Welcome on Down The Pipes, please don’t unsubscribe yet you literally just got here and we’re all just trying to figure this out again.
I say “again” because—for some of you—this is a bit of a return to form. “Back to blogging” as Nick Denton would say.
For those special folks who were reading my teenage bullshit back in ‘02-’05 (twenty years ago, imagine that!), I have a little treat for you at the end of this email. I mean, I guess it’s there for everyone, but you’ll probably be the only ones who interpret it as a treat. Considering you’re the minority audience here, I probably shouldn’t be offering so much fan service to the few dozen of you who still keep up with me all these years later, but like, that’s bloggin’, bitch! It was always for me and what I wanted to share, not what I thought anyone actually wanted to consume.
That said, most of you know me from my work on the business side of digital publishing, whether that was throwing events for advertisers at Gawker Media, hawking weighted blankets on Futurism, or schooling folks on misinformation and media literacy at Singularity. Perhaps the exact opposite of making what I wanted, but I was making things that made money so other people could make what they wanted. A noble pursuit and fulfilling to a point, also mildly soul destroying after 15+ years in the trenches making decent-enough sponcon and directing internet commercials.
You’ll still get plenty of “business” fodder in these emails because god knows I have opinions on it, but this isn’t going to be some deeply analytical, insightful, well-researched, or copyedited newsletter on all the latest and greatest happenings across the business of making internet. Brian Morrissey does that infinitely better than I ever will, and if that’s your bag I suggest you follow him.
My only spicy take on the business front this week is that Buzzfeed’s Jonah Peretti is very clearly still pissed he only made high seven/low eight figures when Huffington Post sold the first time for $315m. Everything he’s done at Buzzfeed since 2011 betrays that deep insecurity, including most recently cowing to investors who think he’s not “profitable enough.”
Alas, this will also not become a media gossip rag, though the good lord also knows I have plenty of that too (I am also not the kind of person who knowingly says things like “good lord” or “god knows,” but I see that years of writing “aw shucks, sorry about the cussin” emails to midwestern media buyers has left me with some funny habits you’ll either watch me break or be broken by). For saucy media gossip delivered about as often as I have IBS flare ups (no more than 3-4 a year), please see Fostertalk.
Speaking of IBS, I am not a doctor and have zero medical training (like, can’t even confidently perform CPR) but I spent the last 2 years watching COVID destroy us from the owner’s box of Futurism and the last 30 years as an internet-connected hypochondriac, so I’ve become one of those utterly obnoxious armchair COVID experts who mostly knows when he’s out of his depth. I’ll try to keep my medical opinions to an absolute minimum here, but it’s inevitable.
For example, did you know Omicron has a shitty stepkid name BA2 which is exactly like Omicron, except having Omicron doesn’t prevent you from getting this new one? And this BA2 strain is starting all new lockdowns in places like China and Europe? And it’s already here and will almost definitely fuck things up in a few weeks?
Yet the only thing we’ve been able to agree on in the last decade is that COVID sucks and we all wish it was over, so we’re not spending much time talking about the fact that we’re still losing 1,000 people a day in this country, and federal coverage for COVID treatment and vaccinations runs out next week, meaning realistically only the poor, uninsured, disabled, chronically ill, and unemployed will wind up suffering and dying going forward.
That’s usually “all systems, GO” in just about every other facet of our “civil” society, so maybe it’ll work out where they’ll just cancel the senior citizen early bird special at IHOP due to low staffing AND lack of people over the age of 60 able to be in public (or alive). Plus it’ll increase corporate profits not offering all you can eat pancakes for $5.99 to geriatrics who don’t tip anyway, so win/win for everyone who isn’t dead or soon to be such. For better COVID analysis than this, please see Your Local Epidemiologist.
Anyway, I digress, which I guess is the whole point. Like a 1,500 word fortune cookie, these mostly cogent emails will wind up meandering to wherever my mind happens to be at any given moment, be that society, business, politics, sports, music, film…a little bit of all the things that make up the kind of obnoxious slice of life critique that I’ve always personally hated reading but selfishly loved writing. Something like Bob Lefsetz, but with more hair and statins and less disdain for attractive popstars.
Wherever possible, I’ll be linking out to the people and pieces that inform what you’re reading here, so I suggest taking your time with some of the links and publications in these emails…there’s some gold down these shit-filled pipes, if you know where to look for it.
Speaking of gold, I promised a treat for the OGs. So here it is, my very last, unedited, horrifying-to-look-at blog post written in 2005, struck from the internet in 2009 when I realized having a complete accounting of my HS years publicly published under my real name was going to only end in public embarrassment and/or private ruin.
Finally, if you like this email feel free to share it around, it’s free for everyone who signs up despite being nestled behind a paywall (mainly for privacy and plausible deniability more than anything else).
Until next week!
Xanga Archives: August 28th, 2005
I go to college in 7 hours. Most of you are there already, and if you aren't then you're going soon. Or you're considerably younger or older than me and can merely imagine/recall what I'm feeling right now. My room isn't bare, but it sure is a lot more empty than it was a week ago. My posters, my TV, my speakers...all packed into the car for the trip to NYU. Am I excited? Yeah, in a nervous sort of way. I had no trouble running the show in Seaford after all these years. But at NYU, there are no longer only 750 students, there's more than 10x that. And I'm one of em. Just a speck. Welcome to the real world i guess, where we're all just specks. My lofty goal is to rise up like I did in elementary, middle, and high school. Granted it took me time, but I always managed to do it. Perhaps I sound full of myself talking like this, but I'm back at square one. In fact, i'm even before square one...it hasn't even started yet. New people, new places, and new experiences. Not that the old ones are being replaced, it's just an addition in another part of my life. Thankfully I get to carry over some old friends with me....my roommate is a childhood friend of mine, Josh lives 2 floors above me, Dan is a few blocks south, Amanda is going to school a few blocks north, and that's not mentioning the friends I know through shows in NYC. It'll be a different experience, but it's one I'm looking forward to immensely. For those of you still in HS, savor these years, because once they're over, they're actually over for good. For those of you in the real world, hang tight...I'll be coming to join you shortly.
But with all this great rambling comes a point. I've done some thinking, and it's my belief that this Xanga has run its course. When I started in September of 10th grade, it was out of boredom. Little did I expect it to become the spectacle it became. This place was a springboard for me...it gave me the chance to write for an audience and deal with the criticisms and realities of doing so. It was an incredible experience, and it will always serve as a fond record of my formative years. But as Kumar pointed out, the folks at NYU have no connection to this past, so it's only appropriate to end it now. I'm not taking it down any time soon. In fact I plan on keeping it up as long as possible. But there will be no new entries. I tossed around the idea of having a new xanga just for Seaford people, but that idea went wayward pretty quickly. This is the right decision, and I plan on sticking to it.
Thank you so much for taking such an interest in my life and my writing. I only hope that I see this kind of success again one day in the real world. Where and when does this real world take place? I have no idea. But once I figure it out, you'll all be the first to hear about it.
Now I'll end the same way I started 3 years ago.
Woah check it out...an online journal.