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My Dad in 2 Words

My Dad in 2 Words

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Published by Tom Matlack
Men from NBA Hall of Famer Dave Cowens to Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Díaz describe their dads in 2 words.
Men from NBA Hall of Famer Dave Cowens to Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Díaz describe their dads in 2 words.

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Published by: Tom Matlack on Jun 12, 2010
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!"##$%&'(# *%+ ,-%$.

&/ Pe's deñnlLely eccenLrlc-Lo glve you one example, he's very proud of hls
world record for Lhe mosL number of fooLnoLes ln a law revlew arucle. lL was hls ML. LveresL: 4,281. 8uL more
lmpresslve Lo me, ls LhaL he's honesL. 1o Lhe exLreme. Whenever we're on a road Lrlp, he refuses Lo pull over
aL any old Pollday lnn or Mcuonald's Lo use Lhe baLhroom. noL unless we buy someLhlng. CLherwlse, he says,
we'd be sLeallng Lhelr soap and paper Lowels. So our bladders may be fuller, buL our consclence ls spoLless."
A.!. !acobs, auLhor.
ºAloof. Self-cenLered."
!ohn C. Abell, [ournallsL.
ºCharlsma and characLer. Pe had a crowded, lovlng funeral. l meL so many people LhaL day who l'd never seen
before, people whose llves had been Louched by hlm. 1he parklng loL was overßowlng. lL made lL easler for
me ln a way, as grlevlng hlm became, unexpecLedly, a communal experlence. And even Lhough he dled when l
was 16 he leû me wlLh lessons LhaL have been good company my whole llfe."
Alexander Chee, novellsL.
"Unß|nch|ng|y strong."
8en Corman, creauve dlrecLor of 8udlus Medla.
ºCuleL. SLern."
8andy SLrauss, LM1.
ºl'll glve you Lwo palrs of conLradlcuons: warm/exploslve and fun/depresslve. WhaL can l say? Pe was lovlng,
and he drank."
Cordon Wheeler, CLC, Lsalen lnsuLuLe.
º1ough. Carlng. Pe's a greaL dad, buL of course l dldn'L always Lhlnk LhaL when l was 16 and he was Lrylng Lo
geL me noL Lo acL llke an ldloL."
ÞaL llLzgerald, norLhwesLern unlverslLy head fooLball coach.
ºCh, wow. My dad. My dad ls. he's. wow. l'm Lrylng Lo come up wlLh Lhe Lwo LhaL besL descrlbe hlm. l would
say Lhe Lwo words would be.wow, Lhls ls. do people have a hard ume wlLh Lhls? My dad ls sweeL and prag-
mauc. My dad was my hlgh school prlnclpal. lL sucked."
8rady udall, novellsL.
º8enalssance man."
!eñrey Zaslow, [ournallsL and auLhor.
ºueLermlned, Lough, and compasslonaLe."
!osh kraû, CLC, 8oys & Clrls Club of 8osLon. Pls faLher ls 8oberL kraû, owner of Lhe new Lngland ÞaLrloLs.
ºCasual and guarded."
1erLullen 1homas, !r., acLor and model.
We asked men to describe their fathers in two words.
This is what they said.

www.GoodMenProject.com
ºvodka and charm."
nlck llynn, poeL, playwrlghL, and auLhor.
ºCompasslonaLe and 8oLox. WalL, leL's replace 8oLox wlLh awesome."
1om 8lles, comedlan.
ºClever. Wluy."
Andrew SelberL, presldenL of SmarLMoney.
"Con man."
uuncan 8oy, ñlmmaker and Sex 8ehab WlLh ur. urew sLar.
º1axlcab drlver."
Sewell Chan, [ournallsL.
º8rave and lovlng. l need Lo elaboraLe. My faLher suñered a paralyzlng sLroke when my moLher
was pregnanL wlLh me ln 1939. She already had four oLher young chlldren aL home, and hls lllness
was a ma[or lmpacL on Lhe enure famlly. l grew up waLchlng hlm work hard all hls llfe, desplLe hls
paralysls, lovlng and provldlng for hls famlly."
Mlchael Angley, auLhor.
ºLovlng conLradlcuon."
1odd Mauldln, bluesman.
º8rllllanL and lneñecLual (and sadly, deparLed)."
Alan Þoul, dlrecLor/producer.
"nonest kagman."
uavld Carr, auLhor and [ournallsL.
ºl only need one word. Abusador."
!unoL ulaz, ÞullLzer Þrlze-wlnnlng auLhor.
ºPere's whaL l'm golng Lo say. l'm golng Lo do more Lhan Lwo words, l'm sorry. 8uL my dad ls
generous, honesL, klnd, prlnclpled, dlrecL-buL he's an asshole. And lL ln some ways ls a redeem-
lng grace, because lf he [had] all Lhose vlrLues and was also [usL a nlce guy all Lhe ume, he'd be
perfecL. Pe ls a paragon of all LhaL ls besL ln a man, and yeL a compleLe [erk aL Lhe same ume."
8ev. !ohn llnley lv, founder of Lhe Lplphany School ln 8osLon.
ºklnd. WlLhdrawn."
!oe McClnnlss, auLhor and [ournallsL.
ºSlmply complex."
SLañord Arlma, LheaLer dlrecLor.
!"## %&'(#)*
+),- .(/**
0'*"1 2)&3
1bls ftst oppeoteJ os 1om Motlock´s colomo, CooJ ls CooJ, lo 1he Cood Men Þro[ecL Magazlne.
!"##$%&'(# *%+ ,-%$.&/ Pe's deñnlLely eccenLrlc-Lo glve you one example, he's very proud of hls
world record for Lhe mosL number of fooLnoLes ln a law revlew arucle. lL was hls ML. LveresL: 4,281. 8uL more
lmpresslve Lo me, ls LhaL he's honesL. 1o Lhe exLreme. Whenever we're on a road Lrlp, he refuses Lo pull over
aL any old Pollday lnn or Mcuonald's Lo use Lhe baLhroom. noL unless we buy someLhlng. CLherwlse, he says,
we'd be sLeallng Lhelr soap and paper Lowels. So our bladders may be fuller, buL our consclence ls spoLless."
A.!. !acobs, auLhor.
ºAloof. Self-cenLered."
!ohn C. Abell, [ournallsL.
ºCharlsma and characLer. Pe had a crowded, lovlng funeral. l meL so many people LhaL day who l'd never seen
before, people whose llves had been Louched by hlm. 1he parklng loL was overßowlng. lL made lL easler for
me ln a way, as grlevlng hlm became, unexpecLedly, a communal experlence. And even Lhough he dled when l
was 16 he leû me wlLh lessons LhaL have been good company my whole llfe."
Alexander Chee, novellsL.
"Unß|nch|ng|y strong."
8en Corman, creauve dlrecLor of 8udlus Medla.
ºCuleL. SLern."
8andy SLrauss, LM1.
ºl'll glve you Lwo palrs of conLradlcuons: warm/exploslve and fun/depresslve. WhaL can l say?
Pe was lovlng, and he drank."
Cordon Wheeler, CLC, Lsalen lnsuLuLe.
º1ough. Carlng. Pe's a greaL dad, buL of course l dldn'L always Lhlnk LhaL
when l was 16 and he was Lrylng Lo geL me noL Lo acL llke an ldloL."
ÞaL llLzgerald, norLhwesLern unlverslLy head fooLball coach.
ºCh, wow. My dad. My dad ls. he's. wow. l'm Lrylng Lo come up wlLh Lhe Lwo LhaL besL descrlbe hlm. l would
say Lhe Lwo words would be.wow, Lhls ls. do people have a hard ume wlLh Lhls? My dad ls sweeL and prag-
mauc. My dad was my hlgh school prlnclpal. lL sucked."
8rady udall, novellsL.
º8enalssance man."
!eñrey Zaslow, [ournallsL and auLhor.
ºueLermlned, Lough, and compasslonaLe."
!osh kraû, CLC, 8oys & Clrls Club of 8osLon. Pls faLher ls 8oberL kraû, owner of Lhe new Lngland ÞaLrloLs.
ºCasual and guarded."
1erLullen 1homas, !r., acLor and model.
lot lltzqetolJ
lot lltzqetolJ
ºuespalr and alone."
8obb 8raun, mouvauonal speaker.
ºlnherenLly good."
SLeve Scalzl, dlrecLor of baskeLball operauons, norLheasLern unlverslLy.
ºAlcohollc."
!. SLephen Plcks, phoLographer.
ºCpen mysLery."
uavld ALchlson, wrlLer and producer.
º8llndly supporuve."
kenneLh Pughes, acLor and producer.
ºMensch. lnLegrlLy."
1lm 8erry, founder and presldenL, Þalo AlLo Soûware.
ºl don'L know lf can do lL ln a couple of words. Pe was a Lyplcal World War ll guy-never sald anyLhlng abouL
hls whole deal over Lhere and dldn'L really Lalk abouL hlmself, abouL anyLhlng really. Pe [usL wenL Lo work,
ralsed klds, and Lrled Lo do Lhe rlghL Lhlng. 8aslcally he was a barber. 1haL was hls maln deal, belng a barber.
l used Lo go Lo hls shop when l was a kld and waLch all Lhe men play checkers and llsLen Lo Lhem Lalk abouL
Lhelrfamllles and pollucs and baseball. Pe goL a Þurple PearL because Lhe enemy blew hls [eep up one ume.
Pe [usL happened Lo [ump ouL of lL ln ume. When he came home from Lhe war, lnsLead of golng Lo college on
Lhe Cl 8lll, he declded he had Lo go Lo work. Pe goL marrled and had klds rlghL away and wenL Lo work."
uave Cowens, n8A Pall of lamer.
º8rllllanL, ouL-of-conLrol."
Mlchael kamber, phoLo[ournallsL.
ºWlnner. Loser."
1om !unod, wrlLer.
º1hug llfe. lL's a good Lhlng, uad."
My son, Seamus MaLlack, abouL me, 1homas MaLlack, founder of 1he Cood Men Þro[ecL.
º8rllllanL and ldeallsuc."
Me, 1homas MaLlack, abouL my dad, !ames MaLlack.
ºPard-worklng. 8emoLe."
!ames MaLlack, abouL hls faLher, 8ob MaLlack.
2&4)# 51,6)7"*
uove coweos
5eomos, 1om ooJ
Iomes Motlock
º1wo words Lo descrlbe my dad.always worklng. Pe sLayed busy worklng. Pe never had much ume for hls famlly. l
guess lL was Loo hard Lo do boLh."
L. Þye, Þrobauon Cmcer, wrlLer.
suzanne says:
ºSouLhern genLleman."
!ack WalLer says:
ºneglecuul alcohollc. 8ecause he was."
lablo Cllvelra says:
ºÞauenL: my dad would sLop eaung durlng hls lunch hour aL home Lo explaln Lo me some facLs abouL planLs for a
homework. Pe was an agronomlc englneer.
SenslblllLy: he ls a saxophone player - acLually, he also plays clarlneL and ºcavaqulnho", a llule 8razlllan gulLar-
played ln sambas and ºchorlnhos", a 8razlllan polka. Pe composed a song for each of hls chlldren (my slsLer and l)
when my moLher was expecung us."
1ed lnvlcLus says:
º8aplsL.
1hlef."
!ed ulamond says:
º1he Lwo words l'd use Lo descrlbe by uad are ºCreauve & Crazy." My faLher was a wrlLer who sLruggled wlLh Lhe
pressures of havlng Lo ºmake a llvlng" and be Lrue Lo hls arL. When l was ñve he Lrled Lo commlL sulclde. When
he escaped from Lhe menLal hosplLal where he had been commlued, he became a sLreeL poeL, buL our famlly was
never Lhe same."
Lloyd SLenqulsL says:
ºPopeful and 8omanuc"
Mark Cood says:
º1he besL way Lo descrlbe my dad would be Lo use Lwo words LogeLher, Lhen separaLely, self - cenLered.
Pe Lhlnks Lhe world should revolve around hlm buL l have always Lrled Lo llve ln hls wlsdom."
CouLhum says:
º1wo Words: 8ad Ass."
scou meek says:
ºnoL home."
!lm Þarkevlch says:
ºlovlng and Lerrlfylng'
MkAllen says:
ºPard Worklng". 1he man worked 2 [obs mosL of hls llfe and Cod was he hard on hlmself and everyone around
hlm."
Craham Þhoenlx, Male experlence says:
ºuomlneerlng, Lovlng.
Pe so wanLed Lo Lhe besL for hls famlly. Pe never sLopped Lrylng. noL [usL hls wlfe, my moLher, buL also hls Lhree
boys. l was Lhe youngesL and could see how hard he found lL Lo have boys who dldn'L do whaL PL wanLed. Pe loved
us so much he could see whaL was besL for us. Pls faulL, lf you can call lL LhaL was LhaL he found lL dlmculL Lo leL us
go ln Lhe dlrecuon we wanLed. 8uL perversely, LhaL's whaL we dld. We ßew oñ and worked and became successful.
l became a world-class llghung deslgner, Lhe eldesL became an aeronauucal englneer, sull worklng aL nearly 70. 1he
mlddle broLher became a halrdresser. noL much ln common excepL a deslre Lo be ourselves. Pmmm.. maybe our
faLher puL LhaL Lhere..."
van uyke, Mlchael [ v1C says:
"1ough guy"
My faLher grew up under preuy rugged clrcumsLances. Pls faLher leû an already sLruggllng famlly of 3 klds Lo be
ralsed by a moLher who worked as a walLress, posL WW l. lor much of hls early llfe, he was preuy much a sLreeL kld
who loved baseball and boxlng. uurlng Lhe uepresslon he [umped Lralns and Lravelled across Lhe counLry looklng
for whaLever work he could geL. lor mosL of hls adulL llfe he worked roLaung shlûs ln a chemlcal facLory, long before
Lhere were Lhlngs llke envlronmenLal regulauons. l worked Lhere, Loo. l know whaL lL was llke and lL wasn'L preuy
buL he dld whaL he had Lo do Lo make a llvlng and provlde for hls famlly.
When l say Lough guy, l mean LhaL he Look whaL llfe dealL hlm and kepL ñghung. As a faLher, he was Lough buL falr
and l respecLed and appreclaLed whaL he dld for me because l know whaL lL Look for hlm Lo do LhaL. l mlss hlm
every day.
uaddy?o 8log says:
1he Lwo words LhaL descrlbe my faLher Lhe besL are ºCommlued" and ºlalLh" . 1he Lwo words almosL become one
when uslng Lhem Lo descrlbe my dad. As far back as l can remember my dad has been a rellglous man. Pls unshak-
able falLh and commlLmenL Lo hls famlly and hls Cod have always been hls drlvlng force. lrom buslness Lrlps across
Lhe counLry Lo 2am calls Lo go Lo work and be ln hls omce for 48 hours aL a ume, he has done lL all ln commlLmenL
Lo hls famlly and Lhe falLh LhaL called hlm Lo be Lhe man he ls.
Pomemaker Man says:
ºMaklng amends."
8lll M says:
1he Lwo words LhaL descrlbe my faLher Lhe besL are ºAss Pole"
l was adopLed and he's always made lL palnfully aware Lo me, LhaL l am noL loved or as lmporLanL as hls 2 blologlcal
chlldren. Sad.
uavld PlgglnboLham says:
CCCu MAn!
uan says:
"nonest. numb|e."
My faLher was a bank presldenL and chalrman of a large bank holdlng company. When l would vlslL hls omce, he
lnslsLed l greeL everyone properly-especlally Lhe men and women who, aûer hours, cleaned hls omce and empued
hls Lrash. Pe knew all Lhelr names, Lhelr famlly sLorles and never leL me say anyLhlng derogaLory abouL Lhem. Pe
was exacLly llke hls faLher ln LhaL. 8especL everyone regardless of sLauon ln llfe. Pe makes me proud sull wlLh LhaL
amLude-and l sLrlve Lo be Lhe same. And he loves my mom deeply.
My faLher: alcohollc Lragedy. 1hls ñLs for many reasons - and lL ls noL meanL Lo mallgn Lhe man. 1hls year ls my ñrsL
faLher's day. lL has been almosL ñûeen years slnce my faLher drank hlmself Lo deaLh. Pls llfe - and my llfe growlng
up wlLh hlm - was an alcohollc Lragedy. 1he blggesL Lragedy was whaL he losL ouL on and whaL we who loved hlm
losL ouL on as well as a resulL of hls alcohollsm. Pls acLual deaLh was also qulLe a Lragedy, as lf lL were Laken from
Lhe Creeks Lhemselves, because he was found dead ln our famlly home aûer hemorrhaglng Lo deaLh on Lhe day
LhaL he was supposed Lo slgn Lhe reuremenL papers from hls hlgh-ranklng gov'L [ob because Lhey were Loo lncom-
peLenL Lo come up wlLh anyLhlng oLher Lhan ñre/reure as an opuon for a chronlc alcohollc who had served Lhem for
almosL LhlrLy years. And yeL, llke many Lragedles, my faLher ln all of hls lmperfecuon ls Lhe greaLesL lnsplrauon for
Lhe llfe l llve Loday and Lhe faLher l am and wlll be.
8obby C says:
ºSull Mlssed."
llnda says:
ºLhe greaLesL"
Alby says:
"Lco|og|st & poet"
Lruly wonderful was my second cholce: he never sald anyLhlng mean abouL anyone noL even my mom and has been
a Lerrlñc dad.
dlvers says:
ºhe dled when l was elghL..sadly lve never goL Lo know hlm really.. buL l felL he was very brave and sLrong..buL also
broken and sad..sull makes me sad when l Lhlnk of hlm.whaL llfe he had Lo go Lhru..how Lraglc lL ended.buL l
know he loved me and always LreaLed me rlghL..aL leasL as good and long as he could.."
Charles 1ersolo says ºureamer and 8oosLer"
Aoooymoos
ºCowardly llon"
"Des|gnated worr|er"
[nanclesmarun

"Drowsy comed|an"
[sedgeforrenL
"kea| Mensch."
[rose22
"D|s|ngenuous bu||y."
[bllss_sLreeL
"8o|sterous cheer|eader."
[kauerosman
"Lducator]Monvator."
[klpLyn

"Compu|s|ve ¥akker"
[sulllvan[ames
[sulllvan[ames:
l asked my sons. Sam, 11: º1reacherous
dlng-dong." Wlll, 10: ºuevll's son." Cwen,
6: ºSporLs bullder." Puh?
ºLxceedlngly punny."
[becca_mcsleuLh
ºLoved laughlng."
[MarkLeslle
ºAbuslve !ackass."
[mlsLer_wrlLe
ºWarm & undersLandlng."
[wrlghL_ÞeLer
ºClder, beuer."
[wesLcenLer
"W|cked nuts."
[Cxy_Morons2010
"Loud and |ov|ng."
[[arradrwalLer
"Good Man."
[[lmsLolc

"Þrofane|y re||g|ous."
[carr2n
"1he best!"
[Saby333
ºMuslcal, 1hlnker."
[charna
º1errlble punsLer."
[[omblLa
º1eddy bear"
[ScouMaclver
ºPumble. unselñsh."
[lCCuad
ºlalLhfully uevoLed."
[uaddy?oLmn8ox
ºendurlng encourager"
[ferox11
º8lggesL / lan"
[8MoreÞ8Cuy
ºslncere [okesLer"
[marlelaazcuy
ºln Sane."
[8_C_8_
º8rllllanL, Clueless."
karen Logan ueMarlnl
ºAbuslve Alcohollc."
8ronwyn Calloway
ºfuLure Me"
Alan newcomer
º8ad Ass."
CouLhum karadl
ºAlways Lhere!"
Llsa lord 8erry
ºlalLhful Man!"
uavld PlgglnboLham
º8ad golfer."
Andy Cleszczuk
ºMlserable vlcum."
kerrl Wall
º?ellow Ledger."
8ecca 8ernsLeln
ºCood guy."
Curus Cgden
ºlunny, smarL."
uavld Wlse
"Þ|rate, Þh||osopher."
!essy Melowlcz
AL 1he Cood Men Þro[ecL Magazlne, we wrlLe, dlscuss, and lnvlLe commenLary on a whole slew of
Loplcs for men and abouL men ln Loday's world. WhaL people wroLe abouL Lhelr dads -- lL's noL whaL
you'll ñnd ln Pallmark greeung cards. lL's real, honesL, complex, and LhoughL-provoklng.
1haL's how we roll.
1he Cood Men Þro[ecL co-founder 1om MaLlack's
ºCood ls Cood" column runs on Monday and 1hursday
ln 1be CooJ Meo ltoject Moqozloe.
1be CooJ Meo ltoject Moqozloe ls o ctoss-ploqotm, molu-meJlo Jesuoouoo feototloq compellloq wtluoq oboot
poteouoq, sex, telouoosblps, lJeouty, etblcs, bomot, ooJ beoltb. 1be pobllcouoo´s coottlbotots locloJe top-uet jootoollsts
commlsslooeJ to ptovlJe feotote cooteot os well os volooteet wtltets ooJ bloqqets.
Visit www.GoodMenProject.com

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