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My first book of nonfiction, The Anthropocene Reviewed , will be published in May of 2021 and is available for preorder now:

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 (00:00) to (02:00)

Hello! Hi! I hope that this livestream finds you well. Thanks for, uh, thanks for being here.

I'm got to make sure -- I have to make sure that everyone can hear me. That's always a source of significant stress for me when I'm doing a livestream. Last time I did a livestream, I accidentally had the camera just show the weird rug I use as soundproofing, and I wasn't even visible.

This is a huge improvement over that, at least so far. I even have a light, that Sarah set up for me because I'm a very-- very low level of competence at this stuff.  Okay! Um, first, I want to tell you-- I wanted to give you an update on the circles.

Before we talk about the book, let's talk about the circles. So many of you, on the Nerdfighter subreddit, in Tuataria, on Twitter and Reddit and Facebook -- all over the place, have been making your own circle art, and it has moved me so deeply. Thank you for drawing circles, and sharing them with me.

I hope it brings you the same kind of solace it brings me. Here's my circle update. This is the current situation of the circle.

I'm drawing-- for those of you who don't know, I'm drawing 170,000 circles. Um, it may take a while. But I'm hoping to draw 170,000 circles eventually on this piece of paper.

Now, I've run into a huge problem which is what you're looking at right here is--according to this extremely sophisticated, cunning technique that I use--is 15,500 circles. So this is less than 10% of the circles. But if you're a close observer you'll note that it is more than 10% of the paper.

So...we'll deal with that problem at some point but not today because there's other stuff going on.

 (02:00) to (04:00)

So, uh, I talk about this a lot in the new episode of my podcast "The Anthropocene Reviewed", but just to say the stuff I guess at the beginning before I talk about how the book came to be--I have a book coming out.

It's a book of nonfiction; it's a book of essays they're inspired by--and in most cases taken from--my podcast "The Anthropocene Reviewed". It's my first book of nonfiction, and I am very excited and nervous, and I have been excitedly and nervously waiting to tell you about this for a couple months, so yeah.

I started writing "The Anthropocene Reviewed" which is a podcast that Stan and Rosianna and I make with wonderful collaborators at WNYC--I started making it back in 2017. I wrote the first one in December of 2017, and so for almost the last 3 years I've been making this podcast where I try to write about the places, I guess, where my life intersects the larger forces that I see, you know, moving the human story. So whether I'm writing about history or sports, I try to write about what it's like in this little corner of the Anthropocene--what it's been like for me.

It's been an incredibly fulfilling project. It's the most fun I've had writing since before I started--um, before I published "Looking for Alaska". It's been purely joyful and the response to the podcast has been overwhelming and extremely generous and--and I, I just love making it.

I am taking a break. This is probably not like you know-

 (04:00) to (06:00)

I suspect that if you were to read a book marketing handbook, it wouldn't tell you to like take a break from producing the podcast that is your central way of marketing the book for 6--for some months before you uh, so that you can focus on the book but that's what I'm doing.

I'm taking a break from new episodes of the podcast after next month. I'm finishing this month's episode now--or next month's episode now and then I'm gonna take a break so that I can focus on expanding some of the existing reviews and revising them to make the work better in book form, to include stuff that I've learned from listeners who've sent emails into the podcast.

And also just to include stuff that I, I find interesting but didn't work in an audio format. I will try to see some of your questions coming. I want to read a little bit from the book to you, just for those of you who may not know the podcast.

But also I find it really helpful to read stuff to an audience and then I go back and I look at the things that you said which I can't really see now, but I will go back later and look at them. And it will help me to understand somethings about the book, so I appreciate that in advance--your responses and, and everything. And I really love having an opportunity to talk, like read out loud in--in an early draft kind of way.

That's something I did a lot with "The Fault in Our Stars". And then you know, and I really valued it. So--and with "Paper Towns", and uh lots of things.

So anyway, I will try to anticipate some of your questions about the book. The book comes out in May of 2021. It is available for pre-order now.

Um, and, uh, it will be published by Dutton.

 (06:00) to (08:00)

There's like a distinction between adult books and books for teenagers and this is an adult book as opposed to a book for teenagers.

That's largely a distinction that lives inside of publishing houses, not that lives inside of like the minds or lives of actual readers a lot of the time. So my editor is the same editor, Julie Strauss-Gabel who's edited every book that I've ever written.

And so I get to work with the same people and, but at the same time you know the book will be, like shelved appropriately or whatever. I--that stuff isn't as important to me. But I get to work with the same people, which I'm really excited about.

Now some of you will be asking, especially those of you who have maybe heard the episode of "The Anthropocene Reviewed" where I talked about having signed my name half a million times and why I've done that and the obsessive drawing of the Japanese artist Hiroyuki Doi whose work I'm very interested in and actually whose work inspired these, these circles here. Hiroyuki Doi is the, I think it's safe to say the world's greatest obsessive circle painter. And yeah, so some of you will be wondering about like pre-signed copies.

I'm in--for the US edition, which you, you cannot necessarily get internationally even if you ship from the US for very complicated reasons. But if you're in the US, the whole first printing will be signed. So there's no like, signed special edition ISBN, the whole first printing will be signed, and that's how I'm gonna do it to keep it simple.

And also to give me an excuse to sign my name as many times as possible. Because I enjoy doing it, it's more fun than regular work and also I think it's nice. I think it's a way of saying thank you to people who are pre-ordering the book.

 (08:00) to (10:00)

I'm sorry if you live outside of the United States that I cannot promise you a signed copy.

It's, it really is just the physical machinations of how book printing and shipping happen that just make it impossible unfortunately. I, I investigated this extensively and it just isn't possible.

So I'm really sorry but if you live in the U. S. and you pre-order it you should get a signed copy. Or if you order it in the first like week after it comes out.

Um I don't know how many signatures I'm gonna have to do, but I do know that I'm going to enjoy listening to some--(chuckles)--high quality podcasts. And, uh and, it'll be fun! I mean it won't always be fun it will be a sine wave that is more fun at some times than others.

But I enjoy repetitive, uh physical movements and it'll be fun. Okay. (reading off-screen) 'No signed copies for Candians.' Oh James, you've identified the, the great--you've identified the great in-between place. I feel like right now, based on what I know currently, I cannot promise signed copies for Canadians.

That said, I am working on that. I am working on getting more clarity about that. I mean look, another way of thinking about this, James, is that unsigned copies will be much more rare than signed copies.

So in a way you're getting the, the cooler one. Um but yeah, okay. But yes only in the United States, sorry about that.

The book is called the "Anthropocene Reviewed". The Anthropocene is arguably the current geologic age in which humans have become such an important force in the planet-

 (10:00) to (12:00)

-that we are now...yeah, overwhelmingly, that we, that yeah we now are a geologically significant phenomenon. Or some would say a geologically significant problem.

The book will come out internationally: it will come out in lots of different countries.

It's just that this, the signed copies, because of the way that international printing happens will be in the United States. I don't know where it will come out, this is all just been announced today. I did not have a great night of sleep last night because I was very worried about this and I'm worried about whether people would be happy or be mad, just feeling a lot of kind of insecurity and everything.

But um, but it's been a really lovely day. And, also I know lots of people who care about the podcast, I-I knew that they were going to be disappointed to know that it was, it was taking break. But people have so far at least been really kind and understand.

And I was just really nervous about that episode on the whole because it's personal and I talk about, you know, the experience of writing and publishing "Turtles All the Way Down", which was pretty-pretty challenging for me. And I talk about, well you can listen to the podcast. But uh, you can google the podcast.

If you don't listen to it, it's called--well, I can't google it because I can't spell "The Anthropocene Reviewed". But I'm sure somebody in comments can spell 'anthropocene'. It was a horrible mistake to name the podcast "The Anthropocene Reviewed", but now I'm naming the book that too.

So um, I think, I think that's most of the questions that people may have. So a lot of the essays in the book come--or I guess maybe I could talk a little about how the book came to be. So when I started making the podcast "The Anthropocene Reviewed" back in December of 2017, I was just recovering from this extremely serious-

 (12:00) to (14:00)

-and really terrifying, um uh, inner ear disorder called 'Labryrinthitis' that...was profoundly disabling and could have, could have been permanently so.

But I've been very lucky so far, and uh only had sort of some like, sort of slight to moderate complications. But if you have, anybody who's had an inner ear disorder knows that when your balance fails and your eyes can't--my eyes were shivering in their sockets like this so, my eyes couldn't like, couldn't focus on anything.

And to the extent that they were focused, it felt like the earth was in this like, constant massive earthquake and I was throwing up all the time. I couldn't, couldn't walk. I had to be hospitalized.

It was, it was challenging.  And as I recovered from that, I started to think about what, if anything I wanted to write, now that I'd written "Turtles All the Way Down". And I eventually found myself going back to these, these reviews that I'd written. These like 'Yelp-style', sort of jokey reviews I'd written or parts of the world around me.

Because you know, I'd seen the rise of the 5 star review where you know, people aren't just reviewing the spatulas they buy or the books they read, they're also reviewing the haircuts they get. They're also reviewing the, the public restrooms. They visit, you know the bench of which a part of "The Fault in Our Stars" movie was filmed has hundreds of reviews on Google.

And so I was thinking of the way--I started out in my writing life as a book reviewer working for 'Bookless Magazine'. And I wrote hundreds and hundreds of book reviews over a 6 year period there.

 (14:00) to (16:00)

And, you know I, when I started out, the idea of being a book reviewer was like a very specific thing and you know, then I kind of looked up 10 years later and discovered that everyone is a book reviewer.

And all of us are participating in this review economy. And it seemed like an example of waters that we're swimming in, but we don't necessarily like, pay close attention to.

And the other thing that, I guess, that went into my thinking because I was immobile at the time--largely imobile--was I was thinking about how I wanted to try to, I wanted my life to get a littler quieter? You know, my life had been so build around being loud for so long, in Youtube videos where you almost, back then at least you almost have to scream at the camera to hold attention--still a lot of Youtubers, especially Youtubers that are popular with younger people--do they scream at the camera. They cut out every--I cut, I still cut out almost every breath out of ever Vlogbrothers video to minimize the number of frames of silence.

And in general just my life felt, felt really loud and my attention felt really fractured and I was pulled in a million different directions at once. And I wanted to write in a way that was more meditative and that required more consistent attention, that demanded me attention of me. And so I...yeah I started writing these weird little reviews.

Like about the Taco Bell breakfast menu or the history of Piggly Wiggly--arguably the most important grocery store in the history of the world. And that's not to say by the way that I like, dislike making Youtube videos. I love making Youtube videos.

I like cutting out my breaths. I like the fact that I can say a lot of words in 4 minutes and-

 (16:00) to (18:00)

-and interact with people every week.

It means the world to me like, Tuesdays are the highlight of my week every week. So it's not to say any of that, um, but yeah.  I wanted to try to pay a different kind of attention, I guess.

And "The Anthropocene Reviewed" over the last 3 years has given me the opportunity to pay that kind of attention, but it was only in the last year that I found myself like going back to some of the old reviews: adding stuff in, just wanting to like write more--like wanting to write more about Haley's comet and Edmund Haley, and wanting to write more about the history of Piggly Wiggly and why it reshaped the like, literally reshaped the microbiome of humanity. Wanting to write more about how, uh...cholera is a disease that, like so many infectious diseases is not so much a, um--is not so much a disease caused by bacteria--as it is a disease caused by injustice. Like infectious disease much of the time is an expression of injustice more than it's an expression of you know the human limitations on our capacity to treat disease.

So all these, all these things, wanting to write all these things, and then also more recently wanting to find ways to write about now. What it feels like to live in a suddenly different world. What it feels like to live with tremendous uncertainty.

And so, you know, in the last few months, I've tried to find ways to write about that--not directly, because I feel like there's no shortage of um, you know hot takes on, uh that speak directly to that stuff.

 (18:00) to (20:00)

But more, more trying to find the places where my little life brushes up against the big systems that shape contemporary human experience and the big forces that are shaping it.

So that's how I cam to, uh, eventually start to think, 'well maybe I do want to write a book,' and um, and now I have! I mean it's not finished, so when I read to you today, I'm going to be reading from a--just to emphasize this, a profoundly unfinished work.

Like it's going to be, some of you will maybe remember live streams from 2010, 2011 when I would read, but I would also maybe stop myself every now and again and think like, 'I need to put a note there, because that sucks.' or 'I need to change this.' So it won't have the flow of like, listening to good prose. But, it's the best I can do for now.  So, some people in comments will be able to answer a lot of questions like, think890 says, 'will there be signed copies?' All copies of the first edition--of the U. S. edition--will be signed, so we're the first printing.

So if you pre-order the book in the U. S., you'll get a signed copy. Outside of the U.S. you can't. This is a critically important question, asked--'that's not Diet Dr. Pepper.' Oh yeah, I know this isn't Diet Dr. Pepper, maybe you're not familiar--are you not familiar with the Diet Dr. Pepper shortage? You can google it.

It's a very, I was about to say it's a very big issue but it's not. It's literally the smallest problem that the pandemic has caused. But there is a massive shortage of Dr. Pepper--and Diet Dr. Pepper especially--in the United States. It's, uh yeah.

There-it is not available.

 (20:00) to (22:00)

Um, so you know, uh there are worse things about life than drinking Diet A&W Root Beer.

The, uh, ain't Diet Dr. Pepper.

Let's say that. But yeah, I see that uh, I see that--I see that the chat absolutely exploded. I can't believe y'all don't know about the Diet Dr. Pepper shortage. (chuckles) Um yeah, so there is a Diet Dr. Pepper shortage. It's not a crisis.

Everything is going to be fine. Diet Dr. Pepper has released a statement, uh, trying to explain why there is a Diet Dr.

Pepper shortage and saying that it will get better.  Oh right! The audiobook. There will be a U.K. edition. Yes, the U. K. books won't be signed, but there will be a U.K. edition, I think. I mean, I assume. There will be.

Um, the audiobook. The audiobook is also available for pre-order in at least in the United States, and it will be read by me. Um, the details of the audiobook I think are still getting worked out.

Like in a, in a perfect world--which (chuckles) I mean, that-that phrase should be banned. We can't, we're not allowed to say 'in a perfect world' in 2020. But um, in hope--it's very loud, our garage door needs to be, uh, needs some WD-40.

My hope is that--the audiobook will be read by me--my hope is that it will be a little bit different from the print book because there are certain essays that I would really like to include in the audiobook that just don't make sense for the print book. Because the essays are built around sound.

And so, I hope that the audiobook--this is, again, still being worked out--but my hope is that the audiobook will be, you know, a different experience and a more audio-specific experience than the, than the print book-

 (22:00) to (24:00)

-which I want to have be like a print-specific experience.

So like, with the print book there will be lots of little, like you know jokes like, reviewing the copyright page on the copyright page. And reviewing the font on the page where, you know fancy books always talk about their font on the last page.

And then on the audiobook I want to be able to include the...yeah, just--not, not a lot but just a few clips of audio that are really important to me and that, that I think add a lot to the experience of listening to the podcast. Okay. Um, so Lauren says 'Signed, no signed copies coming to Jamaica?' Oh, I mean, unless I come to Jamaica and sign some for you, Lauren.

I really, I would, I would like to be in Jamaica right now. Um, so I'm sorry that I don't have signed copies. But maybe, maybe we can--maybe we can figure something out.

Um...okay. Um...uh...yeah. So not, this is not to say that the-the audiobook will be shorter.

Uh, it will probably be longer. It will probably have more stuff in it, not less stuff. But, yeah.

I-I-I want them to work as their own works, I guess. Um, okay. So what I'm gonna do is, I'm gonna read uh...

I'm gonna read but I guess I-I will need you to um recommend what you'd like to me to read. So I'll read and then you can recommend--so if you have a recommendation, like if you have read "The Anthropocene Reviewed", or listened to "The Anthropocene Reviewed", and there's one that you'd like me to read, maybe I'll read that one.

 (24:00) to (26:00)

Oh the yips, says Homsa, I like the yips. I don't know if the yips have come together yet. Oh there's a lot. Ok, oh I... oh, wow ok. Wow, I didn't know so many of you listened to this, I'm flattered. Thank you. Umm... ok. There's a lot of uh, a lot of emphasis on the sad ones. I can't read the saddest ones, it's too much. Um, I-it's I can't read the saddest ones, it's too much but um, ok, um alright. That's-that's a lot alright! I'll just uh, um. One of the first ones was to recommend the Bonneville Salt Flats. I don't know if this is any good, but it is in the book (laughs) at least currently. So I'll-I'll give it a try. Will I? Yeah. I'

So the Bonneville Salt Flats for those of you who don't know, are uh, uh, are a vast expanse of um salt encrusted very flat earth, in Utah at the edge of the Great Salt Lake. And um, I wrote this essay not about the Bonneville Salt Flats but about um childhood trauma and surviving childhood trauma um and being an adult who lives in the uh in the shadow of it I guess. But it's ostensibly a review of the Bonneville Salt Flats.

In the winter of 2018, I accompanied my wife Sarah on a trip to Utah for the Art Assignment, the PBS digital series she produced. We were there to see the land art of the American West. Monumental artworks like Nancy Holt's -

 (26:00) to (28:00)

Sun Tunnels and Robert - On the evening in question I was playing with a woman from the Texas panhandle named Marjory. She told me that she'd been married for 61 years, and I asked her what the secret was, and she said: "Separate checking accounts." I asked her what brought her to Wendover, and she said she wanted to see the Salt Flats, and the casino, of course. She, and her husband gambled one weekend a year. I asked her how it was going, and she said, "You ask a lot of questions." Which I do, when I'm gambling. In every other environment, I am extremely averse to encounters with strangers. I don't strike up conversations with airplane seat mates, or cab drivers, but put me at a Black Jack table with Marjory, and suddenly I'm Perry Mason.

The other person at my table - 87-year-old Anne from central Oregon - also wasn't much of a talker so I turned to the dealer, who was basically required to talk to me as a condition of his employment. He had a handlebar mustache and a name tag identifying him as James. I couldn't tell if he was 21 or 41. I asked him if he was from Wendover. "Born and bred," he answered. I asked him what he thought of it, and he told me that it was a nice place - lots of hiking, great if you like hunting and fishing. And the Salt Flats were cool of course, if you liked fast cars. And then, after a moment James said, "Not a great place for kids though." "Do you have kids?" I asked. "No. But I was one."

There's a certain I talk about the things I don't talk about. Maybe that's true for all of us. We have ways of closing off the conversation so that we don't ever get directly asked what we can't bear to answer.

 (28:00) to (30:00)

The silence that followed James' comment about having been a kid reminded me of that, and reminded me that I had also been a kid.

Of course, it's possible that James was only referring to Wendover's shortage of playgrounds, but I doubted it. I felt a weight descending, that old Faulkner line that, "the past isn't dead, it's not even past."

I played out the hand, tipped the dealer, thanked the table for the conversation, and cashed out my remaining chips. The next morning I drove out to the Bonneville salt flats with my wife, our colleague Mark and the artists Stuart Hyatt and William Lamson. Until 14 500 years ago what is now Wendover was deep under water in Lake Bonneville, a vast...

I don't know if we need to say vast again, you know, < sucks teeth > I mean, let's let's let's, let's just, let's just highlight vast there. That's the second vast, that's a lot of vasts for one essay. Until 14 500 years ago what is now Wendover was deep inside, deep under water in Lake Bonneville, a vast..

I mean it is very vast, is the thing.  Salty lake that covered 19000 square miles, nearly the size of Lake Michigan today. Vast! What it, what, enormous?

Ugh I hate enormous. I'll think about it later.  Lake Bonneville has disappeared and reformed a couple dozen times over the last 500 million years, what remains of it at the moment is known as the Great Salt Lake, although, it's less than a tenth as great as Lake Bonneville once was.

 (30:00) to (32:00)

The lake's most recent left behind the salt flats, a 30,000 acre expanse utterly empty and far flatter than a pancake.

The snow white ground was cracked like dried lips, and crunched under the weight of my feet, I could smell the salt. I kept trying to think of what it looked like, but my brain could only find highly figurative similes; it looked like driving alone at night feels, it looked like everything you're scared to say out loud, it looked like the moment right before the wave of dread rolls over you.

Herman Melville called white, "the colorless all color." He wrote that white "shadows forth the heartless voids and immensities of the universe." And the Bonneville salt flats are very, very white.  Of course everything on earth is geological, but at the Salt Flats you feel the geology, it's not hard to believe that this land was once 500 feet under water. You feel like the briny, green-black water might rush back at any moment, drowning you and your traumas, and the town, and the hanger where the Enola Gay waited for its atomic bomb.  In the age of the Anthropocene, we tend to believe despite all available evidence, that the world is here for our benefit. So the Bonneville salt flats must have a human use, why else would they exist?

Nothing can grow in that dry salty soil, but we find uses for it anyway. For the last hundred years the flats have been used to mine potash which is used in fertilizer. Pot ash? I'll have to figure that one out.

And a long stretch of the flats gained fame as a kind of drag racing strip, a land speed record was set there in 1965, when a turbojet driven by Craig Breedlove traveled 600 miles per hour.

 (32:00) to (34:00)

Racing season can still attract thousands of people to the flats. But most days the landscape is, above all, a backdrop. For movies, like Independence Day and The Last Jedi, and for fashion photo shoots and Instagram posts. While I was at the flats, I was one of several people trying to angle a selfie to make it look like I was alone in that vast emptiness-

I mean we definitely don't need a third "vast". That's...vastly too many.

But after walking for a while from the road that dead ends into the flats, I really was alone. At one point, I thought saw a shimmering pool of water in the distance. But as I approached, it proved to be a mirage: an actual one. I'd always thought they were just fictional devices. As I kept walking, barren mountain ranges looming above me on all sides, I thought about that Blackjack dealer. I thought about how alone you can feel as a child when you realize that no one can really protect you. How bone-deep scary it is to realize that adults are lying when they try to reassure you.

The other day, my daughter asked if I would die and I said, "Yeah, but not soon," and she said, "how do you know, not soon?" And I don't know. I want the world to be safe for her, and safe for the child James was and the child I was. But the world isn't safe. That heartbreak, wanting to give the people you love what you can't give them-what you can't even give yourself-is what the Bonneville Salt Flats looked like to me. I give them two and a half stars.

Yeah, I mean, so other-

Th-that worked okay for me other than the, uh...

 (34:00) to (36:00)

The "vastness". There must be something I love about the word "vast". Um, yeah, so, just to give you-the people who are new here a little update, I am reading from my new book, which is called "The Anthropocene Reviewed". It's a book of essays... that started out as a podcast that I make with WNYC studios and... Stan and Rosiana. And... the book contains expanded and revised versions of essays from the podcast. And also it contains new reviews, several new reviews, about a wide array of topics from the movie "Penguins of Madagascar" to the world's largest ball of paint, to... the psychotropic drug, Mirtazapine which...I take... and is like... a life-saving-"boundless" is a fairly good suggestion. Um, but... yeah...I did-the word "deadpanned" does appear once in the manuscript so that-it will be my sixth consecutive book-Lots of people like "expansive".


It's good! It's just not as good as "vast". Will the podcast continue after the book comes out? I don't know...I don't know. It's hard to know what the future looks like; now more than ever. So I'm...I don't know.

"Sprawling" is good.

(exhales heavily)

But it's like-you know, you know what's the best word for "vast"? "Vast".

Like every time I go online...Thesaurus, I'm always like, "yeah, these words are good. Just not as good as the word that I was using."


Um, "yawing!" I like. You usually use yawning when it's like a canyon; like a yawning cavern or a yawning canyon.

 (36:00) to (38:00)

But I kinda like a yawning expanse, that's good, that's good, that. Whoever came up with that, all, you're all better writers than I am. 

Um, so, ah, I'd I'd like to, if you're interested I'd like to read a few more, um, but yeah so.

It occurred to me, that while I was, while I was reading this I wasn't maybe clear like what I was, what I was reading, or what the book is. The book is a series of essays like that essay. Um, where I talk about uh, stuff uh, where I, where I yeah, write reviews of uh, of things on a five star scale.

But that's like a little bit of a joke. Like the conceit of the, the shtick is just that, like the conceit of the-the of-of the essay is that it's a, it's a Yelp review, but it's, you know, not really like a typical Yelp review. 

Um, alright so, if you wanna make a suggestion for things that uh, another one that you'd like me to read I'll uh, I'll consider it, um but I-I see, I there, but a lot of people have made suggestions and I feel like.

I, so I, I'm always interested in um, so there, you know, there are some that are very, that are very sad, because of what they're about um, and there are some that are (sucks teeth) uh funny.There aren't a lot that are really funny, but I thought maybe I would read a funny one and then end with a sad one. Um, I thought maybe, that might be the way to go, uh.

I didn't realize until going through this how many footnotes there are in this book, and how long the footnotes are. God I do love a footnote! I bet Julie is gonna make me cut all the footnotes. 

Um, yeah so I'm gonna uh, I'm gonna read, I'm gonna read one that's a little less personal, because that one was quite personal. Like I know it was only personal in a roundabout way, I didn't get into any details.

 (38:00) to (40:00)

But I kind of, that's, that's the- the, the whole, that's- that's kinda the nature of it for me, is like, there's so many things in, in life that you have to, you know, approach circuitously, um yeah. 

Um I'm interested in, I-I spend a lot of time writing about disease and-and illness and it's treatments in this book because, that's been a focus of my life. Um, I write about the Indianapolis 500, that's, Super Mario Kart, Super Mario Kart, it's- it's good, it's not.

I think I really wanna read, the one I'm, you know, no one has requested this, and so I'm gonna read it.


Um, yeah. Ok. Here's, so I'm gonna read this and then I'll answer some of your questions. Um, and just, just for um, more information.

Oh that's a good idea! I'll read about Diet Doctor Pepper. Because uh, Diet Dr Pepper is completely fascinating and also there is a shortage of it and this will be a way for me to think about and feel close to Diet Dr Pepper, and it's not really funny but it is less serious than most of the serious ones. I don't know, is it? I-I worry that it's not funny enough.

Um, nope I'm gonna read the PigglyWiggly one, I got, I, ya'll I'm just so obsessed with PigglyWiggly! PigglyWiggly is like maybe the most important thing that happened in American consumer culture ever. Uh, but I do realise that I am more, um, obsessed with PigglyWiggly than most people. But see if at the end of the essay you agree with me, that PigglyWiggly is extremely important in American history.

I, this one is also, is-is still unfinished there isn't.

 (40:00) to (42:00)

There's a bunch of stuff I wanna put in about um, how profoundly the human microbiome has been reshaped, uh as a result of the existence of PigglyWiggly. And if PigglyWiggly had never been invented our microbiomes would be like vastly healthier and more complex and we-we would have less um, uh, diarrheal illnesses and lots of other stuff. But I, but-but-but that isn't in there yet because I had a draft of it and I had to take it out because it just wasn't working in.

Ok, um, I'm reading from my new book, it comes out in May, it's available for pre-order now. I, you can, there is also an audiobook if you prefer audiobooks or an ebook if you prefer to read on a device and um, you can order it wherever books are sold, there's a link in the dooblydoo.

Also I'm gonna read your comments later, this will become an unlisted video and I will read your comments um, and they will help me, um if nothing else to get lots of synonyms for vast, which is an important thing! 

Ok, this is my review of PigglyWiggly.

And the other thing, the other reason, I wrote this review because Sarah, my-my wife, who really inspired so much of this podcast and um, our-our like professional collaboration and personal collaboration is the great uh joy and luck of my life. Uh Sarah um, uh, came to me one evening and said  "Do you know the story of PigglyWiggly?" and I said "No" and she said "This is the most American story I have ever read in my entire life".

And then uh, it had a personal connection to me because my uh great-grandfather uh, was working at a so called um, at a more traditional grocery store uh, in Tennesse just-just about 50 miles away from where the first PigglyWiggly was started and so um, his life was completely upended by uh, by PigglyWiggly.

 (42:00) to (44:00)

And-and it changed his, the whole course of his life, and I-I guess in a roundabout way mine as well. So this is the story of uh, the first ever uh, self service grocery store. Uh, which was called PigglyWiggly.

In 1920, according to census records my maternal grandmother's father was working at a grocery store, in a tiny town in western Tennesse. Like all US grocery stores at the beginning of the 20th century, this one was 'full service' you walked in with a list of items you needed and then the grocer, perhaps my great grandfather would gather those items.

The grocer would weigh the flour or cornmeal or butter or tomatoes, wrap everything up for you, and then charge it to your account. Like almost all grocery stores at the time my great grandfather's store also allowed customers to purchase food on 'credit', which the customer then, 'usually' paid back over time.

That store was supposed to be my great grandfather's ticket out of poverty, but it didn't work out that way. Instead the store closed, thanks to the self service grocery store revolution launched by Clarence Saunders, which reshaped the way Americans shopped and cooked and ate and lived. Saunders was a self educated child of share croppers, he eventually found his way into the grocery business in Memphis, Tennesse, about 100 miles southwest from my great grandfather's store.

He was 35 when he developed a concept for a grocery store that would have no clerks or counters, but instead a labyrinth of aisles that customers would walk themselves, choosing their own food, and placing it in their own shopping baskets. Prices at Saunders self service grocery store would be lower.

 (44:00) to (46:00)

Because his stores would employ fewer clerks, and also because he would not offer customers credit, but instead expect immediate payment. The prices would also be clear and transparent for the first time ever, each item in grocery store would be marked with a price, so customers would no longer fear being shortchanged by unscrupulous grocers. 

Saunders called the store PigglyWiggly. Why? Nobody knows. When asked where the name came from Saunders once answered that it arrived quote, "from out of chaos and in direct contact with an individual's mind" which gives you a sense of the kind of guy he was. But usually when Saunders was asked why anyone would call a grocery store PigglyWiggly he would answer, "So people will ask that very question". 

The first PigglyWiggly opened in Memphis in 1916, it was so successful that the second PigglyWiggly opened 3 weeks later. 2 months after that another one opened, Saunders insisted on calling it ' PigglyWiggly the Third' to lend his stores quote "The royal dignity they are due". He soon began attaching a catch phrase to his store-front signs "PigglyWiggly, all around the world". 

Of course, at the time the stores were barely all around Memphis, but Saunders' business did grow phenomenally quickly. Within a year there were 353 PigglyWiggly's around the United States, and today Saunders' concept of aisles that shoppers walk through while selecting items really has spread all around the world.

In newspaper advertisements Saunders wrote of his self service concept in nearly messianic terms, "One day Memphis shall be proud of PigglyWiggly" one ad read "and it shall be said by all men that the PigglyWiggly shall multiply and replenish the earth with more, and cleaner things to eat". Another time he wrote...

 (46:00) to (48:00)

"The mighty pulse of the throbbing today makes new things out of old, and new things where was none before." Basically Saunders spoke of PigglyWiggly as today's Silicon Valley executives talk of their companies, we're not just making money here, we're replenishing the earth!

PigglyWiggly and the self service grocery stores that followed did lower prices, which meant there was more to eat, they also changed the kinds of foods that were easily available. To save cost and limit spoilage PigglyWiggly stocked less fresh produce than traditional grocery stores. Prepackeged, processed foods became more popular and less expensive, which began to alter American diets.

Brand recognition also became suddenly important because food companies had to appeal directly to shoppers. Which lead to the growth of consumer oriented food advertising on radio and in newspapers. National brands like Campbell's soup and Oreo cookies exploded in popularity. By 1920 Campbell's was the nations top soup brand and Oreo the top cookie brand, which they still are today. 

Self service grocery stores fueled the rise of many other processed food brands, Wonderbread, Moon Pies, Gummy Bears, Hostess Cupcakes, Birds Eye frozen vegetables, Wheaties cereal, Reese's Peanutbutter Cups, Frenches Mustard, Klondike bars, Velveeta cheese, all these brands and many, many more appeared in the United States within a decade of the first PigglyWiggly opening. 

And Clarence Saunders understood the new intersection between mass media and brand awareness better than almost anyone at the time. In fact during the early 1920's PigglyWiggly was the single largest newspaper advertiser in the United States.

Of course lower prices and fewer clerks also meant many people losing their jobs, including my great grandfather, there is nothing new about our fear that automation and increased efficiency will deprive humans of work.

 (48:00) to (50:00)

In one newspaper ad Saunders imagined a woman torn between her long time relationship with her friendly grocer and the low, low prices of PigglyWiggly. The story concluded with Saunders appealing to a tradition even older than the full service grocer.

With his protagonist saying "Now a way back many years there had been a Dutch grandmother of mine who had been thrifty. The spirit of that old grandmother asserted itself just then within me and said 'business is business, and charity and alms are another'" Whereupon our shopper saw the light and converted to PigglyWiggly.

By 1922 there were over a thousand PigglyWiggly stores around the US, and shares in the company were listed on the New York stock exchange. Saunders was building a 36,000 square foot mansion in Memphis, and had endowed the college now known as Rhodes college.

But the good times would not last, after a few PigglyWiggly stores in the northeast failed investors began shorting the stock, betting that its price would fall. Sauders responded by trying to buy up all the available shares using borrowed money, the gambit failed spectacularly and Saunders lost control of PigglyWiggly and went backrput. 

His vitriol at Wall Street short sellers also presaged contemporary corporate titans. Saunders was by many accounts a bully , verbally abusive, cruel, and profoundly convinced of his own genius.

After losing control of the company he wrote " They have it all, everything I built, the greatest stores of their kind in the world. But they didn't get the man that was father to the idea. They have the body of PigglyWiggly but they didn't get the soul." 

Saunders quickly developed a new concept for a grocery store, this one would have aisles and self service, but also clerks in the meat department and bakery. So he essentially invented the contemporary supermarket. In under a year he was ready to open. 

 (50:00) to (52:00)

The new owners of Piggly Wiggly took him to court, arguing that the use of the Clarence Saunders name in relation to a grocery store would violate Piggly Wiggly's trademark and patents. In response, Saunders defiantly named his new grocery store The Clarence Saunders Sole Owner of My Name Store, perhaps the only business name imaginable worse than Piggly Wiggly.

And yet, it succeeded tremendously, and Saunders made a second fortune, as Sole Owners spread throughout the south. He went on to invest in a professional football team in Memphis, which he named the Clarence Saunders Sole Owner of My Name Tigers... really. They played the Greenbay Packers and the Chicago Bears in front of huge crowds in Memphis and they were invited to join the NFL, but Saunders declined cuz he didn't want to share revenue, or send his team to away games.

He promised to build a stadium for the Tigers that would seat over 30,000 people. "The stadium", he wrote, "will have skull and crossbones for my enemies who I have slain." But within a few years the Sole Owner stores were crushed by the Depression, the football team was out of business and Saunders was broke again.

Meanwhile, the soulless body of Piggly Wiggly was fairing quite well without Saunders. At the supermarket chain's height in 1932 there were over 2,500 Piggly Wiggly's in the United States. Even today, there are over 600, mostly in the South, although like most grocery stores, they are struggling under pressure from the likes of Walmart and Dollar General, which undercut stores like Piggly Wiggly on price, partly by providing even less fresh food and fewer clerks than today's Piggly Wiggly's do. These days, Piggly Wiggly ads tend to focus on tradition and the human touch. One North Alabama Piggly Wiggly TV spot from 1999 included this line.

 (52:00) to (54:00)

"At PigglyWiggly it's all about friends serving friends" A kind of call to the human to human relationships Saunders ridiculed in that Dutch grandmother ad. The mighty pulse of the throbbing today does make new things out of old. 

Today food prices are lower relative to average wage than they have every been in the United States, but our diets are often poor. The average American ingests more sugar and sodium than they should, largely because of processed prepackaged foods. More than 60% of calories consumed by Americans come from so called 'highly processed foods' like the Oreo cookies and Milky Way bars that flourished at early PigglyWiggly's. 

This diet is now know as 'the standard American diet' or, I'm not making this up, SAD. Clarence Saunders didn't make any of this happen of course, like the rest of us he was being pulled by forces far larger than any individual. He merely understood what America was about to want and gave it to us.

Titans of industry, Saunders included, like to imagine that they forge new worlds into being, but really they are mostly, as Robert Penn Warren said "A bubble on the tide of empire".

After Saunders' second bankruptcy he spent decades trying to launch a new store concept called the Keedoozle a totally automated store that looked like a massive bank of vending machines. The self checkout process Saunders envisioned in the 1940's is only now beginning to become a reality. And the Keedoozle concept never really worked because the machinery broke down, and people found the shopping experience slow and clunky and impersonal. 

As he aged Saunders grew more vitriolic and unpredictable, and began to suffer from debilitating bouts of mental illness, he eventually entered into a sanitarium that treated people with anxiety and depression.  The mansion Saunders built with his first fortune became the 'Pink Palace Museum'.

 (54:00) to (56:00)

Memphis' science and history museum, the estate he built with his second fortune became the Lichterman Nature Centre. In 1936 the journalist Ernie Pyle said "If Saunders lives long enough Memphis will become the most beautiful city in the world, just with the things Saunders built and lost."

But Saunders never made a third fortune, he died at that sanitarium in 1953, he was 72. One obituary opined that "Some men achieve lasting fame through success, others achieve it through failure". 

Saunders was a huckster, he committed securities fraud, and he helped usher in an era of food that fills without nourishing. He was also a relentless innovator who understood the power of brand-branding and efficiency. 

Mostly when I think of PigglyWiggly, I think of how the big get bigger by eating the small. PigglyWiggly swallowed up the small town grocery stores, only to be swallowed itself by the likes of Wallmart which will in turn be swallowed by the likes of Amazon. James Joyce called Ireland "The sow that eats her farrow" but Ireland has nothing on American capitalism. 

I give PigglyWiggly two and a half stars. 

Or is it two stars?!  I can't decide, I'll have to decide later. 

Um, yeah so I mean there's, so that's the story of PigglyWiggly. Uh, which is a um, hugely important part of American history that we don't pay a lot of attention to. Uh because it's, well I mean it's not a clearly good story. Saunders uh himself was a uh, terrible person and-and made the world worse in a lot of, a lot of profound ways.

 (56:00) to (58:00)

Ways that still resonate today, um but uh, yeah but it's complicated.

So that's, I mean, so yeah, right uh, so for those that are new to the stream, I'm reading from my, the first draft of my new book, The Anthropocene Reviewed, which will come out in May and I am announce, it was announced today.

I am nervous and excited, mostly nervous.

And um, I'm gonna read one last uh essay um, you know I like I-I said I was gonna read a sad one I-I really I-I feel like, I can't, I feel like I can't read a sad one right now. Um, I just I'll, there will be more of these live streams, there, there will be, there are plenty of sad ones. Um and I and I will read them uh you know um.

And-and I also like I love a story, not just sad stories, I think the stories that I-I was drawn to telling um and then I that-that I-I wanna tell in the book are-are-are stories that kinda chart the, what I, what I feel like are the contradictions of-of contemporary human life. 

You know, how um in this uh kind of, you know how-how life is-is-is meaningless, you know is almost depraved in it, in its meaninglessness, in its lack of inherent meaning. Despite consciousness being, uh feeling so miraculous and being-being so immense even-even maybe uh infinite.

Um but at the same time life being profoundly meaningful, how we can be so quick to despair as a species, but we can also be so uh magnificently, wondrously resilient. Um I really love that about us, uh that's my favourite thing about our species, is our-our resilience um I, there's an essay in the book about this baseball pitcher. 

 (58:00) to (1:00:00)

Rick Ankiel uh, who was affected with a-a problem called the 'Yips' where-where you lose the ability to throw the ball because you have a sudden muscle contraction every time you-you-you do a certain motion. And I have the yips so I-I know what it's like it's-it's completely surreal to not be able to move your body in a way that-that-that you should be able to move it.

Um, uh and Rick Ankiel just-just didn't know when he was licked, he just didn't know when he was beaten and I-I love, that's something I love about people. Like the absurd ineradicable, magnificent, beautiful hope um, that-that our-our species is capable of. And-and-and that-that hope is often rewarded like-like resilience I think is, resilience and hope I think are the correct response to um, to the human story.

Um but I think despair is also a correct response and-and living, or trying to reconcile myself I guess to that contradiction and to the both those things living inside of me at the same time, is a lot of what's um driven these uh, these essays. 

Uh, so um, I hope, I really, I really hope you like the book, um and uh I hope that uh, I hope that- I hope that you um. Yeah, I hope you like it, um and uh, if you have, if you are new and you have questions you can ask them in comments and-and people who have been here for the rest of it can answer it.

But um I'm just gonna read one more review. Um, it-it's a personal, it's-it's a personal one, but only-only to me. Did I not put it in the book! Well I mean that was an oversight! 


Really?! I didn't, no!

 (1:00:00) to (1:02:00)

Well you know what I'll read it and then we can find out if it should be in the book, how's that! 


Um I mean yeah, the book can't have all the reviews so uh I don't know why I feel like reading this one but I do. I feel like reading this essay about the Polish goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek and I think I'm going to. Um or maybe I'll read the one about sunsets, which is in the book. Should we read the one about Jerzy Dudek and then we'll decide together whether it should actually be in the book? Maybe we'll do that.

Ok we'll read this and we'll see if it's good. And if it's not, I mean some of them are good, like some of them I like, there just not right for the book. Um but I-I, well let's see! I-I think, now I'm remembering that I like rewrote the whole essay and I was like, I don't like this anymore and then I ditched it.

But I'm gonna try it! I-I speaking of resilience and not giving up I'm gonna try it! Alright, alright uh, this is gonna be real rough cause I'm taking it from uh, I'm taking from the original draft but I'll try it, I'll try it, and if it doesn't work that's ok. Nothing it nothing, we'll all be ok, we'll, we'll have had an experience that won't be in the book, which is like, just like a bonus experience.
I'd like to tell you a story of joy and wonder and stupidity. I really miss sports, I miss them terribly I know sports don't matter in the scheme of things, but I miss the luxury of caring about stuff that doesn't matter. The late Pope John Paul II once supposedly said that of all the unimportant things, football is the most important. And I yearn for the unimportant things at the moment. 

So here is a football story that begins in southern Poland only about 60miles from where Pope John Paul II was born.

 (1:02:00) to (1:04:00)

It's 1984, and a ten year old coal miner's son named Jerzy Dudek is living the tiny mining town of....

Oh god! Maybe I don't wanna include it because I can never, I cannot pronounce this word when I did it in the podcast I had to have an-an earbud in playing the me the sound as spoken by a Polish person and i still messed it up. 

The tiny mining town of 'Ssss -slizgowitz' that's the last time I'm saying it, from now on I'll just say the tiny mining town. Slizgowitza? Slizzz-ssszz- slizzz ugh! Slizgo nuh, I'm not gonna get there. 

 (1:04:00) to (1:06:00)

 At the time, Liverpool's goalkeeper was a guy named Bruce Grobbelaar who was, even by goalie standards, rather eccentric. He warmed up via walking on his hands and hanging off the top of the goal. He often drank, I'm quoting him here, "a dozen or so" beers after a Liverpool loss. He was also credibly accused of match fixing, but Grabbelaar is best known for that European cup final in 1984. The game went to a penalty shootout where, for some reason, Grobbelaar decided to feign wobbly-legged nervousness as one of the Roma penalty takers ran up to shoot. Put off by Grobbelaar's spaghetti legs, the Roma player skied his shot over the crossbar and Liverpool won their fourth European cup.

Back in Southern Poland, young Jerzy Dudek who loved football, although the leather balls were very hard to come by in his impoverished community, so they usually played with rubber balls or even old tennis balls. He ended up a goalkeeper mostly because he was tall, but he didn't start out especially skilled at the position. His first coach told him, "you dive like a sack of potatoes." By 17, Dudek was in training to become a miner, and as part of his vocational training, he worked in the coal mine two days a week. In many ways, he liked the work. He liked the camaraderie in the mine, the feeling of mutual reliance. That's also what he liked about football. Dudek couldn't afford real goalie gloves as a teenager playing for the mine company team, so he wore his father's work gloves. To make him feel like a real goalie, he drew an Adidas logo on them. At 19, he was just making 100 dollars a month as a goalkeeper for a semi-pro team while still working for the mine company part-time. By 21, he would later say that, "he felt himself melting into the grayness."

 (1:06:00) to (1:08:00)

By then, Liverpool football club were melting into the grayness as well, there in the north of England. By the 1990s, most years Liverpool weren't good enough to play in the Champions league, let alone win it.

In 1996, when Jerzy Dudek was 22, he caught the attention of a first-team Polish--first-division Polish team who signed him to play for a salary of around 400 dollars a month. Six months late, he was transferred to a Dutch team Fionard. And then, after a few years in Rotterdam, Dudek signed a multi-million dollar contract with Liverpool. It was a fast and dramatic change, but he was miserable. Of that time he wrote, "my first few days in Liverpool were the worst of my life. I felt really lonely. I was in a new place with a new language, which I couldn't speak." That, by the way, is taken from Dudek's autobiography, which I am delighted to inform you is titled "A Big Pole in Our Goal". That's the song Liverpool fans sang about him to the tune of "The Whole World in His Hands". [singing] "We've got a big pole in our goal", etc.

Before we get to May 25th, 2005, I just want to note one more thing, which is that professional goalkeepers spend a lot of time practicing trying to save penalty kicks. Like Jerzy Dudek had faced tens of thousands of penalty kicks, and he always faced them in precisely the same way: he stood stock still in the middle of the goal until a moment before the ball was kicked, and then he dove one way or another. Always, without exception. The 2004-2005 season saw Liverpool go on a magical run through the Champions league, and by April they were the underdogs preparing to play the famed Italian club Juventus. 

 (1:08:00) to (1:10:00)

In the quarterfinals of the competition when Pope John Paul II died, Dudek ended up on the bench for that game. He couldn't think straight after the death of his childhood hero, and he found himself in tears as he confessed to the team doctor that he couldn't play that night.

Liverpool won the game nonetheless, and eventually made their way to the Champions league final, where they would face another Italian giant: AC Milan. The final was played in Istanbul and it began horribly for Dudek and Liverpool. 51 seconds into the game, Milan scored. They scored two more goals just before halftime. Dudek's wife, at home in Poland preparing for their son's first communion, recalled a deathly silence descending over the entire town. Of the Liverpool locker room at halftime, Dudek wrote, "everyone was broken." Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher said, "my dreams had turned to dust." He could hear 40,000 Liverpool fans singing "You'll Never Walk Alone" in the stands above, but he knew it was more in sympathy than in belief.

The rest of the story I know by heart, because I've seen it so many times. 9 minutes after the second half begins, Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard heads in a goal. Liverpool scores again two minutes later, and then again four minutes after that and it's 3-3. The match goes into 30 minutes of extra time. Milan are pouring on the pressure, it is so obvious that they were are better. Liverpool's players are exhausted, just hoping to get to a penalty shootout. And then, with 90 seconds left in extra time, Jerzy Dudek makes a double save on two point-blank shots that happen within a second of each other. 

 (1:10:00) to (1:12:00)

The save is so good that an entire chapter of "A Big Pole in Our Goal" is devoted to it. The save is so good that even now, 15 years later, when I see replays of it, I still think the Milan player is going to score. But instead, Jerzy Dudek makes that save every time and the game goes to penalties.

So you're Jerzy Dudek. You've been practicing saving penalties since you were a kid. You have your way of doing it. You've laid awake at night, imagining this moment: the Champions league final down to penalties, you in goal, standing stock still until the moment before the ball is kicked. But then, one of your teammates Jamie Carragher runs up to you and he jumps on your back and he starts shouting at you. "Carra came up to me and he was crazy," Dudek said. "He grabbed me and he said, 'Jerzy, Jerzy, Jerzy! Remember Bruce Grobbelaar." Carra was screaming at him. 'Do the wobbly legs! Move around on the goal line, just like in 1984.' But that was 21 years ago, with different players and a different coach and different opposition, what could that moment possibly have to do with this one?

Well, there are times in your life when you do things precisely as you have practiced and prepared for them. And then there are times in your life when you listen to Jamie Carragher. And so, in the most important moment of Jerzy Dudek's professional career, he decided to try something new. His spaghetti legs didn't look exactly like Grobbelaar's had, but he danced on the goal line, his legs wobbling this way and that. "I didn't recognize my husband," Dudek's ex-wife Mariah said. "I couldn't believe he danced so crazily in the goal."

 (1:12:00) to (1:14:00)

Milan's first penalty taker missed the goal entirely, and then Dudek saved two of the next four penalties, and Liverpool completed what came to be known as "The Miracle of Istanbul."

Someone tell 10-year-old Jerzy Dudek that he's gonna save two penalties in a European final by making the weirdest possible choice. Someone tell 21-year-old Dudek, playing for 1800 dollars a year, that he is a decade away from lifting the European cup. You can't see the future coming. Not the terrors, for sure. But you also can't see the wonders that are coming. The moments of light-soaked joy that await each of us.

These days, I sometimes feel like I'm Jerzy Dudek, walking out for the second half, down three nil, feeling as hopeless as I do helpless. But of all the unimportant things, football is the most important because seeing Jerzy Dudek sprint away from that final penalty save to be mobbed by his teammates reminds me that someday, maybe someday soon, I will also be embraced by people I love. It is May of 2020 now, 15 years since Dudek's spaghetti legs, and this will end and the light-soaked days are coming.

I give Jerzy Dudek's performance on May 25th, 2005, 5 stars.

That was unexpectedly emotional for me.

 (1:14:00) to (1:16:00)

Um...because football is the, is the way into feeling for me. It's a way into feeling, I guess. And I do think about that, you know, that this is temporary.

Alice said the other day, you know, we were driving to school and Alice said, "you know in summertime you never think, you think it's never going to be cold. And then in wintertime, you think it's never going to be hot. I feel like it's never going to be cold again, but then when it's winter I'm going to feel like it's never going to be hot again." And that was like the most eloquent distillation of an experience that I have regularly, which is that especially when I feel despair, or fear, it feels permanent and it isn't. It isn't. The light-soaked days are coming so...yeah.

Yeah I think the reason I didn't want to include it was because I didn't want there to be too much football, because you know most people don't like football. But, I don't know, I kinda liked it that time, so we'll...I don't know. I'll reassess. I don't want to make the book too long, but I don't know, I'll think about it.

Thank you for your comments and for being here and it's been fun to read it, read a little bit of the book to you.

 (1:16:00) to (1:18:00)

Again, I have a new book coming out, which is--it's been three years, so it feels really good to say that. And I'm really excited about it and I really hope that you like it. It's called "The Anthropocene Reviewed". It's based on the podcast that I make with WNYC studios but it also includes lots of new reviews and lots of expansions and revisions to old reviews. And uh, yeah I've got to memorize the publication dates so that I can say the stuff that I always tell Hank to say, where you say, "I have a book, it comes out on May something 2021 and it's available for pre-order now." But I'll get there, I'm not there yet.

Hopefully May 25? May 18th? There seems to be some disagreement in the comments about when it comes out so y'all haven't memorized it either. [chuckles] But yeah, so I'm gonna do more of these where I talk about, where I talk about the book and I also like read to you partly as a way of trying to understand what works and what isn't working and what I--how to make the, you know, how to make the book into the book that I want it to be. This is, you know, five or six months left of writing to do which I'm excited about. I'm really excited and relieved that I've gotten to this, that I've made it here and that the book is going to come out. It's really, really lovely even in tough times. So thank you for being hre with us. And thanks for all the kind messages.

I know that for many of you...

 (1:18:00) to (1:20:00)

This is an extremely difficult time for a huge variety of reasons, and it means a lot to Hank and me to have a seat at the table in your life and in your information landscape and yeah we really appreciate it and try to be a positive presence. But I don't have any words of wisdom about the tough times other than, other than what Alice gave me, which is when it's summer you feel like it's never going to be cold and when it's winter you feel like it's never going to be hot. But it will, it will. It will end, it will change, it will...yeah. As Andy just said, Dr. Pepper will return, which is true. I never thought that I would have to hang my hope on that, Andy, but it's true. [chuckles]

Thank you all so much, really lovely to be with you and I'll do more of these live streams. I'm also going to be doing more live streams where I just draw some circles, because I'm now a semi-professional drawer of circles. This is going to, drawing 170,000 circles turns out to be a significantly larger undertaking than I imagined it to be, but that's the case for almost all creative endeavors, so I'm going to enjoy the process. I'm at 15,500, so just about 9% of the way there. I know you're wondering, 'what're you doing to do with the rest of the 90% when there's no paper?' I'm gonna, I'm gonna deal with that problem...when it is a problem.

Alright, thank y'all. Thank you very much, and as they say in my hometown, don't forget to be awesome.