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What is Slack Tide with Matt Labash?
That’s kind of a personal question. But I’ll play along. Life is large, so Slack Tide refuses to be penned in or pinned down or to wear any fixed labels, other than J. Crew’s, since I am a middle-aged white man living in America, and am legally obligated to do so. Not to go too Zen monk/Matthew McConaughey on you, but it is what it is, and will become what it needs to be. This site is about life and politics and culture and fly fishing and God and whatever else comes, not necessarily in that order. In other words, any and all things, since my universe knows know clean lines of demarcation. It contains epiphanies and wisdom and spiritual-psoriasis cures for scaled-over souls. It is the Skyrizi of newsletters. It is the sound of children’s laughter and whippoorwill song. It is a mean mistreater and a daydream believer.
I hope that clears things up.
What I’m really saying is that I abhor mission statements, so am doing my best to avoid writing one. Though maybe that’s it: “Slack Tide is a place for people who hate mission statements.” If your life and work can be reduced to a mission statement, you’re probably doing both wrong.
I spent two-and-a half decades as a long-form magazine writer, not only writing essays, but specializing in profiles of mercurial and flawed and hilarious and sad characters, trying to capture people’s lives in 8,000 word snapshots. My beat was the human comedy, which often passes for the human tragedy. (They are frequently indistinguishable.) What I learned while doing those stories is to stay open to possibilities and providence, to rambling digressions and drunken midnight confessions. The best moments often come when you’re not looking so hard for them. When they knock, you just let them in.
So here at Slack Tide, we intend to play loose. And by we, I mean me, since I’m the only one here. Along with my editor, Grammarly, who I’m thinking of letting go, as we’ve already had several editorial disagreements. Writings here will consist mostly of essays, or something close to them. If you like my slant on the world, and the language that gives it wing, do subscribe. All proceeds go to my favorite charity: my sons’ college tuitions, which are bleeding me dry. If you’re here to hate-read, that’s fine too. We welcome all comers, and they tell me the subscription money spends the same.
What Others Have Said About (And To) Matt Labash:
“Consistently one of the best magazine writers in the country.” – David Brooks, The New York Times
“I started reading Matt Labash because I was beginning to be afraid that the devil had all the best tunes: now it’s the tunes themselves by which I am seduced” - Christopher Hitchens
“Every now and then, a collection of remarkable stories from a magazine writer has the effect of unleashing a significant new voice on an unsuspecting public. Tom Wolfe’s Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby comes to mind. And so it is with Matt Labash’s wonderful Fly Fishing With Darth Vader.” - Mark Warren, Esquire
“The funniest thing I’ll read all year…..Labash has an innate sympathy for scoundrels, and he brings them to life like no other journalist today………Take a stand for great journalism and buy it.” - Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic
“Matt Labash’s book rocks. He is Hunter S. Thompson on acid.” - P.J. O’Rourke
“In a just world, Matt Labash would be celebrated as the heir to Tom Wolfe, Hunter Thompson and other writers in the 1960s and 1970s who were corralled under the rubric of ‘new journalism’……Mr. Labash inhabits a story so thoroughly that readers feel as if they’re at his side, seeing events with his sharp eye, privy to his wisecracks, savoring moments when he reels in what feels like the truth.” - Mark Lasswell, Wall Street Journal
“…. One of the top writers of his generation.” – David Blum, First Things
“In the Washington magazine world, Labash – whose topics range from GOP politicos to a heart-wrenching story on the fall of Detroit – stands out as perhaps the best at the craft of writing.” Garrett M. Graff, Washingtonian
“I think you know what I think of you: not much.” - Donald J. Trump, Labash profile subject/real estate developer
“He’s really nosy.” – Marion Barry, Labash subject/the late Mayor-for-Life
“I really liked your last piece, it was concise.” - Betty Labash, Matt’s mom
From Marshall Cutchin, editor of MidCurrent, on Matt Labash’s Slack Tide:
It's hard to find good writing. Sure, you can do a Google for James Thurber or crawl around the basement looking for that one gem a nearly famous writer spun out effortlessly when he was 29, but for reliable current reads you still have to wade through theater announcements in The New Yorker or the actual theater of bothside-ism in most every other well-edited publication. Then there is Matt Labash's new writing experiment. It's called "Slack Tide," which could be the title of a stand-up's monologue or a fly angler's tribute to moments when absolutely nothing happens.
In Matt's case I think it happens to be a little of both……
He's one of the few reliably great writers I know--funny, erudite, and wide-ranging. You can get a taste of Matt's writing here and may decide, as I did, to "tell the corporate media-man to stick it" by subscribing to his venture on Substack.