Athletes Jesse Owens and Carl Ludwig "Luz" Long, competitors at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, became devoted friends and corresponded long after Owens returned to America. [more inside]
"They call it '9 to 5.' It's never 9 to 5, there's no free lunch break at those places, in fact, at many of them in order to keep your job you don't take lunch."
"2. Airman Thompson possesses outstanding talent in writing. He has imagination, good use of English, and can express his thoughts in a manner that makes interesting reading 3. However, in spite of frequent counseling with explanation of the reasons for the conservative policy on an AF base newspaper, Airman Thompson has consistently written controversial material and leans so strongly to critical editorializing that it was necessary to require that all his writing be thoroughly edited before release." - A memo regarding Airman Second-Class Hunter S. Thompson's reporting for the base newspaper. [more inside]
In December of 1997, a Michigan man received a letter from the Department of Environmental Quality informing him that he was prohibited from the 'Construction and maintenance of two wood debris dams across the outlet stream of Spring Pond. A permit must be issued prior to the start of this type of activity. A review of the Department's files show that no permits have been issued. .... The Department has been informed that one or both of the dams partially failed during a recent rain event, causing debris dams and flooding at downstream locations. We find that dams of this nature are inherently hazardous and cannot be permitted. The Department therefore orders you to cease and desist all unauthorized activities at this location, and to restore the stream to a free-flow condition by removing all wood and brush forming the dams from the strewn channel.' He replied: 'Regarding Your Dam Complaint.' [more inside]
You will never have anything else. You will never write another sentence above the level of In Cold Blood. As a writer you are finished. William Burroughs’ Curse on Truman Capote (full text of the letter)
In November 1966, Isaac Asimov wrote an article for TV Guide lamenting the shaky science of Star Trek. Roddenberry replied, arguing that simply knowing about science, and writing sci-fi novels, was not sufficient qualification to criticize television sci-fi. [more inside]
"In October of 1973, Bruce Severy — a 26-year-old English teacher at Drake High School, North Dakota — decided to use Kurt Vonnegut's novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, as a teaching aid in his classroom. The next month, on November 7th, the head of the school board, Charles McCarthy, demanded that all 32 copies be burned in the school's furnace as a result of its "obscene language." Other books soon met with the same fate. On the 16th of November, Kurt Vonnegut sent McCarthy the following letter. He didn't receive a reply."
When the legal department of Warner Bros. were notified of a forthcoming feature-length Casablanca spoof in 1945 - A Night in Casablanca, featuring a lead character named 'Humphrey Bogus' - they were naturally curious as to the specifics, and so innocently requested more information from the movie's creators, the Marx Brothers. Very quickly Groucho, sensing the opportunity for free publicity, fabricated a lawsuit from the studio and a crowd-pleasing defense... [more inside]
In this day of twitters, emails, and SMS messages, there is something suddenly strangely fascinating about reviewing written personal correspondence. For example, consider this this letter from artist Winston Smith to a young fan named Austin Kleon. On the other side of the "inspiration coin" is this letter in which San Francisco's Harvey Milk defends cult leader Jim Jones. But perhaps the most bizarre correspondence to hit the Internet of late is this letter from Supreme Court Justice Scalia to an aspiring screenwriter, in which Justice Scalia declares that the concept of secession is not something he can help the writer understand.
In November of 1905, an enraged Mark Twain sent this superb letter to J. H. Todd, a patent medicine salesman who had just attempted to sell bogus medicine to the author by way of a letter and leaflet delivered to his home.
Letterheady, adjective. 1. Overcome by a strong emotion due to a letterhead design. 2. A new blog from Shaun Usher, creator of Letters of Note. (previously)
Four letters of complaint written to the Mayor of NYC. Excerpted from a book.
Letters of Note reproduces and transcribes letters from the famous, the infamous, and the not-so-famous.