Yeehaw, cowpokes! It's time for one last ride.
|Karl Spurzem||Dec 6, 2019|
Howdy, friends. Please excuse the cobwebs. I let this place go to hell, huh?
Karl, we thought you were gone for good. I still am. I wanted to drop one last little mash note here before I get all official in calling it quits.
Karl, where WERE you? Chicago for a minute, and now Los Angeles. It was rude of me to ghost you like this and I am sorry.
Karl, where are those sweet, juicy, succulent links? Those tasty babies are at the bottom. This got kinda long, so go ahead and scroll past if ya need that sweet juice.
The main news here is that I’m not bringing this newsletter back. I’m officially declaring it dead, deceased, and donezo. Making this brought me a lot of joy this year. I spent many, many hours trapped at my desk and this thing was a nice release. DRDB gave me with a focal point for my distractions, a way to recycle all the nonsense I used to entertain myself. (I’m easily bored, y’all. I just lost 20 minutes watching Penn & Teller get fooled.) So I channeled my dependence on social media and need for constant stimulation into this. It was fun! It was kind of productive! I think it turned out OK!
It also scratched a deeper itch: I was trying to reach out to people. It is way easier for me to recommend something to read than to, say, start a real conversation or throw a party. It is way easier for me to copy and paste a link at someone than to be vulnerable and engaged and present in their lives. It’s that classic dad move of emailing you a New York Times article as a substitute for talking.
I’m 33 with no kids and I already have big dad energy. Is it emotional unavailability or is it social anxiety? Are they walking hand-in-hand through my brain right now? They are. They’re sneaking behind those hedges to do some heavy petting. Low self-esteem is already back there because he likes to watch.
I did this same sort of thing on Tumblr years ago, when I lived in New Jersey and hardly knew anyone on the east coast. Back then, I didn’t post anything about myself. 99% of my blog was other people’s work. I didn’t trust myself to be interesting or engaging on my own. I was terrified to try. I usually still am.
This newsletter was that same sort of project, I think. I’m glad I got to put some parts of myself into it. It helped me cope for a while. It was a nice escape until I found a better one: quitting, moving to a place with legal weed, and growing a grungy beard. It’s a classic fix, works every time.
I didn’t reinvent myself as some world-traveling influencer posting selfies with inspirational captions. My self-esteem is still near rock-bottom. My social anxiety is still riding me like Gordon Ramsay riding a delusional restaurant owner. It’s just that this way, I don’t need to read so much of the internet. Huge improvement.
Thank you to all 33 of you who subscribed. I love you all, even the couple of you who might be total strangers. Now go out there, be good to each other, and for god’s sake do NOT read David fucking Brooks.
RIP Deadspin (Slate)
I’m still so damn mad.
Inside TurboTax’s 20-Year Fight to Stop Americans From Filing Their Taxes for Free (ProPublica)
As someone who is now freelancing and trying to figure out my goddamn taxes, I am painfully aware of how terrible our tax system is and how it should not be so goddamn terrible.
‘Parasite’ and the rise of Revolutionary Gothic (The Outline)
2019 was a good year for movies, and Parasite wipes the floor with all of them. Also please please please go watch Greener Grass, it’s a weirdo delight.
Red Dead Redemption 2: one year after the hype (Polygon)
Film Crit Hulk wrote an incredible piece of design criticism about this video game. Extremely my shit. If I taught design, I’d assign this reading.
The Dismemberment Plan's Emergency & I Turns 20 (Stereogum)
When I mentioned above how I was living in New Jersey and feeling totally alone? This is one of the albums that got me through. Don’t move to New Jersey in your 20s. Don’t repeat my mistake.
"If it’s not clear already, then it must be said: Facebook is a right-wing company, hostage to conservative ideas about speech and economics, its fortunes tied to its allies in Republican politics, including the president, whose campaign spends millions on Facebook ads." (The Baffler)
"Away’s founders sold a vision of travel and inclusion, but employees say it masked a toxic work environment" (The Verge)
Don’t trust hyper-ambitious leaders unless they have a track record of doing good, humane work. Don’t trust privileged people unless they prove they put other people before themselves and have some actual awareness of how other human beings live. Steph Korey is an Ive League/startup nightmare.
My Obsession With the Bon Appétit Cinematic Universe (Jezebel)
Bobby Finger wrote this lovely ode to one of my favorite pastimes: the Bon Appétit YouTube channel.
The Laughs, Pathos, and Overwhelming Talent of Jan Hooks (Grantland)
Jan Hooks was an all-time SNL great, and is one of its most underrated and under-appreciated stars. See also: the Definitive List of SNL Alignments.
Let Some Joy Into Your Life With These Paul F. Tompkins Jingles (Vulture)
The King of Podcasts is also the King of Weird Video Jingles.
Synth Season #6: Synth Is in the Heart (Spotify)
I thought I was done making synth playlists, then I wasn’t. My Spotify artists of the year were Hot Snakes, Big Thief, Caroline Rose, Laurie Spiegel, and Idles. My “artist of the decade” was Vince Staples. I fully endorse all of these performers and congratulate myself on my excellent taste in music.
Keep in touch, friends. Love ya bunches.