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Editor's Note
Jonathan Kravetz


I 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 story:

I 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.

Although 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 he’d missed.

Why am I sharing this story with all of you in such a silly, pompous way?

Because 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 weren’t so frightening.

So 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, you’re so bombastic. Pass me the Tab."

This 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 ‘60’s counter-culture in Ross Klavan’s "Davy, Davy Crockett, King of the Far Out, Groovy, Wild Frontier" in our Reviews section. He’s 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.

All 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 you’ll enjoy their personal stories – absurdly serious, like life – as much as we do.


I’d 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, too).

Jonathan Kravetz, Editor

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