My Internet: Sasha Frere-Jones
The writer-musician wishes he had kept his VHS of the 1979 Bad Brains movie.
Every Friday, we quiz a very cool “very online” person to get their essential guide to what’s good on the internet.
Today we welcome writer and musician Sasha Frere-Jones, whose newsletter, S/FJ, was described as “a buffet of perfect obscurities and personal passions” by Rachel Seville Tashjian in The Cut. He’s completing a draft of his memoir, Earlier, and planning reissues of his former band Ui’s albums. His current group, Body Meπa, is at work on the follow-up to their 2021 debut album, which critic Robert Christgau included in his year-end “Dean’s List.”
Sasha got a 2012 MacBook Pro for Christmas, will watch anything on YouTube because he loves life, and asks crypto enthusiasts to please read like one book and stop thinking this is anything. —Nick
What's a recent meme or other post that cracked you up?
Would you say that you have an Instagram aesthetic? How would you describe it?
I do what seems standard: Selfies and friend/family photos on main, intermittently, so people can see what I look like and catch up with the family. Whatever dumb shit happens that day goes in stories. I’m on private so it’s not like the stakes are very high. Instagram is sad flypaper but it’s good for spamming my friends.
What type of stuff do you watch on YouTube?
I love life. I'll watch anything. Mostly I look for songs not on streaming services and concert footage. I liked Noz’s best rap of 2012 and this Eric Harvey attempt to compile Snoopy’s famous dub list. There is a great British live music show from 1982 called The Tube, and the entire run is up now. I also forget how long to bake chicken thighs, so that’s a YouTube moment. I keep watching early Sabbath and Floyd footage. I’ve watched every James Baldwin and John Berger clip a zillion times.
Do you use TikTok? If so, how would you describe what shows up on your For You Page?
I got on TikTok about a year ago. It’s TV now, everything good and bad about social media jammed into the frame of public access cable. It’s getting hosed with money, so it may not be able to represent any real community for long. I only started posting a few months ago. I follow almost everyone who does something I like, so my FYP is chaos. Lots of guitarists and Doja Cat and jokes and people trying to electrocute rocks. The first month or so was just Petey USA. I get lots of chop chop cooking videos, which is getting old. Anybody falling down gets my vote, tho. I like @drewafualo and @cyberexboyfriend.
Do you ever tweet? Why?
I do. It’s the street and even if it sucks, it’s still the street.
Have you ever had a post go viral? What was that experience like?
Who's the coolest person who follows you?
Who's someone more people should follow?
Which big celebrity has your favorite internet presence, and why?
The Rock. He needs to make stuff and co-brand and be Number One as an American in such an American way for America. He will be President and I don't want him to put me into one of his Under Armour holding cells, so I “like” every single one of his “posts” and drink Zoa and say “you guys” to my friends in case he’s around the corner signing footballs.
Do you ever comment on or reply to posts? Which platforms? Why?
If someone seems sane, why not? Despite the shit I’ve gotten, I’ve never experienced anything as bad as any woman online. I think the US government should pay Talia Lavin’s rent for the rest of time as recompense for the abuse she’s gotten.
Where do you tend to get your news?
From a little jar of pennies.
What's your favorite non-social media app?
What does this mean !!
What are you willing to pay for online?
For an ISP? I use NYC Mesh. If you live in a city with mesh, do it. The internet is not owned by a company. You can just go to an internet exchange, break off some internet and send it through a wifi mesh network (which distributes the signal via dishes on rooftops). You can also send your internet through dark optic fiber (the fibers that aren’t being used) which is much faster but more complicated.
Do you have strong feelings about blockchain tech or cryptocurrencies?
I went to an Ethereum conference five years ago. Everyone there was in finance. Crypto will be a force for good to that extent that, say, silver dollars are. The bad guys will control all of it before long. Please read like one book and stop thinking this is anything. We are destroying what little is left of the earth with these electric dumbass mines.
Do you subscribe to any Substacks or other independent newsletters? What are your favorites?
Are you into any podcasts right now? How and when do you usually listen?
Do you have an opinion on Twitter Spaces or Clubhouse?
Conference calls are dumb.
Have you ever been heavily into Snapchat? Around what age?
I tried following my kids about six years ago and then they blocked me.
Are you nostalgic for Vine or Tumblr? Why?
Art needs barriers to entry! Having to do it in six seconds? Absolutely ignited the community. Vine was the best. My fav Tumblr was and is Fette, a true original, who is still out here posting!! Like and subscribe!!
Do you consider yourself part of any specific online communities?
I follow Reddit threads and other forums but I don't post.
Are you playing any games right now? Do you watch any gamers live stream on Twitch or another platform?
I almost went broke on Robotron and Missile Command and Asteroids but I stopped playing video games in 1985 when my local pizza parlor took out the Tempest machine. The last 37 years of this shit is not for me. I don't like it when game images look like people and I don’t want any of these games in my house. Wait—I like Super Mario. OK, I do like one game.
Do you text people voice notes? If not, how do you feel about getting them?
Love them collect them all have sent a few into my family crypt.
Do any of your group chats have a name that you're willing to share? What's something that recently inspired debate in the chat?
Fam, Check-In, L Train, Hamburgers, Keks, Body Meπa, Ui, Horns, Next Level Digital Shit, Hyperlink Bobby, Williams-Bonoma, Hot FBI Fork, Wild Jensen, Lord Stabs. We recently got excited about covid tests.
What's your go-to emoji, and what does it mean to you?
The rosette. It means you’re doing the work, trying to elevate. 🏵 🏵 🏵
What's a playlist, song, album, or style of music you’ve streamed a lot lately?
If you could only keep Netflix, Disney, HBO Max, or one other streaming service, which would it be, and why?
Netflix because it has Toast of London. Update: Toast left, so screw ‘em. I think Amazon has most of the stuff we love, like Le Bureau and Bron/Broen. Who has Babylon Berlin? Netflix. Ah! HBO Max has Succession. One cannot win.
What's the most basic thing that you love online?
Is there any content you want that you can't seem to find anywhere online?
All of Chris Marker’s films, and a high-res version of My Picture In The Movies, Baby, the 1979 Bad Brains movie. I used to have a VHS copy that’s way better quality than the YouTube rips, but alas.
Do you regularly use eBay, Depop, or other shopping platforms? What's a recent thing you've bought or sold?
For Xmas, Heidi got me a MacBook Pro 2012, which was an eBay moment. That model has my favorite keyboard ever. I’m using it now. I’m looking for another A1398 screen, mint, to repair my other very delaminated 2012 machine. I also have a 2019 MacBook Pro but the keyboard is like little svelte chiclets and my ham hands just go clackety all over.
Have you recently read an article, book, or social media post about the internet that you’ve found particularly insightful?
Taylor Lorenz’s TikTok is like an agony aunt column for the internet, in the best way. Lili Loofborouw wrote a Slate piece about the bad faith nature of Twitter and how it has affected discourse, in general, not just “discourse.” Required reading, that one.
What's one thing you recommend for maintaining a healthy relationship with the internet?
Stay on it all day long and never look away.
What's one wish you have for the internet in 2022?
Longer work days.
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