Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Are We Winning?

Huzzah and kudos to Y.P.R.’s pal Mr. William Fauntleroy Leitch, whose new book of father-son sportsfandom, Are We Winning?, lands in fine bookstores today.

Mr. Leitch, of course, currently writes for New York Magazine, and is the erstwhile carpenter/editor of The Black Table, the founding sportsblogger for Deadspin, sparring partner to Buzz Bissinger, winner of Ben Stein’s money, author of God Save the Fan and other books, and blurb-writer extraordinaire.

Say, that gives us a great excuse to republish Mr. Leitch’s thought-provoking 2004 essay: “If I Had a Million Dollars,” which, Y.P.R. readers might recall, won him his first Pulitzer Prize. By now, Will should be about halfway toward amassing his first million, but help him out and buy that book. Need a taste to convince you of its deliciousness? Here’s an excerpt at The Awl.

If I Had a Million Dollars

Leitch Plaque

PEOPLE always ask me what I would do if I had a million dollars. I don’t know why people always ask me this. Probably because I owe them around that much, I’d guess.

This is not a simple question to answer for most people. Many fall back on a default, like paying off student loans, buying a new home, or going to see The Passion of the Christ 100,000 times. A friend said he’d spend it all on laserdiscs, Salon.com stock and the presidential candidacy of Dennis Kucinich, which is a totally cool idea and one that couldn’t possibly go wrong. But those aren’t altruistic enough for me. If one were handed that much money, shouldn’t it be spent on the greater good? Shouldn’t one think about what the world needs? I know I would.

What would you do with a million dollars? To me, it’s simple.

With that one million dollars, I would join one-hundred million of those record clubs where you can get 12 pop hits for a penny. The CDs will arrive at my workplace, where the goofy Puerto Rican boy—the one who brings the packages by everybody’s desk, and who always tells me I have nice hair—he will ask me to sign for them, which I will do with a flirtatious smile and maybe a little butt wiggle.

I will then sell those 1.2 billion CDs at a local pawn shop at a discounted rate, say, five bucks a pop. I will bring an extra couple of bucks with me in case I want to buy some old Nintendo games, like Excitebike or Metroid. They also sell cassettes for 50 cents there, so I plan on buying something by 50 Cent. Whose birthday is it, shorty? It’s MY birthday!

I will net $6 billion from that sale, but I will not become a complacent fat cat. With the new capital, I will reinvest into the marketplace. I will take my cash, and I will use it to join six hundred billion of those record clubs where you can get 12 pop hits for a penny. When they arrive, my exhausted yet charmed Puerto Rican mail boy will come by my cubicle, which is now encrusted with diamond pushpins and an emerald-covered bottle of Wite-Out. I will smile, and he will smile, and I will sign again for the packages. I might even wink.

I will then take those CDs to the pawn shop and sell them at an even further discounted rate of four dollars a disc, to show my magnanimous nature.

I will then use $1 trillion of that $4.8 trillion to join 100 trillion of those record clubs where you can get 12 pop hits for a penny. I will keep those CDs. The other $3.8 trillion, however, I will use to buy the continent of Africa, where I will cure the AIDS crisis, plow down the rain forests to build a massive Pier 1 Imports, and, having put in a full day, subsequently listen to my CDs in peace. With my Puerto Rican mail boy. His name is Herbert, but if I cut him a check, I’m hoping he’ll let me call him Juan.

Will Leitch was the managing editor of The Black Table and author of Life as a Loser. He has written for The New York Times Magazine, Salon, The Sporting News, The New York Sun, Nerve, The New York Press, and St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The odds are quite good that he’s drinking, right now.

The Black Table Roast

Will Leitch and Eric Gillin Use Instant Messenger to Defuse a Bomb


Eric Gillin: Hahahahahahahaha
W.L.: It keeps saying “simply lift the front cover off.” Which is the front?
E.G.: What kind of a bomb is it?
W.L.: I don’t know.
E.G.: Is it a black cannonball with a lit fuse in it?
W.L.: Asshole.
E.G.: Are you following the pictures?
W.L.: Yeah, but it doesn’t look anything like the pictures.
E.G.: Search the Web.
E.G.: There’s got to be video of it out there.
W.L.: O.K., I got the cover off.
E.G.: Good. You will see a bunch of colored wires in the box. Find a pair of scissors.
W.L.: This I have done.
E.G.: Take the blue wire, pass it over the top of the red wire, and drape them both over the bean-like wire.
W.L.: You just said 19 words of pure gibberish.
E.G.: Engage the brain.
E.G.: Are there people there?
W.L.: Tons. Maybe two hundred, gathered around me. Many holding babies.
E.G.: Did you drape the wires?
W.L.: Nope.
E.G.: Send the link.
E.G.: Forget the draping. Correct sequence of wires to cut is green, red and then blue.
W.L.: O.K.
E.G.: Wait. Was there a trigger mechanism attached to the lid?
W.L.: What?
E.G.: Before opening the lid all the way, you need to cut that.
E.G.: Start over.
W.L.: I can’t fucking start over. I’ve cut two wires.
E.G.: What color?
W.L.: Both are yellow.
E.G.: There are no yellow wires. Let’s try a different method. Are you near a large body of water?
W.L.: Negative.
W.L.: The man next to me has a Big Gulp.
E.G.: Do you have access to tremendous amount of sand?
W.L.: It’s beeping. Fuck! What’s that about?
E.G.: Don’t panic. Beeping is good.
W.L.: I can’t do this. As a child I couldn’t even stack blocks.
W.L.: Now there’s blinking lights.
E.G.: How did you get this job? Don’t they give you a kit?
E.G.: O.K. It says, cut the green wire, and wind it over the top of the first light.
W.L.: Define “wind.”
E.G.: Wrap once.
W.L.: Success!
W.L.: You have the patience of a saint.
E.G.: Now cut only blue. No mistakes.
W.L.: But I am only a simple farming man with no bomb-defusing experience.
E.G.: Shut up. Now cut the red.
W.L.: We’re just outside of a children’s hospital. Did I mention that?
W.L.: Below me are all of the city’s gas lines.
E.G.: Now cut green.
E.G.: No wait!
E.G.: Yeah, green.
W.L.: Done.
W.L.: It’s not beeping anymore. But there’s smoke.
E.G.: I gotta go. Bar None. What time?
W.L.: After this? A.S.A.P.
W.L.: Wait.
W.L.: I need a haircut badly.
E.G.: I’ll order for you.
E.G.: Unless I hear a series of explosions.
W.L.: Gotcha.


Rick Chandler was the associate editor of Deadspin.com.

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