ESPN shut down Grantland on Friday, and my mourning knows no end.
Grantland asked some important questions like “Who is the greatest fictional basketball player of all time?” and “Who is the top second banana?” It featured the best sports/cultural writers working right now: Wesley Morris, Rembert Browne, Molly Lambert, and the rest of this new diaspora. I am a big fan of Molly Lambert and her music criticism; whenever I listened to an album and was unsure, I would pray for her guidance. On more than one occassion, she delivered:
- “What Prince Giveth”
- “Pink and Blue: The Powerful New Nicki Minaj Album, ‘The Pinkprint'”
- “Fade In: The Cinematic Grandeur of Lana Del Rey’s ‘Honeymoon'”
One of my favorite Lambert pieces is her unpacking of locations in Paul Thomas Anderson movies. It’s indicative what I loved about Grantland: an intersection of cultural crit, personal essay, obscure enthusiasms, and really good writing. From “The Valley Plays Itself”:
In the ’80s, the Valley became famous for the mall culture depicted in Amy Heckerling’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High and for the yuppie subtype known as the Valley girl, skewered in Martha Coolidge’s brilliant Valley Girl. The Valley girl was denigrated as empty-headed and consumerist, perpetuating the downfall of the English language through upspeak, “like,” and, later, vocal fry. But as a Valley girl hanging out aimlessly at the mall in the ’80s, I didn’t see the mall as a cultural wasteland. It was just a place to observe human beings in a habitat, to check out an endless carnival of faces. To, like, y’know, hang out? Susan Sontag graduated from North Hollywood High at age 15, which means that “Valley girl” is a term that encompasses both Sontag and Kim Kardashian, each pushing her own unique brand of California English.
RIP Grantland. I’ll miss your podcasts, I’ll miss your red-numbered, in-line parentheticals, or whatever they’re called. Footnotes? Not-quite-endnotes? (Lambert’s “Porntopia” boasted 20 of them!) It is good to read that a number of your staffers have found other gigs, and I hope that the rest land on their feet. There’s so much good writing to be done. Cheers.