How to make dope friends and talk to dope people about dope things
Plus the CURSED pitfalls of "brand activations"
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Talking to dope people … making dope friends … building a dope community … linking & building in the dopest possible way while AVOIDING CURSED “BRAND ACTIVATIONS” …
These are the themes coursing & crackling through today’s sletter, where we busted open our “Personal Spyplane” dossier of reader-submitted questions and tackled queries on the subject of meaningful I.R.L. connections…. profoundly.
— Jonah & Erin
“What’s the best way to compliment a rando’s fit + get intel?” — @a_detweiler
When I’m out and about doing fire s**t that to me (Jonah) is normal, I compliment and ask about stranger’s outfits all the time. You should feel no trepidation about doing this, either. Unless they’re a weird freak — or unless you yourself give off “weird-freak energy,” which is moot because if yr reading Blackbird Spyplane then by definition you are a pleasant person who proceeds from pure intentions in all things — they will 99.9% of the time be stoked to tell you about whatever jawn(s) caught your eye. You will likely brighten their day — because it’s tight when someone else notices & appreciates something about you — and maybe they will go on to be that much kinder to people they encounter, and you’ll have done your part in the daily “virtuous circle of swag-boosting.”
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Say it’s some younger broski with a great haircut rocking a Mach 3+ knit. I might open with a sturdy “King,” then hit him with something like “that sweater’s fantastic, what’s the deal?”
Or, say it’s a vibey older lady gardening in her front yard in some ill sandals. I might be, like, “I’m sorry to interrupt, but those are great sandals,” then let ma reply before asking where she found them. Maybe I’ll ask her about what’s really good in the garden, while I’m at it, and learn the names of beautiful flowers that are, to her, sources of pride — perhaps she’ll turn out to be an accomplished home cannabis grower and bless me with some of her surplus loud. U never know. Remain open to discovery, in other words, but do be prepared to keep it pushing once the exchange has run its natural course.
This relates to what the street-casting veteran Jennifer Venditti talked about when we interviewed her about how she scouts actors & models on the sidewalk: If you approach strangers on the up and up, expressing genuine interest, they will typically sense that they’re in the presence of a kindred spirit / trustworthy soul. And before you know it they’re telling you about some memorable journey they took to a foreign land you’ve been meaning to visit, where they stumbled into a bazaar and copped the vibey patchwork hat you noticed from an artisan whose business card they still have.
However, if we’re talking about online encounters — e.g., in the comments below a stranger’s IG fit pic — it can be trickier to have this kind of free-flowing conversation. Because of the antisocial, “attention-economy-based” way social media are designed, you risk treating a stranger like they’re an automated intel repository.
Case in point, “ID ON THE PANTS?” has become a commonplace thing to say on Instagram, but this is not a normal or chill way to start talking to a fellow human. You are talking to a person, not to “Siri,” baby!! Try & let things breathe. If you feel compelled to say something, lead with an exuberantly kind “I love those pants, whatta color god d*Mn !!” rather than bluntly demanding info… This definitely applies when you are hollering at the mf Rodin of Recon 😉 !!
Great clothes function, among other things, as living, breathing story-talismans, so they offer a way to converse in sneakily intimate ways with strangers. Not because the stranger is hot and you are swerving on them (though swerving on hot people is dope — just refer to the above point about weird freak energy) and not in a purely transactional “ID on the pants” spirit, but because you respect the broadened horizons and nourishing burst of amity & fellowship that can result from an encounter with an interesting stranger.
RELATEDLY & IMPORTANTLY — someone called @asssho.le asked us about “How 2 find I.R.L. friends in the modern age with similar mach 6 recon interests, taste and values?”
Man, we feel this question. There’s so much loneliness built into modern life, and at this current ultra-virtualized and atomized juncture, I.R.L. friendship might be as imperiled as it’s ever been in human history ?
One rudimentary but powerful answer is to delete cursed delivery apps like Gr*bhub and C*viar from your phone, stop copping books on cursed Am*zon and, instead, leave your d*mn house and go outside !
Another obvious yet inarguable answer is to seek out popping cultural events I.R.L. near you. We’re talkin’ time-honored functions such as concerts, DJ nights, block parties, cookouts, book fairs, craft fairs, running clubs, cycling clubs, hiking clubs, ceramics classes, nature walks, pick-up soccer games, gallery openings, some nice lady singing opera in a community garden for a small crowd assembled on blankets, etc. And when you are at these functions and you see someone rocking a cool jawn, refer to the first question and break the d*mn ice with a compliment.
If you live in a place where popping s**t like this doesn’t happen much, consider getting the f**k outta there OR consider whether you are the kind of person to make something popping happen yourself — to, like, start programming a chill movie night at an amenable local pizza joint or café, where you can play sick cinema that will serve as a beacon for like-minded people you can link & build with, etc., etc. Remember the blessed Avatar club (which we wrote about) from How to With John Wilson ?? U could do a version of that for any number of cultural touchstones.
A counterintuitive side tip for jawnz enthusiasts is to seek out functions and communities that are not (explicitly) oriented around fashion, because true style manifests anywhere Real Ones congregate, and true taste can only develop from exposure to a variety of “extra-disciplinary” inputs …
But, lastly, a WARNING:
To build a “balanced social diet,” seek out events & communities that also have as little to do with commerce as possible. Your enemy here is the insidious contemporary phenomenon whereby all social interactions are “transactionalized.” A prime example of this is “brand activations,” where you’re gonna be surrounded by a preponderance of thirst-lords on the make and sponsor banners that say bummer s**t on them like “powered by C*sh App.”
Sometimes cool small shops & jawn-makers will have great parties, obviously, and sometimes dope s**t will come with a big sponsor attached and still be fun & attract interesting people — but when the s**t tips too far over into the dark side, you will emerge feeling hollower and lonelier than before, like you just put in work as an unpaid extra on a bad movie about grustle culture !!
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P🔧E🔧A🔧C🔧E🔧 — J & E
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