Accumulated Stuff

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(Pictured: by 1997, Super Bowl entertainment had gotten more hip than it had ever been, but that year’s game also included whatever the hell this is.)

Those of us who are still on Twitter can’t help but be gobsmacked at just how bad Elon Musk has been at running the place. Quite literally nothing he has done makes any sense at all, from completely misunderstanding the original blue checks (to help users know which feed claiming to be Taylor Swift was the real one), to eliminating content moderation and replatforming actual Nazis, to putting the Twitter API behind a $100 per month paywall, the latter of which is supposed to happen today. He says paywalling the API will cut down the number of bots, but while it’s killing the bots that say bad things about him (which seems to be his main goal), it will also kill harmless, useful, even vital services that use the API, such as the ones that allow disabled people to communicate on Twitter. And anybody strongly devoted to spreading damaging misinformation on a world-altering scale isn’t going to be stopped by $100 per month anyway.

But I haven’t left Twitter yet. A small account such as mine has less trouble with bots and Nazis than one with thousands of followers. I still perceive some value in it, but I suspect not for long. I have heard that Tweetdeck, a Twitter product that provides an ad-free experience with a much less-clunky interface than desktop Twitter or the mobile app, is also going behind a paywall. Once that happens, and once the useful and/or entertaining bot accounts are gone, it’ll be time to say sayonara, Elon.

Apart from pre-emptively mourning the people I will lose touch with, I am also pre-emptively mourning the interesting stuff I’m going to miss reading when I finally decide to leave Twitter, or when Twitter leaves me. Here’s some of that:

—Every year, the Super Bowl halftime show is hyped as the epitome of cultural cool, but in the end, it’s a plastic 12-minute TV show staged in a football stadium, and it doesn’t matter if you’re Rihanna or Dr. Dre or Beyonce or the Rolling Stones or Michael Jackson, the processed cheese is up to your waist before you sing or play a note. As I read Tom Erlewine’s AV Club ranking of the last 30 years of Super Bowl halftime shows, I found that I couldn’t even remember about half of them. (For what it’s worth, Rihanna’s show last night is destined for the can’t-remember bin. The show’s minimalist staging and lack of guest-star overstuffing was refreshing, but her performance was nothing special.)

—The fadeout has been an endangered species in popular music for a long time. But why did it ever exist in the first place? “The Mysterious Art of the Fadeout” puts a little too much emphasis on metaphysical reasons, but read it anyway.

—Motown got famous with mighty radio earworms and floor-filling singles, but in the 70s, the label got a lot more ambitious, producing entire albums that stand up as works of art. This story from uDiscover Music via Yahoo Entertainment is especially good precisely because it doesn’t focus on the Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder albums everybody already knows about.

—I am no longer interested in owning physical objects. The vast majority of the books, CDs, and DVDs I have accumulated over the decades sit on shelves and I barely even look at them, let alone read or play them. Other stuff moulders in the garage and might as well not even exist. I am pretty sure that the physical objects that truly matter to me would fit into a couple of banker’s boxes, and the rest of it, as I wrote a few years ago, “can go to the thrift store, the landfill, or to Hell.” (No judgment, however: if you are somebody who still takes pleasure in collectible stuff, if it enriches your life and you enjoy getting it and having it, by all means carry on. I ain’t mad at you.)

All of that is a windy introduction to a story about Joe Bussard, who specialized in pre-rock 78s and was fairly well-known in collector circles. Bussard died last fall at the age of 86, and now his daughter is dealing with the collection he left behind.

If anything happens to me, you guys can have my stuff. The Mrs. surely isn’t going to want very much of it.

6 thoughts on “Accumulated Stuff

  1. mikehagerty

    My departure (more of an escape, really) from marriage #1 involved a duffel bag with some clothes, the 10 CDs I cared about the most, family papers (grandparents and parents’ marriage, birth and death certificates) and my grandfather’s now 110-year old Bible.

    It was a day or two after I landed home in California, in the arms of someone who cared, that I was driving on the freeway and punched into Eagle 96.9 just in time to hear Peter Gabriel sing the line:

    “Hey, I said—you can keep my things, they’ve come to take me home.”

    Been a minimalist ever since. At various times in my life, I fantasized a world-beating album, book or film library. Now I can’t think of a bigger pain in the ass.

  2. mikehagerty

    Most of my Twitter use has been for news—Tweetdeck essentially replaced wire services a decade ago for me (I still have AP at work, but it’s in severe decline, and if you’re rigorous about the standards you apply to which organizations you follow, Tweetdeck usually has the information on your screen, from the source AP will be quoting, anywhere from five to thirty minutes sooner than AP can move it.

    I’ll be sad to see it go. Some of my colleagues have rushed to alternate platforms like Mastodon, Post and Spoutible. I’ve held back so far. A tiny minority of people not in journalism, media, politics and government actually used Twitter—far fewer “regular people” are on any of the other platforms yet, and they’re the people I’m trying to reach with the information I tweet out or re-tweet.

    When the music switch flipped on in my son’s brain at about 13 (he’s 29 now), one of his first critiques of Dad’s music was “Why would anyone fade the ending of a song? It ended. They’re not still in the studio. Let me hear the ending. If it sucks, fix it and then record it.”

    I tried to explain to him how many bitchin’ segues that would have ruined for me, but I don’t think that resonated, somehow.

  3. John Gallagher

    My use of Twitter is rather limited and has been for years. I have my posts on Instagram also post to Twitter. My ‘followers’ are many people who haven’t been active on Twitter in years lol.

  4. porky

    Regarding stuff: Our oldest just turned 40 and he is extremely opposed to physical media. Our other kids a little less so to varying degrees.

    I, on the other hand, have a basement full of about 10,000 music “items,” LPs, 45s, CDs, cassette tapes, 78s. I’m in the process of putting the “valuable” 45s in separate boxes, to save the kids from that process when I croak. As an aside, those soul/funk 45s I used to find at Goodwill have really gone up in value, like grapes into wine, as they’ve sat in my basement. Thankfully I have nothing priceless like the 78s Joe Bussard’s daughter has to deal with.

    Also the books I kept when we moved 4 (gulp) years ago are still in boxes (except for my Whitburn books). If they’ve been in boxes for 4 years, do I really need them?

    Regarding the fadeout: In my Billboard research I see that lots of country artists issued instrumental 45s, the sole purpose to seemingly be played and talked over/faded out to the top of the hour news. Maybe that was a strictly C& W concept? The automated MOR station I worked at in the late 70s/early 80s had a “deadroll” programmed at the end of the hour to switch to a reel of instrumental music, fade, play a commercial, ID, then to the news.

    1. I have never come across the instrumental country thing you mention, but I’ll be on the look for it now. Also: we had that same instrumental deadroll thing at one of the stations I worked for. It sounded unspeakably terrible, as it would sometimes play literally five seconds of music before the system switched to the network feed. IIRC, the station stopped using it before I became program director and started airing the network news on delay, which was easy to do by then.

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