Stop everything you’re doing and read this right now. If there is food in your mouth stop chewing it. It is OK to choke for a while as long as you are currently reading this thing. If you were thinking a thought, flush that thought down the toilet of your mind like a poo. We’re all reading it it really is changing everything. Can you feel it with the pastrami in your mouth? Literally everything is changing as you go over this sentence and this, don’t stop to wipe your mouth because we’re definitely going to go back to 2000 to something no one remembers anyone ever saying and then maybe read the introduction to a literary magazine in 2003 when there used to be literary magazines.
It is an all-encompassing group gesture that will allow you to feel exactly how you already feel except more so. And it will make you feel smarter about the opinion you already have like a great NPR story about the Iraq War. You knew that was a bad idea and literally no one listened to you! Well, you were right all along. The War on Iraq did suck and was a bad idea! And the Bush Presidency sucked, too! Do you remember that? Al Gore, Tipper Gore, Gwar, “Ulee’s Gold”. Everyone was crazy about that movie, and you were like “What the hell is going on in this thing?”
Over the next billion and a half pages I am going to throw pretty much everything that’s happened since the dawn of time at you, I’ve been e-mailing and chat rolluetting and friendstering and snapchatting with all my friends we would only stop to give each other oral sex then we would pick right back up with that we were that determined there is unchewed food in my mouth and we definitely hate people who want to stop us from making fun of shit, that is the general consensus between all of us.
That we need some kind of fresh justification for the thing everybody does and everyone has to do we’re all just sitting here in our cubicles pretty much crushed that someone isn’t on board with us making fun of them so let’s make fun of them because they don’t think we should make fun of them and they have books and all I have is this web post here, here we go, ooooowwwwwooooooooo!
I first met Dave Eggers in 2001ish? When his publicist called me at Brookline Booksmith to pitch his Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius for an book reading event it was not a good pitch. “This guy is young and funny and has a magazine and now has a memoir” was about the gist of the thing. And I was like, I am young and funny and have a magazine, too. Get in line. Everyone was young and funny and had a magazine in the 90s, it was just what everybody did. We read about Bill Clinton, thought about his penis for a while, published a magazine and made jokes about everything. I don’t know at what age I first started making jokes about everything. Do you remember how disappointed we all were about Bill Clinton? How he had let us down because he was a human being that needed to do things with his penis?
The greatest trick the devil ever played was making you think you always had to make sure everyone knew you were going to heaven and subsequently that everyone else was going to hell.
I politely passed on that Dave Eggers event. Do you remember Snidely Whiplash? Oh, man, Snidely Whiplash! He was always tying Canadian women to the train tracks, that was basically his M.O.. One thing Canadians have a lot of is train tracks, apparently. And if you tied a beautiful woman to them the mounted police would have to come untie her and while they were doing that you could rob a bank or go shoplift a bunch of maple syrup, which is even better than money especially on pancakes. I can literally project this cartoon face on basically anyone, anyone trying to do anything, anything I feel thinks it’s too cool or that thinks that I’m not cool enough. Anythin
Dave Eggers’ book went on to be basically the biggest book in the history of the world. Everyone read it, people who hate books read it, people who never learned how to read read it, dead people came back to life to read it. He was a literary Harry Potter. They basically gave Dave Eggers the keys to New York City Publishing, just threw open all the art deco doors to all the buildings downtown for him. Publishing magnates would put down their cigars and lean in to Dave Eggers close, speaking intimately, looking intently into his eyes. “Tell us what to do, Dave. We have run out of good ideas.” Dave would look back into their eyes and just nod. He would nod for hours. Everyone at the table would wait for him. He was just kind of nodding to himself. We were all sure that he must have a great idea.
Have you ever met Cal Ripkin? Oh, man, Cal Ripkin. Cal is tall and an awesome shortstop and played every game for like 20 years straight, hit a ton of home runs. And he’s an announcer now. But in person he just doesn’t talk much. It gives him this air of grace. There’s something dignified about that. Like how Silent Bob didn’t used to talk very much in those “Clerks” movies. You were like, I love Silent Bob. He says one funny smart perfect thing a movie and it matters. Then it all changed. It was a turning point. It mattered. This is a trend piece. Malcolm Gladwell has taught us that seemingly obvious things, once written, can be monetized. Because most people are pretty much willing to like the thing that all their friends like to get along with their friends.
It turns out that people who don’t talk a lot don’t necessarily have anything good to say. In Cal’s case, he’s probably thinking about buying shoes. In Silent Bob’s case, it was about how to make “Daredevil” an unwatchable movie. In Dave Eggers’ case, it was maybe that he didn’t know what to do with New York City publishing, he certainly didn’t know what he wanted to do with his newfound Faustian power. But they gave it to him anyway. And then, the ultimate trend piece!
When 9/11 happened everything changed. Everything about everything. Forever. Birds stopped singing. Nothing was funny anymore, for like 25 years. You couldn’t even try to be funny. It was like when my grandmother died and me and my brother Andy were watching “The Three Stooges” waiting to go to her funeral and my mom came in and was like “Turn This Off!” and my brother was like “What are we supposed to do, cry all day?” And the answer to that was apparently yes. We were supposed to cry all day. And while my grandmother’s death was sad it was definitely no 9/11. They arrested everyone at The Onion for making a very funny issue right after 9/11. A week later they were back to being dreary.
At that point they sent a letter to Dave Eggers that he and his publishing outfit, his magazine, his books, his action figures, his wookie masks, none of it could be funny anymore. Nothing was ever funny again at McSweeney’s. The critics, you know those guys, the ones that nobody reads, said Irony was dead. And Dave said OK, Irony is dead, let’s watch “The Three Stooges” and go to its funeral. And he was never funny or ironic again. He wrote serious books that ended up on the front tables of stores that I have never heard of anyone actually reading. There was an article about it in The Onion like last week practically. Every once in a while those scamps still got it.
The thing about having a magazine or a web site is that you have to write about why your thing is better than everyone else’s magazine. It becomes a thing like a dog. You name it something wacky and then take it on a stroll. Everyone wants to pet it. They are like “This is a great dog.” And you’re like, I know! But then other dogs are getting petted. What about your dog? You used to love my dog! My dog is cooler than your dog! No one will ever love your dog if people love other dogs. I mean, you experience this, right? With books and music and the internet. I only read one website ever, everyday. I only listen to one song over and over again. Right now it is “Jane of the Waking Universe.”
I don’t really know what snarky means. I have been making fun of things since I was 10 and people made fun of me and I thought to myself, making fun of things is great except when it’s about you. Maybe I can make fun of other things and people will think I’m funny. And sometimes they did. Sometimes I really got everyone good.
Did you know that politics is a complete waste of time? That nothing good ever happens, that it’s all about money and that everyone is a liar who will let you down? I could write 5,000 pages in the middle of this thing about that. Especially presidential politics. It is a weird crazy distended zero sum game that probably doesn’t have to do much with your life except that you see this person on the cover of the newspaper every day, they set the tone, you’re like why is this person president? Why can’t there be unicorns in Central Park? Free, galloping happy unicorns.
Does anything Dave Eggers’ says or writes really affect your life in any way? He used to run New York City Publishing, but he doesn’t anymore, no one does. There is no one at the wheel. I work at a bookstore. There’s not a lot of them left and there’s not a lot of people in the ones that are left. People really prefer Television.
Do people read The Believer magazine? Someone there told someone who wanted to write an article about me that I was overexposed. And I thought to myself, yeah, me and Dave Eggers.
Is it important that I feel good about making fun of things?
Apparently haters and anti-haters are gonna hate.
And people used to really like gawker. I used to love gawker. It was the only website I went to. But something changed. The writers were always good. Maybe it’s just a tone? Maybe it needs cat cartoons?
When is the last time you read an entire book review? One that wasn’t a brutal, fun takedown?
I’m pretty sure this has changed your life and we’ll all be different going forward. I mean, we all do exactly what we’ve always done and always been doing. But now we have a new word for it. It is “Trend.” And it will be trendy to be trend for a while. And then someone will come along and say you shouldn’t be trend anymore and we’ll be like yes we should.