Paternal wisdom doled out on Twitter

Having to move back home at age 28 almost universally signals defeat.

Images of an unemployed, not-so-well-adjusted George Costanza from Seinfeld might spring to mind.

In Justin Halpern's case, moving from Los Angeles to his parents' house in San Diego planted the seeds for a Twitter page that's quickly growing into an internet phenomenon, attracting offers from literary agents and book publishers.

Once a day, Halpern posts a memorable quote that his dad, Samuel, said the day before.

More than 200,000 users subscribe to get their daily dose of Sam.

We should preface this story with a disclaimer: Justin and his dad use profane language.

A lot of it.

In fact, the very name of the Twitter page Justin runs contains a word synonymous with human waste that is unsuitable for a family publication.

The site, which we'll prudishly call "Stuff" My Dad Says ([expletive]mydadsays), contains droll, irreverent fragments of conversation, observation and, in many cases, expletives stemming from the retired 73-year-old's frustrations with his three sons, the mysteries of technology, food, the family pet and pop culture.

Justin started posting his dad's musings on Twitter on August 3.

In little over a month, the page has received shout-outs from The Daily Show's, Rob Corddry, a popular San Francisco blog called Laughing Squid and Forgetting Sarah Marshall star Kristen Bell.

Corddry told his nearly one million followers that it's "the best thing ever".

Bell urges others to read it, "unless you're allergic to laughing hysterically".

Sam, the unlikely star of the show, isn't trying to be funny.

Until recently, Sam had no idea his youngest son had been broadcasting his anecdotes for the world to read.

But you could write a book about Sam.

Indeed, Justin has already signed with an agent and is considering offers from book publishers.

The only aspect of Sam's character that might exceed his brutal honesty is his insistence on absolute privacy.

Before retiring, Sam worked in nuclear medicine for the University of California, Santa Barbara - a state-funded job requiring classified research.

In retirement, he keeps a computer separate from his wife's on the other side of the house, and it isn't connected to the internet.

"I wasn't worried it was going to get back to him," Justin said about Sam discovering the site.

"He doesn't go on the internet.

"It was like I was writing a newspaper on Mars."

Justin's brother, Dan, laughed hysterically upon learning about the site, but then he offered this advice: "Dude, you can't tell Dad."

With book offers popping up, Justin began anticipating his father's reaction.

One night about two weeks ago, he gathered his courage and dropped the bomb.

"I told him, `OK, there's this site called Twitter'.

"And he was like, `I know Twitter'.

"And then he was like, `Now, do you have to go on to the internet to access Twitter?'."

After providing a basic overview of the project, Justin prepared for the fallout.

"He gave the most perfect response," Justin said.

"He laughed for, like, 10 seconds, and then he goes, `I can't find my cellphone.

"Can you call it?'."

Disaster averted.

Justin's other major concern leading up to the confession - aside from his dad being furious with him - was that the awareness might change the things Sam said and how he acted.

Fortunately, fame hasn't gone to his head.

"He really doesn't give a crap," Justin said, but "I think he doesn't fully understand it."

Justin had been scribbling down his dad's rants and quips in a notebook since childhood.

In the last year or so, he began updating his Google Talk instant messenger status with quotes to laugh about with friends who knew his dad.

One of them suggested Justin use Twitter to preserve the fragments. (Google Talk statuses are not archived.)For a week or so after he created the account at the beginning of August, "Stuff" My Dad Says had five followers - all personal friends of Justin's.

Then one of his friends asked if he could give Justin's page a shout-out.

"Nobody knows my dad, so it's not going to make any sense," Justin recalled telling him. (Justin's mum had the same reaction when he told her about the site.) Regardless, on August 14, the tweet went out, and "Stuff" My Dad Says exploded.

He began picking up a few hundred followers a day.

Now it's a few hundred per minute.

"The reactions have been all really positive," Justin said.

"And people telling me I'm a loser, which I'm fine with."

Contrary to the "28-year-old guy living with his parents" stereotype, Justin is, in fact, employed. (He says he moved back to San Diego to get away from the big city life in Los Angeles.) He recently left his job writing for the humour website he co-founded, called Holy Taco, to write for Maxim.

"I wish maybe I wasn't living at home," Justin said during a phone interview.

"But if you had to live at home when you were 28, this is a good situation."

Sam may have wanted his son to be a professional baseball player after bonding for many years over the sport.

(One "Stuff" My Dad Says tweet about the pair watching the Little League World Series read, "These kids are all fat. I remember when you were in Little League . . .You were fat.")

But he fully supported Justin's pursuit of writing.

"He's a really good dad," Justin said.

"He just doesn't let you get away with anything."

- Los Angeles Times

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