The Trend Report™: Big Changes
A look at how personal landscapes are shifting, the best streaming service now, and the best-worst holiday robot romcom.
Welcome to The Trend Report™ where you get a capturing of what happened this week.
For this final Report™ of the year (I think?), we’re surveying how this year inspired big changes and the best streaming service happening now, a collection of not-great Covid news and a theory about the lack of Christmas trees this year, a sheep gang running the streets in Turkey and an incredible bot-generated holiday romcom.
PS. Forward to your friends and subscribe here.
July was when the first big change happened: that’s when my friend Kate moved from Los Angeles to Georgia, to Atlanta. Around the same time, a few friends were chatting similarly, but in a smaller way: getting a house, moving into a new apartment, figuring out some sort of change in a changeless year.
As 2020 concludes, Kate isn’t the only friend who left the city as a pair of friends who picked up and relocated to the northeast after well over a decade in LA. The same day, another friend broke the news that they were moving cross-country, likely by summer. My own parents are selling their house of twenty years – the only home they’ve ever “owned” – to get out of Georgia to live in Texas, near my brother. Bobby and I have even thought about it too: should we get out of here? And then there are countless friends and coworkers who moved into new spaces or had pets or kids this year.
This could be life in our thirties or telework yielding toward flexibility, yes, but it’s hard not to notice that a year of big change has helped many make big changes of their own. There is probably something cosmic to this – After all, many astrologists noted in 2019 that this year was bound to have “catastrophic global effects” and “groundbreaking change.” – which is only going to continue as December 21 is not only the winter solstice but also the “great conjunction,” where Jupiter and Saturn will literally get in line and make for an astrological cultural reset that some see as bringing the end of the world.
There are stats that do and don’t support this too as Los Angeles hasn’t seen any recorded significant populations losses while Pew noted that a fifth of adults moved or knew someone who did. More than a quarter of younger Millennials moved back home because of Covid. Nearly 300,000 address changes happened in New York City. Many are being forced to reckon with their lives, causing quarter- and midlife crises.
My own big changes are small. I made a big job move halfway through the year and am in a seed planting stage with my writing. I’ve started taking Spanish classes, seriously (re)learning the language, while trying on a few tactile hobbies like sewing and crafting. I started attending a couple of meetings with a local Buddhist chapter to help foster a sense of community and greater spiritual understanding. One thing that I’ve learned? Covid, quarantining, and everything else about a pandemic is fucking terrible – but it has offered an opportunity for us to go inward, to connect with those we love, and commune with nature. At a Buddhist meeting I attended a few nights ago, this was where everyone was finding their joy: the silver linings of quarantine, how this has brought people together, forcing a slowing down, making us look at our lives and see what we do and don’t like – and then making a change.
I’ve been saying this for months, telling my worried home-selling father this to ease his mind: times of change are to be embraced as they are an opportunity for you to change too. As the world shifts, no one will notice if you shed a chrysalis and become something new. No one will care if you dye your hair or get a dog or move into a new apartment or leave the city you live in: now is the time for this. Embrace change because nothing is stable now – and nothing will be stable for a while. With vaccines rolling out and Biden eclipsing Trump, we’re still in the thick of instability, of change. We can expect big changes to continue well into 2021.
This week’s Covid report.
ICU availability in Southern California at 0%
Things with Covid are bad and, while some places are doing well California is coming apart in myriad ways. Fingers crossed me and you and everyone we know are healthy because the hospitals have no room for us.
People Thought Covid Was Harmless for Young Adults.
Not to freak any Millennials out but here’s a clip from this story: “Among U.S. adults ages 25 to 44, from March through the end of July, there were almost 12,000 more deaths than were expected based on historical norms.” Chase this with the continual, record-breaking, rising death rates in general, a death rate so high that someone is dying of Covid every 33 seconds.
"Rich countries will get access to coronavirus vaccines first"
Official: Africa needs COVID-19 vaccine for 60% in 2-3 years
There was a lot of Covid vaccine news swirling in the past week but, as is said over and over again, history is written by “the winners.” This is even happening now, as countries who are supposedly advanced and giving are preparing to distribute vaccines. But in vulnerable countries? This process will take years. All this is to say: just because your country has a vaccine doesn’t mean everything is fixed. You can’t bail water out from your seat in the boat and think the ship is saved. Everyone needs help bailing water.
‘I Trust Science,’ Says Nurse Who Is First to Get Vaccine in U.S.
Sir Ian McKellen feels ‘euphoric’ after receiving coronavirus vaccine
People getting vaccinated are very much in the public eye! First, the first American to get vaccinated, a young Black woman who, as my friend Obehi observed “is my cousin,” spoke to the symbolism and hope that she represents. Second, arguably the coolest old non-American gay has been given the shot. Blessings and blessings.
Barcelona concert tests use of same-day COVID-19 screening
This is pretty incredible, not that I’d want to be one of the people in this study. Seems like all one would do was dance while having a low-boiling panic attack, no?
"Even through 2022” we should be prepared for life to not return to “normal”
These are the words of Bill Gates. I don’t disagree. (Sidebar: I love the Bill Gates vaccine memes.
Married couple dies of Covid-19 holding hands with their children
She saved her 7-year-old brother’s life. Then the virus threatened
Here are your devastating Covid human interest stories of the week.
Denny’s employee quits after dealing with anti maskers
Bless this woman.
State Scientist Questioned Florida’s Virus Data. Now Her Home’s Raided.
This story was big last week, yes, but new developments and further amplification of this truly authoritarian situation warranted inclusion this week. Make sure you log this in your mind – and don’t forget that Florida, that America, does this shit.
GoFundMe For White House Director Who Lost Foot to Covid-19
One of the most American headlines.
Kinda sorta science tech environmental stories.
The New Influencer Capital of America
The Times’ love affair with Atlanta continues with an incredible story about how influencers aren’t just in LA, nor are they white: they are in the South and they are Black – and they are responsible for a lot of the big moves in influencer culture. Now it’s time they get their due.
"My mom grew up on the same street as Smokey Robinson in Detroit."
I wrote about my love of Cameo before and this video is a great example of something I touched on: celebrities on Cameo are wont to reveal their need for handlers as they are greatly out-of-touch with the real world.
Trump’s Twitter account was hacked by guessing his password
This story trended earlier in the year and is back because the password – maga2020! – was hacked, but nothing was done with this access. Instead, it was simply an effort to showcase how easy it is to infiltrate powerful accounts. Thus, this Dutch hacker isn’t facing any time for the action.
MacKenzie Scott is giving away $1 billion a month to charity
There is one good billionaire in the world. Her gifting to colleges in-need is particularly special.
How Toxic Fumes Seep Into The Air You Breathe On Planes
"My son watches TikTok with breakfast"
This is very interesting and very obvious, to which I say: Millennials look at Twitter (and Instagram and TikTok) in the same way. To-may-toe, toe-mah-toh.
Sony removes Cyberpunk 2077 from PlayStation Store
Bobby tried playing this game and it crashed so many times that it made our Playstation turn off. What a time to be a gamer playing a game where your dick pops out that is no longer available!
Buildings Are Becoming a Huge Source of Carbon Pollution
I don’t think this will surprise anyone but the obvious is what’s also most interesting: these buildings are electric, which seems great, until you realize that their power sources are backed by fossil fuels.
In a Hard Year, Families Find Joy in Real Christmas Trees
Where Have All The Christmas Tree Farms Gone?
We stopped buying Christmas trees years ago for environmental reasons and this story speaks to this in that there are less trees available in general. Partly due to higher demand, sure, but another factor is that it takes Christmas trees roughly twelve years to grow – and the recession that happened 12 years ago made for fewer trees being produced, which we’re just starting to see now. Fascinating.
Mostly frustrating political stories.
McConnell Finally Acknowledges Biden As President-elect
Republican Insiders Texted Me Their True Feelings About ‘Stop the Steal’
This shit still isn’t over yet. Do we think things will simmer once Biden is inaugurated? Psssssh: as if.
Jill Biden responds to Wall Street Journal
I refuse to acknowledge or link directly to the Journal story that claimed Dr. Jill Biden isn’t “a doctor” because such attacks on intelligence are exactly what is creating this idiocracy. Anyway, the way Dr. Biden handled this was quite admirable. What a First Lady we will have (despite the trend of attacks on her credentials continuing).
"posted a Bernie Sanders tweet and replaced his name with Trump's"
Speaking of attacks on intelligence, this is brilliant.
Just How White Is the Book Industry?
Spoiler: it’s very white. What a mess this industry that I want to be in is. I wish they would just knock it all down and start all over again – but nooooo.
Hundreds of skip Mike Pompeo’s indoor holiday party at State Department
See: White House Gofundme story in the first section.
I Was the Homeland Security Adviser to Trump. We’re Being Hacked.
Another big story of the week, we learned how much hacking has been happening and...no one seems to care! Love living in a non-vulnerable “advanced” country!!!!
Top Biden aide's "f--ker" quote under fire
While I don’t disagree with this sentiment at all, I do think these moments of condescension toward the GOP prove Matthew McConaughey’s stupid point about liberal elitism. Again: the sentiment here by the aide isn’t wrong – it just reeks of the irreparable “deplorables” snobbism that helped create the wide divide that we live in
Fifty Years of Tax Cuts for Rich Didn’t Trickle Down, Study Says
HUH WHO WOULD HAVE GUESSED THIS.
"when Buttigieg was mayor, South Bend won $1 million"
"This will be a historic milestone for LGBTQ visibility."
Buttigieg as Transportation head is interesting and, while I want to poo poo it, I’m just thankful it’s not Eric Fucking Garcetti. I’d rather have a younger, queer person in a position of power who may just bring some creative, climate forward solutions to the table despite his lacking any credentials and enabling a system of elitism. That said: this was the best take on his appointment, with this as a close second.
Is This Why I Never Had A Mentor?
I examine an AOC quote that made me realize that our country and our lack of younger people “in power” has less to do with younger folk trying: it’s that Boomers (and maybe Gen X) are not sharing any of the wealth – or mentoring future leaders.
I haven’t been watching a lot of Netflix. I haven’t been watching a lot of Hulu. YouTube? Yes, I’ve been watching a lot of that. Amazon? I don’t have an account. But HBO Max? That’s where it’s at.
My quarantine buddy has been the new luxury streaming service that everyone and no one is talking about. Earlier in the year, my friend Shontel mentioned that it was the best streaming service because of their large movie collection. I thought this was a decent selling point, which is very true and ever widening considering theatrical releases like Wonder Woman 1984 are causing a seismic shift in Hollywood via the service. On top of this, all of HBO’s beloved shows – Big Little Lies, Euphoria, High Maintenance, etc. – all come packaged in as well, followed by the fruits of this WarnerMedia big bet: you also get Cartoon Network’s gems like Adventure Time and TBS’ hits like Search Party via a backdoor deal, that makes the service more accurately HTBSO Network Max.
And then there are the HBO Max shows. Let me tell you about the HBO Max shows! They’re all so great. They take ideas that Netflix has introduced – The Great British Baking Show, The Big Flower Fight, Nailed It, Queer Eye – and add more flair and better production value, introducing items like The Great Pottery Throw Down and Full Bloom and Haute Dog and We’re Here and Legendary. There are really weird shows (How To with John Wilson, Karma) and genre shows (Lovecraft Country, Raised By Wolves) and new classics (I May Destroy You) and special specials (Fresh Prince reunion) and movies that make you feel like movies are good again (Let Them All Talk). Even the bad shows – Stylish with Jenna Lyons, which combines competition reality with makeover with docu-follow to delightfully mixed results – add a sort of inspiration that remind you that, yes, television and movies can be genuine and good. They don’t have to be perfect but they can inspire you by swinging for the fences.
Unlike Netflix, unlike Hulu, unlike Amazon or Apple TV+ or Peacock or Disney+ or CBS All Access or any other streamer, the shows on HBO Max demand your attention. They have style and a substance that break out of the so-called “ambient television” trend that streamers thrive on. The difference with HBO Max is they make shows actually worth watching. This makes HBO Max so great to me and, if you’re looking to spend time with a streaming service over the break, this is the one to go in on.
Culture, before diving into next year.
The things that helped us survive 2020
A really thoughtful, touching look at the objects that helped a few notable figures get through the year.
Arthur Jafa’s Radical Alienation
This is the best feature I read this week. Long, yes, but it’s a crash course in contemporary Black film and Black art. Jafa is a genius.
a companion across time, our trans millenia consort
Electronic music pioneer Pauline Anna Strom passed away this week. I haven’t gotten emotional from a public figure’s death in a while and this one just hit me. Anna Strom was a hermetic creator of experimental, new age adjacent music that seemed to speak to the psychedelic sublime. Her album, Trans-Millenia Music, is a classic that was re-released a few years back. This year, news came out that 2021 would see her first new music in thirty years. We’ll remember you, Pauline.
David Hockney's Hearth
Hey, David: this looks like shit.
An Elixir From the French Alps, Frozen in Time
While stories about hermetic lifestyles have been trending all year, this story about the monks who make Chartreuse is fascinating. Part liqueur dream and part timeless meditation, it makes you want to move to a mountain and make secret booze.
Balenciaga's Afterworld game takes players to a rave
Creative Director Demna Gvasalia continues to impress with his creativity in presentation, which is the best pandemic fashion moment since Jeremy Scott did puppets.
Please, I Beg You, Do Not Rinse Your Ground Beef
A really bad, really white TikTok is going around where a woman washes cooked ground meat to remove oil. The results are gross, gross, gross and you really shouldn’t do that.
The 10 Best Books of 2020
Reddit’s 2020 Year in Review
The 50 best games of 2020
The 20 Best Music Videos of 2020
More year end review items! The gaming one is particularly surprising as I hadn’t heard of the top game.
"I wanted to share my annual lists of favorites"
Here are Obama’s favorite books of the year! And, the more I read his lists, the more I realize he has almost-great taste.
Find Focus With This DIY Distraction-Free Editor
Extremely tempted to build this.
Silly things that you may have missed this week.
Take some time to play this extremely weird use of technology.
What Not To Do At A Comedy Show
A friend who *whispers* I did improv with *unwhispers* sent this to me and it is one of the most obnoxious, most frustrating videos I’ve ever seen. Improv comedy is hell! Imagine torturing an audience in this way!!
“We forced a bot to watch 1,000 hours of holiday movies”
I want to believe a bot actually wrote this but, either way, Carol is a new holiday icon.
"FIONA APPLE'S INTERVIEW IS SENDING ME"
Bless the original alt-queen.
"my nativity scene is done"
A Chester Cheeto is born unto us.
"me: gender is a social construct"
This is me but also this is not me because I call my little male dog Oliver a pretty lady all the time, much to the chagrin of Bobby.
"Nice try aliens"
WAKE UP SHEEPLE
Please make sure you read the comments.
The worst part is that the Times nonchalantly calls this “sink drink.”
The Best Kitchen Gadgets That Unnecessarily Do Exactly One Thing Well
There’s something so joyous about this list of really stupid tools no one really needs.
"bout to risk it all for the ceramic bowl paint titty"
I just want to touch it. Let me touch it.
”i didn't think the Home Alone 3 poster had enough taglines"
This post inspired me to watch the trailer for this movie and it made me very angry that people are allowed to make movies.
"I JUST CAME ACROSS THE MOST ADORABLE RESEARCH"
Spoiler alert: it has to do with dogs looking at other dogs!!
"One goat, one sheep and three lambs have been terrorising the streets"
More gangs like this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And, finally, my favorite Christmas song ever.
Next week, we’re not talking about anything because...we’re on break until 2021 unless the spirit moves me!