There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
If you’re unhealthy and you know it, raise your hand. This will save us both a lot of time; no need to go through the checklist of activities such as “smoking,” “drinking,” “bingeing” (or “purging”), “snorting,” and “following Phish.” If two or more of these accurately describe your lifestyle, chances are your personal implosion is proceeding nicely enough already and you can skip to the next review. For those of you not as adept at destroying relationships and/or body organs—not to mention those whose jonesings are satisfied principally by ingesting unnatural doses of irony—there’s The Self-Destruction Handbook: Eight Simple Steps to an Unhealthier You. Co-authored by self-described “Scotch-swilling, Marlboro-smoking, relationship-sabotaging MWM” Adam Wasson and “SWF with a kind heart [and] questionable morals” Jessica Stamen, the satirical self-help book’s 150-plus pages offer advice on a range of injurious behaviors, including the makings of a drinking “problem,” cheating etiquette, and eating disorders. If the authors are to be believed, tongues should always be in cheeks—one’s own or, preferably, someone else’s. (Appropriately enough, Chapter 4, “The ‘Rules’ for Dysfunctional Daters,” advises men to “go ahead, toss that salad.”) The opening chapter, which lays out 12 steps toward a paralyzing alcohol dependency, fires off some of the book’s best zingers. On the cultivation of an alcoholic role model, the authors suggest such heavyweights as Hemingway and Faulkner on the premise that “[y]ou’ll be the toast of the literary community.” Of course, since “[n]o one reads books anymore,” your choice may very well be in vain: “The literary community consists of you, a pen, and an empty bottle.” In the chapter titled “Why Smoking Is Cool,” the “deathly, tubercular rattle” of a lifelong smoker is said to garner “respect from serious smokers in much the same way that the Parkinson’s-ridden Muhammad Ali garners applause and admiration from boxing fans.” But while the authors’ gleeful inversion of conventional wisdom can be a genuinely entertaining read, it at times veers into cliché territory, especially in the chapter about drugs: “Generally, if wealthy white people use a drug, then it is legal. If Mexican or black people use it, then it is illegal and bad.” And nothing says “I paid a visit to the ironic-T-shirt store” like the “Rehab is for quitters” slogan adorning the book’s back cover. Of course, quitting’s not exactly the point. —Chris Hagan