None of us were surprised a few weeks ago when a parody of Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven, a send-up of Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell titled The Maven, leaped from the fertile mind of SI writer-reporter Kostya Kennedy and onto the pages of SCORECARD (SI, April 15). Neither were we surprised when Kennedy, after finishing his poem, spent a good part of the rest of that day monitoring on-line information about the upcoming reunion tour of his personal glam-rock gods, Kiss. "His brow extends extremely high and extremely low," says senior editor Richard O'Brien, "and that makes him an invaluable resource for SCORECARD." Kennedy's catchall cultural cache will be tapped even deeper now as we launch, with this issue, an expanded four-page SCORECARD section that will include new features, such as Go Figure and Scouting Report, and a bolder design.
Kennedy does more than web elbows with Kiss. From time to time he can be seen playing bass at Manhattan rock clubs with The Rychyrd Prychyrd Band, which covers the songs of Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd and you know who. "People wonder about the, uh, unique combination," says Kennedy, 28. "We're a specialty band."
The combination that produced Kennedy is unique, too. Mother Kathrin Perutz is a novelist and father Michael Studdert-Kennedy is a psycholinguist who has taught at CUNY, Connecticut and Yale. From them Kennedy developed an early interest in words and language. And from him his parents developed an interest in baseball, Kostya's passion while he was growing up in Great Neck, N.Y. One of Kennedy's more memorable journalistic efforts, written for a class at Columbia, whence he got his master's degree in journalism in 1992, was a reflection on his parents' coming to share his passion for the New York Mets during New York's '86 championship season. "The Mets are really doing terrifically," Kennedy remembers his father, who was born in Worcester, England, remarking in his adverbially precise fashion.
Kennedy didn't always do terrifically in high school—it was tough getting your homework done when Quiet Riot was playing in town—but he always took his writing seriously. The Mets found their way into another opus Kennedy wrote for Statesman, the SUNY-Stony Brook (B.A. in philosophy, 1990) college newspaper. The Mets Are at the Bat ended with this couplet: "But New York fans all weep with joy and open party kegs,/For that ground ball by Mookie had gone through Buckner's legs."
It wasn't all baseball and poesy for Kennedy. He initially attracted our attention with a story about Roberto Rojas, Chile's national team soccer goalie, written for The New York Times in 1993 while Kennedy was touring South America on a Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship. Kennedy then served a memorable seven-month stretch as "correspondent" for a couple of pro wrestling tabloids. Kennedy remembers coming home one afternoon to find two telephone messages awaiting him. One was from The New Yorker notifying him that a "Talk of the Town" piece he had written about the Mets' Opening Day had been accepted for publication. The other was from one of his wrestling editors asking him to spin out a story based on an already composed headline: EARTHQUAKE VERSUS BOOGER: WHAT STARTED AS A JOKE HAS TURNED INTO A WAR! He was the perfect man for both jobs.