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America’s Newest Sweetheart

May 29, 2012 | by

Ashley’s father died from a brain aneurysm two years ago. Chantal didn’t talk to her father for the last fifteen years of his life. Alli’s father came to her and was like, “Oh, you have a little sister.” The other Ashley’s father struggled with addiction; she hadn’t been in touch with him for years. “What makes you you?” the Bachelor had asked them.

It seems on the face of it like an awful idea to reveal deeply personal things about yourself on a show like The Bachelor, since to do so is to trivialize not only your own life but the lives of the people who love you, to cede primary control of your identity to People and Us Weekly and the Internet comment monster. But if you want to win The Bachelor and/or win the heart of the Bachelor, sooner or later you’re going to have to tell the saddest story you know about yourself. It will be about your father, and it will make you cry. As you wipe away the tears, you'll smudge your dark eye makeup. The Bachelor will put his arm around you, maybe run his hand through your hair, maybe even kiss your forehead. You’ll laugh and say, “I can't believe I’m crying.” The Bachelor will tell you it’s okay to cry. He’ll be so grateful that you finally made yourself vulnerable for him. He really will. He knows it’s not easy for you to open up. Those tears will tell him you’re here for the right reasons.

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11 COMMENTS

A Routine Matter

March 15, 2012 | by

Benjamin Franklin's daily schedule.

I recently turned thirty, the age by which, according to William James, “the character has set like plaster, and will never soften again.” But he wrote that in 1890, before mobile devices and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and Lana Del Rey and the fragmentation of the self, and I’m happy to report that my character is as soft as unhandled Play-Doh. For the past year I’ve slept mostly in well-worn twin beds generously provided by writing colonies, my life a new kind of nomadism made possible by America’s patrons of the arts. Every morning I get up at seven, or seven thirty, or eight, or eleven, and record my dreams, or forget them, then make my bed, or not, after which I proceed immediately to take a shower, or start the coffee, or eat breakfast, or go for a walk, then sit down at my desk to begin the day’s work, or write e-mails, or stare out the window, or do absolutely anything else. I usually end my day by reading a book, or talking on the phone, or watching basketball highlights on ESPN.com, or wondering why I keep the channel on Jimmy Fallon when every instance of empty enthusiasm makes me loathe him a little more.

William James again: “There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision, and for whom the lighting of every cigar, the drinking of every cup, the time of rising and going to bed every day, and the beginning of every bit of work, are subjects of express volitional deliberation. Full half the time of such a man goes to the deciding, or regretting, of matters which ought to be so ingrained in him as practically not to exist for his consciousness at all. If there be such daily duties not yet ingrained in any one of my readers, let him begin this very hour to set the matter right.” This very hour.

Habits are for squares, is what I’ve always felt. Read More »

14 COMMENTS

Reading ‘House of Holes’ in Public

September 28, 2011 | by

I spent a recent morning at a brightly painted, high-ceilinged coffee shop that serves a modest variety of salads and panini, nursing a pot of white tea and reading a book by the founder of the American Newspaper Repository which featured, in its opening chapters, a severed arm stimulating a college student’s vagina to the point of orgasm, a large Filipino masseuse squeezing fruit juice into an art critic’s anus, an amiable topless woman aggressively sniffing a golfer’s scrotum, and the Russian composers Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Borodin ejaculating onto the feet of a soup-kitchen volunteer. At the table to my left, a man and a woman were holding a conversation in broken French about deep-sea fishing. Most of the people in the coffee shop had MacBooks. “He wanted them all to be on their knees on couches and chairs with their asses up and ready,” I read, “and their slippy sloppy fuckfountains on display. He’d walk in front of them holding his generous kindly forgiving dick, saying, ‘Do you want this ham steak of a Dr. Dick that’s so stuffed with spunk that I’m ready to blow this swollen sackload all over you?’ And they’d all say, ‘Yes Mr. Fuckwizard, we want that fully spunkloaded meatloaf of a ham steak of a dick.’” I was hoping to meet a girl. Read More »

3 COMMENTS