Date: Tue, 29 Feb 2000
Subject: My cats’ name is Little Bear
…but he looks nothing like a bear. He was named Little Bear long before I heard of the popular cartoon character Little Bear. I adopted him from a shelter while living in Southern California. When I moved home to the east coast he peed on my lap on the plane. He was very embarrassed. I cried for poor Little Bear and all I’ve put him through. But Little Bear is happy now. He is bicoastal. I keep his cat litter box in the closet. As I type this now, I am reminded of Little Bears’ scent; as the closet is in close proximity to the desk. Last summer I adopted another small pet. She has fallen under the name of Little Girl. Oh, the toils I went through to find a clever name for her; all to no avail. Nothing took. Now she is simply Little Girl, in spite of her growing much larger in size than Little Bear. Little Bear doesn’t really pay much attention to Little Girl, but Little Girl is quite fond of Little Bear. Sometimes Little Girl will attempt to cuddle or groom Little Bear. But all Little Bear does in response is swipe angrily at her; at which point she usually jumps from the bed and retires to the attic—a place she is quite fond of.
The Boston Groupie;
Carrie Gauthier, Esq.
From: “Ina Steinhilber”
Subject: how I stopped vomitting and learned to love mcsweeneys
Date: Tue, 29 Feb 2000
I felt awful. Truly awful, like I’d eaten a tub of PopRocks or mistakenly ingested the lethal bit of that wierd Japanese blow fish. My movements were restricted to within 6 feet of the bathroom at all times. I couldn’t go to work, too incoherent to be productive, too wobbly and weak in the knees to even walk the 8 or so blocks to get there. I was confined to my little apartment, desperately ill with some sort of Third World-type flu, and I lay there like a slug for 3 days. On the 4th day, the nausea had subsided enough for me to flick on the TV for a little entertainment (reading still required too much eye movement), and what a welcome respite I found in the form of Charlie Rose’s interview with young “Dave” Eggers. The author spoke about his new book which I understood to be a work of great promise, and he also spoke of the latest volume of McSweeney’s. I was impressed and intrigued by this talented and enterprising young/old man. So impressed, in fact, that I ran, stumbled, crawled to my local bookstore to purchase said tomes. I was enthralled by “A Heartbreaking Work…” to such an extent that I soon forgot all about those troublesome rumblings in my gut and was unable to loosen my greedy grip from the book until the wee hours. It was the most satisfying and compelling read I’d had in oh-so-long. As luck would have it, Mr. Eggers was to appear at a nearby bookstore in Cambridge several days later, so I jumped at the opportunity to hear the author in person. I managed to push my way through the considerable crowd, elbowing several old ladies, knocking down a few hapless youngsters (not really, but I WOULD have), and I secured for myself a chilly spot standing up against the plate glass window in the back of the packed room. The author spoke at length about McSweeneys and his own book, and once again I was impressed. At the evening’s close, Eggers was kind enough to sign a million and one books, including my own. Although I was momentarily struck dumb, incapable of making any discrenable sound except for an inadequate “Thanks.”, I hoped that he gleaned from the foolish grin I was sporting my sincerest appreciation for his book and for bringing to my attention the equally wonderful McSweeney’s. An avid hater of technology, specifically the all-consuming, evil internet, I have since then devoured every word on your website. What have you done to me?
I am, from this day forward, your humble and devoted reader.
PS: The name “Eggers” brings to mind some kind of cholesterol-free egg substitute…I smell a real opportunity here. I wonder, has the author ever considered such a marketing tie-in? Something along the lines of “Bringing up my younger brother, sometimes I just don’t have time to cook a healthy meal. That’s why I start the day off right with..” Call Kraft.
Date: Tue, 29 Feb 2000
From: Kiersten Conner-Sax
Subject: Senator Cranky Pants
Recently, the Right Hon. John Warner, Senator from Virgina, replied to my query as to his identity in a rather strident fashion. I apologize for irritating him. After all, the sweet sweet love of Elizabeth Taylor has driven many a man over the edge.
Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2000
From: Joe Schumacher
Subject: bookmark text
The following is the unedited text of a bookmark found yesterday in the free stuff racks next to the door at Coliseum Books. The book is “Mastering the Requirements Process” by Suzanne Robertson and James Robertson.
The Requirements Specification Template
1. The Purpose of the Product
2. Client, Customer, Stakeholders
3. Users of the Product
4. Requirements Constraints
5. Naming Conventions and Definitions
6. Relevant Facts
8. The Scope of the Product
9. Functional and Data
10. Look and Feel
14. Maintainability and Portability
16. Cultural and Political
18. Open Issues
19. Off-the-Shelf Solutions
20. New Problems
25. User Documentation
26. Waiting Room
Blurbs for the book include:
“There are only a few books that have provided practical guidance for minimizing requirements problems, and this new book deserves a place beside Jerry Weinberg and Don Gause’s “Exploring Requirements: Quality Before Design.”
Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2000
From: Stephen McIlvenna
Subject: my tortoise
My tortoise has not woken from hibernation yet and I was wondering if you know of a group that gets together for similar issues. It doesn’t have to be anonymous. I’m not ashamed of my circumstances. I love my tortoise.
Temperate Zone 5
From: “America’s Sweetheart, Matt Fritchman”
Subject: Son of Several Observations, Largely— but not entirely— in Reve rse Reverse Chronological Order, that Occurred to Me While Reading the Le tters.
Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2000
1) This happened to my Dad, once.
2) I am thinking of glitter: who invented glitter? And why? These are some of the things I would like to know. Who thinks, if only that dust sparkled! Not me, that’s for sure.
3) Two commas after Mallomars = Double Pause… Double Excitement.
4) Charleton Heston. Planet of the Apes. Will I ever be left alone?
5) Also, my dog is very good. He knows the laser pointer comes out of my pocket only when there are keys, and only when those keys are in my hand. This is funny. Sometimes he licks the keys. Often times he stands like a kangaroo of his own volition, for reasons we cannot discern. I am talking about the dog again. Plum.
Well, shoot. I think the best Planet of the Apes movie is Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, because of the machine guns, and Armando. If only there were clowns.
6) What is that weird O thing? Cut and paste, my ass.
Here are some of the unique ways that I have used the word “ass” today:
assy (context: “That just looks assy.”)
butt-ass (I was frustrated.)
7) S-n-u-f-f-l-e-u-p-a-g-u-s. One word. Do you ever have terrifying dreams about tragic events that occur on Sesame Street? I have them all the time.
8) Seen, by me, in Chicago. Movie Marquee reading:
9) This is re: Sam Meyer’s letter, re: Craig Moorhead’s letter. I have known Craig Moorhead for a very long time. I was delighted to see that he has begun a correspondence with you and your publication. However, there were 2 errors in Mr. Moorhead’s letter.
The first error Mr. Meyer heroically pointed out. The second, deeper error comes from the horses’ mouth.
What really happened was that Craig, having ordered two chicken soft tacos, heard the checkout lady say “two soft tacos and a Pepsi,” to which CM replied with his witty bon mot “Not just soft… chicken soft.” In CM’s letter, the lady says “two chicken soft tacos,” at the get-go, which rather spoils the punchline.
Did you know Craig Moorhead is a rock star? He is. This is supposed to be a secret.
10) Seen, by Craig Moorhead, in Maryland. Movie Marquee reading:
IRON GIANT DICK
RUN LOLA RUN
11) Hey, that’s me.
12) I felt bad when I found out. Tell the truth. We deserve it. I felt real bad.
13) The last time I went to Austin I coughed up blood. It was pneumonia.
14) They call me the “Bus Driver”. This is because I take everybody to school.
15) I have a book about yeast procedures. It is huge. Chris told you about it.
16) A quick refresher in particle physics, with regards to Quark pairs:
Up and Down
Top and Bottom
Strangeness and Charm
Don’t Mess With Mister In-Between
17) I think Margaret Devine should team up with Rock Slamchest (Ann Courgage) and fight crime.
One time, I fought crime. I did okay.
18) Once, while watching a movie, I was so overcome by the physical beauty of one of the actresses therein that I punched myself in the head. It was not Angelina Jolie, nor was it pornography. My hand just sorta popped up there.
19) When you’re in the grocery store right before they close, and you are rushing to get your shopping done, you will find that it is the theme from SWAT that you are humming in your head every single time.
20) That Phil Redondo is OK in my book.
Thank you for your time and consideration in these matters,
(DBA Matt Fraction)
From: “Michael Welch”
Subject: my confident Swedish friend, Marcus
Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2000
My friend Marcus is an ambitious, industrious guy. He is always very busy. He is much like a VOLVO in that he is both dependable and Swedish. Straight outta Sweden. He recently moved to New York from where i’m at right now, Tampa, FL. His correspondence, which was once thorough and detailed, turned into 2D, “hi” and “bye” notes. I e-mailed him recently and in lighthearted passive agression, asked him what the deal was, y’know, asking him when we he would send me the rich letters to which i’d grown accustomed. This was his response. It’s a lot longer than his other letters:
“I’ll grease you up and stick some fat conversation up deep. I’ll give you Kafka: his views on nihilism versus contemporary quasi-intellectualism in a neo-existentialist context- I’ll follow up with some Nietzschean views on the “ubermench” vs. the ghetto- I’ll bring up sexual harassment (Clinton-style) seen through the eyes of a young Jane Fonda- I’ll bring up some fat arguments against AIDS research based on post- modern, anthropocentric notions developed by Heidegger- I’ll push real deep with some juicy Biblical ideas about loyalty in marriage- I’ll discuss nuclear power from a third world point of view- I’ll step right into to the battle field with stinging arguments against a Lutheran conviction to further spread the use of immunization against lethal diseases- I’ll dominate a semi-existential dialogue about contemporary sex- I’ll talk about abortion, free sex, US taxation, post-communist struggles in Eastern Europe, WW2, the complete abandonment of social welfare, and the lack of trust in today’s leaders- I’ll bring up arguments for and against anything, and I WILL clarify any issue at hand subjectively as well as objectively, for you. I’m here to set things straight. You will become enlightened with an insight only possessed by an elite. Like I mentioned yesterday while shooting some pool-
I didn’t come to America to lose."
That’s a lot longer than most of his letters.
thanks for your time,
michael patrick welch
st pete times, tampa
Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2000
From: Josh Kamensky
Subject: Your office correspondent
I just had the occasion to meet Your Office Correspondent, Mr. Robert Beier (see letters below, or use your Find function). He slept upon my couch for a long weekend, and directed me to his letters in McSweeney’s Hairy Phone Companion.
He’s a nice guy, but I will say this: the old lady and I have been trying to get a new couch for some time. If the idle rich are both a) readers of McSweeney b) inclined to spend large ducats on a couch that has borne the soughings of Mr. Beier, I would be inclined to sell. Buyer pays shipping from Los Angeles.
From: “Lewis Tate”
Subject: Cheetahs, bison, primates, and squid
Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2000
Three conversations overheard at the National Zoo, and one at an Italian restaurant (in total, then, four conversations):
Conversation #1, at the Cheetah “Preserve” Man (to daughter, trying to arouse interest): Wow, look at the cheetah! Daughter: I want to see the dinosaurs. Man (dragging said daughter away): This is a zoo, they don’t have dinosaurs. Woman (to friend, after man and daughter have left): No, they do have dinosaurs. I just saw the triceratops.
Conversation #2, at the Bison exhibit Man (to son, approximately six years old): Think of how many hamburgers and steaks that would make.
Conversation #3, outside the “Think Tank” Man (to son, approximately four years old): So do you remember what the difference is between a monkey and an ape? Me (quietly, to my wife): There’s a difference between monkeys and apes?
Conversation #4, a short time later at an Italian restaurant Woman (to son): Do you want some calamari? Son: It’s squid, Mom. I’m not eating it. Older Brother: Hey, idiot, do you know what hot dogs are made of?
From: “Robert Beier”
Subject: From your office correspondent
Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2000
Here is something I want whoever reads this to do. This is funny. One of my friends works as a temp in this graphics place. He gave me a phone number of the desk he was sitting at. I called and it immediately went to voice mail. A girl named Angela had left a recording happily telling me that she was away until the 10th of March on her honeymoon. I was so happy for her I left a very long message congratulating her and asking her about what she had for breakfast the first day. Was it in bed? Where was it? Oh, many questions did I ask until I was cut off by the audix woman. I left my name and number so she could call me back. Today I called and the message had changed. She had called in for messages on her honeymoon! Not only did she call in for messages but she changed the recording to omit the honeymoon part. Now she says she is “on vacation”. She didn’t even call me back. I think we all should call her and wish her a happy return to work and ask questions about her honeymoon. Her number is 212-984-3759. No fear, the phone goes directly to her voice mail.
From: “Jennifer L. Adrain”
Subject: Adventures with A.H.W.O.S.G.
Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2000
Hello. I am of two minds as to whether I should write to you or not. I have been reading McSweeney’s on-line for a few months now and I look forward to buying the print version when it arrives (I checked at Hub Cigar, my local magazine store, and I have to say the guy behind the counter looked like he may not have believed me when I explained to him that the current issue was likely still on a boat from Iceland).
It is also with delight that I anticipate reading the new book by the McSweeney’s representative. That I have not as yet indulged in this pleasure leads me to my reason for writing to you (although I am kind of wary of displaying what could be construed as a whiny side of my character). Not having read the book, I rated it five stars and submitted a review to Amazon.com wherein I was clearly distracted. The entertaining nature of the said review is not an issue on which I care to comment. Nevertheless, don’t you find the way in which they have handled the reviews is somewhat odd? I don’t think that my review was to any greater degree in violation of their submission guidelines yet gonged it was. And what’s with the culling process anyway? I see the number has dropped from an all time high of 73 to 49 and holding. How did they choose which ones to eliminate? Is this an indication that they believe the remainder are genuine? Well regardless of feeling like the kid the teacher forgot to include in the class play, I must say I have not looked forward to reading a book with as much excitement in a very long time. That I really wanted to buy the book this weekend caused me such anxiety that it raised in me a moral dilemma of sufficient magnitude to compel me to write to Randy Cohen. He replied (very promptly, which I find to be an unusual characteristic in today’s world, although I suppose he is, you know, quite ethical and all) that my transgression was petty in nature.
Whew. Anyway, the crisis is over and I’ve purchased the book. It’s pretty late, so I’ll probably not read it until tomorrow. My meanders are likely of far more interest to me than you, but I thought you might be am(be?)mused by the slight keruffle this has raised in my life.
From: “D. R. Monroe”
Subject: Amazon.com Staffers Sharper than I Originally Believed
Date: Sun, 27 Feb 2000
It appears that Amazon.com has brought your contest to write the most off-target review of A.H.W.O.S.G. to an end.
On Friday, Feb 25, there were about 73 customer reviews available. A few were about the book – honest, no-nonsense folk offering heartfelt compliments to Mr. Eggers (and occasionally condemning the ’sophomoric behavior of other, less serious reviewers). Most however, were – per the contest rules – about anything but the book.
As of today however, there are only 49 customer reviews available. I am sorry to say most appear to be quite sincerely offered opinions on the book (which is quite good, by the way).
Apparently, “the man” or, perhaps more accurately, some overworked server admin, has intervened and stopped the stream of frivolity.
It was good for a while though, wasn’t it?
Date: Sun, 27 Feb 2000
From: Richard Alcott
Subject: Encounters with Famous People
Once, in Hollywood, with a couple of college buddies, I saw the then-famous trumpet-playing recording producer Herb Alpert in a parking lot behind the Pantages Theatre. One of us — not me, of course, but the more irrepressible Ben Friedman — approached Mr. Alpert, who with his then-attractive wife was on his way to a Sunday matinee. Friedman excitedly informed the musician/businessman his high opinion of his (Alpert’s) arranging abilities. The rest of us, all Beatle fans, thought Alpert and his musical tastes all too passe, but secretly wished we’d had the native chutzpah our pal Friedman had, a quality which would one day see him successfully complete law school, marry his high school sweetheart, and father numerous brainy and sturdy children.
Quite a few years later, in a professional capacity, I met the former Hollywood actor, Ronald Reagan, who at the time was the second-term president of the United States, and although I harbored a long-simmering antipathy for the man and his so-called policies, actually stood in a line to shake his hand and tell him how hale he looked just a week or two following a harrowing surgery during which several miles of his large intestine were removed and preserved for posterity.
Not long after that, in a steam room at the Santa Barbara YMCA, the then-Secretary of State George Schultz showed me a largish tattoo of a dragon he’d had done across his backside during one of numerous trips to Hong Kong. It was very colorful, and executed with what I considered to be a great deal of artistry.
Another time, not all that long ago, while driving with my wife and my cousin Alan through Beverly Hills, I spotted the actor Harrison Ford, driving a sleek black Mercedes-Benz automobile. Cousin Alan, who has lived all his life in Los Angeles, and often has occasion to run into famous people, was the most visible excited of us.
“Roll down the window!” he shouted. “Roll it down! Harrison Ford! I love you, man! I’ve seen all of your pictures! You’re a great actor!”
Harrison Ford did not roll his window down, but he did smile, and mouthed the words thank you.
During none of these encounters did I feel the need to shout or grin like a monkey or otherwise feel an overwhelming excitement.
From: “Mike Topp”
Subject: Some Failed Product Launches
Date: Sat, 26 Feb 2000
Some failed product launches:
2. Champipple (champagne + ripple)
3. Elevator Socks
4. Glitter Deodorant
Date: Sat, 26 Feb 2000
From: Libby Cox
Subject: Will they not hear my herb-roasted plea?
Following is the test from an attempted email missive to the frozen foods customer service cyberaddress to Marie Calendar’s Frozen Foods. In addition, neither the general customer service email nor the mysterious “realate” email address were functional. I smell an (albeit delicious and convenient) conspiracy. I must be heard. Please publish the attached urgent letter.
As a concerned customer and long-time devotee of your fine frozen food products, I must ask you: what have you wrought? In the interest of providing your ever-demanding public of “New!” items, you have sacrificed your very best, tried and true, over the “New!”
Case in point: I was at the Safeway two days ago, looking over your case of frozen delectables, searching in vain for the very best (for I know, I have sampled them all more than once), The Herb-Roasted Frozen Chicken with Corn-on-the-Cob Entree – the penultimate sampling of chicken-based entree you provide – when I noticed a puzzled and desperate man to my left, also leaning on the glass doors, breath frosting the very same cool pane as I. “What are you looking for?” I asked. “The Herb-Roasted Frozen Chicken with Corn-on-the-Cob Entree – I can’t seem to find it! Have they sold out? I suppose they must have, with this thrifty 4 for $9 sale on, and so forth!”
Together we searched in vain for the better part of 5 minutes, and ascertained that not only were there no Herb-Roasted Frozen Chicken with Corn-on-the-Cob Entrees available, but indeed, the tag had been removed entirely! In its stead, mighty benevolent of you, to be sure, to tease our palates, were the Southwestern Chicken Thing and the questionable Honey Roasted Chicken Breast with Mashed Potatoes. We bought them instead, with sad shrugs all around, and scuttled home to heat them up. And okay, they were fine.
But we must protest the needless sacrifice of the Herb-Roasted Frozen Chicken with Corn-on-the-Cob Entree to make way for these new items. Please, please, if you must do away with something to make room for your ever-expanding repertoire of delicious frozen cuisine, please do not bring the vaunted Herb-Roasted Frozen Chicken with Corn-on-the-Cob Entree to the altar. Instead, do away with the loathsome Macaroni & Cheese Entree (you can’t compete with lowbrow Kraft in this arena, let’s face it) or the suspect Beef Stroganoff, or the upsetting Sweet & Sour Chicken item. I beg of you, have reason, and as always, good taste.
I understand you lost your heads for a moment there. Please restore the venerable Herb-Roasted Frozen Chicken with Corn-on-the-Cob Entree to my San Francisco Safeway shelf, and you shall hear no more from me.
I thank you.
P.S. I am dead serious. And hungry. And hard-to-please. And lazy. Please.
Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2000
From: Aaron Kilber
Subject: The Devil Laughed
Please accept this evidence that everyday life, as it turns out, can be quite dramatic. Below is an unedited letter from my brother, Brant Kilber (who while an engaging and skilled writer is an atrocious speller), who lives in a certain kind of central European agony in Uberlingen, Germany with his German wife and two young children. Just to fill in the story, Andreas is his brother-in-law whom he works for.
Dear brother of mine,
I thought I would send you a little E-mail. I actually wanted to write this in Quark, because this Outlook Express dosn’t have a spell-check or other niceities. But I can’t figure out how to import it. Just after I wrote that last sentence I had an inspiration and figured out how to add something from Quark as an attachment, but then realized that you would also have to have Quark to read it. I guess everything is possible, you just have to know how. But I guess that considering I haven’t read a single line in a single book about these programs, I must admit that they are fairly well designed, not perfectly but fairly well.
I don’t seen to have any luck in finding a darkroom space. That is my greatist worry, my constant companion. In the last two weeks I had two leads that fell through. I didn’t talk to you last weekend because you were at Chris and Noras’ wedding (how was it? you read something in front of an audience?). I had a major breakdown last weekend, it wasn’t pretty. There were two factors that came together producing a dangerously combustible mixture. 1: I have been working like a German, which means much to much. A few days before ignition I had worked, as an example, from 5:30 AM until 1:00 AM and then the next day, or rather the same day, I started again at 7:00 AM and worked until 9:00 PM. So as you can see hours that would have been denounced as inhuman even by those slaves building the great pyramid at Giza. As you can well imagine I have a few hours of overtime built-up, over three weeks as a matter of fact, just in the first half of this year. And as I had dropped my camera and broke the mirror, I decided that I needed a new one (repairing it is too expensive, for a little more I can get a different used camera that I like more). In that vane I asked Andreas if he could pay me for my overtime, and considering that at the moment I only take pictures of our projects—-for him—-it seemed like a very modest request; asking for the money that I already earned so that I can do better work in the future is perhaps one way to look at it.
There must be another way of looking at the situation, though, because Andreas said “No, it is not possible.”, or rather “Nein, es geht nicht!”. At the moment I could some how accept that reply, though not pleased by it. A few days latter I recieved my monthly pay envelope, looked in it and was not pleased. Not only was the unexpected overtime pay not there, the expected over time pay was also absent (usually we get10 hours of overtime a month payed – not this month!). I had begged for what, in the eyes of any moderate moralist, should be seen as my right; and received instead a slap in the face. The cause of the Cuban revolution was not greater.
Then #2: They had found a new renter for the store down stairs, a good thing – except… I need a dark room. There is a storage room with access from the alley in the back just big enough for a darkroom. It belongs to the store and I would only be able to have it when the stores occupant changed. So here was my chance, my only chance in the next five years (the term of the lease). But naturally the new renter wanted, “needed”, the room and my “family” decided he “needed” it more than I did. One way of looking at the situation, or should I say the image that flickered accross the screen as seen by me in the second row was as follows: the house that was time and again promised us would not be delivered, not even the smallest corner. More lies, more deceptions. The glove was tossed.
I began preperations. The necessary vines were gathered. Small colorful amphibians were meticulously collected. The brew was chanted over, songs long unheard. The points were first sharpened after the obligatory cleansing ritual was preformed. Under the full moons pale the viscous glittering venom was applied to the arrow points. Carefully, oh so carefully the hands driven by the greatest lust of all – blood lust – notched the points behind the hardening elixer, so that when the terror stricken victim attempted to pull the arrow out, the point bearing my present would break, remaining embedded and deliver my message to the now quivering heart.
As dawns’ graying sky opened my tear stained eyes the velvet of nights maddness was illuminated by the inferno of a thousand burning bridges. The spectal heat drove my pounding legs, the flames of war filling my screaming lungs.
The still sleeping victim, the writhing arrow, and the burning archer became one, united by a line of purpose. Destiny bent my arm, drawing the immoveble bow. The devils soft cooing rang in my head as a thousand churchbells ring in a bellfry. The impatient arrow bound from my grasp, electrified by a thousand slights, a thousang dodges, by a thousand opportunities missed and a thousand dreams stillborn.
“I’m not coming.”
“I’m not coming, you can put the glass in the oven yourself.”
“I’m not coming up there, you have to put the glass in the oven yourself!”
The victim slipped back into unconsciousness the barb set, the venom serpentiening on its inalterable course. As a hound scenting the stags fear the poison closed on the quivering heart. Merciful unconsciousness relieved the agony of dripping teeth tearing the life-breath from his terror stricken heart.
As the Devil laughed to see his doings the universe shuttered. The magnificient release of dark power cut as a bodkins thrust through the unseen fibers that hold time and space united. The shutter came as a for-shock of the mighty quake. In the profound peace before the appocalypse echoed a voice through the still canyons “What hast thou gemacht?”
The pressures of life build and can release at any moment. It’s a wonder that we, any of us, survive it all…
From: “Newhart, Bryson”
Subject: Spreading the wealth
Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2000
Every morning I squander my precious coffee high licking through the insipid news for stories I can care about. Then I hoard them for future contrivance into sad unrevisable fictions. Recently I stumbled on some goodies. Who benefits from these tasty morsels rotting in the empty pantry of my C drive for the day I might somehow muster the energy to bungle another slobby piece of balderdash? No one. Therefore, enjoy …
1) “Cabbie Held for Parking Ticket Parade.” A retired tailor was arrested in Tehran and charged with “spreading lies” for parading around in a suit made from parking tickets.
2) “Drugs Disguised as Patient.” Found in a speeding ambulance: 100 pounds of “quality” hashish “concealed in a red blanket posing as a patient.”
3) “Ailing Donkey Gets Help.” The woman who organized the fundraiser said, “Some people actually laughed at me when I asked them if they wanted to go to a donkey dance.”
4) “Want to Meet People? Get a Dog!” Are you shy? Can’t make small talk or start a conversation? Dogs are a safe topic of conversation and can help spark a rapport between total strangers.
5) “Help for Fatigue: Drill a Hole Into Your Head.” Regarding her self-inflicted cure for chronic fatigue, the British woman said, “I felt the effects immediately. I can’t say they have been particularly dramatic, but they are there.”
6) “Thirsty Monkeys Stone Herdsman to Death.” When he stopped to water his camels they appeared from behind the ridge and started pitching rocks.
7) “Jealous Doctor Arrested for Applying Chastity Lock.” In China, after a routine checkup, a doctor drugged a young woman and forced her to live with him. Police found her with a rusty padlock pierced through two holes in her labia. Villagers had reported that she was having trouble walking.
8) “Pet DNA Stored for Future Cloning.” Not long ago, Richard Denniston found himself suffering the same anguish that millions of pet owners have faced. His little Scottish terrier had a brain tumor. Like most in his shoes, Denniston just wanted an end to the pain. But he took it one step further. He collected a tiny skin sample from the dog and froze it in liquid nitrogen. “One day they can clone me a new one,” he said.
9) “Cave Hermit Emerges for Valentine’s Day.” A 61-year-old French caver emerged on Valentine’s Day after 3 years in total darkness. “What I missed most were women, and to an extent, hygiene as well,” he said.
10) “Therapy Chicken Helps Abused Children Conquer Fear.” The chicken works one-on-one with children and senior-citizens. It visits schools to help with self-esteem.
Happy Millennial Leap Year,
From: “Schossler, Amy”
Subject: thanks for reading things in boston; thanks for reading to a liv e audience.
Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2000
i’m prompted to write this because of the reading you gave recently in boston. first off, it was a fun evening, even though i had to stand for the whole thing. i learned a bit about the rodent population in boston too. which reminds me-one night about a year and a half ago, i was working late when i heard a rustling coming from the cubicle next to me. now, of course, i was the only one in the office (as is always the case when one hears scary noises), when i heard the pitter-pattering noises and rustling of paper (or was it plastic?). i knew that jocelyn (the girl who sat in the cube next to me) liked to keep candy and other goodies in her desk’s middle drawer. hmm..i thought. no, it couldn’t be, could it? then, my suspicions were confirmed. i jumped. i think i even shrieked (probably my most “girlie” trait, i scream at the site of pests, especially spiders), shrieked like the little girl that i am. the little mouse scurried from behind the cubicle over to the big box situated between my desk and joc’s desk. heart pounding, i ran out of my office down the hall looking for someone. anyone would do. i just didn’t want to be alone with it, because you never know. i told a supervisor thinking that she could do something about the situation, seeing as how she was in charge and all. i think she told the maintenance people…. anyway…okay… so, the next morning, i told the co-workers of what i had seen the night before. knowing that jocelyn might go into hysterics if she discovered mouse residue (if you know what i mean) on her desk or worse yet if she went to get some candy only to find tiny little bites in the peppermint patties, i decided to tell her everything i knew. we got some paper towels and were ready to scour the cubicle for clues. we proceeded with caution. needless to say, we discovered mouse poo behind the computer, and when she opened the middle drawer and lifted the bag o candy, yougurt covered raisins fell from the mouse-nibbled bag into the drawer. jocelyn started to cry. i think she was in shock. then i think an inter-office email was sent to inform everyone of “the situation”. we weren’t allowed to keep goodies in our desks anymore. everything’s better now. we moved into a new building (the move was completely (i think) unrelated to the rodent situation, however). and we can keep candy in our desks again……
anyway. hope all is well with your book tour and stuff. thanks again for bringing pest control to our attention. it really isn’t a joke.
Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2000
From: Annie Morelos
I don’t mind having a cause. Helping students makes me feel better, because the students are so young and pretty. They care about their nice hair. So I unlock doors for them turn the other way if it helps them, and write to you about their causes.
Sometimes the students make me feel less of myself. They make me jealous, I have to say, when I see them moving around like what they love is the only great thing. Then part of me wants to ruin it all, tell them the secret to their eyes and let it out of the bag. To make them cry a little. But usually I come back to my senses when they say nice things to me. When they remind me.
Yesterday we set the monkeys loose in the hall and it was a riot.
I know why we are here and I have seen it. One clue: It tastes great.
Annie Morelos C.D.N. MŽxico
From: “Das Brot”
Subject: Into the Heart of Dimness
Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2000
I am in dire need of some floss.
Last night I went to a quaint little Mexican Restaurant in New Hampshire called Tio Juan’s. The bulding the restaurant is in, used to be the local prison. I thought I was going there on a date, but it turned out I was going there with a date, her single mother friend, and the adorable, two-year-old Cameron – who’s favorite dinner time activity is throwing chips and salsa at me.
The waitresses were very happy to serve me everything but my food. However, they were kind enough to remember my margaritas. (Lucky for me, my date’s friend drove as she had the car seat.) So, after munching on chips and salsa for about an hour (the ones that Cameron didn’t get a hold of first), eating half of my date’s and her friend’s Ultimate Nachos, I inquired as to the status of my “Tio’s Super Burrito” which I had ordered at the same time as the girls ordered their nachos. This burrito included beef, refried beans, lettuce, tomato, guacamole, cheese and Tio Juan’s “Special Sauce.” It had sounded delicious. The waitress said she would check on it, and then returned about five minutes later to inform me that she had just put in the order and told the chef to “make it fly.”
I decided to have the burrito wrapped up, and just get dessert. So, we ordered two fried ice cream desserts with chocolate and honey(the best fried ice cream in New Hampshire) and four spoons. Well, the waitress returned with one ice cream and my boxed super burrito, said “There’s yours.” while placing it between my date and her friend, left us the spoons and then vanished. When she finally returned, I asked about MY fried ice cream, and she sternly denied my ever having ordered one. I started to wonder why she didn’t like me.
I paid the check and we left.
While driving back to Boston I completely forgot about my super burrito. I had remembered to tranfer it to my car when leaving my date’s house, but that was about all. I noticed it this morning and determined that a $10 burrito was to valuable to just throw away, and it was probably cold enough outside to have kept my super burrito in healthy and edible condition.
At lunch time I microwaved it for a few minutes, and ate it about 15 minutes ago. Now there is a chunk of beef stuck between my teeth, and I have no floss at work. (I don’t feel that great either.)
Oh, the humanity.
Yours, David Hansen
Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2000
Subject: A Good Idea
I think I have come up with a solution to two of the most pressing issues of our age. Voter turnout is at an all-time low. Experts say that only 150 Americans plan to vote in the November elections. Additionally, no one seems to know what to do with this bothersome $4 trillion budget surplus these good economic times have burdened us with. While, the Republicans think we should the surplus back to the people through tax cuts, I say we take it one step further. People don’t like to vote, but what do they like to do? Play the lottery, of course. Thus, the government should give the entire budget surplus to one lucky voter. The only way you could win the surplus is if you vote. A prize of this magnitude would guarantee 100% voter turnout, ending the voter apathy that has plagued this nation in recent years. In addition, the surplus would go back to the people, one person in particular, say for example Ed Wannamaker of Baraboo, Wisconsin. David Gergen could host a prime-time special on C-Span the night after the election that culminates in him pulling the winner’s name out of a giant drum. Then Brian Lamb could drive the C-Span school bus, now called the C-Span prize van, out to Baraboo and present Ed and his wife Jean with one of those big checks for a whopping $4 trillion smackaroos.
For all the bleeding hearts who think the surplus should go towards saving social security or education or something, I have an idea to assuage your pinko minds as well. Right before the drawing, Congress should pass a 75% trillionaire tax. That way the government gets $3 trillion back to spend on old people and kids, while the Wannamaker’s still would have more money than they could possibly ever spend. Plus, it would be entertaining to watch legislators take the floor of Congress to ridicule the state lotteries for their puny prizes. I have written a speech for Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm (R, Texas) in which he would proclaim “Powerball, schmowerball. I got your Powerballs right here, pal.”
Granted, my idea does have a downside. Ed Wannamaker would have enough money to form a sizable militia with the capability to overthrow the government in Washington and set up a malevolent military junta in Central Wisconsin that would rule over the world’s remaining superpower with an iron fist. However, Ed’s wife Jean assures me that this would not be the case. She says that Ed would use the money to buy that pontoon boat he has always wanted and would get on the waiting list for Packers season tickets. And the Wannamakers would probably buy a bigger house closer to Jean’s family in Fond du Lac, but she wasn’t sure.
Let me know if you think this is feasible.
Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2000
From: “Teri Keough”
Having been in attendance at Wordsworth’s in Harvard Square for the premier reading of the provocative (if cynical) poem “Baby” by your young cousin, and in light of the fact that you do not currently accept submissions of poetry, I respectfully suggest that you considerablishing as a submissions category “Poetry by 7-Year-Olds.” I am not merely bragging (okay, I am) when I point out that my own daughter was a VERY prolific poet at the age of 7, and I have observed that this is quite a happening genre at the moment.
Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2000
From: (Richard Alcott)
Subject: The Price of Chicken Meat
Last night as I was drifting off to sleep, my wife, in the darkness of our bedroom, suddenly asked me for my thoughts on the relative price of chicken meat in America compared with prices here in Kagoshima, Japan. Did I not think the price of chicken meat was significantly lower here in Japan than in California, and didn’t that seem somewhat odd to me, the wife wanted to know, since the common wisdom is that the cost of living in Japan is generally higher all the way around, and that America is supposed to be famous for low cost — which is not to say cheap — consumer goods?
I gave my wife’s concern a few moments of consideration, and then I speculated that perhaps if American consumers took their business to a neighborhood butcher shop, and bought only a specified — that is to say, smaller — poundage of certain chicken parts, perhaps the American consumer might be given the same price advantage as the Japanese consumer, and with less volume actually consumed, might also enjoy an important caloric break as well, leading to an overall general health improvement, and longer life: certainly a significant benefit.
I told my wife how much I loved her, and I felt the arms of slumber pulling me down into a warm and comfortable and altogether peaceful place. Moments later, however, my wife began singing the refrain from a currently popular song, “Tsunami,” by the Southern All-Stars, who are not southerners at all, but come from Yokohama, a city in a north central region of the archipelago. I do not mean to say that she sang the song in a loud or obnoxious tone, for that would not be her style. No, she sang in a thoughtful and clear voice the words of the song, and for a moment I thought I must be dreaming. But this was not so. My wife asked me to say a few words about the song. Did I not think it was an admirable and worthy creation of the pop genre, a tune that fully deserved the accolades it receives as the best-selling record in the long and honorable career of that before mentioned misnomered musical aggregation, the Southern All-Stars?
Yes, I allowed, “Tsunami” is quite a fine addition to the popular canon, and if she so wished, I would go in the morning to the music shop and purchase the single for her, and add it to our collection. My wife said that, oh yes, she would be very pleased if I did, as she very much admired the artistry of the Southern All-Stars.
There were a few minutes of blessed silence in our house, and once again I felt the tendrils of sleep wispily entwining my consciousness. It was then my wife remembered that as a child, in the local commuter train she took each evening home from a cram school she attended in the city, a woman would walk up and down the aisle, trying to sell the dead fish she had stuffed into her backpack. Occasionally, she would be successful, and would take a fish from the backpack, wrap it in newspaper, and exchange it for a few coins with a passenger on the train, all the while maintaining her precarious balance as the train jostled through rice fields and bamboo groves from the city to my wife’s home town. My wife further remembered that as she was a tender-hearted child at the time, she felt sorry for the fish woman’s daily efforts, and how powerfully the dead fish in the woman’s backpack infused the train coach with their briny essence, especially during the humid summer months.
Late one afternoon, when my wife and the fish woman both exited the train at the same station stop in my wife’s home town, my wife invited the fish woman to walk up the hill to where my wife then lived with her mother and step-father. My wife’s mother agreed with my wife that the woman worked hard for her living, and felt the same sympathy for her that my wife felt. My wife’s mother then went into her kitchen and reached into a kitchen cabinet above the sink, retrieved some coins from a small ceramic jar, and purchased one of the dead fish from the woman, who was grateful, and went on her way. My wife and her mother were none too broken up to see the back of the fish woman as the stench of her backpack — or rather, the contents of her backpack — was becoming quite overpowering in the entryway of the house.
My wife and her family had the fish for their dinner. They all agreed that the fish was delicious, even though my wife’s mother had originally planned to serve a completely different dish that night.
Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2000
Subject: Bang the Bear
In my travels though punctuation, I’ve not encountered a single mark that give me more pleasure than the interrobang. This delight, an amalgam of the exclamation point and the question mark, is useful, and saucy.
Also, if this magazine were a Care Bear, what kind of Care Bear would it be? I think it would be the bear leading the charge, resplendent with happiness, but inside, it would be wondering how to tell his parents that he just failed the CPA exam.
Purveyor of Randomnity.
From: “Narciso Jaramillo”
Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000
I’ve noticed, in the short time I’ve been reading your Internet tendency, that a number of your pieces are headed by a “claimer”—that is to say, a sentence or two in brackets explaining that said piece is “real”, “unedited”, etc. I find the presence or absence of such a claimer remarkably helpful in mentally classifying each piece, but it would be even more helpful for me if you would distinguish more precisely between the following cases:
— pieces that are utterly lacking in intentional irony on either the author’s or your part, laying any responsibility for a hypothetical ironic interpretation solely on the reader;
— pieces whose author did not intend any specific irony, but whose publication in your concern is indication of ironic intent on your part;
— pieces whose irony is fully intended by the author, and in which you, as publisher, collude.
Of course, a richer ontology than this would be welcome as well.
Thank you for your kind consideration.
Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000
From: Kate Fillmore
Subject: That was sooo Y2K
Still having a lot of trouble with my computer at work. Sorry if you receive many copies of the same letter from me to you. The IS department really dicks me around. Anyway, I’m writing today to let you in on one of my thoughts. I was skiing last friday in beautiful Ontario and was on the lift with a young man and we got to talking about the weather and the impending awful snow storm that we had all heard about and been warned about for days (blowing up from, incidentally, your country). I said “Yes, well, it turned out to be a few flakes! Whoopdedoo! And my guests decided to not take a chance and drive here and the storm passes over us after all!” The young man replied “Yea, like all this build up for nothing – like Y2K!”
So, here’s the thing: I have started saying this to people when appropriate – “That was so Y2K!” You know, like when there is a huge build up to an occassion, a situation, an event, and then after all the hoopla, it was just a big ol bag of hot air?
Have a good day,
Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000
Subject: Robert Urich.
From: Chris Mohney
I’ve read with interest Ryan Purdy’s notes about his encounters with Robert Urich, physical and vicarious, and I just wanted to tell Ryan that I feel his pain. Well, not his pain exactly, but I feel his vague sense of unease, because Robert Urich has haunted my family in two seperate incidents, which I will briefly relate.
First, in the early fifties, my father’s family lived in a large old Victorian house in Loveland, Ohio, which had been constructed by a Union civil war brigadier named Thomas Tinsley Heath. Gen. Heath’s most notable moment came when he accepted the formal and peaceful surrender of the city of Savannah, GA, which Gen. W.T. Sherman wrote of as “an early Christmas present for President Lincoln.” But the point is, one winter (in the 1950s, not the 1860s) there was a bad snowstorm in Loveland, Ohio, which caused many families to band together at larger houses with better heat, of which the house of my father’s family was one. Several people spent a few nights there over the course of the snowstorm, one of which was a small towheaded child named … Robert Urich.
Now that would be enough, but then consider this: many years later, my father has moved his wife and children to the city of New Orleans to a modest small place outside the city. Incidentally this is the city where I was born, though I was too young to remember (being born in 1971 and moved elsewhere soon after). Sometime before that, however, a local scandal broke out concerning a neighbor. This neighbor, whose name I don’t remember, owned a large tract of land adjacent to the small housing devlopment where my family lived. This landowner liked to go hunting. He also had one or two daughters, and when one or both of them (again, my memory is unclear) brought home fiances he didn’t like, he would invite the fiances to go hunting on this land, wherein he would shoot and kill them in a fabricated hunting accident. This happened twice before he was caught, I believe.
Anyway, years later, the events described were dramatized in a TV movie, with the central role of the murderous New Orleans father/landowner/hunter/neighbor played by … Robert Urich. This may or may not have been 1993’s “Deadly Relations,” starring, among others, Gwynneth Paltrow and Matthew Perry. I simply can’t recall.
Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000
From: “Carman, Sean”
Subject: A Reply to Ms. Barrodale
I must take issue with Amie Barrodale’s report, citing a recent news item in Chemical Week, that, to quote Ms. Barrodale, according to chemical industry “pundits” (Barrodale’s word, not mine) (I haven’t actually started quoting her yet, here’s the quote:) “output of polyethalene rarely reaches cracker nameplate capacity, and cracker styrenics units are virtually guaranteed to admix inorganic bromides during the latter stages of terephthalate resin production.”
Where exactly to begin with this kind of out-of-context reportage? Suffice it to say that Barrodale is irresponsibily tossing around idle accusations that the industry put to rest in the 1987 Cupertino Shell Trials (Chemical Week, June 13, 1987), which achieved polyethalene outputs 5% above industry standard advertised cracker nameplate capacities in ten (that’s ten Ms. Barrodale, 10, T-E-N) trials after only 43 hours at 85% capacity production. How I recall those trials. Those were the heady, glorious days of PE production, when the pungent smell of the stuff still engendered a giddy excitement in me, like an urgently whispered promise or a hushed confidence . . where was I? Well, as Ms. Barrodale well knows, the Chemical Manufacturer’s Association long ago agreed to standardize PE cracker nameplate capacity specifications, so she can’t toss that dead horse back into the ring. “That dead horse is a red herring,” as we used say, as we stood around the benzene-laden oil-water separators after lunch at the “gentleman’s clubs,” in my days in East Texas. Anyway, as for the claimed tendency toward the admixture of inorganic bromides? Pshaw. Even a modest amount of fact checking would have informed Ms. B that inorganic bromides can be adequately filtered through a conventional skimming device in the downstream float tank, or trickled out through steam injection. Either solution is compatible with terepthalate resin production (or any other process Ms. B cares to invoke), as any young-journalist- writer-working-on-a-screenplay-or-novel-in-her-spare-time certainly knows.
Finally, President Clinton has made free trade a priority, and we all know that means making the most of lax industry standards in developing countries, which means sometimes looking the other way vis-a-vis PE cracker nameplate production specs on units configured for Latin American producers. I would have thought Ms. Barrodale would have already received this message.
Please don’t bother me again.
Gravitas C. Berks-Kill
Polyethalene for a Better America, Inc.
Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000
Subject: re:chubby preacher pauses often on boardwalk
From: Jessica Schanberg
This past weekend I had the misfortune of traveling to orange county. The land of non-recycling, roller-blading, driving enthusiasts with shrines of Reagan in their gated communities…Look, my old friend Debra lives there. Anyway saturday we’re just tooling around huntington beach which is a run down surf town with delicious, young boys careening toward melanoma all over the place. I’m 30 but I felt 15. Way too many men in bike shorts, with man breasts and grapefruits?!!! in their shorts. Vomit. Very hilarious.
Just trying to set the scene. Anyway we stopped and sat on a dirty ledge scraped raw from skateboards and dotted with seagull poop. There was a man speaking to a crowd:chubby, brown hair, t-shirt, bermuda shorts. Not looking psycho but every few minutes he would say one sentence in away that only people used to subway announcements could understand:
1) 6 million jews died in the holocaust but what about all of the __millions of aborted babies? five minute pause 2)how many bibles does it take to save China? five minute pause.distant laughter He asks to ride a skateboard and does some wheelies. A man in a reclining bike stops to talk to him and a Japanese tourist wants him to take his picture. A photo of the Japanese tourist, that is.
He wasn’t a hateful preacher but he was a lousy one.
On another note, this one going out to Dave Eggers himself:
You have totally inspired me to write again. Not to be famous but just for the sheer pleasure of it and I thank you for that. I am almost finished with your book and I have really gotten a lot out of it. I wish you luck dodging some of the bullshit that comes with having your fifteen minutes in People, the Times, etc. I hope that all of the fame gives you the freedom to do what you want with your life.
I grew up with a famous dad and frankly, the fame gig sucked. People were always ass kissing and I never knew if people liked me for me. Now I don’t tell people and usually they have the good sense not to bring it up. All I’m saying is that you should always remember who you really are and if you can, make fun of Bryant Gumbel (Katie Couric, etc..) in the process.
Date: 23 Feb 00
From: Thomas Gibbon
Subject: Feedback, unsolicited
here are my reactions to the last few days of McSweeney’s, which have seen many updates.
My friend, Nabe, who is funny with or without Mexican wrestler action figures present, likes to say, “Most shark attacks occur within three feet of the home.”
It’s a votive candle in a metal holder.
If Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern/Suddenly Afraid/Internet Tendencies/Sofa-Cushion Fortress Wars came out in 1985 (and the internet were in place then, too, and everything else that would have to be for that to be) we would probably refer to it as “Tim’s” and not “McSweeney’s,” and I would be a very strange eleven-year old.
Mr. Rogers, much like that sweaty curly-haired loony who loses weight, is a truly good, giving guy in a universe of stars who are self-serving and possibly evil (using that term simply to mean “very bad”).
It is nice to see Amie Barrodale is a real person and not just a figment of my roommate’s imagination.
All those times my brother and father and uncles tried to get me interested in boating and/or electrical engineering and I resisted. Well, those are regrets now, not victories.
Our intergalactic fraternity council soccer team in college was “The Death Installers,” it was hyperbolic.
Maybe I shouldn’t claim to be Timmy Church. And he definitely should have killed one of those instances of “his.”
I think I played that trivia game in a coffee shop in St. Louis (a beautiful city of discrete charms) in June 1998, it was hard, somewhat embarrassing, and oppressively hot.
Other events from the same period of time, not related to McSweeney’s.
Mother said that Manic-Depressives can be a handful and that I am still well within the prime age for onset of schizophrenia.
I wrote a poem about my old living room, which no longer exists.
My friend, Nabe, who is funny even when speaking in an American accent, sent me the url of an internet site about a robot who eats slugs to live.
I began to wonder about my career choice.
I realized that nickels are essential to financial flexibility.
I gave up.
Fictional occurrences of the same period.
I was a judge being sued but could not find my case-file.
Faith awoke from her coma and switched bodies with Buffy.
John McCain de-feeted George Bush in Michigan.
Poterloo was beheaded by a German shell, this was sad but heavily foreshadowed.
Carly Simon thought that I thought that that song was about me. Silly Carly, I think it is about the playful wonders of language and the difficulties of epistemology.
I hope this letter finds you well.
Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000
From: sara k ogilvie
Subject: I need your help. All of you.
I would really like a nickname. This has been an issue with me for quite some time – for no good reason, really, I just think there is something rather attractive about having TWO NAMES – one for real and one for fun. I try to come up with my own nickname, but it seems sad. Two good ones I have tried to jumpstart with my friends have been “Colonel” and “Scoop,” and Scoop is just fun to say out loud; it implies fun like you wouldn’t believe. Or maybe you would – I will give you the benefit of the doubt. Does anyone have good ideas for me? I would prefer that the nickname not be more that one word – I don’t want to unecessarily confuse anyone. Or maybe nicknames are just stupid.
Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000
From: Tom Stanley Dear McSweeney’s, I met a girl last weekend. She has a boyfriend, in San Diego. Call him Riff. She said to me ‘what are we doing,’ and I told her we were flirting. She said to me ‘I don’t just do this…’ and I thought she seemed nicer. Oh, nothing wild happened. My grandmother is on my case about the whole thing. She’s right, but it doesn’t matter. It was nice, seeing my letter up this morning.
From: “Gillian Beebe”
Subject: I hate my job
Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000
Can I come to work for you? I have many marvelous qualities and skills, though I am not as beautiful as the people who seemed to be affiliated with you at Swooneys (the bar in Brooklyn where I waited while you had your reading upstairs in a too-small room which my friend with the broken ankle thoroughly enjoyed though no one offered him their seat) and at the gallery (I realize the drivers were not affiliated with you). I am a philosophy editor which sounds neat but is really quite boring. If you print this my boss will surely read it and then I will be fired for hating my job and expressing my hatred for my job in McSweeneys. So I will be available to being working for you immediately upon your publication of this letter.
I have a lot to say about the elephant paintings. First, I think it is absurd to characterize them as a way to have the elephants “earn their keep.” It’s a wonderful concept to auction paintings by the formerly abused and mentally tortured (elephants are very intelligent) beasts to raise money for them. But it’s obnoxious to imply that they should somehow be responsible for Oh I don’t know what I’m so upset about. I was tempted to put aside common sense (about how the keepers chose the colors and framed the paintings according to what looked nice to the human eye out of a humungous canvas splattered with paint by an elephant that probably just enjoyed making a mess) and analyze the symbols in the paintings. I thought I saw giraffes in one—was the elephant expressing some dear memory of his youth in the grasslands and jungle? Other paintings, if examined by a psychiatrist, would probably be interpreted as manifestations of repressed memories of lost love, public humiliation, sexual dysfunction, etc. I hate myself for writing this. I am so emotional about elephants. I’m just having a hard time reconciling my reverence for them with my disdain for art galleries and commercialization and exploitation and money. What a silly thing to say!
So please hire me. If I came to work for you I promise I would not spend most of the day writing stuff to strangers that has nothing to do with my job. oooh I am being so risky—I haven’t seen McSweeneys, yet I feel so close to it. I hope I like it. But now maybe I shouldn’t ever read it. Maybe it would be better for all of us if I just maintained my fantasy. Please don’t cancel my lifetime subscription, though! Thank you.
pick pick pick=pickle.
Gillian von N. Beebe