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Dear Neighbour, you are not invited to my party
February 20, 2009 2:30 AM   Subscribe

Last week when I checked my mailbox, I found that my new neighbour had left me a note stating that he was having a party and to let him know if the noise was too loud. The problem I have with the note is not that he was having a party and didn't invite me, it was that he selected a vibrant background of balloons, effectively stating that his party was going to be vibrant and possibly have balloons and that I couldn't come.

(See also: David Thorne's seven-legged spider, previously on Metafilter)
posted by Ljubljana (108 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

 
Quite hilarious.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 2:43 AM on February 20, 2009


That is the best thing I have read in quite a long while. Thanks Ljubljana!
posted by Turtles all the way down at 2:45 AM on February 20, 2009


well, that seems reasonable.
posted by awfurby at 2:49 AM on February 20, 2009


Heh! Love it.
I have to jog on the spot taking very small steps with my arms straight down.
Irish dancing.
posted by tellurian at 2:51 AM on February 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I see he's graduated from the seven-legged spider to the one-trick pony.
posted by robcorr at 2:59 AM on February 20, 2009 [17 favorites]


That was hilarious but if it's real it's also very, very dickish.
posted by DU at 3:02 AM on February 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Too funny
posted by dydecker at 3:05 AM on February 20, 2009


It's funny, but I found it really uncomfortable to read, kind of how I felt when I went to watch Borat.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:14 AM on February 20, 2009 [8 favorites]


It says something that I was pretty convinced this was another missposted AskMe thread before I clicked the more inside. I'm just not sure what that something is.

Especially distressing is the thought of spraypainting one's legs black for a ninja costume. How far up would he have to go?
posted by Mizu at 3:28 AM on February 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


One person attempting to be considerate. Another person choosing to respond by being a self-absorbed snot. What fun.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:29 AM on February 20, 2009 [8 favorites]


Yes, but one of those people had cane furniture.
posted by dydecker at 3:39 AM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I will never forgive the internet for making people confuse "being funny" with "being an utter dick".
posted by Optamystic at 3:44 AM on February 20, 2009 [60 favorites]


Christ, what an asshole.

(see how delightfully ambiguous that was? i didn't specify which of them was being an asshole, did i? that way, each reader can nod contentedly, thinking "why, yes, that's exactly what i was thinking; he really is an asshole! thanks, ubu, for summing up the situation so well for me" and then they will favourite my comment, in order to show how much they agree that he was being an asshole, but the thing is, because of the ambiguity of my statement, people who think that either - or even both - parties were being assholish will all join forces in agreeing with me on this snarky, cliched & in-jokish piece of noise, with the result that first, we shall appear to all be in agreement, second, world peace shall eventuate, third, something or other, and fourth, profit!)
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:51 AM on February 20, 2009 [12 favorites]


My friend Chris has a party every year celebrating her b-day and she sends out announcements to the whole neighborhood warning them of her party. She informs them when the Dj (Moi) will begin and end playing. Been going on for years. It's an open invitation.
Her next door neighbors kids climb over from the their up stairs window and I play funky 70's music for them.
posted by doctorschlock at 3:54 AM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


WTF?

This thread is ONLY FOR FRIENDS AND FAMILY!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:57 AM on February 20, 2009 [13 favorites]


Ugh. Sometimes asshat neighbours just deserve each other, I guess.
posted by Iosephus at 4:02 AM on February 20, 2009


Somethingawful did it better, four thousand years ago. I mean Ramses.
posted by kid ichorous at 4:06 AM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


See also: The Timewaster Letters.

My personal theory is that people who write these hoax letters are typically failed comedians who are particularly sensitive to jokes made at their expense. Either that or they work for the parking ticket appeals dept and are counting down time in their lunch break.

Life's stressful enough without some asshat deliberately raising your blood pressure because he's unemployed/single/bored and has time on his hands.

Hrrmph.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:09 AM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Are we sure this guys isn't actually Ted L. Nancy?
posted by orme at 4:11 AM on February 20, 2009


MetaFilter: typically failed comedians who are particularly sensitive to jokes made at their expense.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:24 AM on February 20, 2009 [13 favorites]


Change David to Jermaine and Ross to Bret and you've got an unseen episode of Flight of the Conchords. Maybe I'll move to New Zealand where people can have a laugh without other people saying 'ass' all the time. It's 'arse', you duckheads.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:44 AM on February 20, 2009


I will never forgive the internet for making people confuse "being funny" with "being an utter dick".

Ah, but this is a false dichotomy, sadly, however much we might wish it were otherwise.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 4:56 AM on February 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ah, but this is a false dichotomy, sadly, however much we might wish it were otherwise.

I think the problem here is that there is no reason why we should identify with the writer (aside from his IRL trolling skills) or identify against his hapless and weirded-out neighbor.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:09 AM on February 20, 2009


Funny if in a movie, if in real life, not so much.
posted by digsrus at 5:09 AM on February 20, 2009


It's funny, and in the great utilitarian calculus, I am sure the combined joy of jerks like me exceeds the stress caused to the pranks victim.
posted by I Foody at 5:24 AM on February 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Jeeze, what a bunch of sticks-in-the-mud. I doubt it's real, and even if it were, it's not like Thorne actually did these things, he just talked about it. The increasingly absurd tone would make it obvious to the mark that it's all a put-on, and hey, they get an odd story to tell their friends. No harm done, right?
posted by Rhaomi at 5:33 AM on February 20, 2009 [8 favorites]


Oh whatever, that shit is hilarious.
posted by lunit at 5:33 AM on February 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Our bedroom walls are touching so when we are sleeping our heads are only a few feet apart.

LOL.
posted by Poolio at 5:40 AM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Give me a break, this is like mid-grade ferrell material, the neighbour's gotta be pretty humourless to miss the joke.
posted by doobiedoo at 5:48 AM on February 20, 2009


this is like mid-grade ferrell material

Come on, it's better than THAT- at least I laughed at parts of it (and the hate mail on his site wasn't so bad...)
Will Ferrell is down there with poop and fart jokes.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:52 AM on February 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


So, is this real or did he just write a funny story? The site has several characters, and I find many of the pages funny, but I'm not sure if that many of them are real.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:59 AM on February 20, 2009


This one is most obviously fake, but the email address to contact "lucius" seems to be a legitimate business address- possibly trying to get people to send the poor guy lubricious emails.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:03 AM on February 20, 2009


"I think the problem here is that there is no reason why we should identify with the writer ..."

I suppose you've never been left out of a party where there will be balloons, have you?
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 6:03 AM on February 20, 2009 [10 favorites]


And by that I meant this one.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:03 AM on February 20, 2009


Thanks for the tweet fodder.
posted by chuckdarwin at 6:21 AM on February 20, 2009


C'mon, it's a prank, and a mild one. Remember to occasionally wash those stick in your asses with antibacterial soap, or you run the risk of infection.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:31 AM on February 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


The Magic 8-Ball one is funny as well.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:44 AM on February 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


So new guy writes a letter saying having party let me know if the noise is too loud and dude with nothing better to do give him grief because new guy didn't invite him? This is why you just throw a party without warning and make it as loud as humanly possible. Fuck the neighbors I ain't getting 8 hours of sleep neither should they!
posted by Mastercheddaar at 6:46 AM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Heh, gotta love that. If you're going to be a sociopath, at least be a sociopath with a sense of humor! Stick it to the man next door!
posted by Salvor Hardin at 6:47 AM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: The site has several characters, and I find many of the pages funny, but I'm not sure if that many of them are real.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 6:54 AM on February 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


David Thorne most likely did do this. If you spend any time on that site you get a feel for the guy and can get a bit of backstory on why he does this. You'll also see that the people involved are generally fine with it. It's little different than "Candid Camera," or "Trigger Happy TV."

"I hate catching the bus as they are full of poor people who don't own cars."

This kind of asshatery is a hobby of mine as well. There's a long tradition of it, predating the internet by a few years. I generally prefer corporations or famous people as my "marks," and I also prefer physical mail. I also seldom have a big enough pair to write more than once, so it was a bit painful to read that whole exchange.

Alexander Pope, John Locke, Don Novello (aka Lazlo Toth, aka Fr. Guido Sarducci), Jonathan Swift, Ted L. Nancy, Kembrew McLeod, Paul Rosa, Hans Christian Andersen, The Yes Men, Benjamin Franklin, and EJ Pitman to name a few. This site is not a new idea, but little on the internet ever is.

Don Novello probably made it most famous with "The Lazlo Letters," but like I wrote above it's been going on quite a while, and won't stop any time soon. Search "spoof letters" in google (or heck, I think some have even been covered here), and you'll find a lot of magazine writers have done this. Heck, there's a series of letters to serial killers from a fake little kid named Billy.

I've written the FBI asking for a list of the lists I'm on, only to get back a form saying I didn't provided enough information for my FOI request. I wrote the NRA and asked if anyone has pried the gun out of Charlton Heston's cold dead hands yet. I sent the Archbishop of Canterbury a couple poems for his church newsletter. I wrote a museum and asked to borrow a several million dollar painting, since last time I was there it was "on loan," so I thought it would be cool to hang in my bedroom for a while. I got responses to all of these.

The Queen, Gordon Brown, the Pope, Big Bird, and Ben & Jerry's have all sent me responses. I get super amused when I think about what my mailman must think when I get a letter from my Senator and Cialis on the same day.

My latest letter was to Victoria’s Secret to suggest they come out with a super absorbent thong, since there's no reason why incontinent women can't be sexy as well. I got back a thanks for my suggestion on a new line of panties.

If you can't see the humor in what this guy is doing, I can respect that, but to claim it's not funny is a bit much. Humor is like music. Your favorite band sucks. I hate gross out comedy, hate physical or prop comedy, but like to think I know who's doing it well (even if I don't like it). I kind of find him to be a jerk as well, and there is a difference in my mind between a prank and outright tormenting.

You also have to think how often he does these things to no effect. My response rate is around 25%. Hell, I even wrote David Thorne. He never wrote back. This disappointed me, since at that point I kind of thought he could dish it out, but taking it wasn't his style.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:05 AM on February 20, 2009 [37 favorites]


Oh damn, that was funny! A+++
posted by Smaaz at 7:06 AM on February 20, 2009


It doesn't really make sense, even as just a story. Why would he have the email address of a guy he's barely spoken to?
posted by desjardins at 7:08 AM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I figured out why I'm not seeing the humor in this. I have to put up with way too much actual real live genuine willful ignorance bullshit to be able to enjoy it as entertainment in my leisure time. Perhaps this is the case for others who find it a portrayal of someone in need of a face-stabbin' rather than funny?
posted by majick at 7:09 AM on February 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Queen, Gordon Brown, the Pope, Big Bird, and Ben & Jerry's have all sent me responses

Please stop harassing the underpaid interns tweaking form letters signed by auto pen.

(Just kidding-- carry on....I'm sure it's the bright spot of their week, and I would have been psyched to respond to letters like this once in awhile rather than the usual.)
posted by availablelight at 7:09 AM on February 20, 2009


It was funny, I guess, but if it was real I can't help but think that he's made the world a meaner place in order to make a funny for his website.

The neighbor tried to be polite -- more polite than any neighbor I've ever lived next to -- and if the whole thing isn't a fake, got a load of shit for his trouble. You can be sure he'll never bother doing it again. And any other people in the building, people who presumably did not act like assholes, probably just end up as collateral damage.

In other threads folks wonder aloud why so many people act like uncaring douchebags to each other; well, this sort of thing is a small part of why.

It's funny but it's at the expense (either really, or hypothetically if it's fake) of someone who was trying to do the right thing. To be honest, the more I think about it, the more disgusted I am.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:13 AM on February 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


It doesn't really make sense, even as just a story. Why would he have the email address of a guy he's barely spoken to?


His email address is on the original note telling him about the party.
posted by inconsequentialist at 7:17 AM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, I found it amusing. While the party-thrower may have started out seeming considerate, I would suggest that they pretty quickly exhibited a lack of humour and a self-absorption that make this exchange hilarious.
posted by asok at 7:18 AM on February 20, 2009


Why would he have the email address of a guy he's barely spoken to?

It's written on the note with the balloons.
posted by designbot at 7:19 AM on February 20, 2009


All that said, Letters from a Nut is pretty funny, but I think it falls into a different category: the letters are in most cases sent to organizations which have people on staff who're basically paid to sit around and answer inane letters and respond to complaints, so it's not really taking advantage of anybody's kindness in order to make them look stupid.

The book is basically LOLCORPORATEPR, while the link gets a lot closer to LOLGOODNEIGHBOR. I don't think the world is really harmed by poking at some large organization's customer-service office, but I can see a very real way that it is when we discourage and make fun of people who are trying to be polite, in a world where politeness is in desperately short supply.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:20 AM on February 20, 2009


"If you can't see the humor in what this guy is doing, I can respect that, but to claim it's not funny is a bit much"

The premise of it was funny. If it was real, it became not much more than snail mail trolling. If fake, it was fairly repetitive and one trick. For what it's worth, I don't think anyone's presuming to tell other people what they have to find funny.

I actually find it quite amusing that you wrote to the NRA and Victoria's Secret. The Victoria's Secret idea, while outlandish, isn't wide of the mark if you think ahead 10-20 years.

Some years back, someone wrote me complaining that my company kept using the term "NPD" (new product development) and he found that grossly offensive as NPD is a far right party in Germany. I don't know if the guy was for real or not, but it was entertaining enough to write a response telling him people in the UK tended to be OK with Americans' use of IRAs or the French putting money into the BNP.

If the bloke had trolled back, it would have become boring.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:21 AM on February 20, 2009


cjorgensen ... OMFG, you are hilarious!
are you publishing all these letters?
IZ WUNTS TO READZ DEM!
posted by liza at 7:23 AM on February 20, 2009


It's written on the note with the balloons.

argh... more coffee...
posted by desjardins at 7:46 AM on February 20, 2009


"Please stop harassing the underpaid interns tweaking form letters signed by auto pen."

I wrote Dick Cheney a letter and asked if he was going to disclose his undisclosed location once he left office. I got the auto pen autographed photo made out to my girlfriend. He didn't address the question though. That often happens. Sometimes to even greater humor (in my mind).

Like when I wrote the AARP and said the problem with Social Security is that there are too many old people, and with a properly marketed campaign advocating a "mostly volunteer" system of physician assisted suicide, with a spokesman like Abe Vigoda, this problem could be solved. Just to get back form letter info about how the AARP is involved in physician assisted suicide legislation.

But a lot more often than you would think I get a response from some one that can only be the person addressed.

"(Just kidding-- carry on....I'm sure it's the bright spot of their week, and I would have been psyched to respond to letters like this once in awhile rather than the usual.)"

Yeah, I like to think that my better unanswered letters are hanging in a cubicle.

I put the letters on a website. A link is in my profile in the "About" section.

I found Thorne's site while trying to find other people doing the same thing as me. There are few sites dedicated to pranksterism. So for those of you upset by this idea, you can feel good that there's not tons of people confusing "'being funny' with 'being an utter dick'."
posted by cjorgensen at 7:49 AM on February 20, 2009


While the party-thrower may have started out seeming considerate, I would suggest that they pretty quickly exhibited a lack of humour and a self-absorption that make this exchange hilarious.


I'm usually pretty sensitive to clueless people being made fun of (had to turn off Borat, can't watch the Daily Show "interviews") but this was my reaction here, too.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:59 AM on February 20, 2009


I wish I had more time to write real letters to people. Cousin Willie (the popcorn guy) sent me an autographed picture and has a sense of humor. Bertucci's (the pizza place) had no sense of humor about my advice that a revolving door was a bad idea at a pizza joint.
posted by bondcliff at 8:04 AM on February 20, 2009


Dear Matthew,

Thanks for the heads-up on your party on the 14th. By an odd coincidence, that night is my night to host the weekly poker game with my friends. If you should have any trouble at the party, my friends Officer Goodman and Detective Marciano will be more than happy to assist you.

Regards, David
posted by pyramid termite at 8:05 AM on February 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


This kind of asshatery is a hobby of mine as well. There's a long tradition of it, predating the internet by a few years. I generally prefer corporations or famous people as my "marks,"...

But that makes it entirely different, as do your jokes. This guy is writing vaguely threatening letters to a private citizen who lives in his same building. I'd get a little freaked out if a guy in my building was talking about climbing in my window after midnight and wouldn't take no for an answer. Whereas a letter to a non-entity about continence thongs is completely non-threatening.
posted by DU at 8:23 AM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


So new guy writes a letter saying having party let me know if the noise is too loud and dude with nothing better to do give him grief because new guy didn't invite him?

I think you guys are missing the point. Matthew sent his note to his neighbors about his party on party invitation paper,

with balloons.

So this guy gets what looks like an exciting party invitation, with the date and time of the party, only to find out that he isn't even invited.

It even has a phony 'nice to meet you let me know if you ever need anything' at the end (since he clearly isn't meeting any of the people who get this note).

So he responds as though he was invited, and gets sillier with each reply, which balloon non-invitation guy never seems to pick up on.
posted by eye of newt at 8:26 AM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Isn't 27b/6 the form letter that Sam Lowry insists the Heating Techinicians need to produce to work on his heating ducts in Brazil?
posted by shmegegge at 8:35 AM on February 20, 2009


So new guy writes a letter saying having party let me know if the noise is too loud and dude with nothing better to do give him grief because new guy didn't invite him?

I think you guys are missing the point. Matthew sent his note to his neighbors about his party on party invitation paper,

with balloons.

So this guy gets what looks like an exciting party invitation, with the date and time of the party, only to find out that he isn't even invited.

It even has a phony 'nice to meet you let me know if you ever need anything' at the end (since he clearly isn't meeting any of the people who get this note).


This part was a little funny. Like, I chuckled. What a world we live in, right? Heh.

So he responds as though he was invited, and gets sillier with each reply, which balloon non-invitation guy never seems to pick up on.

The problem is that Thorne stomped all over what little funny there was with his "witty" email series, which were about as funny as my electric bill. I have no view about the impact of being a dick for the greater glory of comedy, except that you should make sure that some comedy actually occurs.
posted by Kwine at 8:44 AM on February 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


DU, that's a good point. I try to not describe illegal behavior, or be in any way threatening. I don't need the cops rolling up on my house because I wrote the President.

Finding physical addresses is the hardest part of this, and to me that's why Thorne's joke falls a bit flat. To fire off an increasingly absurd chain of emails doesn't take a lot of effort, and has little cost to it. He's not invested in the joke. And the immediacy ruins it a bit for me. If it was costing him postage and days wait between missives it would entertain me more. I realize that's not possible in this case, since there was a party deadline.

shmegegge, Somewhere on Thorne's site he credits "Brazil," and I think he says the name is derived from that form. I can't find the reference though.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:54 AM on February 20, 2009


yeah, I saw it too. Nice catch shmegegge. I love that flick but would never have recognized the name.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:04 AM on February 20, 2009


not_on_display linked to the Brazil clip referenced above. I didn't realize the "previously" link was to my post.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:08 AM on February 20, 2009


So this guy gets what looks like an exciting party invitation, with the date and time of the party, only to find out that he isn't even invited.

Yah, the initial note had a kind of ambiguity about it that could easily have been misinterpreted as an invitation, even though someone reading it carefully might realize it is not. Festive Paper, ballons, "housewarming party", "nice to meet you".

I laughed, and didn't find myself feeling sorry for this victim much (real or not). If he didn't figure out what was going on by the second email then it just has to be taken all the way.
posted by JAHxman at 9:32 AM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Check out the one where he attempts to pay a chiropracter with a drawing of a spider. That one's pretty great.
posted by Jess the Mess at 9:45 AM on February 20, 2009


My uncle stopped writing letters to the president after the visit from two guys in suits. Just sayin.
posted by Big_B at 10:11 AM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I got responses to all of these.

Why is that surprising? At every job where I had to deal with correspondence or complaints we had an informal nutter/joker pile. We could tell the obvious unfunny wanna-be comedians but if we didnt anwser them we could get fired. So the joke really isnt "OMG THE QUEEN READ MY NOTE ABOUT CANNIBALISM AND BLOWJOBS AND HER ASSISTANTS CANT TELL THIS IS SATIRE. OMG!!!!>>!!>" as much as low level flunkies skimmed it, rolled their eyes, and sent you a form letter. This happens a few times a week. Everyone is a comedian.

Not to mention, you intentional funnymen have nothing on the unintentional comedy of nuts and religious extremists. There's gold in them hills.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:13 AM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Still nothing compares to this classic.
posted by jeremy b at 10:20 AM on February 20, 2009 [8 favorites]


I'm usually pretty sensitive to clueless people being made fun of (had to turn off Borat, can't watch the Daily Show "interviews") but this was my reaction here, too.

Yeah, I get viscerally uncomfortable watching people being embarrassed on TV. I guess reading people being embarrassed is different. I didn't LOL, but I did smirk - whereas when Sasha Baron Cohen comes on TV (even as Ali G.), I flee from the room.

(Also: can't stomach The Office UK. Something about the US version is easier to swallow. I really, really can't watch David Brendt without feeling my skin crawling off.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:31 AM on February 20, 2009


Say what you will about the broken housing market, but it's exchanges like this that make me grateful I own a detached house with plenty of buffer space between my neighbors.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot at 10:40 AM on February 20, 2009


jeremy b, that is pure unadulterated awesomeness.
posted by desjardins at 10:41 AM on February 20, 2009


Yeah, jeremy b that was great!
posted by ob at 10:44 AM on February 20, 2009


(Also: can't stomach The Office UK. Something about the US version is easier to swallow. I really, really can't watch David Brendt without feeling my skin crawling off.)

That's one of the shows (there are a few others, like Peep Show) that I can only watch with my hands up to my face, through my fingers. I've seen every episode loads of times and I still find it spectacularly awkward. I guess I have a very low embarrassment threshold.
posted by ob at 10:48 AM on February 20, 2009


Oh Gourd, Peep Show. I didn't actually leave the room, as I had nowhere else to go at the time, but I did scream quite loudly "I CAN'T WATCH THIS. I CAN'T TAKE IT." and put my hands in front of my face and didn't even look through my fingers.

And yet, it would not stop. And the people around me were laughing their heads off. Most uncomfortable hour of my life.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:02 AM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ha! Yeah, I really take these things personally and have to stand up and walk around and even cower a bit. All this while my wife calmly watches to show from the sofa wondering what the hell is wrong with me...
posted by ob at 11:06 AM on February 20, 2009


damn dirty ape: Why is that surprising?

Well, in the case of a form letter it's not, but many of the letters I got back were definitely very personalized. The one from the LDS church was hand written. The one from the art museum gave me the full history of the pieces I referenced and their current touring schedule. Christian Dior apologized on behalf of Sharon Stone, etc.

I work a day job where we get hundreds of letters a day. And you're right about how whacky some of them are.

I try to be a bit more sophisticated than blowjobs and cannibals, but some have fallen to that level. What I really like to do is have some small sense of activism in my letters as well. Like writing PETA a letter and taking them to task over vegan bacon. If you're opposed to meat consumption why eat something that is supposed to taste like meat? Or writing Ben & Jerry’s and explaining that sending me a coupon for a free ice cream cone, when their store locator won't even tell me where their nearest store is (because it's over 100 miles away) might not be the most effective marketing.

And while you are right that a lot of these are probably sent out by some intern, from experience I can say for sure that most companies don't feel compelled to write back, and many that do are sent by people higher up in the chain than intern (and yes, I do realize it could still be an intern, but in many cases I doubt it).

I tend to do this with a bit of a high profile. A simple google search of my name on the letter lets people know where it's going to end up. I also use my real name. I've had a couple emails from the companies I've written telling me they saw the site and didn't feel compelled to contribute. I'm guessing more figured it out and just trashed my letter. And yes, some of the blowjobs and cannibal letters may have been too obvious and got tossed on sight.

I finally took out a PO Box so I could write nutters like Fred Phelps. He didn't write back.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:12 AM on February 20, 2009


Talk about a well-worn nugget. Is there any humor left in this premise?

To me it is like Jay Leno's "Headlines from America" or whatever bit, where it is obvious most of them are fake. Or the "Man on the Street" questions where it is obvious ALL of them are fake.

And no offense cjorgensen, everyone needs a hobby I guess, but what possible response from Victoria's Secret about Depends Thongs would have been funny? Any typical responses are completely predictable and unsatisfying, and even if they said "What a great idea! Here's $100,000!" it might be great for you, but it STILL wouldn't be funny.

I can't help but think that the only humorous part is the writing of the letters itself, at which it becomes performance art that ends with you dropping the letter in the post office slot. What comes after is truly irrelevant.

Wouldn't you agree?
posted by Ynoxas at 11:35 AM on February 20, 2009


>Well, in the case of a form letter it's not, but many of the letters I got back were definitely very personalized.

Well, they have to be personalized to some degree. At my old job we couldnt sent out a form letter as-is. Everyone knows its a joke but the CYA mentality in corporate america means that youre getting an apology and a coupon.

I just dont think its very funny or original and youre really not fooling anyone. I feel sorry for the museum worker who spent an hour cataloging exhibits for your yuk yuks. This is all very, very low hanging fruit that just wastes everyone's time. Im sure its HILARIOUS to 15 year old sociopaths though.

There's also an argument to be made that a joker and a nutter are impossible to tell apart, so why get an nutter angry? Write a response, apologize for INSERT_COMPLAINT_OR_CONCERN_HERE and send some coupons.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:45 AM on February 20, 2009


I don't see the reason for a fuss. Guy pulls a prank. Even if I were completely humorless, I'd just reply "Sorry, you can't come, sod off, ta." and ignore the guy. If he was stupid enough to climb through my window or harass me at my door, I'd just call the police. If the guy was aggressive or creepy, I'd ask my brother Nigel who's in the Royal Marines to help me give the piker a swirly.
posted by caporal at 12:30 PM on February 20, 2009


Ynoxas, yeah, I can see it as performance art. That's always been more interesting to me than art for art's sake. I like writing, but I also like to see what I can do with what I write. Public performance or poetry, audio spoken word, etc. Even when I make physical art like pottery I want to take it further (learn to woodwork to build a case for it, etc.).

Not once did I claim to do it for humor's sake. I can see some humor in there, but a lot of time what others find funny has to be pointed out to me.

I sent pretty much the same letter to the Depend people to no response. I stand by the sentiment. There's no reason those things have to look as terrible as they do.

damn dirty ape, I don't feel bad for the art guy. I read his letter. He obviously took delight in being informative in his letter. I also found out, by asking to borrow a valuable painting, that at one point they did have a program like that where they let donors borrow art. Who knew? I also got to find out that my favorite painting was going to go on tour, and if I wanted to see it again I'd better do so. I didn't see it as a waste of his time, and I doubt he did either. It wasn't a mean question and I am guessing his response has been read a few hundred times, and from my weblogs I know I've sent traffic to their site.

Also, it wasn't a completely off base letter. We drove to the museum to see a piece of artwork that is part of their permanent collection. It wasn't on display. It was on loan. Sure, I was silly asking if I could borrow some art, but again, don't think he'd consider it a wast of time, but for you I'll write him and ask.

I include a link to the site in question in every letter. I generated enough traffic for some sites that I know I am showing up on their weblogs, and not one company has asked me to take a letter down (and I have it clearly stated that I will if asked).

Generally I either love or hate the companies I write. The rest I don't really consider that much. I don't feel bad about writing Bill O’Reilly and asking him if asshats know they are asshats, nor do I feel bad about writing Dennis Miller and asking him what it feels like to be a total sellout. Or a letter to Congressman Steve King calling him a bigot. Best Buy asking why I can get stuff cheaper elsewhere. Not sure where the regret should be coming from. Catharsis maybe, but no regret.

I've written quite a few legitimate letters as well. Some fan mail, some complaints, etc., and a good percentage of the letters aren't negative at all. And some of the ones that were resulted in positive change.

And once more, I try to work in a bit more than "yuk yuks." Sometimes I fail.

How a company responds to a letter is more important than the letter they are getting. I've had two different University professors tell me they are using my site in their business classes. That's cool to me. I also analyze each letter and give commentary on why I think it succeeded or failed, so not just boy did I make that guy look stupid! Usually, if they are going to look stupid they did it to themselves. And for that, no I don't feel bad.

But I am also willing to concede you don't find value in it. That's cool.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:30 PM on February 20, 2009


Our new Armenian neighbors came over and warned us about a housewarming party once. Specifically, their teenage son came over to warn us in person, and had a plateful of meat they'd just cooked on their grill (some of the party food), which was delicious. And he said they would love for us to stop by, but also wouldn't be offended if we didn't.

Did I mention these are the best neighbors I've ever had?
posted by davejay at 1:07 PM on February 20, 2009


Fucking funny. Reminds me of a conversation I had with a lady at her yard sale once.

I commented on these really cool, brand-new-looking items she had for sale. She mentioned that they were overstocks from a store she owned downtown. "But you won't find them at these prices at my store! These are super marked down" she said.

Out of curiosity, I asked her where her store was. She gave me a vague answer, then reiterated more forcefully, "But you won't see the prices you see here at my store! You have to buy stuff here if you want these prices!"

Getting a "We've got a live one!" kind of vibe, I asked, "So is your store right off the square, or a little further out, or--"

"YOU'RE NOT LISTENING TO ME! YOU WILL NOT FIND ANY OF THIS STUFF AT MY STORE! AND DEFINITELY NOT AT THESE PRICES!"

"--So, do you have your own parking, or do I have to park on the street, or--"

This went back and forth until my wife dragged me away. "You're an asshole," she said. I couldn't disagree. But man, that was fun.
posted by Rykey at 1:41 PM on February 20, 2009


Rykey, did you ever find her store?

And maybe I'm dense, but the only reason I can see for her denying you the name of the store would be because she was lying and they were the same price as in the store. Otherwise, why not drive customers there? And since this is how I am reading what you wrote, this begs the question, who expects to get store prices at a yard sale?

And I think you hit on something about David Thorne. I really doubt if you asked him whether or not he was being an asshole to that guy that he would deny it. Who knows, in real life Thorne might be the nicest guy, but in that exchange of emails and on the internet he plays an asshole.

At least he's using his real name (or if not a consistent identity). It's not like he's being an asshat in some message board just to get a reaction and going by the name of knarly167. I'm kinda thinking he crossed the line a tiny bit with the violence threats, and I don't think you can fully justify the behavior just on the premise he felt slighted (I don't think he really did). He could have just dropped by with a bottle of wine and welcomed the new guy to the neighborhood, and seen if he got invited in, could have taken the high road.

But Thorne plays an asshole on the internet, so he saw an opportunity to yuk it up. It's what he does.

I find it a bit odd that people will find people like Dennis Leary or House or anyone of tons of jerks that are on TV, but if a guy plays a jerk on the internet he's just a jerk.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:24 PM on February 20, 2009


You rock, cjorgensen. The rest of you - not so much.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:31 PM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


The rest of you - not so much.

I'm having a little party over my place next week, and, obiwanwasabi, I hope the noise doesn't disturb you too much.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:00 PM on February 20, 2009


I find it a bit odd that people will find people like Dennis Leary or House or anyone of tons of jerks that are on TV, but if a guy plays a jerk on the internet he's just a jerk.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:24 PM on February 20


But, David Thorne's being a jerk in real life. The only way the internet comes into it, is that's how we know about it. Dennis Leary and House and so on are being fictional jerks to other actors.

I thought this was hilarious. Then I read this thread and realized that the email exchange wasn't a little comical short story (as I'd thought) but was an actual email exchange, and then I felt bad for the neighbour.

The bit about their heads being close together when they sleep is still making me chuckle, though.
posted by joannemerriam at 4:05 PM on February 20, 2009


Part of the baffled reaction on this thread is a cultural thing I think. Americans value sincerity while Australians really like winding each other up.
posted by dydecker at 4:18 PM on February 20, 2009


I thought this was hilarious. It's kind of a litmus test as to what kind of neighbours you've had, though. Some folks really are neighbourly, some treat you with cautious distance, and some people treat you like you're a disposable tissue that's cluttering their hallway.

Our new Armenian neighbors came over and warned us about a housewarming party once. Specifically, their teenage son came over to warn us in person, and had a plateful of meat they'd just cooked on their grill (some of the party food), which was delicious. And he said they would love for us to stop by, but also wouldn't be offended if we didn't.

Now those people are really neighbourly, which is cool. It would be fun to have them next door. I think it's also okay to have cautious neighbours who don't warn you about their party, but who keep the noise down to a reasonable level. The worst kind of neighbour, imo, is the one who sees you as an impediment - like the guy who got pranked here. He sends out a note "warning" his neighbours that he's having a party and the noise might be a bit loud, but there's nothing they can do about it if they happen to object. It's like warning someone that you're going to shoot off a cannon every night or dance naked in front of your windows to worship the sun. Are they offended? Tough. It's your personal space and you warned them. The pranking dude just took that clueless arrogance and reflected it back on the originator, imo.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:26 PM on February 20, 2009


November 21, 2008

David Thorne
PO Box 10476
Adelaide BC
South Australia 5000

Dear Mr. Thorne,

I would like to sponsor your poor black boy by sending you "paper money of any denomination in an envelope," but unfortunately, I am not wealthy enough to do so. In fact, it cost me about a buck to send you this letter, so I am requesting you compensate me fully for this! Please send me $1 USD. If you do so I promise I won't sleep on your couch if I ever visit Australia.

I must insist on American currency however. Ever since Jesus drove the money changers out of the temple it just hasn't been as easy to get currency converted.

I await your prompt remittance.

Sincerely,

Christopher L. Jorgensen
Sent almost 4 months ago. Somehow I don't think he'll be writing back. And yes, I do realize there's a typo above. There was in the original as well.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:45 PM on February 20, 2009


I'm kinda thinking he crossed the line a tiny bit with the violence threats

Kinda? Really?
posted by five fresh fish at 7:29 PM on February 20, 2009


Oh come on. I wrote it how I meant it. I went back and reread it for like the fourth time today, just because I couldn't remember exactly what the violence threats were. Maybe my reading comprehension has gone way down, maybe my glazed over eyes are missing something, but I find a couple parts slightly stalkerish/uncomfortable, but I don't see anything that if brought to a police officer would constitute a threat of violence.

So yeah, I say kinda sorta tiny bit crossed a line. I'm sure your shrill and outraged interpretation will be just as valid.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:55 PM on February 20, 2009


I'm sure your shrill and outraged interpretation will be just as valid.

Goodness. By writing two words, I'm "shrill and outraged," am I? That's quite a lot to read into two words.

Sounds like you miswrote when you wrote "violence threats." I thought you meant the "prankster" guy had made actual threats of violence against his neighbour. But he didn't. So you're not really "kinda thinking he crossed the line a tiny bit with the violence threats," but rather "kinda thinking he crossed the line a tiny bit with the slightly stalkerish/uncomfortable behaviour."

Which is an entirely different thing. In fact, we even agree. You can calm down.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:35 PM on February 20, 2009


Part of the baffled reaction on this thread is a cultural thing I think. Americans value sincerity while Australians really like winding each other up.

Dunno about that. As an Australian, I could only get about 1/2 way through before deciding he was being a nasty cruel arsehole and giving up.

In a similar vein, I've always felt uncomfortable watching Fawlty Towers and The Office, and can't bear to watch cringe-inducing "deliberate nastiness for the sake of comedy" shows like Candid Camera.
posted by Pinback at 10:03 PM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


cjorgensen and five fresh fish, don't make me cross you off the guest list for my housewarming party :P
posted by Rykey at 8:04 AM on February 21, 2009


five fresh fish

It wasn't yuor previous two words that I expected to be shrill, but rather a subsequent rant I was assuming you had ready to go. I was wrong. Sorry.

And I thing some people feel that claiming that you're bringing along a violent friend, that you are afraid to say no to, constitutes a threat. That and seemingly intimate knowledge of the man's life (cane furniture).

These are the aaspects I thought skirted the line, but in my opinion, he didn't cross it.

If it had said, "I'll be killing you if I ccant come..."

His comments were in poor taste.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:38 AM on February 21, 2009


dydecker, I'd also like to point out that one of the failures of people "Getting it," is that you first have to convince me David Thorne was going for humor. And once you do that you have to take this one page on his site all on it's own, and convince me he intended there to be no context. He has enough material on his site to make the case for brilliant satirist, racist boob, or ignorant asshole. You can probably make the case for all of the above.

I'm not convinced that the best satire is going for humor (or should even try).

And since he actually makes it difficult to peruse his content, it's kind of like watching cable and being offended by the content, but in the case of this particular thread, it's like hanging out in the living room of someone that won't change the channel.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:36 AM on February 21, 2009


I'm not convinced that the best satire is going for humor (or should even try).

Satire is a form of humour. It's just that the laughter is secondary; its primary purpose is to make a point.

But if there is no humour, you're not doing satire. You're doing...something else.
posted by dydecker at 12:06 PM on February 21, 2009


btw Thorne is not doing satire. It's just funny writing - I wouldn't say there was too much of a point to it except to amuse the reader. I think that is very clear even from the first sentence or so.
posted by dydecker at 12:14 PM on February 21, 2009


Amuse the reader, or amuse himself?
posted by five fresh fish at 2:02 PM on February 21, 2009


Harry Hutton has written a few amusing letters. My favourite:
Letter to Paul Goodman, MP for Wycombe:
Dear Sir,
I have a legal question about moles. As you are no doubt aware, many of them dig tunnels hundreds of miles long. It is almost the only thing they are any good at. It is possible -indeed, it is likely- that many such tunnels cross constituency boundaries.

It could be that, even as we speak, moles are crossing from your constituency to Labour boroughs, or vice versa. As beasts, that is their privilege.

And if I have a mole in my garden, I am quite within my rights to bash its nasty snout with a shovel. As your constituent, that is my right. The law is quite clear on that....

posted by the duck by the oboe at 3:52 PM on February 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


I agree with five fresh fish, Thorne is just trying to amuse himself.

dydecker, I guess it comes down to definition of humor. I think Swift's essay " A Modest Proposal" is considered by many to be the pinnacle of satire, and while I love it, the only thing I find funny about it is that some people took him seriously.

In that article Thorne may have been doing just funny writing, though I think some people have pointed out some ironies that take it a bit past just that (an impersonal notification to a party that excludes him, that fact that it looks like an invite, etc). Take his site as a whole and I think he's got a bit of societal commentary going on as well.

And this is just a hobby for him, so I tend to give him a bit more credit than someone working for the Huffington Post or something.

the duck by the oboe, that guy's cool. thanks.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:57 PM on February 21, 2009


And I think we can all agree that "the duck by the oboe" is the best user name to come down the pike in many a moon.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:20 PM on February 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Sean Lock character on 15 Stories High enjoys writing letters of this nature, too.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:41 PM on February 22, 2009


"Storeys", fucksake.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:41 PM on February 22, 2009


What a judgmental asshole.
posted by archagon at 11:22 AM on February 23, 2009


Okay, I kind of feel bad for saying that (apologies if you're reading this, David), but this prank just seems so pointlessly mean. Sure, the guy wrote his note on "invitation paper", but he's probably just a bit absentminded or clueless; no need to punish him for an unintentional social faux pas. And yeah, he lost his cool pretty quickly -- because the replies sounded like they were written by a fucking crazy person who would have almost certainly ruined his housewarming party.
posted by archagon at 11:42 AM on February 23, 2009


Yeah, its amusing to those who have never had a potentially aggressive mentally ill neighbor.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:56 AM on February 23, 2009


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