Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Drew is off this week. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. Buy Clover’s book, The Motherlode: 100+ Women Who Made Hip-Hop, while you’re at it. Today, we’re talking about movie theaters, Filene’s Basement, haircuts, dinosaurs, and more.
The last time I took over Funbag, in 2019, the world was as bad as it is now, just in a different way. Some things have changed, but one thing is the same: People are still talking about Amelia Earhart. There’s even an entire festival named after her that was canceled for the second year in a row, both times due to COVID! Even when there’s a novel coronavirus in the world, Amelia Earhart remains famous, which validates my decision to put her on a list of the top five most famous people ever.
But I don’t wanna dwell on how accurate I was with that. On to your questions.
You remember that movie with Michael Keaton called Multiplicity? The one where he clones himself because there aren’t enough hours in the day and eventually two Michael Keatons leads to three, then four, etc.? Hilarity attempts to ensue. Anyway, it came to mind the other day as I was rushing out the door to work and leaving breakfast and lunch dishes out again, waiting for me to return later. Damn I wish there was another one of me just to handle domestic stuff! And I’d be doing a hell of a lot better work and career-wise if I could focus on that instead of every non-work hour being dedicated to kids. And what about my personal interests – what about Leisure Me? I think I need three of me. What would be the optimal number of selves and how would you divide up their duties?
Before I get into my logic, I love this question because I was just daydreaming the other day about how great it would be to have a personal assistant to do things like respond to emails, schedule interviews, and run my social media. I’ve been increasingly juggling more creative projects, like my book, The Motherlode: 100+ Women Who Made Hip-Hop, which you can buy here, as well as venturing into film/TV writing and production work. Problem is, I enjoy making to-do lists, spreadsheets, and setting reminders for myself, and I still transcribe my own interviews (with help from a transcription service) out of paranoia. Still, I agree: it’d be great to have more me.
To begin, let’s look at a template that was already set up for us when it comes to multiplicity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Men who created religion knew what they were doing when they chose to split the concept of a higher being into three separate entities that are one and the same yet imbued with different characteristics. As I understand it, God, the Father, controls the heavens up top. Jesus is the son who does the work on Earth and sacrificed for God’s creations. And the Holy Spirit gets to be chill and float around.
So what I’m thinking is: Almighty Leisure Me (God), Work Me (Jesus), Floater Me (Holy Spirit). Almighty Leisure Me would be the primary Me for fun things like watching television, laughing, and hanging out with friends. Work Me would cover all professional responsibilities and delegate to my other selves to ensure all aspects of our lives are split practically. The floater can meanwhile handle loose ends like chores, tweeting, gift-shopping, and writing Thank-You notes. Three is enough, right? Not quite. What about our emotions? That needs an entity all its own.
Enter the fourth self, Feelings Me, to oversee emotional management and go to therapy appointments. Of course, Almighty Leisure Me can still do any of these things as well whenever desired.
The answer is four.
I finally finished The Postmortal after reading The Hike and Point B out of order and your writing style is something I really like. What would you recommend that’s similar as we await your next novel?
Coincidentally, I have a book to promote, and that’s the one I’ll recommend. In February, I published my first book, The Motherlode: 100+ Women Who Made Hip-Hop. Again, you can buy it here. It’s a fun, insightful, illustrated highlight reel about a ton of women you should know, from Mercedes Ladies to Lil’ Kim, Lady of Rage, Charli Baltimore, and more. I spoke to many of the women myself and did about two years of research, interviewing, and writing. I think you’ll enjoy it if you like reading about music history in a cool way. The book has charts and sidebars like a rundown of Queen Latifah’s box office earnings and a White Rap Family Tree highlighting notable white female rappers. Overall, it’s a nice resource and a coffee table book you can display to show how much you care about women. Buy it for yourself and your kids, not just your daughters! If you’ve already opened the URL above in a new tab, thank you. Go further and place the book into your cart, click Place Order, and then come back to this page. Read on.
Would you pay to watch the opening scrolls of the Star Wars movies in a movie theater, with the full Dolby theater sound system, movie snacks, and gigantic screen experience? And how much? My wife answered somewhere around $2-3 for one and $15 for all eleven, and that order (original release date, Star Wars Universe timeline, best to worst) didn’t matter much. Even knowing that movie theaters are slowly starting to open up across the country, I believe people would pay $5/per scroll & $20 for all of them just for the experience and feel those specific Star Wars emotions right now.
Yes. I know people have been joking about the lengths they would go to participate in normal social activities again, and I’m absolutely gonna do that here. I wasn’t a heavy movie-goer before—I love consuming cinema from my couch, and such a thing as microwaveable popcorn exists. But I did always visit a theater for major releases like Avengers: Endgame and Cats (and unfortunately Last Christmas), and the one thing I miss that my mind keeps going back to is Cheetos popcorn, the best snack combination idea since Reese’s buttercups.
I’d pay a lot of money right now to dip into a bucket of Cheetos popcorn inside a theater (this is not an ad). I’m not a big Star Wars fan and have no idea what order you’re supposed to watch them in, but I have seen a few of the wars over the years, and I would pay up to $50, maybe even more than that, to watch the opening scroll of a Star Wars movie in a theater but only if I could do it while eating Cheetos popcorn.
Now that the 49ers have the #3 pick in the 2021 draft, which quarterback should they take assuming that Lawrence goes to the Jaguars and the Jets draft one as well? Their choices will be three out of the following: Justin Fields, Trey Lance, Mac Jones, and Zach Wilson.
Though I know very little about the NFL, I decided to challenge myself to answer a non-basketball sports question. Drew is free to answer this more concretely when he returns—I want to get you the information you need. But I also want to test myself.
You’ve given me four names that I can easily Google. According to this site, which is the second thing I clicked on after searching “Justin Fields”: “History suggests Shanahan, 49ers unlikely to take Justin Fields or Trey Lance with No. 3 pick.” I’ll stop there and scratch off those names. No additional effort needed. Minimal work is the move these days.
We’re now on Mac Jones and Zach Wilson. I find this: “Chris Simms, good friend of Kyle Shanahan, thinks 49ers will take Mac Jones at No. 3.” The lede is: “Chris Simms and Kyle Shanahan both grew up around the NFL, attended the University of Texas and have tattoos of each other’s initials. So when Simms makes a prediction about what the San Francisco 49ers head coach might be thinking, your ears perk up a bit.” They did, and this lede is convincing. I hope Chris and Kyle are OK people, because I’m going with that. Mac Jones. I mean that wholeheartedly.
I understand that who the 49ers will pick and who they should pick are two different things, but something about this feels right, and if I end up being correct, it’s proof that anyone can do this.
I was watching a movie from my childhood the other night with my daughter, and it reminded me that the movie theater in my town when I was growing up would play “All Night Long” by Lionel Richie before every movie, and this went on until the mid 1990s. It got me thinking – what is the quintessential drug store/grocery store pop song? “The End of the Innocence” by Don Henley is the first one that came to mind.
As a teenager, I worked in a department store called Filene’s Basement, an offspring of the regular Filene’s, the Boston-founded chain that sold wedding dresses. Filene’s Basement offered brands like French Connection and BCBG for less, and because I worked in the Manhasset location on Long Island for several years, I got a fair taste of what retailers think white America wants to hear. It’s John Mayer’s “Daughters.”
I don’t know why this would be a song to play in any store. Maybe it’s the folksy vibe that lulls people into purchasing items they don’t need. Maybe it’s supposed to be subliminal messaging for dads: “Fathers, be good to your daughters/Daughters will live like you do/Girls become lovers, who turn into mothers.” But not enough fathers shop that frequently for that ridiculous messaging to work.
“Daughters” is the only thing I remember about the in-store soundtrack for Filene’s Basement, and I believe the song followed me to stores everywhere. I could be wrong. It is possible that I only ever heard this song incessantly at Filene’s Basement and nowhere else, and that my retail-soundtrack reality is completely warped by that experience. I don’t know, but that’s the quintessential drug store song.
I’d love to know other people’s picks. Comment below.
Since most of the world has been locked down for a year, what is the ratio of relationships that made it and came out the other side stronger vs those that collapsed like a flan in a cupboard? I’m guessing the flameouts far outweigh the successes.
My gut says that most couples have actually stayed together rather than split because we’re creatures of habit who seek to maintain comfort during hard times, even when a partner is unbearable. But let’s start with some stats. Various outlets have noted an apparent spike in pandemic breakups and divorces. This piece from February 2021 reports on a study called The American Family Survey, which, the report states, “found that out of 3,000 Americans who participated, 37 percent of married men and women reported that the pandemic increased stress in their marriage. This was mainly due to economic hardship.”
“Fifty-six percent of the study’s participants said the pandemic made them appreciate their partners more and 47 percent said it helped deepen their commitments to their relationships.”
This sounds right, even though studies can be misleading. I find it useful to use the stars as a barometer here, too. Let’s take two couples as an example: Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas, and Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. One broke up over the pandemic. The other didn’t. The couple that broke up (Benana) is the one many expected to, which means something: Relationships are the same as they always have been. Certainly, the pandemic increased stress, and a lot of people severed ties, but in terms of concrete numbers, I don’t think it’s as many as it seems or that it’s any more than average. The bottom line is that we’re all healing.
I have been working remotely for over a year now. I love it and never want to go back. No 2-hour commute. I’m super-productive. Doing quality work. I don’t have any live on-camera calls and nothing in-person obviously. Just skype text and emails.
In other words, none of my colleagues have seen me in over a year. Just my profile pic, which is sharp and professional. I work at a bank and dress accordingly when there…
But I haven’t cut my hair in like 9 months. I stopped maintaining my beard regularly. I usually spend the day in sweats or even pajama bottoms. I’ve worn a belt maybe 3 times in the past year. Haven’t tucked in a shirt once. I drink in the evenings like it’s my late shift job. I’m the castaway version of myself. And I love it.
But I am going to have to return to the office sometime after June. So what’s my strategy? Milk it until the last second and clean up the night before and go into work cold turkey? Give myself a week to clean up? 2 weeks? Do it gradually over a month? And don’t give me Drew ‘dad wisdom’ like the best time to clean up is right now son. What’s realistic to maximize enjoyment of remote and minimize shock of returning?
Congrats on pulling off not having to do Zoom calls with video. I love and respect that your upkeep has fallen to Lost levels. I think you should continue the streak of never wearing a belt again in your life. But let me be straight up with you: It’s kinda wild that you haven’t cut your hair. If this were a few months into the pandemic, I’d understand it. Obviously, barbershops weren’t open, and it would’ve been irresponsible. I’m not judging anyone for choosing to live free during these times and let the strands manifest as they will. But most people I know have gotten some kind of trim at this point.
I don’t think you should continue this way nor get too comfortable—unless this is the look you’ve settled on; then, by all means, keep the beard. But it sounds like you want to eventually return to your old ways as the world reorients itself. It’s time to get it together. Someone has to tell you that. Don’t go cold turkey. Give yourself a couple more weeks of freedom, then get a cut and ease back into the habit. I think you’ll feel good.
Today I found out that the first dinosaur fossil was identified in the 1800s.
How do you think the world would be different if we found dinosaur fossils in the 1500s or in ancient Egypt? Would every major religion be t-rex based?
I don’t know how people even walk around every day not being constantly amazed that there used to be dinosaurs on Earth. It boggles my mind. I think about it all the time and sometimes randomly imagine enormous dinosaurs walking around.
If fossils were found earlier, I think the world would be the same. We’d just have more historical renderings of dinosaurs in the pyramids and things like that.
You and I seem to have similar tastes in music, and similarly aged children, and are both 44, so pretty much we are the same guy. Except my back is okay (for now). Anyway, my 12 year old daughter has asked for a turntable for her birthday. She got to go stay in a hotel with a friend during the blackout and snowpocalypse here in Texas, and it was some bitchin’ hipster boutique where every room had a turntable. She got to go check out albums in the lobby, and found that process fascinating. I love music, so I’m playing along. My question for you is what are the right starter pack albums for her? Do I go with things that I love (Pearl Jam, Queens of the Stone Age, Led Zeppelin), with the hope that she finally comes around after years of wrinkling her nose at hard rock? Do I go with recognized classics (Fleetwood Mac, Beatles, Bob Marley, etc.)? Or do I try to divine the things she might want (several albums of 6 second-long snippets of mumble rap with trap beats that she can do suggestive dances to)? What do you think?
I’m so glad your daughter is investing in vinyl early! For a starter pack, I suggest mixing it up. Feel free to transparently influence her—it’s what parents are supposed to do—while also giving her the space to discover new and old classics. From there, she’ll get a sense of what she likes and build her own library. Yes, definitely include some of the music that’s dear to you that you’d love to pass onto her. So much of our taste begins with what we hear at home before we venture into the discovery process ourselves. I learned about Sam Cooke, the Drifters, Madonna, Whitney Houston, and Bob Marley & The Wailers from sifting through and listening to my dad’s amazing vinyl collection when I was younger.
This is superficial, but I suggest including albums with exceptional or splashy covers because a compelling visual does help the young, uninitiated vinyl fan dig deeper into the crate and want to build their collection. I wouldn’t recommend newer records to her because she can find those on her own. If you want to encourage her to come around to rock, try hipping her to some women? Joan Jett? Tina Turner, a rock icon?
- Tina Turner – What’s Love Got to Do With It
- Pearl Jam (pick your favorite)
- Bob Marley – Live!
- Joan Jett – Bad Reputation
- Prince – Prince (or obviously anything Prince)
When I was a kid my parents always told me that I needed to “learn how to be bored” as an excuse why I couldn’t play my Gameboy for the entire 3 hour drive to our cabin every weekend. As an adult, that has paid off and I am now extremely good at it (I one time took a 13 hour flight to Japan while doing nothing but drinking beer and sleeping and zoning out, 4-5 hour drives for work through the midwest are nothing to me), but with the proliferation of portable entertainment everywhere you go is “being good at boredom” a skill that has no value anymore?
After the events of the past year, we could all benefit from being still, which is really what being bored means. It has value, I think, but it’s an extremely hard skill to attain in any era. When I consider the ways I used to pass my time as a child, there was a lot to keep us busy. It’s just that much of it wasn’t electronic. We had Scrabble, Chutes and Ladders, and Operation. Later on, lots of Super Mario Bros. and Sonic Spinball, Street Fighter, Tomb Raider, and Tekken, etc. I spent a lot of time reading or doing word puzzles, riding a bike, playing outside: Hopscotch, Double Dutch, Tag. When I got older, I got into AOL and Napster. I don’t remember being necessarily bored until my teens when I think the concept of distracting my mind to get away from thinking about emotions came into existence. Now, we have the wonderful new-school distraction of TikTok, which is my favorite thing that I’ll never let go. I commend you for learning this skill.
Email of the week!
I was listening to some Cher while driving today and it occurred to me that the first time I knew her name was in the context of “Sonny and Cher.” Cher is mother fucking Cher; don’t get me wrong, but Sonny had some big hits, became a mayor of a town we all know (Palm Springs), and then went to Congress. No one really gives a shit about a really impressive life because, y’know, Cher.
Does anyone else in history compare in terms of their legacy being rendered worthless because of their spouse / an association?
Barney Rubble. Everyone remembers Fred Flintstone, but Barney was more interesting.