[For too long, McSweeney’s has been hoarding your correspondence, not sharing your thoughts with those who you did not intend to see them. But no more. The following letters, for which we offer no excuses or take any responsibility, will kick off a new letters page thing, which will be regular, and click-onto-able. It will be very much like the chat rooms one hears so much about. It will be magical.
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I must say that the idea of a “Mark O’Donnell Week” is simply sensational. Although my dad has the same name — which is cool also. However it should be Mark O’Donnell Week for ALL Mark O’Donnells because all Mark O’Donnells deserve just as much as the one the holiday was named after — just because they did not make it as big as the main M. O’Donnell
I was glancing at some old ET mags and saw Dave Eggars in his Bkln apt.
Why do I write?
Well I thought I was the ONLY messy person writing around. . .his picture showed him to be like ME in my Bronx apartment.
That makes me fell GOOD and un—unique.
I like looking at pictures in mags and cutting some articles out.
I also read read read and write too.
I may continue reading mcsweeneys.
Animal sex stories involving my grandmother, Part 1
by Jamie Humphrey
My grandmother on my mother’s side, the one who used to chase me around her house with scissors threatening to cut out my tongue because I called her ‘Granny’, has a patio just off her living room with a sliding glass door. She likes to leave the curtains open so she can watch the birds.
One day there was a huge grasshopper clinging to the outside screen. I got closer and saw it was actually two grasshoppers, twisted around each other, shaking. Grandma and I watched in unashamed fascination. Eventually all the shaking made them fall to the sidewalk. Then grandma’s cat Smokey sauntered over and ate them.
Grandma said, “Well. They had their fun and now they’re gone.”
This incident + parochial school = no sex until many years later.
Which McSweeney is your favorite? I like Rebecca.
I recently purchased a copy (two actually, just in case) of the first edition of your lovely journal. While reading it on the 4 train this morning, I noticed something in the letter from Don in Arizona (world’s worst cities if they are named after local landmarks). Of course there is no “Scrotum, Connecticut.” BUT there is a “Scotsrun” (maybe spelled with two ’t’s ?) in either CT or NY (it’s a town i’d pass on the way to school, in NY, from my parents’ house, in CT). INVARIABLY when passing the interstate exit sign advertising the town, one reads the name of said town as “Scrotum.” This was first noted by an ex-boyfriend & it has held true over the years.
When I first read the letter, I thought Don had made the same mistake. I read further & learned it was fiction. But what a fortunate coincidence!
I have nothing of wit to say at this moment, but was honored to see that the city of my upbringing and its inherent moped problems have gained your attention.
What happened was this. The printer (dot matrix, not daisy-wheel) gets jammed and then I have to send away to Indo-fucking-nesia for a new ink cartridge, only it turns out they no longer make ink cartridges at the place I have to call, they like only make fly-wheel casters (for fly-fishermen I guess – have you ever gone fly-fishing? fucking waste of time) and when I ask for the customer service representative, they put me into some voicemail chamber of horrors that keeps kicking me into and out of something that I later learn is called subroutine Zelda, in which muzakked versions of recent rap and hip-hop tracks play backwards, giving the listener (me) the distinct impression that he is sussing into some undiscovered Pink Floyd tunes recorded around the time that Syd Barrett went totally ape-shit nuts. And so but I finally talk with some guy in (get this) Madagascar, which is apparently where they take care of most of the customer service complaints in the world (look it up – IBM, Microsoft, Nike – they all have banks and banks of customer-service phones run entirely by prisoners in and around Antananarivo) and so this guy tells me that while they no longer support printers of the type I own, they do offer a service whereby a guy will come over to my house and rip out any and all jammed pieces of paper, will rebuild the ink cartridge by hand (presumably using time-honored methods known only to Antananarivians and their ancestors, or was it the Malagasy? who the fuck knows…), and will make me a traditional home-style meal (as you can probably guess, I have no idea what tradition that might turn out to be at this point). So I agree. And this guy (turn out to be Norse – who knew?) shows up at my house like FIFTEEN MINUTES LATER with a bunch of tools that I’m pretty sure are for leatherworking, but OK, he’s gonna fix my printer and so I go to watch the Lakers game in the living room and pretty soon I smell smoke (and not the kind you’re thinking). So I jump the fuck back there and the guy is nowhere to be found, and my bed is on fire, and my printer has been taken and replaced by an elaborate cardboard cutout of a printer, done in really detailed trompe l’oeil style s.t. I can’t even tell it’s gone except that it changed model numbers from HP 870C to HP 870Cse. And so then I’m down a printer and the Lakers lose and I find in the smoldering wreck that was once my bed a bizarro burnt offering that looks like the skull of a lemur or something (native only to Madagascar, if memory serves) and at this point I decide it might be better to scrap the entire letter I had already written (35 pages in verse) and start again on my computer at work. So I hope you aren’t offended. The proverbial plums of literary procrastination, which I know you wanted to eat yourself, were delicious.
I’d like to add to Christina Dixcy’s letter about Scrotum-like town names. There is a Scotrun in northeastern Pennsylvania, between my parents’ house in New Jersey and my own home in central New York, the exit sign for which my wife and son and I often pass in our car. While driving this route one day with our friend Ed Skoog, we discussed the similarity of this town name to the word “scrotum,” and Ed shared the following facts: that 1) there was a town near his home town in Kansas called Seaman (I may be wrong on the spelling here), and 2) Ed’s high school’s athletic team name was the Trojans. According to Ed, the local newspaper made good use of the coincidence, indulging in headlines like “TROJANS BLOCK SEAMAN” and “SEAMAN PENETRATES TROJAN DEFENSE.”
If you doubt me, ask Ed. He is the only Ed Skoog in America, we think.
J. Robert Lennon
Ithaca, New York