Saturday, September 17, 2022

Tarek Chemaly has a blog - and Frank Sinatra has a cold

Original notes of Gay Talese for "Frank Sinatra has a cold"

Ah... Frank Sinatra has a cold.

Yes, I know for many this is gibberish. But to many of us this is standard journalistic gold. Why? Because it is an exquisite portrait of Frank Sinatra written by Gay Talese... Without actually having access to - Frank Sinatra. Talese, and in extense the publisher of the original piece (namely Esquire), hunted a hundred of people in the orbit of Sinatra, considering Sinatra refused repeatedly to sit down for an interview.

Actually, this introduction proves my point. You see, lately I was researching a project on my own blog, and I fell into a rabbit hole so article after article, post after post, I realized that - OK, fine without having the presumption of comparing myself to Gay Talese - I usually adopt the same technique. I go in tangents, I compare points normally not-very-comparable, join dots which are usually un-joinable, and basically construct facts normally un-constructable to come up with conclusions that actually make sense after getting the reader to accompany in a maze which has a clear and logical exit door.

I once read that the late Andre Leon Talley (long-time editor of Vogue and author among other titles) would be able to know the designers' mood board upon seeing the collection. And again, not to compare myself to him, but every so often I can guess exactly the original thought process that influenced the ad, including - sigh - the ads that influenced the creatives. 

I am not even sure why these thoughts are rushing out of my head and into the screen on this day, but again, having had to read several pieces of mine lately, I realize I used this gimmick often. To roam around the topic as a better way to attack it. Funnily, when I used to teach methodology of research and thesis writing I always used to tell the students "you can't go through the door, go through the window" - meaning if you can't prove your point directly, go around it and prove it obliquely.

Hmmm, apparently doors are often shut in my face. But they often forget about the windows.

And hey, thankfully, Tarek Chemaly has a blog and not a cold - medicine is uber expensive in Lebanon as of late.