You're gonna want to break this one up into chunks, I think?
Heads up, today’s newsletter is HUGE. I apologize for nothing.
“The first duty of everybody in life is to realize that they're a piece of shit.”
“Selfish and self-centered and not very good. You're willing to sacrifice 20 thousand people in another country just so you can go to a Wings concert. (Looks at the director) You sacrifice the lives of a hundred thousand Chinese female babies just so you can rent this fucking camera and do your stupid art project. No problem! (Laughs) You're a piece of shit.
Once you realize you're a piece of shit it's not so hard to take. Because then you don't have this feeling that you're a good person all the time.
And let me tell you something, feeling that you're a good person all the time is like having a brand new car with no scratches on it. It's a real responsibility which is almost impossible to live up to. Being a piece of shit and then occasionally doing something that's good and true is a much easier place to be. I think that's really important and I always try to raise my kids to understand that they're not that terrific. And that not being that terrific, that's okay 'cause most people who say that they're terrific, Bill Clinton, Cardinal Egan, anybody you want to talk about, they're not so terrific. Martha Stewart, they're not so fucking terrific either. And there's nothing wrong with being not-so-terrific. In fact, it's what the whole ballgame is about, being not-so-terrific, and accepting it.” - Kenny Shopsin (RIP)
This quote is from a documentary from 2004 called I Like Killing Flies about iconic NYC restauranteur Kenny Shopsin. The last few times I was in NYC, I stayed around the corner from the new-ish Shopsin’s location in Essex Market. It’s easily one of my favorite breakfast spots on Earth.
Also, it’s been changed since Kenny passed a few years back, but if you’ve never seen an OG Shopsin’s menu, let’s change that. This menu is a giant middle finger to the clean aesthetics, maybe that’s why I love it so much?
I got this quote from Foster, btw. If you work in media and long for takes on the general circle-jerkery of high-prestige media translated for people who didn’t grow up on the Upper West Side, he’s your guy.
“Trump is first and foremost a conman. He wants his supporters to think he is invincible. He wants you to think that he can’t be stopped.
Trump has been compared to Hitler. The better comparison is Mussolini. Mussolini spun elaborate lies and presented himself as invincible. This was a problem for Mussolini because he promised “winning,” and Italy did not win. When it was clear he was losing, he crumbled. We all know Trump is a conman. One of his cons is to present himself as a winner.
We also know that he got where he is by cheating, but his base doesn’t care. They think he’s a winner because of how they define “winning.” If you think nobody has principles, the winner is the one who ends up on top.”
The Strongman Con (Teri Kanefield)
The Office Hours Podcast returns to your inboxes this Thursday! Going forward, Office Hours will now hit your inboxes twice a week. Tuesdays = the usual newsletter goodness. Thursday will be a pod that will be for PAID SUBSCRIBERS ONLY. For the month of December, I'll be offering pods for free as a preview, like how they offer free HBO every fall for a week or two. My first guest will be The Atlantic's Amanda Mull.
ICYMI: I was on Max Wastler's podcast!
Here’s a weird one:
Right after the election, I tweeted this out:
And a few weeks later, longtime Office Hours reader — and die-hard St. Bonaventure hoops fan — Kate S. pointed out something insane:
Rewatch “A Benihana Christmas” (Season 3; Episodes 10/11) this week. It breaks down perfectly. If you REALLY want to go for it, rewatch this scene, but this time, pretend Kevin is an uneducated white male voter being persuaded to vote for the two "parties":
Crazy stuff, right? I also did King of the Hill characters, if you're into that sort of thing.
I don’t know a kickflip from a kufi, but I’m OBSESSED with a few things in the skate world. I love damn near everything Miami’s Andrew (Andrew, not that weirdo “Drew” Justin Bieber brand) has put out, including the best tote bag of 2020:
I’m SUPER into Donny the Dybbuk outta NYC right now. The Dybbuk name alone is a sick cultural reference.
Speaking as a poser, this guy’s output is cooler than anything Supreme or any brand that built equity via skate culture right now, save Lakai’s Larry June sneakers (that sold out IMMEDIATELY).
He makes custom sneakers…
He skates and shoots skate videos with big names in that world like Evan Mock and Tyreek Morrison…
True story: I slid in his DM’s to get an interview a few months back. Couldn’t have been nicer, but guess what? HE DOESN’T DO INTERVIEWS. That in and of itself is the coolest thing about him!
Before we wrap up this section: One time for one of my favorite restaurants ever, Chicago’s dearly-departed Cafe Marie-Jeanne here. Wifey and I lived around the corner the whole time they were open and we’ll miss it dearly. Here’s hoping we can get a solution to help out all the small businesses out here, not just the ones that serve insanely good food. I’ll dream of that cheeseburger for years to come.
Lord, I gotta touch Houston when we get this vaccine!!!!
Speaking of Houston…here’s a bunch of really amazing chopped and screwed music (calling this stuff “slowed + reverb” is gentrification, y’all oughta be ashamed!)
Two weeks ago, hell froze over.
Jeezy and Gucci Mane’s history has been covered to death (pun not intended) so I’d like to focus instead on a really good marketing lesson that happened.
Let’s talk about the difference between soft power and hard power.
Now, when I say "soft", some will assume I mean "weak".
Just the opposite:
"In politics (and particularly in international politics), soft power is the ability to attract and co-opt, rather than coerce (contrast hard power). In other words, soft power involves shaping the preferences of others through appeal and attraction.”
Now, compare that to hard power: Hard power is the use of military and economic means to influence the behavior or interests of other political bodies. This form of political power is often aggressive (coercion), and is most immediately effective when imposed by one political body upon another of lesser military and/or economic power.
Hard power contrasts with soft power, which comes from diplomacy, culture and history. Even if you didn’t take political science classes, you know both of these concepts already.
This is hard power:
Make sense? Now, this is soft power:
Soft power is the ability to win with culture rather than force. I can't speak for the streets, but that moment is a classic demonstration of the cultural power of Atlanta. Just them even agreeing to participate in that sponsored event created a ripple effect that will change a lot of people’s lives. Culture affects so much in our lives that when applied correctly, you can get a lot more done using it than you can simply by gooning someone out, especially in the corporate world.
Another great example of hard vs soft power?
Now, depending on when you grew up, Dame Dash's infamous management style is either iconic or idiotic. This clip sums up a lot of meetings i've been in: The loudest one thinks they're making an example, but the only thing they're proving is how insecure they are in the negotiation. I recommend all young kings and queens trying to get into the music industry to read up on soft power. Hope this is a lesson for those who catch it! Beware: The next budget you save could be your own!
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Office Hours with Ernest Wilkins is written and curated by Ernest Wilkins in Chicago, Illinois.
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