me me me me me

How To Love Yourself

What does self-love look like? Get your mind out of the gutter, we're talking about "respecting and honoring yourself," "feeling at home in yourself and your life" and "feeling at home in your own skin." Actually, that all still sounds like masturbation. I guess it's more about the concept of "knowing that you matter." You don't, but if you can somehow con yourself into thinking that you do life is apparently much easier to get through.


A Friendly Reminder About Death

Lately I have been thinking a lot about death. The triggering event, appropriately, involved cigarettes; the store in which I attempted to procure a new pack only had my brand in soft pack. I mean, yes, I could have gotten 100s, but I always feel like I am done smoking 100s before the cigarette itself is finished and then there's that awkward moment where you stand there self-consciously smoking a cigarette in which you are no longer interested and the cigarette itself feels bad because it's not its fault that they made it longer than the normal cigarette and what kind of cigarette wants to be smoked by someone [...]


A Chronological History Of Cigarette Smoking, By Brand

Parliament Lights, 1986: The First. Smoked on the train tracks on the way home from school, after we ran into a friend's older brother who had a pack. I am proud to say that I toughed it out and only coughed once, although this still does not diminish the embarrassment of having one's first cigarette be a Parliament Light.

Camels, 1986: Look How Bad I Am. When we speak of Camels here, we speak of filterless Camels, smoke of prison inmate and off-track betting habitue alike. Chosen both as an attempt to look harder and an obvious overcompensation for my guilt over the Parliament thing. The next year or [...]


My New Year's Resolutions In Order Of How Likely They Are To Be Kept

Drink more efficiently.

Smoke a pack of cigarettes maximum each day. Okay, maybe a pack and a half on really stressy days.

Read at least one actual book a month, with the computer and other distractions shut down.

Give blood more often.


My Dark Night Of The Sole

A few months ago I had what I guess you would call a milestone birthday—although given the deliberately poor choices I have made over my lifetime, pretty much every birthday at this point is some sort of actuarial miracle. In any event, this flipping of the chronology to a suffix with a zero put me in a somewhat ruminative state: Maybe, I thought, I should do something nice for myself, instead of something bad to myself.

Now, I have many poor qualities—I drink too much, I am callous and indifferent to the feelings of those around me, I am quick to anger and deficient in patience, I have almost [...]


Some Lines Written Upon Learning That I Have Again Been Passed Over As PEOPLE's Sexiest Man Alive

This tragic day has once more showed How that which should be mine's bestowed Upon an undeserving guy Who's much less sexiest than I

This insolence I can't abide It simply cannot be denied: There is no other fellow who Outsexies this Italian Jew


The Bagpiper Of Union Square

There has been, probably since the economy fell apart, a bagpiper who busks around Union Square. I have only seen him once, but I hear him every day. Because I live in an extremely sweltry apartment I keep all the windows open throughout the winter, and am thus treated to his daily routine, which seems to involve piping three songs, taking a break, moving to another area of the park, and playing those songs again. The process repeats itself about four times a day, creating a bizarre stereophonic effect where it seems like the music is on repeat and coming from a different speaker each time. As to the [...]


Why I Won't Talk

A recent article in a local newspaper had some kind things to say about this site, and we're very pleased with the reaction. It's a testament to the hard work that the those of us at this site—David and Choire, sure, but particularly the amazing and talented contributors who have offered us their wonderful work without worrying about compensation—have put in over the last couple of years and, hopefully, an inspiration to everyone else with a large vision but a dearth of resources. Still, one small bit has caused a number (that number is three) of people to wonder why I, "the mysterious Mr. Balk," am "never interviewed [...]


How Are You Pretending You're Going To Be Better In 2012?

Have you made any New Year's resolutions? I have decided that this year, instead of coming up with a long list of things that I am unlikely to achieve, I am going to stick with one simple thing, which I will phrase in the form of a question any time someone makes me angry: "How much of my day am I going to let this asshole ruin?" The asshole in question is Choire. Kidding! It is only occasionally Choire. (Generally on Tuesdays.) But it can be anyone. What I have figured out is if you do a cost-benefit analysis of how much power you want to give to [...]


Man Believes Momentary Neurological Event Somehow Reflects The Way We Think Now

So I was walking down the street last night when I was overcome by the most powerful wave of deja vu I have ever encountered in my life. Except it wasn't exactly deja vu, it was a weird aggregation of other vus, which started with the feeling that I had been in this exact situation before, with the same people on the street, walking in the same patterns, and the same random stranger approaching another random stranger, but then it became more intense and bizarre. It seemed like a combination of things I had dreamed recently were brought to the forefront of my consciousness as real events, and it [...]


The Attack on the Memoir: Not Interested, Says Tobias Wolff!

In the most-recent New York Times Book Review came an attack on the memoir. Well, technically it was an attack on the memoir written by anyone outside the circle of the “memoir-eligible.” It goes: "There was a time when you had to earn the right to draft a memoir," and then proceeds to savage three recent memoirs. The author, Neil Genzlinger, yearned for a now-distant day, when “unremarkable lives went unremarked upon, the way God intended."

“Who does he think he is?” said Natalie Goldberg, memoirist and author of the Writing Down the Bones and the recent Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir, calling [...]