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kottke.org posts about Drew Magary

Remembering Anthony Bourdain, The Last Curious Man

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 10, 2018

For GQ, Drew Magary talked to the family, friends, and coworkers of Anthony Bourdain for this piece on the life of the late chef/traveler/writer/explorer/whatever. Here’s how he got his big writing break, which led to so much else:

David Remnick (editor in chief, ‘The New Yorker’): My wife came home one day, and she said, “Look. There’s a really nice woman at the newspaper. Her son is a writer. She wanted you to take a look at his work,” which seemed…adorable, right? A mother’s ambition for a son. I took this manuscript out of its yellow envelope, not expecting much. I started to read. It was about a young cook, working at a pretty average steak-and-frites place on lower Park Avenue. I called this guy up on the phone. He answered it in his kitchen. I said, “I’d like to publish this work of yours in The New Yorker. I hope that’s okay.” That was the beginning of Anthony Bourdain being published. I don’t know if there’s any way to put this other than to say he invented himself as a writer, as a public personality. It was all there.

Prior to becoming the best-ever host of a travel show, he’d actually traveled very little internationally (only France and Japan) and his first go of it wasn’t successful:

Tenaglia: Japan was a fucking disaster.

Chris Collins (co-founder, ZPZ): The mistakes were very clear. He did not engage with us. He would not acknowledge our presence and that we were there working together.

Tenaglia: I think he was thinking, “Great! I just got a free ride to all these countries.”

Collins: It was a ruse. It was, I’m gonna double dip here. I’m going to be able to get paid to go make something, and I’m going to write articles.

Tenaglia: We would go back to the hotel and say, “We are so screwed.”

But it turns out this inexperienced traveler & newbie TV host was the exact right person for the job.

He came alive, because those frames of reference were starting to pop. His sudden inclination was to turn and share that with us. You could sense this excitement, like, “Holy crap, I’m actually on the ground in a location that I have studied, that I know, that I have references to.” You know, Apocalypse Now, Heart of Darkness, Graham Greene, the Vietnam War. He was percolating with an excitement that was very genuine.

My only complaint about this piece is the length…I would have happily read on for hours.

Paula Froelich (author, journalist): I’ll never forget laughing my ass off because he was obsessed with my dog, who’s a small dachshund. He’d always walk my dog, and he was so tall and the dog was so long and short, they would look like this movable L.

Paying to be kidnapped

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 05, 2013

Extreme Kidnapping is a company that offers a kidnapping service to those who want to know what it feels like for a few hours. GQ gave the company $1500 to kidnap Drew Magary.

Romeo slapped me hard across the face, much harder than I had been slapped all night. Then he shocked me with a stun gun. Then Cody doused me with cold water, which was the worst part by far. When you get hit with a stun gun, it lasts a second. When someone throws cold water on you, it makes you miserable for hours. I hadn’t thought about cold water before this. I had thought about guns and billy clubs and knives. It never occurred to me how desperately I would want to stay dry. Now I would have gladly taken another jolt from the stun gun in exchange for a fresh T-shirt.

“I know this was originally meant to be a fake kidnapping,” the voice said.

That’s right.

“And I know that you guys did your homework on me, and that you know I went to prison for a while.”

I do know that.

“But there are other things about me that you don’t know, Drew. And the reason you don’t know them is because you never asked.”

Oh shit.

That was the moment it felt real. That was the moment I was paying for.

I loved his safe word.

Justin Bieber is a man

posted by Aaron Cohen   May 17, 2012

Justin Bieber recently had his 18th birthday so GQ sent Drew Magary to make him a man. It didn’t quite go as planned, but here are the 8 best parts of the story.

Harrell is an incredibly nice man who looks like a black version of Johnny Depp’s Willy Wonka, so I was happy to sit around and stare at his hair for a while.

If someone asks you if you’d like to punch Justin Bieber in the face, the answer is yes.

His voice is so high, it sounds like a ringtone.

No one can be normal living under the circumstances that constitute daily life for Justin Bieber.

We talk music, and he mentions his love for pre-“Black Album” Metallica—“One,” “Fade to Black.” “Those are my jams,” he says.

“I’m 18 years old and I’m a swaggy adult!” he yells. “Come on, swaggy bros!”

His flow is slower than prostate cancer.

And he surely knows what it’s like to be hated by people who’ve never met you. Unlike Kardashian, though, Bieber is legitimately talented.

The new Vanilla Ice hairdo is puzzling…why would Bieber want to go anywhere near that one-hit wonder flame out mess?

Wince-inducing colloquialisms

posted by Aaron Cohen   Mar 20, 2012

Deadspin’s Drew Magary recently retook the SAT as a 35 year old and wrote about it. Read the whole piece to see how he did.

But there was only one way to find out if I truly am dumber than I was 18 years ago. I had to take the SAT one more time, cold. With no preparation of any sort. And I had to do it under the exact same conditions as before: using bubble sheets, a No. 2 pencil, a standard calculator (I sold my TI-81 graphing calculator after I graduated. OOPS!). And I had to do it in the time allotted. So that’s exactly what I did. I went to the College Board and printed out a sample test, then sat down and took it from beginning to end. Here now is what transpired.

The test hasn’t changed too much since Magary took it the first time in 1993, though they have added a writing section and increased to 2400 the max score. Magary describes the disadvantages of taking the test after not having been in a classroom for years, and points out that all of the things that were wrong with the SAT are still wrong. To wit, the reading comprehension examples are still boring.

Jesus, that’s the worst thing ever written. It’s like a failed submission to The Atlantic. I bet Gregg Easterbrook has read whatever novel this comes from 50 times over and made copious notes in the margins. Would it have killed them to throw in a passage WORTH reading? Like a section from The Dirt? “When Nikki Sixx nailed that guy’s ear to the floor, it was a sign that he was A.) angry, B.) surprised, C.) melancholy, D.) Batman, E.) all of the above.” It wouldn’t kill them to at least try to entertain kids while giving this test. It shouldn’t have to be a deadly march through bland subject after bland subject. It could be humanized. It could even be lively in the right hands.

I just went looking for additional examples of taking the SAT as an adult, and apparently the experience so scarred all of us that I wasn’t able to find any one else who has written about it. Not surprising.

Update:
I knew other adults had to take the SAT and write about it, but couldn’t find them. Here’s Alex Henry and Joel Stein. (Thanks @thegrogor and @mwrather)

Update 2:
In 1985, David Owen literally wrote the book on adults taking the SAT. (Thanks, Michael)