DURING HIS widely reported antiblog rant on HBO's Costas Now in April, Pulitzer Prize--winning author Buzz Bissinger reserved his most caustic words for a Deadspin commenter calling himself Balls Deep. The 54-year-old Bissinger, who railed against the snarkiness of blogs, called Balls Deep, among other unprintable things, "a disgusting voice."
Fast forward to last Thursday at The Happy Ending, a massage parlor turned bar in Manhattan's Chinatown, where gelfmagazine.com puts on a sports book reading series. There, alongside Bissinger, was Balls Deep himself: Drew Magary, 32, the founder of the edgy, often hilarious blog Kissing Suzy Kolber and author of Men with Balls (Little, Brown, $16.99), a collection of riffs on the life of the pro athlete that is as funny as it is profane. And it is quite profane. The thaw in relations began shortly after the Costas segment, when Magary e-mailed Bissinger to invite him to a blogger's party in Washington, D.C. The note came at a time when Bissinger was getting drilled for his performance on Costas. "It was one of the nicer [e-mails] I got," says Bissinger. "He was reaching out. There was no rancor. I appreciated it." Bissinger didn't attend, but he responded with a cordial e-mail. The two continued to correspond, and Bissinger went so far as to give a blurb for Men with Balls, calling it "just damn funny."
Magary (left) says he understood where Bissinger was coming from. "The written word is sacred to Buzz," says Magary. "He's afraid that the casual language of blogs will destroy that. I just don't think that's true." As if to prove old and new media can coexist, they made last week's appearance in New York. Bissinger gave an intense reading from Friday Night Lights following Magary's segment: a PowerPoint presentation based on a chapter from Balls that imagines sexual positions named after athletes. "It was pretty out-there," says Bissinger with a laugh. "You just kind of shield your eyes and listen, but parts of it were very funny."
MICHAEL GLUCKSTADT/GELFMAGAZINE.COM (MAGARY)
MICHAEL GLUCKSTADT/GELFMAGAZINE.COM (BISSINGER)