Hello, hello, hello dear friends!
A very happy Sunday to you!
I hope this email hits your inbox and you’re doing well. Here from home base in Charm City, things are great, as after another rough Winter of COVID-related isolation, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and I dunno, it feels like we can do some masked up, vaguely safe activities.
With that in mind, I’m also changing the format a little bit here, striking a hybrid of the recent format, and also what you had for the first twenty issues or so, that of me highlighting one story in particular, then giving you a grab bag of reads, and then wrapping up with a recommendation of something you might like, something I enjoyed, or shameless self promotion.
I’d love your feedback on it. Hit the reply button.
I’m not sure if The New York Times intended for this story to hit while we all stare at Russia and Ukraine and wonder when the full World War III shoe would drop, but in a time where so much military action feels like it may be at the ready, it’s fascinating to read about those who are cosplaying like they’re in the military, but instead of real bullets…it’s foam based warfare.
One hot morning at a park in Atlanta, a few dozen members of the SouthEast Nerf Club gathered around folding tables, eyeing each other’s specced-up toy guns. Some they’d built from scratch; others came out of the box fully loaded. A mountain-shaped man unzipped a rifle case to reveal two AR15 look-alikes made of cheery blue-and-orange plastic. A woman with tattooed thighs cradled a red, white, and blue carbine with “Daddy’s Little Monster” printed on the receiver. A scrawny young man in camo pants and a tactical vest showed off the working rifle scope he’d attached to the barrel of his plaything. Soon, the Nerfers would disperse throughout the park, darting out from behind trees like commandos to thwack each other with foam ammunition at 200 feet per second.
The club has held Nerf battles around the city for years, sometimes drawing hundreds of participants: fathers and sons, college students, men in their 20s, women who want to flirt with men in their 20s. Today’s gathering had been called by the group’s unofficial leader, Drac Thalassa, a light-footed, lanky 29-year-old who goes by Lord Draconical and has made a living out of Nerf. On YouTube, where his videos have been viewed more than 339 million times, Drac reviews blasters (as they are known) and teaches his viewers how to make them more powerful. He’s also a paid consultant for blaster manufacturers and coordinates Nerf battles considerably larger than this one. In June, he helped organize an event at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas — the home of the Dallas Cowboys — that drew 1,300 participants.
The goofy gunplay on display at Drac’s events blends childishness and combat in a way that seems distinctly, and sometimes disconcertingly, American. In the Atlanta park, he spun a plastic revolver around his finger like a sharpshooter in an old western. “It’s time to go to war,” he said.
Yeah, it’s weird, right? Rachel Monroe takes us there. Check this story out, here.
These are the other stories which kept me glued to my phone way past bedtime this week. Give ‘em a read.
As always, I appreciate your attention in an ever draining attention economy. Thanks for spending some time with me in your inbox.
See you in a week.