“Best Of” lists are always kind of silly and pointless. OC Weekly and “Ask a Mexican” writer Gustavo Arellano‘s recent list of the top 10 pieces of journalism EVER, is no exception. Seriously, any list of great journalism that contains two OC Weekly stories and only one Esquire piece is fucked. No Hunter S. Thompson, but a gonzo-esque piece by the Phoenix New Times? Come on.
That said, the only reason people write these lists is to get everyone worked up. And Arellano did makes some interesting choices. So we’ll play along and nitpick a little more.
We like picking Gay Talese‘s 1966 Joe DiMaggio profile “The Silent Season of a Hero,” over the much more renowned “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold.” Both great pieces, the latter probably more well known for Talese’s improvisation — would you be able to write a story when the subject of your profile won’t talk to you? The DiMaggio piece suffers slightly from Talese’s refusal to use the first person — referring to himself awkwardly as “the man” or “the visitor” instead. Still a brilliant piece and a great choice.
We also love including eXile’s Mark Ames on the list. Although we find it hard to believe Arellano could have rifled through the eXile archives and not found anything better than Ames’ 2003 New York Press takedown of Chuck Klosterman. A great piece, but we personally found Matt Taibbi’s 2005 absolute annihilation of Thomas Friedman much more viscerally satisfying — Taibbi took on the much bigger target. And if we’re talking pure journalism, Dr. John Dolan‘s unmasking of James Frey, well before The Smoking Gun got all the credit, is the far superior piece of critical work.
The bold choice would have been to pick Ames’”Viagra Challenge” — where he slept with three ancient Russian prostitutes in a scientific effort to determine which erectile dysfunction medication was most effective.
As for Arellano’s other choices, let us know what you think.