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 [...]
Today as, unlike other sites, The Awl marks no sort of anniversary at all, co-founder and Associate Editorial Director Alex Balk talks about the first five months and sixteen days' surprises, obsessive commenters, print's premature obit, Sarah Palin, his enormous penis… and what's next for the site.
So how was your first five months and sixteen days at The Awl?
So last night I was meeting a couple of friends for drinks in Brooklyn, which is always a dicey situation because I have no idea where the hell anything is in that borough and am reliant on cab drivers or bad directions from the subway to get to my destination. (Those of you from out of town should know that Brooklyn is laid out completely illogically, with bizarre and unpronounceable road names rather than an orderly set of numbered streets and avenues. There is also, excepting for a couple of bridges and a place that is famous for cheesecake, a distinct lack of local landmarks by which one might [...]
Why I Stalk A Sexy Italian Jew On Google, And Why You Should Too (Hint: It's Because He's Super Super Sexy)
It all started one day when Choire Sicha pointed out how few Jewish Italian bloggers have people looking for their Google alerts. I realized most of my Google alerts are set for people who aren't me: non-Jewish Italian bloggers. So I picked out my new target and started to pay attention.
I write this from an undisclosed location. Actually, I write this from my home, but due to the wonders of scheduling by the time you read it I will be wandering the city looking for a place that has free wifi and easy access to many toilets; because of my illness, Choire has barred me from the Awl offices. I suppose his fear of catching my terrible disease is fair enough, although the idea that someone who works in filth is wary of communicable disease seems a bit of a stretch. No matter; even though I am not yet 100 percent recovered (or even 50 percent) I will [...]
I had some work to do this morning that was not going to get done if I sat at home, what with the many potential distractions of television, Nintendo DS, staring out the window, grouting the bathroom tile, etc., so I forced myself out of the apartment and stepped into a Starbucks, where I got myself situated in a corner with a couple of ice coffees and plugged in my battery. I had been so consumed by my own concerns over doing what I needed to do that I didn't notice there was something unusual happening until I saw another adapter plugged into the outlet next to mine. It was [...]
Hey, it's another one of those patented Alex Balk Metropolitan Diaries! This one is even less relevant and more disgustingly sentimental than previous, if such a thing is possible, so if that's gonna gross you out go watch the premature ejaculation ad again instead. Anyway.
After a day and a night and half of another day of arduous climbing, we reached the peak of pike. My guide, whose task of assisting my ascent had proven even more difficult given my poor level of fitness and ceaseless torrent of complaints about how difficult it was to smoke cigarettes in the thin mountain air, seemed relieved that we had completed our journey after all.
"There," he said, gesturing to a small cave at the foot of the summit. "In there you will find the answers that you seek."
I have held my tongue thus far, but a man can only stand silent for so long while others pillage the fruits of his labor for their own ends without offering proper testament to his genius. It was I, Alex Balk, who first used the term "Summer of Death" to refer to this tragic season. It happened right here, at the beginning of July, and in the weeks that followed I have been forced to endure the agony of seeing my creation tossed willy-nilly about the Internet without a nod in the direction of my brilliance. (Those stealy bastards at New York actually suggested that they had [...]
Apologies. For whatever reason, today was rough. I don't feel like I gave you enough content. So here's a little something extra, just for you:
A lot of people ask me, "Alex, what's the saddest thing you ever saw?" And I'm going to be honest, I've seen a lot of sad things. You can't live as long as I have, you can't feel as deeply as I do, without having borne witness to some terrible, heartbreaking visions. But I would have to say that the saddest thing I ever saw was, on its face, ostensibly quite ordinary.
So last night at around 7:30 I was on my way to Brooklyn to meet a friend for drinks. (Yes, sometimes I go to Brooklyn.) The train was packed, and I was standing pressed up against the door at the center of the car, reading a magazine, and generally ignoring my surroundings. The seat next to me became available, and a young woman sat down. A minute or two later she started sobbing. It was one of those sounds where you aren't sure at first whether a person is laughing or crying, but it soon became obvious that she was doing the latter.
One of the tough things about New [...]