No Platform

My Brother’s iPod Case

My brother is a huge Coheed and Cambria fan. Last year, my parents got it in their heads that they’d buy him a new iPod for his birthday, and they mentioned that to me, I offered to chip in for a customized case: polished steel on one side with his name etched on the cover, and the Co & Ca “Keywork” logo airbrushed on the back. I knew a shop in Madison that could do the artwork, so I bought a case, left the instructions, and was told to come back in a week to pick up the finished product.

I went back to the store to retrieve the case, but I was mortified to discover that my brother’s name as misspelled on the cover: “Tim Buaman.” I pointed out the error, but while the manager offered to fix it for free, it would be another week before I could get the case and mail it back to New Jersey—I’d miss my brother’s birthday by several days.

So I went home and sent my parents an email that started something like this: 

Subject: Engraver Mistakes

Dear Mom and Dad,

I write you in this letter that states…

Movies: The 20-80 Scale

  • 80: Network
  • 75: Broadcast News
  • 70: The Departed
  • 65: Jurassic Park
  • 60: Apollo 13
  • 55: Inglourious Basterds
  • 50: Spy Game
  • 45: Forrest Gump
  • 40: Clear and Present Danger
  • 35: Sleepless in Seattle
  • 30: Star Trek Into Darkness
  • 25: Lost in Translation
  • 20: Just My Luck

Fall Out Boy and 80s Movie Classics

Patrick Stump and Pete Wentz were having an 80s movie night. Neither had ever seen WarGames before, so they sat down to watch the 1983 Matthew Broderick vehicle together. 

Pete was in the bathroom when the opening credits rolled, so he missed the name of the lead actress. About halfway through the film, curiosity got the best of him, and he spoke up.

"Who’s the girl who plays Jennifer?" he asked. "She looks familiar. I think I’ve seen her in something before."

Patrick nodded toward the TV. “That’s Ally Sheedy,” he said. “And it’s a goddamn arms race.”

My Ersatz Italian Sub

I experienced something today. On my way home from work, I stopped at a local sandwich emporium because (thanks to about four different layers of my own laziness and nihilistic defeatism) I have no food in my apartment that I care to cook. It took me almost a full minute to find the Italian hoagie, because, since this is Wisconsin and I’m the darkest-skinned person for 80 miles in any direction, we don’t have Italian people, much less Italian hoagies. I purchase my hoagie and eschew the bag, since it’s the only thing I bought. I put the hoagie on the passenger seat of my car. It’s wrapped in wax paper, as hoagies often are, and taped shut.

On the first turn, I look over to see that the tape has come undone, the wrapper unraveled and my ersatz Italian sub is rolling across the seat, with little bits of lettuce trailing behind like cinders coming off a falling meteorite.

Such is the unpredictable nature of life. No matter the airtightness of our plans, the purity of our motives, the height of our aspirations, we are subject to the caprices of fate and the unintended consequences of our own failings, which weigh on us like millstones. All our tape is coming undone. We are all the rolling sandwich. We are all the falling lettuce.

The Perfect Metaphor

This was the utterance of Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated this morning, as he prepared to face a full day’s slate of broadcast appearances regarding the fallout of Major League Baseball handing down suspensions for the Biogenesis affair. 

It’s also the greatest metaphor of all time. 

Okay, maybe not literally that, but Jay’s frustrated throwaway comment is a remarkable piece of writing, and here’s why:

  • It’s simple. Eleven words, the most complicated of which is “bullshit.” Elegant, minimalistic prose that evokes the detached ennui of Camus. As you can tell from that last sentence, I’m incapable of writing something so pithy and simple, and I’m jealous. It says everything there is to say about the situation in colorful detail without sending anyone with more than a second-grade reading level running for the thesaurus. Moreover, you almost dance from word to word, treading heavily on the first clause, “It’s raining bullshit today,” to the second. 
  • Bullshit is a great word. It’s an expression of disgust and outrage, and you can’t string together an “l” with an “sh” vocally without contorting your mouth into a scornful shape. You almost spit this word out when you say it.
  • It’s a powerful image. Think about it. “It’s raining bullshit.” Imagine that “the heavy stuff is already coming down.” It’s the kind of thing you say about a blizzard or a hurricane, the kind of driving, relentless, destructive precipitation that can ruin your day even when it’s only water. Now imagine that it’s just a torrent of bullshit, big, malodorous chunks of well-digested foliage, the kind of substance that is shoveled into piles where it often literally steams its noxious fumes into the air. Bullshit is unpleasant to all the senses (or so I’m told, I’ve never eaten it). It’s ugly and it reeks of uncleanness, of disease, of discomfort. Imagine that raining down, literally raining, with no end in sight.
  • It fits the situation. Biogenesis is relentless, ugly and unpleasant. There are situations where possible outcomes exist where anyone will leave happy. This is not one of them. No matter what the outcome, everyone will be displeased somehow, and everyone is airing that rage and unhappiness on every sports publication with a website. There is no redemption, no justice, no good feeling. It’s ugly and it reeks of disease and it’s raining down with no end in sight. It’s raining bullshit today. It’s a sentence that just teems with boredom and fatigue and cynicism, and it could not be more perfect for the situation.

I’ve looked up to Jay for a long time, not only because of his superb mustache, but because I think he’s a great sportswriter. And that was before I knew he’d pen the greatest metaphor of all time. 

The MLB Teams, In Order of How Much I Think I Watch Them

  1. Philadelphia Phillies
  2. Texas Rangers
  3. Baltimore Orioles
  4. New York Mets
  5. Toronto Blue Jays
  6. Oakland Athletics
  7. Houston Astros
  8. Atlanta Braves
  9. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  10. St. Louis Cardinals
  11. Pittsburgh Pirates
  12. Minnesota Twins
  13. Kansas City Royals
  14. Milwaukee Brewers
  15. Los Angeles Dodgers
  16. Tampa Bay Rays
  17. Cincinnati Reds
  18. Boston Red Sox
  19. Miami Marlins
  20. Washington Nationals
  21. Cleveland Indians
  22. San Francisco Giants
  23. Arizona Diamondbacks
  24. New York Yankees
  25. Seattle Mariners
  26. San Diego Padres
  27. Colorado Rockies
  28. Detroit Tigers
  29. Chicago White Sox
  30. Chicago Cubs

The First 402 Words of the Novel I’ll Never Write

They do a strange thing in southern Wisconsin and northern Iowa. Rather than sending their highways over and around mountains (as they would, Alex thought, in the civilized world), they’d shave the top couple dozen feet off of a hill, but only as much as was needed to create two lanes in each direction, plus a median.

So David Santangelo drove his aging Camaro, like six white horses, not so much over as through the rolling hills of the Midwest, until, after all, he finally started to see signs for Saint Ignatius, Iowa.

Saint Ingatius is a hamlet, roughly halfway between Dubuque and Davenport along U.S. Highway 61, that exists for two purposes: first, to provide a post office, liquor store, school, gas station and pizza delivery service to the surrounding dairy and sheep farms. Saint Ignatius counts among its population some 6,430 souls, spread out across ten times as many square miles.

It’s a town that has more sheep than people and more traffic circles than sheep. If you get off the exit for gas, or food, or to use the toilet, you’re liable to have to navigate half a dozen roundabouts before you encounter the Shell station (run by the family Nygaard for three generations) that serves as the primary navigational waypoint for the city.

If you’re so inclined, you can see a monument erected to the westernmost point of the advance of George Rogers Clark’s Illinois Campaign during the Revolutionary War, but very few visitors ever are. Most often, they’re happy to take on fuel and drink at the Nygaard Family Shell and perhaps to sample a slice or two of the four cheese pizza at Ristorante La Forgia, have a pleasant conversation or two with a genial local (because, let’s face it, all Iowa locals are friendly to strangers for at least fifteen minutes), and be on their way, whether it’s to Dubuque or Davenport or even more exciting lands, such as Omaha or Cedar Rapids or Madison or sometimes even Chicago.

Saint Ignatius, Iowa, in short, is like tens of thousands of other agricultural hamlets across the Midwest—some local businesses in service of the larger city purpose, surrounded by farms.

But what sets Saint Ignatius apart from other, similar cities, is that it is the Mecca of sex tourism in North America.  

And that’s why David Santangelo was driving his Camaro there in such a hurry.

Five Crappy Jokes Based on TV On the Radio’s “Wolf Like Me”

  1. Tunde Adebimpe is ghostwriting Michael Dorn’s autobiography. It’s called “Worf Like Me.”
  2. Tunde Adebimpe is teaching a monthly seminar on how dog owners can impress their pets. The promise: “When the moon is round and full, gonna teach you tricks that will blow your mongrel’s mind.”
  3. Tunde Adebimpe hides copies of his second album, Return to Cookie Mountain, around the Sesame Street studio in the hopes of inciting riots among the Muppets.
  4. Tunde Adebimpe announces that he’s going to start naming his internal organs. He calls his heart “Curtis Glencross” and explains by saying “My heart’s a Flame.”
  5. Tunde Adebimpe refuses to help you move your sofa and instead sits in the corner and yells “Motherfucker!” over and over. By way of explanation, he says only: “Gotta curse. I cannot lift.”

Top 10 The National Songs

  1. Fashion Coat
  2. Runaway
  3. 90-Mile Water Wall
  4. Fake Empire
  5. Mr. November
  6. The Geese of Beverly Road
  7. Daughters of the Soho Riots
  8. Apartment Story
  9. Secret Meeting
  10. It Never Happened

Just because Paul’s doing it.