Happy Elliott Smith Memorial Content Day

Just kidding, sad Elliott Smith Memorial Content Day. It's the way he would've wanted it.

I woke up this morning to Sasha Frere-Jones talking to Neda Ulaby on the radio about Dry January and getting sober and whether there’s any good music about sobriety. I feel like the verdict is still out on that question but of course the conversation started with the patron saint of not being sober, Elliott Smith, who:

…along with musicians such as Amy Winehouse, was known for music that seemed to romanticize abusing alcohol and drugs. It should go without saying that both of them are dead, after years of heartbreaking addiction.

Then I made breakfast and looked at my email and found a newsletter from Jude Doyle about the Lana-Del-Rey-to-Red-Scare Pipeline.” Jude Doyle writing about problematic musicians and feminism and culture is pretty much ideal content, to me. Of course you can’t tackle Lana without considering Poptimism, and there’s SF-J again:

Pop stars are no longer expected to serve as the vanguard of women’s liberation. This change probably began with the revelation that one of the leading evangelists of “poptimism” — a guy who used to comment on my blog about the massively inspiring “empowerment” of, say, Robyn — had used his expense account to cover a $5,000 tab at a strip club.

Oof. "I'm coming up on five years sober” is the first thing Frere-Jones said in the NPR piece, so I guess we can do the math on that.

Please do read Doyle’s whole post, it’s spectacular and I won’t waste both of our time trying to summarize it, but the point that grabbed me today over breakfast was:

Del Rey’s best love songs are not obsessive or submissive, they are addictive. They are about craving something when you know it will kill you. The idea that she ought to serve as some kind of moral guardian for her listeners, under these conditions, is undeniably sexist: Elliott Smith used the exact same metaphor, more than once, and there were no cultural debates over whether he, as a man, had the right to be so masochistic.  

I’m not inventing a convenient chronology here, this is literally how my day started. I finished the Doyle post and went back to email, and here’s a Welcome to Hell World from Luke O’Neil: “the latest in the Hell World series of ‘a bunch of writers or musicians I admire write about one of my favorite bands.’” Of course in the first paragraph one of the previous cadre of writers was a familiar hyphenated former New Yorker music writer, but he’s not one of the cast that O’Neil gathered this time to talk about Jason Molina.

In his own section of the post, O’Neil also finds himself thinking about Elliott Smith:

All these sad and dead musical boys in their eternal dying. David Berman and Jason Molina and Elliott Smith and Justin Townes Earle and whoever else. Not just dead for eternity I mean which they also are but that they will eternally have had died…

I’m embarrassed to be and have always been enchanted by the prematurely dead artist. I’m old enough to know that that’s bullshit.

But I am nonetheless at long last a sucker for it. A real fucking mark.

No one makes it out.

Why did the Great Spirit of the content universe conspire to land these three pieces on me one after another today, that feel so much like three panels of a triptych about the same subject? I promise I barely drink at all. I have no answers. My morning was, as you can image, a Big Mood. But hey Luke O’Neil: when you inevitably do one of these group newsletters about Modest Mouse, call me?

@cara.city posted: “sorry but if I were playing a chord that pleased the lord, I wouldn’t have been baffled. built different I guess.”

While the sad music boys are thinking about Elliott Smith, everyone else is thinking about tunnels. So far, 2024 is the year of the tunnel: Kala is currently shut down by the town of Herndon, but TikTok’s suburban Virginia Tunnel Girl was the first and shined the brightest. The existence of the Brooklyn Chabad tunnel is under some dispute, but even the post claiming there is no tunnel uses the words “…digging out a space for themselves under…” which is extremely tunnel-coded if you ask me. Of course Twitter is being very normal about the prospect of a “Jewish tunnel” in New York. Everyone involved in the war in Gaza is obsessed with tunnels; they’re the new Tora Bora cave complex. Boing Boing reports that “a 35-year-old gentleman in Virginia broke into a used car dealership, and when he didn't see what he wanted, tunneled his way into another car dealership next door.” And in Brazil, “A pensioner has died after plunging down a 130-ft hole he dug under his kitchen floor after dreaming he had gold buried under it.”

Via the Daily Mail (sorry): a picture looking through a normal tile floor down a circular hole that appears to just go on forever. One hundred thirty feet is so deep, you guys. It’s SO deep.

What is going on???

Is this even new? A Reddit post from back in 2022 is going around again: “How can I get my boyfriend to stop digging his tunnel?

It used to be that he'd occasionally head out and do some digging on the weekends, but now he spends almost all of his free time out there. He still comes home, but he barely spends any time with me, and I know that he isn't doing anything but digging that damn hole in the ground. This can't be good for his mental health, but I don't know how to convince him to stop. He's always really happy when he comes back from digging, which is why I haven't seriously tried to stop him before, but I was talking to a friend about him, and she told me he might be going crazy.

The boys are minemaxxing pitpilled molemogging undercels, that’s all there is to it.

DeltaVe posted a screenshot of three posts by reddit user u/LimberLoveMuscle to the subreddit r/ambien which read: “MY EWFIE IS HOME MY WIFE8,” “my wiwwwfie wife is visting her mom and i miss her” and “mywife is soft nd ilikeher.”

David Roth on the New York Times and Claudine Gay / Neri Oxman / Bill Ackman. Ackman was back on Twitter last night admitting in five thousand six hundred partially new words of plainly AI-assisted tweet substantially all of the claims Business Insider made against his wife and also recounting in detail the ways he has no idea how journalism works. Charlie Warzel predicts that “plagiarism” is the new “fake news” and I’m afraid he might be right.

There’s a new AI gizmo, but I can’t figure out why it isn’t just an app. Neither can Richard Lawler. $200 one-time to run an unlimited cloud AI platform with no subscription fee? How is that possibly going to work? Also Today in AI: some losers made a fake “George Carlin” comedy special that would make George Carlin wish he could die again somehow. “Hello, my name is Dudesy!” Jail for one million years. BLOVO: ChatGPT for animals.

Yammer caught yamming, blessed by WalMart staff. $5,200 Statement Signet Ring featuring “specially cut diamond penis” gets five star review:

Review from Addi, 10/01/2024: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️, “What the fuck”

Today’s Song: Songs: Ohia, “Farewell Transmission”

Happy Gentlemen’s Friday, I hope you enjoy a restful long weekend if you celebrate MLK Jr. Day, or I guess even if you don’t. We all deserve a restful long weekend. I might take Monday off myself, so don’t be shocked if no Tabs arrives until Tuesday. We’ll see how inspired I am. But tomorrow there will be something for paid subscribers. I’m not sure what yet! Let’s see if you’ll get it:

You’re currently a free reader. I’m so glad you’re here, but you should upgrade if you want to get the Friday posts too.

Chantootle, everyone.