The Bit Too Tidy Ghost Story of “Dear David”

Every ghost story is a good story.

New York City, October 15, 2017

★ The humid, gloomy morning seemed to be breaking apart, as the forecast said it would, around 11. Buildings shone in the distance. By noon, though, the light had shut off again. Without the sun, the breeze in the forecourt was clammy. Leaves tossed; debris blew. A motorcycle bore down on a pigeon, which reluctantly took flight. At great intervals a drop of rain would fall. The children rode around for a while on a scooter and the balance bike, despite the dimness, still wearing shorts for the day they’d been told about, the better part that never arrived. Neither the heavens nor the newspapers make enforceable promises, or even apologize for what goes undelivered. A woman in a puffy jacket sat smoking a cigarette with focus and intensity. Nothing improved.

Penis mugs, Houdini's handcuffs, and a souvenir from James Monroe's disinterment

Lot 1: Handle with Care

Image: Courtesy of Rago Arts

Had you the foresight to secure that plywood penis table at Sotheby’s last year, you’d now have the opportunity to add some perfectly compatible drinkware: three ceramic mugs with phallus form handles. Cock cups, if you will. Estimated at only $500-700, the whimsical Disco-era vessels would certainly discomfit the members of your book club-coffee klatch, and for that, they’re worth every penny.

The mugs feature in a New Jersey auction on October 22 brimming with awesomely off-kilter oddities, e.g., a collection of rubber mushrooms, a box of glass eyes from the early twentieth century, and a Victorian hand-cranked vibrator.

Live Alone, But Die in a Very Large Group If You Can

Image: kbcanon via Flickr

“I’m having trouble with my roommate. What should I do?” —Troubled Terry

Human beings were never meant to live with one another. We’re just not built for it. Adam and Eve, look how they fucked that relationship up. Blaming each other, listening to snakes. Their sons killing each other. All we do is get on each other’s nerves, constantly, for almost no reason. Basically all American sitcoms are about how impossible it is to cohabitate with anyone, including our families. If we were smart we would have long ago adopted those Japanese Hotel Pods everywhere. Make them sound proof, so I don’t have to hear my neighbor’s Creed CDs on full blast. Lock yourself in and everyone just live and sleep in dark, soundproof, lonely silence.  We think humans are the cure for loneliness. But the cure is probably robots. Or at least, talking boxes.

Have you ever tried sharing a bed with someone? It’s practically damned near impossible. They’re always stealing your blankets and pillows, complaining about your snoring, pushing your stuffed animals off the bed, eating your Pop Tarts, messing with your porn. They want to be held all night, which basically involves them crushing your arm with some part of their body. I used to have six arms! Most have fallen off. Because they got crushed by people sleeping all over me at night.

How To Make Plans

Dave Bry, 1970-2017

Dave Bry, part of The Awl since very shortly after its inception and one of its most prolific contributors, passed away on Sunday. Dave’s Public Apology column, one of the first recurring features here, was the genesis for the book of the same name he put out in 2013. The generosity at the heart of everything he wrote was, if anything, wildly underplayed: His decency was essential to his character. Dave is survived by his wife and son. He was 46.

New York City, October 12, 2017

★★★ A gentle, exhausted rain fell on the walk to school. By the time the shouts of morning recess were carrying over the street, the edges of the sidewalk squares were drying out and low shreds of gray were flying under higher, sun-whitened clouds. Somewhere in there was a gap or two of blue. The wind was coiling around and whipping. Then the clouds broke apart and the sun was warming where it came through. It was a mistake, but not a serious one, to head out without a jacket.

It's A Metaphor

Jared Kushner Doesn't Get Inoculated

Image: Fort George G. Meade Public Affairs Office via Flickr

JARED and IVANKA are lounging around in pajamas. Their DAUGHTER is the shadow President per a coup last week in which she cast the deciding vote for herself. Her first order of business, after she ushered her grandfather into an assisted living facility, is to change the dress code. Onesies if you have them. Most pajamas are flame retardant, she explains sensibly as she distributes the new policy, acknowledging that she understands STEVE BANNON set booby traps, many of them involving fire, before he departed the White House. GARY COHN is rubbing Cheez-it crumbs on his gums like they’re cocaine. GENERAL KELLY is definitely not resigning. He’s playing the piano with GENERAL MATTIS and they’re singing “Sister Christian” to KUSHNER DAUGHTER like they’re Archie and Edith. KELLYANNE CONWAY walks in with DR. BEN CARSON, who is rolling a cart of syringes and carrying many bags. 

IVANKA [wearing an IVANKA-branded onesie and expensive jewelry]: Secretary Carson.

THE GENERALS [in unison, and excitedly rising from the piano, wearing onesies depicting all of Ken Burns’s documentaries]: Is the Twenty-fifth Amendment vote happening?

KUSHNER DAUGHTER [wearing a Wonder Woman onesie]: I determined it was actually less dangerous to America’s housing and urban development if Ben administered flu shots and not run HUD.

How Literal Fuck Hats Saved the Peregrine Falcon

Lester Boyd, Inventor of the fuck hat. Photo: Peregrine Fund of Boise, Idaho, 1977

The Peregrine falcon, the fastest animal on earth, was saved from extinction thanks in part to a specially designed hat that proved to be an innovative, if unusual, method of artificial insemination. Essentially, it’s a fuck hat.

In the 1950s, the number of wild Peregrine falcons had diminished drastically due to the reckless and widespread use of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, or DDT. This toxic pesticide didn’t kill Peregrine falcons outright, but it did weaken their eggshells to the point of making incubation unviable. By the 1960s, there were no wild peregrine falcons in North America east of the Rocky Mountains, and only a handful to the west.

Tom Cade, a Professor of Ornithology at Cornell University, is credited with being the first to discover there might a Peregrine problem. However, it was only after speaking with other experts at a 1968 conference in Madison, Wisconsin, that Cade knew for sure the birds were in danger. To counter the devastation a potential loss of species would have had, Cade and about a half dozen other men formed The Peregrine Fund in 1970. It began in Ithaca, NY, though the organization is now based in Boise, ID.  Armed with donated birds from concerned falconers the world over, Cade and a handful of others embarked on the most ambitious captive breeding program in history.

Why Tweet?

Maggie Haberman says: “Before you post, ask yourself: Is this something that needs to be said, is it something that needs to be said by you, and is it something that needs to be said by you right now? If you answer no to any of the three, it’s best not to rush ahead.”

Is there really any reason to tweet now? (Was there every any reason? A primer.) Twitter has become such a hellscape, with Nazis and broken news sandwiched between the commander-in-chief’s signature There’s Always An Old Tweet™ tweets and his newer, more unhinged signature Taunt™ tweets designed purely to arouse the ire of his politically opposed spectators. The new New York Times social media guidelines are, as you might expect, fairly reasonable, if somewhat exhausting—like a rule-loving little gray lady with newspaper wings sitting on your shoulder, not even whispering anything but just raising her eyebrows over her bifocals. For those of us who participate in Twitter mostly for real-time-only jokes and to dopily announce that we have Written A Thing, these rules mostly make us remember we are not Maggie Haberman, and you have to wonder if there’s any point to saying something when you could just as easily…not. What do you really get out of Twitter besides repeated dopamine hits and very good blog posts from The Awl? If you’re looking for a nicotine patch of sorts, I highly suggest the paperclip game. It is a great reminder of how engaging but ultimately pointless everything on the internet is.