I’m always late. A guy named Hamish McKenzie—who might be talent acquisition for Substack or its founder or married to the heiress Substack; I don’t know, and they don’t pay me, which means they also don’t pay me to know—approached me last October about starting a blog here. I didn’t get back to him for three months.
Ordinarily, I’d blame a depression alone, but in this case most of the fault lay with one that didn’t belong to me. I was watching Hurricane Michael at the time, and in that moment anything as near as next week felt like it had telescoped a thousand years into the future. Next week was far enough away for the post-hurricane people to worry about, those who would inherit the earth we left behind—the Dry Children. After days of anxiety, Michael decided to give my home a miss, nearly hit my mother’s and instead pulverize the childhood home of a friend of mine and disable a United States Air Force Base.
That was just a week, though, and the clock kept running, and since I have no one else to blame for waiting this long, I choose to pretend I delayed out of a stubborn commitment to being late. I watched blogs take off and didn’t try to start one until an entire generation of bloggers had already ascended to the ranks of legacy media cognoscenti and begun rotting in place. I started writing at Gawker long after they’d more or less die-cast the form. It only made sense, then, to wait until 1,000 jobs vanished from the journalism market the other week and threatened to glut Blogging: Generation Deux with voices to get back to work. It’s not the next big thing until I’m unfashionably late to it.
That’s what this is—a bet that the only sustainable model left for a lot of journalism and almost all writing that doesn’t look immediately profitable will take the form of the humble blog again, but with direct patronage and less of a need to write reviews of products and hope people click through and give you a sliver of Bezos’ cut from any purchase via the Amazon Affiliate Links program. In the next few weeks, I’ll begin publishing private, subscriber-only posts among free posts like the one you’re reading, but for now, everything new is Blogspot again.
In the meantime, in addition to what brung me—U.S. politics, which I wrote about at Rolling Stone and the Guardian and Esquire and Vice and a few more besides—I plan to write about this misbegotten state that the sky occasionally drops a daisy-cutter on. Not just Michael and its aftermath, but what it means to sustain a life on this spit of land that people tried to civilize by mistake, where tomorrow’s mistake gets road-tested today, where the horizons get taller by the gallon. If it’s a state that looks like (in polite company) a uvula, then it’s a good place to check to see if the rest of you will get sick.
There will be off-topic material as well.
Post Hurricane Michael. Photo by Joanne Elise Markey, Flickr creative commons.