There is no off position on the genius glitch: loving a disappearing Dave

In 2016, I watched a lot of Letterman on YouTube. It kept me sane. It rooted and reminded me that the more things change, the more they stay the same. (Dave’s 20-year-old jokes about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton could have been pasted from today’s headlines.) And thanks to two prolific uploaders—Daniel Poitras and Zschim—there is a wealth of shows to view from across the NBC and CBS years.

Embedded within these episodes, I began to notice interesting glitches: some were due to videotape malfunctions, others from some sort of encoding incompatibility. Still more were an indistinguishable combination of the two. I began collecting these as screen shots.

Quickly, I started to love cataloguing these images. Some were easier to grab than others: many sprawled out in time in beautiful deforming patterns, while others lasted for only a single frame. Each one seems to communicate something at once deeply intimate and far removed. Some are pure data. All of them are goofy.

In her essay entitled Loving A Disappearing Image, the author and professor Laura U. Marks writes: “Faded films, decaying videotapes, projected videos that flaunt their tenuous connection to the reality they index, all appeal to a look of love and loss.”

Writing on dupe aesthetics, the film scholar Lucas Hilderbrand says that each successive iteration of bootlegged media is “an illicit object, a forbidden pleasure watched and shared and loved to exhaustion.”

I suppose it was this forbidden pleasure—staring at the intersection of formats, of materiality and ephemerality, at history through the screen of the present—that compelled me to assemble these images.

I hope you enjoy them.



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Friday December 11th 2015

I waited at the ATM behind a man who was doing his monthly banking. He pulled several deposit envelopes from the dispenser. A few fell on the floor. Earlier, I’d gone to return some trousers to H&M, but had forgotten the receipt. The clerk told me I’d have to come back when I found it. I went home and watched the second Hunger Games film. It wasn’t very good. I recalled the importance of cleaning out the lint trap in the dryer every time I use it. It’s a fire hazard, for one thing. I needed to buy toothpaste and a new stopper for the drain in the bathtub. I thought about the infrequency of replacing each of these things—toothpaste hardly ever actually runs out, and a drain stopper should be good for years. A friend rang and told me to look at Twitter. Everyone was posting Upgrade button memes and adding “and chill” to every conceivable activity. A friend said, “The strongest act of resistance is to just keep going.”


Tech bro in a t-shirt and khaki shorts flying first class, I love you. Taxi driver with no knowledge of the city, I love you. Heavily made-up wealthy octogenarian woman double-parking a massive Merc, I love you. Pervert peeking at penises over a bathroom stall wall, I love you. Man with a “Trump 2016” bumper sticker on his pick-up truck, I love you. Girl with jeans ripped perfectly at the knees speaking vocal fry into an iPhone on the metro, I love you. Noisome old man, I love you. Pimply teenager in full-kit Adidas shouting loudly on the street about the results of a sporting match, I love you. Passive-aggressive lesbian with a cart-full of groceries in the 9-items-or-less aisle, I love you. Asian guy who’s racist against Arabs, I love you. Just-graduated student screeching from a limousine sunroof, I love you. Bearded dude in complicated glasses carefully surveying a gatefold record sleeve, I love you. Child throwing rocks into the open windows of passing cars, I love you. Insult comedian, I love you. Street harasser, I love you. Internet troll, I love you.

I love you.


A Thanksgiving Prayer, after William S. Burroughs

For Stephen Reid, may you soon know freedom.

Canadian Thanksgiving Day, October 13th, 2014.

Thanks for the tofurkey and pumpkin pie that apolitical hipsters will pass through their limp and lifeless insides.

Thanks for the Great White North, a whole country to poison and pollute beyond recognition and repair.

Thanks for the First Nations to elevate or ignore, praise or imprison, depending on our political needs.

Thanks for the Reservation system, upon which South African Apartheid was modeled.

Thanks for the Tar Sands, tailing ponds, and the disease, disfigurement, and death of thousands of unsuspecting and innocent animals.

Thanks for continuing to sell asbestos to developing nations, despite unanimous international agreement on its hazards.

Thanks for the Manning Centre for Destroying Democracy.

Thanks to the Harper Government for their unwavering contempt for Parliament, Sociology, and Science.

Thanks for disenfranchising students – who wants the educated to vote, anyway?

Thanks for the suburbs, the vast and homogenizing hoards.

Thanks for mandatory minimum sentencing, and perpetuating the futile war on drugs.

Thanks for the systematic deregulation and privatization of public wealth.

Thanks for an online world where we are either with the police or child pornographers – where everyone is under strict self-surveillance.

Thanks for killing off the CBC. Strombo always gave me anxiety attacks, and Don Cherry is a test pattern.

Thanks for weakening the strong, falsifying the truth, and enslaving the free.

Yes, thanks for finally fulfilling the Canadian Dream – a frozen land of frozen minds.


The NowHere Generation

Before she hooked up with Kanye West, I once had a torrid love affair on the back of a flatbed truck with Kim Kardashian. We were both travelling with the “People of Indeterminate Origins in Paris” tour. One night, Kim and I were en route to watch the premiere of Kanye’s latest video, which was being projected on the side of the Eiffel Tower – meaning that you could only see the diagonal bits. And even though I was standing right next to her, I texted Kim saying it was an OK video but not a brilliant one; it was fine for YouTube, but with some work it could make a wonderful Vine post. We had a good chuckle about it, and Kanye kneed me in the groin.

Later that spring, R. Kelly was summering on the upper west side of the Hollywood hills. (Summer came earlier there, due to golden showers.) R. had just finished pissing a painting on an teenager’s torso, which he planned on donating to an upcoming silent auction, with proceeds going to the Iowa chapter for the Republican Youth. And even though she was standing right next to me, Kim Kardashian texted me saying it was an OK painting but not a brilliant one. I texted back, punctuated with strategic emojis, saying that with some dandelion juice, it could be a fine painting. We had a good chuckle about it, and Kanye kneed me in the groin.

I remember the time when Jay-Z and Beyoncé came home from that crazy Super Bowl afterparty. It was mid-December. Beyoncé had just released her “haptic” album, and Jay and I “felt” it, and believed it to be an OK record but an unnecessary one, because of the past several hundred years of capitalism – plus blow-up dolls. We had a good chuckle about it, and Kanye kneed me in the groin.

A year earlier, we’d gone with the surviving members of Radiohead to the Amazon rainforest to sip on San Pedro cocktails and await the Mayan apocalypse. To me, Thom Yorke looked 46, and even though she was standing right next to me, Beyoncé texted me saying he was actually 45, but that he only looked 46, and I texted back saying that sometimes a man of 46 will look 45, whereas other times, a 45-year-old will look 46 on account of insufficient iron. That’s how it is with translucent Englishmen who’ve never seen the sunshine. We had a good chuckle about it, and Kim Kardashian kneed me in the groin.