[SIC] 160: Fugue State of Beige Majesty

Vol 4, Number 4

Hi, all.

Welcome back. First and foremost, important to acknowledge that this week’s title is lifted from Rachel Tashjian’s Opulent Tips, which as a piece of weekly composition is everything [SIC] never wants to be but secretly wishes it was.  I can’t really link to it because of how Rachel mediates her subscriptions (by invitation only), but it’s highly, highly recommended if you can find it.

Second, have to send a big thanks to Isaac Bess and Chris Kent, who spread the gospel of [SIC] to their sizable followings this week, and sent a bunch of new subscribers. Thank you both. Chris’s description of the newsletter as a "round-up of weak signals, emerging trends and 'Huh? Interesting'" struck a chord with me. Borrowing it heretofore. If you find yourself similarly inclined, feel free to share. And if you feel like supporting with (business expense-able corporate) money, well - please do! A button follows. I’ll keep publishing irrespective. But you’ll get a big personal thank you. ;)

Speaking of thanks, shouts to regular contributors Tim Nolan and Iolanda Carvalho for suggestions this week. Highly, highly appreciated! And everybody else - your ideas are welcome.

No [SIC] Talk this week (no IG live at all), but past episodes are in my grid @dietznutz. Have a look, I’m always interested to hear what my newsletter audience thinks of those.

Lastly before the links: Art this week is taken from a group show at [SIC] fave gallery Halsey McKay. Always worth a visit if you’re in the Hamptons. Or on Instagram.

x Ben

Jim Shaw Alt Right Myths #3, Frankfurt Schoolhouse Rocks!, 2020

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  • Dirt manages to make the whole “devious licks” thing seem deep and nuanced.  

  • TikTok's Americancore meme critiques cultural appropriation by exoticizing the familiar. Who has the last laugh? America as an Internet Aesthetic  (The New Yorker)

  • Also, this. Via Understanding TikTok: Fake people are actually real but a text overlay is adding another identity layer. Sounds weird? Key Quote: “I think it's really fun, like it's just a goofy light-phearted thing” (Statenews

  • Via Charter;  interesting read on Future of Work. ‘You Will Work For a Protocol Someday (Collaborative Fund)

  • Via Today in Tabs: Welcome to the WORST TWEET EVER CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNAMENT THREAD! Which is both a pretty succinct reminder of what Twitter is for, and a less succinct encapsulation of why I dislike it so much. (Twitter)

  • The Beauty Industry Is Going All-In On Climate Action  (Coveteur)

  • But Kermit was right: being green isn't easy (The New Statesman)

  • Case in point, via The Micromobility Newsletter: Erm. A new paper shows that, compared to driving a privately owned car, using ride-hail results in a ~20% increase in fuel consumption and ~60% increase in external costs to society from crashes, congestion, and noise.

  • On the other hand, You May Already Be Wearing the World’s Most Sustainable Jeans (Reasons to Be Cheerful

  • Meanwhile,  electric bikes jolt U.S. cities (Axios)

  • So, we’re all gonna end up on scooters, via The Micromobility Newsletter: The state of California called micromobility “critical” to achieving carbon neutrality in a new executive order on climate change (Gov.CA

  • Related: via Future of Transportation: How to build roller skates (NYT).

  • Via Public AnnouncementDude, Where’s My Stuff? Stuck in the supply chain, probs. (JP Morgan)

  • Blame it on the chain, via Morning Brew: Dollar Tree said yesterday that it’s adding items that cost $1.25 and even $1.50, because they’re running out of dollar stuff. 

  • Via Charter: The new decorating trend for offices is “resimercial.” With couches, rugs, coffee tables, floor lamps, artwork, and other domestic flourishes, offices are looking more like homes.

  • Via Motive Unknown: Why everybody’s hiring but nobody’s getting hired (Vox)

  • So via Retail Innovation Week: there’s a boom in people reselling their home furnishings (Sourcing Journal)

  • And Via PSFK:  The movement to stop buying new clothes is becoming more popular. (Fast Company)


  • Bode’s ‘one-of-a-kind’ range is really fun to look at and imagine finding occasion to wear (less so to imagine paying for…) 

  • Via After School: Banana Republic’s going for the Complex audience (Complex)

  • Tho… via Motive Unknown: Gap and Benetton once ruled fashion—and their success ultimately led to their demise (Fast Company)

  • Gucci Vault (its platform to showcase new designers) is a win.  (Vogue Business) 

  • As was Moncler’s wildly over the top MONDOGENIUS film experience (Moncler) *Disclosure: I co-hosted a sponsored series of discussions this week about MONDOGENIUS on Clubhouse)

  • Influencers are wearing digital versions of physical clothes now. Seeding physical samples can be costly and time-consuming; now, brands are promoting designs with realistic 3D renders. (Vogue Business)

  • From Tim Nolan: "Nice interview with [designer and artist] Eric Elms here. I went to the opening of his new shop a few months back." (Maekan)

  • Speaking of stores, via Retail Innovation Week: So interesting. Freitag’s concept store in Seoul is really a distribution center. Given that supply chain issues are coming to the fore of cultural consciousness, the idea of socializing the moment of transaction next to the moment of delivery makes sense. (Freitag)

The Arts 

  • [SIC] Homie Andrew Kuo designed a new flag, at the request of the NYT

  • Danish Artist Runs Away With Museum's Cash and Calls it Art (Hyperallergic)

  • Elsewhere, artists are present. Elena Ferrante talks to Marina Abramovic (FT

  • Via The Slowdown: The New York Public Library’s beloved Picture Collection, a remarkable resource of visual images cut from magazines, catalogues, and books that has been available since 1915 (NYPL)

  • Amid the Truly Die-Hard Collectors at Art Basel (Vanity Fair)

Matt Kenny Summer Panic on Vasey, 2021

Entertainment + IP

  • Via 1440: It was eviscerated by critics and earned just $15M during its opening weekend 20 years ago. And yet, Zoolander has become a classic. (Esquire)

  • How "Blue Steel" Predicted Selfie Culture (GQ)

  • I’m no cinephile but I loved A.S. Hamrah's episode of the Apology pod (Spotify)

  • While [SIC] Homie, Devon Ojas talked audiophilia on the At a Distance podcast (Instagram)

  • Related in some ways: notable podcast How Long Gone’s Jason Stewart interrogates (hilariously) how podcasts get paid for (sort of). (Dirt). 

  • The New Statesman interviewed Jarvis Cocker, the founder and frontman of Pulp, about nostalgia, his proudest moments, and tabloid scrutiny.

  • Writing the follow up to Bleach, Kurt Cobain’s money-making idea was apparently that he and Krist would become janitors. The New Statesman on 30 years of Nirvana’s Nevermind

  • Fire Music: Coltrane, Coleman, Dolphy’s death: a documentary charts the 1960s’ free jazz movement  (4 Columns)

  • [SIC] Homie Sam Valenti’s reverent introduction of Trevor Jackson’s Herb 17 gives credit where credit is due. The mix is very ultraloungey, but also Billy Idol is there? (Instagram / Spotify)

Platforms & Influencers

  • Average People Now Run the Influencer Economy, and Brands Must Embrace User-Generated Content (Adweek)

  • But, but: Fame can make you crazy and the internet has democratized that experience (New Yorker)

  • And via Motive Unknown: TikTok and Reels are Turning Some People Against Their Favourite Musicians (VICE)

  • Ergo? Via Beats & Bytes:  Discord is teaming up with YouTube to allow users to play YouTube videos within the Discord app.

  • Via Understanding TikTok: updated version of TikTok’s Creator Marketplace, including more performance insight.  Brands can now list their campaigns for interested creators to self-apply.

  • Meanwhile via Axios Future: Spotify reports results of its study that conveniently suggests suggest digital audio and ads seem to generate more engagement and emotional activation than other forms of media — which is a useful insight for anyone selling ads against streaming audio.

Marketing & Advertising

Media Business

Metaverse & Web3

Food & Drink 

  • Faux Meat Falters at the Drive-Thru (Bloomberg Businessweek)

  • Via Protocol: Lab-grown meat is supposed to be inevitable. The science tells a different story (The Counter)

  • And via Future Perfect: The myth of regenerative ranching (The New Republic)

  • We pamper our pets, we want happy meat, and we celebrate vaccines that have been tested on caged creatures. When it comes to animals, our cognitive dissonance is greater than ever. (Beside)

  • Via Marginal Revolution: Interview with a Michelin restaurant inspector (Luxeat)


Things to Do 

  • This weekend in In LA, go see DASHCAM: Dash Snow’s Photographs of Life at Moran Moran, curated by Matthew Higgs. (Moranmoran)

  • Anytime, via Franchise: Seasons of des pair: Fall Edition is out. Spooky/uncanny essays, short stories, poems, and more, from an international grouping of writers. Order your copy here.

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