My friend Dave Pell is the managing editor of the Internet. No question, he's earned the title. Dave's been an indie publisher and media creator since the Web's weird wild west days of the 1990s and was a pioneer in what became blogging. (If you don't subscribe to his daily NextDraft free newsletter, click here now. Like, right now.) Dave is perhaps the sharpest and wittiest news curators and commentators I've ever known. He doesn't just read headlines and deliver a hot take; Dave has a relationship with the news at many levels. And finallly, at long last, Dave's been pulled kicking and screaming into the 15th century! He wrote an actual book! On paper! (And yeah, it's also available as an e-book.) Please Scream Inside Your Heart: Breaking News and Nervous Breakdowns in the Year that Wouldn't End hits shelves today.
From the description: "Fueled by the wisdom and advice of his two Holocaust-surviving parents, for whom parts of this story were all too familiar, Pell puts the key stories of 2020 into context with pith and punch; highlighting turning points that widened America's divisions, deepened our obsession with a media-driven civil war, and nearly knocked the country off its tracks."
Enjoy this brief taste:
IT'S GO TIME
I was forced to jump on a few grenades of my own in early April, a month into the 2020 quarantine. Unsurprisingly, the first call involved parental tech support. My dad needed an audiobook downloaded onto his iPad. Ordinarily, such a mission would be a breeze. But by this point, I hadn't been closer to my parents than their driveway.
I masked, face-shielded, and gloved up. As I pulled into my parents' driveway, my mom placed the iPad on her washing machine, opened the garage door, and quickly shuffled back into the house, where she gave me the signal. It was go time. I raced into the garage, gained access to the device, and with Hurt Locker–like speed and precision, downloaded the book, Clorox-wiped the iPad, and retreated to my vehicle where I gave my parents the all-clear sign. It was now safe to listen to Yuval Noah Harari's Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.
My brush with valor was short-lived. During a subsequent visit, a lifetime of needing to use the restroom in the wrong place at the wrong time caught up with me in my parents' driveway.
"Mom . . . "
"What's wrong, David?"
"Mom, I have to go to the bathroom, it's an emergency."
The exchange was one that had taken place a thousand times during my childhood, but never during a global pandemic, when it wasn't entirely impossible that my having to take a shit could expose my parents to a deadly virus.
Because of my dad's experience serving with the partisans, blowing up trains, and fighting Nazis in World War II, and my mom's experience dealing with five decades of my irritable bowel syndrome, both my parents remained calm. They quickly laid out a plan. They would unlock the front door and then hunker down in my sister's old bedroom at the far end of the house. I would then enter the front door, race downstairs, and use the bathroom at the extreme other end of the house, before using disinfectant wipes on everything as I retraced my steps like a serial killer departing a crime scene.
The mission seemed to work, although it would be another ten to fourteen days before I'd be sure that my bowel movement hadn't killed my parents.