Friday, September 4, 2009

When Your Dad Becomes More Famous Than You ... On Twitter

His dad’s quips have resulted in more than 231,000 followers under the account name @s—mydadsays. But after it attracted wide attention in recent weeks as followers retweeted postings, and blogs and mainstream media covered it, Mr. Halpern finally broke the news.

But his dad didn’t really get it. “He asked if I had to start up the Internet to get on Twitter, and then I felt better because I knew he wouldn’t understand the grand scope of what was going on,” said Mr. Halpern in an interview.

Shortly after the revelation, his dad, who doesn’t have Internet on his personal computer by choice, changed the subject. Mr. Halpern asked his father if he wanted to see the site. He responded with an adamant “no,” so Mr. Halpern read him some posts to check for accuracy, to which his dad responded, “Yeah, I said that.”
Until last week, Justin Halpern’s 73-year-old father didn’t know that he was a Twitter sensation.

He has long been documenting the quips of his father, who grew up working on a farm in Kentucky and was a doctor for more than 40 years. As a child, he recorded them in his diaries, and when he got older, he would post them as his status on Gmail Chat to give his friends a chuckle. In August, he found a new medium for disseminating his father’s expletive-loaded one-liners: Twitter.

Mr. Halpern started the account after he left a job in Los Angeles and was unable to retrieve all of his personal documents on his work computer. He had just moved back in with his parents in San Diego, and a friend suggested he use Twitter as a way to document his life, because he had stopped keeping journals. He was reluctant because of the 140-character cap on tweets, but then thought it could be a good way to keep a record of his dad’s quotes. “I didn’t expect it to have more than 10 people following it,” he said.

A month later, he has become an Internet sensation. On Aug. 3, he began posting such gems as

  • “Don’t touch the bacon, it’s not done yet. You let me handle the bacon, and i’ll let you handle…what ever it is you do. I guess nothing.”
  • “You know, sometimes it’s nice having you around. But now ain’t one of those times. Now gimmie the remote we’re not watching this bullshit.”
  • “What are you listening to?…I know who Hall & Oates are god dammit. It’s the mustache guy and the gay man.”
  • “Your brother brought his baby over this morning. He told me it could stand. It couldn’t stand for s—. Just sat there. Big let down.”
  • Watching the Little League World Series, he said, “These kids are all fat. I remember when you were in little league…you were fat.”
  • "I just did an hour on the gym machine. I'm sweaty and I have to shit. Where's my fannypack, this workout is over."
  • "The dog don't like you planting stuff there. It's his backyard. If you're the only one who shits in something, you own it. Remember that."
Other posts are best read on his page.

Mr. Halpern works from home as a writer for, and his father is retired, so throughout the day he collects the funny, and sometimes outrageous, things he says and chooses one to post each day. Early on, one of his friends brought up the possibility of his dad not saying anything quote-worthy, but he knew that wouldn’t be a problem.

“During the course of a day, he says tons of funny things because there’s no filter.” He admits some of his dad’s best quotes are over 140 characters and are disqualified because of the limit.

Since his account has blown up in the media he’s been approached by book agents, publishers and producers. In Los Angeles he tried to make it as a screenwriter but didn’t find much success.
“It’s ironic to think that I busted my ass trying to get my own writing out there, and what has been successful for me is something I didn’t even write,” he said.