He Straightens shit out. November 24, 2008 11:41 AM   Subscribe

Follow up to this post. Callout for The Straightener.

Back July there was an anonymous AskMe about how to find housing for someone struggling with mental illness and alcoholism. It looks like the asker got a lot of helpful answers in the thread, but in particular the Straightener helped the person by laying out a plan for how to approach this kind of situation, and then answering when then the anonymous asker followed up over email by helping the asker through the initial process. It turns out that the person’s father got his disability award letter and will get the money coming to him, monthly, for the rest of his life and retroactively to when the ordeal began. The asker said that the actions the family took, it sounds like largely on the advice of The Straightener, saved the father’s life.

I know The Straightener won’t call himself out and the anonymous person obviously won’t, so here I am. It just made me feel good, even third hand, to hear that someone got help and that a stranger had a hand in it. Many of you probably have noticed that The Straightener really very often has great insight into a lot of issues related to mental illness, substance abuse, poverty, and The System. Plus he tells freaking hilarious, horrible, scary, sad, shocking stories with an intelligent and caring sense of humor and a sweet yet cynical perspective.

Plus he’s like a big lumberjack-looking motherfucker.
posted by Pax to MetaFilter-Related at 11:41 AM (55 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

I likes me some The Straightener. Mazel Tov!
posted by Mister_A at 11:43 AM on November 24, 2008

Jeff is awesome and Metafilter is a better place for his presence.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:44 AM on November 24, 2008

That is really good. You guys make me like this place so much.
posted by vytae at 11:44 AM on November 24, 2008

First link is borked, could a fabulous mod fix this in that fabulous way they do?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:45 AM on November 24, 2008

Fixed it. Awesome story, three cheers for The Straightener!
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:54 AM on November 24, 2008

Wow. This is the sort of thing that makes me love this place in an unnatural way. Thank you for pointing this out.
posted by ltracey at 11:55 AM on November 24, 2008

That guy fucking rules. Take a moment and browse his comment history, most of them are burners.
posted by plexi at 11:55 AM on November 24, 2008

I always read his comments in the voice of David Cross which makes them all the more awesome. He and I already had some back and forth about this yesterday and I was all "I'm so proud of you" about it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:59 AM on November 24, 2008

This Thanksgiving, I am going to give thanks for the fact that there are people in the world like The Straightener.
posted by msali at 12:01 PM on November 24, 2008

I just want to assure the anonymous poster that absolutely none of their personal information was shared with anybody. I thought this was really cool and shared generally about it with a couple people, but at no point identified the user involved.

But, yeah, this is a big win. The difference between zero dollars a month income and the amount of monthly income provided by a disability award is the difference between living on the streets and having a roof over your head. An SSI/SSDI award for someone who's chronically mentally ill can be a life and death proposition.

You can see how complicated this process is, as well. Your average person suffering with a chronic mental health disorder is never going to understand how to access the system, let alone be able to jump through all these hoops once they do, so for years there have been all these people who desperately need and are qualified for these funds, but have been rendered defacto ineligible by the convoluted nature of the procedure. So now social workers and public interest attorneys are working together to get this lifeline money to people who are on the streets without it. The attorney who taught me this stuff takes SSI apps out with the city outreach teams and fills them out on street corners, then tries to figure out ways to track the people who have applications pending so she can find them when their award letters come in and get them hooked up with housing. It's pretty vital work.

Congratulations to Anonymous on the good news.
posted by The Straightener at 12:04 PM on November 24, 2008 [21 favorites]

The Straightener has always been a real, honest, calls-it-like-he-sees-it guy and I am grateful as well for his answers and anecdotes. His insight brings true wisdom to us all. Kudos to this community acting like and being, well, a real community, because I'm constantly inspired and amazed by the people here. Thank you, Straightener. In many ways, you remind me of my dad (except younger and taller).
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 12:05 PM on November 24, 2008

Much love to The Straightener and to Pax for the callout! Thanks to you both.
posted by Lynsey at 12:05 PM on November 24, 2008

This is awesome.
Nice work Straightener; congratulations and best of luck to anonymous.
posted by chococat at 12:07 PM on November 24, 2008

This is awesome. If you haven't checked out The Straightener's blog you should.
posted by Sailormom at 12:16 PM on November 24, 2008

Aw, and now I'm feeling so goofily choked up by your comments. He really is the real deal.
posted by Pax at 12:20 PM on November 24, 2008

You're a right good egg fella!
posted by Divine_Wino at 12:22 PM on November 24, 2008

2000 pats on the back for The Straightener, and to the anonymous AskMe poster for seeking help for his dad.
posted by netbros at 12:35 PM on November 24, 2008

But, yeah, this is a big win.

Indeed, it's great to hear this happened.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:51 PM on November 24, 2008

This thread is useless splendid without pictures snark. Nice tribute to a nice, helpful guy.
posted by Cranberry at 12:53 PM on November 24, 2008

He's made me straighter. Also: More engorged.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:10 PM on November 24, 2008

Pardon my french, but:

This is why I fucking love this site.
posted by Tomorrowful at 1:10 PM on November 24, 2008

People like The Straightener make hard lives worth living.
posted by batmonkey at 1:18 PM on November 24, 2008

I just realized that I somehow hadn't ever made The Straightener a contact before now. That has changed.

Seriously, maybe the most kick-ass of all MeFites, which is a high standard to begin with. And yeah, he looks like David Cross if David Cross could kick your ass.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:26 PM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

And here I was thinking this was going to be a callout for him answering his own anonymous question or something using a sockpuppet.

anonymous is my sockpuppet.

I should go make an askme question, see if he can fix my life. Or at least lend me $400 until payday.

Cool story here.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:36 PM on November 24, 2008

The Straightener always seemed like a good guy.
posted by jonmc at 1:45 PM on November 24, 2008

Wonderful! It's so encouraging to hear about this.
posted by dog food sugar at 2:02 PM on November 24, 2008

What everybody else said. Thanks for being here and sharing your knowledge, The Straightener!
posted by languagehat at 2:07 PM on November 24, 2008

I'm having a bad day... No that's not true. I'm having a bad month. I'm angry, irritable, and I've been prone to snap at people for no good reason because of it. As such I've been viewing the world through a fairly antagonistic lens lately, and reading this thread has reminded me that there are some decent people, hell, good people out there.

So yeah, thanks for that TS. It makes me feel better to know that folks like you are helping to make the world a little less unpleasant for those around you.

It's a good thing to hear about on Thanksgiving weekend too, which is cool.
posted by quin at 2:14 PM on November 24, 2008

You had me at 'he’s like a big lumberjack-looking motherfucker.'

I memailed him a few days ago about a person trying to help out the less fortunate in his area. And of course he dropped in the thread to help. Swell dude right there. I was in Philly a few months ago and I am ashamed I did not meet him.
posted by cashman at 2:18 PM on November 24, 2008

I think we've crashed his blog.
posted by boo_radley at 2:51 PM on November 24, 2008

The existence of folks like The Straightener makes me feel better about all kinds of things.
posted by rtha at 2:52 PM on November 24, 2008

A little while back there was a MetaTalk thread in which The Straightener said he used to do lots of coke, which was followed by a retort by languagehat. Here's the exchange;

"I used to post shit like this on the Internet all the time when I was doing tons of coke. I also thought there was a federal agent posted on the roof of the building across from mine who was able to see through walls and take high resolution infrared photographs with his eyeballs."
posted by The Straightener at 1:11 PM on July 4

"The Straightener, just because you stopped doing coke doesn't mean the federal agent isn't there. He is, and the cabal would be getting copies of his reports if there were a cabal. Which of course there isn't."
posted by languagehat at 1:13 PM on July 4

Also, a while before this, I promised that if 20 people added me as a contact, I'd write another Agent Howie story. I didn't actually think that this would ever happen. But, around the same time that The Straightener was admitting he used to do lots of coke, person # 20 went and added me as a contact. So I wrote a new Agent Howie story, a prequel to the events that were chronicled in the first 12 chapters I'd gone and written.

I went to post the story to the MeTa thread, but before I could do so it got closed. So I saved the story for another day. This thread is about as good a place as any to post it. So because The Straightener is such a cool guy, here it is.



Agent Howie was on his first mission out of the Academy. He was rather surprised that he would have been assigned to field work so quickly, but one of his superior officers, Agent R, a man who was widely acknowledged as being well on his way to becoming The Agency's top Operative, had made it known to all and sundry that he thought Agent Howie showed great promise. Clearly this assignment was meant to help prove that claim.

The mission seemed a simple enough one. Howie remembered the briefing note and its objectives very clearly. One; Make your way to the top of an apartment building in Philadelphia. Two; Use The Agency's new X-Ray Contact Lenses which would to take high resolution infrared photographs of an enemy spy known only to The Agency as The Straightener. Three; Return Safely To Base.

How had reached the top of the building and switched on his contact lenses. The effect was incredible! Immediately he was able to see inside every building that surrounded him. He could see into the lives of all people who lived nearby; the husband cheating in his wife with his mistress... the teenager reading his comic books... the artist diligently working on his latest work of art. He could not help but think of how amazing it was that he could stand there and see into the private lives of everyday people; the very people he had sworn to protect. It was a most impressive ability. His head swam with the kind of power he was enjoying as a part of his new job; he was almost unto a God at this very moment.

But he had to get his head back into the game and complete his mission. He zoomed the lens in on the apartment of The Straightener. He was at home, Agent Howie soon discovered, and doing tons of coke. Howie blinked, and the shutter went off upon opening his eyes again. He blinked again, and again, and again taking photograph after photograph. This was sure to impress his superiors back at HQ!

Suddenly The Straightener looked up and around, as though he had been startled by something. "Hmmm" thought Howie. "I wonder what's gone and set him off?" Howie scanned the rest of The Straighteners apartment. There was no one else there and so he returned his attention to the table where his subject was snorting his coke. Blink! Another photo taken. But then a most peculiar thing happened. The Straightener looked up again and straight at Agent Howie.

"What the fuck?" thought the rookie Agent. "Surely he can't know I'm up here taking photos of him?" The confusion momentarily distracted Howie enough that he allowed himself to blink involuntarily. Another photo taken. And then The Straightener got up, stumbled over his coke-snorting table and stared straight through the wall at Agent Howie and pointed right at him*. "Shit! Fuck!" thought Howie. "He's onto me!" He darted off and back down the stairwell of the building. His mission had essentially been completed. The Agency would now know that The Straightener was operating in The United States. But what they would do with that info was up to them.

See 'The Adventures of Agent Howie #3: Straighten Out This Mess', in which Agent Howie learns it was actually a fly that The Straighter was pointing at and not himself.
posted by Effigy2000 at 2:55 PM on November 24, 2008 [5 favorites]

That's one of the best AnswerMe's I've ever read - nice work.

Also, Effigy2000 for teh lulz.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:01 PM on November 24, 2008

It always heart-warming to see proof that there are good people in the world. Yay for The Straightener!
posted by amyms at 3:13 PM on November 24, 2008

Also, Pax, that's a beautifully expressed sentiment. I think i just fell in love with you both a little.
posted by Jofus at 3:23 PM on November 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Man, way to go Straightener. Good on ya. Buy you a beer if you're ever here or I'm ever there.
posted by klangklangston at 3:40 PM on November 24, 2008

Another yay for The Straightener!
posted by NikitaNikita at 3:48 PM on November 24, 2008

posted by BrotherCaine at 3:53 PM on November 24, 2008

And here I was thinking this was going to be a callout for him answering his own anonymous question or something using a sockpuppet.

Count me as someone whose blood pressure shot up when I saw The Straightener was getting a call-out (I regard the man as a national treasure and seriously, I need a hero minus feet of clay right now). Then I clicked through. May we all someday be called out thus!
posted by cirocco at 4:16 PM on November 24, 2008

It's threads like this that keep me coming back to the gray.
posted by Caduceus at 4:36 PM on November 24, 2008

Reading this thread after perusing the recent comic book thread has me picturing The Straightener in spandex and a cape.

posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:02 PM on November 24, 2008

anyone with a video of the dirtbombs playing a bowling alley on his blog immediately gets my respect. and what other people said, too.
posted by msconduct at 5:46 PM on November 24, 2008

Like cirocco, I thought "WTF? The Straightener getting called out? That guy is superhero-grade awesome - how the hell did he screw up?" Then I saw the thread and my faith in heroes was restored. Straightener, you're a credit to your city, country, and species.

By the way, shouldn't this have been a "shout-out" rather than a "callout"? Shout-outs = good, callouts = bad?
posted by Quietgal at 6:08 PM on November 24, 2008

Give the man some candy corn. And a book deal, dammit already!
posted by footnote at 6:44 PM on November 24, 2008

Sorry, Shout Out!! (my first MeTa).
posted by Pax at 6:59 PM on November 24, 2008

And a book deal, dammit already!

Also, THIS.
posted by Pax at 7:00 PM on November 24, 2008

There are so many folks who show up and try to make a splash here by being a jerk; it's a total treat to watch someone show up and make a quieter but much deeper splash by being completely helpful, informed and kind. Thanks, Jeff.
posted by mediareport at 7:51 PM on November 24, 2008

I'm leaving a sealed letter with my attorney to be opened at the onset of my. almost. inevitable mental slide. It will contain the plans for the construction of a The Straightener Signal plus funding for it's completion. Straighter, please keep your eye out for it (I probably got four or five good years depending upon the number of girlfriends in the meantime.)

In all seriousness, seeing this kind of good work has pushed me harder toward my decision to go into public interest or juvenile law once I hit retirement (or find some way to recover damages from shitty girl friends - completely a jokey reference to a recent and at least one past AskMe of mine) . Just 5.5 years till I can walk out the corporate door and I'm already starting to do some volunteer grunge work with the legal services office in our area to try and gradually pick up practical experience.

The Straightener is an inspiration.

(I respectfully request that all "shitty girl friend" references be ignored and written off to my amazing ability to make poor choices on a personal relationship level). All praise to The Straightener and those like him.
posted by Carbolic at 8:38 PM on November 24, 2008

The Straightener is my favourite poster. By a long shot.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:39 PM on November 24, 2008

He's making us all look bad by comparison. Someone needs to take care of that.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:49 PM on November 24, 2008

He's the second best thing in Philly, after me, my kids, my wife, soft pretzels, and the strong tradition of mathematical excellence.
posted by Mister_A at 6:09 AM on November 25, 2008

I'd happily look bad by comparison with The Straightner, Blue_beetle!
posted by Wilder at 6:33 AM on November 25, 2008

We like to think of him as 'Philly's own' Straightener. Kudos.
posted by fixedgear at 7:01 AM on November 25, 2008

Nice! That's Social Work in action.
posted by OmieWise at 8:17 AM on November 25, 2008

I'm going to pitch a TV show where the Straightener teams up with The Cleaner and The Closer.
posted by poppo at 9:47 AM on November 25, 2008

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