Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Our gardener Amadou, who was featured in a story I did for Marketplace earlier this month, is a proud papa – again. His wife gave birth to a healthy baby girl named Cora on Friday, May 18. It’s the couple’s fourth child – all girls!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

My month (so far):

1. My book proposal didn’t sell.

2. American Heritage, the magazine I hoped to sell the story to (in case the proposal didn’t sell), went out of business.

3. The doves nesting on our porch abandoned their eggs.

4. The seersucker shirt I bought from Lands’ End last year for $29.50 was listed in the company's overstock catalogue for $9.99.

5. I have a toothache.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Major bummer: American Heritage, one of America's great magazines, is going out of business. Click here to read a New York Times article about the magazine's demise.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

My French teacher, Monsieur Barry, is a short, bespectacled, professorial man, with an impeccably trimmed moustache. He is also a student of various West African folk practices, including traditional medicine, juju, witchcraft, and magic.

Recently, M. Barry introduced me to his friend, Dr. Toure, who practices traditional medicine and claims to have discovered a cure for asthma. (“It doesn’t relieve the symptoms,” M. Barry told me, clapping his hands for emphasis. “It cures it!”) Dr. Toure gave me a sample of his concoction, an orangey powder that resembles Tang and tastes like dog shit. M. Barry and Dr. Toure would like me to forward this medicine to a laboratory in the United States for testing. Eventually they hope to sell the recipe to a drug company (Dr. Toure claims the Malian health department has already offered him $6,000 for the cure, a sum he deemed woefully insufficient).

Dr. Toure says the powder consists of nothing more than dried wild fruits – “100% natural,” he claims – but I am reticent about sending it through the mail. Still, if anyone would like a sample – or, better yet, would like to actually test it – please e-mail me.

M. Barry, meanwhile, has another plan for striking it rich. He claims to have seen a magical helmet that, when worn, makes its wearer (and, presumably, the helmet itself) invisible. (Apparently this is especially useful when hunting in the bush.) M. Barry says “the Arabs” have offered him a lot of money for one, but he'd rather sell it to an American. I'm trying to convince him to find me one.

If he does, I’m gonna put it on eBay.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


Allyson took this picture (from a moving car!) on the outskirts of Bamako a few weeks ago.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

There are two kinds of people: viewers and voyagers.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

My book, Last Team Standing, has won the 2006 Nelson Ross Award, given by the Professional Football Researchers Association for “outstanding achievement in pro football research and historiography.” Basically, it’s the PFRA’s Book of the Year. Pretty cool!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

One of my stories ran on Marketplace Monday night (click here to listen to it). Another story ran Tuesday night (click here to listen).