"Every generation thinks it's the last, thinks it's the end of the world."
|Dec 7|| 1|
Our annual mailbag newsletter is coming in two weeks. Send me questions! Ask me any question you want at firstname.lastname@example.org. The rule around this here newsletter is that I have to answer whatever you ask. So send ‘em over. I’ll answer all of them, every single one of ‘em, right here.
Wednesday of this week marked one full month since Deadspin published its last story. As someone who once would start twitching when the site went 30 minutes without updating, it has been disorienting. Not a day goes by when I don’t absent-mindedly type the URL into my browser. There are no other sites I do that with, just randomly go to because, man, there’s probably something there I want to read. I wonder if there will be ever be a new one.
We don’t have to go down the rabbit hole of sad again here. I was merely a consumer of Deadspin at the end and am forlorn mostly because I don’t get to read it anymore; I didn’t lose my job like the staff did. Deadspin being gone—and apparently they’re still trying to hire a new editor-in-chief, and it has been heartwarming the number of people who have told me they were contacted by G/O Media and subsequently told them to stuff it—still just kills me, but it’s not like I was regularly writing there or anything. (I just write everywhere else.)
But once a year, I did write for Deadspin. Every year since 2011, the week between Christmas and New Year’s, I would fill in for Drew Magary on his weekly NFL Jamboroo column. At first it was a way to hang out with the old crew of readers over there, but as the years went on, and I became less and less associated with the site, I just became the annoying guy who showed up who wasn’t Drew. I always enjoyed that. It’s like walking through the halls of your old high school: You know where your locker used to be and where people hide stuff from teachers and where the closest bathroom is, but nobody actually going to school there cares or know who you are because jeez, why would they? Isn’t it even a little bit creepy that you’re still hanging out here?
I would always use the column to tackle something meaty, initially about media and ultimately about the terrifying world we all currently inhabit. I used it as an excuse to take big huge swings, to use the massive audience that Deadspin had and the freedom they would always so kindly give me to get experimental, and write super long on The Big Issues Of The Day. It always irritated Drew’s dedicated Jamboroo fans, which I’ll admit tickled me too. It was always one of my favorite pieces to write every year, and to be honest, I always started thinking about the next year’s version just a few minutes after filing that year’s one. It’s invigorating to push one’s self like that. I assumed I’d write it forever.
It didn’t turn out that way. Drew wrote one Jamboroo column for Vice after all the madness, but that has been it, and even if he finds a new home for it, it won’t be Deadspin and there won’t be any point in filling in for him. (It was always nice of him to let me do it nonetheless.) So it’s over. I miss it. They were my favorite pieces to write every year, my annual tradition of thinking all galaxy brain.
So this week, I thought I’d bring those old Jamboroo fill-ins back out and link them one last time. You never know what those ghouls are going to do with the Deadspin archives: This could be one of the last times anyone gets to read them.
By the way, there’s no reason to read past the opening essay on any of these. Not only is all the football stuff wildly outdated, I never really cared about the football part anyway. All the effort went into that opening essay.
(All this art is from the incredible Jim Cooke.)
Topic: How the emerging media platform of Twitter was making otherwise normal people act like self-aggrandizing morons.
Key Line: “Conversations are much more open and truthful on Twitter. That openness and truthfullness doesn’t make us any less dickheaded, though.”
How It Holds Up: Considering basically the entire American conversation is taking place on Twitter, and we made a Twitter troll President, I’d say it turned us all into dickheads like I worried it would.
Topic: Just because something is popular and successful does not mean it is still not terrible. We should call it out as such.
Key Line: “Just because a bunch of morons and teenagers are watching The Voice doesn't mean that the rest of us have to give a shit.”
How It Holds Up: This is another battle I lost. Martin Scorsese makes a work of genuine, lasting art, and the primary reaction is THIS IS TOO LONG FOR ME TO HOLD IN MY POOPS WATCHING IT. But no one will shut up about freaking Cats.
Topic: The infamous Justine Sacco Tweet, which had just happened a few days earlier, in which our outrage was less about what she had said and more about being in on a joke that she, on a plane for so many hours without the Internet, wasn’t.
Key Line: “Sacco sent the tweet, and then vanished into the dark, empty netherworld we used to call Real Life.”
How It Holds Up: I barely Tweet anymore, and to be honest, I’m pretty sure it has rendered me mostly invisible. (Still worth it.)
Topic: How people being able to choose their own media sources puts us in danger of believing things that are profoundly wrong despite being convinced we are right. (Using the example of how stupid Rob Schneider was about vaccines.)
Key Line: “The entire strategy for succeeding at anything, whether it's winning elections, selling a product or attracting visitors for your Website, revolves around pitching yourself as loudly as you can to those people on your side and turning those who disagree with you into the worst version of themselves, demonizing them into something subhuman and venal.”
How It Holds Up: I dunno: How much do you having political conversations with people who disagree with you these days?
2015: Nobody Cares If You Lie
Topic: That’s it: Nobody cares if you lie. You can lie and lie and lie and lie, and if you do it long enough, people will just give up and go along with you out of self-preservation, venal opportunism or just exhaustion.
Key Line: “I need you to listen to my speech for my speech to have any meaning at all. Otherwise I am simply releasing air from my lungs through my teeth and throat in order to produce a certain sound, rather than just letting it go out my nose like it wants to. I am moving my fingers right now in a pattern that produces words that people other than myself can see and understand. If there is no one there who is doing so, I’m just a mammal cracking his knuckles strangely, alone in a room.”
How It Holds Up: This is the best one of these, and maybe one of the best things I’ve ever written. And reading it this morning made me want to collapse in my chair. Because it’s so much worse now.
2016: How To Save The World
Topic: The importance of trying to be good in the world of a Trump Presidency.
Key Line: “Decades from now, our children and grandchildren will be looking at how we reacted, what we did, what we said, what we stood up for, in this exact moment, right now.”
How It Holds Up: Just a few weeks after Trump’s election, I was still in too much shock to really have much perspective on anything.
Topic: We should be a lot more worried about nuclear war than we are.
Key Line: “I think we simply got bored and distracted and we forgot. I think that we are not scared enough.”
How It Holds Up: 3,000 words on the constant threat of everyone I know and care about dying. Yeah, the first year of the Trump Presidency went swimmingly.
Topic: There is about to be so much death in the world that it will become too much for any of us to process. (An insight gleaned from an interview with Columbine author—and University of Illinois graduate!—Dave Cullen.)
Key Line: “We are living longer, which, while causing overpopulation problems in the macro, is a unquestioned positive in the micro; no matter how bad each Trump Tweet might make it seem, it is in fact better to be personally alive than personally dead.”
How It Holds Up: Yeah, seriously, what a fun time.
So yeah: I guess that’s what I did this decade. I truly loved doing this column every year. I’ll always miss it.
Here is a numerical breakdown of all the things I wrote this week, in order of what I believe to be their quality. You may disagree. It is your wont.
It's Time to Admit That This Georgia Season Just Hasn't Been That Much Fun. But Then Again: It's Just Getting Started, WSLS Podcast. My big annual Georgia Football piece. I like writing one thing a year that the people I see every day will actually read.
Data Decade: Most Shocking Events of the 2020s, MLB.com. This wasn’t initially on the Data Decade agenda, but it was an excellent idea that I think turned out really well.
The Return of the Sports Scolds, New York. Just let the guy pretend to be a dog peeing on the field.
Scarlett Johansson Movies, Ranked, Vulture. The No. 1 was probably the easiest selection we’ve had for any of these.
Craggs & Leitch: On Illinois Basketball After a Loss to Miami, Smile Politely. Got Craggs to start doing this again. My job, as always, is simply to set him up and get out of the way.
Mookie Betts Potential Trade Destination Power Rankings, MLB.com. He’s probably not getting traded, though. Side note: One of the many aspects of working for MLB.com that bring me joy is that all their articles are translated into Spanish. Spanish speakers: How does this read compared to the original?
Debate Club: Star Wars Characters Who Deserve Their Own Spinoffs, SYFY Wire. Lots of Star Wars business coming up, you’ve been warned.
The Thirty: Best Player on Every Team in 2020, MLB.com. Tommy Pham is a Padre now!
Grierson & Leitch, we discussed “Knives Out,” “Queen & Slim” and “The Two Popes.
Waitin' Since Last Saturday, we reviewed the Georgia Tech game, and previewed the SEC Championship Game. Also, apparently they were playing our show at the ESPN GameDay set this morning.
Seeing Red, no show this week, but we’re taping Monday.
GET THIS LUNATIC OUT OF HERE 2020 POWER RANKINGS
Kamala Harris was No. 1 in these rankings for a very long time, but over the last two months, it became obvious that it wasn’t happening. I still believe she is a good person who would make an excellent President, but it was not her year. I bet she’s a logical veep pick when inevitably a white guy wins.
Also, goodbye Steve Bullock. I think he would be a good President too! Alas.
1. Elizabeth Warren
2. Joe Biden
3. Cory Booker
4. Bernie Sanders
5. Amy Klobuchar
6. Pete Buttigieg
7. Julian Castro
8. Deval Patrick
9. Michael Bennet
10. Michael Bloomberg
11. Andrew Yang
12. Tom Steyer
13. William Weld
14. John Delaney
15. Marianne Williamson
16. Tulsi Gabbard
17. Joe Walsh
ONGOING LETTER-WRITING PROJECT!
I love that some of you are sending me holiday cards. Ours are about to arrive. You send me one, I’ll send you one. (But also write me full notes too, please. Your last letter was terrific and I’ve read it four times.)
P.O. Box 48
Athens GA 30603
CURRENTLY LISTENING TO
“Think For Yourself,” The Beatles. I go through an Early Beatles Stage every couple of years, and I’m in it right now. It is not unpleasant.
Thinking of starting a new glam band with these guys.
I’m in Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game today. Go Dawgs.