it's all too much 😵
On the climate of "the most" and "record levels," with some musing on the tension between cultures and corporations.
Biden hits new lows amid Israel-Hamas war
While the OpenAI drama was the story of the week, the runner up was Biden’s bungles. Did he do anything bad-bad? No. But he lost a huge clout war, from his Britney/Taylor slip to his unhinged birthday cake. Dude gonna lose!
Derek Chauvin stabbed in prison
Siri, play Taylor Swift’s “Karma.”
Israel, Hamas Agree to Hostage-Release
Hostages to be released, ceasefire continues
Some progress! Hopefully…peace (“peace”) can be sustained and lead to long-term, equitable solutions. This week also marked a change in how (American) press is talking about the matter, in that Palestinians are starting to be treated as people.
Far-right libertarian Javier Milei wins
Geert Wilders, a far-right anti-Islam populist, wins
This is bad, and not just for Argentina and the Netherlands. Distantly related are the right-wing riots in Dublin.
Which modern-day politician is most like Napoleon?
A funny – if not shocking (or biased) – story about which modern politician is most like Napoleon. It’s not Putin or Trump!
The Ozempic effect on business
How does the availability of Ozempic shift businesses? Turns out there’s a big ripple effect, from how Coca-Cola is going deeper in diet to how many groceries Walmart expects to sell.
Meta disbanded Responsible AI team
Funny that Meta dropped this the same week as the Sam Altman drama. It’s like they’re trying to bury this…?
Bikes, mopeds cut demand for oil more than electric cars
"massive impact on global oil demand"
Americans: y’all really need to get into e-bikes! Electric cars are a scam!!!
Money can buy happiness. Here's their price tag.
This speaks to how much trowma Millennials have with money. Note that scientists agree that money can buy happiness, but they say that price tag is $75K. Don’t make me laugh, nerds!
Let me know if you see what I see.
Supposedly big butts are no longer cool, which is interesting because when you consider how the “big butt” evolved from Jennifer Lopez’s normie butt in the 1990s and 2000s to Kim Kardashian reshaped butt in the 2010s. This all propelled (and was built upon) BBL culture and the long history of butt shapes, propelling viral stories about mega-sized, faulty butt lifts in 2011 to stories about people undergoing five BBLs in 2022. Every few months, a new “biggest butt in the world” story comes out, starring a Brazilian fitness model or a Serbian “model” or a viral woman on TikTok or an OnlyFans model or a woman who regrets it. Of course, this doesn’t include the adjacent stories about 38J breast implants and the “worlds biggest cheeks” and the “world’s biggest lips.”
I cannot put my finger on this but there’s a connection between how Tate McRae is being pushed as a savior of pop, and how she is an almost algorithmic, steroid-infused fusion of every 2000s pop star. She can dance, she can sing, but there’s a soullessness: it’s all exaggerated reference. “Baby, don't get greedy,” she sings. “That shit won't end well.”
“It could be because dads are pushing their sons harder,” Bobby hypothesizes at dinner. We’re talking about the Times story on adolescent football players, suicide, and brain damage and CTE. Could it be because the sport is getting more brutal, that masculinity has gotten so extreme at a younger age? Perhaps but, as the Times outlines and a recent Boston University study observes, “young, developing brains are especially susceptible to damage from football’s repeated hits.” The NFL might offer proof: the number of injuries are down but the number of concussions are up. Naturally, all these young boys are playing to reach an NFL dream. “The more years of tackle football that someone plays, at any age,” the Times story says. “The higher the likelihood the person will develop CTE.”
“Cocktails Are Sandwiches Now,” New York’s Grub Street proclaims. The thinking here is that cocktails have gone beyond referencing dishes to becoming dishes. “The sandwich cocktails are good, but they are also an inflection point,” journalist Ella Quittner writes. “This is mixology in its paisley era: anything goes. The wilder, the better.” I’m reminded of a TikTok about Los Angeles’ experimental desserts that are becoming post-dessert. “There are a group of young chefs, mostly in pastry, who are pushing the aesthetic boundaries of cuisine,” the creator says. Jelly art, vegan coconut cream, out of context desserts: will this become a trend? If cocktails are any indication, then yes.
“How Did Sam Sulek Get So Huge?” creator newsletter The Publish Press asked this week. Sam is a 21 year old body builder. He started 2023 with 10K subscribers and is ending the year with 2.3M+. His earliest video from January 19 features him driving to the gym, working out, and driving home. He is very muscular but “small.” He mentions he is 230 pounds. His latest video, uploaded on Saturday, doesn’t mention his current weight. Taken on Thanksgiving day and bookended by footage of him driving, he lifts weights in the basement of his family’s house, waxing on and off about what you can and can’t do with a home gym. By the end of his set, he takes off his shirt, to review how well he pumped. He is huge, muscles bulging, everything but the hat on his head seeming to vibrate outward. He smiles. “The fucking roundness all over,” he says and laughs. “That's one thing I like about being bulked: you get so fucking bulbous.”
Last week on TikTok, conversations about Palestine has evolved to the conclusion that maybe we should sympathize with Osama Bin Laden. This week on TikTok, there are conversations about how maybe we have things wrong about North Korea. There is an intention for justice, for liberation that is so laudable, there is a one-up-ness that is very strange.
I see pictures and hear conversations about people visiting their home town. How odd it is to sleep in their childhood bedrooms, they muse. I think, almost instinctively, that these people have a privilege that I do not have. I have it worse, I feel myself grumble, thinking about growing up in a military family. I don’t have a childhood bedroom, I think. They must be rich. I immediately feel stupid.
I could continue – ”Middle-Aged Adults Are Binge Drinking and Using Marijuana at Record Levels,” “Americans are more lonely and socially disconnected than ever,” “Americans Are Wealthier Than Ever,” “2023 is ‘virtually certain’ to be the warmest year ever recorded” – but I will stop. In the jaws of the growth economy, everything is extreme – even us. At what point is this growth, this need to overpower and outdo, seen as bad? At what point is it too much?
“Black Friday boycott”
“win for retail workers”
“#deals look great”
“Amazon is lying”
This was the year Black Friday died, which is on the heels of the death of luxury. We’re broke! And we are tired of being scammed as we make the rich richer on this dying planet!
Hollywood Divided Over Israel
$55 Million Saga of a Netflix Series You’ll Never See
This is for anyone who thinks Hollywood isn’t broken.
‘Squid Game: The Challenge’ Is Depressing
Players Plan Lawsuit Over Injury Claims
Who thought a Squid Game reality show was a good idea? Contestants are popping up on TikTok to share the truth. It’s not all bad, but it’s definitely not good.
"Physical media is almost a Fahrenheit 451"
Christopher Nolan is like an armpit who took gifted classes, but this take from Guillermo del Toro is spot on. As a niche horror fan, so many older movies are just…gone now.
King presents MBEs to Blackpink
"Blackpink were recognised by King Charles"
Blackpink getting knighted is one of the strangest, most desperate (and very Biden) behavior done by a state. They out here clout-chasing Blinks to save the royal family. That’s wild!!
BMI Is Being Sold to a Private Equity Firm
There has been a lot of talk about private equity, and how it kills quality to line the pockets of the rich. If you need more of an explanation, see this TikTok on how Kim Kardashian’s private equity firm relates to Taylor Swift’s masters.
Buy clothes to last (almost) forever
There’s something so sweet about building emotional relationships with what you own, to prevent over-consumption and to elevate what you have. Saves money, saves the planet!
Miranda July On the Adventure of Aging
We’re entering a big perimenopause / menopause moment, as Miranda July’s new book and viral moments like this news item suggest a cultural breakout in 2024. Also: Gen X and Millennials are getting older! Now’s the time!
NPR : Books We Love
The end of year lists are dropping and this one goes out to my book girlies. The NPR list is always the best!!
Are big cities are bad? Not because of the people, not because of the structure, but because they’re becoming corporate playgrounds. Anyone who’s lived in a New York or LA or London or Paris can tell you they’ve felt it: culture is often replaced by amusement parks catering to tourists, funded by corporations. It’s why we have the “All these buildings look the same!” feeling in cities: culture is replaced with the sterility of supposed safety.
I’ve been thinking about this since watching a talk with electronic artists I. Jordan, Parris, and Nadine Noor about accessibility and clubbing. They discuss how a city like London made them who they are – but that there is a tension as the culture is being sucked out by businesses, as people are priced out and cannot sustain life. Noor explains, reflecting on London versus Berlin –
There used to be heavy DIY, heavy subculture building. In the last ten years, I’ve not really seen it. Anything that has been a little inkling, then people get burnt out and they can’t do it anymore because it’s too difficult to do it in London because it’s become so gentrified. It’s become so corporate.
This is true! This was definitely present in my last years in Los Angeles, as expressed by “the club” being sponsored: Club Renaissance by Amazon Music, Boiler Room x HBO Max, Bottega Veneta at Berghain, Interview & Spotify’s GLOW. That talk that this quote came from? Fabric with Jägermeister. Yes, it’s great that big brands are helping facilitate counter culture – but this tension means someone is getting squeezed out, that voices are being silenced, that those in power aren’t being held accountable. It’s public relations! It reminds of the recent HÖR scandal, where pro-Palestine artists were being silenced and cut off by supposed IDF-tied founders.
This safety and culture bleeding plays out in a catering down (See: the Metropolitan Opera doing Dead Man Walking, the NY Philharmonic doing an “art of the score” series, the LA Phil’s ongoing John Williams spotlights) as “fine art” cannibalizes pop culture. None of this is new nor novel, but it speaks to studies showing that big cities over-index on low-paying jobs and elections where xenophobic anti-city politicians win by promising affordable housing. The tension of culture and business always yields to business. Even when culture wins (Say: Coachella.) it eventually evolves into big business (See: Coachella.). There must be a way out – but it can’t be sponsored.
Thanksgiving (TikTok) round-up!! First, Macy’s parade items.
“1000% a vampire”
There were lots of old people and family.
“My grandma with Alzheimer’s”
“what he’s grateful for”
“70 year old dad”
“Thanksgiving plot twist”
"trying to make conversation"
“don’t take pictures”
There were many animal antics, which included…turtles??
“Thank you so much”
"DANCING WITH THIS RANDOM TORTOISE"
"Happy tuekey day"
Internet poisoning was served too.
“Can I get that”
Lastly, some items to help you ease into Christmas.
“wait for it”
"Who are they trying to appeal to?"
"Don’t watch if you are scared of spiders"
FYI: there’s a spider that will give you a boner.
“broken my brain”
If you haven’t seen the “It’s giving season.” bungles yet, let this be your sign that you are going to see posts like this again and again and again.
"when i eat the slay pasta"``
Speaking of gay broken brains, this is the best piece of writing I read this week.
“a Southern European finance minister”
I’m crine. Look what they (Round-lens glasses.) have done to my beautiful blonde boy (Daniel Craig.).
How do I do this but for money, getting my writing published, and free pét-nat?
“boy dinner lol”
Delicious, but I’ll pass!
And, finally, a round-up of 2024 trends that I endorse, unquestionably.