WooOOooOOw, here we are at the end of another year together — the millions of citizens of Spy Nation, assembled in the dying ‘21 light like as if we were a MEGAPOD OF COOL DOLPHINS splashing around, trading laughs & somber reminiscences in the blessed protected bioluminescent estuary that is this miraculous newsletter…
Many of us are wearing LIMITED-EDITION SPYPLANE CAPS & TEES that enhance our air of merriment and swag:
This week we are looking back at 2021. On Thursday we’ll unveil the “BLACKBIRD SPYPLANE 2021 SLAPPIES AWARDS” — our celebration of the SLAPPINGEST achievements we encountered over the last 12 months, across the arts & jawn sciences.
But today ?? We are celebrating a year of profound thoughts.
For starters: Blackbird Spyplane does a lot of legendary s**t, but near the top of the list has gotta be the fact that we expand readers’ minds, week in, week out, with unbeatable takes. This past year, the fascinating phenomena & mindsets we theorized included…
🌳 🐜 The benefits of doing a PICNIC HIKE, ideally on a WEEKDAY MORNING, no matter where U live, and “MICROGORPING” instead of working.
😵💫 How jawns that you initially find repellent — even to the point of nausea — might in fact be “ambassadors” from a bold & brilliant new aesthetic frontier, i.e. “The Ugly-Genius Matrix.”
🛠️ The dubious concept of “Blue-Collar Stolen Valor,” and Jawn Cultural Appropriation more generally.
🪱 “Collector Brain Worms” — about rare Visvim, New Balance collabs, and the pros and cons of compulsive completeism when it comes to jawns-copping.
🏪 The complex delights of trying to ONLY cop clothes I.R.L., a.k.a “the C.I.R.L.O.C. Mindset.”
🍝 How it’s dope to mess up yr clothes in the course of living a Life Well Lived rather than be fussy & precious about them as if you were a MUSEUM RESTORER and not a FLESH-AND-BLOOD jawn vivant !
⚗️ How anyone who wants to try and sell you “The Perfect _____ [T-shirt, Socks, Hoodie]” is a likely huckster that U should regard with immense SUSPICION!!
D*mn — that’s what I call KILOTONS OF WISDOM from this beautiful 100% reader-supported electronic-mail magazine…
But that’s not all!! Because here’s an amazing thing about Blackbird Spyplane: various GUEST GOATS visit us regularly to bless us with visionary mind gems of their own and, in the process, expand OUR minds profoundly —
So let’s salute THE YEAR IN SPYPLANE GOATLY GUEST WISDOM, too …
🧠 SETH ROGEN came thru & taught us that Arne Jacobsen’s “Cylinda Line” ashtray (above), with a concave swivel top so you can dump the ash down into a hidden chamber, is FIRE and still readily coppable:
💎💎💎 “Jacobsen killed it with those. They’re one of the best-designed ashtrays — they’re deep, they stay clean, and they still manufacture them.”
🧠 Back in January, PHOEBE BRIDGERS taught us about how she used to ride sheep (“mutton bust”) in youth rodeos and how some DELUSIONAL SELF-CONFIDENCE can unlock HIDDEN POTENTIAL in each & every one of us:
💎💎💎 “I didn’t know how scary it was going to be until I was on the sheep, and I cried when I fell, but when I found out I won I literally stopped crying immediately.
“I think what it says about me is that I need to be immediately good at something or I just don’t do it. Or I at least have to delude myself into thinking I’m good, because, like, the music I used to make in high school was horrible — I was writing these fake songs and belting everything with this bad vocal affectation, but I thought I was the next Bob Dylan.
“I remember being the loudest girl in choir, always, and one time this girl next to me said, ‘Can you sing quieter?’ I thought I was the star of the show. So yeah, my delusion led me to mutton-bust and into music.”
🧠 DEVENDRA BANHART taught us that we can free ourselves “from the hell of taking everything personally” by “recognizing all beings as our mother”:
💎💎💎 “That idea was one of the first things I found very attractive about Buddhism in general, because it didn’t really require belief — I don’t need to believe in reincarnation and don’t need to believe that everyone was my mother and I was theirs: I just need to have that attitude, and it makes it easier to put up with how angry I can be, or how judgmental, and how easily annoyed. ‘This person is annoying me — but they were once my mother, and me theirs.’ That concept was very, very attractive.”
🧠 Detroit Lion and Mach 3+ jawn appreciator ROMEO OKWARA taught us how to assemble a hi-fi system and other accoutrements of a “popping vibe corner” to soothe yr soul at the cribbo…
🧠 Jacobin labor reporter ALEX PRESS taught us that, if you are appalled by Am*zon’s multi-pronged heinousness, a consumer boycott is fine but ultimately a “drop in the bucket” :
💎💎💎 “I recently spoke to Am*zon workers at a warehouse in Poland, and asked about people who feel conflicted about using Am*zon. They said, If you really feel guilty or conflicted, find the organizing at the company that’s happening near you and support it. Now in Poland they have unions, so they said, ‘Donate to a strike fund,’ but here in the U.S. there are probably facilities in your area with workers who are raising demands, who could use your help in some way. Really what I’m trying to get at is that we can’t just act as consumers — that’s how Am*zon wants us to act.”
🧠 MICHAEL STIPE taught us that we are not alone in craving good COMPANY, a popping CHEESE PLATE and a fine APERITIVO every d*mn evening!! :
💎💎💎 “I do get sad at dusk, like every animal does, and it’s nice to have people around during that moment. I was just reflecting the other day on the importance of having an aperitif and a plate of olives, some good cheese, and good company at dusk to talk about where your day took you.”
🧠 SUZANNE SIMARD, the legendary forest ecologist and O.G. “wood wide web” theorizer, shared what FORESTS have to teach us about LINKING, BUILDING, SHINING & PROSPERING:
💎💎💎 “Scientists have shown over and over that, in diverse communities — whether it’s grasslands or forests — the health of individual species increases when you have biological diversity. That demonstrates that the best survival strategy is cooperation, and yet people have gotten away with telling us about this capitalist notion of ‘survival of the fittest’ — that in nature, dominance reigns supreme. But there’s no such thing as a ‘self-made’ person who deserves to dominate all others. That’s nonsense.”
(Suzanne also pondered why magic mushies “want” to help us get high as s**t — truly an interview not to be missed)
🧠 In July, JOHN MAYER came thru & taught us about the PENDULUM-STYLE MOTION OF TRENDS & TASTES by whipping up a highly compelling micro-history of contemporary pop songwriting:
💎💎💎 “Music went into a cloyingly sweet era by the end of the ‘80s, where the melodicism turned into this gummy, syrupy thing, and eventually there was a sea change where people said, ‘We’ll do anti-melody, or obtuse melody,’ which is what Nirvana did — they had a melodic sensibility, but it’s almost inverted, it’s not what we hear as sweetness. Then around 2002 there was this singer-songwriter moment of, ‘How much sweetness can you deliver in a song?’ — and I was part of that.
“Around 2011, the idea returns that being stingy with melody is what’s cool, and it was, because people had gone too extreme with being so melodic. Now we love asymmetrical song composition — as perfected by Frank Ocean. Post-’Pyramids,’ we go, ‘I could be melodic, but I choose not to. I’m not going to paint a face, I’m going to paint shapes.’ Then everyone spoofs that and you get people painting impressionistic shapes — and at a certain point, people go, ‘I really wanna see a face again!’ No offense to anyone doing triangles, but I wanna see humanity in the music.”
🧠 #1 Chef MINA STONE taught us how to make a DELICIOUS EXTREMELY SIMPLE ONE-POT SPAGHETTI that we cheffed up at Spyplane HQ a minimum of ~20x this year AND she taught us a simple rule for buying FIRE OLIVE OIL: make sure all the olives come from the same region.
💎💎💎 “It’s this little bit of information that helps you pick out good olive oil and not pay too much for it… You can smell it immediately when you open the bottle.”
🧠 Whim-chasing upcycler NICOLE MCLAUGHLIN taught us to use our IMAGINATION to wring VALUE and JOY out of everything we cop, whether it’s cutting old gloves into a jacket or turning a chalk bag into a PLANT POT !!
💎💎💎 “We’re all guilty of buying things we never wear — things that sit in yr closet and you donate them with the tags still on. That’s the grossest feeling. That bums me out. So when I buy things these days I’m conscious of that, and I try to get use out of everything, even if it means turning it into a project. Everything’s fair game.”
🧠 Tyler, The Creator taught us that if U really love a shirt U should wear it everyday, including to an orgy.
🧠 Relatedly, Thomas Mars from Phoenix taught us to just staple your shirt if it starts to rip.
🧠 Relatedly, Porches taught us to simply cut holes in yr clothes if they get stained.
🧠 DANIEL ARNOLD the brilliant NYC street photographer whose book PICKPOCKET just dropped via Elara, taught us how to bless & delight friends with UNEXPECTED ANONYMOUS EBAY GIFTS:
💎💎💎 “On eBay, I take random sideways stabs and try to be surprised. I keep it in the clothing category, but I’ll think of a name or a place and see what turns up. And what ends up happening because of being inundated with stuff is that I buy friends presents anonymously — stuff randomly shows up at their houses from me. I like the power that the internet gives you to create inexplicable little pieces of magic…
“It’s a little rebellion against chaos, to connect a piece of flotsam in the world with someone who’d appreciate it.”
🧠 DANIELLE HAIM taught us why PHOEBE PHILO is the GOAT.
🧠 SANDY LIANG taught us the secret to Chinese Elder Swag:
💎💎💎 “Ultimately everyone wants to dress like they don’t care, like they just put it together, and cool Chinatown grandmas and grandpas actually don’t care. All they care about is, like, getting vegetables for dinner and picking up their grandkids from school. They wear what they have and don’t think too much about it, and that’s part of the beauty. It’s mismatched and amazing.”
🧠 And ERIC WAREHEIM came thru talkin’ about a certificate he got from his high school basketball coach for nailing a monster game-winning dunk, & taught us that being ‘different’ can be a SWAG-UNLOCKING SUPERPOWER in disguise:
💎💎💎 “It meant a lot just to get any praise at all — I didn’t really get good grades, I was really lost, trying to find out who I was, and soon afterward I quit sports for good and started making films and focusing on music. So I kind of look at it as this transitional thing — it’s a motivational symbol to me. It hangs at my house & I look at it every day, and if I’m having a bad day I’ll be like, ‘I can f*cking dunk.’
“…It’s a symbol to me that says, Use all your freakish qualities and try to make them positive, even in what feel like the worst circumstances.”
SAVOR THESE GEMS and we’ll see you T 🏆 H 🏆 U 🏆 R 🏆 S 🏆 D 🏆 A 🏆 Y — Jonah & Erin
The full Blackbird Spyplane Interview archive lives here & our Profound Essay archive is here.
It is not possible to create a better newsletter than BBSP
Amazing year for the ‘Sletter, can’t wait for 2022