Good morning. Hello. How are you? #841
Yo La Tengo at Cat's Cradle, SVB implosion, fake booze update, missing a lost friend after twelve years, The Cure tour
Good morning! Hello there? How are you? All good? I do hope so. I’m all right. I would like to start off by acknowledging that Hello Kitty was FACING THE DOOR and we were seeing the back of Hello Kitty’s head in Jane’s drawing yesterday. Thank you everyone who wrote in clarifying this. It seems so obvious in hindsight. I was dumb. Also, Ryan was the quickest to tell me he wins a prize.
We went and saw Yo la Tengo last night. They were very good! I have many thoughts. Their new album is a revelation. Would I call it a massive change in style? No, not really. But I would call it a phenomenal record that has a consistent point of view that is a shockingly stellar release so late in a career. Maybe something akin to Fetch the Bolt Cutters. I’ve seen Yo La Tengo a lot. I dunno maybe 20 times across 30 years. My gig list lists 20, but I know I am forgetting some. First time was 1992 in LA, opening for My Bloody Valentine. Last time before last night was the 2021 Hannukah shows with Eleventh Dream Day. I had kind of figured — erroneously as it turns out — that with such a strong single POV with the new album that maybe the live show would be different and they would also have a single strong POV across their 10 or so musical styles. But nope. They did a normal Yo La Tengo show. This is, to be clear, just great. They mix up their set every night, the band probably knows 200 songs or more offhand to play at any given night. It was a great set. I was very happy. We left after two hours after they played “Sugarcube.” I mean, c’mon. What a bang for the buck. Actually lemme go check and see wha they played for the encore. “Pass the Hatchet,” a Kinks gover, an NRBQ cover and a deep cut from President Yo La Tengo, requested by shoutout from the audience. Okay, well, that would have been awesome to see. See? Those peeps know a lot of songs. Still. I am happy with my decision leaving when I did.
The people watching at Cat’s Cradle, I have to say, is just stellar. College normies, deep deep lifestyle aging rockers, glam kids, medical professionals, dressed-to-the-nines debutantes. It really is the best. Emma and I stand in the bank in our masks like pariahs, monitoring our CO2 monitor, and watch the show and the show. Jon Wuster showed up in his orange rocker pants and watched about half the show and waltzed out. Seriously. They were really good rockstar pants. He’s got it down for a weeknight in Chapel Hill. Fit right in in LA.
One revelation I had is that the grizzled, jaded, badass service workers — bartenders and barbacks with their tattoos and hoop earrings — who one innately respects for their dedication to that lifestyle and their utter indifference to the amazing music being played in front of them at any given time… well, it occurred to me that they predominantly look like… children these days. That was not a great revelation.
I wore my The New Year shirt I bought at the Middle East Upstairs at The New Year gig on the Newness Ends tour because, you know, it’s important to win at the T-Shirt game and no one really noticed except Yo La Tengo’s merch girl who lost her shit over it so I guess I won. Feel pretty good about that.
Also I would just like to say that them playing “Sugarcube” reminded me of the I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One tour where Kris Canning used her merch girl connections and got all of us roommates into the Providence show at some college’s quad: me, her, Jill, Jon K, and I think maybe Al? Someone else. Anyway, it was at the show where I saw an old guy with a toddler on his shoulders explaining to her that seeing Yo La Tengo was like her getting to see Britney and thank you for her patience and right there I found myself wanting a kid so, so bad. It was latent before, but that was the moment.
And tomorrow marks the twelfth anniversary since Jill passed. It’ll be the weekend so I won’t write about it, but hearing “Sugarcube” brought me back to that time, our first stint as roommates, and it made me miss her anew. She really was a wonderful human. True force of nature.
Anyway, during Yo La Tengo I was slightly distracted by the utter implosion of SVB, or Silicon Valley Bank for you lucky (so lucky) non-techies out there. What we got right here is a good old fashioned bank run and, double checking the news right now this morning, I am very surprised it survived the night and as of now the Feds, JPM, or Warren Buffet haven’t stepped in to save it. Of course, Silicon Valley is hubristic and fantastically wealthy and notoriously libertarian so you’d assume that the plutocrats of the Valley would pull a JP Morgan in 1907 or SBF in 2022 — as is your wont to view the glass half full or empty — and save the bank themselves but nah. Whole valley dropped their beloved namesake bank like a hot potato and turned their backs on it, just like they do to every Series A company that has almost found product market fit but was off by three or four months. Thank U, Next.
So what happened here? This is my analysis. This is not hyperbole or a joke:
Silvergate, an actual, legal, honest-to-god US American bank (located on the West Coast) that isn’t supposed to fail, failed last week because all of their clients were crypto clients and even though they were “well capitalized.” Silicon Valley, of course, let it go because Crypto isn’t cool anymore. But they also realized “oh, hey, banks that have only one customer base are a bit more risky than well-diversified banks.” They are geniuses of course, and should have known this already but nah.
Silicon Valley Bank is a west coast bank with a single customer base.
Silicon Valley Bank also starts with the letter S. You may think this is irrelevant but it absolutely is not.
All banks right now — this is important and true: it is all banks — are kinda fucked because there was no interest for years and years and they took deposits and need to make enough money off of those deposits to run their banks and interest rates are garbage. So they’ve been doing.. I wouldn’t say riskier bets, that’s not it but, more long term bets. Longer the loan, higher the rate of return and (sometimes) interest rate. I am simplifying a bit. But over the long term, everything else the same, long-term loans make more money. Remember. All banks did this.
So then interest rates rise and a) they suddenly could have deployed that money in better returns, and b) their money is locked up in these long term things and c) those long-term things are worth less because they’re less demand for them because you can get more return elsewhere.
So — and remember this is basically all banks — banks don’t want to lend right now. Their powder is used up. They have capitalization requirements from the feds and the stock market, so all their loans are locked up in these shitty long term things that they either have to sell at a loss or just let sit there doing nothing for them.
So then you have three choices: let it sit there and do nothing, sell at a loss, or go try and raise more money so you can actually do what a bank wants to do, which is lend money and make a profit doing so.
On top of all that, for SVB in particular, tech sucks, tech firms are all a lot pooror than before, and VC is down and IPOs are off, so the deposits in SVB are going down. This part is not all banks. But this part would have been fine. On its own.
But then they went and had to sell some of those crappy investments at a loss to cover this. This also would have been fine. Were it not for Silvergate and the fact that Silvergate and Silicon both start with an S and both banks are on the west coast and both banks have “non diversified customer bases”
So then! This is what really killed them. Probably before most of the above sprung into destructive action, the CEO of SVB (and, one assumes, the board, who will now fire him as a scapegoat) decided to solve the problems outlined above in point 6, by selling some stock. This was almost certainly viewed as a bold move to grow. No one at the bank realized the magnitude and import of points 1-3 above. They probably thought that the lesson from Silvergate was “don’t have a crypto base of customers.” They probably thought it was ridiculous anyone would see anything in common between the two banks.
They were wrong.
Everyone freaked out and we had a good old classic bank run.
In one day. A 40 year-old bank with 6,600 employees. Almost certainly gone. I mean, the end hasn’t been written yet. Is there a white night? Names being tossed around are Truist, JPM, Walmart, Apple, etc etc. I vote Truist. Or maybe there are no buyers.
We will see. We will see.
So that was all going down while I was at Yo La Tengo, and I’d taken an edible to deal with my back pain and wow it was all very surreal. Bank failures. Two! In a week.
What a world, what a world. Yo La Tengo’s new album is called This Stupid World. They might be on to something.
I forgot to give you a fake booze update. Three fake whiskeys have now arrived. They’re all… not good straight. Gnista is the best on its own. All three mixed, with a splace of Ginger Ale and very cold is pretty solid. They are good in an old fashioned though, so that is nice. Old fashioned and fake Guinnesses is pretty legit, I gotta say. A second fake Gin came last night. Right before the show I took a swig and it was good. I got some orange bitters today on the Walmart run. Excited for Negroni attempt 2 tonight.
I’m really into this. Especially since Emma and I can sit at our cocktail table in the basement and drink in the evening and have conversations and I don’t get progressively more drunk through the course of the conversation until I’m not making any sense. This is MUCH BETTER. Fake booze RULES.
Anyway, the other two whiskeys were NKD LDY and CleanW. Both were okay in a cocktail or with ginger ale. Would not recommend straight. The new gin is Ish. That’s the name: Ish. It’s the best fake spirit I’ve found save for the Dr. Zero Zero amaro.
The bitter hemp one all the bartnders love should arrive tomorrow.
Did the Walmart run this morning. Walmart was fine, McDonald’s was fine. Trans worker wasn’t there alas. I parked in the strip mall parking lot to eat my breakfast and my god, people are feral in parking lots at 6:30 in the morning. No one drives in the lanes. Everyone criss-crosses the lot. There is something in human blood that makes us crave breaking parking lot rules. It’s somewhat terrifying.
I got a second hash brown and I regret it.
Oh shit SVB was just halted trading pending news. HERE IT COMES. Please anyone but JPM. Well, and Elon. Thank god he’s out of money.
Two more quick items for today. Shit, man. I had no items yesteday and now I have so many.
The Cure announced dates. They are using that Ticketmaster advance sale process that they used for Taylor. I’ve used it once again since then and it worked okay. I assume it’ll work okay for the Cure. I am very excited. I put Merriweather Post down as my first choice because it is close (ish) and probably the smallest venue on the tour, and it has a lawn so I can bring Jane and she can run around. Atlanta second. If they add a third choice, like they did for Taylor, I will do Boston. Please don’t let tickets be $400 that is too much. Peter Gabriel is coming, too, but nowhere near me and it seems pretty expensive. I MIGHT try to go to Boston for it, but god. These shows are so expensive. It’s all so far away. It hurts. It hurts.
And on that note, no, I am not going to SXSW this year. I do miss it. I will go someday again. But not this year. I have been saying this for three years. The FOMO will be hard. But not as hard as last year I bet. And I really, really love my house, and my wife, and my daughter. Domestic comforts man, they are profound and real.
Love you guys.
Modern Synthpop mix today. It’s two minutes short, don’t judge me, I got shit to do. All new here, get your new fresh synthpop right here. Been working on this one for, like, three months so some of it is a little spotty in my memory. Forgive me.
i hope you'll do an official round-up of all the spirits once you've completed your taste tests! and did you gather up any NA mezcal? that's been my vice lately.
we'll spiritually raise a glass to jill tomorrow. xo
BTW as I age I'm getting the urge to visit classic venues (like some people try to make it to a lot of ballparks) and Cat's Cradle is first on my list. Will prob be flying down for a night at some point in the next year. YLT would've been perfect but timing didn't work.