David Rackoff’s Don’t Get Too Comfortable

by Jess

David Rackoff is a keen observer of humanity. I recently referred to Chuck Klosterman as a pop culture philosopher; Rackoff, his colleague in the growing world of the humorous essay, is a surgeon. Rackoff employs his prosodic scalpel to slice through the world around him (and sometimes, self-effacingly, himself), leaving his readers with sharp insights and plenty of laughs.

Let me illustrate. In the first essay in the collection, “Love it or Leave it,” Rackoff describes his immigration journey from Canadian to American. He digresses thusly:

“While we’re on the subject of the horrors of war, and humanity’s most poisonous and least charitable attributes, let us not forget to mention Barbara Bush (that would be former First Lady and presidential mother as opposed to W’s liquor-swilling, Girl Gone Wild, human ashtray of a daughter. I’m sorry, that’s not fair. I’ve no idea if she smokes). When the administration censored images of the flag-draped coffins of the young men and women being killed in Iraq — purportedly to respect ‘the privacy of the families’ and not to minimize and cover up the true nature and consequences of the war — the family matriarch expressed her support for what was ultimately her son’s decision by saying on Good Morning America on March 18, 2003, ‘Why should we hear about body bags and deaths? I mean, it’s not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?'”

In “Sesión Privada,” wherein Rackoff follows a gaggle of Playboy bunnies and their camera crew to Cayo Espanto and bemoans the very couple-centric luxury resort, he says, “But I am not on a dream date, indeed as I almost never am. Rather, I am Charles Foster Kane in the final reel, standing by myself looking out at the ocean from beside my personal splash pool. My very good supper is a meal for one, eaten while staring out at the black sea. At one point, in the palmy shadows just off of my veranda, a man in full mariachi regalia plays guitar and sings two plaintive songs just for me. I don’t speak Spanish, but I’m pretty sure the chorus of one of them is, ‘David, you will die alone.'”

Rackoff’s essays are smart and incredibly true to life. Perhaps, like a surgeon, he will save us all from the maladies of our noisome, boring, pedestrian lives.