How to Write to Vladimir Putin

putin“Please read the following carefully before you send any letter addressed to the President of Russia.

  1. Please fill in the form correctly before sending an electronic message.
  2. Information on the current message status will be sent to its author’s email address indicated in the form.
  3. A reply to the appeal will be sent via ordinary mail to the mailing address indicated in the form.
  4. An electronic message is five thousand characters maximum.
  5. A message will not be accepted for consideration if:
    • it contains obscene or offensive language;
    • the text is written in Russian using the Latin alphabet, typed entirely in capital letters, or not broken down into sentences;
    • the mailing address indicated is incomplete or inaccurate;
    • the message is not addressed to the President of Russia or the Presidential Executive Office;
    • the message contains no specific claims, complaints, or suggestions.
  6. For messages related to appeals against court decisions, it is imperative to remember the following.Under the Constitution of the Russian Federation, only courts can administer public justice. The judicial authorities are independent and work separately from legislative and executive authorities. Decisions by judicial authorities can be appealed in the procedural order established by the law. Applicable legislation prohibits any intervention in administration of justice.
  7. Personal data of those sending letters by e-mail is stored and processed in accordance with the provisions of Russia’s law on personal data.”

From: en/
Photo: By, CC BY 4.0

Letters to “Vanity Fair” about the Y2K Bug,

y2k-bug“Robert Sam Anson’s article on Y2K [‘31.12.99’] was excellent. Alas, it will probably follow the course of others of its kind and settle to the bottom of the pile due to massive denial. After the fall, a whole new school of sociology will arise to study why so few did so little to abate the catastrophic flood.”
Kirby Metcalfe, Fort Worth, Texas

“Does Robert Sam Anson really expect that at the ‘instant past midnight, January 1, 2000,… prison gates [will] have swung open’? Will America’s 1.7 million-plus prisoners then walk freely into the night? Come off it!
In spite of Y2K aberrations, real or imagined, all will be secure at the Federal Detention Center and the Federal Correctional Institution in Seagoville, Texas, as I suspect it will be throughout the land. Like most prison locks, ours are designed to remain closed without electricity and human intervention.
Anson is pandering to fear frequently created by sensational media that includes such programs as Cops and America’s Most wanted. In fact, the crime rate now is the lowest it has been in 25 years. I pray for an enlightened citizenry when I’m released.”
Adam P. Smith, Seagoville, Texas

Vanity Fair Letters, March 1999.

The KGB’s Balance Sheet for Aldrich Ames

aldrich-ames-mailboxIn 1989, the KGB double Aldrich Ames finished his CIA posting in Rome. His handler Aleksey Khrenkov gave him a nine-page letter from the KGB, which included three Polaroid pictures of land in Russia which had been set aside for him. “I kept the damn note and the pictures,” Ames later told his biographer Pete Earley, “Don’t ask me why… I felt the KGB was being genuinely nice to me and I just didn’t want to destroy the letter or pictures.”

“Dear Friend,

this is Your balance sheet as on the May 1, 1989.

= All in all You have been apprpriated — 2.705.000$

= From the time time of oppening of Your account in our Bank December 26, 1986) Your profit is — 385.077$ 28c (including 114,468$ 94c as profit on bonds, which we bought for You on teh sum of 250,000$)

= Since December 1986 Your salary is — 300.000$

= All in all we have delivered to You — 1,881,811$ 51c

= On the above date You have on Your account (including 250,000$ in bonds) — 1535.077$28c.

P.S. We believe that these pictures would give You some idea about the beautiful piece of land on the river bank, which from now belongs to You forever, We decided not to take pictures of housing in this area with the understanding that You have a much better idea of how Your country house (dacha) should look like.

Good luck.”

Photograph: Replacement of the mailbox at 37th and R Sts. NW Aldrich Ames used to communicate with his KGB handlers. A horizontal chalk mark over the USPS logo requested a meeting.

Jean-Marie Le Pen’s Portrait


On September 9, 2016, Newsnight viewers saw the inside of Front National founder Jean-Marie Le Pen’s apartment. Crammed with knickknacks and artifacts, it also boasted an enormous oil painting of the retired politician. Dressed up like a buccaneer, with a telescope in his hand and a white ferret perched on his shoulder, the unusual painting could also be seen reproduced on Le Pen’s coffee table, in the foreground of the painting of Jesus Christ and the statue of Joan of Arc.



Literary Criticism by Donald Trump

art-of-the-deal“To the Editor:

I can remember when Tina Brown was in charge of The New Yorker and a writer named Mark Singer interviewed me for a profile. He was depressed. I was thinking, O.K., expect the worst. Not only was Tina Brown dragging The New Yorker to a new low, this writer was drowning in his own misery, which could only put me in a skeptical mood regarding the outcome of their combined interest in me. Misery begs misery, and they were a perfect example of this credo.

Jeff MacGregor, the reviewer of Character Studies, a collection of Singer’s New Yorker profiles, including the one about me, writes poorly… Maybe he and Mark Singer belong together. Some people cast shadows, and other people choose to live in those shadows. To each his own. They are entitled to their choices.

Most writers want to be successful. Some writers even want to be good writers. I’ve read John Updike, I’ve read Orhan Pamuk, I’ve read Philip Roth. When Mark Singer enters their league, maybe I’ll read one of his books. But it will be a long time– he was not born with great writing ability… Maybe he should… try to develop himself into a world-class writer, as futile as that may be, instead of having to write about remarkable people who are clearly outside of his realm.

I’ve been a best-selling author for close to 20 years. Whether you like it or not, facts are facts. The highly respected Joe Queenan mentioned in his article ‘Ghosts and the Machine’ (March 20) that I had produced ‘a steady stream of classics’ with ‘stylistic seamlessness’ and that the ‘voice’ of my books remained noticeably constant to the point of being an ‘astonishing achievement.’

This was high praise coming from an accomplished writer. From losers like Jeff MacGregor, whom I have never met, or Mark Singer, I do not do nearly as well. But I’ll gladly take Joe Queenan over Singer and MacGregor any day of the week–it’s simple thing called talent!

I have no doubt that Singer’s and MacGregor’s books will do badly– they just don’t have what it takes. Maybe someday they’ll astonish us by writing something of consequence.
Donald Trump
New York”

September 11, 2005, The New York Times.

David Foster Wallace’s Note to the Copyeditor of “Infinite Jest”

infinite-jest“To Copyeditor:
Hi. F.Y.I., the following non-standard features of the mss. are intentional and will get stetted by the author if color-penciled by you:

-Single quotation marks around dialogue & titles, with double q.m.’s inside–reversal of normal order.

-Such capitalized common nouns and verb phrases as Substance, Disease, Come In, Inner Infant, etc.  

-Neologisms, catachreses, solecisms, and non-standard syntax in sectons concerning the characters Minty, Marathe, Antitoi, Krause, Pemulis, Steeply, Lezn, Orin Incandenza, Mario Incandenza, Fortier, Foltz, J.O. Incandenza Sr., Schtitt, Gompert.

-Multiple conjuctions at the start of independent clauses.

-Commas before prepositions at the end of sentences.

-Hyphens to form compound nouns.

-Sentence-fragments following exceptionally long sentences.

-Inconsistent paragraphing, with some extremely long paragraphs.”

Every Love Story is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace, D.T. Max, Granta Books, 2012.