{ letters }

This month, please enjoy the results of The New Yinzer's First Ever Letter-Writing Contest. We opened this up to our contributors and the Friends of The, our always-exciting mailing list. It was a bit of a last minute thing. Top honors to Seth Madej for his indictment of shame. We feel simply awful...or, rather quite awful.

By the way, also, let us say that this kind of thing is something we want to encourage every day. We'll print anything in this space. Send us letters here.

From: Seth Madej
Sent: Thu 24 Apr 03
Subject: 25th Letter

Dear Editors:

I am surprised, disappointed, and appalled at the unfettered and unacceptable use of the 25th letter of the alphabet throughout this publication.

I had long considered the three editors to whom I write to be among the most outstanding members of the Organization for the Elimination of the 25th Letter of the Alphabet. Upon our first encounter, I was delighted with their comprehensive knowledge of the what, where, how, and for-what-reason of the struggle against the 25th letter. In the weeks that followed our introduction, the three editors demonstrated their enthusiastic support for our cause both at our duodecennial meetings and in intimate conversation.

I will never forget how, during the Organization's most desperate hours, when constant discussions of the UN Securit* Council and Gen. Tomm* Franks and Vice President Richard Chene* propagated the use of the 25th letter throughout America, the editors' unflappable financial support girded our beleaguered group. How, at our black-tie gala, Jennifer Meccariello's stirring and impassioned linchpin speech, "There is No 25th Letter in 'The United States of America'", bore us aloft on its words and carried us through the troubles.

So, it should be clear that "perfidiousness" is not strong enough a word to describe what I felt when I first dialed up the editors' publication. There, staring at me from the screen, at the true heart of the masthead: a gigantic 25th letter. A 25th letter scaled to a place of prominence high above the other, more deserving letters. To be precise, a 25th letter that stands an estimated 150 percent larger than both the other letters in the logo and the headers on the front page, two-hundred-twelve percent larger than sub-headers, and a full and terrible 276 percent larger than the standard text size for the publication. (I would also note that, at around 36 point, it is also close to 360 percent larger than the national average size of 25th letters in print.)

Even faced with this obvious and blatant violation of the Organization's charter, the faith I held in this particular triad of souls was strong enough that I was prepared to write off that hideous, glaring 25th letter as some sort of horrible oversight, perhaps even an act of digital vandalism. Then I made the mistake of perusing the rest of the publication. This writer's worst fears were confirmed when it became clear that the April 2003 issue alone contains a staggering 951 appearances of the 25th letter. 951! But nothing could prepare me for what I witnessed as I clicked through to the issue's photo feature. There I discovered, with stomach-turning horror, that the 25th letter appears over two dozen times in multiple vulgar, disgusting handwritten forms. At the sight of that abomination, I retched as I wept.

It is not an exaggeration to state that this writer's faith in the human race has been shaken past the point of repair. When I see that the most stalwart opponents of the 25th letter were in fact its agents all along, I understand the full power of its evil. I see that the 25th letter has not been sated from its conquest of Prussia, the Ottoman Empire, and the personal fitness trade. I know that the 25th letter has infiltrated all aspects of our world, even those which stood adamantine opposed to it. All hope is lost. None will be spared. As I stand here on the edge of this terrible time, I turn from the ramparts, wait, and hope for the comfort and guard of the true vowels.

I remain:

Seth Madej
President, The Organization for the Elimination of the 25th Letter of the Alphabet
138 Brattleboro Ave.
Arkham, MA 01223


honorable mentions
From: Shannon J. Gregg
Sent: Tue 29 Apr 03
Subject: To M.

Dear M., Was it Trafalgar Square? Piccadilly Circus? Miss Saigon? The details in my mind are cloudy...did you dance up to me and say, "Hullo ugly; follow me to live London like I do?" Portishead. You knew it, I didn't. You're authoring important papers now, an expert on CNN. To find out anyone's self-worth, type their name into Google. Yours brings 204 entries, and that is even when I surround your name with quotes. You got into an elite journalism training. You ran to find me; I was gone; you were so angry. How can anger emerge in this bubbly French Russian Jew? I left; you stayed. We lost it. Contact, that is, until you found me, electronically, at Pitt. We were there again, and lost again. There, and lost. I phoned you, and K. answered. You were surprised, K. was mad. I haven't called since. You toured Asia; I visited you but you were gone.

M. We met a minute ago, a minute that has surely stretched into eight years, and I think of you. M. could dance, and knew every word to every song...Common People, Country House, we went BlurtoPulptoManicStreetPreacherstoOasistoCranberriestoifitwasonintheclubyouknewthewords.

I think of you. M. I hope you are happy.



From: Ben Shannon
Sent: Tue 29 Apr 03
Subject: To graf-writing anarchists

Dear Graffiti Writing "Anarchist" protesters:

Your message to the "masses," cryptic and sarcastic, was scrawled across the tinted plastic of a fire-gutted Arby's. "CONSUME" was all you wrote in black spray-painted letters. I saw it and wondered—were you referring to the flames that devoured the building's roof rafters, the weeds that turned the parking lot from concrete slab to gravel, or the new building that will inevitably replace it?

I know your houses. Outside, they are cluttered with bicycle parts and various pieces of lumber scraps. Inside, the walls are hung full with posters, street-theatre costumes, props for picket lines, gas masks, and bicycle parts. Nightly you bang on old typewriters, one finger at a time, roll tobacco cigarettes, and ash onto the floor you are sitting on. Your clothing is sewn together from patches, rags, and T-shirts gathered on 1/2 off Goodwill days.

I remember you approached me on a 1/2 off day with a glorious smile and showed me your ten-gallon Glad Bag of bounty. Tongue in cheek, I told you I was happy you could profit from the leftovers of a disposable-sweatshop-garment-fashion-blind culture. Your joy and glory, tainted with the sudden awareness of your participation in an unjust sweatshop economy, faded.

I know your billboard is the bridge abutment, where your messages ("Fuck the system!", "Quit Working!") are many times rolled over with block upon block, layer upon layer of drab gray or beige (the visual representation of silence). And I wonder, where will you go when your "system" is overthrown? Nobody will bother to roll your graffiti, giving you a new billboard. There will be no Dumpsters for you to dive. No one will notice your ragged clothing style. Your struggle to maintain the stylistic integrity of your "revolution" will become hopeless as the "Masses" you want to shock out of "wage slavery" turn on each other.

We Americans are essentially heathens—lost to the most minute aspects of survival. We don't know to build real shelters, how to communicate, how to compromise, how to get our way without violence. Peace won't come from war or the violent overthrow of ideas and institutions. We will not be shocked into Utopia or prodded with dark sarcasm. Your attack/shock/uproar/vexation tactics are milk-of-the-moon material. There is no quick fix to your hunger. Dig in and grow slow—slow and low. Otherwise, prepare to take a fall at the hands of those you would liberate as we destroy each other and any shred of peace for the simplest of amenities: sugar, water, socks, orange juice, and milk: our unattainable shopping list of the future. Our milk-of-the-moon future.


Your friendly Neighbor


From: Jaime Vodvarka
Sent: Tue 29 Apr 03
Subject: Letter from Santa

Dear Jaime,

I received your letter at Santa Claus Limited and duly note the validity of what you ask. Yes, I get countless letters asking for world peace, cures for cancer, and a Jackson Five reunion tour. At this time I can only provide the following advice and counsel to your troubled soul.

I understand that a Mr. Skeffington has caused you much strife by instigating a concern that your Polish heritage will cause your armpits to drop prematurely and all your gucchis to shrink simultaneously (I feel your pain sister). I was sorry to hear that your parents informed me of my spending cap at the tender age of five. And even though you made good on your promise to get straight A's in first grade, cease the ruthless and public excavation of nose boogies, and put and end to the nasty habit of decapitating Barbies and other salient effigies brought to you by "The Man", I could not bear to roll up my sleeves and remove the stick so deeply lodged in your brother's rectum. There are some things that Santa "cash bucks" just can't buy, and for these the Catholic Church can assist you in finding just the right penance.

I've consulted with world famous psychic Sylvia Brown and she assures me that your late friend, Grimmy, is not suffering through another incarnation. He awaits you at the pearly gates where he is surrounded by fine bitches at Pookie's Place School for Blind, Itchy Puppies. He lies on a vestige of the musty shag bathmat he once drug around the house and loved so dearly...so passionately. He now eats more halushki than he can shake a stick at.

Sylvia also assures me that unlike your trip to central Bohemia, you will not be visited by the spirit of St. Ozzy Osbourne which lead you to leap out of a plane and experience high altitude asthma attacks and harness wedgies. (Apparently Ozzy has fulfilled his three miracles and his canonization is imminent). As you study abroad in Namibia this summer, I give you my word no injury will befall you. Just promise me you'll wear a helmet.

Before I bust out cheeky lube and attempt to squeeze the junk in my trunk down your chimney, I must insist that you either stop smoking or buy Beano for your man. Crack kills and methane is more dangerous than we all thought. You must also teach your parents well. If your father insists his biological clock is ticking and he could have a heart attack at any moment, do not correct him. Hold back until your mother passes gas in the bathtub and he breaks out a verse of "Tiny Bubbles". Let those armpits be your sails and the wind behind you set you on your way. For when one tunnel closes, a bridge must...scratch that.

Remember young Paduan, Yinzers have no fear.

St. Nick


From: Amy Swackhamer
Sent: Fri 2 May 03

Dear bastard or bitch:

This letter is to inform you, in the event that you are too fucking dense and/or self-absorbed to have noticed, that you have grievously offended Amy Swackhamer within the relatively recent past. Your inconsiderate, loutish behavior has caused her to waste significant time in some (most likely, all) of the following activities:

  • wallowing in inner turmoil regarding the sort of irrevocably odious entity she must be to have elicited such an outpouring of bullshit from you
  • bitterly despairing of the potential for positive interpersonal relationships
  • ingraining a cynical, pessimistic outlook ever more deeply into her weltanschauung
  • angstily phrasing her thoughts using German words, which are undeniably more powerfully negative and depressing than words in most other modern languages and indicative of the gloomy mindset to which you have contributed
  • making mournful expressions as a result of the severe ailment of her stomach by psychosomatic nausea
  • playing poignant down-tempo music (not WELL, mind you) on an old, severely out-of tune piano, likely resulting in annoyance of her housemates (though, if you are one of those hapless cohabitants receiving this letter, then fuck you—I sincerely hope the dour dirges kept you up late / prevented you from studying as effectively / ruined your life for the remainder of eternity)
  • etc.
  • etc.
  • etc.
If only Amy Swackhamer could bill you for her time which you have irrevocably usurped, and for the facial tissues you have caused her to utilize, perhaps then you would recognize the gravity of your actions, motherfucker. Alas, all she can do is pen a letter imploring you to reconsider being a feckless asshole with no regard for the trust of those foolish enough to presume you to be their friends.

This is indeed a form letter, which indicates (a) the high volume of people who have been actively engaged in the screwing-over of Amy Swackhamer, and (b) the low regard in which Amy Swackhamer holds you and the scant amount of individual time she is willing to spend on you.

Just how tongue-in-cheek is this letter, you may be wondering? As if I'm going to tell you! Clearly you are not deserving of trust and for Ms. Swackhamer to share her true sentiments with you again would merely constitute giving you more grist for your backstabbing mill. Have I offended you by sending you this? Probably not as much as you have offended Amy by behaving like a jackass!

Have you inflicted so much emotional injury on Ms. Swackhamer that you are unsure with which incident(s) she is taking up issue in the correspondence? For your convenience, an enclosed sheet will identify the ways in which you have egregiously wronged the Hammer and an acknowledgement form which you may return to Amy Swackhamer in the hopes of regaining some modicum of her esteem. However, I advise that you don't raise your hopes for this outcome. For if you do, you may find yourself painfully disappointed, much as Amy found herself disappointed by her interactions with you.

I'm not enclosing a S.A.S.E. If you're really sorry, you'll fucking pay for postage.

If not, then I look forward to seeing you in Hell. And blowing you off, you lousy jerk.

With all due respect,

Amy L. Swackhamer

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