A Place in Hell: People Who Hold the Door Open for You When You’re Thirty Yards Away From It

I’m talking about those supposedly upright citizens who impose upon unwitting fellow citizens the duty of jogging to a door being held open from a distance or more than two normal strides. These passive-aggressive door-holding misanthropes usually perform this unsolicited bit of courtesy with a closed-mouth half-smile/half grimace, subtly exasperated at your indolence in reaching the door. Invariably, white headphones fill their ears, rendering them deaf to the forced gratitude which the door-holding elicits.[1] And for that person leisurely approaching an entrance, upon seeing a door being held open, he/she must then accommodate the door-holder by doing a pantomime of a jogger, which consists of awkwardly bobbing your torso and arms without actually walking any faster. Frequently if I see a door being held open for me at an uncomfortable distance, I’ll fake that I just got a text or call, diverting me from my presumed path, and forcing me to linger outside until the door-holder gives up and slinks away. In those situations I consider myself the winner of that little unspoken social contest. I choose not to analyze what it says about me that I see in an innocuous gesture a highly charged battle between two feuding citizens.

In fact the whole convention of holding doors open as a courtesy ought to be scrapped regardless of distance considerations. I much prefer opening the door on my own schedule and resent being beholden to the door-holder, and I am also convinced that society would generally be more efficient if this “courtesy” ceased, with positive implications on our GDP.

[1] On a somewhat unrelated note, now that every well-adjusted pedestrian puts on headphones immediately upon entering a public space, what is everyone listening to that I don’t know about? Seriously. And this question comes from a person who listens to music and podcasts at a healthy clip. Do people like music that much more than me? I feel like other commuters see me as some kind of social deviant when I ride the train to and from school without anything in my ears.

- Gorman Dupee

Gorman Dupee Curates the Internet – Feb. 22 – Mar. 2, 2012

“The Forgetting Pill Erases Painful Memories Forever” by Jonah Lehrer in Wired Magazine: Lehrer profiles the emerging neuro-scientific concept of reverse-engineering certain traumatic memories in order to relearn them, perhaps in the process de-fanging them of their trauma. At first Lehrer’s account of the relevant studies conjures up a sinister Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind-like procedure, but the article is, to my mind, relatively heartening in regard to the potential curative effects on psychiatric illnesses like PTSD and anxiety disorders. Lehrer is always an interesting writer and his blog, “The Frontal Cortex,” is worth checking out. http://www.wired.com/magazine/2012/02/ff_forgettingpill/all/1.

“The Lively Morgue”: The New York Times has digitized its photo archive and uploaded it onto a Tumblr page.  It’s awesome. http://livelymorgue.tumblr.com/.

John Roderick on Twitter: Roderick, lead singer of the awesome-though-long dormant Long Winters, recently described his fellow passengers on a flight from Seattle to Los Angeles in real-time, an idea worthy of its own Twitter account. A brief sampling: “I’m glad old guys in golf shirts have fully embraced hands-free cell phones. I wasn’t overhearing enough dull-witted business jargon before” and “Here’s pressed-flannel-tucked-into-jeans-guy, with his old REI jacket and America’s Cup baseball cap. He’s definitely climbed Rainier.” https://twitter.com/#!/johnroderick.

Ta-Nehisi Coates at the The Atlantic.com: Coates writes on a diverse range of topics: the Civil War, the NBA, hip-hop, politics, and his writing is always eloquent. Coates’ thoughtfulness is a welcome antidote to the typical online invective and bile. His take on the legacy of Andrew Breitbart is a good example of what I’m talking about. http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/03/on-making-yourself-right/253889/.

An interesting manifesto profiling some cool, creative people who carved out little niches for themselves by Jesse Thorn, who I actually don’t know much about but I gather is a fairly prominent public radio host. I especially liked the part about Andrew W.K. What an awesome guy. http://transom.org/?p=24153.

- Gorman Dupee

“I refuse to have an opinion in regard to the Tennessee Titans’ third wide receiver. I refuse.” – Gorman Dupee on the State of Sports

My love of the National Basketball Association is firmly rooted in personal pettiness and antagonism. I came of age when the NBA was in its 90s ascendancy and I never weaned myself away from the low lights of the subsequent decade: the Marcus Fizers, the Corey Benjamins, the Darius Miles’ (especially the Darius Miles’). The NBA of the 2000s was a decade of bloated entourages, conspicuous bling, and videogame consoles embedded into the headrests of 8 mpg Hummers. American troops crossed into Kuwait from Iraq, houses were flipped in inland California, and Allen Iverson had a personal hair-braider.

And at some point my demographic (white, college-educated, conversant in both A.M.-era and A Ghost is Born-era Wilco) developed a hostility to the NBA that’s only recently begun to abate (around the time players began wearing backpacks to press conferences). Of course I’d love nothing more than to reflexively label my circle of friends as racist. So, I will: they are all racist, especially around the NCAA tournament when the “scrappy” and “hardworking” student-athletes from, say, Cornell – those beautiful gestating investment bankers – are lauded for playing basketball “the right way”. That means no dunking, no sweating, and being as close to a lacrosse team as a basketball team can get. But dog-whistling aside, the racism charge doesn’t make complete sense in the context of the NBA. Instead, I turn my ire to that new American religion—the National Football League.

I like football just fine, but the NFL is a runaway train of 7-9 mediocrity; monotonous parity facilitated by corporatism at its worst. In what other sport are the team owners featured more prominently? And coaches are prohibited from wearing suits!? A monstrosity.

Over the last decade football players have become so intertwined with Yahoo fantasy accounts as to render them mere algorithms for all those upwardly mobile 28 year olds with multiple dogs and granite countertops. All of a sudden, for those choice seventeen Sundays, if you’re not spending your entire afternoon at some middling bar, eating your weight in buffalo chicken abnormalities, you’re liable to be put on a no-fly list. I refuse to have an opinion in regard to the Tennessee Titans’ third wide receiver. I refuse.


And don’t look now, but the NHL is officially trendy, which shouldn’t surprise anyone considering that Bon Iver, a leading figure in the genre of Rumpled Modesty, recently won a Grammy. Those beards! Those inscrutable Swedish letters (ö)! Somewhere there is a doctoral student doing his Ph.D. on the correlation between the rise of the North Woods aesthetic, with its faux blue collar-ism, and the loss of American manufacturing to overseas.

The NFL and NHL (to a lesser degree) revel in their athletes’ anonymity. Bill Belichick, by all accounts a sociopath of the highest order, is emblematic of that league’s ethos: dour and prickly, unerringly boring. Whatever else you want to say about it, the NBA manages to celebrate its personalities, to exalt the individual. The players are not cogs in a larger machine—they are the machine. What could be more Protestant or more American than these striving individuals, bootstraps and all? And that’s why the NBA still does more to shape popular culture than the other professional sports leagues combined. Show me a Birdman, and I’ll show you an American flag unfurling.

- Gorman Dupee