🥰 Greg's Newsletter Does A Smile Thing [No. 067]

Music for your eardrums.

If you enjoy reading this newsletter on the (semi) regular, please forward along to a friend! If you don’t enjoy reading it, please forward this to someone you can tolerate but you probably won’t make much of an effort to see once we can be social IRL!

I'm not sure how it took me so many years to realize it, but when I'm not able to listen to much music on a given day, my mood is tangibly lower.

Like, I've been a pretty steady music fan my whole life, and it took until I was 30 to actually have an ah-ha "wow I didn't listen to music yesterday and I'm feeling low and I feel the same way today but how about I put a tape into the cassette player (lol Spotify) and hit play and dang I feel so much better" kind of moment.

So anyways, here's some music that I've been really enjoying lately. Oh, I also relaunched my radio show, so if you want to listen to my favorite tracks of 2020 so far and hear my awkward, not very entertaining voice in your headphones: then Hot Sauce Radio episode #1 is your jam.

Helado Negro - This Is How You Smile (2019)

Well shit, there's something very of-this-time about that album title. It's a soothing contemporary folk masterpiece and Negro's voice calmly sits so well inside the vibraphones and guitars and lushness. "Please Won't Please" is the standout opening track.

Joni Mitchell - Hejira (1976)

I've always been a Joni fan from afar without knowing a ton of her catalog. Late last year, I was watching Rolling Thunder Revue (Scorcese's Bob Dylan documentary on Netflix which is pretty good I guess?) and at the very end, Joni pops in and starts playing "Coyote" to a crowded room of people. And it totally transfixed me. I managed to track down a remastered copy of the album (lol nah just Spotify) and it's been on steady rotation ever since. It has a folk-jazz fusion vibe which, yes, is a pretentious thing to write, but it's true and makes so much more sense when you listen to the whole thing. Joni is a gem.

Questlove presents Stevland Saturday

Like so many artists and DJs, Questlove has been doing live DJ sets across Instagram, Twitch, and other platforms. He pulled out one of his famed Stevie Wonder sets on Saturday. It made me smile a lot.

That's it for today! Love you.


Greg's Newsletter Doesn't Talk About The Thing [No. 066]

You know what I'm talking about...

Not going to lie, I have the attention span of a gnat these days. Which probably means I need to find a book or two to stick my nose in and—briefly, ever so briefly—tune the hell out. Have any recommendations? Any genr-

how's bernie polling in michigan? sorry the president said what about the economy? i'm not even gonna bring up COVID-19, actually wait, why aren't i just calling it coronavirus, i'm not a fancy pants person? oh shit, i just brought up coronavirus! hah! whoops! oh wow, just remembered that i wrote a "column" for a newsletter at my company where i talked about the brand corona—what even is life? well i know i’m privileged. if ever there was a time that we all had health care. fuck, biden won michigan. honestly, i could really go for a new season of Great British Bake Off cuz it's so pure. shit, is my vacation at the end of march still happening? i hope so. McMillions is a pretty good docuseries. gotta remember to turn the water heater down. what's march madness even going to be like? how do i still have thousands a year in health care costs despite paying for my company’s best and most expensive plan? is it too late for some rocky road ice cream? the nba rules.

That was all in the span of 27 seconds. So, in celebration of... whatever that was, here are some interesting things from the internet, for no particular reason.

🥳 Have you ever wanted to bring Snapchat lenses to your video conferences at work? YOU CAN!

đź‘ą "Sinfield Chronicles" is a Seinfeld horror game on PS4. You play Jerry's nephew Donathan. Gold!

📺 Hulu. Disney+. Netflix. Prime Video. The list goes on. Too many choices. Enter: All The Streams. It's like pirate radio for streaming, where you choose the channel and then just watch whatever they're playing at that time. Kinda like the good ol’ days.

🌏 Countries are way bigger than you think. Great Britain is really a tiny lil' thing.

🏛️ A photo gallery of empty public spaces during coronavirus (ah damnit, I talked about it again).

📝 This not a link to a thing on the internet, but just wanted to let everyone know—I started doing NYT crosswords! I'm not good at them yet, but I like them! Shoutout to Jeff.

🤔 It's really hard for me—and probably you—to not touch my face. Wait, that doesn't make sense. It's hard for me to not touch your face. NO, THAT'S NOT IT. WHATEVER. YOU GET IT. Luckily there's a service that uses machine learning (maybe) to really help you—or me—from touching... your face. My face. Whatever.

🎹 OK, last plug for you to subscribe to my Spotify playlist. Updated every Tuesday. Go!

Greg's Newsletter Locates Itself [No. 065]

Do you know your exact coordinates?

Hey friends,

Let's just dive into things!

Making art in 2020

Last newsletter, I shared a cool Google Maps-based art piece. Well, today, I'm proud to share my own version of Google Maps art. Give this a click and have some fun zooming in and out. But not too far in.


$10 if you can guess what I was getting for lunch.

M**e B*******g

There's a presidential candidate who's touting himself as a "moderate progressive" (LOL) spending unprecedented gobs of his own money on everything from massive national TV buys to ironic social media influencer campaigns. His record and literal on-tape verbatims are indefensible. His politics are bad. His ability to simultaneously buy his way towards the top of the 2020 race AND do so while adopting the tactics pushed by our current president is frightening.

SO! Without giving him much more SOV in this newsletter, I recommend reading how this candidate is hijacking our attention. Please don't support (among other things): oligarchs, racists, people who commit sexual harassment, transphobes, or candidates who switch parties for purely opportunistic reasons.

Eh, actually, that last one seems like the least important of the bunch.

The things we see

From Open Culture:

As the last couple of generations to come of age have rediscovered, urban living has its benefits. One of those benefits is the ability to keep an eye on your neighbors — quite literally, given a situation of buildings in close proximity, sufficiently large windows, and minimal usage of drapes. Fortysomething Brooklyn couple Alli and Jacob find themselves turned into voyeurs by just such a situation in Marshall Curry's The Neighbor's Window, the Best Live Action Short Film at this year's Academy Awards. "Do they have jobs, or clothes?" asks Alli, overcome by the frustration of looking after her and Jacob's three young children. "All they do is host dance parties and sleep 'till noon and screw."

It's worth well worth 20 minutes of your time.


How about a real news letter?

I came across the website of Cortney Cassidy, a graphic designer who lives in Oakland, who started a "Mail Blog." It’s described as a "a free blog sent through the mail, available to anyone who gives me their address and asks to be added to the list."

I subscribed to hers but it's an idea that I really dig. Reply to this newsletter with a âś‹if you'd be down to get one from me (but also sign up for hers if it sounds cool to you!).

Signing off with the usual plug to subscribe to my ongoing Spotify playlist. Nothing but immaculate tracks.

Til next time.


Greg's Newsletter Has Internet Tears [No. 064]

7, 8 plays on the internet

Today's newsletter is brought to you by "Internet Tears" by Weaves. Hat tip to Amy Brown and her new newsletter (which you should subscribe to).

Administrative note: I'm updating my Hot Sauce Selects Weekly playlist... every week on Tuesday. Up to episode #5 already. Subscribe!

This one is all about things on the internet. Let's go!

Artist Simon Weckert created a very cool thingp. Here's the write-up:

99 second hand smartphones are transported in a handcart to generate virtual traffic jam in Google Maps.Through this activity, it is possible to turn a green street red which has an impact in the physical world by navigating cars on another route to avoid being stuck in traffic.

Weckert's piece explores the power, information, and control dynamics at play in a ubiquitous, connected, very late capitalist world. Fun!

Facebook finally launched its Off-Facebook Activity tool, which tells you which companies are supplying the platform with info about your non-Facebook activity (website visits, purchase history). Facebook matches that info to your profile and better targets ads.

The tool is not, uhhh, an easy to find. Recode has a good write-up about the various ways you can (kinda sorta) control some of that info. Sorta.

Seamless, Grubhub, Postmates, and our online delivery platform overlords are changing the restaurant business in a number of ways. They're turning restaurants that don't deliver—explicitly so—into unwitting delivery sources.

They aggregate restaurants onto the platform unbeknownst to them. When customers put in an order, that's passed on to the driver, who places an order inside the restaurant and, and then deliver it to the original customer.

Is that bad? Probably! But there's more. Then, they're creating "ghost kitchens," which are "physical kitchens that offer dishes from multiple "brands" from a single location through deliver apps." It's all kind of eerie, tbh. Ghost food.

Are you a fan of mega-rich white dudes? Do you want a more private channel to hear their brilliant thoughts and billion-dollar quotes? Then do I have a social network for you!

Column is a proposed subscription-based network started by the guy who killed Gawker, and is seeking investment from those rich people to effectively lead their own private communities on the platform. Users can share posts and media in private or public spaces, while letting them pay to join a rich person's community, where they'd see more private content.

I hate all of it!

That's it for today. I'm hoping to revisit reading and writing on social media and digital third places soon. But drop me a line to say hello! I love when y'all email and respond and just tell me what’s new in your world.


Greg's Newsletter Listens to Everything at Once [No. 063]

Introducing New Music Tuesdays.

After digging into social media, social capital, and some areas I want to explore this year in my previous two newsletters, I wanted to have a little change of pace this time.

Two of my favorite Texas artists have tamed up for… dusty funk soul? IDK. Listen to what I mean here.

First: some music. In past years, I've created ongoing Spotify playlists of favorite music discoveries—new stuff, new finds, classics, whatever. Sometimes they’ve been monthly. Sometimes they've been ongoing playlists running the whole year (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019).

This year, I'm going it differently. I’ll have a playlist that’s updated once-a-week, every week on Tuesday. Consider it a part of your weekly Spotify experience. You have your Discover Weekly on Monday. Release Radar on Friday. And Hot Sauce Selects every Tuesday. So be sure to drop in and check out week #3 and subscribe to this playlist (AND CHECK BACK EVERY TUESDAY).

Now: how about some interesting things!

An interview with Spotify founder/CEO Daniel Ek on the future of audio (in podcast form, naturally). I suspect there are readers of the newsletter with strong (and probably very accurate!) thoughts about the role of Spotify and the economics of streaming for artists.

Those feelings aside, I've become infatuated with the concept of always-on/ubiquitous audio—and wrote about it in October. One thing that struck me about Ek's perspective is that (paraphrasing) he considers the car a third and final space for innovation in audio, after the connected device and the home. I'm really excited to see new audio interfaces and experiences take hold.

Every Noise at Once: This site is one the cooler examples of data + art that exists on the internet. It's an algorithmically-generated scatterplot of 3,847 "genre-shaped distinctions" by Spotify. Please click through to understand the scale. Words don’t do it justice. But it's super fun to click around and hear examples of genres that you didn't know exist but are definitely glad exist.

Fluxwork? Hurdy-gurdy? Lovecraftian metal? So much music.

A comedian's fued with *SNL'*s Michael Che. Comedian Jack Allison has had an odd relationship with Michael Che of SNL and one of the co-hosts of "Weekend Update." It's odd, in that Che kind of seems obsessed with trying to bully Allison. Allison's write-up covers power dynamics, a retread show with a retread POV, the comedy business, and the role of social media in... like... everything. But I was struck by a different point he made.

There's a current in comedy (typically from male comics like Seinfeld and Chappelle) that decries cancel culture. And they apply that to their craft and audiences and publicly state that they can't say what they want to say anymore (ugh! what about free speech!). This is all in fear of cancel-driven backlash.

But Allison makes a pretty outstanding point: "As much as comedians like to fashion themselves as high-minded pontificators of the notion of free speech, this is more about creating a safe space for rich professional comedians to do their material without hearing any complaints."

That's it for now! Actually, wait. Shoutout to Texas for being the worst offender in creating transportation-based greenhouse gas emissions.

Everything's bigger in Texas!

Urban planning at its finest!

Even our carbon footprint!

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