Confessions of a Hero-Worshiper (P.S.) by Stephen J. Dubner

By Stephen J. Dubner

As a boy, Stephen J. Dubner's hero used to be Franco Harris, the famed and mysterious working again for the Pittsburgh Steelers. whilst Dubner's father died, he grew to become obsessed—he dreamed of his hero each evening; he signed his tuition papers "Franco Dubner." even though they by no means met, it used to be Franco Harris who shepherded Dubner via a fatherless boyhood. Years later, Dubner trips to fulfill his hero, yes that Harris will embody him. And he's . . . good, mistaken. informed with the grit of a journalist and the grace of a memoirist, Confessions of a Hero-Worshiper is a wide ranging, heartbreaking, and infrequently funny tale of stunning advancements. it's also a glowing meditation at the nature of hero worship—which, like faith and love, tells us as a lot approximately ourselves as in regards to the item of our hope.

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Memmereth held out the chair for my mother, which made me wish I had thought of it first. I considered sidling up to Mrs. Memmereth, taking advantage of our rapport, and telling her (politely, of course) that if my mother had cooked up some birthday treat—a cake and singing waiters or some such—that thanks very much but I’d rather not. I had always been shy, but since my father’s death the shyness had worsened, from a sprain to a compound fracture. The moment passed, however, and Mrs. Memmereth returned to the front of the club.

Of course they all wanted their own piece of him. The Irish heard his name as Frank O’Harris. The Greeks fancied him Frank Oharis. He was claimed by black fans, to be sure, and rightfully. But it was the Italians, t h e i m m ac u l at e r e c e p t i o n 27 the city’s largest ethnic clan, who planted their flag with the greatest vigor. Tony Stagno and Al Vento, a baker and a pizza man, respectively, launched Franco’s Italian Army, a fan club fueled by jug wine and absurdist theatrics. It began with a few handmade signs and prosciutto sandwiches.

Black-white tension was particularly thick in Pittsburgh. In the name of urban renewal, thriving black neighborhoods had been bulldozed and dead-ended. The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. had produced bloody riots; the only white people looking out for black men, it was said, were the Irish cops and the Vietnam draft boards. Slavs and Poles and Italians, meanwhile, held their own grievances. With the steel industry having peaked, high-paying mill jobs were scarce, while the corridors of true wealth and patronage—City Hall and the police, fire, and transit departments—were practically off-limits if you weren’t Irish.

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