The First Day of the Rest of Your Awl


Good morning! Your new editor here, reporting for duty. I’m still trying out all the chairs in the office and figuring out where to position my laptop so as best not to get Toasted Skin Syndrome (most recently: atop a Webster’s Eleventh I “adopted” from my old job at The New Yorker). In many ways, The Awl and its offices are very different from my previous workplace. For one thing, I have never worked in a room with so many USB cords, over-the-ear headphones, PlayStation controllers, and shitphones. Also dudes. There is very little paper here, to say nothing of pencil sharpeners and wooden bookstands…which, it now occurs to me might make the perfect laptop stands.

But on the other hand, I have been reading The Awl since its inception, and have always been a fan of its swift wit, canny voice, and above all, its dedication to good and better writing. It may strike some of you as a strange move, to jump from a ninety-one-year-old superyacht of an institution to a little dinghy like this one, but let me explain: I’ve always thought of the two as taxonomically related. In its first iteration, The Awl had a motto that used to live somewhere near the top of the page that read “Be Less Stupid.” In many ways, that’s what The New Yorker has always been used for by a certain set of people (mainly lawyers). Reading it is a way to stay informed and well read, culturally awake and critically stimulated, in a format that also feeds you funny doodles on every other page that make you smile but not laugh. To me, The Awl has always been a home for smart, well-reasoned words and voices, taking a moment to point to things in the world and say, “Hey wait a second, isn’t that weird?! Let’s think this through for a second.” There’s also the abstruse listicles, Lovecraftian real-estate commentary, and yes, even poems. The Awl is a good deal shorter and faster, and organizationally much smaller than what I’m used to, but effectively I’ll be trafficking in the same product — the only product — that keeps me going: good writing.

I’m overjoyed to take the helm. The waters are going to be a little choppy while I get used to the new tiller and open all the doors and see what Easter eggs Matt and John have left me (whose paperclips are these and what were they ever used for besides opening SIM compartments on review phones?). I hope you enjoy the ride.