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Looter Capitalism, Loser Capitalists, And Mad Dog Russo Mindset

Chris "Mad Dog" Russo looking smug or sleepy, depending on your perspective, on radio row in Las Vegas before the Super Bowl.
Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM

It is not really unfair to either of us to say that Drew and I have developed a sort of Louder Guy and Less Loud Guy dynamic on the podcast. This is one of the classic ways for a podcast to be, and compared to a lot of the popular alternatives—Oops! All Louder Guys and Several People With Similar Voices Muttering Simultaneously—it seems like a pretty good option for us. Even less-astute listeners will have noticed this; their dogs, had they ever heard an episode, would probably have picked up on it. I mention it only because I kind of "go off" a little bit in this one, and sort of "am talking like Mad Dog Russo" a little bit at the end. I think the dynamic broadly holds, and I think this episode is a pretty good one. It just seems fair to flag this as a sort of content warning re: bluster in an unexpected channel.

It begins normally enough, with the familiar Distraction discussion of the weather and the NFL. The latter is a bit more detailed than the former, and while we've all earned a nice refreshing football hibernation, we swung into it with a grudging appreciation of both the Chiefs dynasty—which is fine, which is in turn more than I've ever been able to say about any previous dynasty—and what wound up being a pretty solid Super Bowl. We also fearlessly spoke our truth about Taylor Swift as a leading light in the field of celebrity fans and a worthy replacement for Rob Lowe With The NFL Hat as the defining image of a famous person at NFL games. This somehow led us into a conversation about Marlins Man, and then Darren Rovell, and then the time I saw the two of them talking to each other, and then to the jarring visual of Rovell trying to defend Kristaps Porzingis one-on-one that haunts my memory, and finally to Rovell's pathbreakingly deranged blog about catching Aaron Judge's 62nd homer.

So far, so familiar, at least for one of our more free-associative two-handers. But while we went on like that for a while, Drew called an audible and we hit a hard pivot into a conversation about ... well, there's no nice way to say that around the 18-minute mark we start talking about Joe Biden. There are some risks associated with this, and they are obvious, but the conversation that followed, which also marks the beginning of me starting to tip the Loudness Balance towards an uneasy equilibrium, wound up being more about the strange and deranged version of balance that the New York Times, in its typically deranged ways, has brought to its coverage of our two senescent presidential candidates. There's basically a mini hater's guide to the Times opinion section in there. We were already decently far afield.

While we got back on the game plan after the break, it's worth noting that said game plan, at my request, dealt with some decently loopy shit. We talked about Reeves Wiedeman's mindbending profile of hedge fund dipshit Bill Ackman, which I adored both as a portrait of a contemporary variety of weird rich dolt and as an example of a bunch of unfortunate societal trends about which I have long had a bee in my bonnet. So we talked about rich people going insane, or just going fash, the moment they are first challenged in public, or just by their own children, and what powerful people are really afraid of, and the unique susceptibility of members of this class to losing their entire minds as a consequence of posting online. I was getting louder and louder all this time.

But I didn't really achieve Mad Dog Russo Mode until we started talking about first the uneasy situation of schlongform journalism in this moment, and then the broader trends in business and society that have made it so. Drew was also decently passionate, here, but this is something I tend to get heated about, and the conversation we had about this—about the ongoing vandalism of basically everything by finance and its cretinous imperatives, at the epidemic of loser energy in media and in the culture and the embrace of "giving up" and "making it worse" as a strategy—sent me off. The last thing I say before we get to the Funbag question—it's about whether there is a bad kind of pizza, and we both got pretty into this one, too—was "Criminal! Disgusting!" And while I did not say those things in a Mad Dog Russo voice, I cannot in good faith tell you that they weren't things Mad Dog Russo might've said. He just would have said them about something that happened in a Week 14 NFL game, and I said them about the looting of every socially valuable thing by people whose values I deeply hate. And I guess I also got mad about the long hamburger they sell at Chargers games.

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