#2. Taylor Swift, Picket Lines, and You
It's a newsletter, baby, just say yes.
Thanks for coming back to That’s Marvelous! You’ve all been so kind about the first newsletter, and I really appreciate your sharing and commenting and subscribing!!! Someone suggested I read the pep talks out loud, and I’m definitely toying with that plan, but I’m on the road this week and don’t have good enough audio equipment with me to do it the way I’d want to. I will try to give it a shot in December though!
This week’s newsletter is a lot about work and jobs and money, which was not intentional. I think it’s just that a lot of life is about work and jobs and money, which can be a bummer, but I’ll try to make it a little less of one here!
On to the pep talks!
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THE PEP TALKS
Hey there, T. I know you’ve had a rough week, but from one cardigan lover to another, I’m here to assure you that the problem is not you (you). As the great Kelsey McKinney and Hunter Harris have written about, Ticketmaster failed to come through on its side of the bargain for your tour presale, stopping many of your fans from entering fully into their Eras eras. You’ve since publicly criticized the ticket-selling near-monopoly, which was nice to see. Honestly, everyone hates Ticketmaster, but when we normal slobs (aka those of us on the bleachers) complain, the ticketing giant simply, well, shakes it off. (I’m sorry! That’s the last one I swear!)
I know this is a low bar to set, but: It’s so gratifying when someone with literally any power takes literally any step to make things slightly better for the rest of us. It’s like watching a benevolent 12th grader beat the crap out of a 10th grade bully. (I mean when we were in high school, not like…now. That would be a very weird thing for adults to watch.) Even if it’s not happening explicitly for our benefit, it’s nice to see bad things happen to bad people. So, fingers crossed that you are able to bring this corporation to its corporate knees for at least a moment! And, if your public statements don’t cause any internal reflection over at Ticketmaster, there is a legitimate chance that a cadre of your 16-year-old fans will use an encrypted messaging system to plan an elaborate heist of tickets from Ticketmaster headquarters. I do not doubt their desire or their ability to carry out such a plan. Plus, it’s a relief when any major celebrity ends up on the right side of any big public issue instead of blithely shilling for cryptocurrency or wannabe billionmayor Rick Caruso. So, thanks, T!
Also, on a personal level, this failure by the Ticketmaster/Live Nation Capitalist Voltron doesn’t reflect badly on you. You did your best. And, even though it was tough for many people to acquire tickets, it’s not like the stadiums will be empty when you tour. SOMEONE bought all those tickets. Whoever that was will be there, scream-crying the lyrics to your songs. Or they’ll resell the tickets to someone who will do that, which is less ideal, but people will be there is what I’m saying. There’s not going to be a lot of *removes hands from keyboard* bl— *stands on hands to prevent them from typing* bla— *slams hands back on keys against my own will* there’s not going to be a lot of blank space at those shows. Okay, that was the last one for real. Have fun on tour! And don’t forget to get some sleep while you’re out there!
PEP TALK FOR PICKET LINES
It’s been a big few weeks for picket lines! From baristas to editors to university employees to coal miners, workers across different fields are fighting for what they deserve. I’ve seen this movement called “Strikevember” even though “No-work-vember” is right there, but that’s beside the point.
The point is: It is good to unionize your workplace. It is good to demand a fair wage from an employer who would not otherwise provide it. It is good to hold the line when those demands aren’t being met. It is, in many cases, the only leverage workers have. (Think about the immediate impact of a potential prolonged Starbucks walkout. We’d all have to talk to those people who say “don’t talk to me before I’ve had my coffee” before they’ve had their coffee. Chilling.)
We can’t always wait for Taylor Swift to take on the big multinational conglomerates in our lives. This is not an anti-Taylor sentiment. She’s just busy!!! Please do not dismember me in the night with bone saws, Swifties!!!
Some context: I’m from a union household, and as an adult I’m a member of two labor unions: the Writers Guild of America East and the Screen Actors Guild (technically SAG-AFTRA now). People sometimes question whether acting counts as labor. It does! And if you’ve ever seen me do it, you know how laborious it can appear.
A picket line shows that things are worth fighting for and victory is possible. The number of disparate industries currently or recently experiencing work stoppages illustrates the importance of solidarity between all different kinds of workers. It’s inspiring to see people who do all sorts of jobs catching on that the idea of “record corporate profits” should be incompatible with the idea of “sorry, normal people…everything costs too much money for you to have it.” Legally in the U.S., corporations are people, but it’s even more infuriating to see them thriving at the expense of workers than it is to see that somehow all the actual people you know went on vacation to Italy this summer and posted about it for weeks on Instagram. First of all: HOW? And secondly: DID THEY ALL DISCUSS THIS WITHOUT ME?
Anyway! I am once again digressing, so I will cut to the chase. In short, and in solidarity: Keep up the good non-work, picket lines.
PEP TALKS FOR READERS
Nearly 10 years ago I was working my dream job at Johns Hopkins when I became disabled due to complications from a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. After years of treatment, medication, and physical therapy, I’m going to try going back to work this week. It’s just one day a week as a Substitute Teacher, but I’m nervous about being able to do even that much. Any encouragement is appreciated!
-Steve in Kansas
Hi, Steve! I’m sorry that your recovery has been such a long process, but I’m really glad to hear that you’re feeling up to a new adventure! I hope you get everything out of it that you are hoping for! Or, barring that, I hope you get something else useful out of it. Maybe, like with Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds, you will learn lessons from your students that you never expected. (I think that is what happened in Dangerous Minds, but honestly I am much more familiar with the soundtrack than the film.)
I imagine you know this by now, but I wanted to say it here just so I’m on the record: You are so much more than your capacity for your professional productivity. You’re the relationships you’ve cultivated over the years, and the best t-shirt you wear to parties and on FaceTime calls. You’re the compendium of goofy stories you tell new people and rehash with old friends, and the specific combination of pizza toppings you order when you don’t have to cater to anyone else’s taste. These things all matter! You’re a whole person outside of work! That is important!
SO! Good luck with substitute teaching! But also: you are a valuable person no matter how this gig works out!
Hi Josh, so you're asking for readers to submit for a pep talk so here goes. I'm 47 yrs old, divorced, no kids, living in the most expensive city in the country. I just quit my high-paying tech job in the most spectacularly disastrous fashion for the second time and realized I needed to get out of the corporate grind. So I just started cosmetology school this week. I get nervous that I'm too old to make this drastic of a change despite this being something I've been into for years. The say it takes 10K hrs to become an expert, so that means I'll be 55ish when I've mastered my craft which I'm also worried I'm going to suck at.
Hey, Anonymous! First of all, you already did a huge thing by getting out of the corporate grind that had been feeling like a drag. Great work so far! Plus, 10,000 hours is a myth perpetuated by Malcolm Gladwell to sell more Malcolm Gladwell. (There was a whole chapter in that book like: “The Beatles were good because they played a lot of gigs.” Oh, is that it? I’ve seen jam bands with individual songs that last 10,000 hours, and they still aren’t always good.)
Here is the great thing about doing something you’re not good at (yet): There is so much room to improve. Every time you practice or learn new information, your brain gets wrinklier, and you will get to feel the satisfaction of progress even if you’re just going from “unbelievably bad at this” to “believably bad at this.” When you’re already very good at something, it is so hard to get better. (That’s why I make sure to be good at so few things.)
It’s very cool to embark on a big new project, and even if it takes the next eight years to master, it’ll be so much more exhilarating to spend that time learning a new skill that interests you than it would have been to keep trudging through the boring stuff you were already sick of. You’ve gotta spend your time doing something! This seems like an excellent something to have chosen!
Hi Josh! Would love a pep talk. I’m a librarian moving from North Carolina to Los Angeles for a job and I’m really nervous about it!
- Jim in Durham
Jim! This sounds like a really exciting opportunity. Otherwise I imagine you wouldn’t be doing it. There are so many libraries between North Carolina and Los Angeles, and you’re moving all the way from one place to the other! It'll probably take some adjustment to acclimate to the new place, but this is a chance to meet new people and do new things! And, if you hate it and are miserable, no one will make you stay in L.A., and no one will judge you for leaving. That’s one of the good things about a city! You don’t have to ask people’s permission to come and go, and most people who live there are never aware when you do either.
In fact, in my experience, people often congratulate you for leaving Los Angeles. It’s not like Las Vegas, where Nic Cage could only leave by drinking himself to death. BUT! Probably you’ll find lots to like even if it takes a little bit to unpack your literal boxes (and the figurative mental boxes you’ve put— JUST KIDDING ABOUT THE SECOND PART, THIS ISN’T THAT KIND OF NEWSLETTER). Have fun and enjoy the new things, and if they’re not for you, that doesn’t mean you’ve failed!
One reader requested a pump-up jam in this week’s newsletter, and I’m happy to oblige! I listened to this old Lucero song a bunch of times in a row while driving through Tennessee last week, and I thought you all might like it too, even if you aren’t actively speeding through the southeast in order to make it to a local news appearance on time in Kentucky.
Upcoming Tour Dates
If you enjoy this newsletter, maybe come see me tell jokes in person?
11/25-11/26 - Laugh Boston in Boston (four shows)
More info and dates available at joshgondelman.com/schedule!
I also have a standup special called People Pleaser that’s free to watch for Prime members in the U.S. and available to rent for everyone else! (I think Vimeo is the easiest place to rent it internationally.) It’s totally different from the hour that I’m doing on tour, and it’s a great thing to watch while you’re, let’s say, hiding from your family for an hour this week.
Thanks for hanging out for the second edition of That’s Marvelous!
I hope your week is restful and any family/holiday situations you’re a part of aren’t too fraught!