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Derek Bell loved music. But what kind?

In the aftermath of Newtown, this site has taken a decidedly serious tone.

Time to break things up a bit.

A decade ago, while writing for Sports Illustrated, I was assigned a piece on Derek Bell, at the time an outfielder with the New York Mets. Bell was a funny guy—he said “Yo ho ho!” after everything, spoke in a sorta endearing nonsensical manner, walked to a beat all his own. I liked him very much, and recall—vividly and warmly—visiting him on his houseboat, which he kept along the East River.

Anyhow, I submitted my piece to the magazine and, a day later, received a call from the fact checker. She asked all the requisite questions—spelling, dates, etc. Then, her tone changed. “Jeff,” she said, “I have to ask you something, and it’s kind of embarrassing.”

“OK,” I said.

“This is not my question,” she said. “Another editor insisted I ask.”

Now, I have to interrupt this by noting that, at the time, SI’s upper editors weren’t, well, the coolest guys in town. Pretty upper-crust, pretty upper-age. Nice, wonderful folks. Just not especially up to date.

“Jeff,” she said, “he wants to know the kind of music Derek likes. Is it hip-hop music, or hip-hip music?”

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