Posts tagged ‘Michael Weinreb’
A generous parting gift: President Rod Erickson and his wife Shari on Thursday announced a $1 million gift to the university. The donation, which coincides with this weekend’s celebration of the closing of the “For The Future” capital campaign, will benefit the Arboretum, the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, and the Smeal College of Business. Erickson is set to retire from the university next month.
Klosterman on ethics: I wandered over to the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center on Thursday to hear Chuck Klosterman speak at the “Religion, Ethics, and Choice” symposium hosted by Penn State’s Center for Ethics & Religious Affairs. I met Chuck a decade or so ago through our mutual friend (and occasional Penn Stater contributor) Michael Weinreb ’94; if you know Chuck’s name, it’s probably from his books, his writing for the likes of Esquire and Grantland, or more recently, his role as the Ethicist for the New York Times Magazine. Based in Brooklyn, he generally makes a handful of college speaking engagements each year, but this was the first time he’d been invited somewhere specifically based on the Ethicist gig.
Speaking to a small room—a mix of students, faculty, and campus and community religious leaders—Chuck was, like his writing, often funny and always thought provoking. He read from his latest non-fiction book, I Wear the Black Hat, in which he uses real and fictional villains to grapple with the idea of good v. evil. But for this crowd, the insights into his Ethicist gig were especially interesting:
* He opened by saying he’s not remotely qualified for the job, then added that, in his opinion, “no one is.” (The Times‘ first Ethicist, he noted, was Randy Cohen, a former writer for David Letterman.)
* He was only half joking when he said that, due both to the nature of the job and the reactive tone of so much of modern culture, he’s certain “I’m going to get fired at some point.”
* He said he receives about 100 submissions each week, and that the correspondents are most likely to be “lawyers, new mothers, and academics. Also, a lot of atheists.”
* In helping people solve their ethical quandaries, Chuck says he aims to be “hyper-rational … almost Spock-like” in his responses: “I’ve advised people to do things I’m not sure I would do in my own life.” As for his process: Once he and his editor have chosen which letters to run, Chuck said he thinks about the dilemma, composes a response, and then “I spend two days thinking about all the ways I’d disagree with that response.” He then edits it accordingly. It’s a unique gig, and qualified or not, I think he’s as right as anyone for the job.
Football is back: The forecast calls for temperatures in the high 60s and blue (and white) skies—a perfect day, in other words, for the Blue-White Game. There’s all sorts of fun stuff scheduled in and around Beaver Stadium Saturday. Kickoff is at 1:30. Hope to see you there…
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Brrrrr: Good day from Happy Valley, where it was 5 degrees when I got up to shovel my driveway this morning. Then I got to work and saw these guys hanging out in front of the Hintz Family Alumni Center. Guess I shouldn’t complain about the cold.
Stay warm out there, people.
The search is on: Pretty much all the news today focuses on Bill O’Brien’s departure and the search for a new head football coach. The majority of coverage among media who actually cover the Nittany Lions has been understanding of O’Brien’s decision, even as they acknowledge why the manner of his leaving has upset some. On this, I like the perspective of my friend Michael Weinreb ’94, writing for Sports on Earth.
Elsewhere, ESPN has a roundup of Twitter reaction from current and former players, as well as some recruits, that’s interesting to peruse. One future Lion, defensive back Marcus Allen of Maryland, is already endearing himself to Penn State fans, per this post on Lions 247:
“I’ve come to realize over the past 48 hours that Penn State isn’t a person. It’s a spirit and an idea. It’s the fans and the players and the coaches and the people who live in State College. The feeling I get when I visit State College isn’t due to one person, but my experience with everyone I have come in contact with. I feel truly blessed and humbled to be mentioned in the same sentence with Penn State Football. Thank you all for accepting me into the PSU family. Coach Johnson has shown me through this that a team player works hard and stays the course through adversity. I’ve learned a new life lesson before I even stepped foot on campus. WE ARE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Coach Johnson: That’s Larry Johnson, of course, the Lions’ long-time defensive line coach, who has been named interim head coach. The program posted a video message from Johnson on Facebook, and while it’s not clear whether Johnson is a candidate for the full-time job, a number of former players are rooting loudly for him to be considered. Short-term, Johnson’s biggest task is keeping Penn State’s 2014 recruits committed to the program.
Good luck, ARob: Whoever the Lions’ next head coach is, they’ll be without one of the best receivers in program history. On Thursday, Allen Robinson announced he’d bypass his senior season to enter this year’s NFL draft. We’ll miss him, but look forward to seeing him make big plays on Sundays.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
As the Penn State community continues to reel from the release of the Freeh Report, the national media has been busy weighing in on the findings and the fallout. Following the coverage can be overwhelming, but here are some articles from the past four days that are worth a read:
Guides to the Freeh Report
“A Guide to the Penn State Investigation”: From The Chronicle of Higher Education, an annotated summary of the report’s most significant findings.
“Analysis: Freeh report sheds new light on Jerry Sandusky scandal, but needs context”: Sara Ganim ’08 breaks down the important revelations, and identifies some of the report’s shortcomings. “It’s not the whole picture,” she writes.
The Paterno Statue
“After Report, Calls to Remove Paterno Statue at Penn State”: From The New York Times’ “The Lede” blog, a collection of Facebook and Twitter comments calling for the removal of the Joe Paterno statue immediately after the report’s release.
“Penn State denies decision made on Joe Paterno statue”: An update on the future of the statue and other landmarks bearing Paterno’s name and image.
“Joe Paterno, at the end, showed more interest in his legacy than Jerry Sandusky’s victims”: “Everything else about Paterno must now be questioned,” writes Sally Jenkins, the Washington Post reporter who interviewed Paterno before his death, in one of the harshest pieces out there.
“Paterno Won Sweeter Deal Even as Scandal Played Out“: A New York Times report on Paterno’s retirement contract, which it says was worked out long before Paterno announced his retirement last Nov. 9.
“A Failed Experiment”: At Grantland.com, Michael Weinreb ’94 reflects on Penn State’s moral culture, concluding, “The Grand Experiment is a failure, and the entire laboratory is contaminated.”
NCAA and the Death Penalty
Amidst handfuls of articles weighing the pros and cons of the NCAA-imposed “death penalty” at Penn State, here is a take from each side:
“Should Penn State Football Get the Death Penalty?”: Slate’s Josh Levin advocates for a temporary shutdown of Penn State football.
“In calls for justice at Penn State, NCAA death penalty would be injustice”: Columnist David Whitley takes the opposite stance: “When it comes to punishment, Penn State will have an unprecedented amount without the NCAA getting involved.”
Penn State Pride
“‘We Are Penn State’ and What That Means Today”: John Milewski ’79 on accountability as an alum.”For me, the burden of being Penn State includes taking responsibility for being part of the myth machine that brought us to where we are today.”
“I Went to Penn State—But Don’t Pity Me”: Vicki Glembocki ’93, ’02g on finding comfort—and pride—among fellow Penn Staters.
“Ashamed for Joe Paterno and Penn State’s leaders, but still proud of my school”: A strong alumni voice since November, LaVar Arrington ’00 believes supporting Penn State is the way to rebuild. “A big mistake would be making this all about loving or hating Paterno.”
What articles/links do you recommend? Share them in the comments below.
Mary Murphy, associate editor
I spent a little time Sunday afternoon trying to catch up on all of the media coverage of the child sexual abuse scandal that engulfed the University. I barely made a dent in the stack of articles I had printed, but so far, a few stand out as required reading.
1. “Jerry Sandusky, former Penn State football staffer, subject of grand jury investigation.” The Harrisburg paper gets credit for being the first to report—last March 31—that a grand jury was investigating Jerry Sandusky ’66, ’71g. The story was written by Sara Ganim ’08.
2. “Who Knew What About Jerry Sandusky?” Sara Ganim again, this time in a special report this past Friday chronicling the allegations that stretch over a 10-year period—and the missed opportunities to do something about them.
The rest of the articles on the list are not reported news stories so much as essays reflecting on various aspects of this sorrowful mess:
3. “Growing Up Penn State.” An essay at the new sports site Grantland.com by Michael Weinreb ’94, who grew up in State College. He writes poignantly of how his ideals have been shattered, citing, for example, the 1987 Fiesta Bowl win over Miami:
It is still my favorite football game of all time, a metaphoric triumph of the unadorned hero over the flamboyant villain. I wrote a long piece about it for ESPN, and a portion of a book, that now rings completely hollow. I have the original video recording of it in my living room, and I have thought several times over the past couple of days about taking a hammer to it.
A terrific profile of a former football star who has befriended political luminaries and dabbled in music, acting, and needlepoint over the course of a remarkable public life—no, we’re not surprised that our cover story on Rosey Grier ’56 has generated so much attention. As such, we figured we’d make an exception and post that story (written by Michael Weinreb ’94) online in its entirety. Those who haven’t already read it (or just want to share it with a friend) can find a PDF here. Enjoy.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Michael Weinreb ’94 is one of our go-to feature writers, and his terrific piece on Rosey Grier ’56 in our July/August issue (out in a few weeks) is a great example of why. Among Mike’s other projects (including books) is a new gig with Grantland.com, the big-deal, ESPN-affiliated sports and culture website that debuted earlier this week. Mike’s first Grantland piece is up today, and it’s loaded with Penn State references; one of those is of Mike sneaking away from the reception at a friend’s wedding years ago to watch the Nittany Lions play Wisconsin on a portable TV hidden in a coat closet.
That was my wedding, actually. On Sunday, I’ll be in Long Island to watch Mike get married; the bride-to-be is a Northwestern grad, but we approve of her anyway.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
My friend and occasional Penn Stater contributor Michael Weinreb ’94 pops up today on GQ.com in a conversation with Dan Wetzel, another terrific sportswriter and author. The topic? College football’s maligned Bowl Championship Series, which Wetzel writes about (though “tears apart” might be a better way of putting it) in his not-at-all-subtly titled new book, Death to the BCS. No matter your feelings on the BCS, if you like college football, the conversation is a quick and compelling read.
Penn Staters should particularly enjoy this exchange, which comes about halfway through the conversation:
DW: Joe Paterno has had four undefeated teams not win a title. So who’s been worked over more than Joe Paterno and Penn State?
MW: You portray Paterno as the conscience of this whole thing—which, being a Penn State guy, I appreciate. But is he really one of the only coaches who’s ahead on this topic?
DW: Way ahead of the game on it. Way ahead. And what are you gonna do, rip back at Joe Paterno? He’s a smart guy. He just instinctively knows this is ridiculous. And he’s been arguing against it forever, for decades.
The GQ writer who introduces the piece also gives Mike a nice plug, calling Bigger Than the Game “the fall’s other must-read sports book.”
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Yes, we know it’s football season. But it’s going to be an important year for the men’s basketball team, too, which is why our September/October issue—which should be arriving in your mailbox any day now, depending on where you live—has a couple of basketball players on the cover.
On the left is senior guard Talor Battle, who’s possibly the best player in Penn State history. On the right is his little brother, Taran Buie, a freshman guard who’s probably the most highly touted recruit in the program’s history. Inside, senior editor Ryan Jones ’95 tells the story of their family’s journey to State College and explains why the brothers mean so much to the basketball team, which followed up its 2009 NIT championship with a 20-loss season.
Among the other goodies you’ll find in this issue:
—Stories from alumni explaining how they became Penn Staters. (And next week on the blog, we magazine staffers who are alums will tell you our stories, too.)
—Additional coverage from Tina Hay ’83 about the Alumni Association’s trip to Europe.
—And of course there’s some football, too. We’ve got a piece on Bud Meredith, the University’s ticket manager for the past 44 years, and an essay by Michael Weinreb ’94 pondering the big-picture significance of the 1986 Orange Bowl team and 1987 national championship team.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
You won’t find one of Penn State’s trademark bland uniforms on the cover of the new book by Michael Weinreb ’94, and you won’t find Joe Paterno’s picture there, either. But Penn State football—particularly the 1986 Orange Bowl team and the 1987 Fiesta Bowl and national championship team—was part of the inspiration for Bigger Than the Game: Bo, Boz, the Punky QB, and How the ’80s Created the Modern Athlete.
We know this because Weinreb adapted part of his book into an essay for our September/October issue, which we finished this week and will be arriving in your mailboxes in a couple of weeks. He writes often for us—most recently, our November/December cover story on the Men of ’47—and we’re all eager to read more of the book than the essay, which contrasts Penn State football with those guys on the book cover, Bo Jackson, Jim McMahon, and most notably Brian Bosworth.
The book came out Thursday, so Weinreb has been making the media rounds—it’s highly possible you’ll catch him doing a radio interview on a station near you. And while you’re waiting for our magazine, you can check out this interview that Weinreb did with the blog Sports Crackle Pop, and this piece that he wrote for the Wall Street Journal.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
If they haven’t already, Alumni Association members should be receiving their copies of our Nov./Dec. issue in the next few days, and I imagine most will notice the unusual (for us) cover design—that’s it on the right. The corresponding feature, written by Michael Weinreb ’94, tells the story of the post-World War II football teams that helped establish Penn State nationally as both a top program and unheralded force in the nation’s slow march to racial justice.
The response to the story—not just to our feature, but to the relatively unknown story of the men who made up these great teams, and who, legend has it, inspired the University’s iconic “We Are…” chant—has been overwhelming. After the surviving team members were guests of honor during the Association’s recent Homecoming festivities, we decided we wanted to share this story as widely as we could. You can now access a PDF version of our new cover story by clicking here.
We also hope to have a video feature up soon that provides even more historical context for the on- and off-field impact of those teams. Keep an eye out for that next week.
Ryan Jones, senior editor