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Story pick: Indices of life

I'm a huge fan of Harper's Index. The entries range from the ridiculous to the serious to the sublime and tell us, succinctly, ironically and often hilariously, about the way we live now. One of my personal favorites from years ago (I'm dating myself) is from 1988:

Geiger counters Christie Brinkley carried with her on her recent trip to the Soviet Union: 1. (Remember Cherynobyl radiation paranoia among those with the time, money, geography and ability to be paranoid? Remember when former top model was married to formerly hot pop star Billy Joel?)

I'm not much of a twitterer, but today, I found my inbox peppered with some index favorites, like this one from my colleague, Mike Rosenwald:
Number of Grateful Dead concerts attended by columnist Ann Coulter: 67.

Then there were these slices of life that Harper's itself was tweeting:

# of blind dates former Education Secretary William Bennett had with Janis Joplin: 1

# of temporary tattoos sported by Pat Boone while promoting his album, "In a Metal Mood:" 12

# of the 12 original members of Sha Na Na who hold advanced academic degrees: 8

And a new, telling, though hardly unexpected favorite entry:

Pairs of jeans that Frank Sinatra ever owned in his life: 0

When I googled Harper's (which I read in its print form) I discovered you have to subscribe to the Harper's site to see the full index, or, like me, buy the magazine (novel thought.)

But another index came up, that, though no doubt less heavy on the fact-checking is, I would venture, no less true. Dan Kennedy's My Father's Harper's Index, published in McSweeney's in 2007.

A sample:

800,000,000: Number of times the goddamn neighbors have let their dog run loose.

1,000: Number of times you've been told to do something.


By Brigid Schulte  | August 11, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Story Picks  
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