September 22, 2012

"I love all of you!"

Photos by Stacy LaBarge. Caption from Esquire magazine: Top left: Ruins of the Fastrip in the immediate aftermath. The people in the middle are waiting for others to emerge out of the cooler, which was smashed almost to the ground. To the far right, Corey, in white, is helping Isaac, who lost a flip-flip, steer clear of wreckage. Top right: A man walking on East Twentieth Street toward downtown. All life looked destroyed for miles. Bottom: The group reunited five weeks after the tornado on the spot at East Twentieth Street and Duquense where the Fastrip and cooler once stood. The lot has been cleared and a new Fastrip has been built on the existing foundation and footprint. 

"Heavenly Father!" "I love you all!" "I love everyone!" "Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!" "I love all of you!" by Luke Dittrich
Esquire, October 2011

So, I'm still doing that thing where I'm catching up on all of the magazines I haven't read in the past year or so. I picked this issue up and as I started reading, I realized I read most of the stories before (i.e. Chris Jones' profile on Justin Timberlake was pretty excellent), and I couldn't remember why I saved it until I got to Luke Dittrich's story about 24 survivors of the tornado that tore through the town of Joplin, Mo. in May 2011.

I always meant to read it, and more so after Dittrich won the National Magazine Award for it in the feature writing category earlier this year.

I can't say enough about Luke Dittrich ... I am in just complete awe of his work. This is a sentiment shared by many in the industry so I am hardly unique in saying this, but still, I must say it.

Any time I doubt I want to do this or need to remember why, I just need to read and remember his work—his meticulous, careful, careful reporting, the phrasing of his words, the storytelling, his ability to grab the reader until the story's done.

Must read.

Update 11/24/12

About a week after I wrote this blog post, Luke Dittrich e-mailed to tell me he loved & appreciated what I wrote. I freaked out. I remember I was having a crappy day, and I received it at the end before I left for work and it just made everything better, instantly. I'm not sure how he found my post (I think my tagging his name had to do with it?) but him e-mailing me to tell him I made his day was definitely the coolest thing to happen that week!