“cinnamon toast shrimp guy turned out to be a milkshake duck just like bean dad” is a sentence I desperately wish I did not understand
You know, I don’t really like contributing to the Online Discourse™ — even if this edition of the newsletter will prove me wrong, as you’ll see — but something about this week’s “big story, at least on the Internet” shook something loose within me.
Here’s the short version:
Jensen Carp — former rapper “Hot Karl”, former radio DJ, podcaster, owner of a pop-culture art gallery and married to Boy Meets World actress Danielle Fischel — found himself as the primary focus of the Internet this week, as he discovered what appeared to be shrimp tails, among other ephemera, within his box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and then tweeted about it.
Yep, that’s it. That’s pretty much the story. For the average person.
For the “extremely online”, however, this was a multi-pronged ordeal which came in waves, from the original discovery, to the realization he was married to the Crush of Dudes of a Certain Age, and then, the “milkshake duck” moment.
It’s OK if you don’t know what that means. Again, have a Tweet.
The whole internet loves Milkshake Duck, a lovely duck that drinks milkshakes! 5 seconds later We regret to inform you the duck is racist
Yeah, so, all that happened and BAM, stories came out about Karp’s past, and how he’d ripped off other comics/podcaster types, treated co-workers poorly, and apparently left a waft of abusive relationships in his wake.
This is somewhat similar to the story of John Roderick, musician and podcaster, who in the beginning of 2021 became better known to the universe at large as “Bean Dad”, as he tweeted his way through an account of making his daughter figure out how to use a can opener.
And then the internet called him abusive annnnnnd, yep, racist tweets.
There’s an old adage about Twitter:
Each day on twitter there is one main character. The goal is to never be it
And what we have here is an ongoing cavalcade of Main Characters showing up, being known for one thing, then tossed into the trash can for another. (Remember Zoom Cat Lawyer? Yeah, he harassed a former lover through federal means. Awesome!)
Everyone has their own takeaways from each one of these stories, and here’s mine: Does the performative nature of Online Media allow sociopaths to succeed? Or is it the worst ones who reverberate the longest?
I’m not here to judge anyone for posting away through a process — I’ve been blogging in some form online for (oh god) 21 years now, I’m on Twitter, I’m on Instagram, I’m easily found.
I post things that I think are interesting and witty, I enjoy seeing when things are liked or retweeted or whatever.
I mean, I’m writing this newsletter to an audience, so I’m “performing” right now.
But is there a default negative quality to those who “go big”?
Just some food for thought. Personally, I try to — even for as much as I “Just Post”, I also believe in growing and changing as a person.
There’s a reason why I automatically delete my social media posts after 30 days (thanks, Jumbo!), there’s a reason my LiveJournal is gone. There’s a reason my MySpace is gone. I believe that me at 20 is not me at 36.
I’m not who I was then…but are we wrong for judging them for who they were? Or, are these things we “bring back up” in the moment of one’s spotlight, however surreal, showing us something truer than the viral moment? Just something to chew on for the week.
Now, onto the things…
Chances are, if you don’t read Medium, you at least know what Medium is.
An online publishing platform as created by Evan Williams, OG creator of Blogger and Twitter, it’s a hybrid of a blog host (like Blogger) and a paid publishing service, like a Substack. But it’s always been a square peg in a round hole.
They’ve tried many things: inviting websites to move their publishing exclusively to Medium (that didn’t work out), launching their own websites (more on that in a second), having companies like WarnerMedia post their press releases there — they’re even the publishing service for this current Presidency.
But no matter the scenario, nothing has worked out. So they pivoted again this week, releasing all of their writers under contract, and focusing on just being a general platform again. It’s a mess, in short, and to untangle all of it, Casey Newton at The Verge dug into all of it with interviews of 14 current and former employees of Medium.
Medium’s original journalism was meant to give shape and prestige to an essentially random collection of writing, gated behind a soft paywall that costs readers $5 a month or $50 a year. Eleven owned publications covered food, design, business, politics, and other subjects.
But in the end, frustrated that Medium staff journalists’ stories weren’t converting more free readers to paid ones, Williams moved to wind down the experiment — throwing dozens of journalists’ livelihoods into question, just as he had in 2015, when he laid off 50 people amid a pivot away from advertising on the site. (This 2019 history of the company by Laura Hazard Owen in Nieman Lab offers a definitive look at the company’s stop-start relationship with journalism up to that point.)
“We remain fully committed to high-quality editorial and to the open platform model that supports independent writers,” Medium told me in a statement. “The voluntary buyout reflects changes we’re making to our editorial team to create a more flexible organization that focuses on both. We see a real opportunity within our editorial operation to continue developing our model and to elevate the value we provide to our readers and writers.”
But interviews with 14 current and former Medium employees over the past day paint a portrait of a dysfunctional company built to celebrate writing only to become famous for its poor treatment of writers.
Hey, look — if I’m making $35 Million a year off of 700,000 subscribers, I’d think I’m doing well, but maybe I just don’t understand business…
Here at the Day household we try to eat well. We don’t always succeed (I have a crippling McNugget addiction), but we try. In turn, a regular brand seen in our kitchen is Annie’s Homegrown, purveyors of organic Mac and Cheese, snacks, and other goodness.
But did you know that Annie is a real person?
Alex Shultz at SFGate did the leg work and found her:
Annie Withey isn’t easy to find.
That wasn’t always the case. In the 1990s, Withey’s phone number was actually listed on every box of her mac and cheese — yes, Annie’s — which was slowly, steadily lining New England grocery store shelves.
Strangers called Withey at all hours of the day. Once, at 3 a.m., she was awakened to a voicemail by an ensemble of partying surfer bros on the West Coast who wanted to know how to get their hands on a bulk order of mac and cheese.
Funnily enough, Annie’s Homegrown is now based out west; its brightly colored headquarters, which includes a lovely looking garden, was established in Berkeley in 2011 and is where 50 or so employees normally work.
Withey never relocated to California though. She lives quietly, privately on a farm in Connecticut. In 1988, then in her 20s, she succinctly told Inc. magazine, “I don’t really like business.” Or media, for that matter.
Here’s something a little lighter and more fun. Who are the Best Muppets of ALL TIME?!
With The Muppet Show finally hitting Disney+ last month in it’s near-entirety for the first time in decades, its time to get to brass tacks and rank those amazing puppets.
This is sure to spur some arguments in homes of children of the 80’s, but hey, what else is a Sunday for if not a spirited fictional character debate?
You can blame Rebecca Caplan at Vulture for this:
The Muppets, the troupe of musical felted friends created by Jim Henson, is one of those rare institutions that continuously finds cultural relevance. Equally silly, satirical, and sentimental, the Muppets’ road to stardom started as humbly as any other traveling show: making their way through the late-night circuit before landing their own series, aptly titled The Muppet Show. However it wasn’t until 1979, when The Muppet Movie came out, that the Muppets became a household name, and until recently many people associated the Muppets primarily with their feature films and television specials. However, with the entirety of The Muppet Show now released on Disney+, fans are rediscovering the original magic all over again, not to mention the grotesquely catchy theme song.
In honor of The Muppet Show’s Disney+ debut, naturally we’ve decided to pit the Muppet characters against one another in this definitive ranking. To make things simple, the characters in this list will only comprise of characters who appear in the Muppets franchise (no Fraggle Rock, Dinosaurs, or Sesame Street characters) and who came about under the creative direction of Jim Henson (sorry Walter, Bobo, and Pepe the King Prawn). This list is also by no means exhaustive, these are simply the Muppets without whom the show would not go on.
All I will say is, I think they have the top five right, though I’m not sure I agree with the order.
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Keep wearing those masks, keep washing your hands, keep your distance, and get your shot ASAP. We’re almost at the finish line.
See you next week.