Imagine. Your favorite coffee shop is shuttered on your way to work. No more latte just the way you like it. Imagine. The magazine you look forward to every month is discontinued. No more articles by your favorite writers on the subjects you love. Imagine. Your beloved squash club is bought by a boutique gym that doesn’t ‘do’ squash. The squash courts are destroyed. A yoga studio takes their place.
Yes, I know these certainly are far from world disasters, but when they happen you wish you appreciated them more when they were around. They made the world a happier place to be. That’s how I felt when a location I visited practically every day, was open seven days a week, and contained many of the things I love, hung a ‘closed for business’ sign on its virtual door last week. Yes, the Daily Squash Report almost went the way of my favorite Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream — into the flavor graveyard, or wherever websites fade away.
As a squash junkie, I was totally distraught. Was it April 1st? No. Where else would I find an article about where not to hit the squash ball when standing behind the service box, or predictions for the U.S.Open, or the new chapter of “The Club from Hell” all in one day?? I didn’t know. And would I have to begin googling all the squash news I wished to know? I knew I wouldn’t take the time…or even know where to begin. I had been completely and utterly spoiled by Daily Squash Report.
Yes, there are other squash news sites out there. I am weekly amused by PST’s Squash E-zine. And as a fellow “Club from Hell” chapter author, I now check out Steve Cubbins’ and Framboise Gommendy’s excellent SquashSite.com. But while I initially poo-poo’d the stark simplicity of DSR’s site, I have come to appreciate its solid straighforwardness. Ads to the right. Index to the left. Articles straight down the middle. In this internet age of website design chaos, DSR is mercifully plain, simple, and easy to read.
But for a long sad October day, it didn’t look like I’d be reading Daily Squash Report, plain and simple. So I picked up my laptop and wrote the man behind DSR, Ted Gross, what I should’ve written him a long time ago. Thank you for all you’ve done for everyone who loves squash.
A day later, DSR was back. You can thank me. Okay, not really. But it’s very heartening to know that when you care about something and do something about it that it can make a difference. Clearly, enough people cared.
If you want to know more about the man behind DSR, there’s a great interview with him on the squash e-zine blog. But as a fellow blogger, I was interested in the nitty gritty, like what kind of coffee keeps him going day in and day out and what he did on his one day off. So here are some serious and not so serious questions I asked Mr. DSR himself. And if you’re impressed by his dedication of 521 straight days of giving us squash news, take one day and tell the guy how much you appreciate it. The world will be a happier squash place for that much longer.
What day did Daily Squash Report start?
On April 30th, 2011. We posted a grand total of two articles, both on North American doubles. I put it together after consulting with Rob Dinerman. I met Rob in 1976 at the Intercollegiates at Williams College, and we’ve been friends ever since.
How many people are involved putting DSR together every day?
I take care of the nuts and bolts and do the main legwork and the daily production.
As far as family assistance, they get out of my way when they see I have my game face on. They refer to it as “the paper”, as in, “Better not bother him right now, he’s working on his paper.”
Where exactly do you put DSR together?
I’m in Sebastopol, California, an hour-and-a-half north of San Francisco, and sixteen miles from the nearest beach, which is at Bodega Bay. That’s where Hitchcock filmed “The Birds”. There is good surfing there, better than in Santa Barbara actually, but it is quite sharky.
What are your DSR ‘work hours’?
I try to put it together between 7 and 10 pm, Pacific Time.
What’s the first thing you do when you sit down at your computer?
The first thing I do when I sit down to put together DSR is take a look at the Bible, which is Steve and Fram’s SquashSite, to make sure I’m not missing something glaringly important.
Does your ‘office’ have a view of anything – outside or inside?
The office is the water treatment room at our house. We are on a well, and big indoor tanks are necessary to process the water. I do have a sliver of a view of Mount St. Helena, a well-known peak around here, on the other side of which is the Napa Valley and the heart of the California wine country.
Inside the office, hanging on the wall until recently was a brand new Waterford steel-framed bike. All-Campy. I had bought it based on a pipe-dream of getting back in good shape. I ended up never riding it, and finally tried to sell it back to the bike store, which didn’t want it because it was steel and everything had gone to carbon. I sold it on Craigslist, where there were so many interested buyers I could have auctioned it off.
Have you ever missed a day, or almost missed one? It must get stressful.
No, luckily I never missed a day until this past Monday. There have been a few social occasions that presented late-night difficulties. Also a couple of post-holiday-dinner sessions following long drives home where the tryptophan was a challenge.
The stress level ratchets up a bit when results pour in unexpectedly on the late side, along with photos that need to be organized and worked. And sometimes I’ll receive an emergency correction after I have put the thing to bed and online. Once a tournament director had the wrong player winning the match in my lead story.
What do you generally wear to work?
The space is unheated so I have to bundle up. Kind of reminds me of the once-common unheated courts, where you had to wear your sweats the whole match.
If you start to lag, what gets you going again?
There is a group of friends I’ve known since junior high school that slings around emails in the evening. They know nothing about squash but they are aware that I’m battling the site sometimes and they will send non-squash articles that might be of posting interest.
What’s your poison?
Coffee, black as midnight on a starless night!
Do you get any exercise putting together DSR?
I built a mini ping pong table, and I’ll take a break and go upstairs and play with my daughter. Even though the table is quite a bit shorter than regulation, we are able to keep the ball in play. The key was getting the net height right.
When you’re not working on DSR or playing squash, what’s one of your favorite things to do?
I like to walk in San Francisco from the Marina Green up the hills into Pacific Heights, and then zig-zag around the city. I grew up there but I never get tired of it.
If you couldn’t do DSR but had to do another Daily Report, what subject would it be on?
It would be college tennis. There’s a lot going on there.
What are you currently reading/ or what do you like to read?
I’m re-reading “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again” by David Foster Wallace. What a talent.
Do you listen to music when you work?
I stream the great San Diego jazz station KSDS. Sometimes I’ll go to Pandora, enter Kronos Quartet, and see what develops.
Any particularly interesting comments from readers over the years?
There have been many. Most of the memorable ones start with high praise and then hammer us for something or other. We’ve been bashed at various times by the PSA, the WSA, the PST, US Squash and others. What can you do?
What’s your fantasy vacation from DSR?
Spending a week bodysurfing at Manhattan Beach. You combine that with some West Coast-version paddle tennis on the public courts there and at Venice Beach, and nothing else comes close.
What did you do on Monday (your only day off so far from DSR)??
I walked into town with my wife and had a burrito. Then we came back and watched a Giants baseball game on TV.
Will you do anything differently now?
Yes. For the next collaborative squash novel, I’m going to lay down more rigid ground rules. A maximum of ten characters, two continents and no oceans!
I too was saddened by the initial death of the DSR. Luckily for us, the author got a second wind. It is a work of passion! It has brought a new appreciation of squash and enjoy the other “related” articles!
you nailed it, Tracy, DSR’s “solid straightforwardness”, nothing fancy, it’s simply where you go for news,; stick with the steel, Ted, and stay away from that fancy carbon fibre!
Great piece, Tracy. Love the DSR. I start every day with a cup of coffee and the Daily Squash Report.