Dale Peck is not afraid to say what he thinks1 of a book or its author, so his Baffler review of self-loathing blog goblin Andrew Sullivan’s recent compendium of bad faith, and of Andrew Sullivan more generally (or more specifically, I guess) is deeply satisfying:
It’s Sullivan and not his father who comes across as the parody of toxic masculinity, Sullivan the quintessential manbaby who hopes that if he talks about his own marginalization loud enough it’ll distract people from the fact that he’s claimed far more than his share of the world’s attention and resources. The man living through a pandemic that’s killed more than four million people worldwide and felt the need to reassure readers that it “probably” won’t claim the seven hundred thousand American lives AIDS did (because only American lives matter, and American deaths) has given us five hundred pages revealing not just his inability to see the world, but his insatiable contempt for anyone who dares to point it out, let alone suggest that it can be improved—which just happens to be his life’s work. Hello, Oedipus? It’s the Fates calling. The criminal you’re looking for is yourself.
Envying the most toxic feature of Facebook, Twitter is testing Communities so now, according to Casey Newton, you can tweet about dogs with the We Rate Dogs guy without any doggo-negative nogoodniks butting in.
“We wish we could reply ‘omg’ to every pic we’re sent. And a dedicated community allows that exclusivity.”
Also today in platforms copying the worst ideas of other platforms: Katie Notopoulos reports that “Facebook Is Making Camera Glasses, Ha Ha Oh No.”
This Saturday is the 20th anniversary of 9/11, what a shame to miss all the memorial tabs, oh well. Here, from Jenn Hayes in Input, is just a single one about finding her people on the Teen Magazine “Terrible Tuesday” 9/11 themed message board, a thing which someone at Teen Magazine felt a need for and created on purpose in the days following 9/11.
It is impossible to explain how weird the time right after 9/11 was. For example:
…and that was in the UK. It was exponentially stranger here. But it’s also the 25th anniversary of “Blue’s Clues,” and Steve finally came back from college to talk to us about… student loans?
That he narrowed his focus on student loans and jobs, of all things, sort of feels like an admission to the late-twentysomethings that made up his original target audience that their lives are being defined by the poor contours of capitalism.
I mean, he’s right—it’s not like we got here entirely by choice. But it’s still fascinating to see a children’s personality putting it in such stark terms. This is a guy who, all these decades later, gets his audience of millennial and Gen Z viewers, despite the fact that he hasn’t actually talked to them in about two decades. He is in a role that is immune to politics, to taste, to the changing tides of popular culture.
Q: Rusty it feels like you’re doing a lot of long pull quotes today, is everything ok?
A: Shut up and read Luke Winkie on the shambling zombie afterlife of every media brand, from Newsweek to Deadspin to Gawker:
From the moment I entered the press, all I heard from my superiors was that the media industry will simply cease to exist someday. The finance brokers shall determine, definitively, that it's impossible to generate revenue with banner ads, and the jig will mercifully be up. Honestly that fate might be preferable to where I think we're actually headed — which is a hellish timeline where all of our favorite publications have mutated into bizarre new permutations of themselves, slowly depreciating, atrophying, and introducing unseemly blockchain gimmicks, because the demands of capital cannot allow for a dignified death.
Lorde, the other famous New Zealander, dropped a surprise mini-album this morning containing five songs from her mediocre third album “Solar Power” translated and recorded in “te reo Māori, the Indigenous language of Aotearoa New Zealand,” as well as a long story about its creation in The Spinoff, a New Zealand publication previously best-known for fact checking Amanda Palmer to filth. The songs sound nice.
Meanwhile, across the Tasman sea in the world’s beachiest open-air penitentiary, Australians locked down in an apartment block for Covid isolation are limited to a cruel daily ration of only “six beers or pre-mixed drinks, one bottle of wine, or one 375ml bottle of spirits,” absent a doctor’s orders for more. Seems like they’re taking it well:
Today’s Song: Lorde, “Hine-i-te-Awatea / Oceanic Feeling”
~ and you can tab a spineless take ~
Happy phone-it-in Thursday, and I hope you’ll subscribe and join me in the Friday open thread tomorrow, and then in closing our devices and not venturing online again until Monday. We won’t miss anything, I promise.
For the record: I think that he’s right about Pynchon up to 1996, wrong about whether Infinite Jest implies that drug addiction is somehow forced upon the addict or unchosen, and right about Wallace’s talent at the sentence level. Anyway the review is very good even if I disagree with its basic conclusions.