Let’s Not Do That Reich Before We Eat

The kids take up a lot of our time. As a result, our nights out alone together are precious. I’m sure you’ll agree that going out for a movie and dinner is a luxury. Like taking a wee vacation.
That’s why I’m going to have to ask that we stop seeing Nazi films before dinner.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love history. Especially World War II history. If I had to pick a war to fight in, that’s the one I’d choose. Good versus evil was clearly defined. Just like in Home Alone.
But, whether they’re documentaries or based on a true story, these pre-dinner swastika-fests are just not working for me.
I have no doubts that the summary execution of Sophie Scholl really affected our perception of the appetizers. Though I can’t say I’m crazy for radicchio, I was enthusiastic about my smoked cheese and your fried artichokes. But that enthusiasm was tempered by the beheadings, which stuck with me until well after the cappuccino. And that’s not right, darling. Dinner should be about good times, not Gestapo.
Remember Downfall? Amazing film. Remember where we ate afterwards? I don’t. I kept thinking about Ma and Pa Goebbels. The poisoning of six kinder should be followed with some sulking on the sofa, not a fine dining experience. Not even a casual dining experience with free breadsticks and bottomless salad.
Know what was on my mind after Primo Levi’s Journey? Not fondue.
Now, darling, it’s not like we can’t see Nazis anymore. Quite the contrary – I’m still fascinated by them. Always will be. We can watch them in a variety of venues. Just not before dinner. I can’t go from Treblinka to truffle fries any more. If I’m going to pay $12 for a salad, I’d like to want to eat it. Not only do the Einsatzgruppen not whet my appetite, they lead my appetite to a pine forest and shoot it in the back.
Before the Fall was really good. Not a high body count either; quite notable for a film with Nazis in it. But, you know, even with a moderately priced bottle of wine I’m going to think about Himmler. So, please, let’s have a dining experience unmarred by the SS. I really think it’d be nice.
A lighthearted romp might set the tone. A romance. A romance between two men on a mountain. Dragons. Another Jane Austen remake. I’m game for almost anything. Just not Der unbekannte Soldat or The Ninth Day. If it lacks goose-stepping and J-Lo, I’ll see it. And then we’ll go to a nice restaurant for a dining experience untainted by Goering. You pick the place, Mein Frau.
Just so you know, I thought about having dinner before the movie, but a burger-Bergen-Belsen evening doesn’t work for me either. When it comes to the finite number of quiet evenings we have together, I hope you’ll be a trooper and agree to make them as Hitler-free as possible.
Your Husband

Dear Person Who Hacked Paris Hilton’s Cell Phone

By making Ms. Hilton’s phone book and emails available for all to see, you provided me with much entertainment on a lazy Sunday. I thoroughly enjoyed the fruits of your labor, gleefully imagining the fury that would be directed at Ms. Hilton after Eminem received his ninetieth wake-up call from some adoring, aspiring wigga. I thought long and hard about calling up “Dad” and cursing him for producing such a monstrosity and unleashing it on the public. I spent valuable seconds wondering if a mundane entry like “Rite Aid” was for a pharmacy – or a drug dealer. I wonder if “Egplant dike ass” will be upset when she recognizes her phone number.
Though I was pleased to see the number for “Feed the children” in there, she didn’t gain any points with me. I can’t stand her and neither, obviously, can you.
We share the same distaste for the girl. We’re appalled by the vapidity, the hubris, the logic-defying celebrity status bestowed on her by dunces. You cringe as I cringe. You shake your head as I do. You don’t get it as I don’t get it.
No doubt you were as traumatized as I was that the video of her humping an opportunistic sleazeball didn’t send her off to oblivion – but rather made her bigger and more powerful. Just like the blob in The Blob. I saw this as a sign that the world was going to Hell, and so did you. Indeed, perhaps she’s Satan in a tart costume.
Speaking of Satan – who do you think would email back if I sent “Christ” a message? She can’t be that connected, can she? He’s there in her address book, two up from Chris Judd, just under “Mr. Chows.”
Though I find Ms. Hilton a classless drain on all things decent and believe she cheerfully, vacantly represents almost everything that’s wrong with society today, my contempt for the strumpet ends at calling her names. You? You’ve got moxie, my boy. You take action.
Now, what you did was wrong of course. Your callous disregard for collateral damage was on par with the average Islamist. Come tomorrow – after having received countless emails and phone calls from freaks worldwide – hundreds of innocent and not-so-innocent people or their assistants will be forced to spend their President’s Day obtaining new phone numbers and email addresses.
Because of what you did to Ms. Hilton, other folks were hurt or placed in harm’s way. Ashlee Simpson might get a call reminding her that she’s a fraud perpetrating a joke on the song-downloading public. Ditto Lindsay Lohan. And Lauren Popeil, heiress to Ronco, might be hounded by people upset that her dad’s Food Dehydrator is a piece of crap.
A lot of folks – and inexplicably Pauly Shore – were caught in the crossfire. So shame on you.
But how totally, totally awesome.
Sure we’ve all seen Paris naked, committing oral sodomy in night vision, but your felonious adventure provided pretty much anyone with internet access the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the little portion of Paris they hadn’t yet seen. The Paris who, according to her personal notes, has to “Get birth control kill pill.” The Paris who has “Tell ken about jess trying to bone JT” as a to-do. The business-savvy Paris who plans to “Do that’s hot tank tops like chrome hearts iold english writinh that’s hot with crosses and tiatas.”
Thanks to the overwhelming Paris Hilton media offensive (pun intended), the content of her Sidekick phone was actually the only Paris-related thing left for the general population to find out about. Now that you went the extra mile and provided it to us, I can’t help but wonder: is she over?
Of course she isn’t. That would simply be too lucky. Sure, we’d love to think of her being dis-invited to parties and airbrushed off magazine covers. But it’s not going to happen. I wouldn’t say we’ll always have Paris, but she’ll be desecrating the culture a bit longer. Sigh.
Not to say the sacrifice you’ll be making is in vain; you gave us brief joy and a glimmer of hope. For that, I thank you. No doubt a good portion of the public thanks you. Pauly Shore, ironically, probably thanks you. In fact the only people not thanking you would be the heiress herself, and 500 of her closest “friends.”

Dear Lady Squatting In Our Midst

Dear Madam:
New York City has jaded me in many ways – in part because the streets are littered with the insane, the degenerate and the hopeless. Truth be told, whether we’re forced to contend with pierced twenty-something loafers asking for cigarette money or toothless drunks sleeping on dried dog-urine, most of us find it all quite routine. Boring even.
It’s obvious that every psychiatric facility emptied its inventory onto the streets. That, combined with the sad fact that people no longer feel the slightest bit of shame asking strangers for money, means that the sheer quantity of wretched souls makes it impossible to recall any particular details about them. In the end, they are merely folks that wanted something for nothing, or carried on conversations with a lamppost. Tired, tired, tired.
However, once in a great while during a routine stroll down the mostly well-ordered streets one will encounter a person with whom interaction leaves some kind of lingering memory. Or, in your case, an emotional scarring so horrible that while it was being violently laser-etched into my brain it incinerated all happy memories from 1968 to present.
The last such person to make a vivid impression and earn a few bytes of my memory was an old black gentleman two years ago. It was a sunny autumn day, a weekend, fairly cool. He had apparently been enjoying the contents of the empty fifth in his hand. We arrived at the scene after the fact, but it didn’t take a degree in forensic science to determine what had transpired. At some point post-consumption of his adult beverage, the gentleman had experienced the urge to empty his bladder – yet seems to have not had the motivation to actually bring his bladder somewhere. Instead, he’d removed his enormous penis and emptied the bladder’s contents upon himself and a section of the sidewalk in close proximity to his penis. Apr�s-pee, his beverage got the better of him and he took a nap, exposed penis in hand.
This image was fairly unique, I’d even say extraordinary, and so it’s one I still recall quite vividly. I considered it my ultimate New York sidewalk experience. Until Sunday.
Sunday was a lovely day. Sunny and brisk. The baby was well behaved and dozed right off after a bottle of milk. While my wife pushed the stroller, I followed behind alongside my buddy Mike – a former improv comrade visiting from out of town. We were recovering from a lovely night that had begun with visiting a friend at Saturday Night Live and ended in the wee hours at some After-After party filled with bimbos. In fact, I had hoped to be writing about that evening right now, and had already begun organizing the paragraphs in my head as we strolled towards SoHo.
But you had other plans.
The mind is never prepared to process the visual of an obese, middle-aged woman in a pink hat leaning against a car, pooping. The mind can not be trained to suffer that horror in any capacity. Nor should it have to.
When it does encounter such a traumatic optical assault, the brain’s first response is to deny. This isn’t happening. But reality can’t be denied. Even though countless brain cells die trying to prevent the acceptance of such foul memory, it ultimately breaks through. It then makes its way to the recesses of your brain – to one of the small villages therein. Perhaps a place called Memoryton. Once there, it rapes and murders everyone in the village. Then it sets fire to it and slaughters the goats for good measure.
That was the effect of seeing you before us in broad daylight, propped against some poor soul’s tire whilst grinning, pooping and making full eye contact with every passerby.
And there were many.
My wife was smart enough to sense that something was amiss, and was able to divert her gaze and guide the stroller in a different, safer direction. She was unscathed. But Mike and I and certainly many others were not so lucky. If you had been Sodom, we’d have all been salt.
Madam, I’ve seen dead people, grisly crime photos and a guy from New Guinea with testicular elephantitis – but it was you who provided me with the most disturbing visual image to date. And nature was an accessory to the crime too: The sunlight was perfect, illuminating your underside just enough to create a darling silhouette of your ongoing efforts, as well as a few accomplishments which rested peacefully on the newspaper you placed underneath yourself.
And how proud you were. Beaming with joy as you made eye contact with us. All of us. But Mike in particular. Mike is traumatized – quite so – and if he survives he may very well never come back to this city again.
That visual, the smile, your roundness, your pink hat and the cursed eye contact: it was the perfect recipe. Kudos. You have earned a place in the memory books of dozens. Perhaps hundreds. In my book you’re somewhere near the front, well ahead of the time I nearly lost my fingers in a freak watermelon-cutting incident. Probably a few pages ahead of the crazy Jesuit priest.
Our time together was brief, but somehow it seemed like an eternity. Perhaps because the image will be with us long after the earth is swallowed by a supernova.
We’ll never forget you. Just ask Mike. Or the unsuspecting French people who passed us. Or the scores who shared what should have been a most intimate moment. Countless people now ask themselves the same two questions: Why did we look? and Why did you look back?
Congratulations madam. You’re a somebody. And if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.

Why I Am Leaving The Troupe

Dear Tim,
When I first came on board Hilarity Ensues, I was thrilled. I thought being in Oswego’s only improvisational comedy troupe was the beginning of what I intend to be a long and successful acting career. I also thought the fact that Jesus was in the troupe was a bonus.
It’s been well over a year now, and I’m sure you realize things have not been so good. The enthusiasm that I originally came with has waned considerably, almost completely, and the troupe’s morale in general is at an all-time low. I feel I should elaborate on why.
From the very beginning it was obvious to me that Jesus was not a team player. In my very first performance, Mike and I were doing a scene where a watermelon farmer is returning an eggbeater to a department store. We had the audience in stitches. We owned them. Then Jesus walks offstage to an older woman and heals her ear. We totally lost the crowd after that.
That was my first inkling that Jesus was the kind of improviser that had His own agenda, other players be damned. Usually, with a player like that, you hope that the director reins Him in during the after-show notes. You never did. In fact, that very same night, I recall you defending Him as “the King of Kings,” even though I have more experience, having completed Level 3 classes at Upright Citizens Brigade in New York.
And so we plodded on. Every show was more of the spotlight-stealing same. If Jesus wasn’t inviting the whole audience to the Kingdom of Heaven, He was blessing them, guiding them, or turning pitchers of water into wine-which annoyed the waitresses to no end.
He was even nice to hecklers, which I think encouraged them even more.
Most of us in the group hoped in vain that you would see the light and ask Jesus to tone it down. Every single time, we were rebuffed. It was “Son of God” this or “Messiah” that. In your eyes, He could do no wrong. I know He fixed your uncle’s knee, but separation of personal and professional feelings is paramount here. Hilarity Ensues was supposed to be about the comedy, yet we were dealt one blow after another. Even though He killed nearly every scene, He was “the Savior” in your eyes. And to add insult to injury, you gave Jesus a bio that took up most of the playbill. I was limited to a headshot and a line mentioning my history degree.
I know you consider a packed house to be the hallmark of success, but the people weren’t there for Hilarity Ensues, or for improv comedy at all. They were there for Jesus. Perhaps from a business standpoint it was great-a full house at $10 a pop was not a shabby deal at all-but from a performer’s standpoint it was a disaster.
Did they ever appreciate my adherence to the Tao of Del Close? No. Were they impressed with my lightning wit? No. My repertoire of differently wigged characters? No. They were there to be healed or saved or to personally request that their favorite team win the Super Bowl. I’ll never forget doing my awesome Greek fisherman character with the funny hat and not getting a single laugh because He couldn’t stop ascending in the background.
Improv is a team effort, Tim. When you get a group of talented folks together and put them on stage, you have an amazing, magical experience. But if one of those people is Jesus, I’m sorry to say, all bets are off. Frankly, I think Jesus was the Yoko Ono of Hilarity Ensues, and you were the Lennon.
At this point, I think it’s best that I part ways. I’m certain Oswego is big enough to support two improvisational-comedy troupes, so I’m starting up New and Improv-ed. There are no hard feelings. I hope you’ll come see us.

Premiered on McSweeney’s, 7/29/04.

To The Person Who Found My Camera

Dear Sir/Madam:
First of all, I’d like to congratulate you on the acquisition of a Casio Exilim S20 compact digital camera. No doubt it was an exciting find after your fine meal at Houston’s on Park, where delicious spinach dip is the signature item.
As you may have noticed, the Casio Exilim is a 2.0 Megapixel beauty with a 4X digital zoom. At under a half-inch thick, it’s the perfect camera to put in your pocket and lose while dining out.
No doubt, you’re wondering why the memory card contains 17 close-ups of a cat’s ass.

Continue reading…

Notes To Igor On The Occasion Of His Hair Salon Opening


Hi Igor. First of all, I wanted to welcome you to this country and wish you the best of luck on the occasion of your hair salon’s Grand Opening. Owning your own business is one of life’s great joys, especially when it’s a successful endeavor – just ask Mike Bloomberg. I hope your pursuit of the American Dream is a success. I’m sure you’ll find that this country offers unprecedented opportunities in business that you wouldn’t find in your native Russia, or Ukraine. Or wherever it is that they name people Igor.
Igor, I have a lot of experience in advertising, and I thought I would pass on some of that knowledge to you to help you better prepare your next neighborhood-leafleting advertisement campaign, so that it may be more effective.
Igor, consumers in Chelsea expect certain things from their hairdressers. For starters, they expect them to be named Michael, Stephan or Christopher. Igor is a tough sell, a name normally reserved for hunchbacks and people in the employ of demons. I realize you have incorporated your name into your business title, so it may not be possible to simply change it to Christopher or Flavio. All I can suggest is making the “o” in your name into a heart, and perhaps dotting your “I” with a daisy.
Igor, I have some problems with the photo you’ve chosen for the advertisement. Perhaps that’s you in the photo. Indeed, many business owners fall into the trap of advertising themselves as opposed to their business. It’s important to separate ego from the business model. The guy from Papa John’s keeps putting himself in his ads, as does real estate agent Barbara Corcoran, as did David Thomas from Wendy’s. Igor, I’m against this practice, especially if you look like you just got caught strangling a bus full of cheerleaders.
If the photo is to show someone who has received your services, I would suggest a picture of a smiling individual. Perhaps with styled hair, so as to better suggest what your business is capable of doing. I think hair salon models should have hair. Regardless, you don’t want to convey that your customers have been accused of murder.
As you’ll notice in your ad, the various services offered (coloring, permanent, pedicure, et al.) do not look like services the individual in the photograph would use. In fact, if such a gentleman came to me for highlights and a pedicure, I would depart the premises and seek employment in Ecuador.
If the photo is to show an employee of the establishment, I would still recommend smiling, as hairstylists are known to wield scissors and other sharp objects. Again, the purpose of an advertisement is to entice, not frighten. You want people to identify your business with quality hairstyling services, not grievous bodily harm.
Igor, I’ve waived my normal freelance rates so that I could offer these helpful tips, in an effort to help you make the most of your advertising dollar. You’re on your own from this point onward, but I’m certain that some day Igor will be to highlights what Slavomir is to dumplings.

The Starfleet Academy Rejection Letter

Dear Applicant:
Thank you for your interest in Starfleet Academy.
After the utmost consideration, we regret to inform you that we will not be able to offer you a place in the Fall freshman class.
Every year, we receive tens of thousands of applications from all over the United Federation of Planets. Among them are thousands of qualified individuals. As you can imagine, our decision is not an easy one. Even for emotionally detached Vulcans.
The Starfleet Selection Committee is comprised of faculty, Academy staff and a recently assimilated admissions professional. Each application is thoroughly reviewed. The many criteria we evaluate include school grades and performance records, standardized testing scores, physical mass and emotional profile. In addition, we are required to offer a certain number of spaces to individuals who qualify for the No Klingon Left Behind Act.
On behalf of the Starfleet Selection Committee, I wish you the best in your academic pursuits. Please know, this by no means precludes you from applying to Starfleet in the future, or in the past if you find a rift in the space-time continuum.
Six of Nine
Dean, Starfleet Admissions

The Apprentice, M.E.

Dear Frank,
This letter is to elaborate on our discussion of 14 May 2004 in which I informed you that the Medical Examiner’s Office would no longer be needing your services. Based on your reaction – you seemed surprised – I felt I should go into further detail and explain why.
Frank, we hired you initially because you were the winner on Fox Television’s America’s Next Medical Examiner. This was an impressive feat considering the original pool of aspiring medical examiners was 12,000. We followed your progress, as we did that of the other contestants on the show. To be honest, early on in the season I was certain that Ms. Weiss was destined to win, hands down.
As the season progressed, you out-sang everyone in the disco competition and out-danced them the following week. Gradually you worked your way through the competition, rose to every occasion, and conquered every challenge. When America chose you during the two-hour season finale, I felt confident in my decision to hire you immediately. We were more than excited to bring a new star on board and into the Office of the Medical Examiner.
Frank, from the very beginning your superiors and associates were skeptical of your abilities. In your first autopsy, #04-291, you ignored the obvious blunt-force trauma to the head of a 59-year old Caucasian male and instead suggested that the gentleman “probably died from old-man-itis, if you know what I mean.” That alone suggested to all of us that perhaps you did not have the medical training or attitude necessary for this line of work.
Though the proper medical terms were pointed out to you time and time again, you continued to use “cock” and “beaver” to describe the genitalia. When Dr. Tyson fainted during autopsy #04-302, it was not because of the autopsy itself, as you had led me to believe. She has participated in over one hundred. It was because you suggested the decedent had “major hooters.” This unfortunate observation was captured on the audio recording of the autopsy, as was the sound of Dr. Tyson’s head striking the desk on her way to the floor.
As a result of your various errors, omissions and general incompetence, I have had to dedicate three valuable staff members to go over the records of nearly 60 autopsies you were involved with. So far, these men and women have had to expunge various details from your reports. These details include unwarranted wild guesses about the identity of killers in homicide cases (Jimmy Hoffa is dead, by the way), complete speculation about people based on their body shape, and the suggestion on at least two occasions that the decedents “deserved what they got” because they “looked like jerks” – one of whom was a Fulbright scholar with lymphoma.
You mocked one decedent because he had a crucifix tattoo, you claimed another decedent tried to touch your ass, and you began one autopsy with “Man, this guy’s got a horse cock.” Also captured on audio.
Speaking of audio, I’d like to talk to you about certain things that have turned up in the transcription logs. I’m most curious what led up to you shouting “Get back here!” during #04-330. I’m also concerned why “Daddy says sit over there, Maggie” is heard during #04-342. Frankly I’d like to know why #04-349 has the bone saw running for 52 minutes, followed by a half hour of expletives.
Frank, I have been working 22 years as a Medical Examiner and until your arrival have never once come across “Cause of Death: Death” on any certificates. These are legal documents that can not be easily changed. Also, “Dude got the shit kicked out of him” does not adequately convey the medical details one needs to provide in an autopsy report. At least three court cases have been thrown out because of such certificates.
The amount of embarrassment and work you have caused our office is staggering.
In retrospect, I should not have assumed in any way that your ability to win a song and dance competition, rodeo, obstacle course and home redecoration challenge would in any way be proof that you had talents, or indeed training, as a medical examiner. Frankly, I assumed you were all medical students. I’ve only recently discovered that Jeremy Hobbs was a fireman and LaQuinta Rae’s accomplishment was being sodomized on BangBus.com. Had I known the selection criteria were so low, I would never, ever, ever have blindly hired the winner of America’s Next Medical Examiner.
This in no way means I didn’t thoroughly enjoy your performances during the show. Your rendition of “I Love The Nightlife” was gorgeous. I was also amazed at your collectedness during the Alligator Challenge. You won America’s heart, Frank. Unfortunately, you lost #04-299’s.
I am afraid we need to part ways. For my sake, the sake of this office, and so the souls of the dead can be at peace.
M. Steurner, M.D.
Office of the Medical Examiner

An Open Letter To Elton John

Dear Sir Elton John:
You will not remember me, but we met on two occasions while in Atlanta. On one occasion, you were eating dinner at Bluepointe, if memory serves. On the other occasion you were at the recording studio that I was involved with, apparently overseeing an album by your friend from Matchbox 20 or something — I seldom recognized the performers who came in to our place, with the exception of the two guys from the Indigo Girls.
During your visit, I spent some time talking to your driver/bodyguard in the break room. The LAPD cop who you regularly hire. He was very nice. I peppered him with questions, trying to ascertain what you are really like, because it’s always exciting to learn that a beloved celebrity is in reality an evil bastard. Alas, I had no such luck. According to your driver/bodyguard/LAPD guy, you are a wonderful employer and overall lovely guy. As he put it, “what you see is what you get.” Indeed, when you emerged from the session and chatted with us in the break room you came across as a nice guy.
That is why it pains me to call you an enormous, short-sighted imbecile.
This is in reference to your recent declaration that last week’s voting on American Idol was “incredibly racist.”
Now, you prefaced that thoughtless remark with “I don’t want to set myself up here…” – but you did in fact set yourself up, just as I’d have set myself up if I said “I don’t want to set myself up here… but I think we should kill all puppies.” The difference here is that you are very famous, and when you say things, they carry much more weight than those uttered by common people, the un-knighted, such as myself.
Americans have come to expect such tiresome, knee-jerk responses from the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. They are race professionals who possess the uncanny ability to turn everything from getting laid-off to ordering black coffee into a racial incident. To these men, the only criteria for having been slighted is if anything negative happens to a black person. Ultimately they do everyone a disservice; by sounding off so wrongly and so regularly on everything, legitimate racial incidents draw about as much attention as a car alarm in New York.
But it is generally understood that those men are cheerleaders of victimization and laughable characters. In fact, Sharpton may still be running for President; nobody seems to know if he’s dropped out or not.
And so it was disappointing to read that you, the singer of a lovely ballad about Princess Diana based on a lovely ballad about Marilyn Monroe, would stoop so low and say something so un-knightly, so un-Eltonian.
I confess to being somewhat drawn to American Idol, especially early in the season when they show train wreck after train wreck of untalented, moronic, absurd aspiring stars. Watching a pompous no-talent windbag get humbled on national television is absolutely excellent entertainment, and I am not ashamed to indulge in it.
To see these favored black singers – Hudson, Barrino and London – land in the bottom three last week was a shock, certainly. Most viewers, myself included, assumed Barrino was a shoe-in. London and Hudson had close calls before, so that wasn’t completely surprising. Overall, yes, the voting results were odd. But that should have been all it was.
And then, you went and announced that such an outcome was “incredibly racist.” That was just an enormously short-sighted and imbecilic thing to say.
To assume that they made the bottom three solely because they’re black is absurd, as if the Idol viewership consisted of 30 million Klansmen and skinheads, vigorously dialing-in their votes to keep blacks from winning a singing competition.
I doubt you’re familiar with the show and this season in particular. Or last season. I can only hope that after you said your stupid thing in public, your driver/bodyguard/LAPD guy came dashing in and informed you with a whisper that last year’s winner, Ruben Stoddard, is black.
This would have to mean that the “incredibly racist” viewing audience was watching something else last season when Stoddard won. Or perhaps you believe they were so incensed by a gay man losing to a black man last year that they’ve since mobilized to prevent a repeat occurrence. Instead of burning crosses and drawing backwards swastikas, they’ve united to phone and text-message their message of White Supremacy.
But, Sir John, I’d like to suggest that most rational folks might assume, rather than incredible racism, the results were just a case of 30 million people voting for the singers they liked – and the results being a little surprising.
But is it so surprising? Had you no life and actually followed the show, you might have had some insight that would have discouraged you from arriving at the unfortunate conclusion that America simply hates black singers.
For starters, Fantasia Barrino is undoubtedly talented and probably the best of the contenders. She has remarkable stage presence and a vibrant personality. But, that personality is also starting to grate on the nerves. She’s loud too often, in-your-face too often, and comes across as quite cocky. A comeuppance was due, and this was probably good for her. An alternate explanation is that with Barrino considered by many, myself included, to be the winner, many people simply do not bother to vote for her.
La Toya London is also vocally superior to most in the ensemble. She’s also potentially the oldest, and one of the blandest. Nice girl. Good singer. But she doesn’t seem to have the whole package. Something is missing. She’s like a librarian with great lungs.
And Jennifer Hudson, though quite good, was also quite overweight. The reality is most guys in the audience – the ones who like girls – will take that into account either consciously or sub-consciously when deciding who we like the most. We’re just that primitive. And let’s not forget she had already been voted out before – and brought back as a wild card.
Those in the top-four positions are not untalented. To assume that the three black females deserve to win on vocals alone is unfair.
Jon Stevens is Harry Connick Jr. trapped inside a red-headed teenager. No doubt he’s getting votes for being the youngest, one of the sweetest, and the most different singer in the competition. Should he be in the top four? Probably not. He won’t last the whole competition.
George Huff, who is black, has stayed in by being flat-out adorable and goofy. He comes across as one of the nicest people on the planet. I’d have to assume that even the skinheads would find him nothing short of charming. Would it be “racist” if he were in the bottom three? No. He’s probably not going to win the competition either. When he is voted off the stage, please do not leap to any conclusions. I beg of you.
Diana DeGarmo and Jasmine Trias are both good singers. Somewhat bland themselves. I don’t think either of them will ultimately win. If you’ll notice, Jasmine has gone from “cute Hawaiian girl” to “hot Asian chick” in an effort to separate herself from the pack.
Bear in mind, this is the first time I’ve told a Knight of the Realm that he said something short-sighted and imbecilic. I hope I’ve done so in a polite manner. All I am trying to say is I believe that along with fame and fortune come responsibilities, such as the responsibility to not say inflammatory things for no reason.
You are only one among many Class A celebrities that I hope will consider not saying stupid things in the future, at least in front of the public. Whether or not you continue to watch the show, please realize that it’s a singing competition and not a referendum on race relations. The voting is no more racist than last year’s was homophobic.
Please know I still love your music, and will continue to download it.
Thank you,

A Note To The Dentist

Dear Dr. Spielman,
Thank you for the postcard reminding me that I’m due for a dental check-up in April. I look forward to it because you are my favorite dentist and you have state-of-the art equipment I helped pay for.
Since American Idol was not on Thursday night, I had a lot of time to sit and think about this postcard and how it stuck out of my pile of mail and frightened me. In fact, now that this terrifying image has been burned into my psyche, I would like to express to you how I feel.
The postcard poses the question “Who doesn’t like a nice smile?” Indeed, the only exceptions I could think of would be anti-masticationists, gingivitists, or people who don’t have teeth and might not want to talk about such things. I’ve never met an anti-masticationist or gingivitist, to be honest, and they probably have a smaller base than Ralph Nader. Also, people with no teeth are usually too old to read small text, or they live far from regular postal service. So, the question would seem to be easily answered: Nobody doesn’t like a nice smile, silly!
And rightly so. Normally, a smile is a good thing because it means someone is happy. When someone is happy, that puts you at ease because there is statistically less of a chance they’re going to try and stab you or set your car on fire. That’s how I look at it. Happy people don’t rob banks or steal your lawnmower. Happy people don’t cuss at you or file frivolous lawsuits. They just smile nicely.
But in this case, the smiles presented on this postcard are collectively unnerving and potentially not nice. Indeed, there are some individual smiles presented here that I would have run away from outright, so you can imagine how terrifying I find seeing all seven of them at once.
The upper-left girl’s smile seems fine. I would probably smile back at her. Maybe she works in Public Relations. I have no problems with her, though she slightly resembles an ex-girlfriend whom I’ve done a good job of not remembering.
The black guy in the back seems pretty happy too. His smile is quite nice and if I had to vote for the one smile that didn’t frighten me, he would be my pick. His teeth look great and I hope they have a long life together.
The guy in the back on the right, well, I start to question the nice here. I don’t see the happiness reflected in the eyes. It doesn’t seem sincere. I think he is about to try and sell me a Buick. I’m not crazy about the hair, but that can be taken care of by inviting a band of stereotypical gay guys over the house and appearing on Bravo Network.
For obvious reasons, the gentleman in the front left is the absolutely most terrifying, and I will lose sleep over him. Not only is his expression and nice smile nerve-shattering, but his eyes are slightly red and very glassy. If I came home, opened the front door, and a strange man came running down my stairs with a bloody hatchet screaming “Jesus said to do it, and I do’d it!” – this is pretty much what I would expect him to look like.
The blonde next to the axe-killer seems to be laughing more than smiling. I don’t know why she’s laughing – there’s a crazed lunatic on her shoulder – but she seems to have heard a funny joke. Maybe she’s watching some prop comedy from Carrot Top, or a hilarious improvisational comedy troupe. We’ll never know, because I assume she was murdered by the crazed freak next to her, after the photo shoot.
The middle lady isn’t really smiling as much as she is politely asking “What?” with her face. Perhaps she doesn’t speak English. In fact, she seems Latin. Speaking of, the postcard is almost perfectly Politically Correct. Women, men, black, white, Latin, gay, murderer… But no Asians. Don’t they like a nice smile?
Lastly, the girl on the front right is missing her lower teeth. She seems friendly enough, and you’d have to be if you had no lower teeth, but it’s not necessarily a nice smile. Incidentally, my former Marxist/Feminist/Lesbian film professors would flip out on you for showing a black woman with no lower teeth being pushed down by a smiling white man. Personally, I always thought the professors were full of it, so you should just take their umbrage at symbolism with a grain of salt and get mediocre grades like I did.
And so Doctor, in closing, I’d like to say that the answer to “Who doesn’t like a nice smile?” would be Me – if the nice smile comes from an entourage of murderous freaks, Carrot Top fans and Buick dealers.
See you in a few weeks.

Dear Mayor: Smoking Mad

Dear Mayor Bloomberg:
I wanted to write to you regarding a most disturbing event I experienced this past Friday, and make you aware of the perilous direction in which New York may be heading. I fear nothing good can come from what I witnessed, and I can only hope that I accurately and thoroughly convey the sheer gravity of the situation that transpired that evening.
The evening had started out normally. Moments before fate struck me such a blow, I was sitting in a Manhattan bar with a friend, discussing the finer merits of music video production, his profession. The discussion was about the Stills and Ryan Adams, and my contention that going by the name Ryan Adams seems very shortsighted considering there was already a Bryan Adams. But that’s not what I’m writing about.
We were enjoying a tepid glass of Stella Artois, the overrated beer from Belgium, the overrated country. But that’s not what I’m writing about, either.
It was quite late, that I know. Regardless, the bar was still quite lively as are most places in New York on a Friday. This is based on my acquaintance with many of Manhattan’s bars, though to be honest I have not been to all of them. However, I do feel confident enough in my experience to assume that most bars in Manhattan on a Friday are busy. Except maybe Culture Club, which has an ’80s theme and a Pac Man logo. That has to be getting tired.
At any rate, the bar was very busy. We were chatting away. Suddenly, the music was turned off and a man with an accent stood up on the bar top and announced to the entire establishment, ‘Excuse me’ Hello’ Yes’ Feel free to light up! Smoke away!’
What fresh hell is this? I asked myself. Was I not in New York City ‘ a city of laws and regulations designed to protect everyone from everything? This was anarchy! Certainly no good could come from encouraging these people in our midst to smoke when it has been expressly forbidden. My heart began to race.
‘Did Bloomberg get fired?’ asked the girl next to us. I was appalled.
And it only got worse. Ashtrays were distributed by a smiling individual ‘ no doubt a member of this shadowy smoke-encouraging cabal. My friend and I ceased talking, and instead tried to gauge how best to handle this dilemma. We looked around the bar, wondering who was with us, who was against.
We chose to play it discreetly, and ordered another round of Stella Artois, the slightly-metallic tasting beer from Belgium.
As we awaited our drinks, we watched in amazement as patrons reached into their purses and jackets and produced packs of cigarettes and lighters. In all honesty, almost every table had blatantly chosen to side with these anarchists and trample on your glorious legal achievement. Again, I had to ask myself if I was still in New York City. I thought that perhaps, through some arcane magical properties contained in bitter Belgian beer, I had been transported to somewhere in Old Europe where common folk are free to callously smoke wherever they choose.
But alas, I realized I was still in New York, your New York, completely surrounded in this den of smoking, law-violating thugs. I wanted to scream, but certainly that would be a giveaway. I pictured the entire establishment turning toward me, pointing, and letting out a wail ‘ just like Donald Sutherland in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”. Incidentally, he sat behind us recently at “Henry IV”. Ethan Hawke was great, if a little skinny. But that’s another letter.
You can rest assured I was outraged. Had restaurants and bars suffered a 30% decline in sales only to have such an accomplishment treated so contemptuously? Were these renegade bar owners free to make decisions for their own establishments? What is becoming of this great city when people can do what they please, in an establishment that allows them to do so?
At this point, beers in hand, we quietly debated our next move. Dash for the door? Sneak out the back? No, we decided that the best tack would be to blend in. If anything, our goal would be to gather information for the inevitable day when these hooligans would be dragged into court and made to pay for their lawlessness.
In exchange for a few dollars, I was able to collect a handful of cigarettes as camouflage. My disguise was aided further when I began smoking one of them, flagrante delicto.
After several cigarettes, I was beginning to assemble dossiers in my mind of all these ruffians who obviously had nothing but contempt for your law. Oh sure, they laughed and talked, and carried on as they did in the Giuliani days ‘ but they were a little too laughy, a little too talky. Something wasn’t right.
I would have stayed longer to gather even more information, but my friend was bordering on exhaustion. This whole experience had obviously been too much for him, not too mention he had a heck of a week on the Ryan Adams video. We gathered our belongings and, feigning our allegiance to these conspirators until the very end, made our way to the door.
Rest assured, Honorable Mayor, I will be back to investigate further.
Your humble citizen,

Neckface Franchise Available


Dear Potential Franchisee:
I got me a question.
When you’re walking around the neighborhood, and whatnot, and you want to tag something, what’s the number one motherfucking thing you think of, motherfucker?
That right. Neckface.
Now, what if I were to tell you that you have the opportunity, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, to be a Neckface distributor? Bitch, there’s no doubt you’re thinking what a prime motherfucking opportunity you have right there.
Neckface is the number one distributor of Neckface-related graffiti throughout the entire city of New York. We’re expanding rapidly. And as we grow, we’re adding new members to the Neckface team. That’s where you come in, motherfucker.
A Neckface franchise offers you unlimited motherfucking growth potential. There’s a lot of surface to cover in this city. Shit. You could tag all day and not even make a dent in this market. Supply, demand, whatever. It’s all good.
With Neckface, you’re your own boss. You work your own hours. You set the rules. There ain’t no punk manager telling you how it is. This is your thing.
We guarantee market exclusivity in your franchise area. You see some motherfucker tagging Neckface in your area, that ain’t cool. Just tell us. We’ll present his ass with the Neckface Franchise Agreement – and bet your ass he’s gonna get the fuck up outa there. Or she. Neckface is an equal opportunity employer.
And for money? Shit. This shit’s priceless.
The start-up costs for a Neckface franchise are minimal. And franchisee training is even minimaler. In fact, if you’re looking for a ground-floor opportunity and whatnot, Neckface is some serious shit. Don’t fuck this up. I’m serious.
If you’re serious about this shit too, and want the motherfucking opportunity of a lifetime, I’ll be at the construction site of the new Union Square Whole Foods. They’ve got some plywood up there, and I sense an opportunity.
I’m in the yellow jacket. Bring $5.

How New York Is

Hello Corey. Very nice to hear from you. Indeed it has been a long time, and thank you for asking how New York is.
New York is doing quite well. I saw a midget walking a dog recently. I’ve never seen that anywhere else I’ve lived or traveled. The dog was as big as the midget, and I imagine being that close in size to your dog gives you some sort of bond that average-height folks could never really enjoy. I have to assume that a dog simply likes you more if it can stand on all fours and look you right in the eye. Perhaps my theory is faulty or untested, but now I stand convinced that man’s best friend would probably prefer he be a midget.
I suppose he could have been a dwarf. I can never remember the difference. I don’t know what the rules or etiquette are as far as labeling little people go; something about body/head proportion. I’m not too concerned, really, because if it came to blows I’m confident I’d win, unless there were hordes of them gnawing at my ankles.

Continue reading…

Dear Gary


Got your Christmas Card. Ethan looks adorable. I was going to make some joke about him looking more like the postman, but that’s as tired as Joan Rivers. Plus, he really does look like my postman so I don’t want to cause any trouble.
Hope all is well with you and the family. I’m sure the new baby is a handful. We have had no luck at having a kid so far, actually, so you can imagine that the photo of your adorable little tyke is like a cheerful dagger to our souls. A tiny, holiday-themed, smiling dagger in a green hat. Ewa thinks you’re mocking her uterus or maybe a tube or two. I told her that’s silly talk, that you have never met her, much less taken a disliking to her uterus. I told her that sending baby photos is common practice in this country around Christmas, or anytime for that matter, and you were simply proud of the new baby. But she doesn’t understand. She just shakes her fists at the heavens (ceiling) and screams Why not us, God, why?
But not to worry. Doctor says everything’s in order and we just need to keep trying. In the meantime I put a few oranges in a pillow case and named it Bradley, but it seems to offer her no comfort. Anyway, Bradley is doing fine.
I take it you’re doing well in other endeavors besides the baby, which you have and we don’t. You’ll be happy to know TiVo has taken a liking to you and has been recording things that have you in it. I finally got around to watching Undercover Brother and was impressed with the size of your role. The movie was pretty funny too.
One of Ewa’s favorite shows is Malcom in the Middle and I get a kick out of seeing you pop up on that now and then. I point at the TV and say, ‘That’s Gary!’ and she says ‘So what?’ and I say ‘You know, Gary — with the baby!’ and then she makes the connection and shakes her fists at the heavens (ceiling) and starts screaming again. Fortunately, TiVo lets you pause live television so I can freeze the action until she calms down. That way we don’t miss anything. TiVo’s great.
I just watched a recently TiVoed (new verb) episode a few weeks ago. It was very funny. I sank into a mild despair and started to think that maybe I made a huge mistake in not moving to Los Angeles myself. I worried that had I followed your lead, I too might have had a sizable film role by now. Then I remembered that I didn’t move there because I never took to Los Angeles and in fact spend a lot of my spare time praying for the Big One.
If that happens please know our thoughts and prayers will be with you. We’ll be hoping that you, Leslie and the baby you have and we don’t find an ice floe and make it to safety. If you could pick up my cousin along the way that would be nice but I understand if steering the floe is too difficult. Look for a white guy with dreadlocks floating near Melrose.
So, hello to the family and happy holidays! Hopefully next year we’ll have a baby we can send you a picture of. Otherwise, God help me when we get your card.

Dear Cyclist Whom I Will Be Beating

I am not certain of the circumstances that will lead to you, the cyclist, being beaten by me, the pedestrian, because I am writing this letter in advance.
First off, I would like to offer my apologies for the beating, and say that when it occurs it will be a spontaneous event, not pre-meditated or in the First Degree of any sort. You and your lawyers will have to understand this.
You should know that this behavior will be unusual to me. I prefer diplomatic resolution over violence. In fact, even when presented with a blessed opportunity to ruin a wee Frenchman for purposely drinking my beer, I instead chose a non-combative approach. I sought the path of enlightenment. I also didn’t want to ruin my honeymoon by getting tossed in a foreign slammer.
But unfortunately for you, the frenzied beating you shall receive will be an anomaly. It will be uncontrollable, and frighteningly furious. It helps that I am 6′ 3′, but more importantly, the appearance that I have completely lost my mind will be amazingly alarming to you — regardless of your physical build and potential self-defense skills. You will be paralyzed by my personal shock and awe campaign. I will proceed, undeterred, until I have sufficiently proven my point. My point will then be followed by the Grand Finale, which involves a lot of jumping on your spokes.
You will have to understand that this has been a long time coming. Not coming at you personally, as I can not say that I know you since I am writing this in advance of beating you. Rather, this has been a long time coming towards cyclists in general, as I have felt a growing animosity towards the Cycling persuasion. This is the end result of countless near-death experiences at the hands, or wheels, of your kind. These near misses could have been avoided if you were to use the roads the city has to offer, rather than the sidewalk path that leads to my crotch. Your behavior has rendered the sidewalks and streets more lawless than a Somali flea market. You will reap a juggernaut of vengeance.
The most recent pre-cursor to your future beating set my nerves on edge for the umpteenth, and possibly last, time: I crossed a street — looking the correct way — only to have a two-wheeled bullet traveling the wrong direction graze my head and scream ‘Watch out!’
That took two years off of my life, no question.
By the time my heart stopped racing and I was able to collect myself, I knew it was only a matter of time. I know the feeling. It’s the same one I had when I knew I would kill Scott Yarman if he kept making fun of my mother’s breast cancer. He kept it up. I tried to strangle him to death. We both got suspended.
As I am writing this in advance, I can not tell you of the exact circumstances that will lead up to this horrible event. I imagine it will be fairly simple. I will be walking on the sidewalk, as pedestrians do. You will be riding on said sidewalk, which is illegal. You will strike me in some way. I will completely freak out. The bottled up rage will overwhelm my conscience and self-restraint. My adrenaline will go off the charts, like an ex-con strung out on PCP. Presuming you are not well armed, I will then beat you to within an inch of your life. Two centimeters if you prefer metric.
Take note, my cycling friend.
I’m not sure what you’d call a person who hates people on bikes. You certainly can’t call them Cyclists. Perhaps Anti-Cyclites? Bikeots? Schwinnzis?
Whatever you call them, I am now one. You have made an enemy, sir.
Tread carefully,
A Pedestrian

The Awesome Future & Stuff

Hello everybody! The future is frickin’ awesome and I hope everyone survives the 2008 typhoon (yep, Al Qaeda) so that they can enjoy it.
TimeWarnerVerizonComcast’s digital temporal internet rocks, I highly recommend getting it when it becomes available in 2019. If you have any suicidal thoughts I urge you to toss them on the back burner for now, because you’re really going to like what the future has in store.
For starters- Paris Hilton is totally dead! But enough about Paris Hilton.

Continue reading…

Please Stop Reading Us Magazine

Darling Wife:
I love you more than anything. You are the most important thing to me. I’m eternally grateful that we met through such happenstance. You’re beautiful. You’re brilliant. You speak four languages. You can cook like a head chef. You’re rational. You’ll be an incredible mother. You have qualities I didn’t even know I wanted in a woman.
Please stop reading Us Magazine.
I have every intention of following through with my marriage commitments. Even though the ceremony was in another language, I understood enough. I know I heard “cherish” and “honor” and “fidelity” and “love.” And a few other things. When it comes down to it, all marriage ceremonies seem pretty much the same. At least the traditional ones. So I know what I have to do. And when I said, “I will” in your mother tongue, I meant it. I will be with you forever. I have every intention of doing so.
Fate has been very kind, introducing you to me. I’m luckier than anyone I know. But why Fate would have introduced you to Us Magazine, I’m not sure. I think Fate wants to mess with me. Maybe hurt me a little. Maybe Fate thinks I’m a little too lucky. Kind of like poor Christopher Reeve or M.C. Hammer. They had it all, then Fate sucker-punched them. I understand them now. When I see you reading Us Magazine, it’s like a tiny dagger in my soul. Sometimes a bigger dagger, depending on who’s on the cover.
So, please, stop reading Us Magazine.
You’re above it, I keep telling you. Demi and Ashton are of no import to us. I don’t care what Reese Witherspoon is really like. And where J-Lo had brunch is as interesting to me as who Fred Durst is soiling. You may think me out of the loop for not knowing exactly who Kate Hudson is, but that’s because we belong in a different loop. A better loop. A loop that doesn’t include Kate or Brad, Jennifer or Matt. A loop where being Courtney Love is not a plus. A loop where Angelina Jolie is not taken seriously. Or even better, she’s locked up.
Please, my love, my angel, my darling: Know that when I enter the room and see you ingesting such printed arsenic, my heart sinks. Winona’s side of the story is not your concern. The Ruben vs. Clay debate is for other people. People we don’t know, or care to know. People who consider scratch tickets investing. People who think National Review is a cabaret. People who buy Swiffer. You see? That’s not you.
For the love of all things holy, my sweet and precious wife, please stop reading Us Magazine.
Your husband.

Dear Medieval Freake

I’m tired of all ye Medieval freakes trying to tell me how great the Medieval times are. Well, I’m there right now and I can tell you that it’s a whole bunch of crap, for certain. I just buried my fourth wife for starters. I lost my first Katherine to complications of childbirth, the second Katherine to the plague, Jane to childbirth and for the love of God, the doctor has no idea what killed my third Katherine, though he does think it’s no coincidence that she was in childbirth.
How dare you prance about your “realistic Medieval village” in some suburban cow pasture with your overweight Medieval fans in cumbersome body armor and tell me how great it is here. Do you know we throw raw sewage out on the streets? How great do you think that is? How lovely do you think that smelleth in the middle of summer? You try taking a God forsaken stroll in your fancy robes (I’m merchant class) and tell me that it’s a lot of fun. Huzzah my ass. Everything smells like crap. And I haven’t bathed in a fortnight, I’ll have you know, because some jackass Frenchman dropped a dead cow in our well during the siege.
And you won’t find any damn souvenir shops in my village, I can assure you. We don’t have any stores that sell Medieval swing chairs, whatever in damnation that may be. And your swords? They’re for scoundrels. They’re not even sharp. We also don’t have laser-etched crystals here. Or dragons for that matter, though try and tell that to St. George and he’ll get all pissy.
Whoever believes that you could just purchase a giant turkey leg has another thing coming too. I’ll be lucky to have a frickin’ potato tonight. Goddamn French ate or raped all the poultry. I’d give what’s left of my right ear to have some unpermited shack distributing cheap turkey legs down the road.
Yeah, this Medieval life is so frickin’ great. I guess that’s why my first son died from the consumption. How romantic. You sure you want a castle? Why don’t you open the windows in your apartment in the dead of winter and stroll about wearing eight parkas. Same thing. There’s your friggin’ castle, your highness.
And all this crap with the jousting? Jousting? I’ve been to one damn joust my whole life, and it was only because I thought I might have a chance to grab some royalty aside and get my “heretic” brother’s death sentence commuted. You think we all just sit around jousting all day? We’re too busy coughing up blood, believe you me. And if not that, we’re scrambling around trying to figure out why the Good Lord chose to set fire to the warehouse. I’ve had a blister for eight years. My aunt’s a leper. I sleep near a goat. Go to hell, Medieval fans.
I have the right mind to kicketh you in the codpiece.