Gather Ye Round, And Hear a Tale of Long Ago
One day in 2013, underemployed and wasting time on Twitter, I tweeted "Today in Tabs," and Caitlin Kelly replied:
"A e-newsletter?" I thought, in the amusing old-timey patois of 2013, "why ever not?" So that afternoon I sent the first Today in Tabs to 25 subscribers, beginning with this NY Post story about love and misogyny and sandwiches. I wonder how they're doing now.
431 emails later, on January 29th, 2016, I sent the last Today in Tabs. In between I accidentally got in a fight with Heidi Moore, was favorably name-checked by the legendary David Carr, published Bijan Stephen's gutting response to the decision not to charge the police who murdered Mike Brown, accidentally got in a fight with Jacobin Magazine, read maybe 10,000 articles, wrote emails in a lot of odd places like airports and bars, and did a few interviews explaining what I thought it might be all about.
The whole time I was writing Tabs, I was also working for a screenwriting software company called Scripto, which was co-founded by Stephen Colbert. Both Tabs and Scripto started as part-time jobs, but three years later they were both full-time. I was a twitchy mess already, and the 2016 election, its hour come round at last, was also slouching toward Bethlehem with Donald Trump likely to win the nomination, and who wants to write about that asshole? I closed my tabs for good.
What Was Tabs?
Every civilized weekday (i.e. Mon-Thu), Today in Tabs contained a lot of internet, compressed as tightly as I could get it. Links to whatever I read in the last day or so that I loved, or hated. Updates on the ongoing media fiasco of the moment, #newsbiz gossip, a bit of tech criticism, opaque jokes, running bits, and at least one musical number. I'd link to more of the archives but for boring technical reasons they're a mess. Just take my word for it, or you can wade through some half-mangled back-issues at Newsweek or Fast Company, where they were originally syndicated. If you don’t remember it and you’re not sold yet, just stick around and read a few. You’ll get it.
So Now It’s Just… Back?
In five years the e-newsletter field has changed. Substack took a bunch of Egg money and spent it questionably*. But Delia Cai assures me that people will pay for email now. Our fascist leadership is on its way out and we all just had, if not the worst year of our lives, certainly the worst year of someone's life.
I spent five years certain that Tabs was over. I never seriously considered starting again. But a couple weeks ago I allowed myself to consider it, and it immediately felt like the obvious right thing to do: just kick off 2021 in full chaos mode.
So here we are on Substack, and if enough of you want me to keep writing Tabs you can pay me $5 a month or $50 a year (special rate: $150 a year if you're rich!), and I'll do it. Hit the button, pay the money, let's go.
For now, I'm not planning to paywall anything. If enough people subscribe, I won't have to. Otherwise, I don't know! I'll email you Monday through Thursday, and they will be a lot less discursive than this, as a rule.
To re-recap this recap: 2016 through 2019 were bad. 2020 was real bad. If I can make 2021 a little better for someone (myself included) that will be worth it.
The time to fuck around is over. Let's find out together.
CORRECTION: I am assured by Substack co-founder Hamish McKenzie that they “didn't pay any money at all to Greenwald or Sullivan,” so may that blessed state of affairs continue.