The potential that Bill Simmons’ hotly anticipated Grantland might “create a market for (paid) long-form sportswriting” was one of the nicer things CSTB’s David Roth had to say about the site’s soft launch last month. Mobutu Sese Seko of Mr. Destructo was far less charitable, saying of Grantland, “Allegedly it’s a serious cultural website maintained by a man whose cultural mind looks like one of those spooky MRIs of “ecstasy brains,” with all the black dead spots, and a bit where someone burned “SWEEP THE LEG” into it with a laser scalpel. Its celebrity contributors list reads like a Who’s Who of people whose only metric for understanding the human experience is the singular preciousness of themselves or the nauseating insipidity of corporate-retreat science.” Of course, such an evisceration appeared before Grantland’s proper debut. Now that the fateful day has arrived, however, Tim Marchman largely echoes Mobutu’s sentiments.
The ‘all-star lineup’ of Dave Eggers, Malcolm Gladwell and Chuck Klosterman is even sillier than it seems, because this is less an array of high end writers than the idea someone who doesn’t read might have of an array of high end writers. I’m not the first to make the point, but these three represent three faces of Thomas Friedman, amnesia and illiteracy represented as fake childishness, fake rigor and fake irony. Hell, if you’ve got the cash, land James Ellroy, Bill James, Michael Lewis and David Samuels, which would further produce the amusing spectacle of Bill Simmons editing them.
Simmons’ inaugural effort is remarkably… Simmonish, with him going on at length about what a great friend of Z-grade celebrity Jimmy Kimmell he is, throwing out a couple of gratuitous cuss words just to show how edgy the site is (while commenting on how silly it is to do this), and going on for 500 words about fucking Coldplay. This leads me to think, first, that I really have to get out of the sportswriting racket, because making your way to the top apparently involves nothing more glamorous than chilling with Jimmy Kimmell and getting to hear Coldplay rehearse, and second, that if he ever gets into writing about food Simmons is probably going to talk about the glories of Velveeta-Miracle Whip-Wonder Bread-iceberg lettuce sandwiches with cool glasses of Michelob Lite served alongside.
Of Grantland’s inception, Simmons writes, “we haven’t had a Coldplay/Hollywood Boulevard-type moment yet,” which oughta be expected given it’s still early days for the Disney-backed, LA-based website. But if that’s the sort of transcendent occasion The Sports Putz aspires to recreate, and god help me, I never thought I’d say this, I’ll take A.J. Daulerio’s cynicism and arsenal of surreptitiously-obtained penis pictures any day of the week. Not that either option strikes me as particularly ideal, but I’m way less nauseated by the venality of Daulerio’s cock-for-cash-grab than the celebration of homogeneity that forms the crux of Simmons’ worldview. I don’t think we have much to do with either approach over here, and I’m immensely proud to be associated with each of CSTB’s talented contributors (even if most of them moved on to opportunities that’ll look much more impressive on their resumes). We haven’t had our Coldplay/Hollywood Boulevard-type moment, either, though whether it’s 35 posts a week or 5, you can rest assured this blog will remain committed to standing in stark opposition to anyone who’d have the Kennedy Center honor Ian Ziering.