Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?
I know I said that the newsletter wasn't going to come this week because I was changing widgets in the flux capacitor or something, but it turns out that switching email servers didn't take as long as anticipated so here we are. Welcome to the newsletter, same as the oldsletter! Anyway, it's a fairly busy day around here but I do have a couple of things about which I must speak with you at once.
We had drive-in church this morning for Easter--it's really quite impressive what David puts together. Normally I run Zoom/Facebook Live component of church from my laptop, so at drive-in church I thread a bunch of wires through the windows of my car and work from there. I always feels like I'm on a stakeout, sitting in a van around the corner, whispering directions to the lead detective and/or head criminal. It depends! In this scenario I'm the tech wizard, which you'd all know is terrible casting if you saw how much trouble I had performing simple computer tasks as I tried to switch this newsletter around. I mean, I will accept the job because I am a professional but I must remind everyone that I auditioned for the part of eccentric diva. So.).
Yesterday, I swung by my parents house because my mother had Easter candy for me, as usual. As I said in Here for It, we never had chocolate bunnies, but we always had chocolate crosses and I believe that, in terms of volume, the cross beats the bunny. I suppose this is also true from a theological perspective, but don't quote me on that. I'm just the guy in the van. I'm not even the getaway driver.
As soon as I saw the cross, however, I felt a deep disturbance in my spirit. The cross, the big, 8.5x11 chocolate cross that I have been receiving nestled in a bed of plastic grass from birth has shrunken. I yelped in horror. My mother nodded her head gravelly: "They shrank our cross."
Here I'll show you. This is what we're dealing with around here.
I've displayed the cross next to a Krackel, which famously only comes in miniature, to underscore the massive candy injustice that is happening all around me. It has become clear to me that neither Russell Stover nor Milton Hershey have read my book and now they are escalating the conflict between us. What am I supposed to do with this OUNCE AND A HALF OF CHOCOLATE? On the day that Jesus "no called, no showed" at the tomb?! (The tomb manager is leaving Jesus a very terse voicemail like "Heyyyyy JC, it's Frank. We were expecting you at the tomb todayyyy. Ummm. You were supposed to open. They rolled the stone away and, like, no one was there. Did you get someone to cover your shift orrrrrr? Uhhh. I guess just let me know if you're coming in. Thanks!")
Honestly, this small cross is enough to turn me into a Fox News commentator. Showing up on T*cker C*rslon looking ashy like "YES there IS a war on Christ in the United States, specifically coming from the heathen candy industry. Let's give this country back to God and by that I mean give the big chocolate cross back to me, as a friend of God's."
Pictured below: me sitting outside Mr. Russell Stover's office tomorrow morning. BRIGHT AND EARLY.
I'm just saying, this teeny weeny chocolate cross is obstructing my religious practices and I am being discriminated against. This is cancel culture. They specifically cancelled about 4 ounce of chocolate and I'm not going to stand for it. This is my villain origin story.
In conclusion, Big Chocolate will have to answer before the Lord concerning me on Judgement Day! I believe that my feelings about this whole imbroglio can best be captured by an actual slide from the lyrics PowerPoint for this morning's service.
The Big Four No
There is a rumor going around that at some point in the 72 hours I am turning 40 and I would like to address here: no. Normally, I wouldn't address such spurious gossip but I received the following text from one of my brothers a few weeks ago and I just want to get in front of this scandal before it spreads. Honestly, I think that Milton Hershey is behind this and I will prove it.
Usually I'm a real nightmare about my birthday. (I say usually like this text exchange shows any evidence of growth.) I never feel like celebrating it. It's not an old thing; it's honestly just that I am deeply annoying. Also, it's clear that a lot of my 20s and somewhat into my 30s was my flop era, so what was there really to celebrate?
BUT, I'm out of that era! I've become much more interested in ritual, in celebration, in chocolate religious icons of a normal size. And two years ago I got really excited about this coming birthday. I had a very elaborate plan for a party that I was going to throw where everyone had to come in a mundane costume from the Japanese "sober Halloween" tradition where you come up with the most specific, normcore scenarios and dress like them. Some of the best I've seen are "person who does not know their phone flashlight is on", "someone who spilled coffee on themselves", and "person going to the breakfast buffet at a hotel". Ridiculous. Every costume comes with a name tag because they're all so unexceptional and inscrutable. Inscrutability and eccentricity are my two core values. They fight to the death in my soul every night.
I was very excited about this party. It feels like it's impossible for one's expectations to be too high and also too low with this weird theme. That's all I want in a social gathering: being completely underwhelmed by being overwhelmed. (Is it exhausting to be me? Absolutely. But it's good cardio.) In June, when we started buying this house I even held on to a tiny hope that by the time April 2021 rolled around it would be safe to have people over to our yard in their normcore best.
But, since that's not the possible, I will be withholding my birthday until such time as it is safe to turn a year older. Please update your records. This isn't a protest (I'm saving that for those sweetened cocoa scourges!). It's like when your student loan defers the interest. I am deferring my own interest in the tyranny of reality.
Years ago, I decided to that the ritual I wanted to herald in a new era was a confusingly specific, exceptionally unexceptional celebration. Nothing says "leaving the flop era" like an invitation with a paragraph of instructions and three hyperlinks for reference. I'm sticking to it. Bring on the era of peak mundanity!
Here's a Romare Bearden piece called The Prevalence of Ritual. I've been thinking about it a lot.
I watched the first episode of Law & Order: Organized Crime this week and, honey, that show is HIGH CAMP. But I don't know if the show knows it is camp. I have no choice but to investigate. Look out for that breakdown in your inboxes later this week, probably Friday.
This newsletter is now running on Ghost.io and I'm pretty happy with it. All of the archives got moved over, but the old comments couldn't be, unfortunately. If you run into any issues with the emails or the site, just let me know. (Also Delia Cai interviewed Ann Friedman about the backend of her newsletter and the thought process and procedure is just as amazing as Ann's newsletter. Highly recommend if you do a mailing that's too big for TinyLetter).
Random Thing on the Internet
I'm obsessed with this video from The Dick Cavett Show where Paul Simon explains how he wrote "Bridge Over Troubled Water." The explanation starts at the five minute mark. At one point he talks about getting stuck and Dick Cavett says "what made you stuck?" And Paul Simon says "Well, everywhere I went led me where I didn't want to be. So I was stuck." Tea!
This is my villain origin story,