Tag Archives: Tom Junod

The Falling Man

Meanderings would prefer to leave the 9/11 tributes to the many people with important things to say. But we will offer this, a worthy 7,000 words from Tom Junod on the day’s iconic image.

Update: And 800 words from John Hodgman.

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This Week’s Best Profile

Comes from 2002. It’s Tom Junod in Esquire delving into the vexing issue of bullies:

Jonathan Miller is one of this story’s terrible boys. I am the other. For a brief time, I was a terrible boy. I was a terrible boy to a boy named, for the purposes of this story, Timmy Titimski. I wasn’t terrible to anyone else; I wasn’t big enough, or strong enough, or powerful enough, or scary enough. I didn’t even know that I was a terrible boy until Timmy Titimski sat in front of me in the fifth grade. I was smart, I was studious, I was obedient in a particularly Catholic way. When Timmy Titimski sat in front of me, though, I was transformed…

Indeed, the more I’ve come to understand about bullying, the more I’ve come to understand that I was more of a bully in my relationship with Timmy Titimski than Jonathan Miller ever was in his relationship with Joshua Belluardo, and so, when it came to the question of mercy for Jonathan Miller–the question of mercy for terrible boys in general–I decided to call the one expert whose qualifications I personally accredited. I decided to call Timmy Titimski.

Read the whole thing, here.

Can stories change lives?

Just listened to a recent podcast of WNYC’s Soundcheck on my commute home today. The topic: what album changed your life? Falling asleep to Nirvana’s Nevermind (possible?) or looking at music in a new way after Sgt. Pepper were typical answers.

Far be it from me to say what affects someone’s life, but I think even the callers on the show would admit, if pressed, that the albums didn’t actually change their lives. Rather, the woman who moved to London and became a punk after listening to Elvis Costello’s This Year’s Love was probably thinking about radically altering her physical location and lifestyle for some time – Elvis just gave her a nudge over the edge. The point: music cannot be life-changing, but it can provide fuel for changes that have been shaped over time.

The same goes for stories I think (and the best albums have elements of storytelling). I don’t think John Steinbeck, or Tom Junod can change anyone’s life. But I do know that “East of Eden” affirmed my belief in the power of choice and “Can You Say … Hero?” pushed me further down a closer relationship to my family and friends.

A story about an unemployed single mother of five isn’t going to convince a National Review pundit that we need a greater social safety net – just as an unemployed mother of five going on to great success won’t convince someone at The Nation to embrace capitalism. But for someone who has already considered a topic, and is experiencing a change in their thinking, stories can push them over the edge.