On Wednesday, Grantland published an essay called "Dr. V’s Magical Putter" by a freelance writer named Caleb Hannan. The piece detailed the author’s investigation into a golf equipment company called Yar and a putter it produced, the Oracle GX1. The club, Hannan had heard, was designed by a woman named Essay Anne Vanderbilt, aka “Dr. V”, who had worked as a physicist for the government on various top-secret military projects.
Hannan worked the story, sort of. He tested a GX1. He spoke to Vanderbilt, who was happy to discuss the club but adamantly reluctant to speak about her own past. He spoke to golfers who swore by the GX1.
Then Hannan started going through Vanderbilt’s history, and he learned several things:
Then the story goes straight to hell. Hannan attempted to talk to Vanderbilt about what he has learned; she refused. Soon after, she killed herself.
It’s a horrifying story, and more horrifying because the author gives little indication that he’s aware of how horrifying it is. I’m angry at Hannan, and deeply disappointed in Grantland’s editorial team for failing to rework the piece with him.
Hannan made a series of horrible decisions during his investigation. The journalistic ethics of outing somebody as trans are unclear to me (although extreme caution seems like a safe strategy?), but Hannan seems to have regarded it as simply another of the lies Vanderbilt was telling about her past, and his handling of the situation is unpleasant. ”A chill actually ran up my spine,” he notes, when he figured it out. He then reveals the information to Vanderbilt’s investor Phil Kinney, and reports on Kinney’s reaction to the information as part of his piece. There is no evidence of empathy, let alone caution, on his part.
But in my mind, the way the story is presented is nearly as bad, and for that Grantland is also to blame. I can’t understand how an editor could have let a story this openly fucked run in its current state. Among its sins:
Hannan made bad choices and will have to live with them. Grantland, I hope, will speak publicly on what they’ve been complicit in.
As far as your holy moly moments in life go reading this was one.
"Like every hater you’ve ever known, you shielded yourself from critique and obsessed with wading in the funk of how people had done you wrong."
Material like what warm stars in turmoil throw off.(via woodsaddle)
When I’m not actively engaged with something, I tend to think and re-think about the same things in endless circles. So this is a list, not of the people who were “important” in some way, but whose work disproportionately inhabited my brain when I was spacing out in 2013.
Mallory Ortberg (@mallelis) - Co-Founder of The Toast, author of this, this, this, and many other things; quoter of Wodehouse, expounder on the Star Wars Extended Universe, and Exhibit A in the trial in which my ability to fave tweets is taken away due to overuse. She’s a genius and I am deeply, deeply jealous of her talents.
Matt Fraction (@mattfraction) - I don’t really like comics, but this year I got excited about two of them, both by Fraction. His ongoing run of Hawkeye is a glorious antidote to the Marvel movie machine: hilarious, sad, populated by pizza-loving dogs, track-suited Russians, grill-wielding neighbors, and Clint Barton, walking shambles. He’s also responsible for the demented Sex Criminals, which has been banned by iTunes for suggestive content but is worth tracking down. More recently, he wrote this.
Colleen Green (@colleengreen420) - The artist I listened to the most this year was probably Green, who plays fuzzy, stony guitar pop over a drum machine beat and (from what I can tell) wears sunglasses 24 hours a day. The best.
Shanley Kane (@shanley) - Shanley writes insightfully and angrily about gender, class, and social structure in the tech world. Her essay "What Your Culture Really Says" is a takedown of a particularly obnoxious startup myth, while "Microaggressions and Management" is the thing I read this year that most affects how I think about my job on a daily basis. Everything she writes should be read by everyone in tech.
Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield)/Alfonso Cuarón - Because I’ve always loved space, but I stopped thinking about it for a long time, and these two reminded me that I should think about it more.