Lately I've received several end-of-the-year form letters wherein the sender(s) painstakingly detail their lives over the past year. It's the kind of missive only mothers could love, but nonetheless are becoming quite trendy among the "me-first and me-second too" generation. Apart from their conceit, all the communiqués share another unfortunate trait: they take themselves too seriously. Instead of a happy letter written by weirdoes for weirdoes, the recipient/victim is subjected to a memo that mimics the style of a military tribunal. If you really must send out holiday bulletins, at least have the grace to make them interesting to the reader/prey. What follows are a few styles that you can base your own communications on. Remember, have fun with it!
It's Gotta Be Me
Dear Distant Acquaintance: I made more money in 2003 than I can spend. I had a great vacation in St. Barts and met a stewardess with a mind like a pup tent. Yahtzee! I cashed in some Halliburton stock and jetted over to the Riviera and kept the party going. I ran the Boston marathon in 2:19 minutes, and climbed Mt. Everest without oxygen. The Sherpas call me "He Who Never Stops" and that little filly with the green eyes I keep tucked away in Vail doesn't disagree! I spent an awesome week down in El Salvador building hot tubs for retired generals with Jimmy Carter's Habitat For Humanity; Jimmy said that if I donate $20 million to the Democratic National Committee he can fix me up with an ambassadorship to an African country, or one of the Dixie Chicks. My new book is coming out in the spring, and both Salman Rushdie and Tom Cruise say it's "Homeric in its scope, Biblical in its impact, and a goddamn page-turner to boot. How does he do it?" My secret is no hydrogenated oils, lots of roughage, and four hours of personal training a day. A dash of absinthe in the martini shaker doesn't hurt either. Plus I got a sexy little intern from one of the better state schools to take my calls and fetch my coffee. I'm tanned, rested, and loose as a goose. If you're ever in London or Paris, please drop my office a line and my assistant will buy you lunch and tell you how great I am. Can 2004 get even better? Don't bet against me.
Dear [Versioned Name Here] — Another year, another bad medicine show. I know it's been awhile since we've been in contact, but I'm up in Attica paying my dues and going stir crazy. My court-appointed defense lawyer had me plea to the lesser charge, saying the judge would go easy on me, but the midget jerk gave me five years in state lock-up. I hope you like the picture of me and my buddies in Aryan Nation. I didn't go to prison to become a Nazi affiliate, but that's just the way things worked out. They're really not bad guys, and mostly we talk about cars and girls and all the people who ripped us off. I got a lot of time to think about stuff. I wish that maybe in another life I'd be a painter, or maybe an animal trainer, because thinking about those kinds of jobs makes me feel warm inside, like there's a sun somewhere inside of me shining light on all the dark valleys of my sins and crimes. I don't like to talk to my buddies in Cellblock H about this because they might think I'm going soft or vegetarian, but I'm angry about a lot of stuff and just wish you (and everyone on the outside!) could realize how lucky you are. Life really sucks and I know there is too much B.S. out in the real world too, but I've got my own reality and it seems like ten thousand years ago when I used to walk into town in the summer and look at the clouds and wonder where all those people in all those cars were going. They're all going someplace else. I wish I was too.
Dear Friend: Christmas is sort of like the immaculate conception, for just as Mary got pregnant without having sex, millions of Americans buy gifts with money they don't have, thanks to credit cards.
I lost two pounds back in March, but gained it over the summer after I broke my leg trying to kick the neighbor's dog.
The best al pastor tacos in San Francisco are at San Jose Taqueria at 25th and Mission. Be warned, however, that the satellite grill on Mason located somewhere between North Beach and Fisherman's Wharf does not live up to the proud family name.
Out of habit I watched the Sugar Bowl and the Rose Bowl and found myself nodding off and near tears. Sports used to be important to me, because that's the way I was brainwashed, but now there's a big hole and maybe I should get a puppy.
Hush Hush Lounge Friday night was crowded with 20-year-olds with fake IDs. I went there to meet friends but it was like being at a Mendocino high school party with 25¢ beers and two dollar pitchers. On the upside, it was the cheapest liquor I've stumbled across in S.F., and when happy hour ended at 9:00 p.m. the kids pulled on their jackets and reached for their smokes and headed out into the wet night.
It's hard to like the humorless, holier-than-thou Howard Dean.
I got a rash in a new place. Bought some lotions, ointments and salves. A friend came over with her own all-natural (and world class!) collection of creams and poultices. You can track my progress at www.howszacksrash.com, though the site is best viewed with a high-speed internet connection.
"Return of the King" is by far the worst of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. The lingering glances and passionate talk of strawberries and cream between hobbitses threatened to turn it to camp. The movie ended after two hours, but spewed monotonously on for another 90 minutes. When I left the theater I was lonely for a place I did not know.
That's it for now. See you next year.
The Deposed Dictator
Dear Friend: For thousands of years man has run with the herd; for thousands of years he has been — and still is — a predatory animal, killing with the pack. Civilization has not eliminated the instinct to kill, nor will it ever. But civilization has done another thing, almost unwittingly: it has encouraged the development of man's ego, of his individuality. I say civilization, but in reality I mean a few men, a few great, extraordinary individuals whose spiritual development has so far outstripped that of the ordinary man that they remain unique and exert over the great majority of men a tyranny which is to all intents and purposes obsessive. The cold, sterile crystallization of the truths which they perceived and acted upon forms the framework of what is called civilization. Just as with primitive man, so with the civilized man it is fear again which operated most powerfully, which dominated supreme expression; the paralyzed neurotic is the symbol of the thwarting power of civilization. He is the victim of so-called "progress." He stands out in our midst as a warning, a sort of flesh-and-blood totem representing the powers of evil.
Say what you will, but I lived like a warrior, like Frank Sinatra, and did it my way. Saladin on his white charger understands and approves.
As you may have heard, 2003 was a wacky year for the Hussein family! We were quite busy moving from palace to palace while playing cat and mouse with the United Nation weapons inspectors when the war started. The Americans decided to take Baghdad since they couldn't find Bin Laden. Ironic, but I have no regrets. I knew that one day a former trusted friend would leave his knife in my back, and the unfortunate fact that it's the Yankee coward George Bush is humiliating. Bush stinks of fear. You can see it in his harsh, uncomfortable rhetoric — a simpleton with a club. You can taste his fear in the choreographed flag-waving and how Pentagon generals are dispatched to voice the current regime's ignorance. But the battle is young. In the end, the crusaders will water the sand with their blood, then watch in astonishment as a billion flowers of Arab solidarity bloom. As the Bard said, there are things undreamt of in your [corporate] philosophies. And every day your dream of a pliant marketplace filled with happy consumers and grateful wage slaves turns more into a nightmare.
Enclosed is a picture of happier times, when Donald Rumsfeld and I shared a glass of scotch in the 1980s and talked about oil revenues and fixing those bastard Iranians.
Merry Xmas and best wishes for a joyous 2004!
(that smells suspiciously like Turkey!)