The Independent

The History of My Traveling Pants


The fascinating story of a boy, his leather pants and eBay.
An original piece for The Independent (UK) newspaper.

Some of the more interesting media interference:
An Irish friend reports that he heard a reading on Ireland’s Ian Dempsey Breakfast Show.
An interview with BBC Scotland’s MacAulay & Co. Not bad considering I had to be up at 5:30am New York time.
Canada’s National Post comes a-calling. Reprints the listing and kindly offers a link to Banterist.
John in Dublin suggested creating a pointless but interesting readership map.
Over 2,000,000 served. Certainly enjoying the residual effects, and an unfathomable number of emails. And the interviews. And the writing projects. Couple that chaos with a feverish 14-month old and a wife in Europe for a wedding and you have the perfect recipe for a drinking problem. My 15 minutes is going swimmingly. Perhaps Wedding Dress Guy can offer me guidance.
Vitaly informs me that the listing has been translated – very well – into Russian and appeared as the pick of the day on the Russian humor site Anekdot.
After getting in Women’s Wear Daily, I’m now the only person I know who can say they’ve been in Women’s Wear Daily. Very nice article, and Donna Karan’s folks made the awesome PR move of suggesting they’d take me shopping. They didn’t, but I would’ve said the same thing.
TMFTML reports the UK’s Guardian printed the listing, albeit without any attribution. Says Guardian staffer Murray Armstrong: “[I]t was attributed as an eBay entry.”
Over 2,600,000 folks.
NY Post interviews me. Takes lots of pictures.
The NY Daily News has a story on regrettable purchases which mentions the pants. The photo of me they used in the print version makes me feel sad – they have me dreaming of a man in leather pants.
Now over 3 million.
An interview on Weekend America.
3.1 million.
Missed the chance to contribute a clever quote because I was in transit to Europe, but nonetheless appeared in various papers via the Associated Press. Ryan Pearson’s article “Auctions birth a genre: eBay lit” is a nice little piece, and my name is spelled correctly 33% of the time.
Media Clippage:
Women’s Wear Daily “Fool For Love” PDF
The Independent “The Wrong Trousers” PDF
Original eBay Listing PDF

Election 2004: The Foodservice Analogy

You live in a town with two restaurants. They’re across the street from each other. They’ve been there forever. They have similar cuisine. Neither one is particularly thrilling, but it’s all the town has to offer aside from a place way on the outskirts of town that most folks don’t want to drive to.
You’ve been eating at one place for a few years. They have really good meatloaf, but a lot of crap side dishes.
The place across the street has a bad reputation for meatloaf. They’re known for their side dishes. Their prices are a little cheaper too, so they attract college kids with less sophisticated palates.
That place claims to be under new management and suggests they have better meatloaf than what you’re eating. But, you’ve heard the new chef is kind of a jerk. He claims to have studied with master chefs in France, though no one can vouch for him and he won’t show you his degree.
Meanwhile, you’re getting a little sick of the meatloaf you’ve been eating because every once in a while there’s some gristle. The atmosphere gets on your nerves because they won’t change the radio. And the chef keeps insisting that every dish come with a side of Brussels sprouts.
Some folks want to try the meatloaf across the street, even though they don’t trust the chef. Some folks are happy with the meatloaf here – to the point of denying there’s any gristle in it.
A fat guy in a baseball cap makes a documentary suggesting there’s mousecrap in the meatloaf, while a bunch of patrons accuse the other restaurant of pooping in their side dishes.
As a result, the majority of folks filter out of both restaurants and stand in the middle of the street debating whether or not to check out the restaurant on the outskirts of town. Eventually they decide it’s too much of a hassle to get to. Citing the lesser of two evils, they head back in to the restaurant that they think has less fecal matter on the flatware.

Saddam’s Interrogation Logs

Interrogation commenced: 0735 hours
Colonel Beckwith and I decided to play Good Cop/Bad Cop again. I came into the room as Bad Cop and yelled at SH. He immediately laughed at me because last week when I came in I was Good Cop and had given him a sandwich. I tried to play it off that I had some heartburn and was still Good Cop but “just a little cranky.” Colonel Beckwith tried to cover for me by entering the room as Bad Cop and yelling, but that didn’t seem to work either. SH muttered something but wouldn’t say what.
Interrogation terminated: 0749 hours

Interrogation commenced: 1430 hours
I tried to break the will of SH by showing him an Iraqi newspaper editorial calling for his trial and punishment. SH told me that our Psychological Ops folks obviously printed a fake newspaper. I told him I swore that I bought the paper at an off-base coffee house. He insisted it was a fake. I told him I crossed my heart. He said he did not believe me. I asked him what I needed to do to prove to him that it was a real newspaper and he suggested taking him to the off-base coffee house to see it first-hand. I asked, but Gen. Farley said absolutely no way. SH didn’t say anything else aside from asking how much my PsyOps newspaper subscription cost and if there were any PsyOps coupons in it. I asked where the WMD were and he suggested I look in my copy of “PsyOps Weekly.”
Interrogation terminated: 1540 hours

Interrogation commenced: 0330 hours
Woke SH quite early to catch him off-guard and groggy. I asked “What’s your first name?” and he said “Saddam.” Again I asked, “What’s your first name?” and he said “Saddam.” I kept asking “What’s your first name?” and he kept saying “Saddam.” Once I had a rhythm going, I quickly asked “Where are the WMD?” and he said “Saddam.”
Interrogation terminated: 0338 hours

Interrogation commenced: 2210 hours
I played chess with SH, who is not too bad a chess player. At one point, my Bishop took his Rook. I told him that in the U.S. when you lose your Rook to a Bishop it is customary to divulge a little personal secret, like maybe where the WMD are. He said we weren’t in the U.S., then he took my pawn with the horse piece.
Interrogation terminated: 0122 hours

Interrogation commenced: 2000 hours
I told SH that we would be paid a visit by Baghdad’s longest-running improvisational comedy troupe, and that they often ask for audience suggestions. I had one of the “players” ask SH for the name of something you’d return to a department store. He said “pliers.” They did a quick scene about returning pliers, and then another “player” asked for a geographic location where one might hide WMDs. SH was quiet for a long time, and so I suggested Wal-Mart.
Interrogation terminated: 0122 hours

Interrogation commenced: 1241 hours
After lunch, SH informed us he was willing to talk. Colonel Beckwith and I sat down with him. He spoke for quite some time and answered every question fully. We believe we have made great progress and we are researching the data.
Interrogation terminated: 1551 hours

Interrogation commenced: 0940 hours
Colonel Beckwith and I told SH that we didn’t think it was particularly funny that he had us looking for “Monkey Valley” and the “Camel Ass Testing Facility” when it turned out there were no such locations. Also, we told him we were unable to verify the existence of Mohammad Mohahaha and we do not believe his claims of having built an “Indfidel Ray.” We told him as a result of our disappointment, we would be denying his TV access. He said TV sucks anyway because they don’t sing about him anymore.
Interrogation terminated: 1100 hours

Interrogation commenced: 0250 hours
I roused SH from his slumbers and told him Tariq Aziz was on the phone and wanted to know where the Vx gas was. Didn’t bite.
Interrogation terminated: 0252 hours

Premiered on McSweeney’s, 4/20/04.
Longer version commissioned by The Independent (UK), 7/29/04