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Dear Mother Jones Reader,

My name is Paula Poundstone. Some of you may know me as a stand-up comic. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a stand-up comic. Mother Jones has given me the entire back page to do with what I want. Of course, now I find I have practically no thoughts at all–but I’d be happy to field any questions you might have.

I’m not an expert on anything, but I live not more than eight miles from the Beverly Hills Library. And although I can’t check out any books because I don’t live in Beverly Hills, I’d certainly be willing to take notes while I’m there to answer your questions. I may be able to answer some stuff right off the top of my head.

I’ve amassed a good deal of information from life experience already. I used to work at Bickford’s Pancake House in Natick, Massachusetts, and at the International House of Pancakes in Orlando, Florida. So it’d be silly of you to let any questions that have been bothering you about pancakes or how they’re served go unanswered. I used to be a bicycle messenger in San Francisco, so if you were to ask me, for example, what it’s like getting your front bike tire caught in a cable car track, I’d have an immediate and knowledgeable response. I used to bus tables at an Iranian soup and salad restaurant in Boston. It’s not exactly a degree in Middle Eastern Studies, but I’m still very close to Farhad Fahkroldini, who was a dishwasher then but now owns a sandwich shop and taught me to say “Hello,” “How are you?,” “I’m serious,” “I’m fine, and you?” and many curse words in Persian. I also worked in a bookstore, so I’m very familiar with the covers of many books.

Let’s see. I own a house, but to be frank, I have no idea how I bought it. I’m still friends with my real estate agent Gloria, and although I don’t think she’d have the patience to tell me what points are again, I’m practically positive I could get her to write it down for you. Gloria accessorizes very well, by the way. She had her scarf tied in a different attractive knot every time we met. I believe she has the Scarf Knot Book, so don’t hold back any questions you may have on that topic either.

I thought I gave up on politics in the sixth grade when I ran for class president and Amy Hayes won. I started feeling like I could think about politics again about the time of the Iran-Contra hearings. I know it seems like a slow recovery, but Amy Hayes was ruthless. Now I love learning about politics. I like to think I have a knack for it. I was one of the first people to almost actually vomit over hearing the use of the phrase “family values” and I pride myself on never having fallen for the idea that Barbara Bush was sweet and grandmotherly. I met Barbara Bush and, as I expected, she was a tank with eyes, not a nice person at all and why should that blow anybody away?

To assure you that my scope is not limited, let me just tell you some of the sources available to me–and now to you:

  • I have a dictionary.
  • I have a film guide.
  • I receive M*A*S*H episodes monthly on videotape from Columbia House.
  • I have six cats.
  • I have a globe. My cat Smike threw up on parts of Africa and the Middle East (as if those people don’t have enough problems), and my assistant’s daughter Miranda dented the Pacific Rim, but it still gives off some basic geography.
  • I have over 1,351,726 frequent flyer miles since 1985.
  • My neighbor, J.P., who lives a block away, thinks he knows everything.
  • I’ve read most Dickens novels.
  • I watch McNeil/Lehrer.
  • I talk to Sarah McClendon.
  • I get newsletters from Common Cause, NOW, the League of Women Voters, ACLU, Oxfam, UNICEF, Transafrica, Union of Concerned Scientists, Union Rescue Mission, The Human Farming Association, AMFAR, NARAL, Emily’s List, EDF, Greenpeace, The Red Cross, Amnesty International, Comic Relief, L.A. Mission, Second Harvest, and Koco the Gorilla.
  • I know Congressman Mike Kopetski.
  • Liza hugged me.
  • In the eighth grade, I received an A on my oral report on Walt Disney.
  • In the seventh grade, I received an A on my written report on Japanese bathing customs .
  • I have a mulch pile.
  • I know a federal court judge in New York City.
  • My agent Dave Snyder knows how many tickets Harry Belafonte sold on any given night.
  • I’m in therapy, and if you have a problem, I could fake like it was mine and have it answered during a slow hour when I may have felt healthy.

As you can see, I don’t have all the answers, but I more than likely know somebody who knows somebody who has some. Think of me as your own personal emissary–or your ambassador of knowledge, if like me, you enjoy getting good and hokey sometimes. The editor guy of this magazine says they’ll send me traveling places to find answers to your questions, and I don’t think he’s kidding. And you know what that means? Small shampoos. And you know, Mother Jones reader, who I might be able to offer those to?

Please promise me that you’ll send letters and questions to me c/o Mother Jones, 1663 Mission St., 2nd floor, San Francisco, CA 94103, fax number (415) 863-5136, and that you’ll flip to the back page first when you get your copy of Mother Jones.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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