Update: Now accepting submissions to replace the majorly clunky “Mystery First Sentence.” Our current leader comes from Eric: the Lede of Omission.
Sam Anderson’s New York magazine profile of James Franco is fantastic:
The show’s most prominent piece is a big barnlike structure made of plywood, the kind of playhouse a perfect father might build for his 9-year-old son. I step inside to find a small room lined with plywood benches. It’s sweltering. On the far wall, a video is being projected: footage of a plywood house burning to the ground. One of the other visitors walks out, and suddenly there are only two of us, here in the house that contains an image of its own destruction, and the other person is James Franco.
I stand very still, like a hiker who’s just seen a bear. Franco’s publicist has recently informed me that—after all these months of e-mailing (he always responds immediately, and likes to sign off with “Peace”) and brief conversations—Franco and I are no longer allowed to talk. He’s signed an exclusivity agreement with another magazine. Under no circumstances am I to speak to him, I’m told, not even to say hello. I can see him now in my peripheral vision: He looks not like a grad student or a hipster but like an international golden boy, a corporate spokesman—unmasked and cleanly shaven, dressed in a gray Gucci suit and pointy black Gucci shoes. His hair is sculptural, bushy but managed. Surely, I think, if someone sees us together, I will be thrown out. On the opposite wall, the flames have stripped the house to its frame, reducing it to some kind of glowing black non-substance, half-wood, half-ash.
A few seconds pass.
“Hi, Sam,” James Franco says.
Franco’s career is source of constant fascination in these parts, and Anderson’s article does nothing but add to it – though, we’d like to know more, seriously, about the logistics of it all.
But the more important point here is to launch my first personal salvo against what I will call the Mystery First Sentence Lede of Omission. In this case:
James Franco will not stop bouncing around.
Where is Franco? On a trampoline? Hopped up on drugs? Yes, what Anderson means is that “I have a found a moment where Franco is bouncing around, and the act of bouncing around is a very important metaphor here.” But every time an article starts with this faux-mystery (See: Every Esquire profile from the past six months; almost any newspaper column about an individual), I feel just a little insulted. Tell us where he is, and what he’s doing, then, later – like Anderson did, again, in the second paragraph! – make your point. Don’t tease us.