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Milltown Meltdown

I saw my own shadow today
February 2, 2022

Editor’s note: Callen Hutton is our weekly contributor to Senses, an artist, an amateur comic, and a brilliant writer. Today she braves her own shadow to share her own experience with crisis fatigue.linked

These last few years, right? We’re all tired—fatigued, even—from the constant threat of plans being canceled last minute, our ‘on-again, off-again’ relationship with how much toilet paper we need to keep on hand at any given moment, and the looming weight of what crazy news story we’ll wake up and read tomorrow. Because of this chronic crisis fatigue, little things can seem like really big things when it comes to bad news.

For me, it was the passing of Milltown Mel. I read the news of his passing at my desk this morning and unexpectedly wept.

“Who the hell is Milltown Mel?” you might be asking yourself. I would have asked myself the same question, because until today I had never heard of him. Mel, a figurehead groundhog, becomes a predictor of the weather every February 2, as is tradition. Today, news of Mel’s life cut short was the feather that tipped the scales for me to cry out, “I can’t take anymore bad news!”

Why this? Why is this what broke me? It wasn’t Kobe and Gianna on their way to the game. It wasn’t Bob Saget back at his comedy tour, or Betty White barely missing centenarian status as People magazine flaunted it on their cover. It wasn’t even my own grandfather’s passing last year that left me sitting at my desk feeling like I couldn’t take it anymore.

It was the photo of that damn grass-covered New Jersey off-brand Punxsutawney Phil that pushed me over the edge. Days before his triumphant annual meteorological declaration—his one chance to receive all the fame, glory, and recognition a groundhog could ever need—he died. The town had to suddenly cancel the ceremony because all the other groundhogs were hibernating and they couldn’t find a last minute replacement. 

All at once, the life of this rodent was an allegory for my own. For all of us.

Maybe because real life now feels like a perpetual Groundhog Day. One overgrown squirrel possessed the power to call off this relentless winter with a few feeble words from his shadow that had been taken from us all too soon. What perilous times we live in — Groundhog Day can’t even happen. I sat hopelessly at my desk, and honestly, all I wanted to do was go out for two scoops of chocolate ice cream (in a waffle cone) on a Wednesday morning in February, in the midst of historic winter weather. At least Joe Biden and I have this one thing common.

In this moment, I saw my own shadow.

But winter eventually ends. Spring eventually comes. And Punxsatawney Phil saves the day, filling in for our beloved Milltown Mel. That woodchuck weatherman says winter will only last six more weeks.

All things are seasonal, even grief. Life goes dormant, and then awakens to the hope of Spring.

Whenever your Milltown Mel Meltdown Moment strikes, remember that this metaphorical meteorological winter will eventually end. We’re not actually TV Weatherman Phil Connors, and that’s something to celebrate. Cue the Five Stairsteps singing “Ooh Child”. Things are going to get easier. 

Happy Groundhog Day, everyone.

 — Callen

The Pygmalion Effect / Tobi Joins Coinbase. In what is likely to be remembered as a turning point for Web3 and the metaverse, Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke joins the Coinbase Board of Directors, signalling the old guard of Web 2 becoming the progenitors of the new era of Web 3. For more on our perspective of the Metaverse and Web 3, and the role that DTC brands have to play, read Insiders #108: The Idolatry of the Algorithm.

The Product Eternal / Uniqlo Launches Repair Service. The brand recently launched Re.Uniqlo Repair Studio, a hub for replacing shirt buttons, mending seam rips, and patching holes, at its New York flagship in SoHo. All repairs cost $5 and are done by Uniqlo’s alterations staff. Additional repairs may also be addressed based on customer needs.

Editor’s note: repair and resale are central themes to The Product Eternal — an emerging consumer trend included as ongoing coverage through the Vision Report series. Read more about it here.

More Sights and Sounds. Bolt CEO and Founder, Ryan Breslow has stepped away from his title, trading it for the role of executive chairman.Apple is dropping some new inclusive and risqué emojis. The New York Times is buying Wordle. And the Nordstrom heir-apparent(ly) has a podcast. The first two guests? His relatives. HitPiece is infuriating musicians by dropping music NFTs of artists without their permission. Web3 is over as Nirvana lovers are cringing at the non-Grunge-ible tokens featuring Kurt Cobain being released. And Joni joined Neil’s fight against Spotify.

The Platinum Jubbly. What do you call the queen’s 70 year reign? According to the 10,000 pieces of misprinted celebratory souvenirs, it’s referred to as a “Platinum Jubbly.”

Brands as Performance Art / Mr. Beast and the Chocolate Factory. Call your distant, depressed, and bedridden relatives! YouTuber, Jimmy Donaldson, AKA MrBeast has launched a chocolate bar series containing 10 mystery tickets! The recipients will be eligible to win, amongst other things, a chocolate factory. It’s like Willy Wonka meets McDonald’s Monopoly.

What makes a great brand? Pattern co-founder Emmett Shine has launched a new 10-part series exploring what makes a great brand. “It takes a lot of work to build a great brand,” says Emmett. “It has to be organic, human, and feel like it has a reason to exist. A great brand is like a great person,” Shine continues, “you trust them, enjoy their company, and want to spend time in their presence.”

JPEGS are national security. The White House is setting an executive action in motion to prioritize cryptocurrency regulations. Federal agencies will be tasked with beefing up regulatory rules around digital assets, including NFTs. Protect our speculative earnings at all costs.

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