Email Subject Lines for Desperate Marketers

Email Subject Lines for Desperate Marketers

I’m Your Mother: Open This Email or You’re Grounded, Mister

It’s the Cops: Open This Email or We’ll Throw You in the Pokey

This Is the President: Open This Email or I’ll Nuke the Rainforest

I Am God, and I Command You to Open This Email

Open This Email or Else

Open This Email or I’ll Tie a Raccoon to the Train Tracks Behind My Apartment

O P E N  T H I S  E M A I L  O R  I L L  H A U N T  Y O U

Open This Email or I Can’t Afford to Send My Son Kyle to Pace University

Open This Email or My Wife Sees Me for the Busted Flush I Am

Open This Email or I Open a Vein

Open Me. Your Fingertip Contains Magic, Enough to Right Ships, Restore Worlds.

You Must Open Me Up


Chicago Fire Emoji

I moved to Chicago in June of 2010 after a largely wasted postgraduate year at my parent’s house in the suburbs. I had no job prospects, but my folks were making me go insane, I think on purpose. So I rented the cheapest room I could find on Craigslist, a shoebox sublet for $325 a month in a North Side neighborhood I’d never heard of called Roscoe Village. I moved in with a boy and two girls. I was 23. We would share one bathroom for the next three years.

Sometimes it feels like it’s all gone by so quickly that it couldn’t possibly have happened. But it really did, and I am so deeply thankful.

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

I met and befriended the most amazing people who have ever lived. I got drunk more times than I care to or can remember. I ate everything there was to eat from as many countries of origin as I could find in as many neighborhoods as I could visit. I rode my bike thousands and thousands of miles. I danced for days, probably weeks. I played basketball with Chicagoans of all ages, sizes, and backgrounds, including one 10 year old who punked me pretty bad one time. I woke up elsewhere, fell in and out of love, threw excellent house parties, moved three times, owned a car for two months and then never again, holed up in winter, declared myself the king of summer, got made fun of a lot.

In no particular order, here are the 100 things I’ve loved most about Chicago:

1. Pho Thai on Lincoln Ave. There’s no better or spicier Thai food in the city.

2. Doughnuts from Dinkel’s Bakery, also the best in town

3. The dogs of Montrose Ave beach

4. The neon ass sign at Baby Atlas

5. The jukebox at Cody’s

6. The chilaquiles at Cafe El Tapatio

7. Riding bikes over the Damen Ave bridge real late at night, Sarah Gouda my only companion

8. Sitting in the living room of my first apartment with the Christmas lights plugged in and overhead light turned off, listening to records with Shuhei

9. Writing with Brandon

10. Pretending to be married to Rachel for forty years

11. Tuesday night basketball at Wicker Park Field House with the yetis

12. Michael Madsen’s Halloween parties

13. When Hallie and Kyle cook for me, specifically pasta with key lime pie. When Hallie and Kyle drive me places, specifically all the places that might still be serving ice cream at this time of night. Playing Ticket to Ride at Hallie and Kyle’s, specifically the one time I won.

14. Seeing Jen Jackson improvise comedy

15–20. Lunch Club. Faschion Club. The Other Fashion Club. Writing Club. Movie Club.

21. Joe Maloney. Every last goddamn thing about him.

22. Drinking in alleys with Raf

23. Late-night pick-up soccer games with taxi drivers

24. When everybody is hungover at work at the same time

25. Sitting next to Eddie, Andy, Jorie, Zac, Jill, Shelby, Krista, Lexi, Molly, and Lisa for four wonderful years

26. Horchata and al pastor tacos from El Palmar

27. The Art Institute’s modern wing

28. Garfield Park Conservatory in winter

29–32. Hamlin Park. Seward Park. Humboldt Park.

33. Every late-night slice of pizza, taco, or gyros I ever ate

34. The night we drank for free at The Aviary, Daddy Warbucks made a pass at me, and Rachel threw me to the sharks

35. The night we took a party Uber from beach volleyball to Logan Square and polished off a bottle of vodka en route, much to the dismay of the DJ in the backseat

36. Andrew Barr the Barrtender

37. Every Soul Night I’ve ever attended

38. Annual excursions with the Michigan crew to Adam’s lake house

39. The first time I rode the CTA to an interview downtown and felt a little bit grown up

40. The three months I more or less lived at Dollop Cafe in Buena Park

41. St. Patrick’s Day when Greg and Bobby were in town and a pair of moms gave us a ride in their mini-van when we couldn’t find a cab

42. Long walks and talks with Scott Hirsch

43. The year I belonged to a boxing gym

44. The quarter-chicken combo platter at Chicken Hut

45. The 80s prom party with Mark and Plou, the subsequent shotgunning of beers in a Jimmy John’s bathroom

46. Shane and Julia’s wedding

47. Waking up early to watch soccer on mute, so as not to wake anybody in the house

48. Whenever Liz Riggs and her merry band descended upon the city

49. The time James Guthrie sent us 100 Totino’s Party Pizzas

50. The chicken at Khan BBQ on Devon

51. Every bowl of pho I ate alone on Argyle

52. When we took a limo from Logan Square to Burrito House

53. Those first few golden months at Groupon, when it felt like my life was finally starting in earnest

54. Late night reverie at The Green Mill

55. Late night sessions with Tess

56. Playing the sport of footgolf, specifically the time the godly buck emerged from the forest and specifically not the time I kicked the ball into a river

57–68. The National at The Aragon. Kendrick at The Aragon. Vampire Weekend at Pitchfork. Wilco at Pitchfork. R Kelly at Pitchfork. Belle & Sebastian at Pitchfork. Chance at Pitchfork. Robyn at Millennium Park. Future Islands at Lincoln Hall. Local Natives at Lincoln Hall. Pet Lions everywhere.

69. Shaking Michael Chabon’s hand at Harold Washington Library

70. Wearing my fake wedding ring

71. Superhero movies with Sam Young

72–74. Sauvie the dog. Savvy the dog. Marnie the dog (not technically a Chicago dog but this is my list).

75. Attending bougie literary salons at rich people’s West Loop condos

76. Really anytime I had occasion to wear my suit

77. Bears games with my dad

78. Museum days with my mom

79. Foodtown, my beloved bodega

80. The time during a blizzard when Shu and I worked from home and Shawn made us hot toddies

81. When it got so cold that boiling water turned to snow when you threw it from a pot

82. Every goal I ever scored in rec league soccer

83. My good-natured slumlord, Allen, who remains on the lam

84. Running home from work on the lakefront trail

85. Jane Flotte’s candid interview for my soul night story

86. Matt Present’s unbridled support for everything I do

87. Greg Kester doing the worm on the floor of Slugger’s

88. Gospel Ball on Sunday mornings in the old-school gym with stained glass windows at Hamlin

89–90. Dan Days 1 & 2

91. Every Bulls game I ever watched, specifically when Joe bought tickets for my birthday, the time my dad and I had great seats, and the time the yetis won tickets to a luxury box

92. The night Raf gave me a press pass to the opening of the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel and we saw a private Buddy Guy performance, went to an arcade

93. The years when we were young and naive enough to patronize Mad River and the Hangge-Uppe

94. Fourth of July weekends when we never left the beach

95. Hot dogs

96. Hanging out with my many excellent Chicago cousins, specifically Adam and Melissa, who took me under their wing when I first moved to the city and have kept me there ever since

97. Every year when my sister comes home for two weeks in December, specifically when we sneak out of the house to buy cigarettes and when we order Italian beef and giardiniera pizza

98. Every rooftop, patio, deck, stoop, landing, or balcony I’ve ever drank on in nice weather

99. Every chance I’ve had to show Chicago off to visitors and newcomers, to watch them fall in love

100. These last few weeks, which have been some of the best of my life. Thanks to everybody who has made it so hard to leave.

Things I’m Excited About

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m getting older or because I’ve become almost impossibly boring, but here’s what’s revving my engine lately:

1) I finally remembered to buy Claritin (fake Claritin) at Walgreens after work.

I’m excited to experience 24-hour relief from the construction zone that is my nasal passageway.

2) I’m going to replace the memory foam mattress pad I threw away when I moved in September. I didn’t think I’d miss it but I feel tired basically all the time now. The reason it helps me is because I have, in my opinion, a massively oversized ribcage. When I’m underweight, my ribs jut out from my body like side-mounted camel humps and they look, through a t-shirt, sort of like saggy boobs. My ribcage also digs into my mattress when I sleep on my stomach, which is every night, and it makes sleep uneasy.

I am excited about being tired only most of the time again.

3) I’m determined to find a therapist. I’ve never been to one, even though I’m real fucked up in my brain and have been for like… 20 years? Give or take. I can’t really say why I never took the plunge—I remember my father disparaging of therapists when I was a kid in a sort of Draperian way, and that stuck with me. I’ve also always harbored this secret, psychiatrist-worthy fear that my therapist will laugh at me. So. There will be… a lot to unpack. But I could use a sounding board these days.

I am excited about getting my head shrunk.

4) There’s other stuff I’m excited about, obviously—the Bulls, my sister’s upcoming wedding, summertime hijinks, the soccer league I joined—but in my dusky apartment, the wind blowing like a jet engine against the windows, these are the things that cup a hand around the candle. Some pills, some foam, and the prospect of peace of mind.

Apocalypse Soon

Ever since the afternoon Eddie S. linked me to a story about how Artificial Intelligence is going to become sentient in the near future, likely by 2040 but possibly as soon as 2020, soon after which it will compound its own intelligence until it becomes supersmart—as in, 1 billion times smarter than Albert Einstein—as in, capable of bending space and time with its mind—and then proceed almost immediately to either utterly ruin or transcendently elevate humankind, I’ve had a hard time not thinking about it.

The way I see it is like this: regardless of the what happens when the Artificially Superintelligent being shows up (again, those options are the lightning-quick extermination of all mankind, possibly by trillions of nanobots releasing poisonous gases all over the globe simultaneously, OR a heaven-on-earth paradise so incredible that no one would have to starve or work or even die ever again), my time as a marketing copywriter will in all likelihood be over.

What this signifies is that we (all of us) have a 25ish-year countdown [nobody knows exactly when this will happen (but almost every scientist in the world believes superintelligence will happen eventually)] until nothing about our careers or student loans or unmatched 401k contributions matters one dang iota.

25 years! Ish! Slightly fewer years than the number I’ve been alive, a period of time that has gone by extremely quickly. But it remains too far away from now to strip down tomorrow and run off into the woods for a peyote and fireworks powered sendoff into oblivion.

But still. We need to at least begin considering how to use this time effectively. We need to start considering how to spend the rest of our lives in the next 25 years.

Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa, you are saying. Ease up. Chill out. Cool off. Simmer down. Do not cancel your monthly Roth IRA payments. The odds that humanity will get simultaneously exterminated by a supremely intelligent computer’s legion of faithful nanobots is pretty slim! Carry on as normal. Eat your English muffin.

To you, I say:

1) Did you read the article? Both parts? No? Read it, then come at me.

2) According to this Radiolab podcast I just listened to, it’s highly likely that all the dinosaurs on earth were wiped out within a few hours of each other, along with every other plant and animal that wasn’t buried a few feet underground at the time. 99% of all life on earth felled in one galactic haymaker. Mass extinction! There’s a precedent, is what I’m getting at.

3) Even if you side with the scientists who think this all won’t come to pass for another forty or eighty years, well, global warming is going to fry everybody’s ass sooner than that. So, like, pick your poison. (One of the options, as I’ve mentioned, is literally poison).

Airtight logic, right there. So, you know, just think about it. Maybe life becomes more precious with an expiration date—one that we all share.

Health Crazy

I haven’t written in awhile, and that’s my bad. It’s because I’ve been busy. Busy doing weird, likely worthless things. Crazy things. Crazy health things. Here are a few of them:


Yeah, man. I’ve been fasting. As in, not eating for long stretches of time. Reasonably long stretches, anyway. I’ve been on the 5:2 Diet for the last three weeks, which advocates eating as you normally would for five days of the week, then eating very little the remaining two days. Actually, on the two fasting days, you’re allowed to eat up to 600 calories, which is kind of a lot if you eat healthy foods and space it out.

Though this 5:2 thing only recently entered my sphere of awareness (thanks to one now super regretful girlfriend), I’ve always been interested in the practice of fasting. Humans have always fasted, sometimes because they didn’t have any food, other times for religious reasons, or as a form of protest. It just seems significant that most (all?) major religions endorse some form of fasting. As the 5:2 folks point out, the readily accepted notion of eating three complete meals a day is very new idea relative to the breadth of human history.

But maybe that’s an oversight on our part. Modernity, for privileged Americans, can be defined by its excesses. Binge eating, binge watching, binge drinking, and generally avoiding self-reflection at all costs. I won’t pretend that I’ve done a lot of soul searching during my first few weeks of mini-fasting. I’ve mostly been hungry and irritable. But I’m hoping I get there.

Potential Pros: Men on the 5:2 diet lose a little more than a pound a week. I’ve found this to be true. Some science suggests that when your body stops ingesting calories, it starts to do good stuff with your energy reserves. Converting them into something beneficial. Not sure about that one.

Potential Cons: I could develop an eating disorder, I guess? It’s harder to make plans with people. My girlfriend hates it so much.

Superfood Smoothies

I read this piece in GQ about superfoods and decided to order a shit ton of them on Amazon. Feel free to L-O-L at that sentence; there’s a lot to enjoy. I also bought a couple books, Superfood Smoothies and Superfood Kitchen, both of which I endorse heartily. I’ve made way more smoothies than dishes, so that’s the title of this section. They generally turn out really good.

This phase (it is definitely a phase) was partly born out of a concern I have regarding the evolution, or devolution, of American food. Genetically modified fruits and vegetables are huger and worser for you than they’ve ever been. I subscribe to the idea that making a food bigger spreads out the nutrients in that food by adding more water weight, rendering its healthiness less concentrated and thus worse for you. A huge red pepper, for instance, is less nutritious than a smaller one. Thats’s just one man’s opinion. Eating more superfoods, in theory, is a way of tipping the scales back in my favor.

Mind you, we’re not talking sweet potatoes and quinoa here. Eff that shit! These cookbooks rely on more obscure (and thus, to my mind, superior and validating) ingredients, stuff like maca powder, cacao nibs, goji berries, seaweeds, flaxseeds, and hemp seeds. Foods that have been found to have the highest concentration of vitamins and minerals in the world, which I now have totally overflowing from my pantry. If a neighbor ever asks to borrow a cup of acai powder, they will be pleasantly surprised when I retrieve it from the freezer.

Potential Pros: I eat the healthiest foods known to man, impossibly collected from all corners of the world, and become healthier than any human in recorded history.

Potential Cons: I wasted about $60.

Walking Home from Work

The past two days I’ve walked home from work, an odyssey of a little more than four miles each way. It takes about an hour and twenty minutes—a straight shot up Halsted. The weather has been decent, in the low 30s, so it’s not painfully cold. I’m pretty warm by the time I get home.

I don’t belong to a gym anymore, so I’ve been looking for new ways to stay active. I wrenched my shoulder about a month ago, so my home workout routine is shot. I don’t have a consistent basketball or soccer game. So I walk home from work. And I’ve really enjoyed it. I listened to an excellent podcast interview with Bill Hader yesterday (it’s one of Grantland’s pop culture pods) and a disturbing episode of Radiolab about the Galapagos today. I smoke one cigarette halfway through. I look into boutique stores and nail salons and restaurants and peoples homes and think about what they’re doing in there. It’s good. The few people I’ve told said it’s weird, but I think it sounds weirder than it actually is.

The one thing that does concern me is I think I might have too much free time on my hands. Maybe a person shouldn’t be able to leisurely stroll home for 90 minutes after work every day. Maybe a person should have places to go and things to do. Maybe. I enjoy having a lot of time to myself. I read, and sometimes write, and watch movies and basketball. But I could be, like, attending things. Networking events. Improv classes. Volunteering.

Sometimes it feels like the whole world is working a day job just to get to their weekday night schedules. I don’t have that, really. So I think I’m going to try a little harder at it.

Potential Pros: I get the bulk of my 10,000 daily steps in. I see something cool happen in an alley. I pet some dogs.

Potential Cons: I am wasting my life. I see something unspeakable happen in an alley. A dog yells at me.

Other Health Crazes I Have Tried and Abandoned:

  • Bulletproof coffee
  • Windsprint intervals in the alley behind my old apartment
  • Pescatarianism
  • Running up and down the big hill at Montrose Harbor
  • Pilates
  • Swimming

The Definitive Guide to Wizards in the NBA

It seems prudent that I should make a distinction between the post which you are about to read and my previous exploration of NBA wizardry. The difference is acute: that post was just about Harry Potter wizard stuff. This post is about all kinds of effin’ wizards! Abracadabra!

Wizards exist, whether you’d care to admit it or not. They distinguish themselves from mankind through their grace, effervescence, cool names, physical appearance, general uncanniness, and dribbling ability.

As it happens, most of earth’s wizards have determined to spend their lives playing professional basketball. (And soccer, actually, but this post will focus solely on Wizards of the Court.)

Important note: Shaq, despite playing a wizard in the movie Kazaam, is NOT a wizard. That was just a kids movie. Shaq is an oaf, and mythologically speaking much closer to an ogre.


Not a real wizard (more like an ogre)

Without further ado, here’s a random list of/definitive guide to the wizards in the NBA! Abracadabra!!!!


Elfrid Payton

Hell yeah! Leading us off is rookie point guard Elfrid Payton. “Now, Jon,” you may be asking, “Are you really putting Elfrid Payton first in your list? Nobody knows who he is!”

That’s a fair point, but here’s why Elfrid is the NBA’s #1 magical dude: He has an amazing wizard name. He has amazing wizard hair. And he plays for the Orlando Magic. BOOM. ABRACADABRA!!!!!

Fictional Wizard Comparison: Ertai, Wizard Adept


Everybody shut up.


Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett is like eight feet tall and less than one foot wide, which is a classic wizard physique. He has eight elbows and they’re all sharper than shark teeth. And who else but a wizard could transform from a Timberwolf into a Druid into a Net? His catchphrase is screaming “Anything is possible!”

Fictional Wizard Comparison: Saruman


Similar in shape and personality.


Zach Randolph

Another large wizard, Z-Bo dominates the league without being able to jump even one inch off the ground. Confundus! His powerfully round body recalls the faces and limbs of forgotten gods.

Fictional Wizard Comparison: Buu


Please don’t tell Zach about this blog.


Nene Hilario

Another profoundly dope wizard name, Nene Hilario also plays for a team called the Wizards. He has a long ponytail and is despised in his native Brazil, which doesn’t hurt his case, either, I guess.

Fictional Wizard Comparison: Kingsley Shacklebolt



NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Philadelphia 76ers

Zydrunas Ilgauskas

The wizard known as Big Z is so-called because reciting his full name invokes a 12-foot set shot to rain down upon the head of its utterer. He is 7’3, and you might well mistake him for the world’s tallest guy who looks like he should be sweeping the porch in front of a shop in Russia, but you’d be wrong. He’s a basketball wizard.

Fictional Wizard Comparison: The Broom from The Sorcerer’s Apprentice


Sweep on, Big Z!