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Posts published in “Letters”

A Letter to Hunter College on the Recent Decision They Made Regarding My Suitability for their Program.

Dear Hunter,


I am disappointed. This is not a very fun way to start my Monday. I thought I wrote a pretty fucking good piece for you guys. Much better than last year’s certainly. Was it the F for the English class on my NYU transcript? Was it all the cursing in my piece? Was it that I’m just so super stylish and great that you thought I would overwhelm the rest of the students? Probably not. Whatever arcane magic went into your decision making process, I am not mad. Disappointed? Yes. Saddened? A little. Curious? Totally. I also understand that you only take six students a year and that the selection process is a difficult one. I guess I lost this little wager.

Luckily, I have a career I like and things to look forward to. And, shit, I can and will keep writing.

All in all, Hunter College, I understand. Personally, I think you made the wrong choice, but what are you going to do? We’ll see how I feel about applying a third time in the coming autumn.


Joe Dillingham
The Black Laser

A letter to Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale.

Dear Sierra Nevada Bigfoot,

Why? I remember the first time I drank you. It was at Deegan’s house in Portola Valley. His parents were gone and we were maybe Seniors in high school. We’d been drinking Red Tails and then he decided to bust you out. I took only a few sips before I called it quits and decided that it was no longer worth my time to force you down.

And then age happened. And I discovered what beer could be beyond the stale, miserable experiences I’d had as a youth. I learned there was more to the world that Coors Light and Hamm’s Gold and Natty Ice. I learned that beer was an art, an experience to be had, not just the easiest way to get drunk without poisoning myself on hard liquor.

Oh, Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, you are one of my favorite seasonal brews. I thank God every day that I can find you on the East Coast. Sure, you’re no Six Point Righteous Rye, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a place in my heart. You do. I love you.

As I sit here tonight, on my second bottle, I am reminded that I’ve been given a gift. And that gift is strong beer. When everything around me is crumbling and horrible, I always know that somewhere, somehow, someone is making beer that will lift me out of the darkness and make everything all right.

So, Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale, I salute you.


The Black Laser.

A letter to my In-Ear Sennheiser Headphones regarding the strange sensation they give me that is akin to wearing a stethoscope

Dear In-Ear Sennheiser Headphones,

I purchased you earlier this year when I purchased my first iPod. I purchased the iPod because it became clear to me that I was about to lose my job which meant that my music library residing on my work computer would soon be a thing of the past. I like to have music with me when I work and the iPod has been invaluable to me as a freelancer since I can have my tunes with me no matter where I am.

Dissatisfied with the ear buds that ship with the iPod, I purchased a pair of in-ear headphones because I wanted something light to carry with me. I already own a pair of over-ear studio monitors of excellent quality, but they are bulky and take up too much room in my bag for me to carry around with ease. So I looked to you, little headphones, to help me solve my problem. And for the most part, you did.

You wonder then why it is I almost never use you? Why I still carry around the bulky over-ear headphones? Well, it’s not because of your sound quality. No, though not as good as my Sonys, you have quite decent sound for such little headphones. Impressive, really. And it’s not because I find you uncomfortable like those miserable iPod earbuds. Indeed, you are rather soft and fit quite nicely into my ear.

No. The reason I almost never use you is that you do such a good job blocking out sound, that when you are in my ears all I can hear is my breathing and heart beat. I find it a little unsettling and a lot like having a very comfortable stethoscope on that is pointed directly at my sinuses. Every intake of breathe reverberates through my ears when you’re in. Every sniffle, every wheezing cough, every swallow. It’s intolerable. If I wanted to have my head inside a jar, I would wear a jar on my head.

So little headphones, please don’t be upset. I just wanted you to know that it was an unforeseen aspect of your nature that causes you to sit in the drawer at home and not anything you did or didn’t do.


The Black Laser.

A letter to the MTA regarding an unfortunate situation in the downtown 23rd Street F/V station.

Dear Metropolitan Transit Authority,

I understand that you are currently very busy in Albany trying to fleece New Yorkers for every last nickel and dime in our pockets while cutting service and overall making our lives hell. This is an admirable goal and one of which I am fond. Lining your own pockets through graft and corruption at the expense of hard working people in and around New York City should be your number one concern. Assuming that New York could ever have a public transportation system that was both useful and efficient is far too much. Surely that Herculean task can only be accomplished in such fantastical countries as Germany, France, and Japan. For this you are forgiven.

My specific complaint is regarding a lingering odor in the downtown 23rd St station for the F and V trains. If you walk through the turnstiles and make a right, about 1/3 of the way to the end there is a 15 foot stretch along the tracks where air comes down from the street that smells like shit. And I don’t mean that it just smells bad. It does that, but what I mean is that it actually smells like fucking shit. (Note, I am not referring to the scent raised by copulating with feces, rather I use the word fucking in its pejorative sense to express the intensity of my negative feelings about the smell.) Sometimes the odor resembles horse shit, while at others it’s more reminiscent of toxic human shit. Regardless of its current parfum du jour, it’s quite unpleasant. I do understand that this city is filled with surprising pockets of wretched stench sometimes so overbearing as to cause my eyes to water, but to have to endure the stomach churning stink of excrement every day in the subway after work on my way home is just plain unbearable.

Please rectify this situation.

Sincerely, a distraught rider,

Joe Dillingham.

PS – I don’t forgive you.