Five Things: January 6, 2022

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CES Opens In-Person Despite Calls to Cancel | Angela Tupper

“Although CES organizers could have theoretically anticipated that cases would rise in the winter based on past patterns, expert opinions on the matter were mixed — and the pressure to return to business as usual was high.”

Happy new year! 2022 finds us in the montage scene of every disaster movie, where increasingly bad decisions are made by seemingly intelligent people, and we—in the audience—scoff at how unrealistic it all is.


Every major pandemic-related decision—from Trump’s purposeful missteps to Adams’ “low skill” insult to Biden’s ludicrous “Google it” tweet—has been based on short-term economic and/or political impact. The insistence on returning to “normal” ASAP, most often from those for whom “normal” was always beneficial, has prevented any robust attempt to explore and implement the kind of long-term solutions we obviously need.

“Will the new and rapidly spreading variant overwhelm the U.S. health-care system? The question is moot because the system is already overwhelmed, in a way that is affecting all patients, COVID or otherwise.” Ed Yong, December 16, 2021

Two months ago, Anime NYC saw 50,000+ people gather in NYC’s Javits Center, and two weeks later attendees were turning up positive all across the country as Omicron was the most welcomed guest at every holiday gathering, large and small.

While there were definitely mixed opinions about a winter spike, the decision to move forward with early-2022 events was a calculated risk driven by the pressure to get back to normal without actually doing anything to rebuild a foundation for sustained normalcy. There’s still zero reason to believe anything resembling a pre-pandemic “normal” is actually possible anytime soon, if ever again.

“We have 2,200 companies who want to have a show. So, we are having a show.” One thing that’s still normal? C.R.E.A.M.


The bifurcation of digital media | Brian Morrissey

“For these digital media companies, the next phase of growth will take place on the basis of operational excellence, the ability to use scale in infrastructure, data and audiences in order to create competitive advantage. Call it the pivot to accountability.”

During his tenure at Digiday, Morrissey was a relative voice of reason, tenacious about digging beyond the PR hype to either get executives to give hard numbers, or at least explicitly admit they couldn’t or wouldn’t. His independent venture, The Rebooting, is worth keeping an eye as he leverages his deep Rolodex to pull insights from notable players and puts them in context.

While I love the idea of a pivot to accountability, I highly doubt that’s where things will head as accountability doesn’t really exist in the media business. Just look at the resumes of the people on the corporate mastheads. More likely, it’ll be another round or three of layoffs and flailing pivots, and unionization will become the boogeyman du jour.

He’s absolutely right about B2B and niche being the areas to keep an eye on, though; a no-brainer since that’s been the case for at least the past two decades.


Whetstone, the largest Black-owned food magazine in the U.S., aims to change things in food reporting | Gabe Schneider

“Even though right now we have two other Black-owned publications, we are the only company of our kind in terms of output, scale, and scope. At this stage, for the first time and for the majority of the year, I started to look for outside capital. And that has been a very enlightening process. The bottom line is always the same, which is that it is very hard for people of color to find adequate capital to finance your dreams and your ambitions.”

I enjoyed Satterfield’s High on the Hog Netflix series last year but had no idea what else he had going on. I don’t consider myself a “foodie”, but I do love food, and food media is one of my favorite categories as a consumer. So, I was stunned to learn not only that Whetstone Media exists, but it’s been around since 2017 in various forms, including what appears to be a high-end magazine and a podcast that’s right up my alley?!?

If you’ve seen the series, you’ll hear his voice throughout this interview; thoughtful, deliberate, cautious. There’s a part of me that thinks he’s the wrong person to front a media operation because his personality isn’t big enough to command attention, and then I think that makes him the perfect person to front a sustainable (accountable?) media operation—if he has the right backing.

NOTE: This is more of a heads-up than a recommendation as I haven’t dug into any of their content yet, but I’ve been looking for a good complement to Southern Foodways Alliance’s excellent podcast and magazine, Gravy. Fingers crossed!


Raising a person in a culture full of types | Dan Brooks

“The bedrock assumption of Type of Guy Theory is that identity exists independently from behavior; you are a type first, and you behave accordingly. For my money, the ne plus ultra of Type of Guy Theory is this letter to Slate’s sex advice column, in which a woman who describes herself as ‘repelled by heterosexuality politically and personally’ but ‘also really into dick’ asks where she can find men who want to have sex with women but are not heterosexuals.”

I stumbled across this essay after enjoying Brooks’ insightful take on NFTs and then discovering we apparently crossed paths years ago on the poetry scene. Small world!

I’m still digesting it, but I’m intrigued by his core premise’s subtle game of semantics: “My son didn’t blow off his science worksheet because he’s a fuckup; he fucked up because he blew off his science worksheet.”

Do our actions explicitly and irrevocably define us, or do we choose to be fuckups and have room to make different choices?

Similar to Brooks, I was convinced in my 20s that I’d never have kids or get married and would become the “favorite drunk uncle” my father effectively became for most of his 3os and 40s. I believed it and lived my life accordingly, and every “choice” was simply a reflection of that underlying truth. It didn’t really occur to me that I was making bad choices that had put, and kept, me on that path, until I met my eventual wife and started making different choices.

“I fucked up because I thought I was a fuckup” definitely feels like a weak excuse, even though it’s not one I ever consciously used. My 20s were such a mess!

NOTE: I’m waiting for my behaviorist wife’s take to season my own thoughts on this, as I often do, often without her realizing it. She hadn’t gotten back to me before I wrote this, so hopefully I didn’t just embarrass myself! O_o


George Pérez opens up about his fans, his legendary career, and his terminal illness | Chris Arrant

“I really know now how much fans love me for what I’ve done, and the person I’ve tried to be. This makes it so crystal clear. It makes me strong, and it gives me peace. Like anyone put in this kind of situation, I cried and I screamed when I first got the diagnosis and the prognosis of the longevity. But after that, the friends who I immediately told became a close source of comfort. And my peers and fans have really stepped up and given me strength, and I am happy this many people love me. I have no regrets, and I’m just incredibly at peace.”

I rarely respond publicly to life events involving “celebrities” or people I don’t know personally, but I’m at the age now where childhood idols and contemporaries are dying way too often, and on top of the pandemic, it’s been a lot.

George Perez was one of the first comic book artists I knew by name and style as a kid in the 80s, and he remained an all-time fave even as different styles came in and out of fashion. News of his terminal illness was surprising, especially since he’s only 67, but the outpouring of support definitely wasn’t.

Arrant does a great job of letting Perez speak here, and when my time comes, I can only hope to go out with even a fraction of his grace and dignity.

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