[These letters were compiled by Gabe Hudson, Jessica Rabinowitz, and Kevin Feeney.]

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Dear Mr. President,

Do you believe that dinosaurs existed? In evolution? That the earth was created in seven days?

Would you please go on TV and let everyone know what you think?

Dan Harrington

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Dear Mr. President,

I was reading my father’s copy of 1984 and found a curious piece of paper wedged against the cover. I suspect he used it as a bookmark. I have reprinted it below in the hope that you will find it as meaningful as I have:


Step 1 Prepare
Load film onto reels, place loaded reels into tank, and secure the lid light baffle and cap. This all must be done in complete, spooky darkness.

Step 2 Prewet
Remove tank cap and pour water through the lightproof opening. Ensure that the water temperature is between 68-75 degrees. Fill tank, agitate one (1) minute, and then discard water.

Step 3 Developer
Use the temperature time/development chart to determine the correct development time for your developer. Pray for benediction.

Start your timer as soon as you pour the solution into the tank. Shake the tank for thirty (30) seconds, then firmly tap the tank a stable, flat surface. Rest for thirty (30) seconds. Shake. Tap. Rest. Repeat. When development time is complete, discard the solution like so many unwanted children.

Step 4 Stop Bath
Fill development tank with water and shake for five (5) seconds. At this point, the bioluminescent organisms latent in the film’s chemistry should be revived. They will hum with the rhythm of your ancestors for ten (10) seconds. Then dump water—repeat two more times.

Step 5 Fix
Pour solution into tank, and agitate for the first thirty (30) seconds, gently tap tank, and rest for one (1) minute. I never understood my grandmother until that last October at the lake. Alas, return solution to container.

Step 6 True Christ
Fill tank with pre-wash solution. Its smell will be pungent, like father’s on a Thursday night. Avert your eyes, wipe away the tears for one (1) minute. Recycle this solution back to the container.

Step 7 Photo-Flo
Remove the sacred light-blocking lid from the development tank of broken dreams. Place under running water willed here by extraplanar beings (68-75 degrees) for five (5) minutes, or use the lab’s automatic film washer—deposit thirty-five (50, actually, because it tends to eat nickels and dimes) cents.

Step 8 Annie, Pull a Little Closer
Remove film from its ancient container and channel chi for forty (40) seconds to dispel dust spirits that may have attached themselves to your work. Activate hidden genes and become one with the droplets of air that will dry your negatives. Emerge from the jungle of complete darkness. Feel God’s grace. Repeat.

Mike Jorgensen

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Dear Mr. President,

I am sitting here on this snowy Wednesday afternoon pondering our similarities.

When you see pictures of round-bellied, malnourished African babies, does your helplessness make you feel profoundly meaningless?

Do you question what kind of God would inflict devastating tidal waves on 150,000 men, women, and children who had already spent their lives in abject poverty?

Do you carry with you the guilt of your own privilege? Everyday, do you feel the ache of compassion?

Sofia Cozzolino

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Dear Mr. President,

How is it that the greatest country in the world, the home of the free and land of the brave, still implements capital punishment? Is it not embarrassing to be in the merry death penalty company of countries like China, Burma, and North Korea?

Until you abolish this horrible punishment, you certainly have no right to call yourselves a country of high morals. That might be hard to swallow, tough luck.

Jan Karlsson, Finland

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Dear Mr. President,

Why, man, why?

Do you want to make the world clean for Jesus, or do you want to make your friends rich, or are those the same thing to you?

And why, seriously, why do you want to use the blood of my generation to do it?

Phillip Grayson

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[NOTE: The opinions expressed in these letters do not necessarily represent those of McSweeney’s, Knopf, Vintage, Kevin Feeney, Jessica Rabinowitz,
or Gabe Hudson.]