated. It made up nicely for the absence of art.  

By Thomas Swick • Category: Americans

BLOAT

07/17/17 09:35

There may still be some debate, in some quarters, about whether Roger Federer is the GOAT, but there is no doubt that he is the BLOAT (Best Loved of All Time).

By Thomas Swick • Category: sports