I’ve been a fan of Atlanta’s three major sports teams for as long as I can remember. For at least 25 years of support and occasional bouts of deep devotion, these franchises—the Hawks, the Falcons, and the Braves—have delivered one championship. (“The one World Series no one wanted to win,” according to Bill Simmons.) You don’t have to be a financial whiz to know that’s a garbage ROI.
A few of my friends have challenged my contention that Atlanta’s teams make it the most miserable sports city. My friend Samir cannot be convinced that Cleveland is not the rightful occupier of that throne, between Lebron’s decision, the Browns becoming the Ravens and then winning the Super Bowl, “The Drive”, “The Catch”, etc. Greg, another close homey, is from Seattle, a long suffering sports city with a paucity of titles and a former basketball team (currently named the Oklahoma City Thunder) that is probably the most fun team to watch in the NBA.
On the occasion of the Falcons unceremoniously crashing out of the playoffs this past January, we decided to blog our myriad frustrations from our hometowns. Joined, from time to time, another of my friends, Dave Zuckerman (a tortured Beltway sports fan), we’ve whined, kvetched and boohoo-ed over here, at Coming Up Small.
Exactly a year ago, I lost a close friend. JR was among the most brilliant, most engaging, and most enigmatic people I’ve met in my life. Though we were friends for only four years and change, he had a profound effect on my worldview—as he did on most people who spent any time exchanging ideas with him.
I wasn’t really able to write about JR initially after he passed. In fact, it was an email from me that informed several of his friends that he’d taken his own life last winter. Obviously, losing a friend is traumatic, but being the bearer of such awful news was among one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I spent a lot of time, especially early last year thinking and talking about JR, but I couldn’t really focus my thoughts long enough to write anything about my friend.
In late-November, a colleague of mine forwarded me an email from an editor at NPR’s This American Life. The producers of the radio show were going to curate The New York Times Magazine‘s “The Lives They Lived” issue and wanted it to focus not on the most famous people who passed, but on “people who haven’t gotten a lot of press attention but have extraordinary stories nonetheless.” My colleague thought JR qualified and suggested I submit something. So, I thought about it throughout Thanksgiving and cobbled something together, largely in JR’s words (which are far superior to my own).
As it turns out, they were actually looking for well known people, just maybe not Amy Winehouse-level well known. (No matter, the piece I submitted was way too long for their purposes anyway.) Still, the exercise was greatly beneficial for me. I got to spend a lot of time thinking about my friend. I got to spend a lot of time reading his thoughts, via his brainy, extemporaneous blog A Fistful of Science. I got to know JR better.
Below is what I submitted to the editors for their consideration.
Tonight, in Brooklyn, friends of Jerry Fuchs are gathering to share their grief, but also to share stories and celebrate the life of an extraordinary person. I count myself as a friend of Jerry’s and am both deeply saddened by his passing, as well as the fact that I cannot attend his memorial and be a physical part of the community he built in New York City. So, I’ve decided to write my thoughts and share my stories here:
Life just isn’t fair. If it were, people like Jerry Fuchs would live forever.