This weekend, Gerri Jordan, proprietor of Yar Golf, agreed to speak with me about the chain of events that led to the October suicide of her partner, Essay Anne Vanderbilt. Today, she declined to carry through. "I have spoken with an attorney," she wrote in an email, "and we are gathering information for potential legal action."
That sudden progression of events, from a willingness to talk to the invocation of an attorney and lawsuits, more or less recapitulates the reaction to "Dr. V's Magical Putter," a story that ran on Grantland last week. It was initially met with praise, here and elsewhere, as a fascinating trip into a vortex of weird science that started with the nearly magical properties of a golf putter and ended with the suicide of Vanderbilt, an inventor who along the way had been revealed to be a possible con carrying fraudulent credentials, as well as a transgender woman. After Shakesville's Melissa McEwan wrote about it, the piece came in for closer scrutiny, under which it was clear that writer Caleb Hannan and Grantland had made serious, avoidable mistakes that may have played a role in Vanderbilt's decision to take her life.