We all see plenty of No Parking signs but there weren’t any when comedian, Eugene Mirman, parked his car in Portsmouth. He even paid the parking charge. So, he was less than pleased when he found a parking ticket on his windscreen after a stroll round the New Hampshire town.
In fact, he was so displeased that he wrote a letter to the authorities, and took out a full page advert in the local guidebook to make sure that they read it…
Dear Portsmouth, NH,1 and Especially the Parking Clerk’s Office,
Last June I had a wonderful day walking around your historic downtown with my girlfriend. I bought two puppets, who turned out to be gay. Just kidding, they’re puppets. We stopped in cute shops, ate a popover2 and saw Black David Cross.3
It was nice.
Then — when we returned to our car, on the windshield4 was a ticket.
“What could this possibly be for?” I thought.
I paid for three hours of parking (but only used two—you’re welcome, Portsmouth). Is it a crime in Portsmouth to not use all of the parking you bought? How’d you know I’d be back early? Do you have a PreCrime division? Why are your PreCogs working on traffic tickets? Shouldn’t they be out preventing Street Performers before they happen?
But no, I read the violation — we backed into a spot and were being fined $15 for being “parked in the wrong direction.”
What kind of horseshit charge is that? It’s illegal to back into a spot? Before I embarrass myself, I want to make sure that Portsmouth is still in a the United States and not considered a part of Iran?
You’re probably thinking, “Well, if before visiting Portsmouth, like everyone else — you’d simply gone to the City Clerk’s Office website, clicked on City of Portsmouth ordinances and looked in chapter seven—Vehicles, Traffic and Parking. Right there in section 7.316: BACK TO CURB, it says, “No vehicle shall remain backed up to the curb.” Similarly, if you had gone to my website before I came to your city and clicked on Eugene’s ordinances, you’d know that in Chapter One under “Fuck You Don’t Steal My Money,” in section 8.215 is says, “Fuck You Don’t Steal My Money.”
But even if I had gone to your website — it states that the online ordinances are not an official copy — that for the official ordinances, I have to call 610-7245. Why no area code? Am I calling from a local payphone in 1986? But instead, I foolishly looked around for signs, both real and from God. I saw nothing, but I heard God’s voice, and he said, “This is fucking bullshit. You need to write them a letter.”
Lastly, as you know, New Hampshire‘s state motto is General John Stark’s5 celebrated quote, “Live Free or Die,” which he famously said before attempting the first recorded self-BJ.6 If John Stark was alive today, he would be 287 years old — also, right after learning about cars, General Stark would then be disgusted to discover that Portsmouth doesn’t even give people the freedom to back into a spot—which by your own state’s twisted logic, turns my $15 ticket — into a fight to the death.
With Great Disappointment In You,
Many thanks Eugene for allowing DCR to reproduce your brilliant letter.
Actually, this isn’t the first time that Eugene has done this. In 2011, he humiliated Time Warner able after they messed up his internet and phone installation by publishing his letter to them as a full page ad in several New York newspapers. You can watch him read his letter to a live TV audience here.
As well as his stand up shows, Eugene voices the character Gene in the Fox TV animated series, ‘Bob’s Burgers‘. It has had over 10 seasons since 2011.
Find out more about Eugene on his own website here
For British Readers: This is Portsmouth, a pretty coastal town in New Hampshire, in the United States of America, not the original Portsmouth on the South coast of England from where it stole the name ↩
For British Readers: A Popover is an American version of the Yorkshire Pudding – only not as good, obviously ↩
For British Readers: David Cross is a film actor – credits include Men in Black and Kung Fu Panda – and comedian. He did a stand up show called Bigger and Blackerer which may be where the black reference came from ↩
For British readers: Windshield is the American word for windscreen. It is not one of those canvas things you use to keep the wind from sand-blasting you to death when sunbathing on a British beach ↩
For British readers: General John Stark was a New Hampshire born soldier who fought against the British during the American Revolution, notable at the Battle of Bunker Hill – which was pretty bloody disloyal as his Dad came from Glasgow! ↩
For British readers: It is assumed that BJ in this context means blow job. It might explain the place in Saratoga called Starks Knob which is apparently named after the general ↩