Thursday, June 9, 2011

Writers are Smart People

I was prepared to hate Grantland, the new website. Well, I still don't exactly love it or am clamoring to head back there every browsing chance I get. However, there is a stable of good writers, that when they're not talking about nonsense that might as well be on the cover of People, can put word to paper and tell a tale, one that isn't even in their typical "ballpark" so to speak. Of course, for most writers there isn't a ballpark, but an urgency and desire to be expert enough in whatever you're writing about.

So here is Dave Eggers talking about the magic of Wrigley Park including a fascinating bit about the buildings across the street, long famous, had since built actual private stands on the roof. Awesome. Love it. However, the important bit for local DFW readers is the last paragraph:
But to fill a stadium you need more than [winning]. You need to build and nurture a place that's an actual place. A place that celebrates not just a team but a city — and a city's refusal to plow the past under. Wrigley is the ultimate neighborhood stadium, the ultimate urban stadium, the ultimate statement that some semblance of tradition is more important than the money you could make with a hundred new skyboxes in some spectacularly soulless new stadium (sorry, White Sox). If the place is an actual place, little else matters. Owners should take note of the strange, almost inverted model of capitalism at play here. By not building a new stadium, the Cubs have filled the seats for 100 years. By not relocating it 50 miles outside Chicago, the Cubs have inspired fierce loyalty in its fans and the city. And by allowing the neighborhood to help shape it, and even profit from it, everybody wins.
He might as well not even be talking about a stadium in particular, but just "place." The magic of place, where people just want to be, be around each other. It's magnetic. The exact kind of place where somebody would come along and say, "I can give you half the experience for a quarter of the price." And cities or whoever go for it. No amount of econometrics no matter how rejiggered can possibly come close to telling the story. It's all bullshit. As is boiling all decision making to a few formulaic abstractions. It makes us stupid, and in turn, bankrupt financially, culturally, socially, etc.

Sometimes it just takes good writing (in the stead of actually being there and experiencing it yourself, of course) to get it.