Who Are The Four Grimmest Men?
1:13 PM EDT on April 25, 2023
Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And buy Drew’s book, The Night The Lights Went Out, while you’re at it. Today, we're talking about shitty old cars, bad states, trying to find a good man, and more.
After seeing photos of Vince McMahon looking like the alcoholic, Boca retiree version of Super Mario, I got to thinking who would be on the Mount Rushmore of this kind of guy. I don’t know if Grim Men is the right term, but I think you know what I mean. I think Papa John is up there for sure. Who would you add to round out the monument?
I wouldn’t include Vince McMahon in that group because, despite the fact that Vince McMahon is a relentless shitbag, he’s probably an entertaining one. I’d go out to dinner with Vince and he'd talk shit about every wrestler he’s ever ripped off. I think I’d have a good time, even if I never admitted that to you. When I think about grim men, I think about men with whom you could engage in any vice—drinking, gluttony, strip clubs, etc.—and still find yourself having a decidedly miserable time. Everything fun and dangerous becomes sad and pathetic in their hands. Papa John? Now THAT is a grim man. Just a brutal hang. I’d jump out a window if I had to spend more than five minutes with Papa John, along with the following men:
- Don Trump Jr.
- Dana White
- Vince Neil
There you go. Those are your Poor Horsemen. I could’ve extended this list to 500 names, Sean Salisbury included, but I’m gonna keep it to a quartet in order to preserve my mental health. Besides, Vince Neil alone is grim enough. I spent 20 minutes with Vince Neil back in 2015 and that was all the time I needed to understand why his bandmates haven’t spoken to him in decades. There’s nothing there. Tell me I have to spend an entire night with Vince Neil and I’m faking my own death.
Years ago, Google News was nearly all text and maybe a few (usually incorrect) thumbnail images. It was a headline, followed by the first 2-3 sentences of an article, and then another headline. It was information-dense and perfect. They changed it and added a TON more white space and bigger thumbnails (to be more consistent with the app, I suppose) and removed the short article preview. They've now updated again and it's 100% unusable. Where do you go for your daily news, and why is it so hard to just have a list of relevant headlines from a collection of sources?!
Apart from checking out the WaPo main page, I still rely on Twitter for my news. Elon’s currently fucking that place with a broken rocket top, but it’s still functional enough. I can still get all of the links I need from all of the people I follow. Elon’s stewardship of Twitter has, oddly, proven its longstanding value to people like me who have made a habit of complaining about it 24 hours a day. No other platform is quite like Twitter for information consumption, which means I’m willing to tolerate a LOT of its bullshit to keep using it. I figured I could just bail on Twitter for Mastagram somewhere down the line, but none of them are quite the same. Also, changing my primary social media vehicle would be a whole THING. I’m all unpacked on Twitter. The house is furnished. Some of the lights are busted, and there are Nazis moving in all over the block, but it’s still home.
And it beats going to Twitter for news than setting up a Google News alert that takes me to Fansided 99 times out of 100. Google is still Google. It’s still useful for answering pretty any factoidial question you have stuck in your brain, and we all love using it to kill any convivial dinner table argument by going, “Let’s look it up!” But it’s always been spotty in the news department, regardless of its visual formatting. I’ve never relied on it, which is probably how I ended up joining Twitter in the first place. None of these places are perfect, but then again they never were. People love to throw out takes like “Actually Google/Amazon/Netflix Is Worse Now,” but all of those places are annoying in a lot of the same ways that they’ve always been, and they still have certain fundamental utilities. I wish the latter part weren’t true, but I wouldn’t keep using them if it weren’t the case.
That means it’s YOU, the consumer, who has improved even as these products have not. You’ve gotten much smarter about what you want out of Google and elsewhere. The novelty of hitting a PLACE YOUR ORDER button on Amazon and having shit magically arrive at your door a few days later wore off long ago. You now have more discerning expectations, which means you notice the flaws more than you used to. You want more. It’s the American way.
The funny thing there is that I shouldn’t HAVE to rely on Google or Twitter for my news. I’m not a fucking baby. I don’t everything delivered to me on a silver platter. I’m a grown adult who can go actively find the shit I’m looking for: either by asking friends, clicking on intriguing hyperlinks, or just doing some regular-ass web surfing. I don’t mind putting a bit of personal effort into finding what I’m looking for, namely thorough scouting reports on Hendon Hooker. I’m a capable lad.
There have been consistent reports of gamblers attacking players on social media for said players ruining bets. Is this just going to become the norm? With gambling a prominent force in our world today, is there really any recourse other than not logging on?
It’s already the norm. You’ve already got fans screaming, “You just cost me 25 grand, POLLY” at teams, and gambling suspensions for players have already become the new PED suspensions. That’s all baked into the model now. You’re not gonna get rid of it, unless some deranged asshole $500,000 in the hole runs onto the court and stabs Klay Thompson right after the Warriors fail to cover the spread. After that, the NBA would go dark for 14 consecutive hours in honor of our fallen heroes, and the font size on all Fanduel legal disclaimers (“Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLING for the absolute latest money lines!”) would be increased by 20 percent. After that, the machine would whirr right back to life again. This is good, because I lost $35 on the Eagles in the Super Bowl and I’m due to win that kitty back.
If all this intrusive gambling content is a dealbreaker for you, I’m not gonna rip you for it. But BIG SPORTS is betting (no pun intended) that the rest of us will get used to it, and I don’t think they’ll be wrong. I grew up with Hammerin’ Hank making his stone cold lock picks on Sunday morning while pausing every 30 seconds to make a old man pass at Chris McKendry on the air. So the next evolutionary step of the sports/gaming relationship was always bound to be fucking Donny from Outkick running onto the green at a LIV event and beating Bubba Watson to death with his own putter, being like, “I KNOW WHO THE ACES ARE YOU BITCH, THEY’RE THE GUYS THAT COST ME MY THREE-TEAM PARLAY!”
In Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986), the Ferrari is a 1961 model: 25 years old, but instantly recognized as a classic. Is there any car from 1998 that would have the same impact?
There’s only one I can think of, and it took me a long time to think of it: the 1998 VW Beetle. That was the year when VW launched the New Beetle and it instantly became the coolest car that any yuppie could own.
If you liked Volkswagens, GAP, and candy-colored iMacs, this was your favorite period of American history. VW would remain one of the hottest car brands for another five years or so, before Americans realized that their cars don’t work terribly well. But at least the New Beetle had a little cupholder on the dash for a tiny flowerpot, which makes it just about the only iconic automobile of that period. Somehow I doubt Cameron Frye’s dad would have fawned over one. He’d have been more the type to keep a first edition Lincoln Navigator in his personal showroom. Remember the dawn of the luxury SUV? I do. Can’t say I enjoyed it.
Otherwise, the turn of the century was roughly the moment when car safety became such a universal selling point, and so strictly regulated, that every car ended up looking like every other car. You weren’t getting some bare bones, all-balls Shelby Cobra in 1998, because automakers either couldn’t sell them or were straight-up not allowed to. So whenever I watch a movie or TV show from that era now, the cars are noticeably older but not at all cooler. It’s just a bunch of shitty Honda Civics. So many round cars came out of that time. Like everyone wanted to drive a fucking bagel.
Does masturbation count as meditation?
Not the way I do it.
By the way, I was in a jolly mood the other night and I thought to myself, “Hey man, why isn’t there a dirty version of the Calm app?” You put it on and very soothing woman’s voice tells you, “Feel your breath going in and out… Notice your ribcage filling with air as you inhale and relaxing as you exhale… feel your cock growing tall, as tall as a MOUNTAIN.” Then I did a quick Google search (incognito mode) and would you look at that: erotic mediation has been a thing for a while now. I could’ve made billions, but I didn’t do enough drugs in time to think of it before everyone else did. A pity.
Think of pretty much any awesome guitar solo from the past 50 years: the ones that blew our minds the first time we heard them. Nowadays there are dozens of people on YouTube who can, seemingly without effort, recreate those songs from Yngwie or Eddie or Randy Rhoads. Does this undermine the talents we once considered genius?
“Recreate” is the key word there, isn’t it? Yeah, some asshole on YouTube can play a kickass version of “Eruption” on an autoharp, but they didn’t MAKE “Eruption.” It didn’t come to them in a spasm of artistic genius, so I’m not gonna downgrade Eddie Van Halen’s talents just because someone was able to capably mimic him. Through a combination of endless practicing and experimenting with his gear, Eddie Van Halen INVENTED the guitar sound on that song. That’s the genius. That’s the artistry on display. You have to have the chops, but you also have to have a voice of your own.
You don’t even have to write the song, necessarily; you just have to be able to put your own indelible stamp on it. I’ve seen enough wedding singer competitions like The Voice etc. to know the difference between a talented person and an actual artist. There’s plenty of the former, not so many of the latter. And it’s important to know the distinction. A great artist has something to offer that you can’t get from any other person. That’s as true now as it was when I was growing up. It’s also why you read this column every week. For the artistry.
Is Maryland nice? We have always lived in Florida, but recent events have us strongly considering moving. What's a reasonable state to live in now with a family?
The past few months have been a real Worst State In America derby. Is it Kansas, which wants to give your son a lil’ tug of the dick before they let him join the middle school baseball team? Is it Tennessee, which would like to replace all of it black state senators with an AR-15 wearing a business suit? Is it Texas, which is Texas? Or is it Florida, which overwhelming re-elected a Nazi dork who is ready to graduate from burning books to burning librarians? I watch all of these states do this weird, evil shit from my home in the relative safe haven of Maryland and I think to myself, “Well shit, glad I don’t live THERE.” So yes, Maryland is nice. I’m glad I live in this state, and I’m lucky I got to raise my kids here. Billy, you’d also find Maryland reasonable, as you might other blue states. And spring here is money in the bank.
But also, I’m ready to light the fuck out of Maryland. That’s likely a byproduct of me growing up across multiple states, but also likely because Maryland has its own, lesser drawbacks. It’s expensive. Every parking space here could barely fit a fucking Vespa, much less the Denalis that most people drive. There’s no snowpack in the winter for skiing or sledding; just cold, shitty rain. People in my county aren’t particularly warm or friendly, myself sometimes included. The college football team is a joke. And Maryland’s main contributions to the culture are an ugly flag and crabs that a pain in the ass to eat. So don’t say I didn’t warn you. No state is perfect. Sure, Maryland will recognize a gay person’s right to exist, as all reasonable states do. But try going out on a Whole Foods run at 5 p.m. here. BRUTAL.
If you had the power to rid the sports calendar of a major event, what would you choose? I don't mean like Thursday Night Football games, or the play-in games of the NCAA tournament, but an event that some people would actually miss. Without hesitation I'd nuke The Masters. My life would be so much more pleasant without reminders of this event ruining my spring vibe like a late April snow fall.
I’m so mad you won’t let me choose the play-in games. I’m also kinda annoyed you picked The Masters, but then again I haven’t watched a full Masters Sunday since 2019. My answer, predictably, is the Olympics. The Olympics fill dead spots in the sports calendar well enough every four years, but I get by in the intervening years by doing … well, pretty much anything else. I took my son to H Mart the other weekend and it was just as exciting as watching Michael Phelps win 78 gold medals. More so, even.
By the way, there’s a draft Jamboroo coming later this week and my NFL tunnel vision has only gotten worse with age. The other night I watched YouTube scouting reports on Hendon Hooker (found them myself!) rather than actual, live playoff games. Instead of reading the news, I read Vikings fan pages. This is not a good development for my fragile brain, but it’s proof that you could get rid of every major sporting event outside of the NFL and I’d probably be hunky dory with it. I really gotta start watching these NBA playoff games.
Everywhere I look, I see ads touting "Made with 100% white meat chicken" nuggets and sandwiches. Every kind of chicken product, all made with chicken breast. If a company advertised a sandwich made with the best part of the chicken, the thigh, I'd be there in a flash. So, why aren't there any chicken thigh products?
Well shit, we have to travel back to the 1990s again for this one. Touting the health benefits of white meat chicken goes back to the low-fat diet culture of that era. I was highly invested in this particular fad. I gave up red meat, I bought Snackwell's vanilla sandwich cookies in bulk because they were low in fat, and I ate three turkey sandwiches a day in the Colby dining hall. We have since learned that low-fat diets, like many fad diets, are not magic. They also deprive you of the flavors that fat contributes to food, with dark meat chicken remaining the foremost exemplar of that fact. That’s why all of the “bad for you” processed chicken products do NOT advertise being 100 percent white meat. They aren’t, and that’s why they taste good.
And yet, tens of millions of Americans still swear by breast meat. This is because of its low fat content, but also because they’re heavily invested (or at least they pretend to be) in knowing what they’re eating. They want to make sure they’re eating an identifiable part of the chicken, and not bits and pieces of it that were blasted off with a fire hose and collected in a factory drain. They want their Perdue chicken nuggets to be responsibly sourced, which is how chicken breast smoothly transitioned from being part of the low-fat craze, to being part of the low-carb craze, and then over to the sustainability craze. There’s room for rope-flavored meat in every fad diet, I tell you.
I haven’t even gotten to the parenting factor yet. If you have kids, you will be subjected to 500,000 books, articles, and local news reports about what they should and shouldn’t eat. I spent the beginning of my parenting career worried that my kids weren’t eating enough of this or too much of that. Now I’d pay them $5,000 apiece just to eat pulled pork for dinner once a month. But there are still enough copter parents out there to make white meat chicken products their No. 1 meal selection every weeknight. It’s the perpetual least of all evils.
If your parents are actors, it’s probably pretty easy for you to get into the acting business. Is it the same with the children of professional athletes? Would Christian McCaffrey or Stephen Curry be as great as they are if their parents weren’t professional athletes? I’m not talking about genes; I’m wondering about being exposed to the proper training and nutrition and commitment.
Of course. If your dad or mom is a pro athlete, think about all of the resources you have at your disposal. Not only are your folks rich, which is an advantage for any kid anywhere, but you have potential access to their coaches, their personal trainers, their sponsors, their leagues, everything. You know all of these people and, even more important, they know you. They know your name. You’re on their radar, which is 99 percent of it. They’re gonna check you out even if you suck. And even if you DO suck, they still might give you the benefit of the doubt given your lineage. But you don’t get the same leeway to suck that, say, a CEO’s son might get. You still have to perform. There’s a reason Thaddeus Moss wasn’t able to make it in the NFL despite being the son of Randy, after all. But you do have both the cash flow and the residual brand name awareness to get a head start that no one else gets.
Plus your pro athlete dad is a credible resource himself. It’s not like when I drive my son to soccer tryouts and I tell him, “Make some plays out there.” I never played organized soccer past the fourth grade level. I have no credibility with my son there. But if I were Kylian Mbappe—a man with whom I am often confused—that boy is gonna listen to what I have to say, because he knows I made it. The difference is both obvious and pronounced.
This is why we need to make fun of sports nepo babies more often. A coach’s kid always gets shit on, but every player kid gets a pass. That’s bullshit. I’m looking at you, Patrick Surtain II. Think you’d be a Pro Bowler without daddy’s money, tough guy?!!
I’m in my mid 40s, single for a while now, and never married. I’d say that I’m happy with my life about 90% of the time. I have a decent job, own a small condo, have travelled quite a lot, and so on.
However, in that other 10% of the time I can get lonely, and I miss having a guy around. I like guys. I consider myself to be reasonably attractive, and I’ve even been told that I’m a “guy’s girl,” whatever that means. But I’ve been rejected a lot in the past and I am a bit shy, so it’s made me leery of putting myself out there. My girlfriends are well-meaning, but their advice is along the lines of, “try XYZ dating app, you never know!” but that still seems hit and miss to me. I do not want a flood of dick pics thank you very much. So I need a guy’s advice: how would you suggest that I go about meeting someone? Is an app really the best option? Are older guys/men even on these apps? Are there any non-app ways to meet people these days? I need motivation, and a bit of encouragement, I suppose. What would you suggest?
I know from my youth that getting rejected by the opposite sex will make you more hesitant, and I know from my current status as a 46-year-old man that motivating yourself to do ANYTHING is a chore and a half. I almost had to go on a sudden business trip this week and I was like, “Wait a second, I have to leave my house? Oh god that’s gonna be an undertaking.” I was so frazzled that my wife told me that I was stressing her out … over a potential one-day trip. So I feel you in the motivation department, Andrea.
However, from your email I think that you’re overstating that 90 percent figure when it comes to your happiness. You clearly feel like there’s something missing in your life, but it’s going to take some legwork to find it. And yeah, that process might involve you going on a bad date with a grim man, or encountering similar fuckers online (although I know many, many people in your shoes who have had good luck with apps). But if you want what you’re looking for, you have to accept that this won’t be easy. It’s not even easy AFTER you’ve found someone you like, because then you have to build a relationship with that person, which involves its own round of legwork.
But, and I say this here pretty much every week, there’s joy to be found in that work. If you’re like, “Fuck it, I’m gonna find a guy,” you’ve already changed both your attitude and your identity. Throw yourself into the process and be open to it potentially surprising you. It’s gonna be, by turns, awkward and exciting. But you’ll feel very much alive as you navigate the middle-aged dating landscape. Ask your friends to set you up with guys they might know. Go out for brunch with them to give them the lowdown on the date. Talk up guys in bars/cafes when you travel. Find a rec league team in kickball/ultimate/bar trivia and see if there’s anything to be had there. Chat up a fellow Defector reader (they’re all your age). The worst thing that happens in any of these instances is that you end up exactly where you are right now, only you got a fun story to tell out of it. You will be a more active, and therefore interesting, person, which only makes you that much more alluring to other people. And you’ll be glad you gave it a legit shot, rather than just sitting around hoping for something in your life to change when you didn’t do all you could to change it yourself. Good luck, amiga.
Email of the week!
We all know dads like pointing out mundane shit while on a long car ride. Right now for every California Dad that’s the reservoir levels. “Look how HIGH they are! Last year they were so much lower! Remember that?” Of course everyone remembers that. It was literally four months ago. I still say it though. Is there an East Coast dad equivalent right now? Because this reservoir bit is tremendous and I can use it for years to come.
See that thin layer of yellow shit on all the cars outside, Stephen? That’s POLLEN. Wow. Allergies are no joke this time of year!