The Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse: Gary Cartwright
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One can only guess at what motivated Gary Cartwright to write such a mean story about the state of today’s sportswriting [“Game Over,” June 2009]. I’m sure that he sorely misses those drunken days of debauchery at the heels of Blackie Sherrod, but to take cheap shots at today’s writers reeks of grumpy-old-man syndrome. Cartwright’s worst offense, though, was his snubbing of legendary sportswriter Dan Cook, who could easily write circles around the clumsy Cartwright. What happened, Gary? Did Dan push you down? Did he make you cry? Perhaps it was jealousy of Dan’s huge popularity and his immense talent to not only write with skill and humor for the San Antonio Express-News for 51 years but make a successful crossover to sports broadcasting at San Antonio’s number one TV station. These are no small accomplishments, and they far exceed Cartwright’s proudest feat of tying his editor’s shoelaces together.
I proudly worked beside Dan for many years, and he once gave me some advice that I reflect upon often. Dan said, “Jeff, life is too short to stop and step on every pissant.” I’m sorry, Dan, but I had to stop this time.
I relished Blackie Sherrod’s Scattershooting While Wondering Whatever Happened To column every Sunday in the Dallas Times Herald, as well as his quirky weekly reports. No one could paint a picture with words like Blackie.
I also could not agree more that the current lineup of “sports columnists” is a joke, but in Sherrod’s day there were some real characters to write about. Today there are no Bear Bryants, Darrell Royals, Woody Hayeses, Abe Martins, or Casey Stengels. All we have now is a bunch of politically correct robots with public relations assistants on their arms.
With all due respect, your take on the death of sportswriting was one of the steamingest piles of crap I have ever read. There may not be a wealth of talent anymore. But we’ll never know because of the way the business has turned most sportswriters into minutemen, forcing them to crank out seventeen inches of copy for an impossible deadline. Nobody has the luxury of actually crafting a story or column anymore. Except, that is, for the likes of Rick Reilly, whose use of corny analogies makes him look lazier than an eight-year-old Labrador retriever.
My friends and I are those dabblers in the blogosphere you described in your piece. And I appreciated your weighing in on a discussion we have been having for some time: namely, the incredibly banal and insipid quality of modern mainstream sportswriting. In fact, I’d contend that the proliferation of the sports blogosphere is a reaction to that very thing. In our case, we were basically a bunch of successful guys in our own professions—doctors, lawyers, titans of industry, ahem—who realized that we could actually create better and more-interesting content for one another than what we were getting from Kirk Bohls’s daily ritual sodomization of creative insight. We wrote for our own personal amusement and gradually realized that others were watching.
I don’t know how our blog, Barking Carnival, will serve sports journalism, as I’m decidedly not a journalist, but nature abhors a vacuum (even a creative one), and I hope, at some level, it can serve sportswriting.
San Francisco, California
Editors’ Note: This is but a small sampling of the feedback we received on Gary Cartwright’s June column. To read more, including commentary from Houston Chronicle columnist Richard Justice, go to back talk.
Scents and Sensibility
I’ve experienced the nocturnal smells of Alto, Texas, that Charles Kennedy speaks of, and I can assure you the odor does resemble extremely strong mothballs [Reporter, The Texanist, June 2009]. The answer to his question is really quite simple. Just south of Alto, on Highway 69, is Leo Hicks Creosoting Company. There is a lumberyard right next to the road, and when you pass in the evening, the odor from the piles of treated lumber is, for some reason, stronger. Just figured I’d pass this information along.
Rebirth of a Nation
It must be a very serious topic indeed for two Texas Monthly editors to comment on Rick Perry’s secession thoughts in the same issue [Behind the Lines, “The Secret of My Secession”; Editor’s Letter; June 2009]. Okay, so only 25 percent of Texans (so far) say they like the idea of secession. I’m willing to bet that in places like College Station and Sweetwater and Paris and Jasper the number looks closer to 50 percent. And as Texans more fully grasp that we are being called to pony up for the failed mistakes of big corporations—AIG, GM, Citigroup, etc.—and are increasingly likely to pay for the failed mistakes of states like California and Michigan, the percentage who clamor for freedom will grow.
Even the elites of Austin ought to be able to understand this one: Secession will indubitably bring a lasting economic boom to Texas. As an independent republic, Texas would have to raise taxes to make up for lost services from the federal government—stuff like Social Security, should we wish to keep these things. So let’s say that we had to institute a fair tax (a consumption tax) or an income tax constitutionally limited to 10 percent of income. That would still be much lower than what we have to pay the federal government now.
Freedom-loving folks everywhere would want to relocate here. Businesses would move here. And manufacturing and technology would boom here. Hey, that would even mean that Texas Monthly would sell more magazines!
I’m one of those rural troublemakers who has a pickup and a passenger car with bumper stickers stating one word: “Secede.” Because of your snobbish attitude, I have but one word for you: “Leave.” You belong in a state where they would appreciate you: Obama Land.