Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden, one of the few legislators to sound any misgivings over the activities of the intelligence agencies, asked Clapper, “Does the N.S.A. collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” To which Clapper replied: “No, sir.” (He added, “Not wittingly.”) At another hearing, General Keith Alexander, the director of the N.S.A., denied fourteen times that the agency had the technical capability to intercept e-mails and other online communications in the United States.John Cassidy in The New Yorker
“Old-Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail.” From George Kappeler’s “Modern American Drinks,” 1895
Louisville is as important to the story of The Great Gatsby as New York City. WFPL’s Erin Keane, Jonathan Bastian and I chatted about Gatsby’s Louisville connections, and now it’s on Soundcloud for posterity. Also included: An interview with Keith Runyon, who has been covering the Fitzgerald beat for a long time, and Erin’s excellent piece on looking for Daisy’s house.
Horse racing can catch a lot of shade for the shady characters it attracts and the shady practices it can foster. Horses are drugged. Horses are pushed and their delicate legs break and the animals are put down. The money involved can be gross and conspicuous. It’s easy to want to say, “Forget it. It’s not worth it.” I’ve certainly felt that reading stories about innocent thoroughbreds and rotten humans.
But then I’ll go watch some YouTube footage of Zenyatta or re-watch the Triple Crown battles between Sunday Silence and Easy Goer, which is the first Triple Crown that ever gave me my first certified Triple Crown heartbreak. I’ll then remember the things that — skepticism aside — make me love a good horse race in spite of it all. Things that have to do with vague ideas like heart and beauty and body and perfection, as well as the old you-got-a-horse-I-got-a-horse-which-horse-is-faster question which is sometimes just what it all comes down to. And so, because tomorrow is the Kentucky Derby and thus the beginning of Triple Crown season and because the wait for the next Triple Crown champion is no small sports story, for your weekend reading, here’s a classic piece from Sports Illustrated by William Nack about the horse to end all horses: Secretariat.
On the long ride from Louisville, I would regale my friends with stories about the horse—how on that early morning in March ‘73 he had materialized out of the quickening blue darkness in the upper stretch at Belmont Park, his ears pinned back, running as fast as horses run; how he had lost the Wood Memorial and won the Derby, and how he had been bothered by a pigeon feather at Pimlico on the eve of the Preakness (at the end of this tale I would pluck the delicate, mashed feather out of my wallet, like a picture of my kids, to pass around the car); how on the morning of the Belmont Stakes he had burst from the barn like a stud horse going to the breeding shed and had walked around the outdoor ring on his hind legs, pawing at the sky; how he had once grabbed my notebook and refused to give it back, and how he had seized a rake in his teeth and begun raking the shed; and, finally, I told about that magical, unforgettable instant, frozen now in time, when he turned for home, appearing out of a dark drizzle at Woodbine, near Toronto, in the last race of his career, 12 lengths in front and steam puffing from his nostrils as from a factory whistle, bounding like some mythical beast of Greek lore.
Our coverage of horse racing here at Fresh Air has been understandably less uplifting. Here’s our interview with New York Times reporters Walt Bogdanich and Joe Drape who did a series for the paper last year about illegal drugs in the racing industry. The series placed a spotlight on the issue and sparked a lively conversation about regulation and oversight. One can only hope it will lead substantive change. We fans want to continue to remember the good — sometimes even transcendent — moments of the sport without the bad ones eventually clouding everything over completely.
Above, Secretariat’s Kentucky Derby.
#Derbyambivalence. See also: https://www.byliner.com/john-jeremiah-sullivan/stories/horseman-pass-by
No mainstream journalism outlet should allow its coverage of a major story to be hijacked by backchannel noise.Felix Salmon
Call from a reader regarding “Party Like It’s the End of the World,” The Courier-Journal, Dec. 16, 2012.
You outta put your head up in your asshole and die.
(Not that it matters, but my deadline for Sunday Features is on Monday and the section goes to press Wednesday or Thursday).