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Things Are Still Happening
I took this photo while eating barbecue in the E terminal of George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas last night.
For those who are just joining in on my Belizean adventure with my dad, the TL;DR is he spent a chunk of his retirement savings on completely undeveloped coastline in Belize and he and I went down over the weekend to actually see what he was buying. It’s been a surreal couple days, traveling through our new COVID world. Adding to the end of the world vibes of the whole trip, as we were leaving Belize yesterday, the first signs of Tropical Storm Eta were starting. It’s expected to make landfall in the country on Friday. Picture this: My dad and I riding a tiny water taxi through pre-hurricane rain and wind wearing drenched COVID masks. 2020, baby!
I also listened to a Belizean radio DJ talking about our election for a while. I couldn’t tell what side he was on politically, but he and the other hosts were laughing at us and said it was all very embarrassing. If you’ve never experienced your country’s presidential election from another country, if you ever get the chance to, I highly recommend it. I imagine it’s a very mundane version of how astronauts feel the first time they see Earth from space. Every conflict seems so solvable and senseless with a bit of distance.
Our Texas layover, it should be noted, was actually, in terms of COVID-19, probably the most dangerous part of our trip. Texas had around 7,000 cases over the weekend, Belize had 121. While eating dinner at the airport, I looked up and saw OAN on the television. I was honestly shocked. If you don’t know wOAN, or One America News, it’s a network that’s even more extreme than Fox News. I’ve actually watched a fair bit of OAN over the last few months and to call it unhinged is an understatement. Production wise, it sort of looks and feels like a TV channel an alien race would make to play on the screens of their human zoo. It’s complete uncanny valley. It legit looks like something you’d see in Robocop or Starship Troopers. OAN is currently claiming they’re going to sue Sasha Baron Cohen after the channel’s host Chanel Rion was tricked into letting Borat’s daughter (an actress named Maria Bakalova) into the White House.
Over the last four years, I’ve spent a lot of time oscillating between believing America is actually a lot less polarized than Twitter makes it seem and being convinced we are literally hours away from Civil War 2. Two layovers in Houston in the lead up to this year’s election, though, has given me a different perspective — all of this *waves hand frantically* is normal now. Porn parody-looking news hosts regurgitating 4chan garbage is playing at a barbecue joint at one of the country’s biggest airports and not a single person, other than me, seemed to care or even notice. As I said on Monday, I am absolutely not going to make any guesses about how the election will turn out, but I no longer think this is the existential final battle between freedom and fascism I thought it was a month or two ago. No matter who is standing up on that stage on inauguration day, they will be talking to a country that has learned to accept some extremely frightening values that will absolutely not disappear with a new president (to say nothing of Trump’s extensive judge appointments).
Anyways, if you’re curious the airport barbecue was pulled pork and it was fine, but definitely overpriced. Also, why does Dr. Pepper always taste better in Texas?
A Good Election Meme
The last presidential election I covered as a reporter was Brazil’s in 2018. Today, Brazilian Twitter is doing what it does best and mercilessly dunking on us for our complete shit show of an election. Here’s a good meme I was forwarded:
Left: Election Brazil
5pm - We have a winner
6pm - Everyone’s drunk and happy or drunk and furious
7pm - The first request for a impeachment
8pm - The government’s been divided by centrists
Right: Election USA
I don’t know how to count
Here’s A Very Bad (Possibly The Worst) Election Meme
I saw this on Tumblr this week and audibly shrieked. It’s bounced around different platforms since September. It was originally posted to Reddit’s r/NeoLiberal subreddit backed in September. I think it’s a troll. The user that first posted it is named u/Jeb_Bush_2020_, so, you know. It’s using Snapchat’s anime face filter, by the way. I wasn’t actually sure who that anti-hero middle one was at first and was horrified when I realized it’s supposed to be Michael Bloomberg.
The comments on the r/NeoLiberal post are an incredible mix of cringe, racist, and whiny. Here’s a spectacularly bad one:
Joevatar: The Last Libertybender
You must master the elements of Liberty, Justice, Representation, and Power to defeat the Trumper Nation and restore peace.
Here’s Some Election Copypasta
You know 🤔 what time of year 📆 it is 👻‼️ It’s 🏗 ERECTION DAY 🍆‼️ ⏱ Time 🕑 to 2️⃣ get ➡️ to the 🕳 HOLES 🕳‼️ ⌛️ Time ⌚️ to 2️⃣ 🐓 COCK 🐔 the vote 🤪‼️ ⏲ Time ⏰ to 2️⃣ put a mask 😷 over that cumcatcher 🤤 and STUFF 👉👌 those 📮 ballot boxes 🗳 for 4️⃣ 🌿 Howie Hawkins 🌳 then go🚶♀️home 🏠and 👩💻 have cybersex 👩💻 on 💻 the internet 🤳 because there is a 🌐 global plague 🦠, unless you’re 🏩quarantining 👨❤️💋👨 with 💗 someone special 💘 in which case 🧙♀️💼 get busy 🎆 exercising 🏋️♀️ your constitutional 📜 right ✔️ to the pursuit 🚴♀️ of happiness 🤤‼️ If u don’t share 🔂 this, Joe Biden 💀 will bury 🥄 you alive ⚰️ like a dog 🐶 and you will 🚫 never 🚫 🍆 fuck 🍑 again 😰 bc 👥👥 people 👥👥 will think 🤔 that you’re 😱 a liberal 🤮 like 🖖 Wil Wheaton 🙄 Send 📬 this 💌 to every 😜 Howie Hussy 💦 u know 👩❤️💋👩 if you don’t 📛 want to be 🅱️ a 🔵🔵 Blue Balled Biden Bro ♾️ 😞‼️ if someone 👩💻 sends 📨 you this message 📩 it means you’re one 1️⃣ sexy 😍constituent 👀 who 🦉 hates 🙅♀️ the two 2️⃣ party 🐘🐴system and loves 💕 to 2️⃣ be 🅱️ thoughtful 🧠 In conclusion 🔚 fuck America 🔥🇺🇸🔥 fuck the police 🔥🚓🔥 and fuck the troops 🔥🎖️🔥
I actually had to look up who Howie Hawkins is. He’s the 2020 Green Party candidate. Syracuse.com has a really cool profile on him. Reading through it gave me this intense longing for an election with actually interesting candidates who openly care about things.
Alright, Let’s Check In On How 4chan Is Doing Today
As I’ve written about before on Garbage Day. 4chan’s really not the same website it was four years ago. Not saying it’s better, even by a mile, but it’s definitely different.
Of Course There’s A Tweet
This was flagged up on my timeline by KDKA’s director of digital Tim Williams.
A Sailor Moon Archival Project Finally Wraps Up
I love internet projects like this! And I had no idea this was even a thing until I saw it on Tumblr today. A blogger named @SailorSoapbox has been archiving every single frame of Sailor Moon in high resolution since 2013. At 352,919 screenshots, the total project is 674.15 GB. I clicked on a random one just to check it out. It’s exactly as boring and also fascinating as you’d imagine.
And Finally, Internet Music Comes Full Circle
Over the last few months, I’ve tried to use Garbage Day as a space to explore how the internet communities and platforms invent new genres of music. I’ve been trying to get closer to defining what internet music is. But it’s hard! There are so many different novel forms of music that have been birthed from the internet that seemingly don’t have any link: seapunk, nightcore, lofi hip hop, vaporwave, cloud rap, crabcore, witch house, future funk.
But thanks to some recent late night Reddit browsing and the discovery of a musical project called Bilmuri, I think I’ve finally found the missing link I’ve been searching for.
In 2009, the term crabcore was coined as a way to make fun of the band Attack Attack!’s video for their song “Stick Stickly”. I’ve long thought that crabcore wasn’t actually a punchline as much as it was one of the first times the internet’s influence over the sound and aesthetic of music produced something totally unique. Attack Attack! basically optimized a song and music video for Myspace — swoop emo bangs, super deep V-neck shirts, vague midwest church basement lyrics, metalcore breakdowns, trance synth lines, autotune vocals — and produced something that was suddenly brand new. (Funny aside here, the album “Stick Stickly” appears on is called Someday Came Suddenly. It sure did!)
This formula has happened over and over again ever since. A band or a music project creates a sound that’s both uniquely influenced by the community or platform around it, but also suddenly feels completely new. It typically gets a dumb name and then also usually gets written up by VICE.
All of this brings us to the music project Bilmuri. At first glance, it looks like it’s Post Malone-style meme music. Bilmuri’s videos typically would feel right at home on Adult Swim. But the songs sound like late-00s post-hardcore mixed with the Gen Z spazziness of 100 Gecs. They also routinely feature weird lofi hip hop flourishes, degraded samples, warped vocal chops, and even… vaporwave synths. And, here’s the craziest part, the guy behind Bilmuri is Johnny Franck, the original guitarist and clean vocalist for Attack Attack! The song included up above is titled “ABSOLUTELYCRANKINMYMF'INHOG” but that’s not even one of his craziest. His most recent album opens with a song called “THICC THICCLY” and it features Attack Attack!’s original screamer.
So, what is internet music? I’m going to take a whack at a definition: It’s the uncomfortable, often cringe-inducing, but also totally captivating sound and aesthetic produced by humans working within algorithms. It comes together slowly, and then suddenly, something brand new exists.
P.S. here’s a good Sean Connery tweet.
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***