What do squirrels, 9/11 brand marketing, and eugenics have in common?
The twentieth September Eleventh since we started counting has come and gone, condolences to all who observe, and brands have once again SpaghettiOs’ed themselves into the trap offered by a memorial that is consistently packaged as a holiday by American capitalism, which doesn’t know any other way to commemorate anything anymore. Parker Molloy collected some of the worst examples, including Party City, the 9/11 Oakleys, Pretty Little Thing’s “mixtape drop,” 9/11 themed workouts by both Crossfit and Peloton, and The Philadelphia Flyers, who managed to produce a cursed graphic of Flyers heading toward the Twin Towers. The McDonald’s flag flew at half-staff over Gitmo, and the AP knew we were commemorating something important on 9/11, if not exactly what:
There were two things worth reading about 9/11 this year. In Defector, Brian Feldman revealed the truth behind the IMDb trivia claim that the Turtle Club scene in Dana Carvey’s excruciating Master of Disguise was filmed on 9/11 and “when word of the terrorist attacks reached the set, the cast and crew observed a moment of silence.” The truth is: it did happen, but not exactly as reported. And in Indignity, Tom Scocca expressed his predominant feeling about this anniversary, which was: nothing.
The empty space where the feelings were supposed to go nagged at me… The photos look like Pearl Harbor now. I can specifically recall exactly where I sat watching these things happen on TV, with the phone beside me, but the pictures look like Pearl Harbor nevertheless.
Also James Parker has an “Ode to Squirrels” in The Atlantic this month. Why did The Atlantic publish a brief appreciation of our sassiest woodland creature? Who knows why The Atlantic publishes anything. It’s media’s most enduring mystery.
Another enduring mystery that starts with “Atlanti”1 is: what happened to Atlantis? In The Daily Beast Candida Moss wrote about the controversy surrounding the new Discovery Channel pseudoscience show “Hunting Atlantis,” but I think it’s just a pretext to introduce us to a real human archaeologist with the astounding name “Flint Dibble.” As Moss points out, the modern obsession with Atlantis is all about eugenics, and according to Vulture’s Alison Willmore the new Denis Villeneuve Dune film picks up the eugenic undertones of the novel about “a white savior whose greatness is entirely synthetic, engineered via planted prophecies and genetic manipulation.” Also apparently “the reimagined [sand]worm left its old vagina dentata influences behind only to end up resembling a giant asshole.” Speaking of a giant asshole who’s into eugenics, Peter Thiel originally funded Harvard geneticist George Church’s research into “de-extincting” the wooly mammoth, which is now being taken up by LinkedIn bro Ben Lamm, founder of companies you haven’t heard of who got rich making… apps? bots? idk, whatever. Anyway now he’s gonna spend a lot of money to make sweltering elephants. Swelephants.
This blockchain based dragon-breeding game by Nour Haridy might be the first interesting use of blockchain tech I’ve ever seen. More Parker Molloy: “It’s about ethics in horse paste journalism.” Ben “Yt” Smith’s Michael Wolff column includes mini scoops about Steve Bannon and Jeffrey Epstein, but is most striking for its tone of wistful envy. Supreme Court Justice and guy wife Amy Coney Barrett, who just banned abortion in Texas and reinstated Donald Trump’s arbitrary immigration rules, was introduced by Mitch McConnell for a speech at the University of Louisville’s McConnell Center (founded by Mitch McConnell) where she “spoke at length about her desire for others to see the Supreme Court as nonpartisan.” Bitcoin is normally a technology for turning electricity into crime, but a Suffolk County, NY I.T. supervisor put the cart before the stolen horse by allegedly hiding “46 specialized devices used to mine Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in six rooms in the Suffolk County Center in Riverhead, including underneath floorboards and inside an unused electrical panel.” Rebecca Alter might be the only person who remembered the Jeremy Renner app.
Josh Dzeiza reported on the efforts of NYC delivery workers to organize and protect themselves in the absence of any support from delivery app companies or police, in a Verge + NY Mag collaboration. It’s fantastic, do read it.
The main reason restaurants weren’t already letting you order a single bacon, egg, and cheese from 50 blocks away for almost no charge is that it’s a terrible business model. Expensive, wasteful, labor intensive — you would lose money on every order. The apps promised to solve this problem through algorithmic optimization and scale. This has yet to happen — none of the companies are consistently profitable — but for a while they solved the problem with money. Armed with billions in venture capital, the apps subsidized what had been a low-margin side gig of the restaurant industry until it resembled any other Silicon Valley consumer-gratification machine. Seamless, which merged with Grubhub and added its own gig platform to compete, was particularly direct in its pitch, running cutesy subway ads about ordering delivery with zero human contact and requesting miniature entrées for your hamster.
Some current and former employees say higher-ups regularly crossed professional boundaries; one former employee told Insider an Italian store owner sexually assaulted her. Rotondo and former Canadian store owners alleged in two separate lawsuits that they were ousted after refusing to fire employees based on race and appearance. A group text with Marsan and other top executives contained racist, sexist, and antisemitic jokes, including one photo in which, a former business partner says, Marsan edited his face on Hitler's body.
Today’s Song: Halsey, “Easier Than Lying”
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Thanks to Tabs Senior Graphics Intern Alison Headley for the Venn diagram art. During the season break I somehow forgot what I usually use this sign-off for, but I guess it’s to tell you I tweet @fka_tabs and @TodayinTabs? Following either of those doesn’t really do me any good, but go ahead if that’s what you’re into. What does do me a lot of good is subscribing, even at the ruinous 30% off discount that’s available all month. Meanwhile, in Maine…
Segues are my passion. Also this isn’t a mystery, Atlantis was an obvious allegory invented by Plato.