There’s been a lot of online talk these past weeks about the ways in which Substack is reproducing some of the worst tendencies of the existing for-profit media structure — how it’s become a haven for white men with bad opinions who don’t want to be edited and just want to shout into echo chambers. I agree with a lot of this, and think there’s much, much more to say about how even a
"...We have to ride these people hard or nothing is going to change." Amen, Chris.
This is maybe one of the most important things I have learned about civic participation in this whole mess of 2020, Etc. You can't elect people and feel relieved and forget about them. You can't elect people and feel despair and think "well, we'll just have to see." I mean, you CAN do those things, but they're so much a part of why we're in such a mess right now. You elect people you think you can push to do the right thing, and then you push them.
When I stop to think about things I'm grateful for, top of the list is not only this understanding, but the community that's pushed ME into learning it.
Lovely interview - thank you! I read Chris' One Sentence Journal in a single evening at my parent's house after discovering it at Fact and Fiction. Would recommend it wholeheartedly to Culture Study readers and as a present for lovers of nature, poetry, and true Montana.
Samantha Irby's Substack (books/snacks/softcore) is my favorite thing in my inbox. I don't always read them when they come in, but I save them up for bad brain days and read them a bit at a time. Most of the time it's just her recapping Judge Mathis episodes in her inimitable voice and that's all I need: Sam judging someone's Accordion of Truth and a link to a nice candle.
Culture Study was my intro to Substack. A couple others that I have enjoyed:
Do You Mind by John Moe. Formerly host of "The Hilarious World of Depression," great content on mental health and life. https://johnmoe.substack.com/p/you-have-two-hands-in-order-to-high
I've also gotten a lot out of Illuminations by Samantha Rose Hill. She is working on a book on Hannah Arendt and shares finds and relevant thoughts. A sample:
"As we watch Donald Trump flailing from his perch, denying reality, and crying sabotage, I have been thinking a lot about Walter Benjamin.
In The Origin of German Tragic Drama, Benjamin reminds us that people are loyal to the accoutrements of power, not to the person who wields them. And in our current political moment, this seems like both a relief and a portent of what’s to come."
Thanks for this. I don't know Chris, but he sounds like many a bastard that I love with a chip on the shoulder that I sure as hell know. We'd be better off with more people who have the moral clarity to be able to say "No, fuck you" without hesitation or qualms.
We need more Chris like this in the world! And gumption to keep fighting for a world where everyone can just be outside enjoying the damn stars without someone putting a boot on their neck every waking moment.
I like reading Casey Newton's substack, Platformer. Quite informative on the ways of tech and social media.
I love Haley Nahman’s Maybe Baby.
I love Griefbacon by Helena Fitzgerald -- dreamy reflective writing on memories and connections and being alive and human in the world. Almost every post has a turn of phrase I'm wildly jealous of (in the most complimentary way possible) her for writing. I also love Emily Nunn's The Dept of Salad -- excellent recipes and food writing in a wonderfully accessible voice.
I like This Needs Hot Sauce - food writing and so much more! https://thisneedshotsauce.substack.com/
It's hard for me to think about literary life in Montana without remembering (fondly) my editorial internship at the Northern Lights Institute, helping the editor / publisher put together their eponymous magazine (https://mountainjournal.org/living-in-the-age-of-kakistocracy). Because I'd been in the creative writing program at UM for a while, I was familiar with the idea of a literature of place, but the connection between the editorial focus of Northern Lights the magazine and the innovative and generous approach of the Northern Lights Institute the think tank really made me care about… places in a much deeper way. I loved Chris's self-descriptions because they were so evocative of the Montana I miss (and not so much the modern big-C Conservative hellscape it seems to be calcifying into, but I digress).
I also had a small moment of recognition when he talked about the hat-positive / cattle-negative folks who trace their (white) ancestry back hundreds of years, because my family has roots in Montana back to before the Civil War. They did some good stuff (my great grandfather was a socialist labor agitator in Butte at a time when that could get you killed very easily), but I don't believe I ever really heard them talk much about Indians and they had a lot of Teutonic pride that, in my grandfather's case, edged creepily into eugenics territory.
Most of what I learned about the Métis came from the mystery novels of Peter Bowen, which are set in the northeastern part of Montana where a lot of the Red River Cree settled after Louis Riel's disastrous crusade got them chased out of Canada (I also read Chester Brown's strange and compelling graphic novel biography of Riel and recommend it as long as you're OK with a deeply eccentric white Canadian's take on First Nations history).
Anyway. I really liked the interview. Thanks to you for publishing it and Chris for talking to you for it.
From the desk of Alicia Kennedy is hands-down the best food writing going https://www.aliciakennedy.news/
Anne, I recently read about your payment structure in an article on Substack in Vanity Fair. I don't remember reading about your choice to go with a lump sum rather than a subscription dominated model. Have you written about this choice somewhere? If not, can you explain it sometime? The VF article seemed to indicate this was a special deal for you -- is that the case or are their other writers in the same boat?
This interview ruled. Thank you for continuing to introduce us all to delightful and brilliant voices.
It seems I have missed most of the ~ discourse ~ about Substack turning into a hellhole (for which I am not sorry). It makes sense that any type of social platform, including this one, would descend into madness, but I must say, I find all the newsletters I follow to be such a fucking delight — this one, Zeynep Tufekci just started one, Jasmine Guillory's has been a mainstay, Two Bossy Dames, HEATED, the list goes on and on.
I wouldn't say I necessarily enjoy Luke O'Neil's newsletter Welcome to Hell World (https://luke.substack.com/), but I find it very valuable to have an angry but compassionate guide to the current hellscape. I love Edith Zimmerman's comics and interviews and things (https://drawinglinks.substack.com/) and would, I think, even if I hadn't been a fan of The Hairpin / The Toast once upon a time. Speaking of which, when she writes it, Nicole Cliffe's (https://nicole.substack.com/) is a favorite, and her old compadre Daniel Lavery's newsletter The Shatner Chatner (https://www.shatnerchatner.com/) was the first I think I paid for (followed closely by his wife Grace's – https://grace.substack.com/; another one that's gone quiet lately so she can work on other writing, but I still miss it).
I find much of that top 20 list offensive and horrible. Many of those people do not need (or even particularly deserve) another prominent platform, especially – ESPECIALLY – it it puts them beyond the reach of editorial oversight. So many otherwise talented writers have been ruined by thinking they no longer need to be edited, and to make that your motivation to moving to a newsletter seems like an act of bad faith.