3 GREAT STORIES: Starring the value of buried treasures

Every week, I shine the spotlight on some of the best storytelling in the business and offer my comments. “3 Great Stories of the Week” will post every Monday at 8 AM.

New York’s shadow transit (7/2/14, New Yorker): I am a big fan of buried treasures.

Not the Scrooge McDuck kind, mind you, though those are great too …

No, I’m referring to the storytelling kind.

Find me something I have never seen before, and present it to me in a compelling fashion, and I will offer my full attention.

In this case, Aaron Reiss of the New Yorker delivers this fascinating look at the “shadow transit” systems that operate throughout New York City, enabling the poor and underserved to navigate the Big Apple. Reiss spotlights each system, one-by-one, borough by borough, even into New Jersey. The whole thing is a great history lesson, both well written and craftily presented for a Web audience.

Minnesotan cooks for hundreds of hummingbirds (6/29/14, KARE-TV): Speaking of buried treasures, here is another one, courtesy of “3 Great Stories” mainstays Boyd Huppert and Jonathan Malat.

The duo, from KARE-TV in the Twin Cities, find a remarkable local woman to profile — an octogenarian who, after making a living as a nurse, spends her retirement days cooking for and feeding a slew of hummingbirds. She fills a feeder with sugar water and waits for the birds to arrive.

And when they do, they fill their bellies.

Huppert, as usual, delivers a series of poignant turns of phrase (I smiled when he said, “Her nature is nurture”), while Malat avoids overthinking a slam dunk situation and simply collects footage of the birds from every possible angle. He turns up the shutter speed high to present the crispest image possible of the birds in motion, and he finds a number of inventive positions to perfectly capture the scene.

This one will make you smile, for sure.

Soccer will never be a slam dunk in America (6/30/14, Time): I do not agree with everything written in this article.

But I enjoyed the depth of thought behind it, especially considering its author:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Yes, I am referring to the NBA Hall of Famer who once fought Bruce Lee from a chair.

He is also a tremendous writer.

Abdul-Jabbar has actually been penning op-eds for the last few years, and they always seem to come from a place of tremendous thought. This is no exception, as he makes his point with detailed arguments that indicate a certain logic, such as when he contrasts the tenets of soccer with the American ethos:

Finally, soccer doesn’t fully express the American ethos as powerfully as our other popular sports. We are a country of pioneers, explorers, and contrarians who only need someone to say it can’t be done to fire us up to prove otherwise. As a result, we like to see extraordinary effort rewarded. The low scoring in soccer frustrates this American impulse.

Have a suggestion for “3 Great Stories of the Week”? E-mail me at matt@tellingthestoryblog.com.

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