The Trend Report™: Memory Purchase
On the objectification of memories and a new "it" product.
Italy's right-wing government enacts 'anti-rave' law
This may seem so silly but this Italian law is just…so fucked up! It effectively means the end of parties in the country, which is a pretty fascistic measure to make.
“the average individuals are blamed”
“Maybe ask women?”
Gas using Cop27 to rebrand gas as transitional fuel
'Like a Fuel Industry Trade Show,' Activists Say
COP27 awash with fossil fuel representatives
Looks like COP went well. (But I do love the helmet man! And I hate this news on fossil fuels!)
Iran Votes to Execute Protesters, Says Rebels Need 'Hard Lesson'
Big yikes. Big awful!
World Cup ambassador from Qatar denounces homosexuality
The truth about how the World Cup hosts treat LGBT people
“I declare interest as a massive gay”
This has been building for weeks and will be a big story for the rest of the year, as the games actually begin and extend through mid-December.
Democrats exceed expectations, Republicans poised to win House
A New “Squad” Is Heading to the House
Potential 2024 Trump challengers did well on election night
"Fox has been hyping a red wave 24/7 for months"
"Slavery was on the ballot for voters in five U.S. states"
“If not for voters under 30”
“expectation going into the election last night”
A round-up of takes, reactions, and general thoughts on midterm elections. Also: this election will never end.
Top Democrats warn party is seen as extreme
Left-leaning think tank warns party extremism
Voters Think Democrats Have Their Own ‘Extremism’
Another thing? A Democrat think tank said that the thing “hurting” the party is left-leaning “extremism.” This take got picked up by a lot of outlets, which is one of the stupidest things to have happened in a political press cycle this year. This is a false equivalency! Particularly given the right’s literal extremism, fascism, and theocratic tendencies, not to mention trying to stage a coup. The real issue is Democrats are not good at converting people to their cause, which isn’t a matter of extremism: it’s a matter of elitism, which people are miscategorizing as being too ideologically far left when they really mean isolating, unwelcoming, and snooty.
Twitter Now Asks Some Fired Workers to Please Come Back
Elon Musk sells almost $4bn of Tesla shares
"immediately noticeable when copy editors get fired"
"currently an emergency twitter all-hands going on"
"So Musk sent his first Twitter email at 230 am"
“killed the double-checkmark thing”
Things are going well, sir! What fucking idiots. (The one thing I will give? The stupid “verified” shenanigans has recreated the early days of Twitter parody confusion. That’s not a good thing – but it is briefly entertaining.)
Eli Lilly Stock Plummets After Twitter Account's False Claims
“The power of $8”
“a publicly funded invention”
Someone is going to write a very thoughtful piece about this but: the Twitter shenanigans seem to be creating a Game Stop effect, for better or worse. As if the economy weren’t precarious enough!
I used to volunteer with the elderly, to prevent isolation and help keep them company through weekly visits. There was one older woman in a group home I would visit who loved to bake – and she was known for her brownies.
Everyone talked about these brownies. They were so unique! They were her original recipe. They were her thing. She would bake them when she was able, as a treat for volunteers and peers, a flexing of talent to share love through food. The brownies were good, neither the best thing I had ever had nor egregious to the point of culinary trauma. But to be baked something with love? They were special. They were less about the actual food and more about the memory.
But the reality of these brownies were they weren’t actually hers: as she once told me, after she passed the “secret recipe” onto me, they weren’t actually homemade. As she wrote out on an index card, the recipe came from procuring a Betty Crocker mix that you added a few small fistfuls of Toll House chocolate chips to. (They had to be Toll House!) In a way, this “famous recipe” was sponsored content. It was a remixing of products. These memories, this story of hers, was a personalization of capitalism, building a lore and culture around something bought.
There is nothing wrong with this. It’s sweet! It’s something we all do. But where this becomes a bit concerning is when…all of your memories are wrapped up in products, in stuff, in things that came-from-the-store. This is something thatand I have been discussing for years: if all your heirlooms, if all your effects, are tied to products and objects that are mass produced, do they mean anything? For anyone who has cleared out the belongings of a loved one who has died, you know the feeling of going through a lifetime's worth of stuff only to find that everything is just...stuff from the store. Why keep it? These are just items someone bought, with neither a fingerprint nor personalization to make them memorable.
An example of this: this TikTok of a grown person’s relationship to a Beanie Baby. Cute, on the surface, but a befriending of capitalism. This person is hardly alone in this act, as adults sleeping with or owning soft toys from childhood is a definite Millennial (and maybe Gen Z) trend. I have a handful of stuffed animals from my childhood hidden around my apartment! No longer bedmates, no, but they exist – and I can imagine a handful of others around the world also have the same Showtime E.T. The Extraterrestrial Plush or a Walt Disney Baby Mickey Plush in their possession too. And when I die? They will be garbage. My family – or whomever will tend to my “stuff” – will see them as some old f@g’s random plushies. A memory to me, a product to you.
This sensation is everywhere – from family recipes including brand name mixes to my own family’s secret guacamole recipe being from Rosa Mexicano – and represents our collective loss of originality. To be American, to be of the twenty-first century, is to have no heirlooms but to own so many physicalized empty calories. It’s not just that we no longer wear color or there seems to be a mass-culture loss of personality: it’s that we lose ourselves and our families and our histories and our lineages to brands. Under the growth economy, we’re only useful if we’re buying what is being sold, an act that has now replaced religion, community, and attention. The effects of this cultural flattening are emphasized by disposable content to fill our time and fashion made for consumption and cultural complacency. Gone is the search, lost are we in managing our deliveries. With these comforts go our culture.
“Aren't I a human being?” we seem to say. “Don't I yearn, and ache, and shop?”
REAL QUICK PLUG: I’m starting to post daily items to Substack Chat. Pop in, share thoughts, and have some daily Trend Report™ fun.
The midterms turned politicians into content creators
I hate this take. / This is a very good take.
How to Think Clearly About Climate Change
Your must-read essay of the week, about climate change and how we process neverending disasters (if we can process them at all).
Are eco activists winning the argument?
"Now THIS is great climate activism"
This story finally says it: the activists are getting good press. Maybe it’s time to realize their work is working. (Museum directors need to fuck off with their complaining too. You’re missing the point, morons!)
"i like how open they are about their target audience"
”That Dave Chappelle SNL monologue”
”measuring how palatable overt transphobia is right now”
This is embarrassing. Cancel this show already, fuck.
Media Companies Are Having Their Worst Year in Three Decades
*rubs hands together* My plan is working.
1 in 5 People Saved by CPR Recall 'Lucid Dying'
“study made me excited to die”
A fascinating new study came out about “lucid dying,” where people feel ~reflective vibes~ in near-death. The study was done on patients whose hearts stopped to see…what happened to them. Fascinating! (Although, as the comments on the TikTok show, it’d be curious to control for religion and look at cultural, non-Christian diversity.)
2 drag queens have advice for women in 'Working Girls'
We did it: Katya and Trixie were on NPR.
They quit their jobs. Here’s what they are doing now.
A great follow up story on what happened to people who quit their jobs last year. I wish them all well too!!
ABBA, Holograms, and Bands Who Can’t Stand Each Other
This story is a few weeks old but I finally read it and found it super, super interesting when you think of virtual concerts and “holograms” as the bridge between living artist and dead artist’s legacy. The show looks fun too, like a hybrid between the Hollywood Bowl and a Vegas residency.
Apartamento: Solange Knowles
Obsessed with Solange’s Hollywood apartment. (Fun fact: she lives in the old building on the northeast corner of Hollywood and Vine, which was the area where all the Viners lived.)
I like the knife because it’s rectangular. Most knives arc, slipping up like slim hips, a classic shape molded by time, a tool crafted communally by our understanding of what something that slices should look like. The knife is a perfect design – but this particular knife is not that. Dimpled, wood-handled, with a blade like an Anish Kapoor sky mirror. It shouldn’t work but it does, this antithetical sliding strip of metal, a cleaver that dreamt of being a bookmark. It’s more of a concept than a knife.
I’ve seen the knife used by chefs of a certain style for months now. Every time I see it, my skin pricks, as I enter a full-body spell of object lust. These knives are undeniably cool, belonging to a category of food person who don’t just get cooking: they make culture. Their style is less about the specifics of a meal and more about the personality and vibes attached to it. With them, you eat ideas instead of meals. People wonder about the skincare routine of these chefs as much as they wonder about the garnishes on their dishes, making any item around them an accessory to a life. This knife is one part of a bigger picture of aspirational living.
Sohla El-Waylly personifies this. Is there a cooler chef out there right now? She introduced me to the knife, or at least was the first person who I started to equate the knife with. Popping up to cube pumpkins, gliding down the center of an eggplant, the knife has the similar feeling to her now-iconic bob: a familiar form perfected in a new context. Her cooking and her commentary are always a hit, but so is her makeup and her clothes and her husband and her dogs and, now, so is the knife, as others are curious about and asking what she’s using. In a world where anything and everything is cool, the knife is a key to perfecting your personhood.
Perhaps Sohla knows this, or perhaps this knife plays into a long tradition of culinary work. Naturally, it’s both: the knife is a nakiri, a Japanese chef’s knife reserved for chopping vegetables. The knife has attracted a small cult following, as promoted by the likes of Sam The Cooking Guy, Chris Kimball, and Alton Brown, while finding more recent placement in a variety of venues, from Vice to Cool Hunting to Andrew Zimmerman to Ray The Sharpener. Not as niche as the Chinese cleaver, the heartier version of the same tool, the nakiri appeals because it’s neither heavy duty nor everyday: it’s a special occasion knife. It’s a specific tool. It feels like a rarity because, in a world where we are demanded to be everything, while everyone aspires to do and be “good at everything,” this knife does one thing very well, all while looking and feeling good. This is an object that has perfected the mono-task. Don’t we want all of this for ourselves?
You can see yourself with the knife. You’re in front of a butcher block counter, in a kitchen that is a mix of modern objects, sleek steel appliances, and reclaimed vintage accents. An entire wall is made of windows, with one side ajar so dogs can run in and out. Groovy ambient music plays. You have a glass of wine and a small cup of sparkling water. Outside are friends, chatting in a green area. It’s crisp but not cold. You can wear a sweater but also wear shorts, feeling neither chilled nor clammy. You are neither rushed nor taking your time. You are cooking a recipe by heart. You have all the time in the world. You aren’t worried about things like bills or what has to be done for work. This knife you use seems to guide you through the process. You realize, as the soft wood presses into your palm, dividing the local organic root vegetables into cubes, that you are living the adult fantasy you always had for yourself. You smile and salt, cooking as you sip your wine. Perhaps you will play a word game with desert, you wonder. Perhaps tonight will never end.
Or, at least, I see that for me, in a fantasy that comes with something as simple as a knife. Isn’t it lovely to imagine that a thing could change everything for you? Such are the fictions that come with objects. They may not be real, no, but perhaps something as small as a sleek knife can bring peace to a life. Or, at least, we can dream that to be true.
"before and after photos at @laurenboebert ’s election party"
"every race is like The Democrat has a narrow 50.1-49.9 lead"
“congrats to AOC”
“this is objectively hilarious”
"a very good thing but that graphic"
"Here's Fox News' midterms meltdown"
"it’s time to negroni sbagliato with prossecGO"
Some election memes that are just…great.
“Twitter just sent me this Tweet”
"We've just overthrown the government"
“genuinely the smartest”
“the Esther C. arc”
"I’m going down with the ship."
This week’s round up of Musky Twitter™ dunks.
"everyone needs to watch this"
An incredible video essay on gender and Jackass. She’s right!!
“fred not again”
Very niche, very good burn.
This was the TikTok of the week. I feel like this captures a new type of creator that’s gonna explode soon!
“not a cell phone in sight”
America, the beautiful. Really brings a tear to your eye! (The Starbucks sign in the background? *chef’s kiss*)
“most restaurants call these ‘sauces’”
But this is a much better name! It’s got potential!!
This song that has been stuck in my head all week.
And, finally, me the thesis of this newsletter.