This is a photograph of Ellsworth Street in Bernal Heights. It’s a rather typical Bernal block in many ways, but last weekend,this humble block produced two of the main feature articles that appeared in last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine.
Well, to be more precise, the block didn’t produce the articles — two superstar journalists who live on this block did. The writers are Jon Mooallem and Liz Weil, and each of them had a big, honking feature in the NYT Mag you may have perused while drinking your Sunday coffee.
Neighbor Jon’s article is all about Lanai, that island in Hawaii that ex-Oracle CEO Larry Ellison bought for himself.
Neighbor Jon writes:
Like a lot of omnipotent forces, Ellison has remained mostly invisible. He has visited Lanai many times — locals told me they can tell he’s on the island when they see his yacht hitched in the harbor — but he seems determined to keep a formal distance from the community, shielding himself behind the executive team of Pulama Lanai, the management company he set up to oversee the island’s transformation. Although Pulama holds frequent public meetings on Lanai, Ellison has declined to attend any or to address residents directly. Several residents told me that they’d resorted to reading biographies of Ellison to learn more about the man — books that have somewhat disquieting titles like “Everyone Else Must Fail” and “The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison,” the punch line being: “God doesn’t think he’s Larry Ellison.”
Next comes Neighbor’s Liz article about a woman who walked 10,000 miles during a three-year, solo trek:
Neighbor Liz profiled explorer Sarah Marquis:
The first six months on Marquis’s trips are always harrowing. She describes it as “the washing machine”: endless agitation, physical pain, emotional pain, nonstop bargaining among opposing internal voices — the inner demons that whisper, Remember the delicious foam on the cafe latte? and the inner angels that reprimand, Coffee isn’t accessible now, so why talk about it? “You can’t move your hands, you can’t move your feet, you just want to die,” Marquis said. “You think about sleep all the time, because maybe sleep will set things straight.”
A few months into her journey, Marquis shot a video of herself in her sleeping bag. Like a hostage clutching a newspaper, she holds a thermometer that reads minus 20 Celsius. “I don’t sleep much these days. I do not know what time it is. Maybe midnight, or something like that?” In the next day’s video, she looks wrecked. The previous night a wind- and sandstorm ripped across the Mongolian plains. To keep the nylon of her tent from tearing, Marquis removed the metal poles holding it up. But she still feared the gales would blow away her gear, so she unzipped herself from her collapsed shelter and lay atop her pack, tent and cart.
So there you have it; Two Bernal writers, ruling the mediasphere from quiet Ellsworth Street. Nice work, Jon and Liz.
PHOTO: Ellsworth Street, as tweeted by Liz Weil