The Internet Can Belong To You Again
2:29 PM EST on December 31, 2020
Drew Magary’s Thursday Afternoon NFL Dick Joke Jamboroo runs every Thursday at Defector during the NFL season. Got something you wanna contribute? Email the Roo. Buy Drew’s new novel, “Point B,” here.
Not all of you will get to read this post. This site has a paywall. That means that you’ll only be able to read it for free if you haven’t used up a predetermined allotment of free articles we dish out to newcomers each month: blog-pushers giving you a taste of the primo shit. If you’ve already used up that allotment and you ain’t paid up, you’re gonna have to shell out a few bucks to read past this single, lustrous, expository paragraph.
But if you DID pay up … well now, here we are. It’s just you and I now, isn’t it?
[dims the lights]
[pours you a stiff one]
If the world we live in weren’t so fucked, I would have preferred that everyone be able to read this. It’s what my ego craves, so much so that I regularly ask my boss Tom Ley for page view counts on my posts, followed by him reminding me that we don’t have to care about those numbers anymore. But a decade of working on the free internet gifted my ego a habit it’s not too eager to kick. When I first started blogging, at my own Blogspot site, it was a revelation because it meant I didn’t need anyone’s approval to publish my work, and that anyone who wanted to read it could. And they did. That hit of attention was all I needed. If I didn’t write “The internet is the ultimate meritocracy!” at some point afterward, then I certainly nodded in approval at anyone who did. We could all be here, I thought. We could all make this work.
We could not. I didn’t see that the same inequalities that plague the analog world are all too present here online. Nor did I foresee the advent of social media consolidating the collective internet and placing it under the thumb of just two or three companies. I certainly didn’t expect those companies treating Nazis among their most valuable customers, like an NFL team refusing to bounce a violent drunk from the stadium because he paid full freight for a season ticket. It was inevitable that large companies would find a way to harness the internet’s users, organize the content they read and watch, and then find a way to wring maximum profit from the exchange. I suppose it was also inevitable that, as in real life, people can’t all get along here.
Because they can’t. They shouldn’t even have to. Every day you spend on Twitter or Facebook means you inevitably encounter someone who, in real life, you’d want absolutely nothing to do with. If you’re a tech CEO, or you’re just some pie-in-the-sky shithead, you could make the argument that forcing unlike people to interact can lead to a better understanding between them. That argument, as the past four years have REPEATEDLY proven, is worthless. Turns out that interacting with random dickheads not only makes me like them even less, but it makes me hate anyone else who DOES like them. I got better things to do with my time than spend it trying to understand the origin story of a fucking Ted Cruz fanboy.
I am hardly alone in coming to this epiphany. Before social media, and before your parents figured out how to use the internet, the web was ramshackle enough that you could find your niche and hide there if you liked. There’s nowhere to hide anymore, especially now that the big boys have all but destroyed the smaller, independent, localized branches of the American media. And the isolating effects of the pandemic have, in yet another goddamn feat of tragic irony, forced many of you to expose yourselves to the terrors of the online horde even more often than you would have normally. In 2020, the internet has become a place where you have to be, but don’t necessarily WANT to be.
You can think of this as one of the growing pains of a species that wasn’t ready to exist digitally and has only begun learning to do so. It’s like any other facet of life: You need to fuck up in order to learn how to do things right. And what people like me have slowly come to learn that the internet needs its niches back. Those niches are slowly arriving in new forms: Substacks, co-ops, privatized social media accounts (in fact, Twitter’s quality filter is so stringent now that even I, with a public account, can see only a fraction of my replies these days), group text chains (which I despise but my kids swear by), subscription-based indie joints like this one, and message boards that assorted perverts never bothered to leave. Not all of those niches are good, especially those in the Weiss/Sullivan/Yglesias district, but at least I never have to visit those areas if I don’t want to. There are a few walls now, be they paywalls or otherwise.
This is the slow disentanglement of the internet playing out in real time. It won’t be clean. And God knows there are people at all levels of the food chain who would prefer it never happen. But it’s happening all the same. As in real life, people need shelter online. Because online IS real life now. How much time do you spend on here every day? Eight hours? More? First thing I do when I wake up is check my phone, man. Same with my oldest son and my daughter. It only makes sense to re-organize the internet into distinct neighborhoods, so that people can find a home online and enjoy it.
Again, it won’t be clean. Using a paywall, as Defector and other sites do, automatically shuts out people who are short on cash at the moment. If you have a private Snapchat account, screenshots are still forever. Echoes of segregation, both voluntary and involuntary, lurk all around. And the desire to be as public as possible is still strong among an American population that’s been groomed to crave fame and taught that notoriety is equally valuable. I count myself there. So this is a process. But it’s a worthy one, because the model we have now is clearly a bad one. Everyone needs to be able to fuck off to their corners. And look at that: We have our own corner now. Zillow says Defector’s curbside appeal is STAGGERING.
I started reading Deadspin back in 2006. I’ve written this before, but I remember logging onto that site for the first time and being like, “Holy shit, these are my people.” Back then, the site had an invite-only commenting system. When Will Leitch gave me an invite, I felt like I got a ticket to the fucking Wonka factory. I felt like I had found a home. A safe space, as it were.
It’s both fitting and amusing that, over a decade later, I and the rest of this staff had to flee Deadspin in search of a new home of our own. Real full-circle shit. We had to build this new home ourselves, but it’s finished and it’s safe for both ourselves and hopefully for you as well. Feels comfortable here, doesn’t it? Of all the things that happened this year, I’m just happy we have this now. Maybe one day you’ll branch off and build a home of your own for you and your friends. You can do it. You can be part of building new niches. New communities, even. Because there’s an infinite amount of real estate to be had here, and don’t ever let anyone trick you into forgetting it.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.
Cowboys at Giants: I ache for a 6-10 NFC East champ, and the only way to get it is if the Giants win this game and the WFT loses. That’s not a guaranteed outcome, but this division doesn’t deserve the relative dignity of having a 7-9 team at the top if it. I want the East to be utterly humiliated, which means Dave Gettleman is my only hope.
Steelers at Browns: After everything the Browns have done this season, it would be so painfully Browns if they somehow blew a playoff spot by losing two weeks straight to the Jets and to a Steelers team with nothing to play for. I can’t look. The second Lamar Jackson came back from wiping his ass, everything went downhill for Cleveland.
Dolphins at Bills
Packers at Bears: Troy Aikman made a rare cromulent point last week when he pointed out that, because only two teams get a bye in these playoffs, more teams will be forced to play their starters in Week 17, as the Packers will have to do on Sunday. This obviously makes for a better Week 17 than previous years, where over half the slate was just preseason-quality garbage. But it’s not worth making Week 17 mildly more interesting at the expense of one bye per conference. Byes already skew the odds considerably, even more so if only two teams get to enjoy them this time around. I want the byes gone. And no 17th regular-season game in 2021 either! HAVEN’T YOU FUCKED WITH MY POOR SPORT ENOUGH, ROGER?!
Cardinals at Rams: I’m quietly glad the NFL staged a full season. It was hilariously irresponsible and it added a whole new level of bootlicking to the Schefter division of the NFL media. But I still remember when there were no sports in the spring, and it was the worst. I can’t go through that again, and thanks to aggressive corporate negligence, I won’t have to. HOORAY!
That said, it’s all too 2020 that a playoff spot in the NFC could come down to a potential duel between John Wolford and the immortal Chris Streveler. I know Kyler is gonna play Sunday, but the Streveler lurks. One tweak is all it takes. It would be like watching Matt McGloin square off against Matt McGloin.
Ravens at Bengals: I drank a lot of egg nog before Christmas and my daughter started trolling me by calling it mayo every time I poured a glass. She was like HOW’S THAT MAYO, DAD?! Not cool, girl. Not cool at all.
Titans at Texans
Seahawks at Niners
WFT at Eagles: Dwayne Haskins was released this week because he’s awful. Haskins’ downfall is gave our most venerable sportswriters yet another opportunity to treat young athletes like toddlers in need of a beating. Witness Sally Jenkins at the Post:
Haskins simply doesn’t seem to understand what’s required to play his position. He was drafted too early, after starting just 14 games at Ohio State, and he shows about the same judgment as a college sophomore. That brings to mind something Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski said a few years back about teaching responsibility to kids…
Nope. Not gonna read another word of this patronizing garbage. Get your shit together, Sally.
Saints at Panthers
Chargers at Chiefs: I love Justin Jefferson because he plays for my team, but I won’t complain if Justin Herbert wins OROY over him instead. Look at Herbert’s numbers, man. Eat the tape if you’re so inclined. The man plays like he’s been in the league for seven years now, and he did it with a millstone of a head coach in charge. This is probably the last losing season Justin Herbert endures for a long while. I can’t believe Dean Spanos lucked into him. The world is wrong.
Falcons at Bucs
Jaguars at Colts
Raiders at Broncos
Jets at Patriots
Vikings at Lions
Pregame Song That Makes Me Wanna Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
“Anarchy Up Your Anus,” by Mr. Bungle! First time Mr. Bungle has ever graced this column, and they’re long overdue. Reader Tyler explains:
Mr. Bungle is a weird band from the 90s that specialized in blending genres in unique ways. I loved them in high school because I wanted anything that went against the grain. They released three studio albums that range from lounge music to thrash metal. Mike Patton (lead singer of Faith No More) is leader of the band and contributes his blend of screaming, yelling, and crooning. This is off their first “new” studio album in 20 years. They remade one of their early demos, the Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny. The whole album is thrash metal and fucking rules.
Here is a very specific middle-aged dad take: Mike Patton is the greatest lyricist in rock history. I’m not saying that merely because “Anarchy Up Your Anus” is called “Anarchy Up Your Anus.” Go back to Mike Patton’s work with Faith No More. You won’t find Taylor Swift singing a song about being a selfish newborn called “Zombie Eaters.” She’s too busy wearing vintage hats in a forest somewhere. Mike Patton is a genuinely, beautifully weird person, and there aren’t enough of those right now.
Gregg Easterbrook Memorial Haughty Dipshit Of The Week
It’s investigative journalist AC Shilton, who apparently never investigated how NOT to sound utterly fucking tone-deaf in the middle of a pandemic.
A farm. A FUCKING FARM! A normal person would be like, “Well, I bought a waffle iron.” AC bought a goddamn farm and then had the sack to pine for a squat rack after the fact. The Hilaria Baldwin energy only goes stronger if, like me, you go foolishly wading into the replies.
That IS very extra, lady. Me? I’m just glad I bought a home gym and a Gulfstream prior to all this. We really went for it!
Cryptkeeper Al’s Lock Of The Week: Patriots (-5.5) vs. Jets
“EEEE HEE HEE HEE HEE HEE!!! Bad news for A-DAMNED Gase, my kiddies! Our friends from the SEVERED HEADowlands are happy they won two games in a row. But I’m afraid HACKobi Meyers and Jarrett STITCH ‘EM will leave your hopes for a third win … [holds up a basement noose] HANGING!”
Cryptkeeper Al’s 2020 record: 0-1
Bad Local Commercial Of The Week!
Bay Ridge Chrysler! Did you know Chrysler dealerships still exist? Apparently they do! Here’s Justin to explain, kinda:
Actually has relatively decent production value but can't get over the guy throwing pens at the crash test dummy.
The crash test dummy in this ad is a real man in a dummy suit, so emphasis on the “relatively” there. If anything, you should be even more suspicious of a dealership that has a healthy TV production budget and yet still turns out an ad like this one. That’s not a bad deal on a Durango, though.
Fire This Asshole!
Is there anything more exciting than a coach losing his job? All year long, we’ll keep track of which coaches will almost certainly get fired at year’s end or sooner. And now, your potential 2020 chopping block:
(* - potential midseason firing)
Came so close to Nagy, Fangio, and Taylor all getting the boot next week. And yet.
Great Moments In Poop History
Reader Andrew sends in this story I call CROCODILE DUMPDEE:
So many years ago I lived in Canberra, Australia. I was at a dim sum banquet with my house mate when he said "I've got the works van thisweekend, do you fancy fishing the north west shore of Lake Jindabyne?" Now Lake Jindabyne is on the edge of Mount Kosciuszko National Park, a beautiful and uninhabited 7000 sq km national park in the Snowy Mountains of Australia. The north west shore is within the parkboundaries which means that in order to fish that particular part of the lake you need to have a special permit to park your vehicle. Fortunately for us my housemates employer had the special permit for the vehicle which meant we could camp out on a less visited part of the lake and enjoy better fishing in isolation.
So very early on the Saturday morning we hop into the van and set off on the 2 hour drive down to the lake. At this point I should mention that my housemate worked for a fishmonger, so the second I got in the van I was assaulted by the stench of stale fish. It was already 105f with the mercury rising so windows down wasn't going to solve this problem. I forced a quick stop for petrol and demanded an air freshener before I vomited everywhere. You might ask yourself what the best aroma to cut through stale fish would be. Lemon would make sense I suppose. Pine has potential. I can tell you right now I cursed my housemate every mile of the 2 hour journey over his choice of strawberry.
Now I'm a guy with pretty regular bowel movements. 20-30 minutes after waking up, usually coinciding with my first dose of caffeine, it is time for nature to take its course. Perhaps it was the combination of a chinese banquet and the fish/strawberry olefactory onslaught but there was nothing doing that day. No problem thinks I, I'll address this issue when we go to the nearest town for breakfast on the Sunday morning.
We fish all day and overnight and then Sunday morning arrives. We hop in the fishberry torture box and head into the nearest town for a civilised breakfast and the opportunity to take advantage of the local facilities. And...nothing. I'm pouring caffeine down my throat, I'm on the toilet trying to get things moving. Nada. Zilch.
I'm beginning to panic a little as the impending and inevitable crisis weighs heavily on my mind but not in my guts. There's nothing to be done but once again run the strawfish gauntlet and head back to the campsite. Seriously, why strawberry? You might think I'm going on about this a lot but I cannot begin to describe how bad this combination was, I'm certain it was a contributing factor to being clogged up, my body simply couldn't work on digestion because all its energy was being used to fight the smell.
We return to our campsite and get back to fishing. I know it is coming but not when so I put a toilet roll in one of my pockets (Forward planning! I'm a genius). No sooner had I waded about 20m off shore then the sweating started and my body told me that this was happening NOW! I struggle back to shore looking for a sheltered spot. I stumble 20 yards up a small hill desperately trying to get out of my waders. You could follow my trail of discarded clothing and fishing equipment like an arrow. I squat down between 2 boulders and OHMYGODHEREITCOMESUNBELIEVABLEIMADEIT. I am in heaven. I am looking out over the lake on a glorious day. I am one with nature. There are very few perfect moments in life but this is one of them. This is beyond orgasmic. My name is Ozymandias, king of kings; look on my works, ye mighty, and despair. This is how god felt on the 7th day of creation.
I look down. Holy shit. Literally. 14 inches of unbroken, brown ecstasy. I want to take a picture and show the world. I look down at my housemate and have an internal monologue about calling him up to marvel at its wonder. Someone, anyone, everyone needs to know what I have done and revel in its majesty.
But wait! What's that just next to my triumph? A toy car, that's strange, I don't remember eating that. My eyeline moves up slightly. Lego bricks. What are they doing there? A bucket and spade. How weird. A swingset and slide, and that looks like a particularly well manicured lawn. That's a house! There's a kitchen window! There are people in that kitchen! What have I done?
I'll tell you what I had done. I had taken a mega, ultra, possibly-the-greatest-shit-in-the-history-of-humanity, in the garden of the only inhabited house in a 7000 sq km national park. In full view of its occupants. To this day I do not know if they had seen a man with a crazed look in his eye peel off layers of clothes and then unleash a demonic dump from hell in their garden because I ran. I ran like the coward I was because there is no way I could ever explain or justify what I did. Future archaeologists might draw some interesting conclusions about why someone would unleash a submarine sized shit in what was, to all intents and purposes, a children’s playground. All I can say to those theoretical scholars is that strawberry and fish is a terrible combination.
Honestly, all I wanna do now is check out that park.
Gametime Snack Of The Week
PB Max! This was the greatest candy bar ever and it was allegedly discontinued because the Mars family hated peanut butter. How the fuck you run a candy empire while hating peanut butter is beyond me, but these candy Sacklers did it all the same. I DEMAND MORE CANDY THAT HAS PEANUT BUTTER AND LITTLE CRUNCHIE THINGIES IN IT.
Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week
Jeju Pellong Ale! Reader Scott sends in this strangely tropical-looking shit beer from South Korea:
This beverage comes from South Korea where the beer isn’t the primary beverage of choice. They prefer Soju which is a rice-based alcohol which is high in ABV and delicious. This hasn’t stopped the big beer industry from trying to introduce beer to an alcohol loving populace. Most attempts are disastrous.
The contender I have here is from a local convenience store in Seoul. It cost me approximately $3.00 American, and five minutes after the purchase I really wish I had that money back. It poured like it knew it was a beer, but once it settled into a glass the foamy head suddenly disappeared. The taste was remarkable as it had a hint of beer. It was like a beer made by a prisoner who has been locked away for a long time, and then tried to make a beer based on his memory of what he thought a beer tasted like. It fizzed and had a slight IPA bite with some chemical taste of hops.
The best thing I can say about this beer is that it made me long for a Bud Light lime. It wasn’t until I inspected the can that its pedigree was revealed, “Brooklyn Brewery!” Turns out bearded hipster brew masters in Brooklyn tried and couldn’t work their magic on this brew. They should be ashamed of this money grab to get into South Korea market. South Korea doesn’t need beer, they have Soju which is a far better beverage for getting soused.
OK but hear me out: Soju beer.
Alex Guerrero’s Lifehack Of The Week!
“The average spool of dental floss runs about 40 yards. That’s MORE than enough floss to pass through your entire digestive tract with a single strand. Experiencing this passage, in a quiet room, is a favorite practice among my clients. We call it The Running Of The Qi. It’s a full physical and spiritual flossing. It rids the soul of unwanted debris.”
Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Jets Fans
The Gentlemen, which brings Guy Ritchie back to the Lad Cinematic Universe. I wish he had never left it. I still have Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels committed to memory, so I’ll watch any Ritchie movie featuring British scum doing scummy British things. Given that Ritchie is now wealthy and famous, this movie’s inner workings take place at the top of the crime food chain instead of the bottom. Hence, there’s a lot of violence but also a lot of fetching interior design. It’s like if Nancy Meyers made good movies.
The Gentlemen features an American lead character in Matthew McConaughey—presumably so that the movie could get financed at all. McConaughey speaks in Lincoln Navigatorese through the whole thing, but I didn’t mind that. I also didn’t mind Hugh Grant playing the kind of louche shitbag that the REAL Hugh Grant clearly is. And I didn’t mind Henry Golding showing up as a belligerent ganglord on the rise. I will now watch Henry Golding in any movie he’s in. He’s the absolute shit.
Gratuitous Simpsons Quote
“Whoa, settle down, Normy. Gotta save those pipes for karaoke.”
Enjoy the games, everyone. And have a happy new year.