dallas

3 GREAT STORIES: Starring street ball, Selma, & the iPhone

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.

The Carver Mobb (1/21/15, SB Nation): How fitting that, on the week of the Super Bowl, the most powerful piece of football-related writing focused on a different league.

Forget the 90,000,000 words written about Deflate-Gate. Check out this 4,000-word piece from Ivan Solotaroff about a New York City street football league that can be far rougher than the NFL:

If all sport is ritualized warfare, it’s often difficult to distinguish the two in rough-touch. That’s particularly true as playoffs approach, when midfield fights emptying both benches can involve fans, referees, even league commissioners, usually aging veterans of the sport. “City” (short for the Bronx’s Coop City/City Island League) was the most desired Chip, until recruiting refs became difficult and the commissioner’s tires were slashed.

This is a masterful and powerful story from SB Nation Longform, as Solotaroff works as both tour guide — explaining the rules, format, and stakes of the league — and profiler — providing poignant portraits of the athletes and others involved. He writes beautifully at every step.

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3 GREAT STORIES: Starring Mark Cuban, Nick Beef, and Phil & Harvey

Every week, I will 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.

I cannot remember the last time I traveled somewhere that had triple-digit weather.

But this past week, I took a two-day jaunt to Dallas for a story about the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. It was a powerful experience … and hot, definitely hot.

Perhaps I am in a Dallas state of mind, but I chose two Dallas-related stories — one of which indirectly relates to JFK’s assassination — to lead off this week’s “3 Great Stories”. The final story takes us to the Twin Cities for a landmark moment, covered in tremendous fashion by the video wing at the area’s biggest newspaper.

All three stories features wide, multi-dimensional windows into their main characters.

Mystery from the grave behind Oswald’s, solved (8/9/13, New York Times): Among the circles of relevance surrounding JFK’s assassination, Nick Beef probably lands as far from the center as possible.

For nearly half a century, “Nick Beef” has simply been known as the name on the gravestone immediately beside that of Lee Harvey Oswald. No one was sure whether “Nick Beef” was an actual person, let alone whether said person was still alive.

Now, we know.

Nick Beef is alive, and he is actually a self-described “non-performing performance artist” living in New York. He reveals himself to Dan Barry of the New York Times; through Barry’s paragraphs, he comes off as quite the morbid soul.

Something else happens in Barry’s article. Dealing with a subject — the assassination — that has been dissected so many times through the years, Barry examines a man whose own story is relatively unremarkable. The mystery of Nick Beef winds up more fascinating than his emergence.

But Barry does not try to oversell his subject. He simply recounts Mr. Beef’s story in a way that allows us to get to know the man in question, and he solves an age-old mystery in the process.

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