The Cool to Sweaty Spectrum
Yet another unified theory of tabs
Rachel Connolly has a post in Gawker today about the current prevalence of what she calls the “Pity Me!” essay, as contrasted with a different kind of essay, that she gives the accurate but stylistically disappointing name “good personal writing.” I have no argument with the premise or her choice of examples but unfortunately the post itself is kind of a Pity Me! essay, full of humorless melodrama like: “This is why I find so much of recent personal writing tiresome: It’s too often defined by melodrama, humorlessness, and excessive self-pity.“ Emily Ratajkowski moping about a free vacation leads to the Žižekian bong-hit of an observation that “noting the existence of a near universally experienced external phenomenon is not the same thing as enunciating some shared element of internality.” How does Connolly feel about all this? Who cares, but she’s going to tell us anyway:
These essays make me more irritated than sad on an individual basis, but I think there is something genuinely despondent about the trend.
Despondent! Who invited Buzz Killington? Let me reframe this in a way that would have been fun to read: Every essay can be situated on a spectrum from “Cool” to “Sweaty.” Connolloy, in her sweaty way, is trying to contrast the cool mock self-deprecation of Rene Ricard or the equally cool self-revelation of Donald Antrim with Sarah Hepola’s airless and intensely sweaty cancel culture fantasy or Anne Helen Petersen’s strained “hello fellow workers!” proletarian cosplay.
But the Cool ←→ Sweaty spectrum doesn’t just apply to essays, it’s everywhere. Today the world’s sweatiest billionaire Elon Musk announced a bid to buy Twitter at a share price of $54.20, forcing even Bloomberg to wearily note that “the offer price also includes the number 420, widely recognized as a coded reference to marijuana.” It’s possible his whole Twitter investment is just Elon getting sweaty about a teenager who refused to take down a bot that tracks his private jet using public transponder data, but Liz Lopatto wonders if Musk is functioning as Jack Dorsey’s long, unkempt beard here. I think that by taking this non-binding offer seriously, everyone is underestimating how sweaty Elon truly is—if he meant to buy Twitter for real he’d have offered $69.42 per share.
NFTs are also extremely sweaty and what could be sweatier than the combination of NFTs and Twitter? The dumbass who bought Jack Dorsey’s first tweet as an NFT for $2.9 million a year ago thought he could sell it now, into a crashing market, for a wash-sale level price of $48 million. The highest offer at the auction’s close was $277. Not $277 million, just 277 individual George Washingtons worth of diesel powered Kohl’s cash. Since then a few more pity bids have come in, and the highest now stands at a little over $9,900. Is anything about crypto cool? Yes: this rug-pull commemorative rug.
What else is Cool? Kevin’s dating profile is cool. Germany impounding “Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov’s superyacht Dilbar” is cool, although the name “Dilbar” and naming your superyacht after your mother are both deeply sweaty. The Ukrainian postal service issuing a stamp of a Ukrainian soldier flipping the bird at the Russian Black Sea fleet flagship Moskva and then Ukraine blowing the Moskva up the next day is incredibly cool. Babe Ruth never called a shot like that. Taking acid and getting left-pilled is cool. Emily Sundberg’s shrimp scarf is cool. And David Cronenberg is always cool:
The NYPD are tragically sweaty at the best of times, but when the pressure’s on, they gush like Jordan Peele talking about his browser history. Faced with solving the mystery of the century, Tuesday’s subway shooting where the perpetrator only left “his weapon, car keys, and credit card at the scene of the crime” for them to go on, New York’s finest first tried hanging around Dimes. The shooter eventually called Crime Stoppers on himself, “and told them he was at a McDonald’s on the Lower East Side” according to CNN. But when “police responded to the McDonald's and did not find James,” they were baffled. Who is this criminal mastermind! Fortunately the city’s greatest detectives were on the case: New Jersey based security camera technician Zack Tahhan and East Village hardware store manager Francisco Puebla, who told Curbed’s Rachel Handler how they cracked it:
We were outside discussing where we wanted the new camera to point. And at that moment, somebody was walking right on the sidewalk, and my eyes went right to his face and I said, “That’s the guy….”
And I said, in the end, “I am not going to call . Because I am not 100 percent sure it’s the person. And I don’t want to turn in someone [who’s innocent]. I won’t feel good. So I won’t call.” But, at that moment, it was a red light and there was a police car right on the road. So I never thought twice. I just went right up to the police car and I said, “Officer, I hope I am not making a mistake, but the guy, who shot the people yesterday morning, is right in the middle of the block. He just passed by here. And I think it’s him.” So the officer drove slowly, reached him, got out, and they just stopped him right there.
So there you have it. These two cool gumshoes caught the perp by laboriously convincing a cop to get out of his car and NOT immediately shoot anyone.
The news coverage of this story also involved more perspiration than inspiration, as Amanda Marcotte documented in Salon. Meanwhile, Bolt founder and unhinged conspiracist Ryan Breslow was pouring sweat yesterday in a long and unintentionally hilarious Twitter thread arguing that the New York Times Company CEO’s vanity seat on the Instacart board means the newspaper systematically slants coverage in favor of all Sequoia Capital portfolio companies. You gotta hand it to him… I’m sorry, no, I’m hearing you do not in fact gotta hand it to him. CNN got someone to slip a sweaty note to Bloomberg claiming that CNN+ subscriptions are up to 100,000 now. I’m glad to hear they’re finally beating me and Ryan in the marketplace of ideas. After a nonstop deluge of PR about how cool BeReal is, BuzzFeed’s Kelsey Weekman reports the truth: it’s sweaty as hell. But you know what’s cool? asks Anil Dash. The web is cool. Then, now, and always.
Not on the Spectrum: “Colleagues worry Dianne Feinstein is now mentally unfit to serve,” report the SF Chronicle’s Tal Kopan and Joe Garofoli in exhaustive and heartbreaking detail. And Paul Ford suggested some new words that better fit our ruined relationship to the passage of time:
Wakemare: The period of 20 freshings when one fades out of darkmode and into full consciousness by looking at a steady flow of misery on one’s phone. “Hon, try to keep your wakemare to a few freshings, then come down for some toast.”
Today’s Song: Softcult, “Spit it Out”
~ Stale incense, old sweat and tabs, tabs, tabs ~
Twitter is not cool, so don’t under any circumstances follow @fka_tabs. Money is cool, so please give me some if you enjoyed Tabs today and would like everyone to continue to enjoy it in the future. It’s Thursday, “the gentleman’s Friday,” so if you do subscribe I will see you tomorrow for what I think might as well be another collaborative mixtape. If you don’t subscribe, I will be back next Planspan so have a nice good-binge and sad-binge.