Each week, the Sunday Post highlights a few articles good for slow consumption over a cup of coffee (or tea, if that's your pleasure). Settle in for a while; we saved you a seat. You can also look through the archives.
This piece by Sam Tanenhaus is a vivid history of Nixon’s 1968 presidential campaign, with direct lines via Pat Buchanan to Donald Trump’s victory last year. Judging by this retelling, politics has become considerably less witty — though no less petty. Time for the Twitterverse to up its game.
For [Garry] Wills, "Nixon's main problem, I think, was his nose," Buchanan recalls. He's serious. Nixon's ski-jump nose, beloved by caricaturists, was a staple of the period's cornball humor. Even Nixon worked up good-sport one-liners. ("Bob Hope and I would make a great ad for Sun Valley.") Wills, crammed beside him in a DC-3, under the dim overhead spotlight, was transfixed—not by the nose's fabled length but by "its distressing width, accentuated by the depth of the ravine running down its center, and by its general fuzziness . . . the nose swings far out; then, underneath, it does not rejoin his face in a straight line, but curves far up again, leaving a large but partially screened space between nose and lip" ...
For non-fans, sports are a blur of frantic movement punctuated by long, dull waits and nerve-shattering cheers and boos from true believers. It’s not easy to sell us on the storyline, but Kevin Alexander manages it in this piece on “Hard Men” — the bruisers and bullies who’ve held folkloric status on English soccer teams for decades and are now fading into history.
You can get a sense of their skill sets by looking at the nicknames of the Hard Men of the ’60s and ’70s, such as Chelsea’s Ron “Chopper” Harris and Liverpool’s Tommy “the Anfield Iron” Smith. (“Tommy Smith wasn’t born,” Bill Shankly once said, “he was quarried.”) My personal favorite is Leeds United’s Norman “Bites Yer Legs” Hunter. Another Leeds Hard Man, Joe Jordan, was nicknamed “Jaws” because he refused to wear dentures after losing four teeth to a kick in the mouth.
In a short piece packed with literary gossip and impeccable research, Levi Stahl puts a forgotten tale of Vladmir Nabokov, butterflies, and a dying prospector under the microscope.
After more than four hours of hiking, the two were descending a steep slope covered by ice-crusted snow when they lost their footing and began to slide toward the edge. Nabokov managed to snag a rock with his butterfly net, and Laughlin was able to grab Nabokov’s shoe while rushing past him. The net held, and the men survived.
That was not the only time death came near Nabokov that summer.
One strategy for interacting with beloved authors is to avoid eye contact at all costs and leave the room if possible. Jonathan Carroll favors a different approach.
Like so many people, I happened onto one of Bukowski’s collections of poetry in a university used book shop. I stood there a long time, drinking down his poems for the first time like they were cold Coca Cola on a hot day. I’d never read anything like them and it was a thrilling experience. In my 20 year old college boy “I want to be a writer too someday” voice I wrote all of that to him. A few weeks later I received an envelope from the Sunshine Inn Motel in San Pedro, California.