It makes for a charmingly local headline: Area Man Picks Up So Much Roadside Litter, District Council Names Garbage Truck After Him. Except in this case, the Area Man is the famous author and humorist, David Sedaris, whose fame is apparently (and even more charmingly) unknown by the district council and the paper covering the event.
Thrilled to have the vehicle named after him, David ‘Pig Pen’ Sedaris, said: “When I first moved to Horsham district three years ago I was struck by the area’s outstanding natural beauty but I was also struck by all the rubbish that people leave lying around the roads.
“I’m angry at the people who throw these things out their car windows, but I’m just as angry at the people who walk by it every day. I say pick it up yourself. Do it enough and you might one day get a garbage truck named after you. It’s an amazing feeling.”
Don’t know how I missed this story over the summer…a chapter of his next book just wrote itself. The paper followed up with a “holy shit, this dude is famous” piece the next day. (via sedaris’ reddit ama)
Update: I had also missed reading Sedaris’ piece about his Fitbit, in which he talks about his anti-litter efforts.
I’ve been cleaning the roads in my area of Sussex for three years now, but before the Fitbit I did it primarily on my bike, and with my bare hands. That was fairly effective, but I wound up missing a lot. On foot, nothing escapes my attention: a potato-chip bag stuffed into the hollow of a tree, an elderly mitten caught in the embrace of a blackberry bush, a mud-coated matchbook at the bottom of a ditch. Then, there’s all the obvious stuff: the cans and bottles and great greasy sheets of paper that fish-and-chips comes wrapped in. You can tell where my territory ends and the rest of England begins. It’s like going from the rose arbor in Sissinghurst to Fukushima after the tsunami. The difference is staggering.
A few weeks ago, David Sedaris had a piece in the New Yorker about his recently deceased sister Tiffany.
In late May of this year, a few weeks shy of her fiftieth birthday, my youngest sister, Tiffany, committed suicide. She was living in a room in a beat-up house on the hard side of Somerville, Massachusetts, and had been dead, the coroner guessed, for at least five days before her door was battered down. I was given the news over a white courtesy phone while at the Dallas airport. Then, because my plane to Baton Rouge was boarding and I wasn’t sure what else to do, I got on it. The following morning, I boarded another plane, this one to Atlanta, and the day after that I flew to Nashville, thinking all the while about my ever-shrinking family. A person expects his parents to die. But a sibling? I felt I’d lost the identity I’d enjoyed since 1968, when my younger brother was born.
On Wicked Local Somerville, a close friend of Tiffany’s lets Sedaris have it with both barrels:
I found David Sedaris’ article, “Now we are five,” in the Oct. 28 New Yorker to be obviously self-serving, often grossly inaccurate, almost completely unresearched and, at times, outright callous. Some of her family had been more than decent, loving and kind to her. “Two lousy boxes” is not Tiffany’s legacy. After her sister left with that meager lot, her house was still full of treasures.
Not only could Tiffany have been saved, she could have blossomed. While her friends had done pretty much all they could, at least half of her mental health issues stemmed from, or were exaggerated by, her poverty and unstable housing situation, but also from David’s occasional mockery of her in his writings.
David Sedaris remembers, in a way, his sister Tiffany, who committed suicide earlier this year.
Compared with most forty-nine-year-olds, or even most forty-nine-month-olds, Tiffany didn’t have much. She did leave a will, though. In it, she decreed that we, her family, could not have her body or attend her memorial service.
“So put that in your pipe and smoke it,” our mother would have said.
David Sedaris finds lust, love, and laughter on long train trips.
Not that Johnny was bad company-it’s just that the things we had in common were all so depressing. Unemployment, for instance. My last job had been as an elf at Macy’s.
“Personal assistant” was how I phrased it, hoping he wouldn’t ask for whom.
If you’ve been following his work/life at all, the last paragraph will probably make you smile.
David Sedaris, plagued as usual by language problems, has a taxing time at a French doctor’s office. “It’s funny the things that run through your mind when you’re sitting in your underpants in front of a pair of strangers.”
Who knew David Sedaris’ family was so full of art experts? “I don’t know if you realize it, but it seems that Picasso is actually Spanish.”
Paul Schmelzer’s project to collect autographs of his (Paul’s) name from famous people. So far, he’s got scrawls from David Sedaris, Yoko Ono, Frank Gehry, and Pat Buchanan, but has been turned down by Mikhail Baryshnikov.
On the plane on the way back from Vietnam, I was reading this article about how bookstores are preferable to shopping for books online when I ran across this quote from David Sedaris:
One thing about English-language bookstores in the age of Amazon is that it assumes that everybody has the Internet. I don’t. I’ve never seen the Internet. I’ve never ordered a book on it, and I wouldn’t really want to”
This seems almost impossible and might even be a joke, but it would go a long way in explaining how he gets so much work done. He’s got continuous complete attention while the rest of us have only partial.
 Which article was not very convincing since it included this passage:
[Odile Hellier, owner of the Village Voice bookstore in Paris] said that she thinks the act of buying books in a store rather than online is essential to the health of our culture.
“My fear is that while the machine society that we live in is very functional, very practical, and allows for a certain communication, it is a linear communication that closes the mind,” she said.
She said that although Internet sites perform many of the functions of a bookstore - recommending similar books or passing on personal impressions of a book - nothing equals the kind of discovery possible when visiting a store and scanning tables covered with a professional staff’s latest hand-picked selection.
I always chuckle when someone (usually grinding an axe) describes the web as so flat and with little social aspect. I love bookstores, but in many ways, shopping for books online is superior.
Latest David Sedaris in the New Yorker. What do you care what it’s about? It’s David Sedaris. Just go read.
David Sedaris deals with a sticky situation on the airplane. “I pulled a Times crossword puzzle from the bag beneath my seat. That always makes you look reasonable, especially on a Saturday, when the words are long and the clues are exceptionally tough.”