Matthew Dupuy, Andrew Mueller, James Kotecki, Leo Whetter: The two weeks around July 17th 2012 saw all of them make their NSFWCORP debut. Some, like James Kotecki, would become regular fixtures on the site. Others… wouldn’t.

I obviously had a good feeling about James, who became “famous” as a college student when he conducted interviews with presidential candidates in his dorm room and by 2012 was hosting a video show on The Daily (Murdoch’s ill-fated tablet tabloid) — because I invited him to come on the July 16th episode of NSFWLIVE to talk about his first piece, “Quit Like Mitt”…

Dear Readers,

First of all, thank you for welcoming me so warmly to the Not Safe For Work Corporation.

Secondly, I hereby announce my future retirement from the Not Safe for Work Corporation, effective today. Be assured I will continue to write articles for this publication and to otherwise discharge all of my duties as a proud member of the NSFWCORP family. But if anyone asks, I was never really here. Furthermore: who are you people? I’ve never seen you before (or since) in my life.

If the above sounds disingenuous at best, fraudulent at worst, please know that it isn’t. In 2002, Bain Capital CEO Mitt Romney retired retroactively from that company, with a stated departure date of February 1999. Romney was thus absolved of responsibility for Bain’s alleged outsourcing practices during the intervening period.

Neat.

With my resignation, I’m pushing the Mitt-velope still further. By announcing my retroactive departure date right off the bat, I’m automatically absolved of everything I do here, including all of the pieces I’m about to write. Pieces like:

  • “Abstinence is FABstinence”
  • “Why I Love ‘Muskrat Love’: The Unironic Truth”
  • “Me and My Hangnail”
  • “This Article Was Outsourced to Cambodian Laborers (Please Pay Us This Time)”
  • “Is America’s Love Affair With Ceilings Finally Over?”

Despite what my byline and financial records may indicate, legally I will be no more responsible for these travesties of journalism than the Republican presumptive presidential nominee is culpable for Bain Capital’s alleged outsourcing of tens of thousands of American jobs to Australia, Asia and Europe.

In a curious twist, Factcheck.org has investigated the outsourcing claims, subsequently repeated by the Obama campaign, and has found no evidence to support them. It appears, then, that Mitt Romney is actually trying to retroactively avoid responsibility for things his company (not his company) did not do while he was running (not running) it. Similarly, my retroactive retirement renders me blameless for the following soon-to-be-widely-reported NSFWCORP scandals of which Factcheck.org will also hopefully be unable to find supporting evidence…

  • Shirtless Thursdays
  • The Cryogenic Incarceration and Accidental Thawing of Editor-in-Chief Paul Carr
  • Goat -gate
  • Talk Like a Xenophobic Muppet Day

Thank you again for this wonderful opportunity. I am extremely excited to join NSFWCORP and simultaneously to avoid all accountability for my actions.

Sincerely,

James Kotecki

Not Safe For Work Corporation 2012 – 2012

PS: For the avoidance of doubt, this resignation letter was absolutely not written by any sweatshop Cambodians. But if it were, NSFWCORP should probably consider giving them a significant raise, lest they decide to tip off Romenesko as to their plight. “I” am just saying.

You can read a transcript of the episode here, or listen to the whole thing below.

The following night we were joined by another James, James Aylett to talk about the imminent London Olympics….

Reading back the transcript of that show, I’m reminded that it rained in Vegas that week. In fact there were particularly exciting lightning storms…

Josh: Yeah. It’s been raining a little bit. It’s mostly just been surly and threatening to rain.

Paul: On Sunday night there was an amazing lightning storm. It was great to see. I was enjoying watching the helicopters still flying around in the lightning waiting for one of them to be dead.

Josh: Yeah. This doesn’t seem like a real good idea.

Paul: It seems like a terrible idea. I don’t understand in any way electricity and lightning or whatever else. All I know is if I rode a helicopter I wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a lightning storm.

Josh: Yeah. That sounds to me, at this advanced stage in my life …

Paul: There are tall buildings here. So they were quite low down. They flew over the building we’re in, one of them, and there was lightning going on. I thought, “Any minute now it’s coming through the window.”

Then on July 20th, right after I’d hopped on yet another plane for yet another meeting in San Francisco, we had our first experience in covering actually breaking (and horrific) news. The morning of July 20th 2012 was the day when a man the world would later know to be James Holmes walked into a Colorado movie theater and started shooting. A few hours later, Jason Heller – live from his home in Colorado – filed a piece that began thus…

Denver is a killer city.

If only it weren’t so. Most cities with penchants for murder at least have the decency to indulge in that bloodlust in a systematic, incremental way. You know, a homeless guy here, an unfaithful girlfriend there.

Denver binges.

This morning at 12:39, a man dressed in black and wearing a gasmask entered a movie theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora during a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.” He threw canisters that began to smoke, which some eyewitnesses say they thought was a joke or a publicity stunt.

But it wasn’t a joke, or a Joker. It was sick craven worthless fuck who pulled out a gun and started shooting into the audience.

As of this writing, 12 are confirmed dead. Dozens more have been injured. Seeing as how the film just opened, the theater was packed. There were children in attendance. Some of them dressed as Batman.

You know. Batman. The guy who, as a boy, sees his parents shot and killed in front of him.

It’s safe to assume that any kids who may have witnessed their parent’s death this morning will not grow up to be superheroes. They will not deal with their trauma by putting on a mask and living in a cave.

Or maybe, in their own way, they will.

“The Dark Knight Rises” — indeed, all of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy — is about a city living in fear. What does fear do to us? What does it engender? How is it personified? That city is supposed to be Gotham.

Now it is Denver.

Again.

Denver has been here before. Thirteen years ago, two students at Columbine High School in the nearby suburb of Littleton performed a similar act of sick-craven-worthless-fuck-ism. This morning, I watched Denver’s TV news crews attempt to gather information and make sense of the aftermath. Distraught and exhausted, they did (and are doing) a valiant job. After all, they have experience at this sort of thing.

I make fun of these news crews all the time. Hell, I make fun of Denver all the time. I’ve lived here for almost 30 years, yet I sometimes feel like an outsider. As the product of bitter, cynical, blue-collar New England stock, this sunny, cheery, prosperous mountain town makes me itch.

But I stay here, for a reason. Honestly, it’s a beautiful city. Denverites are among the warmest, most generous, and least pretentious you will ever meet. Believe it or not, it even has a relatively low murder rate.

Later in the day, from my hotel room in San Francisco, as I watched the coverage unfold, I wrote this, my first “real” piece for NSFWCORP

The visual grammar of covering domestic mass-murder is well-established: blonde lady at a desk, authentic-reporter-looking correspondents on the ground, shaken witnesses giving sobbing testimony. Professional reporters and amateur sources, with the former tasked with making sense of the latter.

But not this time. This time, something jarred.

It took watching two or three interviews, with different young witnesses, to realize what the hell was going on. The slickness, the sound bites, the neat closing summary: These people weren’t describing the tragedy, they were reviewing it.

(You can read the whole thing here)

Then on the July 23rd episode of NSFWLIVE (transcript), Jason joined Josh and I to talk more about his piece and Denver’s reaction to the shooting…

Colorado does have the death penalty. It’s interesting, though. On Saturday, I was watching the local news. This isn’t something that you’ve seen on the national news. There was a local newscaster speaking to a local attorney being interviewed about what might come in this case against James Holmes. This attorney was pretty gleefully talking about, “Oh, yes! We absolutely do have the death penalty. This is obviously the type of case that the death penalty would be sought on something like this.”

The thing is, we have not executed anyone in Colorado since 1997, and it’s the only execution that has happened in the State of Colorado since the ’70s, when the death penalty was re-instituted in the state. We’re not like Texas. Here in Colorado, it’s not something that’s done in the dozens at wholesale.

It’s actually going to be very interesting to see how this plays out legally. I really don’t see how they’re not going to push for the death penalty.

Looking back now, apart from being reminded at how powerful Jason’s writing on the subject was, I also see foreshadowing of a later version of NSFWCORP: The Ames-Levine-Dolan era when for days on end we’d drop any semblance of jokes in favor of devastatingly great writing about unimaginably horrific subjects. I guess it was always there, under the surface — but it’s jarring to see it now alongside the much more deliberately funny material from Kotecki and others.