05 January 2011


Dear Open Letter editor at McSweeney’s Online,

Thank you for taking the time to read my recent submission, AN OPEN LETTER TO SOME OF MY FORMER STUDENTS, written on a whim after a less-than-inspiring day in the classroom. No, there were no riots and I didn't have to disarm a rogue gunmen. For me, it was just another day--rapping about theropod evolution and why John Boehner is the devil.

Since I usually don’t have content for my blog, I posted the letter and shared it on Facebook. Some people left inspirational comments even though that really wasn’t my intent--I wasn't fishing for attention or anything. Maybe they were just being nice or looking for something to keep them out of Farmville. And next morning the letter kind of went away like a Shamrock Shake in April.

A few days later I got a tweet with a link to McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: OPEN LETTERS TO PEOPLE OR ENTITIES WHO ARE UNLIKELY TO RESPOND and thought, 'I didn't know such a thing existed,' and ‘Heck, I have an open letter’ and decided to send it in like I would any other submission. Then I patted myself on the back and celebrated with a few PBRs while shopping for artisanal jeans online.

Since submitting that letter--and receiving its subsequent rejection--I’ve taken the time to peruse the open letters that McSweeney’s has published and quickly noticed several differences between those letters and my rejected letter. Now I see, albeit a little too late (and much to my own embarrassment,) why my letter was rejected.

First and foremost, my open letter lacked any references to The Shins, Seven Jeans, fixies or any other culture tag that would let readers know I’m a devout follower of Stuff White People Like without having to show them my ironic Goonies tattoo. I now know that culture tags like these let people see the difference between serious subject matter and an ironic one. Since my open letter was about education, I could’ve referenced Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, or Dangerous Minds, which would’ve let me make a funny Coolio aside.

In my letter I also failed to make any obvious nods to pumpkin spice lattes or Big Macs or any other consumerist icon that hipsters openly hate but secretly purchase. In an H&M dressing room I overheard a rumor that there’s an online list of things that are universally loathed by hipsters that’s updated pretty regularly, but nobody will send me a link. I'll just have to use my best judgement and hope I get a few right. And I'll also bring up Wilco, and how I went to see them in Pittsburgh back in April to establish my cred, and how going to a Wilco show is superior to going to a Dave Matthews Band show, unless it's to mock them in some way. If anybody questions Wilco's legitimacy, I'll just mention Nels Cline effects rack and they'll be like, Yeah, you're right."

If I do ever get the courage to submit again, I plan on writing several tangential observations about drunken Dollar Store purchases and microbrews, and using lots of italics à-la your unofficial style guide. And before I forget--you thought I’d forgotten to interact with the reader, right?

Speaking of non sequiturs, I have to name-drop my boy, Carnegie. He plays dobro in a string band that gigs at the bowling alley up in Brentwood where they have the duckpins on Thursdays.

To be honest, I really just want to get into McSweeney’s so I can call myself a real writer, and this is the easiest way I know how. Maybe you can give me Dave Eggers email address?


Jason Jack Miller

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