have I reached another internet checkpoint?
Read to the end for a good thread that made me pretty emotional this morning
This week, I’ll be talking to two excellent people on Sidechannel. On Tuesday, at 5pm EST, I’ll be talking to Matt Saincome, the co-founder of The Hard Times and Outvoice. And on Thursday, at 7pm EST, I’ll be chatting with New York Times reporter Taylor Lorenz. Hit the button below if that sounds like your jam.
The Josh Fight Is The Future Of Everything
Wow! I really did not know what to expect from the Josh fight. I figured it might be kind of a weird Area 51-style internet meet-up, but it seems like it was seriously great. My Tumblr dashboard is full of Josh content at the moment, making it, in many ways, a sort of reverse Dash Con.
If you’re out of the loop on this. A screenshot of a Facebook message to all the Josh Swains on Facebook has been traveling around meme subreddits and Tumblr blogs for the past few months. The Facebook message included a date and time and coordinates for a Josh Swain fight. The winner would get the keep the name. The coordinates originally pointed to a random field in Nebraska, but that was private property. So the event was moved to a nearby park at the last minute. And people showed up!
One Tumblr user, autisticmob, went to the Josh fight and put together a great first-hand report. Most importantly, there were at least two Josh Swains there. The Josh Swains battled each other via rock, paper, scissors, and the Josh Swain from Arizona won. Meanwhile, a five year old was crowned the winner of the general Josh fight. It was a pool noodle battle royale.
I think there’s a somewhat unspoken assumption that this kind of thing is a COVID-era kind of phenomenon. We’ve all been bored in lockdown, so, why wouldn’t a bunch of people named Josh go meet up in a random field and have a big party. And, maybe, when the pandemic is finally over, this will all go away. But I don’t think that’s the case.
I think the Josh fight and the Area 51 raid are both part of a trend that actually started with Pokémon Go. The summer in 2016 that Pokémon Go launched has basically become a meme at this point. It was a breakthrough moment in internet history. It was a moment of global understanding that what we see on our phones can inspire us to move in a physical space. Put more simply, it proved that you can use the internet to make people show up to something IRL. This has completely shifted culture! For better and for worse. Fyre Festival, the GameStop pump, and the insurrection at the Capitol feel in line with this big shift in culture, as well.
But if COVID has had any influence on things like this, I’d say it’s more likely that it has sped up their frequency by giving the majority of humanity a year to get really online. We’re fully on the other side of this now and as parts of the world start to open up, things are going to get real weird, real fast.
The Biden Meat Thing
Right now, Americans conservatives are losing their minds about the idea that they might not be able to eat hamburgers anymore. This is, of course, complete nonsense. The above screenshot comes from this tweet from CNN’s Daniel Dale. There are way more tweets out there about this.
The burger panic is based on this Daily Mail article which makes a bunch of extremely uninformed guesses about what would need to happen in order to meet what Biden may set as emissions reduction goals. The burger math happening in the Daily Mail article uses a study from Michigan University's Center for Sustainable Systems, which used wildly simplified math to emphasize “the important role that changes in diet can play in climate action.”
Look, none of this matters. Conservatives absolutely do not care if this is real or not. The American right’s main strategy for the next four years is basically that one tweet from @toiletgun that reads, “Twitter is 90% someone imagining a guy, tricking themselves into believing that guy exists and then getting mad about it.” They know it’s the best way to wage information warfare on platforms like Facebook and Twitter. It’s a game of addition, not subtraction. With the way social media currently works, you can’t remove something from the public discourse, you can only drown it out and replace it with something bigger and dumber.
So, not to be too nihilistic about this, but there is no amount of fact-checking that is going to stop these people from deciding they’re going to spend the weekend talking about hamburgers and I do not believe we currently have a digital information ecosystem in America that is capable of delivering fact-checking content to the people who need it. Case in point, here’s how Twitter’s extremely good and useful and not toxic and insane Trending Topics feature is framing BurgerGate content at the moment:
Twitter,,, thank u.
Anyways, over the weekend, I fell down a rabbit hole reading all the various weirdos stanning beef on Twitter. And I ended up on a Men’s Rights Activist account that is obsessed with the carnivore lifestyle. He’s also obsessed with something else. See if you can tell what it is:
It’s apparently a thing he’s very passionate about.
Found A New YouTube Thing
I came across this on Tumblr. It’s one of my favorite kinds of YouTube things. Haruomi Hosono is a Japanese pop artist who was influential in creating the 80s “City Pop” sound, which I’ve written about YouTube’s love of before. Hosono also was sort of an electronic music pioneer. His 1984 cassette release, “Watering a flower,” made its way to YouTube in 2017, where it’s been listened to 1.3 million times. It’s really nice! It’s 45 minutes of bright, but textured electronic ambiance. The music on the cassette tape was actually written to be played in MUJI stores.
For whatever reason, this cassette tape of ambient Japanese shopping music from 1984 has become stickied in certain user’s recommendations and the comment section below the video has become something really special. Here are some of my favorite comments:
“I want to lay down in a patch of dandelions”
“i am so glad to be here at this moment, this is something a person made with their own thoughts and ideas a long time ago, and now im listening to it and eating bread in my room almost 30 years later and i feel it! i can understand what this person felt,. what beautiful and humane thing art is! because thats what art is right? it is someone saying do you feel the same way i do? is it the same for you? could you understand? and it transcends time and land! i am so glad to be alive”
“This sounds like how the sunset after a sleepless night tastes.”
“have I reached another internet checkpoint?”
“this sounds like a bug admiring how big a human is while the human admires how big the night sky is”
“This is what it feels like to find a skull in your backyard, but it doesn't scare you. You simply leave it alone to rest there.”
I’m not totally sure why it’s always Japanese pop art from the 80s that tends to get stuck in YouTube’s algorithm, but it does seem to be a thing that keeps happening!
Some Good Roundabout Content
This is just a fantastic video. 10/10. Here’s a good Jalopnik write-up on the roundabout. It was installed at the beginning of the month and it seems like people are still having some issues using it.
AMVs Are A Lost Artform
Dogleg is a very good band. They’re sort of the leaders of a kind of post-emo revival (lol) kind of sound that’s getting more popular at the moment — fast, aggressive, catchy, a little screamy. Their song “Kawasaki Backflip” slaps.
Their bass player, Chase, really likes the anime Naruto. In fact, he likes the anime Naruto so much, he commissioned a Dogleg Naruto anime music video (AMV) from Twitter user theredscare420. It’s pretty good.
If you’re a younger reader or someone who just missed the Kazaa/eary-YouTube age of AMVs, it was a trend that got really popular when Windows XP launched with Windows Movie Maker. People started making music videos with anime clips, which were readily available thanks to DVD sales and a big pirating community. When I was like 12, I made pretty good Kingdom Hearts AMV set to Good Charlotte’s “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous”. Also, at a convention once, I met the guy who made the Cowboy Bebop “Smooth Criminal” AMV that was all over p2p sites back in those days. It’s something I do, in fact, brag about at parties.
Gordon Ramsay But He’s Not Cooking
Weeb Dad Adventures
I love this account. It’s a TikTok channel that documents a dad who just really loves anime. He gets so excited when he gets Dragonball Z stuff. Even better, as the account has gotten more popular, people on TikTok have been sending him stuff to check out. It’s super cute. Here’s a Tumblr mirror of one of his recent videos for folks in non-TikTok countries.
I Want To Believe This Is Real
I did some hunting around and I found what appears to be the original Facebook comment this is a screenshot of. The account attached to the comment doesn’t have any real information on it, but the user is active in the comment thread and it looks pretty legit.
“Just an example of the dumb things 15 year old kids do,” the user Ben wrote further down in the thread. “I believe the Statute of Limitations has expired on this one but I bet Mr. Richard, our Assistant Principal at the time, is still looking for me.”
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***