the new york times: the lives they lived 2009
"Sims was known within her industry as someone who showed up on time and prepared, usually having already done her own hair and makeup because few stylists knew how to work with a black woman."
"Instead, here is what happened: Blair, a midlevel actress married to a creative star, a man who adored her, indulged her, even supported the serious left-wing political activism she’d taken up, walked away from it all. She didn’t have a breakdown. She didn’t leave in a jealous rage. (Though he had affairs, so had she, she wrote in her autobiography.) She didn’t feel she was living a lie. She just thought that maybe there was more out there for her to experience. “To this day I can’t explain it,” Blair once said about her decision to leave. “It was freedom.” She was carefree; she was spontaneous; above all, for reasons of genetic quirk or outstanding parenting or the lifelong sense of privilege that comes with moving in those circles at so young an age, she was supremely confident."
"Afterward, the fans of Detroit did the same for him, cheering and cheering until Fidrych returned to the field in tears to acknowledge them. This was one in a summer of what came to be known as “curtain calls,” and that Fidrych should receive them still makes perfect sense. No man ever seemed happier playing baseball, an exuberance that made those who only watched feel that way ourselves."
"She entertained instead. She gave dinner parties with the iron lung pulled up to the table (her mother allowed wine in the house as long as guests took away the bottles, so as not to give the trash man the wrong impression); read books (at first with the help of a human page turner, and then with an electronic one); and watched videotapes of her traveling friends. “My story’s been one of joy, one of wonderful experiences,” she told a reporter."
"In Jane Goodall’s epic 1986 field study, “The Chimpanzees of Gombe,” the animals that cluster on the Tanzanian side of Lake Tanganyika are, like us, deeply complicated and paradoxical and capable of extreme flashes of violence in their day-to-day lives."
"But she was born a mill girl in a town with seven mills owned by one company, where her grandparents, her mother and her father all worked. J. P. Stevens also owned every shotgun house in Sutton’s neighborhood. The high-school curriculum included courses on how to be a weaver and a loom fixer. Mill life felt inevitable, like a genetic trait passed down generation to generation."
"There was not a detail or clue she didn’t chase down — even receipts for the machetes that, she discovered, were imported in bulk ahead of the genocide."
"Ben Ali was a businessman with a plan. He gave all three of his sons the middle name Ben in case one of them ever took over Ben’s Chili Bowl, the restaurant he opened in the de facto segregated District of Columbia of 1958. It turned out that two of them, Kamal and Nizam, did just that, and by the time their father died, they had long ago proved equal to the task, turning a neighborhood haunt for chili dogs and chili cheeseburgers into an internationally known business, with annual sales exceeding $5 million."
- Ben Ali
"He walked for miles to his selling spots, journeys that defined his enchantment with the city, with the buskers and squads of breakdancers, with the jangle of ornate old buildings beside lean modern facades. And when he set up and started pitching — “Grandma gets arthritis!” he called out, holding up a conventional peeler — he felt the public’s affection, Ruth told me, in a way he never had in Britain, with its rigid consciousness of class."
- Joe Ades