Good morning, friends!
I don’t have a favorite writer, but I do have a favorite piece of writing. It’s one I come back to over and over again and one I’ve sent to all my family and friends, aggressively urging them to read it.
It’s Colson Whitehead’s Lost And Found, which was published two months after the September 11 attacks. The article is a moving tribute to New York City and the Twin Towers, but it’s also about how our identities are shaped by our own, personalized memories of the places we live. “There are eight million naked cities in this naked city — they dispute and disagree,” he writes. “The New York City you live in is not my New York City; how could it be?”
I still remember the first time I made a (failed) attempt at hailing a cab in New York City, the time I fully submerged myself in a slush puddle, and of course, the time my friend and I ate dollar-slice pizza in the middle of Times Square convinced that we were the luckiest people on the planet. Here’s how Colson captures the experience of clumsily finding your footing in a new city:
“The city knows you better than any living person because it has seen you when you are alone. It saw you steeling yourself for the job interview, slowly walking home after the late date, tripping over nonexistent impediments on the sidewalk. It saw you wince when the single frigid drop fell from the air-conditioner 12 stories up and zapped you. It saw the bewilderment on your face as you stepped out of the stolen matinee, incredulous that there was still daylight after such a long movie. It saw you half-running up the street after you got the keys to your first apartment. It saw all that. Remembers too.”
The memories of these experiences shape the way we see ourselves. With every move, we evolve into a different person. We try on different identities, and then we mourn them. In the present, we take the deli next door for granted, but then once it’s gone, we whine and ask, “Why must things change?” “At some point you were closer to the last time than you were to the first time, and you didn't even know it,” Colson writes.
This is the part that gets me every time:
“Our streets are calendars containing who we were and who we will be next. We see ourselves in this city every day when we walk down the sidewalk and catch our reflections in store windows, seek ourselves in this city each time we reminisce about what was there 5, 10, 40 years ago, because all our old places are proof that we were here. One day the city we built will be gone, and when it goes, we go. When the buildings fall, we topple, too.”
We topple, and we rebuild. If you visited New York City before September 2001, your New York looks radically different than mine. I walk past the One World Trade Center every day on my way to work, and that building is a crucial part of my personal skyline, but it may not even be part of yours. Colson writes:
“The twin towers still stand because we saw them, moved in and out of their long shadows, were lucky enough to know them for a time. They are a part of the city we carry around. It is hard to imagine that something will take their place, but at this very moment the people with the right credentials are considering how to fill the crater. The cement trucks will roll up and spin their bellies, the jackhammers will rattle, and after a while the postcards of the new skyline will be available for purchase. Naturally we will cast a wary eye toward those new kids on the block, but let's be patient and not judge too quickly. We were new here, too, once.”
Here we go with this week’s profiles:
— The self-help guru-turned-presidential candidate [**HIGHLY RECOMMEND**]
— The 26-year-old attorney whose first client was El Chapo
— The world’s first ambassador to Silicon Valley
— Hong Kong’s pro-democracy media tycoon
— The power duo of professional sports
— The Silicon Valley heavyweights who want to settle the moon
— The sportscasters who changed late-night TV
— The CEO who got a second life
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PEOPLE TO KNOW.
The self-help guru-turned-presidential candidate: Marianne Williamson believes Americans are “emotionally constipated.” Williamson, the author, faith leader, spiritual guide, and New Age guru, is running for president on a platform of love. She believes that if we were to look at all the country’s problems through the prism of love, we could undo everything from poverty to climate change to the immigration crisis. This profile explores the question: Do spirituality and self-help have a political constituency? (The New York Times)
“Don’t hate Trump. Love democracy.”
The 26-year-old attorney whose first client was El Chapo: Mariel Colón Miró was four months out of law school when she found a job listing on Craigslist for a Spanish-speaking paralegal. During the interview, she was told the firm needed someone to communicate with a client in a big upcoming case. It was El Chapo. Mariel would go on to join El Chapo’s trial team as an attorney and impress his defense attorneys so much that they hired her to join Jeffrey Epstein’s defense team before he committed suicide. (New York Magazine)
“We are all sinners. Some of us are sinners that happened to break the law.”
The world’s first ambassador to Silicon Valley: Denmark appointed career diplomat Casper Klynge to approach Silicon Valley as if it were a global superpower. He once spent 18 months embroiled in reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. For two years, he led a crisis management mission in Kosovo. Yet Klynge says his toughest foreign posting may be the one he has now: as the world’s first foreign ambassador to the technology industry. (The New York Times)
“These companies have moved from being companies with commercial interests to actually becoming de facto foreign policy actors.”
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy media tycoon: Jimmy Lai, whose publications have championed Hong Kong’s democracy movement, and who’s been labeled a traitor by the Chinese government, isn’t a typical tycoon. Where other wealthy Hong Kong businessmen have sought to distance themselves from the protests traumatizing the city, Lai has embraced them. His publication has been sending people with cameras to the front lines of clashes with police and broadcasting live online from tear gas battles, night vigils, and peaceful marches. Here’s why he continues to put himself in the eye of the storm. (Bloomberg)
“People want to prove that we will persist, we’re not cowed by fear. We’re not giving up.”
The power duo of professional sports: Power couple Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird are not to be trifled with on the field or on the court. Between them, they lay claim to five Olympic gold medals, four FIBA World Cups, three NCAA championships, three WNBA championships, and two FIFA World Cups. In this joint profile, the superstar duo reflects on their thriving relationship, gender discrimination, and equal pay for female athletes. (InStyle)
“I’m kind of wild, and people are fucking here for it, [whereas Bird] is more private and keeps things close to the vest.”
The Silicon Valley heavyweights who want to settle the moon: The moon is all the rage these days. Just about every country with a space program has some sort of lunar ambition that they hope will play out over the next few years. Now, a group of tech executives and engineers are working on a very ambitious plan to settle the moon. Meet the Open Lunar Foundation. (Bloomberg)
“We want to take the best of what humanity has to offer and put our best foot forward, and take our first self-sufficient step off Earth.”
The sportscasters who changed late-night TV: Upon the 40th anniversary of ESPN, this profile revisits Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick, the wisecracking anchors whose “Big Show” revolutionized sports broadcasting and late night TV forever. If you grew up watching SportsCenter in the 1990s, this article acts as a time machine. (The Ringer)
“God, if you could have a teleprompter in life, how much easier would life be?”
The CEO who got a second life: On September 11, 2001, Cantor Fitzgerald became famous for the worst of all possible reasons; 658 of their employees died in the terrorist attacks. The company’s CEO Howard Lutnick happened to be in his son's classroom when he first heard the news of the attacks. This 2001 profile, Howard Lutnick’s Second Life, is a story of starting over — with the sole purpose to re-build and move on. But as you might imagine, that’s easier said than done. (New York Magazine)
“You got to live. But it’s so sad. If you didn’t have a greater purpose, you couldn’t go on. There would be no point.”