Booking David Sedaris, Expecting Covid Sedaris, Getting Different Sedaris
Also helpful bees, versatile Sleestaks, and writing without words
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David Sedaris is different on Depresh Mode than I expected
I really expected covid to be the main story in this interview. But it wasn’t.
Producer Gabe had set up a studio in Manhattan in which to record the interview with David Sedaris. David’s a little low-tech, it seems, so recording at his apartment would be tenuous. But then we got word two days before the interview that David had tested positive for covid so it would have to be done at his place after all, with a hopefully-well-masked assistant setting up her own laptop and mic to record him.
Much of David’s latest book, Happy-Go-Lucky, is about the isolation he experienced when the pandemic hit and multiple lengthy speaking tours became impossible. And now, just as the new book is coming out and with tons more speaking dates booked, he gets covid.
I even had a headline for the show: Covid Sedaris.
But nope. His symptoms were very mild, almost unnoticeable, and he had nothing booked for the next couple of weeks anyway. Not to worry, though. We had plenty to talk about anyway, including what it feels like to me is what the book is mostly about, which is how we carry painful memories about a loved one after that loved one is gone.
David lost his father in 2021 and writes “As long as my father had power, he used it to hurt me.” The cantankerous dad that David had written about for so long was no mere grump, he was physically and emotionally abusive. David explains in the book and in my interview that Lou Sedaris simply didn’t like David and would cut him down all over the place. When David was the commencement speaker at Princeton, his father used the occasion to tell the university president that she should have booked Amy Sedaris instead because she’s a lot funnier.
David’s sister Tiffany died by suicide in 2013 and we talk about that in the interview too. What I hadn’t known is that before she died, Tiffany accused their father and David of unspecified sexual assault. Now that she’s gone, it isn’t so much the accusation that bothers David - he says he certainly doesn’t remember anything like that from his side - but that he’ll never know exactly what she was talking about. It’s lost forever.
There’s always been an edge to David’s writing, a note of anger, an acknowledgment of pain, but it’s more on display now than ever before. And he says as much, that these are the stories that he felt like he couldn’t tell until now.
But there are laughs. Really! I asked him if he goes to therapy with this pain. He says, “I guess I always broke the world into two categories: people who pay someone to listen to their problems and people who get paid for telling the world their problems. And I always fell into the second category.”
Gratuitous funny Amy Sedaris interview shoved in here because of the last name Sedaris:
Being swarmed by bees is good for your mental health
Apparently on a Greek island, patients are having a mental health benefit working in apiaries. That’s what bee… farms?… are called. Apiaries.
The cooperative "aims to socially and professionally integrate persons with psychosocial problems", project manager and occupational therapist Andreas Georgiou said. "Through the programme [...] they acquire self-respect and self-esteem."
On the fields of the estate, patients care for the bees and cultivate their high-quality diet -- lavender, oregano and other aromatic herbs.
Here’s Nicolas Cage enjoying a mental health benefit:
Facebook, Instagram parent company sued eight times over mental health damage
Meta is facing eight lawsuits. The claim is that the company had research that made it clear their social networks were harmful, especially to girls, but they continued with the same harmful approaches anyway. They knew their stuff hurt people, kept going.
"The defendants knew that their products and related services were dangerous to young and impressionable children and teens, yet they completely disregarded their own information,” said Beasley Allen attorney Andy Birchfield in the statement. "They implemented sophisticated algorithms designed to encourage frequent access to the platforms and prolonged exposure to harmful content."
Birchfield went on to say that the people behind these platforms made a decision to "aggressively addict adolescents in the name of corporate profits," rather than design them to minimize harm. It's time for Meta to address these growing concerns, he said.
Got anything better than Meta, country of Iceland?
What your writing looks like without words
Clive Thompson created a tool that lets you see only your punctuation.
It’s based on other word-stripped texts he’s seen.
This image below? On the left, it’s Calhoun’s analysis of Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy, compared to Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner, on the right …
So he made a tool that everyone can use called just the punctuation.
I looked at my own and confirmed something I already knew: Papa Loves Commas.
Sleetstak Exposure therapy
When I was a kid, there was a tv show called Land of the Lost. You may remember it or be familiar with it. Father and two kids go over a waterfall and end up in prehistoric times, dinosaurs, historically impossible humanoid ape guys. And Sleestaks! Humanoid lizard people that were the scariest of all. They never seemed to do much, just walked around very slowly and hissed, but they scared the hell out of boy me.
Now I see them as kind of fun. Just wandering lizard guys. And now, I’m a fan of artificial intelligence bots that try to do their best to be humans and fall short.
The Dall-E Mini engine lets anyone put in terms and receive AI-generated art.
So I did some processing.
I don’t know what the guy bottom-row center is all about but maybe Robert Smith of The Cure was on Land of the Lost and I just don’t remember.