Thanks to everyone who participated in our end of the world exercise. Perhaps you missed one of two during the hectic holiday week. Good news: they're all here! Print and save for later… or for the actual end of the world. You'll have plenty of time for reading then.
When the world finally ends, the odds are long on The Horrific Event taking every single living soul on Earth with it. And if there are at least two of us left, our need to inauthentically connect with each other via technology will remain, and we'll be forced to devise new and unconventional ways to facilitate the comforting feeling of social networking even after The Whole Internet has finally, mercifully, been burned to the ground.
What follows are my ideas for creating "In Real Life" facsimiles of the social behaviors we've become accustomed to online. I think they could come in quite handy in the event of Apocalypse [...]
Some years ago I toured a container ship as a guest of its ambitious young Yugoslav captain. It was by far the most awe-inspiring company tour I’ve ever been on; the sheer size and scale of everything we were shown made us feel utterly antlike, awestruck, and then awestruck again, in a different way, at the magnificence of what people are able to achieve when they put their minds to it.
These container ships are commonly 300 meters long or more, and they burn a very filthy low-grade petroleum sludge the consistency of Nutella that must be warmed in order for it to liquefy to a combustible [...]
What, you thought we’d been canning our own goods for fun? That we set up farms on the roofs of buildings because we had nothing better to do? Carved “artists' lofts” out of crumbling factories because they’re so much more aesthetically pleasing? Let me let you in on a little secret here: for any disaster that's coming, the young Brooklynites? We’re ready to survive it.
We’ve already been experimenting with setting up our own sustainable communities. In fact, you may have read about them in the New York Times, in articles such as “A Commune Grows in Brooklyn” or pretty much any other Styles-section article with “Brooklyn” [...]
As a child I realized I would die, and thought about it often. My parents, now divorced, both like to recount the time I made this sad, if fairly inevitable, discovery. We were driving by a cemetery; I asked if all animals died, then if people were animals, and when I got my answers, was quiet for a long time. In second grade, I realized that looking forward to summer vacation was the same as eating away at the balance of my time on Earth. It was hard to enjoy the tire swing after that. Two years later, it was even worse. My family went to Montreal (again, the [...]
I do not believe in things like ghosts or astrology or gods who care if you eat shellfish, so I feel unwaveringly confident in saying that the world is not going to end in 2012. If I did believe that, I think I’d whittle away the rest of my time at a months-long beach party in Thailand, physically and mentally removed from cable news caterwauling and any chance that I’d humiliate my mother in a whiskey mishap. I’d dance and probably ease my negative opinions on drum circles, and, as the sun collapsed over the horizon, I'd find someone to hold hands with and stand before the boiling ocean. [...]
The day I learned that the Earth would be cracked open by a comet, that the seas would turn suddenly to steam and the wind from every direction would catch fire, that the sky would be covered over with heavy tarps of black burning dust and every one of us would end up stenciled like letters into the fossil record, I went to the movies. But then Richard Gere burst out into "Razzle Dazzle," and my heart went nuts and my head went light and my skin went damp and it went cold and the only thought I could manage was this: "The world is going to end and [...]
TO THE CLASS OF 2011: a hearty hail and hello to you and to those others from the town and from your families who have been able to make it here today. I greet you and I thank you for inviting me to this ceremony. It is a date which must have seemed so significant when you began the academic year nine months ago, but which could easily have been overshadowed by the current crisis. After all, faced with what we are facing, why should this day be different from any other day? What meaning could it possibly hold placed against the grim import of that ultimate hour, rushing [...]
If I knew the world was coming to an end, I would fuck with impunity. I would crunch birth control pills between my teeth like they were pink Pez all day long. With the specter of annihilation on horizon, all would be carnage and I would need to start regularly shaving my legs.
I have a picture of every man I ever slept with. I’d pin each photo up on my living room wall, use a marker to rank each one based on looks, IQ and technique. I’d invite my friends over to drink and comment on the exhibition. I’d tell them all the secrets I was supposed to [...]
As crazy as it seems now, when I was a freshman in high school I was convinced that my life was going to end, healthy and unadulterated, sometime before December 31st 1988. Of course it’s common for sensitive teens to consider their mortality during those tumultuous years when the hormones start to kick in. But I was different. While other kids pondered death in the conventional fashion—that is, contemplating suicide while listening to the Smiths’ “Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now”—I came to terms with my mortality the old fashioned way. I learned about it in church.
The specifics of my doom were revealed to me when I was fifteen, [...]
About a year ago, without discussing it with one another, we each made a choice: Some of us were going to call this current year “two-thousand ten,” and some of us were going to call it “twenty ten.” For those going with the former, it was a mere continuation of the format we had used for the past decade. And those people were wrong. The double-digits format is easier and quicker to use now, just as it was for all the years we employed it before 2000, and just as it will be if we start to use it uniformly for the rest of this millennium. How do you [...]
I can’t think of a better place to spend the apocalypse than Massachusetts, where the air is tinged with woodsmoke, survivalism, and the sneaking suspicion that, whatever it is we’ve got coming, we probably deserve it. This is what I remember from last time, anyway. It was this time of year in 1999, and we were holed up in one of those punk-cum-frat houses out by the railroad tracks, stocked with bottled water, vintage Metallica bootlegs and André. On New Year’s Eve there was a bonfire. At midnight, when the lights didn’t go out, we burned broken furniture and cardboard boxes, so it would at least feel like the [...]
On July 11, 2011, I stopped paying my bills. I remember it was very hot outside and the air was still that day. I was in the office as usual sitting at my desk. Shortly after the market opened I pulled out my checkbook and a stack of bills. I made out check #1472 to "Northeast Properties, LLC" for $2,325. In the memo line I wrote, "Rent, 07/15/2011 – 08/14/2011." I had just put it in an envelope and sealed it when I noticed Stuart walking toward me.
I think I said something like, "What's up, man?"
But he walked right past me like I was a ghost. He [...]
I was supposed to be a geologist. It’s true: I know a lot more about dips and strikes, mass extinctions, the relative time scale (which I can recite thanks to the mnemonic “Please come over some day, maybe play poker, three jacks cover two queens”—look it up), dissolved oxygen, schist, gneiss, basalt pillow formations and various dramatic fault lines than I do about the current New York Times bestsellers list, or what’s trending on Twitter. I’m an editor, but I still spend a lot of time thinking about rocks. And water. Actually, saying I was supposed to be a geologist isn’t quite right: I was supposed to be a [...]
I have known some impatient people over the years who couldn’t wait for the end of the world.
So they killed themselves.
Eric and his mom lived in a one-room rental with a carport and no fence. Eric and my little brother and I all went to school together. My brother said people used to make fun of Eric because he didn’t wear clean clothes. He also said Eric liked to pick on other kids. From what I remember, Eric always had a smudge of dirt on his face, as if he dropped from the womb and landed in dirt, and the dirt stuck like a white-trash birthmark. Maybe [...]
9/22/12 New opening bit: Who do we got out here tonight? Hold on a minute. Is that…? Is that the Road Warrior out there? Do we got Mad Max out in the audience this evening? Wait. No, that’s just Tina Turner’s weave from Beyond Thunderdome. (Start singing “We Don’t Need Another Hero” and try to get the audience to sing and clap along.) Segue into: How is Mel Gibson still racist? There’s only one skin color now—dirt—and he’s that color, too!
9/26/12 Did a show at an actual comedy club instead of some six-legged-rat-infested dump—must still be in use because of its basement location/surplus of booze they had on [...]
You go to hell. Or: hell comes to you. You are unemployed, pursuing work, any sort. You submit a cover letter so typo-ridden it breaks the Internet. The Internet, of course, is what braces the laws of thermodynamics. So now there’s a temperature colder than absolute zero. Though scientists keep that discovery quiet.
Initially it isn’t too bad, an indefinite shift, your coffee tasting like wine, your hair growing too fast, inert objects gleaming with raw and terrible life. In fact, it might just be you: you were always half-certain you’d lose your grip on things one day, and if not now, when? But reality is what’s unraveling—one can’t [...]
One of the things I remember most vividly about the 1994 6.7 magnitude Northridge earthquake is the Budweiser six packs of canned water they gave each of us at my elementary school a week later. I also remember waking up about thirty seconds before the quake, and sitting up in bed, and the wood shelf that fell where my head had just been. I sat on the edge of the bed and I looked out the window into the darkness and for some reason I felt like I was deep underwater as the world lurched into a kind of long, undulating wave. It lasted for 45 seconds, which of [...]