Friday, 29 April 2011

The romantic Mr Carlin



It was in June of 1998 that legendary comedian George Carlin married Sally Wade. Tragically, just two days before their tenth anniversary, he passed away. Below is just one of countless love letters he wrote to his wife during their time together, many of which feature in her memoir, The George Carlin Letters: The Permanent Courtship of Sally Wade.

Transcript follows. Huge thanks to Sally.

(Source: The George Carlin Letters: The Permanent Courtship of Sally Wade; Image: George Carlin & Sally Wade, via.)



Transcript
SALLYBURGER,

If you took THE NUMBER OF SUB-ATOMIC PARTICLES IN THE UNIVERSE and multiplied that number times itself THAT MANY TIMES; and then added the total number of MICRO-SECONDS since the beginning of time, times itself; and then added 803—you would STILL have only the tiniest fraction of A BILLION-BILLIONTH PER CENT of the amount of love I HAVE FOR YOU.

Love,

your candle partner,
the romantic Mr Carlin,
your eternal flame.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Jim is fundamentally a respectable citizen

Two letters today, both of which concern Jim Morrison, frontman of The Doors, but each at different stages of his tragically short life. The first was lovingly penned by Morrison in 1954, then just 10 years of age, and is an incredibly sweet letter of thanks to his mother for having helped him "face all the many hardships in [his] life." The second — although written against a murky backdrop 16 years later following Morrison's "indecent exposure and profanity" charge after a controversial gig in Dade County — is an endearing letter of support from Jim's dad to Florida's Parole Commission, in response to their request for "any comments that you would care to make regarding your son's behavior and his present situation to include in [their] investigation."

Nine months after the second letter was written, Jim Morrison passed away, aged 27.

Transcripts follow. Both letters can be found, amongst other documents, in The Jim Morrison Scrapbook.



Transcript
Dear Mother,

As Easter rolls around each year, I think of how you have helped me face all the many hardships in my life. I only wish I could put on paper how much I appreciate the help and love you have given me through my life.

Love, Jim



Transcript
October 2, 1970

Mr. Robert Disher, Supervisor-District "07"
Florida Probation and Parole Commission
State of Florida Office Building
1350 N. W. 12th Avenue
Miami, Florida, 33136

Dear Mr. Disher:

Thank you for your letter of September 24. I appreciate this opportunity to comment on my son Jim.

I saw him last about 5 years ago during his senior year at U.C.L.A. He was successfully completing his fourth year of college. As in all his academic work through grade school, high school and college, he was an excellent student. While he had always been an intellectual rebel, he had always obeyed and respected authority. In 1965 I began a two year assignment in England. Although I invited him to join us in London after graduation, he declined, to start his own career. Since that time, he has been completely independent of me financially and in every other way.

We have had very little contact with him since that time, due partly to physical separation and partly because of some criticism from me. While in London, I was called by an old friend in California who had been approached by Jim for a loan to finance his first record. Concerned by his appearance, particularly long hair, the friend called me. I, in turn, wrote Jim a letter severely criticizing his behavior and strongly advising him to give up any idea of singing or any connection with a musical group because of what I considered to be a complete lack of talent in this direction. His reluctance to communicate with me again is to me quite understandable.

Since returning to the United States, I have on several occasions made an effort to contact him. One time I was successful in talking with him by telephone. Our conversation was quite pleasant, and I congratulated him on his first gold album, but nothing of consequence was discussed. We have had no direct contact since that time.

However, while we all lived in Calfornia in 1969, Jim's younger brother and sister visited him frequently and got along famously as they always did during their childhood days at home. Also, an old friend of ours had dinner with Jim in Los Angeles several months ago and reported to us that he was "the same old Jim."

I have followed his career with a mixture of amazement and, in the case of his performance in Miami, great concern and sorrow. While I obviously am not a judge of modern music, I view his success with pride.

Based on my knowledge of Jim through his 21st year, I firmly believe that his performance in Miami was a grave mistake and not in character. I will always follow his progress with the greatest of interest and concern and stand ready to assist him in any way should he ask.

Thank you again for this opportunity to affirm my conviction that Jim is fundamentally a responsible citizen.

Very truly yours,

G. S. Morrison, Rear Admiral, U.S.N.
1327 South Glebe Road
Arlington, Virginia, 22204

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

My favorite feature is the Obituary department



In 1961, the following submission letter — written by an aspiring author aged just 14 — arrived at the offices of Spacemen Magazine accompanied by a copy of "The Killer," the polite youngster's latest short story. Unfortunately for him the magazine's editor, Forrest Ackerman, didn't deem the tale worthy of inclusion at that point, and it would be another 33 years before he changed his mind and decided to publish it in issue #202 of another of his magazines: Famous Monsters of Filmland.

By that time, however, the story's author, Stephen King, was already rather successful.

Transcript follows.

(Source: C. Lawrence; Image: Stephen King as a kid, via.)



Transcript
Dear Editor,

I am 14 years of age, and have been writing as far back as I can remember, and submitting manuscripts for the last couple of years. I subscribe to your magizine, and my favorite feature is the Obituary department, although "O. Henry's Comet," for which this story is intended, runs a close second.,

Thanks very much for reading my story. I hope you see your way clear to put it in "O. Henry's Comet."

Sincerely,

(Signed, 'Stephen King')

Stephen King
Rt #1, Pownal
Maine

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

We're 500-letters-old!



Dear All,

We hit 500 published letters yesterday. I just had an extra sugar in my tea to celebrate.

I wanted to mention it, if only to officially mark the arrival of a milestone that has taken 20 months of week-daily posts and many hours of (spectacularly enjoyable) effort. Of course this is just the beginning, and by the time I die of old-age the archives will be many thousands strong. I also wanted an excuse to create a celebratory image as amateurish as the one seen above. Remember: it's all my work, please don't blame anyone else.

Thanks to all who frequent these parts; your visits and (mostly) kind words are invaluable to my project and make the experience all the more enjoyable. Should you wish to support the site even more, you can donate (thank you!) and, as I keep mentioning, vote for Letters of Note at the Webby Awards (voting closes Thursday, please help!).

I love you all.

Thanks again.

Shaun

On bureaucratese and gobbledygook

As a result of his influential stint as chairman of the now-defunct Civil Aeronautics Board in the 1970s, economist Alfred Kahn rightly became known as the "Father of Deregulation." However, he also made a lasting impression on many due to the wider publication — initially in the Washington Star, and then the Post — of the following internal memo, sent by Kahn to his colleagues at the CAB shortly after taking the helm and circulated as a call for clearer written communications within the organisation. Little did Kahn know, but this document would soon attract praise from far and wide. From Kahn's obituary in the New York Times, January 2010:
It generated a marriage proposal from a Boston Globe columnist, who gushed: “Alfred Kahn, I love you. I know you’re in your late 50s and are married, but let’s run away together.” A Singapore newspaper suggested that Mr. Kahn be awarded a Nobel Prize. A Kansas City newspaper urged him to run for president. And, shortly after the memo’s appearance, he was appointed to the usage panel of the American Heritage Dictionary, a position he held until his death.
Transcript follows. Image courtesy of Nera (PDF). Huge thanks to the wonderful Austin Kleon for bringing it to my attention.



Image: Nera

Transcript
THE CHAIRMAN OF THE CIVIL AERONAUTICS BOARD

June 16, 1977

MEMORANDUM

TO: Bureau and Office Heads; Division and Section Chiefs
CC: Board Members
FROM: Chairman Alfred E. Kahn (Signed)
SUBJECT: The Style of Board Orders and Chairman's Letters

One of my peculiarities, which I must beg you to indulge if I am to retain my sanity (possibly at the expense of yours!) is an abhorrence of the artificial and hyper-legal language that is sometimes known as bureaucratese or gobbledygook.

The disease is almost universal, and the fight against it endless. But it is a fight worth making, and I ask your help in this struggle.

May I ask you, please, to try very hard to write Board orders and, even more so, drafts of letters for my signature, in straightforward, quasi-conversational, humane prose -- as though you are talking to or communicating with real people. I once asked a young lawyer who wanted us to say "we deem it inappropriate" to try that kind of language out on his children -- and if they did not drive him out of the room with their derisive laughter, to disown them.

I suggest the test is a good one: try reading some of the language you use aloud, and ask yourself how your friends would be likely to react. (And then decide, on the basis of their reactions, whether you still want them as friends.)

I cannot possibly in a single communication give you more than a small fraction of the kinds of usages I have in mind. Here are just a few:

1. One of our recent show cause orders contained this language: "all interested persons be and they hereby are directed to show cause...." The underlined words are obviously redundant, as well as archaic.

2. Every time you are tempted to use "herein," "hereinabove," "hereinunder," or similarly, "therein" and its corresponding variants, try "here" or "there" or "above" or "below" and see if it doesn't make just as much sense.

3. The passive voice is wildly overused in government writing. Typically, its purpose is to conceal information: one is less likely to be jailed if one says "he was hit by a stone," than "I hit him with a stone." The active voice is far more forthright, direct, and human. (There are, of course, some circumstances in which the use of the passive is unavoidable; please try to confine it to those situations.)

4. This one is, I recognize, a matter of taste: some people believe in maintaining standards of the language and others (like the late but unlamented editor of Webster's Third International) do not. But unless you feel strongly, would you please try to remember that "data" was for more than two thousand years and is still regarded by most literate people as plural (the singular is "datum"), and that (this one goes back even longer) the singular is "criterion," and "criteria" is plural. Also, that for at least from the 17th through most of the 20th century, "presently" meant "soon" or "immediately" and not "now." The use of "presently" in the latter context is another pomposity: why not "now?" Or, if necessary, "currently?"

5. Could you possibly try to make the introduction of letters somewhat less pompous than "this is in reference to your letter dated May 42, 1993, regarding (or concerning, or in regard to, or with reference to)...." That just doesn't sound as though it is coming from a human being. Why not, for example, "The practice of which you complain in your letter of May 42 is one that has troubled me for a long time." Or "I have looked into the question you raise in your letter of October 14, and am happy to be able to report...." Or something like that?

6. Why use "regarding" or "concerning" or "with regard to," when the simple word "about" would do just as well? Unless you are trying to impress someone; but are you sure you want to impress anyone who would be impressed by such circumlocutions? There is a similar pompous tendency to use "prior to," when what you really mean is "before." "Prior to" should be used only when in fact the one thing that comes before is, in a sense, a condition of what follows, as in the expression "a prior condition."

I know "requesting," is considered more genteel than "asking," but "asking" is more forthright. Which do you want to be?

7. One of my pet peeves is the rampant misuse of "hopefully." That word is an adverb, and makes sense only as it modifies a verb, and means "with hope." It is possible to walk hopefully into a room, if one is going into the room with the hope of finding something (or not finding something) there. It is not intelligent to say "hopefully the criminal will make his identity known," because the meaning is not that he will do so with hope in his heart, and he is the subject of the verb "make."

8. My last imposition on you for today is the excessive use of "appropriate" or "inappropriate," when what the writer really means is either "legal" or "illegal," "proper" or "improper," "desirable" or "undesirable," "fitting" or "not fitting," or simply "this is what I want (or do not want) to do."

9. A final example of pomposity, probably, is this memorandum itself.

I have heard it said that style is not substance, but without style what is substance?

Monday, 25 April 2011

IN MEMORY OF A ONCE FLUID MAN

On January 31st, 1967, during a break from filming his role as Kato in Green Hornet, Bruce Lee wrote and illustrated the following letter to friend and metal-worker George Lee, the man responsible for crafting the Jeet Kune Do founder's weaponry and other fighting equipment. This was the year Bruce Lee's new, dynamic martial arts system was unveiled and as such some promotional material was needed; most notably a symbolic miniature tombstone, the epitaph of which perfectly illustrated Lee's opinion of classical, overly-structured martial arts.

Transcript follows. Image courtesy of BruceLee.com.


Image: BruceLee.com

Transcript
George,

I've been shooting Batman these few days and busy like hell. I believe I should be able to find time to show your boy and his friends around the studio this coming Friday.

The Oklahoma appearance was great and I'm asked back for another one in Georgia. That sign you made has created quite a hit - everyone admires your talents.

If you have time, I like to make two requests for some stuffs that you can make for me. They are gadgets to put my system across.

First, I like three signs for hanging like picture on wall - slightly smaller than the sign you made for me. Here are the plans & ideas - this project by the way is to illustrate the thought behind my system - the 3 stages

[3 ILLUSTRATIONS]

Explanation for the three signs (same black shining background as the sign you made)

FIRST SIGN

Here all we need is one red half and one gold half of the yin yang symbol. HOWEVER no dot is need on either halves; in other word it is just plain red with no gold dot, or just plain gold with no red dot (this serves to illustrate extreme softness (like [?]) or/and extreme hardness (like [?]). So just follow the drawing and also put the phrase - PARTIALITY - THE RUNNING TO EXTREME on the black board.

SECOND SIGN

Exact yin yang symbol like the sign you made for me except there is no Chinese Characters around the symbol. Of course, the phrase - FLUIDITY - THE TWO HALVES OF ONE WHOLE will be on the black board.

THIRD SIGN

Just a shinny black board with nothing on it except the phrase EMPTINESS - THE FORMLESS FORM

The other three signs have to be the same size because they illustrate the three stages of cultivation. Please do make them like the sign you made for me aluminium symbol and shinny black board.

The second gadget I have in mind is used to dramatize the not too alive way of the classical so called Kung Fu styles. What I have in mind is a miniature "tomb stone" and here is the drawing

[ILLUSTRATION OF A TOMBSTONE, ENGRAVED WITH "IN MEMORY OF A ONCE FLUID MAN, CRAMMED AND DISTORTED BY THE CLASSICAL MESS"]

I'm sure you know how a grave looks like and make it with any material you like (aluminium tomb stone is fine) and at any size you want. Not too small though, because it's for display.

Call me collect is you have any problem.

Thank you in anticipation.

Bruce

Friday, 22 April 2011

Tchaikovsky was an awesome composer

In January of 2011, chief music critic at the The New York Times, Anthony Tommasini, concluded a two week project in which he discussed the world's finest composers by unveiling a list he had personally compiled: Top 10 classical music composers in history. (For reference, his top 10 went like this: 1. Bach; 2. Beethoven; 3. Mozart; 4. Schubert; 5. Debussy; 6. Stravinsky; 7. Brahms; 8. Verdi; 9. Wagner; and 10. Bartok.) As can be expected, much discussion was generated by his list, but it was the following written response from 8-year-old Lucas Amory — son of noted violists Misha Amory and Hsin-Yun Huang — that really stood out.

Eloquent, informed, and adorable.

Transcript follows. Image courtesy of The New York Times.



Transcript
Hi Mr Tommasini,

I read about you in the newspaper. Like you, I adore music. So I've written two lists: The 10 Greatist Composers and: The Ones I Like Best. Lets start with 10 Greatist:

1, 2, 3: You're right about those: Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart.
4: I disagree about that; I'd go with Haydn. Haydn is as good as Mozart, but goes with 4.
4A: If I hurt your feelings I'm sorry.
5: This one my dad chose for me: Schubert. I gotta say, I'll have to agree. I don't know why, but I'll do it.
6: This is hard. I'll go with Brahms. He was supposed to be lower but when I learned he burned his music...
7: Tchaikovsky. Most definaly. He was an awesome composer.
8, 9: Chopin is 8. Schumanns nine.
10: Lizst?

TURN OVER FOR THE TEN COMPOSERS I LIKE BEST

1. Even though my favorite piece is Tchaikovskys Violin Concerto, someone else is beside him: Schumann. Schumann wins.

[ILLUSTRATION]

1A: Uh-huh you get the picture
2: Tchaikovsky.
3: Rachmaninoff.
4: Lizst
5: Chopin
6: Schubert
7: You won't believe it: Paganini
8: Rossini
9: Prokoviev
10: Grieg

Well, that's about it.

Sincerly,

Lucas Amory

P.S. I go to Lucy Moses School. I'm 8 years old.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

My husband John Lennon was a very special man

In October of 2000, 20 years after shooting and killing John Lennon, Mark Chapman became eligible for parole whilst imprisoned at Attica Correctional Facility. Below is the poignant 3-page letter sent to the parole board by Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, in which she eloquently opposed his release. Of course, Chapman was denied, and has since been refused release a further five times.

(Also of note is this chilling letter, written fourteen years previous.)

Transcript follows. Image courtesy of The Smoking Gun.



Transcript
STUDIO ONE
3 West 22nd Street
New York, NY 10023

September 19, 2000

New York State Division of Parole
Victim Impact Unit
97 Central Avenue
Albany, NY 12206

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Parole Board:

This is my reply to the petition of parole made by Mark David Chapman from here on called "the subject." It is not easy for me to write this letter to you since it is still painful for me to think of what happened that night and verbalize my thoughts logically. Forgive me if I fall short of your expectation of giving you a satisfactory opinion. But these are my sincere thoughts.

My husband John Lennon was a very special man. A man of humble origin, he brought light and hope to the whole world with his words and music. He tried to be a good power for the world, and he was. He gave encouragement, inspiration and dreams to people regardless of their race, creed and gender. For me, he was the other half of the sky. We were in love with each other like the most vehement of lovers to the last moment. For our son Sean he was the world. That world shattered when the "subject" pulled the trigger. For Julian, it was losing his father twice. For the people of the world, it was as though the light went out for a moment and darkness prevailed. With his one act of violence in those few seconds, the "subject" managed to change my whole life, devastate his sons, and bring deep sorrow and fear to the world. It was, indeed, the power of destruction at work.

At first, I had refused to acknowledge John's death. I announced that, "There is no funeral for John." In my mind, I was saying "BECAUSE HE IS NOT DEAD!" "Tell me he is not dead, tell me he is not dead." I was screaming inside myself. But then, I started to hear that young girls were jumping off buildings to kill themselves. I realized then that it was not a time for me to simply wallow in my own pain. I organized a world vigil with the prayer that, together, we would somehow get through.

For the past twenty years, I've carried the torch John and I once carried together to try to let the darkness go. I asked the fans to remember John's birthday, not the day of his passing. When people asked how I felt about the killer of my husband, I have always told them that I didn't think about that day anymore. I wanted to look to the future, and not to remember that horrible moment. But in actual fact, the memory of that night has never left me for the last twenty years.

It was so cruel. So unjust. My husband did not deserve this. He was in no way ready to die. He was feeling good with the prospect of doing a concert tour after making the album which became his last. He would have gladly changed his position with the "subject," and live the life of protection that the "subject" enjoys now. Even in confinement, my husband John would have cherished hearing voices of people he loved, enjoyed creating songs, and simply appreciated watching the sky and its changes through the seasons. John cannot do any of that now.

His family and the world rested because justice was finally done by the court. The "subject" was imprisoned. If he were to be released now, many will feel betrayed. Anger and fear would rise again.

It would also give a "go" signal to the others who would like to follow in the footsteps of the "subject" to receive world attention. I am afraid it will bring back the nightmare, the chaos and confusion once again. Myself and John's two sons, would not feel safe for the rest of our lives. People who are in positions of high visibility and outspokenness such as John, would also feel unsafe.

Finally, it will not be safe for the "subject" himself. He will cease to have the security that the State provides him now. I understand that he has been isolated from other prisoners because of the threat of possible harm to him. Well, there are more people in the outside world who are strongly distressed about what he has done. They would feel that it is unfair that the "subject" is rewarded with a normal life while John lost his. Violence begets violence. If it is at all possible, I would like us to not create a situation which may bring further madness and tragedy to the world.

I thank you in advance for your wise and just decision. I am,

Sincerely yours,

(Signed)

Yoko Ono Lennon

cc: Allen Sullivan, Assistant District Attorney; Tom Allesandro, Director of Witness Aid Unit

YOL/cf

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

11 ALIVE...NEED SMALL BOAT...KENNEDY



On August 2nd of 1943, whilst serving as commander of the PT-109 during World War II, John F. Kennedy and crew  (pictured above, JFK on the right) were rammed by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri; their boat instantly halved by the impact and two of the crew killed. Six days later, stranded in the Solomon Islands with his fellow survivors, Kennedy carved the following message into a coconut shell and handed it to Biuku Gasa and Eroni Kumana, two natives tasked with delivering it to the nearest Allied base 35 nautical miles away, by canoe. Luckily they succeeded, and as a result Kennedy and his men were soon rescued.

Kennedy later had the shell encased in plastic; it was then used as a paperweight in the Oval Office during his Presidency.

Transcript follows.

(Source: JFK Library; Image of JFK and crew, via Wikipedia.)



Transcript
NAURO ISL...COMMANDER
NATIVE KNOWS POS'IT
HE CAN PILOT...11 ALIVE
NEED SMALL BOAT
KENNEDY

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

We are standing on the threshold of Great events!

On April 14th of 1993 — day 46 of the Waco seige — leader of the Mount Carmel Branch Davidian sect, David Koresh, released what would be his final letter to his lawyer, Dick DeGuerin. In it, he spoke of his excitement at being given permission by God to "put the Seven Seals in written form," after which he and his followers would be able to leave the compound in which they were currently living. Unfortunately for all involved no such development occurred and, with the world looking on, the 51-day stand-off came to a head five days later as the FBI/ATF staged a final CS gas assault. Over the course of the next few hours 74 men, women and children — Koresh included — tragically perished, many due to a fire that had since consumed the premises.

Transcript follows. Images courtesy of Rick Ross.


Images: Rick Ross

Transcript
April 14, 1993

Hello Dick,

As far as our progress is concerned, here is where we stand: I have related two messages, from God, to the F.B.I.; one of which concerns present danger to people here in Waco.

I was shown a fault line running throughout the Lake Waco area. An angel is standing in charge of this event. Many people, here in Waco, know that we are a good people, and yet, they have shown the same resentful spirit of indifference to our "warnings of love."

I am presently being permitted to document, in structured form, the decoded messages of the 7 Seals. Upon the completion of this task, I will be freed of my "waiting period." I hope to finish this as soon as possible and to stand before man to answer any and all questions regarding my actions.

This written Revelation of the 7 Seals will not be sold, but is to be available to all who wish to know the Truth. The four Angels of Revelation 7 are here, now ready to punish foolish mankind; but, the writing of these Seals will cause the winds of God's wrath to be held back a little longer.

I have been praying so long for this opportunity; to put the Seals in written form. Speaking the Truth seems to have very little effect on man.

I was shown that as soon as I am given over into the hands of man, I will be made a spectacle of, and people will not be concerned about the truth of God, but just the bizarrity of me - the flesh (person).

I want the people of this generation to be saved. I am working night and day to complete my final work of the writing out of "these Seals."

I thank my Father, He has finally granted me the chance to do this. It will bring New Light and hope for many and they will not have to deal with me the person.

The earthquake in Waco is something not to be taken lightly. It will probably be "the thing" needed to shake some sense into the people. Remember, Dick, the warning came first and I fear that the F.B.I. is going to suppress this information. It may be left up to you.

I will demand the first manuscript of the Seals be given to you. Many scholars and religious leaders will wish to have copies for examination. I will keep a copy with me. As soon as I can see that people, like Jim Tabor and Phil Arnold have a copy I will come out and then you can do your thing with this Beast.

I hope to keep in touch with you by letter, so please give your address.

We are standing on the threshold of Great events! The 7 Seals, in written form are the most sacred information ever!

David Koresh

Monday, 18 April 2011

Help!

Dear All,

Forgive my shameless persistence, but I need your help in order for Letters of Note to win a Webby Award. We're currently in the lead but are steadily losing ground, so, to those of you who haven't already done so: please make a 32-year-old man happy and take a few minutes out of your day to cast a vote, and also spread the word if you're feeling energetic.

If you wish to see a more heartfelt begging performance, my original plea can be read here.

Thank you very much, and sorry for the interruption.

Shaun

Being an actor is the loneliest thing in the world

A dispirited James Dean hand-wrote the following note as he sat in a restaurant in 1952, months after moving to New York in a bid to further his acting career. Full-time auditioning in the Big Apple clearly left Dean feeling a little isolated. Two years later, Dean would reluctantly move to L.A. to shoot East of Eden and write this similarly downbeat letter to then-girlfriend Barbara Glenn.

Transcript follows. Image courtesy of Clive Steadman.


Image: Clive Steadman

Transcript
Being an actor is the loneliest thing in the world. The stage is like a religion you dedicate yourself to and then suddenly you find that you don't have time to see friends and it's not for them to understand you don't have anybody. You're all alone with your concentration and your imagination and that's all you have. You're an actor.

by James Dean

Friday, 15 April 2011

GOD HELP YOU OUT, PAUL

In 1971, John Lennon wrote the following scathing missive to Paul and Linda McCartney in response to a letter from Linda in which she had chastised him for, amongst other things, not publicly announcing his departure from The Beatles. There was no love lost between the two couples at this point and this angry note was just one shot in a volley that lasted long after the slow dissolution of the band, an already muddled event further complicated by first the death of manager Brian Epstein; the subsequent power struggle for control of the band; and the introduction of both Yoko and Linda to the equation.

Transcript follows. Image courtesy of Profiles in History.





Transcript
Bag Productions Inc.
Tittenhurst Park,
Ascot, Berkshire.
Ascot 23022

Dear Linda and Paul,

I was reading your letter and wondering what middle aged cranky Beatle fan wrote it. I resisted looking at the last page to find out – I kept thinking who is it – Queenie? Stuart's mother? – Clive Epstein's wife? – Alan Williams? – What the hell – it's Linda!

You really think the press are beneath me/you? Do you think that? Who do you think we/you are? The "self-indulgent doesn't realize who he is hurting" bit–I hope you realize what shit you and the rest of my 'kind and unselfish' friends laid on Yoko and me, since we've been together. It might have sometimes been a bit more subtle or should I say "middle class" – but not often. We both "rose above it" quite a few times – & forgave you two – so it's the least you can do for us – you noble people. Linda – if you don't care what I say – shut up! – let Paul write – or whatever.

When asked about what I thought originally concerning MBE, etc. – I told them as best as I can remember – and I do remember squirming a little – don't you, Paul? – or do you – as I suspect – still believe it all? I'll forgive Paul for encouraging the Beatles – if he forgives me for the same – for being – "honest with me and caring too much"! Fucking hell, Linda, you're not writing for Beatle book!!!

I'm not ashamed of the Beatles – (I did start it all) – but of some of the shit we took to make them so big – I thought we all felt that way in varying degrees – obviously not.

Do you really think most of today's art came about because of the Beatles? – I don't believe you're that insane – Paul – do you believe that? When you stop believing it you might wake up! Didn't we always say we were part of the movement – not all of it? – Of course, we changed the world – but try and follow it through – GET OFF YOUR GOLD DISC AND FLY!

Don't give me that Aunty Gin shit about "in five years I'll look back as a different person" – don't you see that's what's happening NOW! – If I only knew THEN what I know NOW – you seemed to have missed that point....

Excuse me if I use "Beatle Space" to talk about whatever I want – obviously if they keep asking Beatle questions – I'll answer them – and get as much John and Yoko Space as I can – they ask me about Paul and I answer – I know some of it gets personal – but whether you believe it or not I try and answer straight – and the bits they use are obviously the juicy bits – I don't resent your husband – I'm sorry for him. I know the Beatles are "quite nice people" – I'm one of them – they're also just as big bastards as anyone else – so get off your high horse! – by the way – we've had more intelligent interest in our new activities in one year than we had throughout the Beatle era.

Finally, about not telling anyone that I left the Beatles – PAUL and Klein both spent the day persuading me it was better not to say anything – asking me not to say anything because it would 'hurt the Beatles'– and 'let's just let it petre out' – remember? So get that into your petty little perversion of a mind, Mrs. McCartney – the cunts asked me to keep quiet about it. Of course, the money angle is important – to all of us – especially after all the petty shit that came from your insane family/in laws – and GOD HELP YOU OUT, PAUL – see you in two years – I reckon you'll be out then –

inspite of it all
love to you both,

from us two

P.S. about addressing your letter just to me – STILL....!!!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

You're a liar and a fraud

Despite having worked as an internationally-renowned stage magician for much of his life, it's for his clinical investigations of all things paranormal and pseudoscientific — most famously his exposé of a certain spoonbender, The Truth About Uri Geller — that James Randi is best known. His no-nonsense approach in such matters is illustrated in the following letter, written in June of 1999 to Rico Kolodzey, a man who applied to win Randi's One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge (the prize of which is offered "to anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event") on the strength of his supposed ability to survive without food; a claim which so frustrated Randi that even preliminary tests were refused.

Following some mild criticism years later, Randi agreed to test Kolodzey's claims in 2006. Negotiations broke down however, and said testing didn't take place.

Transcript follows. Image courtesy of Alternative Science.



Transcript
Mr. Kolodzey:

(This is a hard-copy of the e-mail response sent to you today.)

Please don't treat us like children. We only respond to responsible claims.

Are you actually claiming that you have not consumed any food products except water, since the end of 1998? If this is what you are saying, did you think for one moment that we would believe it?

If this is actually your claim, you're a liar and a fraud. We are not interested in pursuing this further, nor will we exchange correspondence with you on the matter.

Signed,

(Signed, 'James Randi')

James Randi
PRESIDENT

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

As soon as I stop speaking the pearls disappear

It was in 1963 that Diana Vreeland became the highly influential editor-in-chief of Vogue, having previously worked at Harper's Bazaar for 25 years first as a columnist and then fashion editor. Add to these achievements her "discovery" of both Lauren Bacall and Edie Sedgwick, plus her role as style-advisor to Jaqueline Kennedy whilst First Lady, and you have something of a legend in the world of fashion.

More importantly, she also spent her Vogue-era mornings dictating memos to her staff. From her bathroom. Below are just a few of the thousands she crafted mid-ablution, over a hundred of which were complied in issue #37 of Visionaire back in 2002. Although released as a limited edition nearly a decade ago, copies are available at Amazon as I type.

Apologies for the low quality of the scans, however transcripts can be found below.



Transcripts
From MRS. VREELAND
Date DECEMBER 6, 1966

RE: COVER SITUATION

Our cover situation is drastic...

I do not hear from anyone an idea or a suggestion of either a face or something that would be suitable...

We are on the verge of a drastic emergency.

-------------------------

From MRS. VREELAND
Date DECEMBER 9, 1966

RE: PEARLS

I am extremely disappointed to see that we have used practically no pearls at all in the past few issues. In fact, many necklines could have been helped by pearls worn inside the dress that show inside the cutaway sides and back of most ordinary dresses on top...

I speak of this very often -- and as soon as I stop speaking the pearls disappear.

Nothing gives the luxury of pearls. Please keep them in mind.

-------------------------

From MRS. VREELAND
Date JUNE 5, 1967

RE: FRECKLES

I am extremely disappointed that no one has taken the slightest interest in freckles on the models...

I heartily suggest that we get going as soon as possible on this delicious coquetery-- and that you experiment well before pictures are taken...as the only time we have tried doing this, the spots turned out to look like black moles instead of pale red freckles...

All these suggestions were in my telexes from Paris-- and I was hoping to see them throughout the next few issues...and it is high time we get on to this.

Please discuss with Carol Phillips' department the best stuff to use.

-------------------------

From MRS. VREELAND
Date SEPTEMBER 16, 1968

RE: SERPENTS

Don't forget the Serpent...

The serpent should be on every finger and all wrists and all everywhere...

The serpent is the motif of the hours in jewellery...

We cannot see enough of them...

-------------------------

From MRS. VREELAND
Date OCTOBER 24, 1968

RE: ELSA PERETTI

I have seen several pictures now - one of Avedon which you will see in November and one of Waldeck which you will see in the Arts Department -

This girl I know looks like another generation - her limbs and the way of using her body...

However she is a complete Plisetskaya in my opinion - I think you could do the greatest most fascinating fashion pictures of her...

No-one has fussed with her hair...

No-one has taken trouble with the girl because the photographers are still looking for babies and I have to add, none of them are finding any...

I think to show clothes this girl is superb, but no-one is fussed with her...

She has done her best and I believe - though of course I don't know - she has always felt unwanted and only used for clothes of a certain proportion...

She has a small bust which with a proper bra can be gotten around - and outside of that her body, legs, arms, wrist, and throat and brow are superb...

I suggest that she is refreshing and that you use her...

-------------------------

From MRS. VREELAND
Date Monday, 2 November, 70

RE: TONNE GOODMAN

I think Tonne has the makings of a good model - strength and ease in getting "off the ground."

Tonne has not learned how to smile or to use her eyes or to make herself extraordinary with her face.

This is something you must teach a model and then see to it that she carries it out!

Please do not fail with this girl - though she is not pretty - she pulls together perfect bones and proportion in an aristocrative manner.

See pictures?

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Please Help Me Win This Thing

Dear All,

I was informed earlier today that Letters of Note has been chosen as a nominee at the 15th Annual Webby Awards. This is instantly really great news but potentially — should the site win — stupendous, as these particular awards bring with them an enormous amount of publicity for the winners, which in turn would bring more people to the website, which in turn would increase the chances of previously unseen letters reaching my, and your, eyeballs. It's essentially a sure-fire way to bring more content to the blog.

Therefore, I would be supremely grateful if you could spare a couple of minutes to cast a vote over at the Webby Awards website. In order to vote you have to register, however it's nothing taxing and you can even use your Facebook or Twitter account to make the process even easier. The direct link for the category in which Letters of Note is competing (Blog - Cultural) can be found here. Just click, register, and vote!

(EDIT: It seems some people are having trouble with that direct link. Here is an alternative one.)

Thank you thank you thank you, and fingers crossed.

Shaun 

P.S. Best of luck (but not too much) to my fellow nominees. 

What great births you have witnessed!



In May of 1889, author Mark Twain wrote the following beautiful letter of congratulations to Walt Whitman, the indisputably influential poet behind, most notably, Leaves of Grass. The cause for celebration was Whitman's upcoming 70th birthday, the imminence of which saw Twain pen not just a birthday wish, but a stunning 4-page love letter to human endeavour, as seen during Whitman's lifetime.

An amazing read.

Transcript follows.

(Source: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library; Images: Walt Whitman & Mark Twain, via James Preller & Shorpy respectively.)









Transcript
Hartford, May 24/89

To Walt Whitman:

You have lived just the seventy years which are greatest in the world's history & richest in benefit & advancement to its peoples. These seventy years have done much more to widen the interval between man & the other animals than was accomplished by any five centuries which preceded them.

What great births you have witnessed! The steam press, the steamship, the steel ship, the railroad, the perfected cotton-gin, the telegraph, the phonograph, the photograph, photo-gravure, the electrotype, the gaslight, the electric light, the sewing machine, & the amazing, infinitely varied & innumerable products of coal tar, those latest & strangest marvels of a marvelous age. And you have seen even greater births than these; for you have seen the application of anesthesia to surgery-practice, whereby the ancient dominion of pain, which began with the first created life, came to an end in this earth forever; you have seen the slave set free, you have seen the monarchy banished from France, & reduced in England to a machine which makes an imposing show of diligence & attention to business, but isn't connected with the works. Yes, you have indeed seen much — but tarry yet a while, for the greatest is yet to come. Wait thirty years, & then look out over the earth! You shall see marvels upon marvels added to these whose nativity you have witnessed; & conspicuous above them you shall see their formidable Result — Man at almost his full stature at last! — & still growing, visibly growing while you look. In that day, who that hath a throne, or a gilded privilege not attainable by his neighbor, let him procure his slippers & get ready to dance, for there is going to be music. Abide, & see these things! Thirty of us who honor & love you, offer the opportunity. We have among us 600 years, good & sound, left in the bank of life. Take 30 of them — the richest birth-day gift ever offered to poet in this world — & sit down & wait. Wait till you see that great figure appear, & catch the far glint of the sun upon his banner; then you may depart satisfied, as knowing you have seen him for whom the earth was made, & that he will proclaim that human wheat is worth more than human tares, & proceed to organize human values on that basis.

Mark Twain

Monday, 11 April 2011

love, thom



Below are two letters, both sent by Thom Yorke to fans of Radiohead — the first handwritten in 1994, pre-Bends, and the second typewritten in 1996. At this point in their career, Radiohead were still on the lower rungs of the ladder in terms of success, as evidenced by the earlier letter — written in the studio as they recorded Nice Dream — in which Thom jokingly imagines their plectrums being displayed in "Rock Cafés around the world." The second letter is a brief but sweet note of advice to a girl named Melissa.

Transcripts follow.

(Sources: First submitted by Callum; second via Melissa; Image of Thom Yorke via.)


Image: Callum

Transcript
radiohead
p.o. box 322
oxford
OX4 1BL

23rd March 94

Dearest Rob.

Thanks for writing. Wow! Framing T-shirts. Next thing we know we'll have our plectrums framed in "Rock Café"s around the world! Or not.

I'm sitting in the control room of a studio in London. - 'RAK' where we're recording new stuff, for the album & so on. Phil is currently playing a wierd ride cymbal thing on Nice Dream. Jonny's in the corner drawing with an Apple Mac.

Hope you like the new stuff!

all love

thom


Image: Melissa

Transcript
thom yorke
w.a.s.t.e. correspondence,
p.o.box 322,
oxford,
ox4 1ey
20/5/96

melissa snyder
103 North St
[Redacted]
U.S.A.

dear melissa,

i hope you get your wish to leave your town and see the world. the worst feeling in the world is not thinking anybody else feels the same as you, but you'dbe surprised how many people to do. i hope you are feeling okay today

love

thom

Friday, 8 April 2011

Tell me, what is a "she-male?"

In this amusing note sent to the famous (but since closed) Gotham Book Mart in 2001, author John Updike thanks the manager, Andreas Brown, for his recently received copy of Field and Vision, but more importantly poses a couple of light-hearted questions relating to the packaging in which his order was wrapped.

Transcript follows. Image supplied very kindly by Marc Alan Di Martino.



Transcript
Feb. 26, 2001

Dear Andreas:

Thank you for the copy of Field of Vision. And for the wrapping from the Village Voice, the escort section. It showed me how out-of-date my vocabulary is becoming. Tell me, what is a "she-male" (they looked female to me, mostly) and what does "Outcalls Only" mean?

Or you don't have to tell me and let me guess.

Best,

(Signed 'John')

John Updike

Thursday, 7 April 2011

This "evil" was the greatest which can befall a man

When he wrote the following letter to George Eveleth in 1848, Edgar Allan Poe's wife, Virginia, had been dead for almost a year, having finally succumbed to tuberculosis after first contracting the disease in 1842. The latter part of this letter — the rest of which mainly concerns his ultimately unpublished journal, The Stylus — is a brief summary, in Poe's words, of his young wife's traumatic final years, and a heartbreaking glimpse at Poe's mental state during a period that saw him famously turn to alcohol in a bid to cope.

Poe passed away the next year.

Transcript follows. Images courtesy of the Harry Ransom Center's Edgar Allan Poe Collection at The University of Texas. Huge thanks to Alicia for her help.




Image: Harry Ransom Center's Edgar Allen Poe Collection at The University of Texas

Transcript
New York. Jan. 4, 1848.

My Dear Sir —

Your last, dated July 26, ends with—"Write will you not"? I have been living ever since in a constant state of intention to write, and finally concluded not to write at all until I could say something definite about The Stylus and other matters. You perceive that I now send you a Prospectus — but before I speak farther on this topic, let me succinctly reply to various points in your letter. 1. — "Hawthorne" is out — how do you like it? 2 — "The Rationale of Verse" was found to come down too heavily (as I forewarned you it did) upon some of poor Colton's personal friends in Frogpondium — the "pundits" you know; so I gave him "a song" for it & took it back. The song was "Ulalume a Ballad" published in the December number of the Am. Rev. I enclose it as copied by the Home Journal (Willis's paper) with the Editor's remarks — please let me know how you like "Ulalume". As for the "Rat. of Verse" I sold it to "Graham" at a round advance on Colton's price, and in Grahams hands it is still — but not to remain even there; for I mean to get it back, revise or rewrite it (since "Evangeline" has been published) and deliver it as a lecture when I go South & West on my Magazine expedition. 3 — I have been "so still" on account of preparation for the magazine campaign — also have been working at my book — nevertheless I have written some trifles not yet published — some which have been. 4 — My health is better — best. I have never been so well. 5 — I do not well see how I could have otherwise replied to English. You must know him, (English) before you can well estimate my reply. He is so thorough a "blatherskite" that to have replied to him with dignity would have been the extreme of the ludicrous. The only true plan — not to have replied to him at all — was precluded on account of the nature of some of his accusations — forgery for instance. To such charges, even from the Autocrat of all the Asses — a man is compelled to answer. There he had me. Answer him I must. But how? Believe me there exists no such dilemma as that in which a gentleman is placed when he is forced to reply to a blackguard. If he have any genius then is the time for its display. I confess to you that I rather like that reply of mine in a literary sense — and so do a great many of my friends. It fully answered its purpose beyond a doubt — would to Heaven every work of art did as much! You err in supposing me to have been "peevish" when I wrote the reply: — the peevishness was all "put on" as a part of my argument — of my plan: — so was the "indignation" with which I wound up. How could I be either peevish or indignant about a matter so well adapted to further my purposes? Were I able to afford so expensive a luxury as personal and especially as refutable abuse, I would willingly pay any man $2000 per annum, to hammer away at me all the year round. I suppose you know that I sued the Mirror & got a verdict. English eloped. 5 — The "common friend" referred to is Mrs Frances S. Osgood, the poetess. 6 — I agree with you only in part as regards Miss Fuller. She has some general but no particular critical powers. She belongs to a school of criticism — the Gothean, esthetic, eulogistic. The creed of this school is that, in criticizing an author you must imitate him, ape him, out-Herod Herod. She is grossly dishonest. She abuses Lowell, for example, (the best of our poets, perhaps) on account of a personal quarrel with him. She has omitted all mention of me for the same reason — although, a short time before the issue of her book, she praised me highly in the Tribune. I enclose you her criticism that you may judge for yourself. She praised "Witchcraft" because Mathews (who toadies her) wrote it. In a word, she is an ill-tempered and very inconsistent old maid — avoid her. 7 — Nothing was omitted in "Marie Roget" but what I omitted myself: — all that is mystification. The story was originally published in Snowden's "Lady's Companion". The "naval officer" who committed the murder (or rather the accidental death arising from an attempt at abortion) confessed it; and the whole matter is now well understood — but, for the sake of relatives, his is a topic on which I must not speak further. 8 —"The Gold Bug" was originally sent to Graham, but he not liking it, I got him to take some critical papers instead, and sent it to The Dollar Newspaper which had offered $100 for the best story. It obtained the premium and made a great noise. 9 — The "necessities" were pecuniary ones. I referred to a sneer at my poverty on the part of the Mirror. 10 — You say —"Can you hint to me what was the terrible evil" which caused the irregularities so profoundly lamented?" Yes; I can do more than hint. This "evil" was the greatest which can befall a man. Six years ago, a wife, whom I loved as no man ever loved before, ruptured a blood-vessel in singing. Her life was despaired of. I took leave of her forever & underwent all the agonies of her death. She recovered partially and I again hoped. At the end of a year the vessel broke again — I went through precisely the same scene. Again in about a year afterward. Then again — again — again & even once again at varying intervals. Each time I felt all the agonies of her death — and at each accession of the disorder I loved her more dearly & clung to her life with more desperate pertinacity. But I am constitutionally sensitive — nervous in a very unusual degree. I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity. During these fits of absolute unconsciousness I drank, God only knows how often or how much. As a matter of course, my enemies referred the insanity to the drink rather than the drink to the insanity. I had indeed, nearly abandoned all hope of a permanent cure when I found one in the death of my wife. This I can & do endure as becomes a man — it was the horrible never-ending oscillation between hope & despair which I could not longer have endured without the total loss of reason. In the death of what was my life, then, I receive a new but — oh God! how melancholy an existence.

And now, having replied to all your queries let me refer to The Stylus. I am resolved to be my own publisher. To be controlled is to be ruined. My ambition is great. If I succeed, I put myself (within 2 years) in possession of a fortune & infinitely more. My plan is to go through the South & West & endeavor to interest my friends so as to commence with a list of at least 500 subscribers. With this list I can take the matter into my own hands. There are some few of my friends who have sufficient confidence in me to advance their subscriptions — but at all events succeed I will. Can you or will you help me? I have room to say no more.

Truly Yours — E A Poe.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Finished with the War: A Soldier’s Declaration

In July of 1917, mid-World War I, following a period of convalescent leave during which he had decided to make a stand by not returning to duty, celebrated poet Siegfried Sassoon sent the following open letter to his commanding officer and refused to return to the trenches. The reaction was widespread, thanks in no small part to copies of the controversial letter — titled "Finished with the War: A Soldier’s Declaration" — reaching local newspapers, the House of Commons (where it was read out by Hastings Lees-Smith), and eventually the London Times.

Indeed, Sassoon didn't return to the war and only escaped a court-martial as a result of his being declared unfit for service and treated for shell-shock.

Transcript follows. Image courtesy of Wikimedia.


Image: Wikimedia

Transcript
Lt. Siegfried Sassoon.
3rd Batt: Royal Welsh Fusiliers.
July, 1917.

I am making this statement as an act of wilful defiance of military authority because I believe that the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it. I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers. I believe that the war upon which I entered as a war of defence and liberation has now become a war of agression and conquest. I believe that the purposes for which I and my fellow soldiers entered upon this war should have been so clearly stated as to have made it impossible to change them and that had this been done the objects which actuated us would now be attainable by negotiation.

I have seen and endured the sufferings of the troops and I can no longer be a party to prolonging these sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust. I am not protesting against the conduct of the war, but against the political errors and insincerities for which the fighting men are being sacrificed.

On behalf of those who are suffering now, I make this protest against the deception which is being practised upon them; also I believe it may help to destroy the callous complacency with which the majority of those at home regard the continuance of agonies which they do not share and which they have not enough imagination to realise.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Don’t disgust me, please

Writer Lafcadio Hearn was somewhat of a sensation in the early 1870s. Working for the Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, Hearn's graphic reports from crime scenes left very little to the imagination; his often surprising behaviour — "sticking his fingers into a dead man's brain (...) even drinking blood from abattoirs" — further strengthening his reputation as an eccentric, exciting journalist. Judging by the following shockingly vitriolic letter he wrote to Ellen Freeman — a wealthy older housewife who had unsuccessfully pursued him romantically for some time but with whom he politely corresponded for approximately a year — he also didn't hold back when critiquing photographs of his female admirers.

Unsurprisingly, Hearn and Freeman's friendship didn't last much longer.

Transcript follows. Image kindly provided by the Morgan Library & Museum; taken from Collection of letters between Lafcadio Hearn, Ellen Freeman, and Henry Watkin, undated (1875-1877). Gift of Ralph Walker, 1967.


Collection of letters between Lafcadio Hearn, Ellen Freeman, and Henry Watkin, undated (1875-1877). Gift of Ralph Walker, 1967. The Morgan Library & Museum.

Transcript
I do not like the picture at all,—in fact I cannot find words to express how much I dislike it.

—You were never physically attractive to me; you are neither graceful nor beautiful, and you evidently know nothing of the laws or properties of beauty. Otherwise you could not have sent me such a picture, as it could only disgust me.

Whatever liking I have had for you, it has never been of such a character that I could be otherwise than disgusted by such a picture as that. It is unutterably coarse and gross and beefy. It is simply unendurable.

Not that I object to low dresses — or even to an utter absence of dress, when the unveiling reveals attractions which the eye of the artist loves as something shapely and beautiful. I have an instinctive and cultivated knowledge of what physical beauty is, and anything in direct violation of my taste and knowledge—like your picture,—simply sickens me. I have studied every limb and line in the bodies of fifty young women, and more; and know what form is and beauty is. You must not think me a fool. You are a fine woman in regard to health and strength; you are not a handsome or even a tolerably good looking woman physically, and your picture is simply horrible, horrible, horrible.

This is plain speaking; but I think it is necessary for you. You cannot make yourself physically attractive to me. Don’t try. I am an artist, a connoisseur, a student of beauty, and it is very hard to please me. Don’t disgust me, please—

Yours truly,

L. Hearn.

Monday, 4 April 2011

I am only 6 but I think I can do this job


The Director of Fun's first day at work

In July of 2009, having heard that the director of the National Railway Museum in York, Andrew Scott, was soon to retire after 15 years at the helm, 6-year-old train enthusiast Sam Pointon sent the following letter to the museum in an attempt to fill Scott's shoes and land his dream job. Luckily for Sam, his endearing handwritten application, and attached photo, were soon talk of the office — so much so that he was quickly appointed as the museum's Director of Fun, a post he still holds to this day.

Said Sam soon after beginning at the museum:
"It is the best job in the world. I love it. It is good fun. My favourite is the steam engine, I like it when the wheels go round."
An image of the letter's first page is below, followed by a full transcript.

[UPDATE] As a result of the reaction to this letter, Andrew was interviewed by the museum. The video has been embedded after the transcript.



Transcript
26 July

Dear Mr. Tucker

Application for director

I am writing to apply to be the new Director of the National Railway Museum. I am only 6 but I think I can do this job.

I have an electrick train track. I am good on my train track. I can control 2 trains at once.

[PHOTO]

I have been on lots of trains including Eurostar and some trains in France. I have visited the museum before. I loved watching the trains go round on the turntable.

On the other side is a picture of me.

Hopefully I can come and meet you for an interview.

From

Sam Pointon

An interview with the Director of Fun:

Friday, 1 April 2011

Shame on you Mr. Beck

On September 1st of 2009, in a nod to a joke made by comedian Gilbert Gottfried in which he repeatedly asked the audience not to spread a previously non-existent rumour about Bob Saget, Isaac Eiland-Hall launched the satirical website GlennBeckRapedAndMurderedAYoungGirlIn1990.com; its aim being to parody pundit Glenn Beck's often controversial style of political commentary. A subsequent complaint by Beck about the much-visited website only made matters worse and, by November of that year, with the Streisand effect in full force and more people than ever aware of the website, the World Intellectual Property Organization ruled against Beck and his production company, Mercury Radio Arts, in the highly-publicised case Beck v. Eiland-Hall. According to the WIPO, the website could now remain online.

But it didn't.

To explain, below is the closing letter sent by Eiland-Hall to Beck, after said verdict was reached.

Transcript follows. Image courtesy of Wikimedia.


Image: Wikimedia

Transcript
ISAAC EILAND-HALL

Dear Mr. Beck,

As you are now aware, I have prevailed in the WIPO action that you filed against me. I write now to voluntarily relinquish the disputed domain to you, even though you did not win the case. My criticism of you has been amply made---in no small part, with your assistance in this case---and I have no desire to attempt to punish you personally beyond the levying the criticism itself.

It bears observing that by bringing the WIPO complaint, you took what was merely one small critique meme, in a sea of internet memes, and turned it into a super-meme. Then, in pressing forward (by not withdrawing the complaint and instead filing additional briefs), you turned the super-meme into an object lesson in First Amendment principles.

It also bears noting, in this matter and for the future, that you are entirely in control of whether or not you are the subject of this particular kind of criticism. I chose to criticize you using the well-tested method of satire because of its effectiveness. But, humor aside, your rhetorical style is no laughing matter. In this context of this WIPO case, you denigrated the letter of First Amendment law. In the context of your television show and your notoriety, you routinely and shamelessly denigrate the spirit of the First Amendment. The purpose of the expressive freedoms embodied in the First Amendment is not to simply permit the greatest possible scope of expression, but also, in so doing, to also strive for excellence on the conveyances of ideas. Rather than choosing to strive for excellence and civic contribution, you simply pander to the fears and insecurities of your audience. And in the process, you do them, and us all, a great deal of harm.

Shame on you Mr. Beck.

Now that this case is concluded, I want to demonstrate to you that I had my lawyer fight this battle only to help preserve the First Amendment. Now that it is safe, at least from you (for the time being), I have no more use for the actual scrap of digital real estate you sought. I will voluntarily transfer the domain name to you now. The username is [redacted] and the password is [redacted].

Sincerely,

(Signed, 'Isaac Eiland-Hall')