Before we get into today’s newsletter, first, I want to say thank you. This week marks a full year since I went full-time with Garbage Day. It’s been a crazy journey. Getting to meet so many of you via email and Discord, swapping links, complaining about platforms, overanalyzing internet drama, it’s an honor and I can’t believe how lucky I am. I mean, I got to set up a Discord server that Mark Zuckerberg joined and then my readers filled up the live chat with emojis of muscular Garfield! It can’t get better than that.
When I jumped into the deep end of the creator economy last summer I gave myself three goals to hit: Break 10,000 total readers, get 1,000 paying subscribers, and, most importantly, just publish the dang thing consistently. I am super proud to say that I did it! I have published three issues a week, with two bonus ones every month without a break, I have over 13,000 readers, over 1,100 paying subscribers, and the average Garbage Day issue now gets over 10,000 views each. That’s CRAAAAZZZZYYYYYY to me.
But there’s more. I’ve also interviewed some amazing people like Dinosaur Comics' Ryan North, YouTube creator Brian David Gilbert, author Talia Lavin, Mastodon CEO Eugen Rochko, and Discord CEO Jason Citron. Garbage Day’s Discord has over 700 users and earlier this year, I teamed up with writers Casey Newton, Charlie Warzel, Anne Helen Peterson, Eric Newcomer, Nick Quah, Delia Cai, and Kim Zetter, to launch the Sidechannel Discord network, which has over 5,000 users. And Garbage Day has been featured in outlets like the New York Times, the Guardian, the Washington Post, and an actual physical copy of New York Magazine. (I think. I haven’t actually found a copy to check yet lol.)
I’ve even been able to take reporting I started in Garbage Day and flesh it out further in bigger outlets, like this piece I wrote about TikTok emo for Polygon, my big Facebook gross food magician investigation for Eater, and the meme stock explainers I’ve written for The Nation. Garbage Day has also helped launch a podcast, The Content Mines, which now gets over 2,000 downloads a week. Most recently, I’ve been even been experimenting with turning Garbage Day stories into YouTube videos.
If my first year of garbage was about building a readership and actually figuring out how this whole thing works, year two is going to be about becoming a sustainable business. And to be better prepared for that, on Sunday night, I’ll be raising my yearly subscription price from $30 to $45. So if you haven’t subscribed yet or are planning on renewing a subscription and want to get in at a lower price, you’ve got the weekend to do so lol. The monthly price will stay the same… (for now 👀). Also, this won’t impact you until the end of your current subscription. So if you just subscribed, I have a year to convince you Garbage Day is worth the price hike. But wait THERE’S MORE!
On August 1, the Extra Garbage Days I’ve been sending to paying subscribers will increase from twice a month to once a week. These will continue to be Q&As with trendsetters, tastemakers, and other people on the front lines of internet culture. And on September 1, if all goes well, I plan to open commissions for guest writers. If you’re interested in that let me know. Getting to a place where I can afford to pay other writers is part of why I’ve started doing ads and classifieds. I also recently got access to Mirror.xyz, an NFT-backed publishing platform and plan to start experimenting with that very soon. Oh, also, I plan to take short vacation before the summer’s over 😤.
With all of this, my biggest focus is giving value back to readers. So if there are things that Garbage Day could be doing that it isn’t yet, let me know! This brings me to the most important part of this whole announcements: coupons and discounts, baby!
I’m part of a live show in New York City on August 17, 2021 at Caveat. It’s called The Meme In The Moment Festival and you can find all the details here. I’ll be sending Garbage Day subscribers a discount code for that next week. I also know that there are Content Mines patrons on Patreon who also subscribe to Garbage Day. I’ve never been super comfortable with that, but Patreon does not have a coupon system, which makes bundling tricky. I now have a Garbage Day coupon that Content Mines patrons can access. If you’re currently doublefisting my content and want to use the coupon, message me, and I can adjust your Garbage Day subscription. Also, if you’re strapped for cash or want to read an interview I publish, message me and let’s see what we can figure out!
Whew, that is a lot of stuff. But wAIT THERE’S MOOOORRREEE. To celebrate a full year of garbage I have not one, but TWO new pieces of Garbage Day merch.
The first shirt was designed by Chris Bishop and Garbage Day Discord users have already nicknamed the three guys on it “LIV, LAFF, and LUV,” in case you were curious. And the second one was actually made by my motion graphics artist Jon Hanford for the newest Garbage Day YouTube video. I loved it and impulsively threw up there today lol. The little sign says, “read my blog”.
OK, I think that’s everything I wanted to announce. In all seriousness, this year has been amazing and it wouldn’t have been possible without you. And, as always, if you’re interested in subscribing, hit the green button below.
The Freedom Phone Is Somehow Not Satire
I’ll be extremely honest. I 100% assumed this was a stunt like The Hard Times Gamer President, Ace Watkins. The second line in this video is, “Hi, I’m Erik, I’m the world’s youngest Bitcoin millionaire.” I mean, I am really supposed to believe that there’s a person just walking around saying that? But, no, apparently Erik Finman really is the youngest Bitcoin millionaire and he has an amazing idea — what if your phone could be hacked by literally anyone. Wait — I’m sorry, no, I meant, what if your phone was free of censorship?
According to the website that Finman has set up for the Freedom Phone, it currently costs $499.99, or roughly, two-thirds the price of a new iPhone, and features “tracking blockers and an uncensorable app store.” It ships in August, I guess. It runs on something called “FreedomOS” and comes with right-wing news outlet Newsmax’s app pre-loaded. Incredible stuff here.
A few notes: First, FreedomOS is almost definitely a wildly unsecure fork of Android. Also, several users have noticed that the Freedom Phone looks suspiciously like a $100 Alibaba phone. Also, I’m sure the FBI is very interested in hardcore Trumpers buying a jail-broken Android phone that can’t update properly! Anyways, very excited to see what happens next with this. It’s not like other right-wing tech services like Gab, Parler, and GETTR were all recently revealed to be wildly susceptible to hacking or anything. I personally won’t be buying a Freedom Phone because I’m waiting to see if the My Pillow Guy releases a patriot tablet or something.
Let’s Talk About The Bourdain A.I.
Filmmaker Morgan Neville, in an interview with the New Yorker this week, revealed that in his new documentary, Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain, some of Bourdain’s emails are read by an A.I. rendering Bourdain’s voice. Apparently, the A.I. version of Bourdain is so convincing that New Yorker writer Helen Rosner did know it was an A.I. until Neville told her. (Today In Tabs has an open thread with Rosner going this afternoon btw).
“…He got in touch with a software company, gave it about a dozen hours of recordings, and, he said, “I created an A.I. model of his voice.” In a world of computer simulations and deepfakes, a dead man’s voice speaking his own words of despair is hardly the most dystopian application of the technology. But the seamlessness of the effect is eerie. “If you watch the film, other than that line you mentioned, you probably don’t know what the other lines are that were spoken by the A.I., and you’re not going to know,” Neville said. “We can have a documentary-ethics panel about it later.”
GQ has more details on how the Bourdain A.I. happened. In an interview, Neville said, “I checked, you know, with his widow and his literary executor, just to make sure people were cool with that. And they were like, Tony would have been cool with that.”
Ah yes, I’m sure Anthony Bourdain, a guy who’s entire personal brand was based on an almost religious belief in authenticity would be excited that his private emails are being read by an artificial intelligence in a documentary about his life after his suicide.
Let’s be clear, all of this is objectively ghoulish. Also, according to Bourdain’s second wife, Ottavia Busia, she is not the “widow” that Neville is referring to. And, in a fantastically dark example of how completely dumb and awful A.I. is, in general, Twitter, for some users, was listing Busia’s tweet under their “Golf Topic”. Cool, good stuff. The future rules.
I actually found a similarly dark Bourdain cash grab a few months ago. The verified No Reservations Facebook page has been turned into an inspirational quote content farm that advertises Bourdain merch. The page shares viral news articles from a website called Thought Nova and comments on them in Bourdain’s voice. The entire thing is, for lack of a better word, fucked up.
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A Very Important Art Project
This account is drawing pictures of Vin Diesel every day until Diesel releases new music. It’s been going for 32 days now. Your move, Vin.
The Super Grim Chrissy Teigen Thing
This was sent to me by a reader named franklan. Teigen, earlier this week, posted an Instagram picture with a caption that is a fascinating and kind of sad look into her relationship with social media. Here’s a bit of what Teigen wrote:
Iiiii don’t really know what to say here...just feels so weird to pretend nothing happened in this online world but feel like utter shit in real life. Going outside sucks and doesn’t feel right, being at home alone with my mind makes my depressed head race. But I do know that however I’m handling this now isn’t the right answer. I feel lost and need to find my place again,I need to snap out of this, I desperately wanna communicate with you guys instead of pretending everything is okay. I’m not used to any other way!!
Teigen goes on to write about how she’s in “cancel club,” referring to the various scandals and controversies that drove her off Twitter a few weeks ago. The whole thing is just sort of a weird bummer and as much as Teigen is being dunked on for Posting It Through It like this, I suspect there are probably a lot of people who are similarly psychologically dependent on Twitter. And to take this further, it’s probably worth asking how our news and media are being shaped by other powerful people who may also be pathologically addicted to Twitter!
Euros Flare Butthole Guy Is Also Euros Coke Guy
Fun Euros fact for you: The guy who went viral doing a bunch of coke in front of a crowd on Sunday before the English team played the Euros is the SAME GUY who put a lit flare in his butt. I can’t embed that photo here because 1) it’s gross lol and 2) it’s a licensed wire photo. The man’s name is Charlie Perry and according to a rough timeline of his day, he started drinking around 8:30 AM, drank about 20 cans of beer, “banged” a bunch of “powder,” stuck the flare up his butt, bribed his way into the stadium, and then did an interview on Italian TV about his whole day later that night. What an absolute ledge.
Apparently, he stuck the flare up his butt to cheer up people who were sad about COVID. Fair play. And rumor has it, according to Popbitch, The Sun paid him £11,000 for an interview. Ah, football. Nothing like it.
Funky Final Fantasy X
Some Stray Links
P.S. here’s a real good video. And, again, thanks for a year of garbage. I love you all.
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***