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Not sure how many people remember Maple and her owner, AcousticTrench. They were really big on Vine and then moved things over to YouTube after Vine shut down. Trench’s videos were all simple and gorgeous clips of him playing an acoustic instrument as Maple sat beside him.
Last week, Maple passed away at the age of 12. Trench wrote a beautiful tribute to Maple underneath the video embedded above:
Yesterday I had to say goodbye to my best friend. Maple passed away peacefully during the night, while I held her in my arms. We have spent every moment together for over 12 years, doing everything together. I adopted her from a rescue shelter and the first time we met she tackled me, leaping into my arms, wagging her tail so hard and with a smiling face full of love. We went on so many adventures together, and she was always there for me with her unconditional love through difficult times. Music helped to soothe and comfort her, especially when she was feeling anxious during thunderstorms and fireworks so I would play for her to help calm her down. She would lay beside me with her head in my lap and listen to the guitar until she fell asleep. I feel so lucky to have had her in my life, the bond we shared is indescribable and my heart is aching.
Trench also said that he may upload unreleased Maple videos in the near future.
I had the pleasure of briefly interviewing Trench several years ago. Never got to meet Maple. He was extremely protective of his anonymity. You can find his face online if you really want to go looking for it, but during our conversation he talked a lot about how important it was for him to keep his online and offline lives separate. As a reporter I thought this was annoying haha, but as a person who uses the internet for a living, I thought it was pretty admirable.
He also talked about how weirdly nice it was to have a secretly internet famous dog that no one would recognize in real life. Not sure if that stayed true over the years, but, unlike other owners of famous internet animals, Trench seemed to really be in it for the love of the game. The relationship between him and Maple superseded any kind of bigger online recognition. He’s used his platform to release some albums, but his internet project with Maple stayed pretty pure to the very end.
Losing internet celebrities, particularly internet famous animals, is a weird feeling. As online culture matures we will, of course, sadly, see more internet celebrities die. No way around it. But unlike a traditional celebrity, it’s a little harder to pinpoint exactly how internet creators impacted your life. It’s moments like this, where you’re trying to explain the emotional reaction to learning that a dog from Vine died that you realize how strange of a collaborate creative project the internet is. I suppose web content still feels somehow lower or more disposable than regular entertainment, even though, I’d argue, it usually creates a more immediate and intimate personal connection.
Whether it’s the connection between the creator and other users or the connection between users themselves sharing it with one another, online content is a much more communal thing than something like a movie or a TV show. And it’s still, for the most part, just stuff other people made because they thought it was cool, transmitted out across the dark abyss of the internet. Then it suddenly pops up on your screen. It’s a magical thing! And Trench and Maple’s were a fantastic example of how strange and cool creative projects can be when they don’t have to fit into any preconceived format.
Goodbye Maple! Thanks for all the great videos. My favorite of their videos was when Maple would “play” the kick drum.
The Black TikTok Strike
Black TikTokers are on strike. It’s extremely cool. The biggest influencers on the app are refusing to make any new dances for Megan Thee Stallion’s new song, “Thot Shit”. If you click through on the thread above, you will be greeted with some of the cringiest and most embarrassing attempts from white TikTok creators at making up a dance for the song.
It turns out, without black-made content to appropriate and co-opt, white people will just end up doing a weird line dance with the hand movements from “YMCA”. Also, I think the biggest issue with most of the dances circulating right now is that the lyrics to “Thot Shit” read: “Hands on my knees, shakin' ass, on my thot shit” and almost every dance I’ve seen has people putting their hands in the air!!!
Taylor Lorenz has a good piece over at the New York Times about the strike. As does Morgan Sung at Mashable. I think there are more creator strikes in our near future. Whether it’s from black creators who are sick of suburban hype house kids stealing their dances or burnt out influencers exhausted from trying to please algorithmic recommendation systems, it seems to really be in the air right now. If I owned a social media platform, I’d start getting a little worried about this. It also makes me wonder about what other kinds of labor protests can be accomplished with user generated content. What about users of an app creating completely explicit or non-brand safe memes? Mass-copypasta spams? We’re really in the early stages of this and it’s worth thinking about.
Also, while we’re on the topic of compensating creators, here’s a thing that shocked me this morning. In a recent video, Hank Green estimated that TikTok is paying its creators seven times less than what YouTube pays its creators. IDK seems bad to me!
The Critical Race Theory Hysteria Reaches Its Final Form
I don’t know about you, but I am sick to death about hearing about critical race theory, which I suppose, is the whole point. Flood the zone with so much shit that even the debate starts to weigh on you.
Last night, America’s biggest gossip, Tucker Carlson, ranted and raved about critical race theory and white genocide in a segment that, even for him, was legit unhinged. Carlson also went after Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley, who, earlier this week, made a passionate and well-articulated defense of learning and teaching critical race theory.
Politico has a big piece on critical race theory this week that outlines pretty clearly what Republicans are trying to do with all of this. Critical race theory will be an umbrella that continues to expand, absorbing any and all progressive causes, allowing them to be banned from schools and work place. In my podcast this week, I compared to a Katamari from the video game Katamari Damacy — if anyone reading this gets that reference.
A few folks have decided today they want to join Carlson in attacking Milley and it’s going about as well as you’d expect. Here are two very interesting tweets from the Hillbilly Elegy guy:
Sonic Turns 30 And Gets A Symphony
This entire thing was super fun. It celebrates 30 years of Sonic The Hedgehog. It’s hard to remember that, for all its issues when it comes to making actually decent games, the Sonic franchise has some absolutely fantastic music. The Crush 40 block appears around 1:30 and it’s unbelievable, but I’d argue the Tomoya Ohtani Band block just before might be even better.
Snart (Snail Art)
This is incredibly cute. I came across it thanks to @kittynouveau’s Twitter feed, who everyone should follow. I wanted to embed this snail’s Instagram, but the link OP shared didn’t work.
The OP did share some more information about how she (safely) dyes her snail’s, uh, goo? Slime? Here’s what they said:
I don't use store bought food colouring, I make my own using fruits and vegetables safe for GALS (Giant African Land Snails).
To male your own food colouring you use vegetables and fruit, put it through a juicer, then dilute with water. This also leaves a small flavour within the food colouring, so Atlas finds it very tasty.
So I only use foods that are GALS safe; beetroot, blueberries, strawberries, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, pepper, and so on.
Also, if you’re wondering, the Snail’s name is Atlas.
Italian Psychic Damage
I think it’s nice that we can all agree that it’s really fun to bother Italians about food.
El Salvador’s Bitcoin Experiment Gets A Start Date
OK! A couple quick crypto things before the weekend. First, El Salvador has a date now for when Bitcoin will become legal tender in the country — September 7. To mark the occasion, everyone in El Salvador will be airdropped (sent lol) $30 in Bitcoin, which, if the market continues the way it’s been currently moving, will be worth $20 by September 8.
Jack and Elon Musk will be having a debate about Bitcoin next month. Here’s hoping Sam Seder crashes that one too.
And, finally, it brings me no joy to report this, but crypto Twitter has become obsessed with “unvaccinated sperm”. It seems like this community’s love for artificial scarcity has gotten to a point where they’re going to start hoarding sperm next. Very cool. This interest in sperm from unvaccinated men probably has nothing to do with the fact that the crypto community is so bearish on getting vaccinated that the recent Bitcoin conference in Miami earlier this month was a super spreader event.
A Very Specific Subreddit
I just discovered this subreddit today. It’s called r/Somnivexillology and it’s for sharing “flags from dreams”. Every single post on the subreddit is complete nonsense, like the one above (sorry to bag on Italians again).
A Good Tweet
The “SimCopter Himbos”
Here’s another thing I learned recently! The video game SimCopter had an Easter egg of sorts in it. The game’s designer Jacques Servin set up the game so that “shirtless men in Speedo trunks who hugged and kissed each other” would randomly appear if you played the game on certain dates. Tumblr users are now calling these shirtless Speedo men the “SimCopter himbos”. Here’s what they looked like:
But here’s what’s even crazier. Servin was fired for the prank and said that he did it to protest the horrible conditions he was under working for Maxis, the studio behind the game. Then, though, it was revealed that Servin was actually paid by a company called RTMark to insert the himbos. And then it was revealed that Servin was actually one of the cofounders of RTMark. But wait! There’s more. Servin? What’s he doing now, you ask?
Well, he went on to create The Yes Men, the anti-capitalist culture jamming network. And to think, it all started with shirtless himbos.
New Garbage Day YouTube Video Dropped
I’ve got a new video this week! It’s an adaptation of a recent Garbage Day item about a weird anime me that went viral on Brazilian TikTok. Come for my bassy and silky-smooth speaking voice and stay for my collaborator Jon’s fantastic graphics. I think our next video is going to be about the Dream SMP fandom. So… stay tuned 👀
Some Stray Links
P.S. here’s a really good video.
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***