Gratitude, Triumph, And The Butt Fumble, With Jasper Wang
11:57 AM EST on November 23, 2023
In the weeks since the release of Defector Media's pulse-pounding and compulsively readable third annual report, our own Jasper Wang has been something of a hot booking for people that write and talk and think about media. This is good, for a number of reasons. It means that our goofy website is still a going concern, which is among other things great news for me, personally; also Jasper is both a smart guy and a delightful conversationalist, and very good at explaining both what we're doing what we're doing and how we're doing at it.
But we do things a little bit differently at The Distraction, which means that while we also talked to Jasper, we 1) recorded our conversation earlier, 2) released it later, and 3) mostly made our resident business expert talk about his beloved New York Jets. Did this mean that some of our Jets chat, which was recorded a week ago, is a bit dated, now that Literally Tim Boyle has somehow/belatedly supplanted Zach Wilson? Sure, I guess. Was this a misallocation of Jasper's expertise and your time, as a listener? Well that is really not for me to say. But yes. Fun time, though.
We eventually covered everything we set out to cover, from the Jets coach Robert Saleh's confounding decision to spend his first season with the team living in a two-bedroom home with his wife and their seven kids to how our business is doing and what it is like for Jasper to work with a couple dozen feral bloggers. We just did not necessarily do this in anything like a reasonable or linear order, which means that we talked about The Zach Wilson Experience and Aaron Rodgers cutting Jim-face promos on the sideline before we talked about how things are going at Defector Media. And also that the part of the show during which we talk about the variously disordered relationships that our parents have with concepts like "lunch" was possibly longer than either the Jets or the Defector parts.
Which, first of all, look: it's a podcast, and while Jasper is a brilliant business mind, he is also a comic and something of a blogger at heart. And so it is no surprise that the currents of our conversation carried us all towards talking about panic-ordering Taco Bell, or Jasper's mom's quickness with the between-meal fruit plates. Jasper also shed some light on the inextricable "deep sigh" aspects of working with us, and delivers some real talk on how we're doing and why, but it wouldn't have been right to make this episode entirely about that. And we didn't. If you go by the amount of time devoted to each topic, the episode is largely about the damn Jets and the fine points of Big Ten Football Fan Brain Disorder.
Unsurprisingly, the listener voicemails we answer in the back third of the episode did not make things any more reasonable. A listener shares a terrifying tale of encountering a Tim Ryan For President bumper sticker in Nevada. A listener compared Sam Bankman-Fried to "a young Jesse Orosco," who for those who do not remember looked like this:
Which is extremely if delightfully wrong, but also allowed us to explore some weird comparisons in a broad and bracing way. I will not spoil where things went from there, beyond saying that it involves Drew's dad comparing ill-fated Meadow Soprano boyfriend Finn from The Sopranos to John Kerry, my dad misremembering the title of Silver Linings Playbook in a way that botched the titles of three entirely different movies, and what is to my mind the single greatest achievement of dad-brain excellence that I have ever encountered.
Past Thanksgiving-week episodes of the show have skewed a bit more strongly toward the Talking About Stuffing side of things, and my write-ups of those episodes have as a result mostly been about being grateful for being able to keep doing all this stuff as work. If there is less of that in the actual text in this episode or this post, I think it's all right there just below the surface. At any rate, I'll say it here—how lucky I feel to be able to do all this, with these people and also everyone who listens and reads and cares, and what a blessing it is to have this abundant feast of digression and low-consequence error arrayed before us for another year. So let's eat.