On January 27, 2021, GameStop (GME) closed out at its highest stock price at $347.51/share since the reddit community of r/WallStreetBets (WSB) sent the stock soaring, in their nomenclature, “to the moon,” a curious phenomenon that many within the mainstream press gave revolutionary significance due to the working and middle class status of some of the volatile stock’s big winners.
I wrote last year that despite some of its “populist” character, the supposed gatecrashing by lay people into Wall Street was nothing more than a bubble created by Wall Street actors and carnival barking billionaires in which some previously precarious individuals made instant fortunes while many others lost their shirts. In the year since the GameStop rollercoaster, the increasing presence of words like “crypto”, “DeFi”, and “NFTs” has come to dominate the fintech space. This emergent language has filtered into the mainstream due to the opening of a portal into the long-prophesied techno utopian dream known as the metaverse.
In November, at the invitation of a good friend of this site, I attended the Knicks-Cavaliers game at Madison Square Garden, my first NBA game in 22 months. Naturally, the Knicks lost in blowout fashion, with Ricky Rubio, of all people, setting a career-high in points with 37.
Burial’s seminal Untrue was released 14 years and just about a month ago. This is not a round figure, and this is not a timely commemoration of an album’s release date. Instead, I merely wanted to submit my humble meditation on one of my favorite albums of all time and what it means to me personally.
Isn’t it kind of always on-brand to write about Burial’s music whenever the hell the impetus strikes? Fitting, because this seems to be the same approach that Burial takes in releasing his work to the public. I have no other reason for writing about Burial’s Untrue beyond an experience that I recently had listening to the album in its entirety that was nothing but otherworldly.
The first season I kept up with MotoGP in real time was 2003. Before then, I read race reports on the Old Internet or flipped through whatever year’s Motocourse was still on the shelves at my local Barnes & Noble during my dad’s Sunday bagel run1 because I was a car kid more into F1 and NASCAR, plus we didn’t have TV access — or if we did, I didn’t know when because ESPN increasingly used its Walt Disney money to invest in mainstream sports during daylight hours while its niche coverage retreated to insomniac timeslots or got sold off to other stations entirely. I understood the gist of that world by the time our cable package added Speed Channel, in other words, but it was mostly by accident.
It is the latter half of the 2021-’22 NBA regular season, and the Los Angeles Lakers sit in eighth place in the Western Conference with a 28-29 record. Big man Anthony Davis, acknowledged to be a big without allowing himself to be referred to as a center, has missed twenty games, while LeBron James, the fulcrum upon which all Lakers-based activity must depend, has incurred an apparent return of the high ankle sprain which had once befallen him.
James has taken to imploring his teammates to work harder in his absence, which seemingly grows longer at his whims. On Instagram, his beseeching increasingly includes the term “brodie,” seemingly in the pejorative. Teammate Russell Westbrook notices.
The thousand injuries of Lebrunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that gave utterance to a threat. At length I would be avenged; this was a point definitely, settled – but the very definitiveness with which it was resolved precluded the idea of risk. I must not only punish but punish with impunity.
On Thursday night, Conan O’Brien hosted what he has said would be his final late-night television episode, on his last late-night television program. He began on TV as a largely unknown 30-year-old in 1993 with exactly the kind of pedigree you would’ve expected then: Harvard-taught, an alumnus of both TheSimpsons and Saturday Night Live, an advocate for the weird and disruptive trends emerging in comedy to which, despite him being an Irish-Catholic Massachusetts native, he had a singular pulse.
My introduction to Conan’s work was via Late Night With Conan O’Brien, the show he hosted as the wedge between his beloved Johnny Carson and Jay Leno and which was repurposed as a day-after lead-in to The Daily Show on Comedy Central for a while. When it came time for Conan to assume his seat at the top of NBC’s hierarchy, it suffered from poor ratings and a shift back to late-night along with the Tonight Show name, which Conan would fundamentally not accept. A back-and-forth ensued, and Conan eventually ceded the seat, leaving us bereft of him for a time while he popped up on tour and at music festivals – more on that later.
I understand that his is mainly a slightly-older generation of an audience, the tweeners that both lived to experience Nevermind in real time, cognizant of it or not, and also know how to navigate social media without sparking fights at a dinner table, but my friends and I – white and well-off-ish enough as we were – liked Conan better than any of the others mostly because we never knew what to expect.
Below is a list, mostly off the top of my head, of my personal favorite Conan segments, recurring and otherwise. I know this isn’t the end, but HBOMax’s app is horrendous, and anyway, it isn’t as widely accessible as he has been for thirty years otherwise. Conan, we only wish you well, as you ever wished us.
Wall Street in the American imagination is simultaneously held in a state of contempt and awe. It’s the site of both magic and misery.
The name “Wall Street” itself has become a shorthand to denote the capitalist class. Yet, Wall Street is only a segment of this class, known as Finance Capital.
Finance Capital has become a growing segment within capitalism since the 1970s due to the decline in American manufacturing. Manufacturing took a dive during the 1970s in America due to the postwar recovery of European industries and the emergence of Asian competitors. Big swings in oil prices during the OPEC crisis of 1973, as well as inflationary spending from the Vietnam War, also broke the halcyon days of American prosperity, to which many politicians and their constituents today look to return rather than an anachronism.
Something leaving us at precisely the same rate as it always has, however, is time. An unhuman entity forced us into our homes and away from our loved ones for long stretches; for once, it seemed, there was a problem that throwing federal government-level amounts of money wouldn’t fix. Most of us were forced to adapt; some didn’t, and died; others did, and died anyway. Time kept on slipping, in all its finite utility.
Under the circumstances, and with nowhere to go, it was up to us to spend a lot of time with ourselves. Election-year news cycles are Ringling Brothers productions gone awry in normal times, but taking in the news, even in the simple pursuit of attempting to stay anything like informed, was an especially depressing exercise in 2020.
“A man is severely injured in a mysterious accident, receives an outrageous sum in legal compensation, and has no idea what to do with it” is a pretty simple story idea, but that’s verbatim the pitch for Tom McCarthy’s Remainder. The publisher’s blurb is elegantly written around what he does wind up doing with it, so if that doesn’t sound like something you want to know, it’d behoove you to stop reading here. The real spoiler that’s not a spoiler is that if you’re reading this, you already know everything’s going to end in motorcycle racing anyway.
What is “inessential”? Pieces of trivia are, by nature, tidbits and factoids that at best connect two seemingly disparate ideas to each other but, perhaps at their most quintessential, elicit nothing more than a “Huh, didn’t know that” from someone. There’s a reason trivia is (usually) a popular way for bars to kill time and fill people up with Miller Lite on non-sports nights; take that concept, turn the answers into questions, and voila: you’ve got a long-running syndicated game show.
Answer: this television figure, who died on Sunday at 80, hosted the longest-running iteration of Jeopardy! for 36 years. Who is Alex Trebek? Well, to many, he is so much more than the game show with which the rest of us will forever associate him.