There's a lot of stuff out there on the internet. This is what I've found so far.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018 

The perfect millennial entertainment

Young people love podcasts. . . or do they?

The media loves a trend piece. I should know — I used to edit a section of a magazine which had a “trends” rubric that I used pretty much every week. Done well, such articles can be interesting and informative, especially if they are based on actual data as opposed to an editor’s unsubstantiated hunch that there is more of something than there used to be.

When it comes to podcast coverage, we see trend pieces quite often (sample trend: more people listen to podcasts now than they used to, don’t you know). Not quite as often as listicles, but there are still a fair few of them about. One of the most prevalent in the last couple of years, I feel, is the “millennials like podcasts more than everyone else” article. Here are a few variants. They’re usually based on one of the podcast listenership surveys, like Nielsen’s Podcast Insights, or similar. They are, usually, not very informative beyond what is in the research (which is often US-only, and limited in other ways that make me not super keen on it).

However, after seeing this trend repeated all over the place, I eventually got curious. I am satisfied that the available data shows that people aged 18-34 listen to more podcasts than those older than them, although I do think there are lots of explanations for this beyond “young people hate old tech and don’t feel loyal to the radio station they listened to during the war” — because if that’s true, why do we buy vinyl and donate to NPR/pay the BBC licence fee? No, what got me interested was the idea that young people like podcasts because they’re more likely to cover subjects they want to hear about, and which tend to be neglected by legacy outlets. (See last week’s letter on intimacy for some shows that do love/sex/romance in a way I’ve never heard on an established radio station.) It follows, too, that if their peers are the ones making the podcasts about the subjects they care about, millennials are more likely to tune in.

For the vast majority of today’s creative young people, the internet offers myriad opportunities for disseminating their work outside established networks. They might not always be able to get paid for it (brief pause here while the author laughs wryly), but blogs, web series, email newsletters, web comics and podcasts do give you a way distributing your work without having to convince a boss at a media company to give you permission. Over the years I’ve been interviewing people in the arts, I’ve lost count of the number of times someone 10-15 years older than me has said something like “if I was trying to do my first project now instead of back then, I definitely would have done it as a podcast rather than trying to pitch my weird quirky sitcom to anyone at BBC Radio 4 who would listen”.

Thinking about this recently reminded me of an interview I did about a year ago with Lauren Shippen, the US-based creator of the excellent fiction podcast The Bright Sessions. (The show is now being adapted into books and a TV show, and Lauren was on the Forbes 30 under 30 list this year — she is one of the smartest people I know of working on this stuff.) We were having a general “state of podcasting” chat, and she said she thought that podcasts were “the perfect millennial entertainment”.

Her reasoning? “We’re all really busy and we’re all multi-tasking constantly, and we always have our phones on us all the time. Certainly in LA, people are in their cars a lot, or people in different cities on public transportation, people are underground and they can’t watch Netflix on the train, and so they listen to podcasts. They download them before they get on the train or go on their commute or while they do their dishes, and it’s a way for this generation that’s being constantly fed media to be constantly entertained and escape into a world, a fictional world, while doing more mundane tasks like laundry or the commute, or cooking.”

I’m really attracted to this as an explanation for what we see in the age breakdown data. Podcasts, for all the contemporary buzz around them, are a relatively uncomplicated form of digital media — even I could probably code the right XML to create the feed for one if I watched enough tutorial videos — and while you can stream them, they’re really made to be downloaded and enjoyed while disconnected from the internet. They’re simultaneously a form of escapism from the constant drip of push notifications (especially shows like The Bright Sessions, which take you into a fascinating fictional world) and also a way of making sure you never have to be separated from some form of entertainment.

The way that Lauren came to create her show in the first place also I think goes a long way to explaining the popularity of the medium with her age group. She had been acting in LA for about two years, and was doing OK but it wasn’t really going the way she had hoped. “I had done the web series and the short films,” she said. “But I just kind of didn’t really have a strong next step.” The scripts she was being offered seemed stale and uninteresting to her. “A lot of what I was reading was just girl next door slash love interest for the male lead, slash something tragic happens to her to motivate the male lead into doing something type stuff,” she said.

She decided to take matters into her own hands (a very millennial response) and write something herself. The resulting scripts became the first series of The Bright Sessions — some of her friends took the other roles, and “it’s just been non stop since”. She did consider making it into a web series, but the expense involved and her lack of experience behind the camera put her off. At the same time, Lauren said, she was listening to a lot of Welcome to Night Vale and the BBC Radio 4 sitcom Cabin Pressure, and she was convinced that a multi-actor fiction podcast could find an audience.

She was right. And I think she was right because she was making something she cared about, for people like her, without it being filtered through a studio commissioning process where focus group research about different demographics’ supposed preferences would shape the show’s direction. She was free to do what she wanted, and her listeners were too — which is why they stuck with her.

I recommend following Lauren on Twitter to keep up to date on her new projects


Send me your reckons

Do you have a podcast you’ve been listening to that you’re burning to recommend to someone? Tell me about it! I’ve set up an easy submission form here where you can do that. With your permission, I might even include your recommendation in a future edition of the newsletter.


The podcast reading list

  1. The Transgressive Appeal of the Comedy Murder PodcastNew York Times

  2. Betty Davies obituaryGuardian

  3. The Story of Combat Jack, Hip-Hop’s Flagship PodcasterVulture

  4. “Atlanta Monster”: In Pursuit of Justice and a Hit PodcastNew Yorker

  5. Listen closely: why Hollywood has become obsessed with podcastsGuardian

Sunday, February 18, 2018 

Wax, Winter and Work

No Complaints #139

This is meant to be a Friday newsletter, I know, and yet it is Sunday. I had a very busy few days and got a bit disorganised. Hopefully these links can still help ease your end-of-week malaise.

Things to read

“On one of my last days in Copenhagen, I returned to Refshaleøen. I stopped by a restaurant to ask directions to the building where Kim and Ole had lived. The line cook didn’t know the building, so I asked if he knew where the reporter who had died had lived. He cut me off midsentence as I was explaining how I knew Kim and asked, ‘Why are you doing this?’. I didn’t have a ready answer. I said something about how I wanted to know what had happened. But saying this out loud, to this stranger, I knew I could never really know, could never measure the precise weight of her suffering. Trying to find out what happened to Kim, in hopes of finding meaning in the senselessness of her death, is a selfish act, designed to serve the living. It feels like an act of betrayal.”

This account, written by a friend and fellow reporter, of Kim Wall’s death completely horrified me. I’m still deciding if interest (both mine and other people’s) in it is sensationalist or justified. Email to Pocket.

“It took at least two hours to get all of our Christmas lights plugged into smart plugs from WeMo and Sonoff, and then to get those plugs online with their apps, and then to get those apps to talk to the Alexa app. The first night I said, ‘Alexa, turn on the Christmas lights,’ they all turned on in sparkly synchronicity and it was magical. But one day, Alexa stopped recognising ‘Christmas lights’ as a group, and I could not figure out how to fix it, so I had to ask Alexa each night to turn off the lights one-by-one. (‘Turn off kitchen Christmas lights.’ ‘Turn off living room Christmas lights.’ ‘Turn off bookcase lights.’) This was way more annoying than turning them off manually. The fantasy of the smart home is that it will save us time and effort, but the friction involved in getting various devices from different companies to work together meant that many things took longer to do.”

Surprise, surprise, making everything in your home internet-enabled is a bit of a living nightmare. Email to Pocket.

“I used to think that Jeremy Paxman’s interviewing credo — ‘Why is this lying bastard lying to me?’ — was needlessly unfair to politicians, most of whom work long hours, put up with a lot of grief, and are motivated by a genuine desire to serve the public. But right now they are lying, almost all of them, almost all the time. And they’re doing it because they are frightened: of the press, of their own party members, of killing their own ambitions, of a rising tide of thoughtless populism.”

This plea for politicians to take responsibility for the current mess is well worth reading (it will make you angry though). Email to Pocket.

“Nystad, 47, oversees a group of 30 wax techs, as they’re known. Their job is to divine the right combination of wax, skis and snow at a given race — a puzzle with thousands of possible solutions. Get it right and a carbon fiber ski becomes a killer mode of nonmotorized, Alpine transportation. Athletes glide faster down hills and cover ground more efficiently through the rest of the course. Get it wrong and the same athletes will feel like they are trekking through mud. The failure will not go unnoticed. ‘If we screw up, we’re on the front page of every newspaper in Norway,’ he said. ‘We become idiots, overnight.’”

I have yet to watch a single second of televised Winter Olympics coverage, but I have spent a lot of time reading the background pieces. I can’t get enough of the sport tech stories, for some reason. Email to Pocket.

“Later on in this unseasonably mild August night, on Lolla's towering Grant Park stage, Chance the Rapper will pause during his anti-record-label anthem ‘No Problem’ and let the audience finish his signature line: ‘Countin' Benjis while we meetin', make 'em shake my other hand.’ At that precise moment, though, Maxey's hands will be signing the phrases ‘counting money’ and ‘meeting’, then miming a left-handed handshake followed by an emphatic middle finger. Maxey's ASL interpretation is an explosive, code-switching mishmash of textbook American Sign Language, pantomime, and makeshift signs he's cobbled together for slang words native to hip-hop (‘molly’, for example, combines gestures for ‘pill’ and ‘sex’); the way he signs is as worldly and wry and improvisational as he is.”

A great piece about how signing for a musician can become a performance all of its own. Email to Pocket.


Things to listen to


I highly recommend that you listen to This is Love, a new spin off podcast series from the team behind Criminal. I wrote about the show in more detail in my Tuesday podcast letter, where you’ll also find my interview with host Phoebe Judge about her shifting technique for getting subjects to tell their best stories on air.

To get more podcast-specific writing from me, sign up for a subscription now.


Things to watch

Whaaaat.

Yes.

Worth every frame.


Compulsory medieval thingamabob

This cat has doubts about you.

The guest gif

Better late than never, right?

Tuesday, February 13, 2018 

Alone, together

What makes a podcast feel intimate?

Podcasts are an intimate medium. Unlike radio, say, where people might listen communally in a workplace or a car or a kitchen, the majority of people are alone when they switch on a podcast, probably hearing it via headphones plugged into a smartphone or computer. The one-on-one relationship between podcaster and listener is something that gets discussed a fair bit in industry circles, and I think that’s a good thing: even with the advent of smart speakers and better podcast integration for car stereos, it’s that connection which underpins what all podcast creators are trying to do.

Given that it is Galentine’s/Valentine’s Day this week, I want to use the fact that people are perhaps thinking slightly more about relationships of all kinds at the moment to delve a little into this idea of audio intimacy. This is a quality more usually associated with gently produced narrative storytelling such as you’ll find on the excellent series The Heart, but it’s also available on shows with other formats too: one such that springs to mind is the episode of Answer Me This where host Olly Mann talks about the birth of his son and the death of his father within the same week.

What both these pieces of audio have in common is that they make you feel close to the story, like you aren’t hearing it via a recording of the disembodied voice of a stranger, but as if you are being told it by a friend who is sitting beside you. They make you feel personally involved and emotionally affected. There are a whole variety of techniques that can produce this feeling, from the use of appropriate music, to the raw quality of an interviewee’s voice. I cry literally every time I listen to the “Long Distance Love Story” episode of Millennial, even though I don’t know any of the people involved personally, just because of the way Katie describes how much she loves Andrea. The way the story unfolds makes me feel invested in them. I’ve heard others tell similar anecdotes, of having to pull over in a car to sob at an episode of Radiolab, or not being about to get past a specific point in a particular episode of This American Life because the whirl of emotions it conjures is just too much to bear.

Another podcast that I find regularly produces this kind of intimacy is Criminal. This might seem an odd one, because it’s a show about true crime (albeit not a “true crime podcast” in the cliched way, more on this another week). Yet the focus on interviews and voices draws me in, and I find myself rooting for someone who I know has done some terrible things. For this reason, I was interested to learn a couple of weeks ago that the producers behind Criminal, Phoebe Judge, Lauren Spohrer and Nadia Wilson, were launching a romance-themed spin off series on 14 February. It’s called This is Love, subtitled “an investigation into life’s most persistent mystery”. It’s a big topic, and I was keen to find out how the techniques that the team use to create a sense of intimacy on Criminal would work with the more obviously suited topic of romance and relationships.

The team kindly shared the first two episodes with me in advance of their launch, and while I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone, I will say that This is Love has a similar interview-focused approach to Criminal, and also reserves a single episode for each story. But there are also substantial differences, and I spoke to Phoebe Judge over Skype to find out a bit more about how the series came together.

“We just wanted to try to take a really broad view of these different stories,” she told me. “Stories of love, and of types of love. That means that there's a lot of different types of people who are telling these stories. The wonderful thing, though, is in everything there is a common thread. There is something in each one of these stories that every one of us can relate to, and that was really important to us.”

But these aren’t necessarily conventional “boy-girl” love stories — Judge and her team are defining “love” quite broadly. There’s an incredible episode about the relationship between a woman swimming in the sea, and the baby whale that she gradually realises is swimming alongside her. I found it to be a brilliantly tense, heart-in-mouth experience to listen to, even though I’ve never had an experience like that, and wouldn’t necessarily have thought it was about “love” if you had told me the premise beforehand.

A big difference between working on This is Love and Criminal, Judge said, is her own role in the interviews. “When I'm doing these interviews, I’m finding myself talking to people for so much longer than I usually do when I'm doing a Criminal interview, you know? I'm talking an hour and a half or two hours, and I'm just fascinated by hearing their stories. I'm not talking that much. You know, a lot of these interviews that we were doing, I just keep my mouth shut and allow the person to tell the story, because it’s what they have to say that I'm so intrigued by.”

I really noticed how little Judge was speaking in the aforementioned whale episode. I think you get to five or six minutes before she even says anything. She rather just allows the interviewee to talk directly to the listener, unmediated and uninterrupted (a similar technique is employed by Hrishikesh Hirway in his interviews with musicians for Song Exploderhe edits himself out of the conversation almost entirely, only leaving interjections that clarify factual points). This is a really powerful way in which This is Love creates a sense of intimacy.

Related to this is the show’s use of silence. Judge told me that her favourite moment in the whole series is actually a moment of total quiet, when she asked an interviewee an apparently straightforward question: to describe his wife. “There’s this incredible pause,” she said. “You can hear he tries, he tries twice. I asked him lots of other questions, like ‘what did you love about your wife’ and ‘are you still in love with your wife’, but something about me asking that question. . . There is a pause, which to me, is the most important piece of audio in this whole series. You can hear all you need to hear in that pause and that breath he takes to steel himself to describe this woman that he loved so much.”

“That’s why I love audio, because he says nothing, and you can hear it. . . To me, that is why I like audio stories. It’s the simplicity of audio that intrigues me so much.”

I think Judge has hit on something important there. With a well reported and well edited audio story, you can hear where the spaces are, where the evasions and hestitations come in. With a visual medium, it’s rare that such gaps are left in for the viewer to see, but on podcasts like This is Love, it’s what brings the piece to life. Judge’s interviewees sound human and unfiltered, with their failings and enthusiasms and strengths audible, and so we find them easy to relate to. In this case, we’re listening and they are talking, but it feels like the roles could be switched at any moment.

The first episode of This is Love is released on 14 February — there will be six in total and a second series later this year (Criminal continues on the same weekly schedule). Find out more and subscribe at thisislovepodcast.com

PS Emily Barocas at NPR has put together a great playlist of love-themed podcast episodes if you need a bit of romance in your ears this week.


I’ll finish up with five links to podcast-related things around the web I’ve come across and which you might find interesting.

  1. An Interview with Tom Webster on the Power of VoiceMarTech

  2. Talking About TalkingKill Your Darlings (this one says something nice about me, but don’t let that put you off)

  3. Why is HBO making shows from podcasts?Engadget

  4. Craig Parkinson: “I was scared to launch The Two Shot Podcast – I've been hiding as an actor for 20 years”Digital Spy

  5. Podcasting Is the New Soft DiplomacyThe Ringer

Friday, February 9, 2018 

Matrons, Mothers and Music

No Complaints #138

I’ve gone a bit “the internet is eating our brains!!” this week because I’m researching a forthcoming piece about smartphone addiction and have read too many studies about how we can’t stop scrolling, even when we want to. Please, scroll on:

Things to read

“Mr & Mrs Cooke — very much pleased with it — particularly with the
manner in which the Clergy are treated. — Mr Cooke called it
‘the most sensible Novel he had ever read’. — Mrs Cooke wished
for a good Matronly Character.”

This is from a document that Jane Austen created, which she titled “opinions by various people of Jane Austen’s work”. It’s a fascinating insight into the reception of her novels at the time, and of her own reaction to criticism. I found it via another newsletter, the great Black Cardigan Edit, which you should subscribe to. Email to Pocket.

“Curiously, one of Uber’s central arguments in the gig economy case against it relies on a previous ruling in favour of a strip club. In 2012, a topless dancer who worked at a Stringfellows club in London lost her claim of unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal. Nadine Quashie argued that working conditions at Stringfellows effectively made dancers employees, not self-employed. In its ruling, the tribunal found that Quashie’s dancing was ancillary to the main purpose of Stringfellows, which was viewed as a restaurant. Quashie and other dancers, the tribunal ruled, were provided with a marketplace to sell their services. Uber has claimed the same, albeit in this case the marketplace is taxis, not topless dancers.”

Very interesting exploration of how the so-called gig economy is just a new manifestation of an old problem, ie the exploitation of workers by companies that want to shirk their responsibilities as employers. Email to Pocket.

“This angst is visible in Day-Lewis’s expressive features, so that when he and Alma first lock eyes, it’s as if the sudden psychic shift in the weight of his heavy heart moves the room, causing her to stumble. From the simple directions given in Anderson’s screenplay (‘He looks at her. She looks at him.’), we know not whether the stagger—an exclamation point mark in a film of flowing gestures and punctilious edits—was staged, improvised, or accidental until we witness the breaking of what we might call the film’s sixth wall: The appearance of Woodcock’s mother’s ghost in a wide, static shot of his bedroom clues us into the fact that there’s indeed another plane of existence in Woodcock’s world—a land of the dead superimposed over that of the living, one that’s been having its way with him.”

I thought Phantom Thread was one of the best films I’ve seen in years, and this an excellent discussion of why it works so well. (Also, I am now 100 per cent obsessed with Jonny Greenwood’s soundtrack for the film, it is the only music I can work to.) Email to Pocket.

“The basic reason is simple: according to the data trackers at BuzzAngle Music, more than 99 per cent of audio streaming is of the top 10 per cent most-streamed tracks. Which means less than 1 percent of streams account for all other music. That makes streaming more concentrated at the top than current album or song sales. Of course, the most popular releases have always dominated the music market, but it seems these new services increase that disparity rather than reduce it. The rising tide is lifting only certain boats.”

I liked this piece about the Spotify/music streaming disaster, because as well as outlining the problem, it also offers some practical tips for how a responsible fan can try and stem the tide of awfulness. Related: I would read a similar piece about buying books online. I mean, I would like to be able to search a comprehensive database and receive my order in the post quickly, but I also don’t want to give Amazon money to destroy publishing. Email to Pocket.

“Facebook says that they are building communities, but really they’re fracturing us. We are all on our own little news bubbles and on our own little islands. It’s also fracturing our own creative projects. The internet has turned into a place where you can’t have many different people speaking as one entity and expect those people to make a living. And to me, those are the most exciting, rewarding projects, and I can’t make those now. I am looking at the past with rose-colored glasses, but you can say categorically that the internet was a better place 3-4 years ago. It used to be fruitful, but it’s like a desert now.”

I’m really on an “big internet companies are ruining everything” reading kick this week. This on, for variety, is about Facebook ruining online comedy! Email to Pocket.


Things to listen to

I wrote in my Tuesday podcast newsletter this week about live episodes, and how I don’t really get why people want to listen to them. Read more about that here. But like all of us, I am a giant mass of contradictions, and I have enjoyed the odd live episode when it’s from a show I really rate, so I thought I’d round up a few of those here.

All the Power Ladies, Live — Call Your Girlfriend

This is a throwback to before Trump was elected when people still had hope. It’s quite nice to listen to now.

Reclaim Your Bootyhole — Another Round

Last year, Tracy and Heben came to London and recorded this excellent show.

Live in Brooklyn — Crimetown

Sort of like a ‘best of’ night for the show, so a good place to start if you haven’t listened before.

Why is talking about money so awkward? — Ctrl Alt Delete

Emma Gannon is a podcaster who I definitely want to know more about her process, after hearing what she did with this live show.

Offal Edinburgher — The Bugle

All the way from 2011, a bit of vintage Bugle where Andy Zaltzman and John Oliver do standup together in Edinburgh. I miss the Old Bugle.


Things to watch

This is gloriously nerdy and I love it.

I learned a lot from this. It’s also very moving.

Ok so these are pictures not video, but please enjoy the excellent work of Broadway Bricks anyway.


Compulsory medieval thingamabob

This Is Your Brain On Twitter.


The guest gif

Mood:

Friday, February 2, 2018 

Bill, Babies and Big Air

No Complaints #137

I’ve spent most of this week living in the past — to be specific, the early 1970s, because I have become obsessed with Watergate-era politics thanks to the Slow Burn podcast (more on this below, and in my Tuesday members-only newsletter, read it here, and sign up now, thanks very much). If you need me, I’ll be hunting down this shirt so that in future I can look as much like Mary McCarthy as possible:

Things to read

“As former soldiers re-established themselves as civilians, swearing became normalised, but it was only acceptable when used by men and addressed to men. The story of the Littlehampton libels reveals the extent to which British society at this time clung to certain beliefs about women and language. One of these prejudices, fiercely held, was that a ‘respectable’ woman was incapable of allowing a dirty word to sully her mouth. Another was that women who did swear were beyond the pale, and therefore capable of anything. The tenacity of these prejudices within the legal system would allow Edith Swan to send multiple poison pen letters to her neighbours over a period of three years and contrive to have a less ‘respectable’ woman – Rose Gooding – twice sent to jail for crimes of which she was entirely innocent.”

I don’t know why I hadn’t heard of the “Littlehampton libels” case from the 1930s before (my school history syllabus was just Tudors, plague, Tudors, Roman Britain, Tudors, Soviet Russia, rinse and repeat) but now I want to know everything about it. Email to Pocket.

“I was addicted to my smartphone. And if you think that sounds dramatic, I also think you’re addicted to yours. This isn’t just my suspicion – it’s supported by evidence. On average, we check our phones (not just for the time, but by accessing our home screens) around 47 times a day (18- to 24-year-olds do it 82 times). We typically spend over four hours per day on our phones, which equates to 56 full days a year. Thirty-eight per cent of British people think they use their smartphones too much, 79 per cent of us check apps before going to sleep and over half of us look at our phones within the first waking hour of every day. Dr David Greenfield, an American psychiatry professor specialising in technology addiction, has developed a simple test for identifying smartphone compulsion (sample question: ‘Do you seem to lose track of time when on your smartphone?’. I mean, duh) and, as I read my own damning results, I realised I knew not a single person who’d pass unashamed.”

I’m no anti-internet moralist (I generally think the use of it is a good thing and to be encouraged, within reasonable limits!) but I am a bit worried now that it might be melting my brain slightly. Email to Pocket.

“These fleet companies make their money delivering the cars, caring for them, and maintaining relationships with journalists. Increasingly, they offer services such as assistance with putting on events or logistics. The sense I get is that the journalists are like gasoline at a service station in that it’s a necessity to get the business but generally the least profitable part of it. Some get a flat fee for deliveries (though they don’t like this) and some get paid over a certain milage. An ideal trip for a fleet company who isn’t getting a flat fee is delivering a car a few hundred miles because the profit on that trip becomes higher.”

I have never been offered a “press car” but I am strangely compelled by the life cycle of these freebie vehicles. Email to Pocket.

“It was nearly 7 p.m. by the time we got home that night. We had hoped to get home earlier but it turns out that being discharged from a hospital is rarely in the patient’s hands — there was paperwork to fill out, a lactation class to attend, a terrifying video on the dangers of shaking a baby to watch, a wheelchair to wait for—new mothers, no matter how they’re feeling, are not allowed to pick up their baby and simply walk out of the labor and delivery floor — they must wait for a wheelchair and an orderly to wheel them, like a sick person, out of the hospital grounds. But the minute you’re out of the hospital, no more wheelchairs, no more nurses, no more doctors, no more medical support or advice — you’re on your own. Get off the wheelchair and figure this out. The hospital no longer cares.”

Gently lovely writing about what it’s like to bring your baby home and spend your first night as a parent. Email to Pocket.

“By far the strangest and worst, however, of these ‘general snowboarding’ deaths are what safety authorities refer to as Non-Avalanche-Related Snow Immersion Death. Narsid is when a ‘rider falls into an area of deep unconsolidated snow and becomes immobilized and suffocates’. This is also referred to as a ‘tree-well immersion accident’, because such areas of deep loose powder are often found around big trees. If you go into one deep enough, you are lost. You can’t breathe or move. The powder entombs you. With that in mind, imagine hitting one off a sizable jump. You soar into the air, and it’s a great moment. You’re smiling, because you’re going to glide out of there as if you just hopped off the lift. Instead, when you land, you vanish.”

John Jeremiah Sullivan? Writing about snowboarding, a sport I neither know nor care about? Of course I want to devour every word. Email to Pocket.


Things to listen to

Since my Tuesday podcast newsletter reached a few more people, I’ve been getting some great recommendations in my inbox. The ones I’ve enjoyed so far are Mismatch, which features stories of people who don’t quite get on or fit in, Imaginary Advice, which I can’t really describe, and Whatever Happened to Pizza at McDonald’s, which, well, it’s obvious from the title.

Plus: Here’s a piece I wrote for the New Statesman about the political resonances of Slow Burn.


Things to watch

I dare you not to cry during this.

Will they or won’t they? I HAVE TO KNOW, FOR SOME REASON.

Why can Bill Gates do this? I feel like there’s a longread in that question.

Compulsory medieval thingamabob

“Can I play you one of my songs? I’m very influenced by Death Cab for Cutie.”

The guest gif

Extremely relatable.

There's a lot of stuff out there on the internet. This is what I've found so far.