Why does this have a title and a social share card? It's an email. It's supposed to be correspondence.
Why is everything such a big deal that has to be on multiple platforms? Should I just have used TinyLetter?
Now (I want to address you as “beloveds,” but that’s Kipling, and he’s so problematic he washes his uniforms at the problemat, we should start off better than that, but still—)
Beloveds, I'd like a little of my old pretentious, overwritten charm back, because the world is so gray. I'm a middle-aged fat dad, husband, and boss, five extremely fatal conditions, and thus of necessity correspondingly earnest because if I mock myself I transitively mock the people who rely upon me, and that feels bad, and if I mock the people who depend on me I am cruel.
So I’m earnest these days, especially as the whole planet is in the middle of its stark, corvid lament, and I can't find any fun little words to enjoy in the meantime, like we used to publish on the Internet. God just give me one digression, one meaningless traipse through the daisies of semi-sequiturs and random linkages like we used to have. I generate, I swear to god, four podcast episodes a week, a magazine column a month, who knows how many tweets, and then there are the blog posts, conference calls, and proposals, and my language capacities are pulped into repetitive nostrums about change and adapting and the need for empathy and the way we live now. I need at least some corner of my dumb self-centered world where I can make up a bunch of nonsense, write parentheticals so discursive that they function as abuse, and just in general do a late-night set at the Hoot Hut, which is the name of my combined comedy club and owlery, thank you for calling the information line, all shows are cancelled due to the pandemic but you can pick up an owl curbside.
While I’m personally lamented out, I mean no disrespect to all the laments. I don't want the world to silence itself to comfort me, the opposite. I love being yelled at in the abstract, more than many. I honor and celebrate all the badly-composed narratives, whether they end in outrage or redemption. I rely on the yowling of the younger, who have not yet entered into a boat shaped like themselves and sailed down a dark tunnel labeled, semi-elliptically (literally and figuratively), H Y P O C R I S Y. And I worry about their throats. I would like to give everyone a lozenge.
In undertaking this stupid newsletter, which I will bail on in a month, using this newsletter platform, which monetizes newsletters and is likely funded by malevolent wizards, I asked myself (newsletters), what is different in how one communicates from very, very ancient days, i.e. 2006?
I think, back then, you could tell a person who had good opinions because they'd say offensive things, while the fewer offensive things a person said, the worse their opinions. Contrast Dave Chappelle to George W. Bush. But now to speak without offense is good, while the awful people feel obligated to say absolutely terrible things to demonstrate their freedom. And this has been a very genuine change, and everyone is sure they know what it means.
But what does it mean? No one knows. I just right now had a fight with my wife about our window, which has a rotted jamb and blows open in a way that could hurtle it four floors to the ground in a good wind. I’ve fixed it fine albeit clumsily by wrapping lots of wire around the sticky metal bits, so that it can be cracked a couple inches, but she insists it’s the wrong wire and will dissolve in vinegar. I said when are we going to pour vinegar on the window? But there’s a beautiful breeze right now, just light and right, and a slow pace of cars down Coney Island Avenue, which helps me forget that our air conditioner is broken.
These are just some of the many wonderful cultural observations we’ve all been craving in this, a newsletter which I will bail on in a month. Some grad student in 2200 AD will train an AI to read the entire Substack corpus, and the AI will pass judgment on all of us at once. We'll have no ability to defend ourselves.
“They were so selfish,” it will say. “This one in particular.” And it'll point its long bony neural network cyberspace handibles towards the little golden avatar of you.
I hope this finds you well. I do miss you.