4 min read

If Springsteen were a muppet and other thoughts

One last email of some redeeming things from this year

This is my last email to you in 2020 because I believe all of us deserve a break. Paid subscribers will still get the bonus stuff for December next week ::cough::thatcoverofSeventeener::cough:: but otherwise I’m signing off for a sec. You understand, right? You want to read something on paper, or stare at a wall and try to forget that a lot of 2020 happened. Same.

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I wanted to write a year-in-review, but to be honest, it feels like ten years have gone by and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about any of it, so I’m going to need some more time. Whatever that is. Until then, I will leave you with a few things I came across this year that made things a bit more bearable and made me forget, at least momentarily, that I’m supposed to be on tour.

They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib

Have you ever had someone explain a philosophical concept to you and you realize that you already understand it but just never had a word for it before? That’s what this book does but about things like Bruce Springsteen concerts or Carly Rae Jepsen or The Wonder Years. Whatever feelings those things gave me, I don’t think I actually had words for them like I do now that I’ve read these essays. I didn’t start reading Hanif’s work until this year and I have this visceral feeling that I’ve committed a crime by waiting so long. I don’t know Hanif personally, but based on the shows and time period he describes in a lot of these essays, I feel like we must’ve been at the same show at the same time at *some* point. That likely Venn diagram combined with his stunning observations on music and life in general made this a book that would routinely jumpstart my urge to write music. I guess that just means it’s inspiring!

Dan Ozzi interviewing Todd Taylor

This is two of my friends having a conversation at a time when we couldn’t just hang out whenever we wanted. But if you’ve ever wanted to listen to Todd Taylor, publisher of Razorcake, talk about music and the inner workings and history of the zine, this is for you.

The app Notion

As many of you know, I’ve been a huge advocate of bullet journaling for years now and suggest it to anyone who is trying to get their life organized. Not being overwhelmed by my to-do list is my key to existing. But once I figured out how to shift a lot of that day-to-day task tracking and note-taking into an app, I was sold. I still use a bullet journal-ish notebook for my monthly calendar and miscellaneous notes, but Notion has been my daily tool for the past month or so. It’s free, and you can check out the general system I use for that here. If anyone is interested in using this and wants me to make a template, please raise your hand, because I will totally use that as a reason to procrastinate.

Adopting Lucy

I got used to having a dog around by sometimes taking care of Cassia’s dog, Poppy. Poppy is a wheaton-fox-terrier-muppet mix that is incredibly well behaved by dog standards and I love her. So of course I had to go and rescue a tiny maniac who just wants to cuddle with you when she’s not barking at strangers like she’s going to murder them. That’s what I get for making her middle name Bonkers. I’ve wanted to adopt a dog since I was a kid and finally being able to do that this year has been amazing. I hope she likes going on tour one day and that you all get to meet her. If you’re in Los Angeles and looking to rescue a dog, check out MaeDay Rescue who found Lucy for me.

Look at that scruffy little face!

Dulcé Sloan on Comedy Central Standup

This still makes me cry-laugh and it’s the part of me who is also new to Los Angeles and in their 30s. When this is over I hope I can catch her at Largo or something.

Bleachers collaborating with Bruce Springsteen

Somewhere in my brain is a book (not an essay, a book) about the way that New Jersey’s musical legacy and Springsteen combined to form Jack Antonoff and the band Bleachers. When given the opportunity to ever bring this up, my brain overheats and short-circuits. So when it was announced that the new Bleachers song Chinatown was featuring the Boss, I needed to find a fainting couch. Not in a fan-girl way (which would be fine) but in a media-scholar-at-The-Fales-Collection-for-the-first-time way. It’s beautiful and too much and not fair and I love it.

Artwork by Felicia Chiao

I’m pretty sure I came across her work once lockdown had already started, and the combination of beauty and isolation/lonliness really hit home. I’m always a bit jealous of artists who can really double down on a visual world for themselves because I’m incredibly indecisive, so I love getting lost in the clouds and flowers and plants and shadows for a while. She also has a series of small drawings that combine a pigeon with the word FUCK, so I’m all for that too.


A post shared by Felicia Chiao (@feliciachiao)

Thanks again for reading and being here. I have a lot of fun stuff coming up for 2021 and look forward to sharing that with you all. You can’t really post reviews for newsletters, but if you have any thoughts or feedback or wild praise, feel free to hit reply or put it in the comments! I’d love to be able to tell folks what y’all think of this thing. My favorite so far is “generally really enjoyable!”.

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