This is the introduction to an article about a spoof of the generic footage and buzzword-heavy messages contained in most advertising. It uses the conceit of parodying the parody in an attempt to make the reader curious enough to watch and share the video.
Poynter's Andrew Beaujon reports that BuzzFeed has hired a books editor, Isaac Fitzgerald. The BuzzFeed books section is a project of real cultural importance. What Fitzgerald does will help establish and define the relationship between the thriving and successful BuzzFeed, with its mastery of distributing brisk and engaging viral content, and the more stolid traditions of literary publishing.
Park Slope parents, your salvation is cometh! You've probably been wondering to yourself, "How are we going to pay for little Maxim's $800 per hour private school tutors in a few years, what with this massive house payment on our Park Slope co-op?" Not to fear! McSweeney's is now accepting your children, for indoctrination!
The author David Foster Wallace has been memorialized by scores of people since he hanged himself two weeks ago. The vast majority of these people barely knew him at all, so the online trade fair of grief, initially dominated by the McSweeney's website until Elizabeth Wurtzel's silver lame leotard threw its own shadow shiva session over at New York, has struck more than a few saddish literary men as more than a little vulgar. Oh well. Today a few people who actually did know him, including his parents, share the details of his last miserable days with Salon's Robert Ito.He'd been clinically depressed for two decades, on "powerful" medication (and apparently also Skoal) that made it possible for him to write — this may be vulgar but I have been too thoroughly inculcated in our compulsive culture of psychopharmacological comparison shopping not to wonder why they never tell you which — but the meds had powerful side effects, so he went off them in the summer of 2007, to apparently disastrous consequences. He tried electric shock therapy and other unspecified meds; nothing worked. He couldn't write or eat, and dropped to 140 pounds. He took a medical leave from teaching. A student is quoted saying his great genius was unrelated to his great depression. That student is wrong.
Dave Eggers, author and founder of exhaustingly clever literary mag McSweeney's, is curating an art show! It opens next Wednesday at apexart. (We'll be there with bells on; we hear there will be a Basquiat.) UnBeige says, "according Eggers, the show ended up consisting of 'usually very basic or crude' drawings that are accompanied by hand-drawn text that functions like a funny caption." Muses Eggers in the press release, "Is humor allowed in art, and in what forms? Are captions allowed in art, and why?" Captions! If that's not art, we don't know what is. Click to see this work by David Shrigley, writ large. [via UnBeige]
The McSweeney's Joke Book of Book Jokes landed on our desk today, and damned it we couldn't use a laugh right now! But are there any to be had? The first bad sign is the book's design: the back of the book, with bar code, etc., is actually on the front. Ha-ha. Get it? And then, on the other side, there is a raw chicken (turkey?) leaning against a wall, smoking a cigarette through the hole left by its decapitated head. Uh... We'll excerpt a few jokes, and you may decide if they're funny, or just funny-heh.
Remember how the Nothing invaded the fantasy land in The Neverending Story? It's happening to comedy. Un-comedy is in the show "Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job" (and much else on Adult Swim); it's in the New Yorker; and McSweeney's, the writhing heart of the Nothing, has infected Esquire with it. In a piece titled "Joke" McSweeney's writer Deb Olin Unferth tells an intentionally stupid story. Am I too dumb to get whatever clever point Unferth is making, or is this really the worst "so unfunny it's funny" story ever to appear in a publication not edited by Dave Eggers? (Don't worry, there's a plain text version of the "joke" under the napkin-scribble version shown here, although I bet Unferth wanted to make everyone decipher her handwriting.)
We, like you perhaps, received this message in our "e-mail" inbox, from the twee literary magazine of one Dave Eggers: "It's a month of major things—a new quarterly, a new novel, and a new Wholphin are all bursting forth, via our website , yearning to be sent your way by the brave men and women of our warehouse, who right now are emerging from their cryogenic chambers and taking in nutrient-rich fluids in order to prepare for this fabled late-February triple-delivery. The major news networks are, inexplicably, not covering any of this, but here is what we can tell you: McSweeney's 26, first of all, is itself three separate objects, two books of short fiction featuring tornadoes, child reporters, Amanda Davis, and someone called the Black Shaman, and one volume of dead-serious dossiers, based on actual Pentagon documents, outlining how the United States might justify its next round of wars." DIAL DOWN THE CUTENESS OVERLOAD, m'kay, guys?
Is Granta still the best place to look for new, excellent novelists, asks the Times of London? Apparently not, even though Granta published their 100th issue this month. The incredibly precious McSweeney's, published by Dave Eggers, is the new heavyweight contender. It's gone from "an idiosyncratic literary magazine to a new-look publishing empire."
Is the Onion still funny, or have you just gotten used to reading it so you haven't seen it decline from its '90s heyday to the pool of mediocrity it is today? How about Boing Boing, McSweeney's, CNN.com, or Perez Hilton? It's time to feel bad about what you like, for that is the path to enlightenment, or at least to not being that dink who IMs me month-old jokes about Bush.
"The loss of my school-related stuff was huge, but a lot of my personal life was also archived on that laptop. I had all my photos, calendars and contact lists on that computer as well as a bunch of more quirky and obsessive things that helped me feel like I had a life and an existence (a record of every menstrual cycle for the last seven years, every love letter I'd ever written, an outline for a cheesy romance novel, an ongoing list of essay ideas I could use when I was finally done with graduate school hell and could pursue my passion, writing humor).
—"Since You Asked", Salon.com
The Internet is not an excuse to be boring, stupid, or cruel. Well, cruel's fine. So join me in taking the Pledge to Not Suck at the Internet. Those who pledge get no actual privilege or prize, and the false sense of superiority is a redundant prize for you, but you can maybe make a newsletter for yourselves.
Publisher's Weekly editor Jonathan Segura was flattered and charmed to receive a handwritten note from McSweeney's publicist Angela Petrella. Until he opened the second galley of the book he'd received from that precious indie publisher to find an identical handwritten note—well, identical aside from its being handwritten in different handwriting. And yeah, that's what's wrong with McSweeney's in a nutshell, innit?
McSweeney's Interns Give Good Note [PW]