was sitting in my apartment some time in early
April, chomping away on potato chips with the
rest of the ducts staff, when one of our editors
raised her hand and asked if she could speak.
She started slowly, but soon gained momentum until
all of us were excited, cheered and dismayed all
at once (all except for Phil who had stepped away
to grab a Tab from my refrigerator). She said
she was amazed at how our simple essays and art
the personal stories that form the bread
and butter of ducts had impacted our cherished
readers so deeply. Many readers, she said, had
called personally to thank her. She told this
was walking down the street when a tall gentleman
stopped me. He looked a little like Abraham
Lincoln, except he was blonde and smiled a lot.
He said he recognized me as one of the editors
of his favorite magazine, The New Yorker.
I told him that I was, indeed, an editor of
that magazine. He said he loved our cartoons
and then he hugged me. We both cried and I bought
him a cup of coffee and some tuna.
our editor admitted that, in retrospect, this
entire story had been made up by her, that fact
did not diminish the impact it had on the rest
of us. We hugged each other while Phil slurped
his Tab noisily in the corner of the room and
wondered what hed missed.
am I sharing this story with all of you in such
a silly, pompous way?
ducts and its stories have, indeed, meant
a great deal to our readers. And while many of
our deeply felt personal essays and memoirs have
had a great impact we have letters from
you to prove it so have some of our sillier
pieces. We here at ducts central believe there
is room, indeed, for both the serious and the
absurd in the world and that, in fact, the two
styles should overlap, and as often as possible.
The current political climate, in fact, could
almost be a parody of itself if it werent
we open ducts up to both the absurd and the real,
the funny and the chilling. And when those are
the same, all the better. ducts, as always, is
about blurring lines. We want to point out the
irrationality of much of what passes as thinking
in the world. We want to shout, "Hey, stop
that! Wake up and do some REAL thinking!"
Or as Phil would say, "Damn, youre
so bombastic. Pass me the Tab."
issue brings many funny, intently serious, chilling
and ridiculous stories into your cozy living room.
Visit Thailand for both the bizarre and the sublime:
trek over with the Naked Man and see some horrific
boxing matches; relax with columnist Ben Malcolm
who has made that country his adopted home. Memoirists
Ellen Schecter and Helen Zelon bring humor to
very serious topics: a sudden attack on the nervous
system; the devastation felt in a neighborhood
after the attack of September 11th. Both stories
are harrowing and life-affirming. Get the "Baby
Blues" with Prudence Wright Holmes in
our Personal Essays duct (and LISTEN to Prudence
in our newly revamped ducts Stage!). Find
out how Enron and the Yankees are more similar
than you ever knew in Gideon Evans "Explaining
Enron as a Sports Metaphor," in our Humor
Section. Find out how Davy Crockett formed the
60s counter-culture in Ross Klavans
"Davy, Davy Crockett, King of the Far
Out, Groovy, Wild Frontier" in our Reviews
section. Hes deadly serious. Or is he? Visit
our rapidly growing kids duct: children have a
way of mixing the serious and the surreal in ways
adults have forgotten.
of this is only the beginning. There is MUCH more
wonderful art, criticism, fiction and personal
writing in this summer issue. So we invite you
to laugh, cry, wet your pants and wipe your eyes
with our amazing collection of writers, artists
and cranks. We hope youll enjoy their personal
stories absurdly serious, like life
as much as we do.
like to extend my thanks to everyone on the ducts
staff: our dedicated editors Charles Salzberg,
Laura Buchholz, Philip Shane, Ryan Van Winkle
and Stephanie Hart; Jennifer Pelley, our inspired
and inspiring illustrator; Anna Kim, our super
sharp lawyer; and Anne Mironchik, our treasurer.
We also thank designer Jonathan Toubin for putting
together another amazing issue without pulling
out all of his hair (his girlfriend thanks him,
us with your comments.