June 2, 2017
I offer you: three things to feel good about
by Ian Dreiblatt
The news is all bad.
I have nothing to say about the news.
There are many smart people on the internet writing about the news. I recommend reading what those smart people are writing. It is likely good, I think, to know something about the news, which is all bad.
But wait — what if not all the news is bad? What if I told you I’d scoured the four corners of the earth for three pieces of good news, three non-middle-finger-to-all-of-futurity developments taking place in the human world? Would you be interested in that?
You would? Great.
Here’s something. Check out this Heloise Wood piece, summarizing a recent survey performed by a UK-based charity called the National Literacy Trust. They found that reading is the most popular it’s ever been among British primary school students — more than three quarters say they enjoy it. The issues this study raises—about preserving literacy and fostering engagement with written culture—are serious fucking business! And it absolutely counts as good news that, in a country of sixty-five million people, books are trending among the childfolk. You can read the whole study here.
Ready for number two? Kablam: check out Bianca Britton’s recent story at CNN, about apparently the sweetest guy in the world, who runs a twenty-four-hour, pay-what-you-wish bookstore in Amman, getting his business saved by support from the community. (I feel like this was the plot of half the movies I watched as a kid.) Thirty-six-year-old Hamzeh Al-Maaytah is a fourth-generation bookseller, scion of an eminent bookselling family that had been active in Jerusalem, Karak, Hebron, and Nablus, before settling in the Jordanian capital. Last year, he branched off to create his own store, Al-Maa (“water”).
But Al-Maaytah doesn’t seem to be very good at making money. “I scrapped the idea of (dealing with) books as a commercial enterprise because the issue is bigger than that,” he told Britton. “My idea is to make books available to everyone, even if I have to make them free.” (He’s also, Shira Telushkin has written, the kind of guy who answers text messages with images of handwritten responses, because “there is so much intimacy and knowledge in the handwriting of a friend.” Someone give this man a puppy.) Anyhow, when the Jordanian economy tanked and some medical bills needed paying not long ago, Al-Maaytah came up short, and it looked like he’d lose the store — until a friend named Alan Elbaum, who met him while studying Arabic in Amman, started an indiegogo campaign to raise the $15,000 needed to keep his bud in business. And guess what? They’ve surpassed their goal by three thousand dollars!
What?! That’s great. Everyone should send Hamzeh Al-Maaytah money. He appears to have this whole “life” thing pretty well figured out.
And, finally, a third great thing to be happy about: Dr. Chuck Tingle, still described best by Tom Hawking of Flavorwire as “surely the most successful author of gay dinosaur erotica that the world has ever seen,” has officially ended covfefe, unburdening us forever of the agonized need to talk about covfefe. If Dr. Chuck Tingle has earned anything, it is the cultural right to have the last word on covfefe, and, with his new book, Pounded in the Butt by Covfefe, he does. Trailing clouds of glory, covfefe’s never getting any better than that. We are free. Thank you, once again, for your service, Dr. Chuck Tingle.
Ian Dreiblatt is the director of digital media at Melville House.