Monday June 27 2022
One of the few people I could plausibly call a hero, Mike Davis, is dying. If you want to re-up or get familiar, read an interview from 2018 or watch this one from 2009.
This review of our general condition, from a few months ago, is possibly his last piece. A quote: “It also may be the case that our rulers are blind because they lack the penetrating eyesight of revolution, bourgeois or proletarian. A revolutionary era may dress itself in costumes of the past (as Marx articulates in The Eighteenth Brumaire), but it defines itself by recognizing the possibilities for societal reorganization arising from new forces of technology and economics. In the absence of external revolutionary consciousness and the threat of insurrection, old orders do not produce their own (counter-)visionaries.”
Here is a concise document explaining what everyone can do, post-Roe. (If you want to share, use bit.ly/RoeWYCD.) If you can’t figure out anything else, give money: to that end, a fundraising toolkit.
Eleven years ago, Rupert Murdoch paid a bunch of people to make an iPad magazine called The Daily. I was one of them. Given the job, I asked a bunch of my friends to make things for The Daily in exchange for Rupert’s money. When The Daily closed, nobody mourned and nothing remained. There was no permanent website—everything was always inside the app, which stopped existing. I met a cab driver who called this experiment a “tracer rocket,” and this is accurate. Everybody learned the same lesson at the same time on Rupert’s nickel: don’t trap things inside an app. Digital publications have to live on the web.
If you didn’t screencap your work at The Daily, you could write to the lawyers at News Corp and ask for your content. I’m not sure you could get it back, even if they say yes, as there is no archive. (I couldn’t find anything on The Wayback Machine.) The official News Corp history of itself doesn’t mention The Daily.
In 2011, Zach Baron and Nikola Tamindzic revisited Hunter S. Thompson’s Las Vegas, and what Nikola saved on his site is the most you can find today. Longform reprinted the piece and then they folded, so I don’t think there’s any way to see the piece.
X-Ray was a fantastic thing Andy Zax invented. He wrote the copy and Mike Schmidt did the art, and some of it is archived on this Tumblr. Right-click while you can.
I asked Andy about the experience and he said this:
Like a lot of things in life, writing the X-Rays started out easy and then got very very hard: a lot of them only came together at the last second: 5:45 AM, after all-nighters spent scribbling endless drafts, knowing that I had to get something finished and sent off to NYC in time for Mike Schmidt to do the artwork that morning. When The Daily started, in January 2011, I remember you asking me: “Do you think you’ve got 50 of these things in you?” I said “Yes,” and then doing 50 of them became a sort of challenge to myself. I stopped after 51 installments—Kanye West was the first, Insane Clown Posse was the last—in May of 2012.
Looking at them now, a lot of the X-Rays hold up. I was trying to write something that would have been a regular front-of-the-book feature during the golden era of Spy magazine: allusive, adjectival, omniscient, peacock-y, with a rococo mean streak that flashed its fangs when required. But Kurt Andersen and Graydon Carter weren’t reading The Daily; as it turned out, almost no one was reading The Daily. So the responses I got from readers tended to be on the order of “I don’t understand this feature” or “Huh?” or “This is so stupid.” All of which filled me with a perverse delight and motivated me to do more. “You hated that?” I’d think to myself. “Well, then you’re really going to hate this.”
I love the new Blessed Images, a great sporadic Tumblr-style Substack. Photos have their own logic, and not everything needs to be an argument. Bring back discussion-free posting!
Buy a subscription so I can stop posting H&M to grid.
The first jam on this 1974 Stevie Wonder show sounds like D’Angelo’s entire career. I’m not sure it ever had a real title, but several people call it “I’m So Glad To Be Alive.” (It segues, at Stevie’s command, into “Contusion,” from Songs In The Key of Life.)
Jewel is having a good time on TikTok.
I love this drums and drum machines mix from April by Open Hand Real Flames: thundery and papery and buttony. The drumminess of the associated instruments dominates here, not rhythms or beat patterns. What makes a drum drummy? That is what this brilliant mix is about.
Here is the first episode of our new radio how, Busytown, originally broadcast from the 8Ball Radio studios on June 20, 2022. Please join us for the next one, which will be a few Mondays from now. Follow us on Twitter for updates.
Nick Cave on free speech and God. This bit: “Jesus roamed the land expressing what were, at the time, considered dangerous and heretical ideas. He was literally the embodiment of the terrifying idea. He was followed around by a nervous coterie of muttering scribes and Sadducees whose purpose was to catch him out — expose not just His dangerous ideas, but to lay bare and persecute his uniqueness. They, of course, succeeded and Christ was cancelled upon the Cross. These impossible, dangerous ideas — to love your enemy, to love the poor, to forgive others — were terrifying and unconscionable and forbidden in His day, but became, in time, the better ideas that underpin the society in which many of us are lucky enough to live today. It is worth remembering that. I think we must be careful around our assumptions of what ideas we think are right and what ideas we think are wrong, and what we do with those ideas, because it is the terrifying idea — the shocking, offending, unique idea — that may just save the world.”
I don’t think that “the better ideas” really “underpin the society” in which anybody lives, not in any reliable way. They are, as Nick suggests, the ideas that could save the world. Further to that, they do, in small and tangible ways, every day and all over the world. Good to remember that now.