Note the quotes, as this isn’t about shit my own dad says (although I wish I’d compiled his greatest hits over the years; I once heard him swear for about ten minutes without repeating himself after coming inside after being ravaged by black flies during gardening work). It’s the name of a Twitter feed a 29-year-old named Justin Halpern started three and a half months ago. Already, his feed is followed by well over 800,000 people. Halpern moved in with his 73-year-old father earlier this year and, resuming a childhood habit, began keeping track of, as you might guess, the shit his dad said. A few examples:
“You worry too much. Eat some bacon… What? No, I got no idea if it’ll make you feel better, I just made too much bacon.”
“I like the dog. If he can’t eat it, or fuck it, he pisses on it. I can get behind that.”
“Does anyone your age know how to comb their fucking hair? It looks like two squirrels crawled on their head and started fucking.”
The brilliance of SMDS lies in it elegant simplicity. The quotes consist of only a single line or two (Tweeter only allows for 140 characters per “tweet” anyway, a fact for which Halpern might be grateful) and are typically full or skillfully deployed profanity used to drive home some kind of fatherly advice, raw piece of general philosophy, or other desultory observation. What makes this work is that you can almost hear how gruff the guy’s voice must be (even though it probably isn’t), and there’s somehow something poignant about the whole thing. We’ve all got memories of shit our dads have said, especially to sons, and Halpern has brought this to extraordinary life. It doesn’t hurt that his dad says some amazingly funny shit. These tweets are like the eclectic “Jack Handey” bits from Saturday Night Live of seasons past, only much, much funnier.
The surreal growth of the feed has already led Halpern to book and television deals. Not bad for a guy who moved in with his old man because he was unable to find a job in a bum economy.
One moderately worrisome thing is that with SMDS haven gone uber-viral, Halpern’s dad obviously knows that his every utterance is being tracked and that he’s expected to say shit that “means something” and sounds funny at the same time. Hopefully this potential loss of spontaneity won’t make inroads on the shit he says.