I have convinced Jack Fowler to keep running that pop-up with my baby-faced mug indefinitely. In fact, thanks to the wonder-working power of the Google machine, we’ve captured enough of your personal information that this image will now “digitally stalk” you, theoretically forever — or until Google finally reveals that its real name is the Sheinhardt Wig Company and that Sheinhardt is derived from the German for “Skynet.” You will receive this news at your duly assigned work camp (I’m hoping to get a job herding Naugas for Industrial Naugahyde Factory #7).
I understand that most of you are excited by this prospect — who among us doesn’t relish the thought of my visage materializing whenever you check the weather or last night’s sports scores?
Okay, I’ll be serious. That decapitated image makes me feel unsafe. I do not like it. I daresay I like it less than you do. When I asked NR publisher Jack Fowler if we could take it down, he drummed his fingers on the head of his summer intern, took a drag from his cigarette, and laughed long and hard. When I told him I was serious, he took the bowl of his opium pipe and tapped it roughly against the intern’s glass eye. “Best intern I ever had,” Fowler gamely told me as he loaded the pipe.
“Well, Goldberg, I don’t know. We move subscriptions with your [coprophagic] smirk and, besides, I traded 50,000 left-footed rubber shower shoes for a few cases of your book. I got to be made whole.”
We talked for a while longer. Fowler told me how he watched a snail crawl along the spine of a Blackford Oakes novel. “That’s my dream; that’s my nightmare. Crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight razor . . . and surviving,” he told me. I nodded as if I understood what he meant.
Finally, with an audible sigh that made the intern flinch, Fowler said, “Okay, I’ll make you a deal . . . ”
Those last words hung in the air like wet smoke. With his one, good, all-too-watery eye, the beleaguered intern looked at me with a trepidation that told me he’d heard Fowler say “I’ll make you a deal” before.
“We’ve got one of these ‘begathons’ coming up. If we raise enough money, I’ll take down the pop-ups with your mug. I can unload the rest of your books as weatherization insulation at the old-age home (thank you Obama stimulus!).
“But, if we don’t hit the target, all bets are off. Not only will I keep that pop-up for the foreseeable future, but I’ll switch out pictures of your face for, well, for pictures you’d be even less happy to have out there. You get me?”
I kissed his enormous pinky ring as is NR custom and said, “Thank you, sir.”
So now it’s up to you. You can make those stupid pop-ups go away if you help us out. Not only will you save everybody from some unpleasantness. You’ll help keep afloat a magazine you rely on for breaking news, brilliant commentary, penetrating insights, and illuminating analysis — and let’s not leave out the stuff I do.
As always, we need your help. I’d say we’re relying on the kindness of strangers, but you’re not strangers to us. You’re family.