This ILL '86 Hy*ndai can teach us a lot about being our swaggiest selves

New profound thoughts -- on "B.I.G. B.U.C.S. Mindset"

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One of the only downsides to doing Blackbird Spyplane instead of, say, being a genius novelist who writes award-winning s**t on a rare Italian typewriter in a FIRE cabin with DOPE chairs and NO internet (which is the kind of novelist I’d be) is that, as a matter of professional necessity, yr boy has to spend more time online than I’d like…

No shots at electronic mail — that would be like Picasso firing shots at CANVAS. But it’s as true for me as it is for anyone else these days that distributing my consciousness across a raggedy patchwork of online spaces doesn’t just spread my attention way too thin: If you spend fat chunks of the day acting like there’s an omnipresent audience of people spectating yr every move / every thought, the way social media trains us to do, then that externalized mind can start to distort yr “internal monologue,” and yr grip on who you actually are can start to feel REAL LOOSE.

I was thinking about all this one recent Saturday a.m. here at Spyplane HQ, when I realized that Erin and I had spent several hours the way we often spend Saturday mornings, hunkered down in a salutary state known as Beautiful Inward-Gazing Blessed Uninterrupted Closed System (B.I.G. B.U.C.S.) Mindset. Our laptops were shut … Our phones were in another room … Our refrigerator wasn’t eavesdropping on us and beaming the juicy audio to S*msung or whoever because we don’t have one of those fridges…

B.I.G. B.U.C.S. Mindset is kind of like a Faraday cage, but it insulates you from the noise & chatter that characterizes so much of our contemporary web-mediated experience. (Imagine homie above is vibing out with some good books and a record player inside the cage.)

Instead ? We were ensconced in a COOL METAPHORICAL FARADAY CAGE (rough schematic above) stocked entirely with what I would call, like, “pre-existing inputs” if I wrote one of those business-brain-success-win newsletters that charge ppl $50 a month in exchange for a bunch of goofy nerd-boss jargon. We plucked some coffee out of the cupboard and got a pot brewing… We worked our way leisurely thru a stack of magazines… We pulled good books down off the shelf … And, to dial in the MF vibes, we tossed on a series of popping chunes from our Mach 3+ collection of records & CDs (yessir, still have those!)

By “blessed uninterrupted closed system” what we mean is that:

  • Nothing entered the room that wasn’t already there (e.g., no hot takes, no tweets, no IG stories, no “streaming content”) and

  • Nothing went out (no data for advertisers to vacuum up, no fuel for the algorithm to ingest, no performed versions of ourselves for the timeline to behold.) This was like that baller ROOM OF ONE’S OWN s**t Virginia Woolf was talking about, baby…

And g-d d*mn, it felt great!!

Why is going B.I.G. B.U.C.S. Mode so pleasant? Besides the obvious fact that it’s nice to chill out and read with good music playing, I think the appeal has to do with reclaiming a quieter, slower-moving relationship to yr own thoughts, beliefs, desires, uncertainties, etc.… You obvs can’t and wouldn’t want to “shut out the world” completely, but this way, every now and then, yr turning down the noise & chatter that characterizes so much of our web-mediated lives and achieving, if not a full disconnection from internet fucc-s**t, a symbolic one, and with it, fortifying sense of deceleration, retreat and clarification.

What’s crucial to making B.I.G. B.U.C.S. magic work, though, is you’ve gotta have a robust and engrossing archive of slappers on hand, so that you don’t pick up yr phone, intending to stream some ill Tony Conrad drones and read those articles you’ve had open in Safari for a week, but then get sucked into a IG-scrolling fugue and emerge 45 minutes later like a dumb-a** with zero Tony Conrad playing and zero articles read ‘cause you forgot why you grabbed yr phone in the first place.

It’s easy to clown on “vinyl heads” because of all the abstractions about warmth & ritual, but a key part of the fun of listening to records is concrete: a record player was designed to do one thing — play a record all the way through, tracing a single groove deeper and deeper — not to suck you into 1,000 different shallow pools at once.

As I enjoyed some B.I.G. B.U.C.S. on that Saturday morning — chilling on a soft KNOLL BOUCLÉ SURFACE with my coffee cup steaming — I wondered, “Is there a JAWNS equivalent of the Beautiful Inward Gazing Blessed Uninterrupted Closed System?”

I floated this profound question to Erin, and we got to talking about the importance, for the mindful jawnz enthusiast, of keeping “a robust and engrossing archive of slappers on hand” so that “external inputs” can be ignored / dismissed as needed — and the slappers in this scenario are fire garments you’ve copped over time and never let go of.

On one level, this slapper archive is an invitation to appreciate what you have and put yr consumer compulsions on ice, and in a deeper way it’s an invitation to remember, re-encounter, and re-assess all the different people you’ve been over the years, contemplating what all those people have in common, and what that commonality says about who you are.

In this light, the beautifully faded & threadbare Stüssy tee I’ve owned for 28 years — a tee I copped as a kid for $12 on sale at Pacific Sunwear with money I spent weeks saving — isn’t just a charming memento. It’s one small but important piece of my autobiography as written through all the jawnz I’ve coveted, copped and cherished over time…

The impulse to create a personal-jawn library goes against the grain of the ascendant semi-pathological fetishes for (a) reducing clutter at all costs, sending possessions to the curb en masse, and (b) refreshing the browser on an endless succession of e-commerce drops so that you’re always rocking “the latest s**t.”

What unites (a) and (b) is they both describe the behavior of someone with a WEAKENED SENSE OF PERSONAL HISTORY and a correspondingly WOBBLY SENSE OF SELF!

When a jawns enthusiast enters “B.I.G. B.U.C.S.” mode they can take an unhurried personal inventory, discover old gems they forgot they owned and, in the process, get a firmer sense of what their taste is and who they are…

With a robust personal-jawn library, though, you get the pleasure of rediscovering a pair of pants you loved ten years ago, then stuffed in the back of a drawer when their luster faded and trends shifted — only to see NOW, with fresh eyes, how fire they are again.

Trend cycles have accelerated to the frenetic degree that understanding them can require quantum-physics-multiverse-type thinking of a caliber that only very few people (such as the authors of Blackbird Spyplane) are capable of. For instance, skinny jeans are HELLA PLAYED to the point of FATAL UNROCKABILITY and yet, by the same exact token, they’re perched right on the BLEEDING EDGE OF COOL ??

And that’s where the B.I.G. B.U.C.S. come in. If you have a pair of beautiful fitted jeans that you loved intensely until fairly recently, at which point you decided they were torched and that a wider-cut pant was what the doctor ordered, “B.I.G. B.U.C.S.” Mindset holds that you should resist the temptation to toss them in the trash. Instead, just remove them from yr rotation and nestle them into yr personal-jawn library — not only to honor the love you once felt for them and to commemorate the experiences you had wearing them BUT ALSO as an investment in the near-inevitable near-“future you” scenario where pants with that silhouette are popping again!

For a great, surprising example of this, last week I chanced on a non-jawn parallel from the automotive world

This new Hy*ndai Grandeur EV concept car, based on a 1986 design, had the internet going justifiably NUTS … and it kind of embodies B.I.G. B.U.C.S. mindset??

This is a newly unveiled electric concept car from Hy*ndai that generated a lot of buzz on Twitter because it is fantastic in a way NOBODY was expecting. We weren’t expecting it from Hy*ndai — a company that probably no one on earth associates with surprise, much less dopeness — and we weren’t expecting it from an electric car, where the category-dominating aesthetic thus far has been all about bulbous, distended lines

In stark contrast, Hy*ndai made the delightful Mach 6+ choice to resuscitate the boxy-a** silhouette of their 1986 Grandeur, which was apparently a badge-swapped 1986 Mitsubishi Debonair II, pictured below… (2 cars with unbeatable angles & unbeatable names.)

Hy*ndai dug out a seemingly anachronistic silhouette out from their own archives — a silhouette that nobody was checking for / thinking about in the context of contemporary car design. But then people flipped for it because it’s sick as h*ll and, real talk, even though this car will likely never get made, its time has come! I would whip the f**k out of it!!

Rather than chasing trends, Hy*ndai went “closed system” mode, freaked the EV on their own terms, and they did it with a design they had sitting around for decades in their equivalent of a “personal jawn library.” At its core, that’s B.I.G. B.U.C.S. power distilled.

P❤️‍🔥E❤️‍🔥A❤️‍🔥C❤️‍🔥E — Jonah & Erin

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On the subject of record players, U can read our interview with Detroit Lion and Mach 3+ taste king Romeo Okwara about his hi-fi set up here.