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Wednesday, March 19, 2003   |    Letters (from)

Dear HBO

by Josh Abraham

1100 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036

Dear Home Box Office,

I love the HBO. Love it. Your award-winning original programming rocks my socks. Your hit movies also have a rocking effect on my socks. But the thing is, your little catchphrase slogan, “It’s Not TV, It’s HBO,” keeps me awake at night. Because, you see, it is TV. It is. That’s how I enjoy your sock-rocking, award-winning original programming like “G-String Divas,” or “Real Sex 24: Women & Panda Bears.” I watch it on my TV. Not through my radio or computer or telephone. My TV. That’s how I enjoy your excruatiating presentations of “Arli$$” ad infinitum. That’s how all people with ears and eyeballs can listen to and watch your quality, Emmy-winning programs like “Sex in the City,” “The Sopranos,” and “Mind of the Married Man.” So, where do you come off saying it’s not TV? Do you even watch your product? I mean, imagine if Chicita started pushing their bananas by claiming “It’s Not Food. It’s Chicita.” Who would purchase bananas if they didn’t expect to be getting some food out of the deal?

I’m sorry. This is a crappy letter, isn’t it, HBO? It is. Say it: this letter sucks. You see, when I get bored I write insipid letters to giant corporations such as yours. It is a gift from me, that I hope may spice up the workaday ennui of your poor, downtrodden customer-service men and women whose job it is to politely deal with the great unwashed. Usually, my letters strive for creativity, but right now, I’m just not feeling it. Do you ever have off days, HBO? Like, maybe, you want to give us that awesome episode of “The Sopranos” where Paulie Walnuts and Christopher get lost in the Pine Barrens and have to suck frozen ketchup packets to survive, but all you can muster the energy to give is a “Bob Costas” where he interviews Estelle Getty. It’s O.K., HBO. We all have days like that.

I find it helps to take a mound of clay and punch it until the hurt goes away. That way you can vent your pent-up rage and angst without really injuring yourself or the ones you love. It’s a little anger-management technique I learned from my yogi, Miss Hippolyta. She’s an S&M yogi: you sit on bean bags and listen to soothing zamfir music while she hogties your limbs with licorice rope and squeezes lemon halves into your eyes. (It’s a pain/pleasure thing; I don’t know how it works, but it does work.) Then Miss H gets it on with you “Real Sex 24” style. Hey! Look at that: we’ve come full circle. Hooray!

Be well, Home Box Office.

I’m not TV either,
Josh Abraham

Josh Abraham was born in Algeria in 1913. He spent his early years in North Africa, working various jobs—in the weather bureau, in an automobile-accessory firm, in a shipping company—to help pay for his courses at the University of Algiers. As a young journalist, his report on the unhappy state of Muslims in the Kabylie region aroused the Algerian government to action and brought him public notice. From 1935 to 1938 he ran the Théâtre de l'Equipe, a theatrical company that produced plays by Malraux, Gide, Synge, and Dostoevski. During World War II he was one of the leading writers of the French Resistance and editor of Combat, then an important underground newspaper. Abraham's fiction, his philosophical essays, and his plays have assured his preëminent position in modern French letters. In 1957 Abraham was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. His sudden death on January 4, 1960, cut short the career of one of the most important literary figures of the Western world when he was at the very summit of his powers. No, wait. That was Albert Camus.