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Debating What Is Rhode Island For, Really, With Bomani Jones

This lobster roll is from Benny's Famous Fried Clams in Portland, Maine, but you see the point.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

For generations, people have wondered, “How is it that these people on my podcasts came to riff with and digress over and interrupt each other on my phone, such that I can hear it while driving or doing laundry or making eggs?” Scientists and philosophers have never really been able to explain how it works. The mystics posited that were certain stones, touched by ancient magicks or powerful natural essences, that could make it possible. But if I may take you inside the game, the way that Drew and I got Bomani fucking Jones to be on the podcast was by asking him. I was, in a way that is retrospectively both extremely on brand and deeply embarrassing, proud just to have asked. Nothing ventured nothing gained, right? I thought. Now back to being faintly sad about the Mets and basically everything else!

When he said yes, I was caught all the way out there—there was not really a plan for that part. And yet here we are. The podcast embedded below is the most fun I’ve had doing anything that officially qualifies as work, and I have been paid both to look at weird old baseball cards and ride a snowmobile.

We did talk about some sports things, more or less by accident. A conversation about Boats And Boating, a passion that all three of us share, led into a conversation about the recent sale of the Mets to true blue Money Weirdo Steve Cohen, and how I wound up irrevocably hitching my emotional wellbeing to the literal Mets. Talking about the Big Ten’s historic and belated and floridly half-assed attempt to restart football in October led us not just into engagement with the questions about college football and power that Bomani engaged in his recent story for Vanity Fair but a consideration of the broader national capitulation on not just managing the pandemic, but even attempting to manage anything else. College football’s mix of ravenous exploitation and blithe smug pomposity has proven in recent years to be an increasingly apt and increasingly uncomfortable parallel for how this country does and mostly does not work; in this moment of crisis, the two have come into queasy harmony. We talked about that, too.

There’s also stuff in there about the bigger questions raised by the existence of Rhode Island and extremely rich people, Dwight Howard’s authentic, lonesome, soul-deep corniness, a return to Boat Talk, and also enough about former NFL defensive lineman Robert “Pig” Goff that I feel compelled to remark upon it here. Once Bomani left us to go do some TV thing on a cable sports network, Drew and I mounted a passionate combined defense of kettle chips against their online detractors. I wasn’t sure that part really happened, or honestly that any part of it was real, but I listened back to the podcast and it’s all there. The whole thing, the Bomani Jones part and everything else, was all real. You are reading on a website that exists. All of this actually is happening. It still feels strange, to be honest, but in a good way. Also kettle chips truly are delicious.

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