Patterico's Pontifications


Dan Jenkins, 1928 – 2019

Filed under: General — JVW @ 10:41 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Daniel Thomas Jenkins, the best sportswriter since, oh, probably Samuel, died last night at the age of 90 (or 89; it’s kind of awesome that no one appears to be exactly sure in which precise year he was born).

This is a really hard obituary to write. I’ve been working it out in my mind (and, in honor of the subject, I got semi-drunk), but I still can’t figure out how to write this. I could lay out all of the reasons why I think he is one of the greatest sporting observers of the last century, with lots of quotes from his articles, columns, novels, and other works; I could focus upon a few select pieces that really meant a lot to me as a reader, removed as I am by a full generation; or I could write about the impact he had on writing, being a contemporary of Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolfe, and the other progenitors of what came to be known as the New Journalism in which the reporter became an important part of the story. But I’m not going to try to explain any of that. The man’s writing speaks for itself, and if you have never taken the plunge then now is the almost perfect time, if sadly a bit late.

Let me try to provide the briefest of sketches, without losing myself in the minutiae of his fascinating life. A son of Texas, raised in early-Depression Fort Worth, Jenkins grew up as a golf stud (if you are to read but one piece of his, this remembrance of his early golf days is as good as any); attended hometown Texas Christian University during the years when Doak Walker, whom Jenkins always maintained was the greatest college football player of all-time, was across town at SMU; and turned-down the opportunity to pursue a professional golf career under the tutelage of the great Ben Hogan, who like Jenkins finished in second-place at the Fort Worth amateur championships (Jenkins played for the TCU golf squad as an undergraduate). Instead, Jenkins took his writing talents to small local newspapers — sometimes hilariously writing under a pseudonym to mask the paucity of the paper’s actual staff — before landing a gig at Sports Illustrated in 1962 where he would spend the next 22 years.

Jenkins’ ability as a golf writer is celebrated and easily accessible. But for my money, his best material focused on college football, America’s greatest sport. I’m sorry to see that it’s now so dammed expensive, but Saturday’s America is simply the finest book ever written about college football. If you can find it at a better price in a used bookstore, by all means I encourage you to buy it.

Those who aren’t so familiar with Jenkins as a sportswriter might recognize him more readily as fiction writer. He wrote novels mostly in football and golf, but I’m a huge fan of two books he wrote outside of the canon: Fast Copy, which is a fantastic murder mystery set in Depression-era Fort Worth; and, especially, Baja Oklahoma, the first novel of his that I read and the one which made me a lifelong fan. Jenkins was a Texan through and through, though his wry humor — hilarious forty years ago — is sadly archaic in these more sensitive times.

It’s always a pleasant and welcome surprise when the greats get a final act at the end of their lives, and when Golf Digest magazine hired Jenkins at the end of his life they got a veteran writer whose observational powers and wit were the equal of men one-third of his age. His Twitter account became must-read commentary during a golf major, suggesting his wit remained sharp and focused, skewering the content most deservedly. Sadly, some of his most recent tweets were memorials to friends who had passed on, poignant now that he too has gone on to his eternal reward.

I’ll tread lightly in this mostly nonpartisan salute, but Jay Nordlinger at National Review Online has a nice remembrance which suggests that his values were quite traditional and welcome to most of us on this blog. He leaves behind his wife June, and three children, including his daughter Sally, who has gone on to a celebrated sportswriting career of her own. He’s as good as we could expect, and based upon how thing are now we won’t see the likes of him again anytime soon.


CODA: Baja Oklahoma was eventually made into a relatively weak TV movie, but one thing they did get right was the final scene where the barmaid protagonist who is trying to be a songwriter gets her big break.

sicut etiam supra

Hey, Nancy Pelosi! Infantilizing A Congresswoman Is No Way To Honor Any Woman On International Women’s Day!

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:50 pm

[guest post by Dana]

It’s a bit jarring to see House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continue to be disrespectful to a sitting female member of Congress, as she once again denied Rep. Ilhan Omar full agency as an adult woman, and as an adult woman in full command of her thoughts, words, and deeds.

Instead, Pelosi continues to treat Omar as little more than a small child who is incapable of understanding what she is saying. If Omar is really that limited in understanding that words have meaning, should she really be a sitting representative in the U.S. Congress? Especially given the basic requirements of her job and sworn oath to support the U.S. Constitution, in all of its sheer depth and breadth? That’s an awful lot for any elected official to grapple with, let alone one who apparently doesn’t know what she is saying and what her words mean – even after having been informed on several occasions.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Quick Hits About the Dumbest Timeline

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:11 am

Boy, the news is stupid these days.

People are saying: “David Brooks is supporting reparations after reading Ta-Nehisi Coates! Wow! And he’s a conservative!”

Meanwhile, “conservative” Jen Rubin denounces conservatives for voting against that “All Hate Matters” resolution that Dana took apart here. Hey, who said this? “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.” Which whitewashing of evil by condemning both sides do you like, and which do you hate, partisans?

A hack judge praises Manafort’s “otherwise blameless life” of lobbying for dictatorial monsters.

Eric Holder says Democrats should pack the court. Good timing, man! The White House and U.S. Senate are currently controlled by … whom, again?

Here’s one worth looking at:

Donald Trump’s inauguration received tens of thousands of dollars from shell companies that masked the involvement of a foreign contributor or others with foreign ties.

The Guardian has identified the creators of three obscure firms that contributed money to Trump’s inaugural committee, which collected a record $107m as he entered the White House in 2017.

The three companies each gave $25,000 to Trump’s inaugural fund. At least one of the contributions was made for a foreign national who appears ineligible to make political donations in the US.

File it under “Things Trump Superfans Would Go Ape-Poopie About if It Were Obama, But Will Ignore, Justify, or Rationalize When It’s Trump.”

I’m in Friendly Mode today. Enjoy.

P.S. On the recommendation of commenter Slugger, I’m about 1/3 of the way through A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea by Masaji Ishikawa. Good stuff. I will probably write about this and Escape from Camp 14 soon. (Both links are affiliate links. Buy the books!)

P.P.S. If you have noticed that I tend to blog less lately, it’s largely because I’d rather read books than pay attention to the news. Hopefully the idiocy of all these stories helps explain that decision.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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