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The mailbox is lit with streaks of filtered sunlight from the overarching canopy of street trees. The letter hops inside, relishing the moisture of the air, the playful currents of wind. For now, it undertakes a 7-day voyage of darkness, wherein it is buffeted by impersonal machinery, groped by sweaty-fingered, low-paid shuffle artists, and finally deposited into an airless metal tray.

At long last, exposed to light, the letter crinkles dazedly in faux relief; for here comes the giant horizontal guillotine of the Opener. But the letter has not given up; in the hour of its greatest peril, its corners stir; for it has remembered The Paper Cut.

The howls of the bleeding do not trouble the letter. Nay. To preserve its contents, the letter bears the scarlet banner  “Return to Sender” with an illegible address. From mailbox to mailbox, from postal code to zip code, from wind-swept prairie to rain-soaked British sea-town, the letter will never be opened. Is it a proud letter? Of course. Is it a foolish letter? Undoubtedly. Is it a letter of integrity? Of this, there is no doubt.


It is as if all the elements that make for a truly effective journalist—i.e., skepticism, depth of reportage, humor/style—have been divided up and segregated by publication. You can funny, you can be serious, you can be deep—but you can no longer be all three. So dies journalism.