BREAKING: chefs aren't cool anymore ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Examining what The Menu says about popularizing professions and a book you def should be reading.
Microsoft to Lay Off 10,000 Workers
Read memos Amazon sent to employees about job cuts
Google to Cut 12,000 Jobs in 6% Reduction
Vox Media to lay off 7% of workforce
Vice Media restarts sale, may fetch less than $1B
Oh, I am worrying, darling!!
Ex-Candidate Arrested in Shootings Targeting Democrats
This seemed to have been overlooked? Or maybe it missed my timeline.
Despite Rain Storms, California Is Still in Drought
Of course the rain was super bad but wasn’t that helpful!! What a mess.
Dust Could Be Hiding Effects of Climate Change
A fascinating read on how dust in the atmosphere, which has accumulated for centuries, may be helping solve climate change. Clearly this isn’t a sustainable solution but it’s certainly interesting!
Fake Meat Was Supposed to Save the World
There is a larger trend here, about eco-fads like this and Tesla being realized as not-as-helpful. Never trust capitalism to solve systemic problems!
Depression May Look Different in Black Women
A recent study shared how depression in Black women manifests differently – and is likely leading to misdiagnosis.
Florida Rejects AP African American Studies Class
This is grim.
Where Change Is Coming for LGBTQ Rights
UK government to block Scottish gender bill
Britain vows law to ban conversion therapy
An update on queer rights around the world, along with some recent news. Advances! And setbacks.
Over 50 injured as protests cause ‘nationwide chaos’ in Peru
Political turmoil in Peru is causing a lot of problems.
Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand's Leader, Will Step Down
This seems like a big deal! End of an era, for one of the first major Millennial-ish politicians.
I saw The Menu recently. It’s good! It’s funny and decent cultural commentary, even if it wasn’t necessarily revolutionary despite people thinking it’s way deeper than it is. But the thing it did most definitively was declare the end of a generation’s icon: the Chef.
With The Bear and From Scratch, Chef’s Table and The Big Brunch, Brooklyn Beckham and Nick DiGiovanni, the Chef is everywhere. This isn’t new, as shows like Top Chef ushered in the era of Chef-as-Rockstar but, all these years later, a movie like The Menu takes the highest of highs for said “Rockstar” and lampoons them and their culture in a way that the masses understand, taking the image and gestures of a somewhat niche chef like Rene Redzepi of Noma (RIP) and turns them into a character that is easily digested by my parents. This takes work, years of paving cultural desires so that a film like The Menu can land firmly.
This also gets at something bigger: we’re at the threshold for the next “Rockstar” to emerge, for “______ is the new Chef” to be a turn of phrase, which will then result in a media frenzy declaring the mainstreaming of said “Rockstar.”
But who are they? To figure this out, let’s look at the past few decades of “Rockstars” and the products that declared them as mainstream.
The 2010s: Creative Director is the new Rockstar. I’ve written about this trend before but the Creative Director, in the fashionable, Virgil Abloh sense, was the last decade’s aspirational “it” title. In the next few years, we’ll get a movie like The Menu but for Creative Directors. Mark my words.
The 2000s: Chef is the new Rockstar. We are now at the end of the Chef-as-Rockstar cycle. The era of dining as a religious experience is ending, both because of economics and the rise in anti-intellectualism. The Menu proved this.
The 1990s: Rapper is the new Rockstar. While the Model was good competition in this era (I mean: America’s Next Top Model), it was the Rapper that caught the imagination of a generation. The best proof is the mainstreaming of Eminem and 8 Mile, which all comes from using white privilege to sell conceptual Blackness.
The 1980s: Director is the new Rockstar. This era set the stage for the 1990s, when Quentin Tarantino and Steven Speilberg and Spike Lee and David Fincher and Nora Ephron became stars as big as the celebrities in their movies. Without this era, you wouldn’t have the self-aware movies about movies, manifesting then as Boogie Nights and Ed Wood.
The 1970s: Athlete is the new Rockstar. Athletes were famous earlier, yes, but this was when sports grew more diverse both on the field and with what was being played, as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Muhammad Ali, Billie Jean King, Nadia Comăneci, and the like became household names. This also saw mega-hits like The Champ and Bad News Bears.
The 1960s: Rockstar is the new Rockstar. This was arguably when modern celebrity culture was born – and we needn’t look further for proof than the filmography of Elvis Presley.
There are many “Rockstars” between and embedded within these moments – like the Fashion Designer (Project Runway), Content Creator (Eighth Grade), Tech CEO (The Dropout), DJ (We Are Your Friends), Stylist (Rachel Zoe Project), Art World Person (Velvet Buzzsaw) – and there is an argument to be made that this economy of needing a mass cultural person to aspire has ended with the quick pace of trends today.
But! Theorize we must! If I had to put money on the next “Rockstar,” it would be one of these five things types, arranged from the most solid to the most nebulous.
The Lifestyle Billionaire: This is arguably already happening. The difference, though, is that I’m not talking about the Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, or Mark Zuckerberg style billionaires: I’m talking about the next generation, the Mr. Beast style billionaire who is self-made with grander aspirations besides being-a-billionaire, fusing reality show lifestyle with being a “creator.” This is an evolution of both content creator and tech CEO. This is a vessel for being literally everything, with the closest example being Kylie Jenner.
Gamer: This is basically already happening too. Yet, while we have our Ninjas and Pokimanes, there has yet to be a successful crossover from game to gamer. Yes, there are movies that adapt games – but there aren’t movies or shows that adapt the Gamer. The YouTuber and the Content Creator has had their celebrity “due” – but gamers? They’re still seen as niche, underground, and a small minority of people. Soon, we’re going to see the Gamer centered as a cultural figure in a way that goes beyond Gen Z and Millennials.
Showrunner: The new Creative Director, this one is also a bit obvious as it’s another “I just want to tell people what to do!” job that is less about being a producer, director, or actor but about being a triple threat production company owner who can make whatever they want in media. Kids no longer want to be just actors: they want to be Showrunners. They want to be Isa, Shonda, or Ryan.
“Analyst” / “Strategist” / “Curator”: These are all fluid items that also dovetail out of Creative Director, another version of someone who just says yes and no, offering opinions on what people should do without having any credible experience to back it up. From @CultureUnfiltered to @OldLoserInBrooklyn, these are people related to a culture who just talk about a culture: it is aspirational to get paid to give your opinion, being a critic with few qualifications.
Drag Queen: Arguably already “a thing,” the reason why this is most nebulous is that it's the most niche. Unlike, say, rap being co-opted by white privilege a la Eminem, there has yet to be a co-opting of this queer performance gesture by the non-queer. When that happens, the Drag Queen will officially be an “it” subject. For now, it’s still a very public niche item draped in taboo, when paired with right wing extremism aimed at them, is only going to mean another barrier has to come down before true crossover viability outside of a RuPaul.
What do you think? This was a lot to cover and I apologize! But The Menu and its success are much more than a movie: it is a declaration of a trend’s end. Thus, a deep dive.
My Internet: Tyler Bainbridge
Twitter is Convinced This Director Just Came Out
This is the wildest theory that I don’t think I saw enough people talk about.
The Celebration Tour Announcement
This is such a chaotic video to say “Madonna is going on tour.” but a genuinely fun group and I wish I had an invite to this dinner party. And, no, I will not be going on the tour. I don’t think, at least!
Turning Trash Into Poetry
I love this interview with the artist Ser Serpas, and her philosophies of a city’s waste as a city’s people. I saw her work at the Hammer some time ago and it seemed feeble – but reading it through someone else’s filter helps a lot (as the show – and the Hammer – trends toward the hyper-conceptual). Excited to see more of her work now!
Channing Tatum Is Working on a Romance Novel
I don’t know what to do with this, especially that he and Roxane Gay are writing it – and have been “in talks” about it since 2017. I think this plays into the celebrity-as-novelist trend that Prince Harry has clarified.
Banker’s Heirs Sue Japanese Insurer Over Van Gogh
A very interesting battle over “who owns Van Gogh,” which is situated between the art-capital pursuits and conversations about repatriating art (which is the art trend now).
“black and white photos that are sure to be circulating”
"Bell Hooks on how Martin Luther King disappears"
Some good posts related to Martin Luther King and the unresolved issues of American racism.
“type in Mindy Kaling”
"her perspective is no longer forward"
The girls are FIGHTING with Mindy Kaling. Who knows if this will mean anything, as this happens every few months with Mindy.
"she’s so real"
tiktok is bad for women, actually
A great lil analysis of TikTok and how it fucks with how “we look.” I didn’t watch the whole video, but the Tweet gives an idea of the thesis. We’re losing our minds! (Speaking of, too many people are getting veneers and losing their character.)
For Better Browned Meat and Veggies, Just Add Water
This cooking tip, to add water to help wilt onions and mushrooms, has been a game changer for me. I promise you that it’ll never take more than 5 to 10 minutes to get translucent onions ever again!!
first album ever made entirely from AI-generated samples
Damian Roach (aka patten) is one of the smartest artists and electronic musicians working right now and I trust him to be one of the only people to make something meaningful with text-to-AI technology.
Something of note you may have missed: Katherine Dunn’s Toad.
Dunn is best known for her 1989 book Geek Love, about circus performers and their peculiar lives. Dunn had other books but the mega-successful Geek Love was her piece de resistance, yet Toad is coming for the title: a book she wrote in 1971 that was rejected by publishers, it recently made it out into the world in November 2022 – and it’s a revelation.
About a seemingly lost woman named Sally, the book wanders between Sally at 20, a college kid in the 1960s with bohemian aspirations in Portland, to Sally at 40, who has retreated from life and teeters between joy and despair. Toad is filthy and shocking, largely as a critique of “the rich,” which positions the piece as a spiritual, west coast parallel to the early works of John Waters. But while Waters shocked like a robber, holding up the rich to have them dump out their pockets, Dunn shocks by holding up a mirror to the rich, to watch them literally pick themselves apart after forgetting her presence. She hands them the knife to slit their throats while staring at themselves, while holding your hand as a reader and forcing you to behold the gore. It’s an incredible feat, something that makes media like The Menu or White Lotus or Succession seem flimsy comparatively.
For example: the main target of this critique is an east coaster named Sam, an aspiring homesteading hippie who reveals himself to be a sham, a spiritually lost individual worthy of nothing. He eventually has a child with his hippie lover, Carlotta, a relationship and situation that helps to expose “people like this” for who they are: tragedies of selfishness. The couple’s collapse is one of the finest tragedies in recent writing, so sad and so disgusting that you almost forget the shock as it’s happening, lost in the meditation that comes from being so far zoomed into a moment.
And the writing! The writing. The combination reveals a very modern feeling, of being in close proximity to the publicly tragic, sad, and objectionable that is allowed to exist via privilege. Dunn, one of the 20th century’s best outsiders, is the perfect voyeur for such a story. Now, as we all watch many rich persons perform seppuku in real life and in media, Toad offers a guide for how to contextualize such behavior. “So many of the desperate things I did in my youth were to combat belonging to the mass identity,” Dunn writes as the older Sally. “All the pain and hatred — it kept me afloat.”
"Trying out TikTok!"
The Jennifer Coolidge-sance continues with her first TikTok which, as
“Anti-Abortion protestors get violent”
“thread of all my greatest hits”
This very Millennial “DEMOCRAT JOKES!!” comedian had a moment this week and his work is actually…pretty good. He’s like a less-absurd Connor O’Malley, who seems to effectively infiltrate right-wing groups. Stresses me out but good results!
"My wife is in a Facebook group called Buy Nothing"
This Buy Nothing Tweet went super viral and we are on the threshold of people taking Buy Nothing groups seriously – which we should! They’re a great, free, anti-capitalist solution to our being wasteful.
“adult iPad baby behavior”
"gen z will not like hearing"
Recent commentary on the Fall Of Gen Z.
“my favorite part of the Critics Choice Awards”
This award show was largely unremarkable, save for the fact that they forced celebrities to pose in front of a giant Cold Stone Creamery ad and it truly humbled them. Make celebrities powerless again!
"actually really respect his commitment"
“Jan Sport vs Jan 6th”
To have the confidence of a delusional George Santos. An inspiration!!
"couldn’t think of a better reason"
Also inspiring: a reality star went to law school so she could sue Simon Cowell. True story!!
“cat in the fridge”
Yall doing too much with them fridges.
And that’s on oral surgery.
"how it felt to turn 25"
She’s so me.
“out of the uranium bin”
She’s got a point. Don’t put anything in them uranium bins!
“gonna be putting scarlett”
Babies are so cute!
And, finally, how I wake up every morning.
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The novel Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow is an example of gamer/game designer as rockstar in the culture, I think
I loved Geek Love. I am 100% going to read Toad. Thanks for the tip.