The parks and libraries of the self are always about to be turned into condos

On 'vibing,' doing 'nothing,' and some of the other things I'm doing in 2021

Hey, it’s been a while.

This is a brief life-update piece, so if you don’t quite have the time now to read all that today, I’d love to hear how you’re doing in general! Our communities are strained more than ever now, and I want you to know I’m here.

Remember, you can always reply to these emails!


I took an extended break from the long-form newsletters; about four months. I haven’t stopped writing though, and we’ll get to that, but I took some sage advice and relinquished a lot of the pressure off myself from hyper-publically producing things for the first time in years. Given what all has happened interpersonally, nationally, and globally, that time has been extremely helpful and healing. So, thanks for letting me step away.

….unless you follow me on Twitter, in which case there’s no evidence of me having ever stepped away.

2020 was painful, sorrowful, and only eventually rehabilitating. Apart from watching it all helplessly from the sidelines, I’ve been mostly ‘vibing’ as writer Mary Retta wonderfully puts it. The Groundhog’s Day-like quality of lockdown and self-isolation over this extended period has fundamentally changed my priorities and perceptions of time. I know that hasn’t entirely been the experience for many. It’s been a privilege being able to focus entirely on my own wellbeing for such a long period of time. It’s helped. My hope is to articulate what I’ve learned from the opportunity and share it in new artful, community-building ways. Retta writes,

“For as long as I can remember, all of my anxieties have revolved around time: that I will not have enough time to do things, or that something is happening at the wrong time, has kept me awake at night on more than one occasion. That old adage to “take your time,” which I am certain is meant to comfort, has long left me bitter and confused. After all this take and take and take, what have I collected? What is it, exactly, that I am holding in my arms? I am not sure that time is a thing we can take or waste or save or give away. I have been so young for so long now I’m afraid it has grown tiresome. I was once scared that time might leave me behind but today I welcome it’s escape. I don’t want to take my time anymore. I want to set it free.”

First, a small housekeeping thing:

It was confusing as heck last year to follow me as I scattered myself across platforms and a clown car full of links and payment processors, that’s entirely on me, but tylerscruggs.com is now the one-stop for all things me and my art and writing. No more Patreon, no more Squarespace, no more having to type ‘Substack’ (though my site now uses its features). Heck, I’ve even dropped the never-utilized CTRL./ALT./DEL. and Digital Artifacts publication titles. It took some time to get here but now we’re here. Tell your friends. You can unlock archived pre-2020 posts by subscribing, and you can email me to talk about whatever at T@tylerscruggs.com. 🧘‍♂️

Secondly, I want to share a bit of what I’ve been up to:

  • I’ve done some podcast guest spots recently, peep The Nostalgia Trap (on capitalism and David Lynch’s Eraserhead), Is This Podcast Name Taken?, and The Youth Critic (on Wonder Woman 1984) if you’d like!

  • The big news, I’m finishing up my third record. For years it’s always been ‘Album 3’ for the longest time as an abstract idea, but in October what I wanted to do and say suddenly all clicked and came together as a coherent, album-length thought.

    It’s called Televangelist, and it’s an album about wavering faith in a crass world that capitalizes on it. I’m dying to share it with you as soon as I can. 📺 💿🍻

    Some false starts occurred getting it off the ground last year with indie labels and a brief American Idol stint (seriously), but I would call it about 75% or 80% done now. Definitely the closest it’s ever been to being done lol. But, I cannot mix it myself I’ve determined, and there are some instruments I know would perform better in more capable hands to make it the best possible. So it exists, but not how I’d like it to.

    I’m in the process of getting that help now, but if you’re a musician and/or producer looking for a (paid!) gig pleaseeee email me at T@tylerscruggs.com

  • A running theme from my writing last year (pre-pandemic) was the looming fear of losing my health insurance at 26 and now mid-pandemic, it happened. I hope to have it sorted this year but the timing is...pretty bad. The experience has pushed me to be even more politically active than I had been before, with a greater emphasis on offline activism and aid. I’ve joined a few organizations following the 2020 election, and I’m looking forward to talking more about that soon.

  • My sister Katie took today’s picture, and she just recently released her debut EP under the name Color Math. Check it out! Streaming everywhere!

  • I’m making a more concerted effort to keep these shorter. Turns out I had a book worth of things in me to think through and work out. So, I’m writing that book instead of publishing 3000-word rambling with sporadically inspired ideas. It’s not something I’ll take very seriously until the album is done, but it’s on the to-do list. It’s nice for now to write for simply me.

I have two newsletter pieces for the very near future. The new goal is to publish three of these a month. One coming soon is on WandaVision, mystery storytelling, and Twin Peaks. The other is on screenwriter Charlie Kaufman’s novel Antkind and Netflix’s Malcolm & Marie. Please let me know if you also read Antkind or saw Malcolm & Marie because there’s a lot to unpack here…! Let’s talk about it.

You can also always keep up with what I’m reading on Bookshop.org or audiobooks at Libro.fm.

I hope you’re staying safe. I trust you’re making it work. I leave you with another chunk of Jenny Odell’s book How To Do Nothing in hopes you’ll join me in vibing through whatever else the future throws at us. Let’s stick together. 🍻

“It’s a bit like falling in love -- that terrifying realization that your fate is linked to someone else’s, that you are no longer your own. But isn’t that closer to the truth anyway? Our fates are linked, to each other, to the places where we are, and everyone and everything that lives in them. How much more real my responsibility feels when I think about it this way! This is much more than just an abstract understanding that our survival is threatened by global warming, or even a cerebral appreciation for other living beings and systems. Instead this is an urgent, personal recognition that my emotional and physical survival are bound up with theses ‘strangers’, not just now, but for life.”