We're Living in The Golden Age of Puns
Ft. John Mayer, Freud, and an underrated dinner spread
Welcome back to The Crunchwrap and Happy Friday!
This week, we’re talking puns, summer sausage, and corporate profits (get excited!). It’s April 29, the 119th day of the year. More importantly, it’s Willie Nelson’s 89th birthday which, in this space, is considered the real 4/20.
(Programming note: I’ll be out next week on a vacation that I’m gonna try to write off later as a reporting trip. There will be no Crunchwrap. Please stay strong without me.)
Earlier this month, I had the rare opportunity to digitally commune with America’s self-proclaimed ex-boyfriend John Mayer. The multi-Grammy winner was out on Instagram dishing puns about Michael Douglas and toilets after the writer Naomi Fry posted this headshot of the actor from the bathroom of a Chicago restaurant:
Am I so low a person as to brag about this exchange? Of course I am. But again, this is my Taco Bell-inspired newsletter that you don’t pay for. AND, I have a larger point to make!
Historically, puns have come under attack by our public intellectuals, who’ve dismissed them as cheap (Freud), the lowest form of humor (Alexander Pope/Samuel Johnson/John Dennis), and verbicide (Oliver Wendell Holmes). It’s understandable. There are some people out there who really give them a bad name for the rest of us. Also, the people who lean into loving puns too much can be kind of terrible to deal with socially. (I am, more than occasionally, this person.)
That said, we are living in The Golden Age of Puns™. Everyone from enormous companies and media outlets to celebrities and Etsy sellers lean on them to make themselves seem human, approachable, fun!, and clever. New York City’s dailies have turned puns into a daily race to the hilarious bottom for decades and the newsletter boom has followed suit.
Is there any harm here? I guess not. And that’s the whole point. Puns are generally harmless and iterative — a low-stakes version of talking about the weather in the digital era.
Not everyone seems to agree. In German, there is (of course) a specialized term often applied to people who pun too much. It’s called Witzelsucht and it’s framed as a “joking addiction” that might actually be the sign of brain damage. And, to be honest, that sounds a bit extreme. I think in English, tedious and excessive punning is just deemed ham-handed. German speakers could just call that a wurst case scenario.
Nothing but respect for this young father who muscled out another fan for a foul ball while also feeding and holding his infant at a Cincinnati Reds game this week. Men, we really don’t get enough credit.
Snack of the Week: Charcuterie (for Dinner)
One joy (of many!) of living in a household where one person is a fast-food expert and the other is a culinary school graduate/expert chef/gourmand is that I bring absolutely nothing to the table.
And learning that not every meal has to be a full-on, traditional combo with fries and a drink has been a revelation. This week, I took a page out of the better living handbook and created a charcuterie dinner plate for two, mostly out of items picked up from Grand Central Station. That included a salted street pretzel, a baguette from Bien Cuit, and some Tickler cheddar and Wagyu beef summer sausage from Murray’s Cheese.1
Anyway, charcuterie as an entire dinner is kinda genius, especially on a Sunday. Also, and this is not an ad2, but you can order the *excellent* summer sausage online from Murray’s Cheese. On occasion, a 20 percent off banner will pop up with a code that usually involves a bad cheese pun.
Nu, what else?
This dispatch from James Pogue from the succession movement in Northern California and Southern Oregon is a sharp and terrifying look at history in motion and rural politics in the United States.
Okay, it’s another bummer, but the ongoing framing of inflation without mentioning corporate windfalls and record profits has been driving me nuts lately. The Guardian has collected data and the receipts from major earning calls, where executives brag about making money by limiting supply.
Finally, this birthday call from writer Ta-Nehisi Coates to rapper and producer Earl Sweatshirt about art and fatherhood will warm your heart.
That’s it for this week. Do you have comments, grievances, charcuterie recs? Send ‘em my way. Otherwise, see you in mid-May.
Thanks as always for stopping by.
At home, the chef added fresh sliced cucumbers in a nod toward health and some homemade[!] ricotta cheese to upstage me.
Call me, Murray!!!!!