An Open Letter To...

This is what we have now opened.

There is a certain type of letter that appears on the internet, usually on The Huffington Post. Even with the lack of standards associated with that online cesspit, some things do not make it to print. Which is why we found them floating in the River. We present, Open Letters.

An Open Letter to the Guy Who Smirked at Me for Giving My Kid a Popsicle.

by Carl Philblatt

I doubt you know what it's like to raise three kids by yourself as a single father, Smirk Guy. I'm going to call you Chad Smirkington, even though I doubt it's your real name.
So, Chad. You saw me give my kid a popsicle at the park the other day. It wasn't one of the fancy fruit juice popsicles, it wasn't one of those sugar free ones, and I know that little Philip is putting on the pounds ever since his mother left us because I couldn't figure out what gluten was, or how to keep it out of her food.
She wasn't allergic to gluten, but she claimed she was sensitive to it. Just like little Philip isn't allergic to popsicles, but I claim I am sensitive to your dismissive little smirk. Philip is four years old, that's not too young, or too old, to enjoy a frozen treat on a hot day in the park. I don't know what would possess a young man such as you, Chard Smirkington, to smirk at me so mirthlessly when I gave my kid a popsicle in the park that day. You know the day. It was a hot day, the kind of day in which a kid will often ask you for a popsicle when the weird guy with the hand cart comes by.
Do you not want our popsicle peddlers to be able to earn an honest living, Chad Smirkington? Do you think that they should be dealing bags of kale and chard to the children who play in the park, Chad? Maybe that's good and well for the people like you who live in expensive brownstone houses and take all the good nannies even though you're probably childless. All the people who would have been good nannies are all dogwalkers now, Chad. Don't you know what happens to dogwalkers, Chad? Chad Smirkington? Don't smirk while you're reading this! You know that dog walker you pay a thousand dollars a month (or however much it is. I don't own a dog for environmental reasons) is going to stumble across a dead body one day, Chad. They're going to be emotionally terrorized, Chad. Just like I was by your disdainful little sneer.
What, you don't watch TV? I bet you don't. I bet you think you're too good for TV just like you think you're too good for sweet frozen syrup on a stick. Or was it the stick, Chad? Was it because it was a plastic stick and not a wooden one? Was that not natural enough for my child that you inexplicably make all the decisions about, Chad? Philip is my kid, and even though his mother won't speak to me anymore (see my previous 29 open letters) I know what she would think, she would think that a wooden stick was too full of bacteria to allow our kid to put in his mouth. Well she's wrong and you're wrong and I don't know why you're always agreeing with her, Chad. Maybe if you stopped silently judging people you don't even know you'd finally have a chance to love someone like I love my son, who I gave a popsicle, even though it's full of high fructose corn syrup, and he's overweight. You're welcome, Chad Smirkington, you made a young boy cry when he saw his father cry.

- Carl Philblatt.

The park in question

An Open Reply to the Diabetes Mongering Sugar Queen Who Was Poisoning His Child the Other Day

by Thad Blatherskite

Oh, by the way, my name's Thad, not Chad, Carl. I know you got close just because you probably think everyone with my great haircut and sense of beige and pink fashion is called Chad or Thad and you just flipped a dirty coin you grubbed out of your disgusting pockets. I bet those pants were tight, weren't they, Carl? I bet your thick, grimy fingers had to be worked down into those pockets, where they left smears of sugar and feces - everything's coated in feces, Carl, don't deny it - your fingers probably had them on there from touching your phone.
Anyway, you put lethal poison - lethal at any dose - into your child and I'm sure they're dead now. But I think you should know that I don't even go to that park, Carl. I wouldn't even watch someone give a kid a popsicle without shrieking like a wounded extra in remake of the movie Glory starring nothing but sixth grade girls.
Your park is garbage, Carl. I don't go there. I can't believe you wrote this letter about me. I'm going to go home, find out your home address, and share it with prisoners, hopefully they'll kill your family before you manage to kill them with High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Thad Blatherskite

The popsicle stand in question.

An Open Letter to People Who Are Anti-American Communist Terrorists

By Mann Slaughtermann, Popsicle Quartermaster, Belhaven Trash Pile

There are two types of people that I know hate America. People who have children and people who don't eat popsicles and this awful publication is letting both of these reprehensible Anti-American monsters be represented, no doubt from each according to his ability, each according to his needs! And they need to be heard to spread their awful creeds. Children are mindless vessels for Communist propaganda! And corn syrup, especially the high-fructose kind, is the only way we can save up enough calories to last through nuclear winter. Why, with nothing more than the U.S. Strategic Quinoa reserve - which I was cowardly removed from by socialist protein-hording con artists - and a supply of high quality high fructose Freedom Syrup (made from Corn, the most American Grain) our great nation could come out of our bunkers first, and without the crippling and unsightly deformities associated with kwashiorkor or pellagra. People who don't support a balanced supply of corn-based calories, adulterated with vitamins and fruit extracts, frozen for a constant supply in an underground bunker? Those people are communists. Shame on you, Chad Smirkington! Or should I say - Thad Blatherskite! What kind of person who isn't a traitor to capitalism and America would use a fake name?

And shame on you, Carl Philblatt! Your greedy insistence on reproduction threatens our very way of life! How dare you ignore the most noble of callings - saving one's vital juices for Sports and America! Bringing an easily brainwashed child into a public setting where they might be seduced by concepts such as equality, sharing, or vile puppetry? For what is a puppet but a Marxist, dancing on the end of a string held not by a General or Senator, but by some vile Artist, depraved and debauched, undoubtedly engaging in free-form sexual antics that serve only to undermine troop cohesion, patriotism, and service in the greatest of wars - The War Against the War on Christmas!

Shame on all of us, myself including, for being included in this shameful shame-filled website of shame! Pearl River Flow, I spit on you for revealing my classified secrets and alternate-universe meanderings! SHAME! HAVE YOU NONE?!

Mann Slaughtermann



The FaceSitting Gap

This is the high tech facility in which the 2014 "Pornography Gap" Disarmament Talks were held.

After our ground-dwelling recovery of Top Secret documents from the U.S. Strategic Quinoa Reserve, we at Pearl River Flow discovered a hidden American Patriot - General Dirk Mannberg. Our physics-shredding Alternate Reality Journalism (patents, lawsuits pending) discovered General Mannberg viciously defending Christmas in the War on the War on Christmas.

But General Dirk Mannberg's story was not over, and no U.S. journalist was going to be allowed to cover the Top Secret International talks he would be attending via Skype. Fortunately, one of our journalists is an illegal immigrant to a innavigable waterway, and therefore operating under no known flag or treaty. In fact, this status, that of hostis humani generis, or, as Dick Cheney says, "everyone," allowed him to cover the Joint US-EU Pornography Gap Disarmament Treaty.

This is his report. The editorial staff felt it may have been a bit much "sucking up," and it's probably hagiography, but we feel it is within journalistic standards.

Dirk Mannberg does have a torso, a pair of legs, a pair of arms, and his brain is located in a bone box on top of his neck. The similarities between him and mere mortals stops there, however.

General Mannberg runs five miles every morning before five in the morning and he does it carrying fifty pounds of rifle, grenades, and ammunition while under fire from automatic weaponry.

General Dirk Mannberg does not watch pornography or refrain from violence unless it is a requirement for his duty: Americaing. Dirk Mannberg turns any words he wishes into verbs, and as he says, "If you cannot America, I will America you right in the face until you learn how to America."

It is just this sort of dedication and punch-through-the-box thinking that makes Mannberg such a peculiar choice for this assignment. Recent developments in Britain are putting a very American interest at risk.

Pornography. This time, General Dirk Mannberg is doing the hard work personally, with his own hands.

A little background: England is seeking new rules outlawing specific acts in locally produced pornographic films. Most beloved - by everyone from Monty Python to Dirk Mannberg - is the hallowed English tradition of "facesitting," or as it's spelled in England, "fasesitting."

English facesitting is a venerable rite, passed down from ancient druidic practice, in which a fox would be grasped between the thighs of a priest or priestess, who would then mock the act of riding it around the village whilst women lashed him or her across the buttocks, throwing ale or wine in front of the panicking animal, while shouting admiration. It was a tribal rite designed to bring the community together for a long, hard winter.

Later, the Scots would replace the fox with the decapitated heads of fallen enemies, and later, soccer balls, and at some point live human beings became the norm in Ireland, though not if the Queen was asking.

This act found it's way (through soccer and cricket, mainly) to modern English society, which has given it the highest honour available to a British act or person: A Monty Python song.

General Dirk Mannberg understands the full history of facesitting, the intricacies of pornographies, and the English common law system. This last bit he regards as "Unconstitutional Communist claptrap," and he has peculiar views on the practice of not touching the Queen.

Spoiler Alert: He would touch the Queen if he was allowed to leave the United States.

For the final video conference, General Mannberg was flown to a secret location, from which we had to fight giant snakes and swim with concrete blocks around our ankles to reach the secure uplink facility. The photograph I took at the top of the page is the only known photograph of this top secret area in existence.

Inside, the mood was tense. Other world leaders were viewing acts of depravity that their citizens had financed, labored over, and loved. Naked flesh filled the monitors, sweating politicians and military men - hard men who normally showed no emotion other than Killing Joy, were even more terse than usual. Mannberg was the only one not monosyllabic.

"What you've got here, Prime Minister, is just like what we had on our hands with the Reds back when we were facing down the 'wheat or corn' question in the seventies with that peanut-loving idiot in the Hot Seat. What you need is Mutual Assured Masturbation." he said, addressing the Lord of Justice.

"I am not Prime Minister, General." The severe old man said. "I am Lord Justice Tafflesbury."

"My apologies, President Taft, but you've just about got yourself a pornography gap on your hands! This is nothing more than a race for the biggest fist! If you outlaw facesitting, you can be damn sure the krauts won't. You can't rely on a minimal deterrence here, you can't take the high ground, Your Majesties. If the Germans know you won't be putting any thighs over any faces in 2014, they'll strike first, and make you pay. And the Dutch will put anyone or anything into anywhere or anyone! Their whole culture is based on it! They are a filthy swamp-dwelling finger-plugging people, who..."

"Now wait, I..." The Jonkheer van Amsberg spoke up for a moment before Mannberg's unstoppable pace consumed his words.

"No, this is a good old fashion porn race. You've got to allow facesitting, if not for your citizens, as a deterrence to those who might seek to sell those videos in the United Kingdom!  And you've got to get it on video, because hot facesitting action is the only thing that separates us from the plummeting ruble and the decadent chaos of Hungarian pornography."

"When you don't have it, they will!" He pounded his fist on the table in a manner illegal in British porno. "When you think you're safe behind your walls of law and your prim and proper fucking and sucking, there are going to be innovators out there! They will be making pornography so goddamn good that militants will strap bombs to trains to stop it, and the Germans won't back down from that, the French might, but I remember England during the war, goddamnit!"

General Dirk Mannberg often remembers things from before he was born. When I asked him about this unique ability, he originally claimed that it came from "reading books," though I have never known him to use books for anything other than firestarters, makeshift bulletproof vest inserts, and bludgeoning weaponry.

When pressed (it is against official CNN rules to press political or military figures for information that might reveal them to be liars - a policy we at Pearl River Flow have yet to institute) Mannberg revealed that the entirety of his knowledge of British government came from watching Doctor Who.

"Never surrender." He said, saluting the screens as they turned to static. "I'm not saying we won't get... something... in our hair, gentlemen. But, depending on the breaks..."

In the darkness, Mannberg was left to consider his estimations, alone but for the songs and portents of a future where no young boy in Wales will be able to take pride in history. We at Pearl River Flow can only hope that the High Justice Lords and Baronesses take Mannberg's prescient warnings to heart, lest they endanger us all in a Europe of shifting pornographic alliances, uncertain BDSM arrangements, and a nightmarish outcome for everyone involved.

The War on Christmas: Happy Holiday Edition

Pictured: The state of my bridges.


It's that most tragical time of the year once again, dear readers! Yes, the War on Christmas is here, guns a-blazing with holiday cheer, slaying bell ringers, and filling the talk radio airwaves with a toxic blend of indignation and misinformation.

Did you know there are no atheists in foxholes in the War on Christmas? That's because the War on Christmas doesn't have foxholes, and the real Army goes with the much more boring name "Defensive Fighting Position," because when you're actually being shot at, a hole in the ground needs to be done right.

There aren't any guns in the War on Christmas, though Kirk Cameron is apparently weaponizing the idea of commercializing anti-commercialism in a movie that is also a commercial for a thing (The War on Christmas) that isn't really a thing. However, he will totally beat your ass with a candy cane.

It's a metaphor for faith, okay?

You know what's not a metaphor suitable for Solstice-related complaints? War.


Holiday Headquarters: Godless Secular Humanist Division 3C

Sgt. Mann Slaughtermann strode the halls of the repurposed public school they'd holed up in since the beginning of the Nativity Offensive. The lights were dim, no one dared go out to the generator in daylight to refuel it, so the power was always barely on, flickering in the dark interior of shattered blackboards and the whimpering cries of the huddled secular Jews who'd made the mistake of signing on for the War. The War on Christmas.

Mann knelt down in the face of the nearest one. They were scrambling madly over the mangled leg of a poor 7th Day Adventist who'd thought that Christmas was a bit too "commercial."

"You're runnin' out of blood, kid." Slaughtermann said. "Tell me what happened."

"I don't know who's in charge, Sarge!" The kid cried, a bloody hand on Slaughtermann's already blood-spattered lapel. "Whoever it is, they're... they're... animals." He shuddered.

"Mannberg. Dirk Mannberg." Slaughtermann said. Mannberg had been head of the U.S. Strategic Quinoa Reserve before Christmas had fired back in the War on It.

"There was a bell ringer... kettle full of coins. And ...dynamite. He asked me if I would like to give... everything."

"This leg is worth 3.75." Slaughtermann said. "3.75 worth of vengeance." The kid shuddered one last time and bled out on the floor. Slaughterman pulled all 15 quarters from the corpse and flung them at the feet of the sobbing secularists. "Keep the change."

Slaughtermann spat on the floor. His spit had blood in it, for a reason he would have seen a doctor about if they hadn't firebombed every pharmacy for putting up Christmas decorations on November first. That "too soon" contingent had been brutal. Brutal, but effective.

Now Christmas was beginning in September, each merchant in an arms race with one another, each in a deadly race to avoid being last.

That, Slaughtermann realized, was why the poor Adventist hadn't made it to Advent. The Suicide Bell-Ringer had been starting the War on Christmas earlier, just like last year when they'd had to hurl hand grenades at a manger scene in Bethesda on December first.

"Maryland." He sighed, reminiscing on that land of debauchery and disbelief. There, the agnostics had been atheists, the Catholics had been agnostic, and the Baptists were only at war with Muslims because nobody understood how to properly have a war on Eid, because nobody knew when it was supposed to happen.

Slaughtermann wasn't even sure which Eid they'd been fighting against. There'd been two of them, they'd gotten everyone involved in some damnable holiday-war pincher maneuver.

"We know what we're fighting this time." He said apropos to nothing, addressing a gaggle of Universal Unitarian radicals who'd been arguing over who and what it was they'd been fighting, and why. They did not know what Mann Slaughtermann knew, they did not know what Dirk Mannberg knew.

The real reason for the War on Christmas.

Slaughtermann pointed out the window of the bombed out school auditorium where, two years ago, a line of kids had been beheaded to prevent a performance of "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever." There was a bullet-pocked pile of Christmas decorations, scorched and frayed by fire and shrapnel. The target nativity.

"What do you see?" He shouted. Mann Slaughtermann was always shouting. Everything, he knew, had to be shouted, or else people would think it was not important.

"A nativity?" One of the UU Extremists asked tentatively.

"Wrong, goddamnit!" Slaughtermann shouted. "What do you see?"

"Target practice?" One of the secular Jews asked. Slaughtermann grinned a wide grin that showed off teeth you could have used to dig through a glacier.

"Close, soldier, but that's not it. What do you see?"

"The enemy?" A passing atheist attempted her hand.

"Wrong. You are all wrong. You are all so wrong I should kill every one of you with a trenching shovel right now to prevent you from killing each other with friendly fire and wasting our goddamn ammunition. Look out there again, and tell me this: Christmas. Hanukkah. Quonset..."

"Don't you mean..." One of the Pentecostals started to say something, but Slaughtermann was holding a grenade in his hand and eying the pin with visible glee.

"What does it all mean? Why do we do it? Why do we fight?" Slaughtermann wanted to pull the pin, and all eyes were on the grenade, on the solid jaw as it worked back and forth, chewing up the anger and spitting it out as fighting words.

"Family? Spending time with family and friends?" The Pentecostal kid stammered out, pushing his luck.

"Horseshit and hand grenades!" Slaughtermann shouted, yanking the pin and hurling the grenade through the bombed out crater where the PA system had been in a happier time.

"That horseshit's not the real reason for the season! The real reason is axial tilt, you brain-dead blinded..."

"Surely you're referring to the ancient festival of Saturnalia..." The atheist from before began. A lot of conversations were being interrupted tonight. This would be the next to last.

Slaughtermann grabbed him. "That's what they want you to believe." He slapped the kid in the face.

"It's all about axial tilt. About Milankovitch cycles. Every time a family walks around a Christmas tree, every time a pilgrim makes a counterclockwise orbit around the Kaaba, they rob the Earth of angular momentum. Oh, sure, sure, now it's nothing. Yottaseconds. Picoseconds. Nanoseconds. The kind of time it takes to convince your mother to..."

The grenade went off. Everyone's ears were ringing, and not with the sort of bells that would from now on induce PTSD in all of them.

" adds up. It's what killed the dinosaurs. Motions synchronized over millions of years, changing the climate, ruining the world. It's why we fight, soldiers. To end these holidays before they end us."

Everyone realized that they'd followed madmen into a blind alley and were now shooting one another to death over the bricks at the back of it so they could use those bricks to brick themselves in.

And now, no one could get out. The epitaph of the species was written, and it was this:

Terrible holiday. Would not celebrate again. 2/5 stars.

Notes from U.S. Strategic Quinoa Reserve

The offending unit, possibly used in a tactical or strategic quinoa logistics capacity. Or for ice cream.

Notes from U.S. Strategic Quinoa Reserve:
Vicksburg, MS


    The U.S. Strategic Quinoa Reserve (SQR) was founded in 2007 when Goldman Sachs recommended that the US Government stockpile the commodity to stabilize trading prices. Under the auspices of the US PATRIOT Act, it is a highly defended military location.

    The SQR was built in Vicksburg, MS, due to an error by congressman Thad Cochran, who confused it with Amaranth, which grows wild in the area, and under the name “Pigweed,” is a scourge of local farmers.

    These transcribed notes were inexplicably found in a freezer dumped in a swamp South of the Waterworks Curve in Jackson, Mississippi. They detail a conversation between General Dirk Mannberg, military commander of the U.S. Strategic Quinoa Reserve, and Geraldo Fiorentini, a Goldman Sachs commodities trader who from 2009 to 2013 acted as Chief Quinoa Officer (CQO) at Goldman Sachs.


    Gen. Dirk Mannberg: "Goddamnit, Geraldo. I don't care what the spot-price or market-liquidity of this stuff is! It's a complete goddamn protein! You can't just slow down the transport of the stuff to jack up the price!"

Mr. Fiorentini: "Dirk, buddy, it's not a complete protein...."

Stammering, and a loud bang can be heard.

Gen. Mannberg: "It is if you mix it with corn! Corn, for Chrissakes, Geraldo! We've got enough corn in this country to wait out back to back nuclear winters, but we'll all be dead of kwashiorkor before the Reds because you had to make a buck the convoluted way! Don't you have enough money up there in New York, you unconscionable bastard? I've got eleven thousand men under my command, all tasked with defending this stuff, and you're telling me it's not important!?"

Mr. Fiorentini: "Dirk, listen, you're being irrational here. We're friends with the Russians now. Besides, while quinoa is rich in most essential amino acids, especially lysine, it's just a trendy food. It's not vital for the survival of the nation, or anything."

Gen. Mannberg: "Trendy! Vajazzling is trendy, Geraldo! Pink assault rifles are trendy! Quinoa is not trendy! Quinoa is a goddamn national craze! This is hot shit, Geraldo! I've got soccer moms out there trying to scale the fences! I'm up to my eyeballs in crazed yoga instructors all hyped up on smoothies and using so much maca powder that they're high as Doctor Timothy Leary on a hot air balloon ride! We haven't had to shoot this many Mississippians since Jackson State back in '70, you money-laundering dirtbag!

Mr. Fiorentini: "A lysine-rich staple grain is no cause to murder people, you monster! They weren't breaking into a military base, they were breaking into a quinoa warehouse we own! This isn't a nuclear plant! This is a building full of quinoa!"

Gen. Mannberg: "Did you just mention lysine again? Are you one of those bastards from Archer Midland Daniels that's been fixing the price of lysine!? Because I won't have that, Fiorentini! I saw that movie, Geraldo! Matt Damon wouldn't lie to me! Lysine is a valuable national amino acid!"

Mr. Fiorentini: "Oh god, no, Dirk! Put it down! Put it...."

(Several gunshots are fired, recording ends)