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Matthew Lickona and the Reader

San Diego wine and Porsche fans, Janet Flanner, Antiochian Orthodox church, Charger fans

The author (right) with his father and grandfather
  • The author (right) with his father and grandfather
  • Photograph by Chad Weckler

Lickona has been at the Reader since 1995. He is the author of a couple of books (Swimming with Scapulars, Surfing with Mel), and his essays have appeared in places like The Awl, FirstThings.com, and Doublethink. In his spare time, he likes to write movie pitches and country songs.

Editor's picks of stories Lickona has written for the Reader:

  • Taste, taste, taste, taste, and then taste a hundred times more

  • Eddie Osterland, one of 29 master sommeliers in the U.S., left New York because he wanted to raise his daughter in less aggressive surroundings, and he chose San Diego because “this is a beautiful city, obviously, as far as weather is concerned. And there are a lot of people who don’t know that much about wine. So here’s a guy who teaches it, in a place that’s got six million people that I wouldn’t consider a super-sophisticated market. So I moved here because I thought I could make a difference.” (Feb. 6, 1997)

"All you have to go on is, do you like it or not?”

"All you have to go on is, do you like it or not?”

  • Corvette owners are into them for show, so are Ferrari owners. But Porsche owners are purposeful people.

  • “There is no feeling better, other than maybe sex, than to take a curve at that speed, fast, and feel like you’re hanging onto the road. Not many cars give you that feeling of control. Not many cars give you the feeling that when you turn the steering wheel, the car moves instantaneously. I don’t know how to communicate it other than that, because the only way you get it communicated is through your butt, being in the car and having the sensation of being solidly planted, and Porsche gives you the feeling of being solidly planted, no matter what speed you’re at." ( Feb. 12, 1998)

John Rickard: “The majority of people down there are middle-aged guys with pretty conservative lifestyles. But a lot of these conservative guys didn’t start out conservative."

John Rickard: “The majority of people down there are middle-aged guys with pretty conservative lifestyles. But a lot of these conservative guys didn’t start out conservative."

  • New Yorker's Janet Flanner, my mother, and me

  • Pictures, maps, photographs, and paintings crowd William Murray’s Del Mar walls. Three images catch my attention. They interest me as much for divergence of style as for dissimilar content: a pencil sketch of famed New Yorker writer Janet Flanner, her features retreating into the creamy yellow paper; a moody depiction of a stern bishop waving a thurible; and a lighthearted drawing of a topless woman sunbathing on the Riviera, her lissome figure stretched across the paper. (Feb. 10, 2000)

Bill and Janet. "Janet and I, both helpless in the kitchen, ate with gusto, then sometimes helped clean up afterward. "

Bill and Janet. "Janet and I, both helpless in the kitchen, ate with gusto, then sometimes helped clean up afterward. "

Photo courtesy of William Murray

Campus Crusade for Christ's  Jon Braun, now Father Jon Braun, Orthodox priest: “I knew that the Roman Catholic Church was evil because that’s what I was taught.”

Campus Crusade for Christ's Jon Braun, now Father Jon Braun, Orthodox priest: “I knew that the Roman Catholic Church was evil because that’s what I was taught.”

  • San Diego's Antiochian Orthodox church surprises.

  • He looks like a regular young guy — maybe late 20s or early 30s. Head shaved to mask a receding hairline, a black goatee to offset the baldness, the gold rim of his glasses glinting beneath his dark brows. A regular guy, except maybe for his robe. Though it has the sheen of satin, it does not drape or hang; it holds its shape, stiffly framing the man beneath. Though mostly creamy white, the robe beams with patterns of yellow gold. (If we were not in church, the fabric would seem ostentatious, guilty of Louis XVI excess.) And over the robe, a stole, equally stiff and resplendent, making an X across his belly. (April 8, 2009)
  • A San Diego Charger football game is one thing, fandom is something else

  • December 2, 2007: During his radio broadcast of the San Diego Chargers’ victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, announcer Hank Bauer gave a shout-out to Charger fan Alfred Silva, who was battling cancer. (Silva’s brother-in-law Jim Muse Jr. golfed with Bauer and had put in the request.) By March of 2008, Silva had succumbed. But when he was laid to rest at Singing Hills, it was in a powder blue coffin trimmed with gold — Charger colors. His body was dressed in a jersey honoring his favorite player, Lance Alworth. ( Dec. 2, 2009)

Armando, second from left; Troy, crouching; Shelia and Jackie, second and third from right. "There was no other way to be. It’s in the blood.”

Armando, second from left; Troy, crouching; Shelia and Jackie, second and third from right. "There was no other way to be. It’s in the blood.”

  • Reader writer concludes he is his father's son

  • Here and elsewhere, I find myself wondering how my own sons’ sports memories will compare, in terms of both passion and detail. I wonder how mine compare. I wonder if it has to do with reading and writing. But I don’t really wonder; I know what makes a lasting impression. I asked Pop to dig up some of his favorite pieces from high school. He couldn’t find the one about “the most exciting game I ever covered,” but it didn’t matter. (June 12, 2019)

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