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Neal Cassady died at the age of 41 on February 4, 1968.

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February 4, 2017.

On Friday afternoon, as the bland corporate swirl of Super Bowl weekend droned on outside my hotel room window, I wrote about 6,000 words about Donald Trump and the foggy, disorienting new world we and our families are all staggering around in these days. (I hope I did a good enough job with these 6,000 words that someday you get to actually read it.) I know these newsletters have taken on a bit of a political bent int he last few months — and know that, man, that was the last thing I imagined these newsletters being — but if you’ll forgive, my headspace has been taking so much residence in Trumpland this week that I hope it’s OK if I take a newsletter vacation away. One of the difficult things about writing about sports and entertainment in 2017 is the creeping sensation that everything you are doing is pointless and maybe even harmful; it feels almost derelict not to be writing about Trump. But my brain needs a time out. It probably needs several.

So I want to give myself a break this week and write about international travel. Maybe I have been cooped up in this hotel room too long.

I didn’t leave the country, save for a trip to see the other side of Niagara Falls on vacation when I was a kid, until I was nearly 30 years old. My old friend Russell had some fancy rich-person boat — it was his dad’s, of course — with a whole crew and everything, and he invited me and my then-girlfriend to go float around on it for a couple of weeks. (This was so long ago that Deadspin was only five months old.) I had to get my first passport for the trip, and super late, one of those emergency rush-job passports: I hadn’t been aware I needed one.

We went to St. Bart’s and Antigua and Barbuda and St. Kitts and Nevis and it was incredibly nice and way too indulgent for my tastes. Everyone else on the boat — there were two other couples — had been on these sort of trips all the time and knew how to dress and act the part. I, meanwhile, just wore Illini T-shirts.


I know, I know, sometimes the raw carnality can be a bit overwhelming. I should have warned you.

Since then, I’ve made TK international trips:

*** To Montreal, for an Expos game. (I am not sure this counts.)

*** To Buenos Aires, which is a fun place but can be rather exhausting and even a bit divisive when every dinner takes three hours and you are with a group of 10 people. It is difficult to deal with a group of 10 New Yorkers who are growing increasingly hungry and sick of each other.

*** To Paris, for my wife’s 30th birthday. Paris is a rather nice place. (This has been Helpful Travel Hints With Leitch.)


*** To Toronto, for a Blue Jays game. (I am still not sure this counts.)

*** To Turks & Caicos, for a vacation right before I left Deadspin.

*** To Belize, for my honeymoon.

*** To Russia, to cover the Sochi Olympics.

And that’s ... it. That’s not very many places, is it? I mean, the planet is rather massive. Look at the top 20 most populous countries on earth. I have only been to two of those! And one of them is here! I know this is a very American thing, to live a full 41-plus years on this planet and barely having left this one little patch of land, but what can I say? When you spend the first 18 years of your life only leaving a two-hour radius outside Central Illinois a dozen or so times, you sort of feel like you’ve got too much of this country to see before you start worrying about anyplace else.

But of course this makes me inherently ignorant of, oh, the overwhelming majority of humanity. There are literally billions of homo sapiens I’ve never been within thousands of miles of. This is humbling. I don’t even know what I don’t know.

My wife has been far more places than I have, including, smartly, spending a few months in Spain after she graduated from college instead of going straight into the working world like I did, like a chump. (She’s been to Africa! That place is farther away than Mars!) She has a, uh, big birthday coming up, and shortly after that we have our 10-year wedding anniversary, so there’s opportunities and/or excuses to finally get me somewhere. Off the top of my head, here are places I have not been, that I would like to go:

  • Italy. (Specifically Venice.)
  • England (Specifically London. Or maybe just an Arsenal game.)
  • Japan.
  • Spain.
  • Morocco.
  • Egypt.
  • Cuba.
  • Brazil.
  • Greece.
  • Germany, I suppose.

I bet I don’t make it to more than one or two of those places until I die. After all: I still need to get to Idaho.

Here is a numerical breakdown of all the things I wrote this week, in order of what I believe to be their quality. (This is an attempt to have an objective look at the value of my work in a way that I suspect will be difficult to sustain.)

1. Boston Fans Don’t Seem Very Happy About Winning, Sports On Earth. I’ve been trying to nail down for a while why Boston fans win so often and get so little joy out of it. Here’s my exploration into why that might be.

2. Questions for Roger Goodell at His Press Conference, Sports On Earth. I was at this press conference and really did raise my hand to try to ask a question, but was not called upon. I find trying in vain to be called upon in a press conference, raising your hand like some dope, to be one of least dignified aspects of working in journalism, a field that certainly knows of indignities.

3. Will This Be the Last Brady-Belichick Super Bowl? Sports On Earth. My theory is that they secretly have a deal to both retire if they win.

4. The Dumbest Sports Stories of January 2017, Sports On Earth. The car commercial outtakes in this piece might be among the funniest things I’ve ever seen.

5. An Ode To One-and-Done Super Bowl Teams, Sports On Earth. My poor Arizona Cardinals.

6. Super Bowl LI Preview: Patriots Vs. Falcons, Sports On Earth. You can find my game prediction here.

7. So, Should Brady and Belichick Retire If They Win? Sports On Earth. The end of a long week found me repeating myself a bit.

As I say every week: If you are the sort to subscribe to a weekly newsletter, I would have to think it wouldn’t be too much of a hassle to subscribe to one of the three podcasts I do. You don’t even have to listen to them! Just download them. Here they are:

Grierson & Leitch, discussing “Gold,” “Memento” and “Trading Places.

The Will Leitch Experience, previewing the Super Bowl with Bleacher Report’s Doug Farrar.

Waitin’ Since Last Saturday, we previewed the Super Bowl. Apparently everyone in Athens is pretending to be a Falcons fan now.

Also, here is Pro Football Now, somewhere at the bottom of this page. (It is difficult to find that show sometimes.)


Also, the first half of the Illini game that I just watched had me yelling so much that I think someone in this hotel is gonna file a noise complaint.

Have a great weekend, everyone. Enjoy that football game. Baseball is almost back, don’t worry.


Best,
Will

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