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Volume 474

Logos of the past, Florida men of the moment, and cities of the future: this week’s coolsh*t is taking you on a journey through space, time… and Jacksonville. And if you’re hungry, we’re also offering a breakfast of champions topped with a drizzle of reactionary rage. Tuck in.

Taking Off.

One of the lovely biproducts of having done coolsh*t for such a long time is that we get to see things develop from mere theoretical hatchlings into tangible realities. I imagine this is how it feels to be a parent. They grow up so damn fast. One day they’re just a clickbait headline about space tourism hot air balloons, then before you know it they’re fully built and will soon be capable of taking eight passengers and a captain beyond Earth’s atmosphere. But they’ll still always be mummy’s special little soldier.

After more than a decade of work, Space Perspective have finished building Excelsior, the spaceflight test capsule of Spaceship Neptune – because it makes perfect sense to name something being sent into space after the Roman god of the sea. Hopefully their engineering is a bit tighter than their mythology. And yes we’re aware it’s also a planet but they’re not going there so that doesn’t make sense either. Shut up.

The capsule even comes equipped with a first-class Space Lounge complete with Wi-Fi, gourmet culinary offerings, plush seating, luxury amenities, and something they’re calling a “Space Spa”. And who wouldn’t want to receive foot-rub whilst looking down upon the pyramids? Richard Branson is on an island somewhere punching the air right now.

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Mohammed bin Busy.

To continue our proud parent analogy: of all our coolsh*t children, NEOM is probably our favourite. Yes, of course parents have favourites. Anyone who insists otherwise is simply refusing to come to terms with the fact that they probably weren’t it. And NEOM is this family’s great hope. We’re scrimping to send NEOM to university while Spaceship Neptune is forced to live in a cupboard under the stairs subsisting only on burnt toast and emotional neglect. I think we may have accidentally started describing the plot to Harry Potter there.

If you’re new around here you might not be aware of NEOM, the Saudi megacity of the future currently being constructed as part of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s vision to drag the nation to the forefront of the world stage, even if he must do so with it kicking and screaming with a bag over its head.

If NEOM is our favourite child, THE LINE is its favourite toy. Stretching 170km across the desert to the Red Sea, THE LINE is a linear smart city designed to have no cars, streets or carbon emissions. Oh, and it’s also reflective, which as far as we can tell is mainly just for shits n gigs. It sounded daft when we first spoke about it a year or so ago, but the lunatics are only bloody building the thing. And isn’t it beautiful? The Central Line is looking shoddier by the day.

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Sticky Situation.

Advertising can be a world of solipsistic self-obsession in which it becomes difficult to see the forest for the trees. It is rare for a campaign to break through to truly permeate mainstream culture and reach those plebians who waste their lives on trivial pursuits such as spending time with loved ones rather than trawling through The Drum. And when something does break through, it’s often because it has attracted the reactionary ire of right-wing media lamenting the decline of civilisation (Tucker Carlson’s green M&Ms tirade is a case in point).

Having used virtually the same packaging for 141 years (a world record), Lyle’s Golden Syrup partially rebranded this week. The dead lion surrounded by bees has been killed and replaced by a living lion surrounded by no bees, and for some reason this has provoked a disproportionately Brobdingnagian uproar in response.

GB news had a spirited debate about whether the rebrand is a microcosmic representation of the moral degradation of society. It also appears that their discussion followed a segment about Julian Assange’s dubiously lawful imprisonment in which we are witnessing the death of a man as well as the death of journalistic freedom. But who cares about that? We have far more important matters to discuss. Get back to syrup.

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Cereal Killers.

Full disclosure: this Quaker Oats ad initially caught the eye because it presented an opportunity to opine to a captive audience on two fascinating subjects that most people aren’t interested in: 1) the mineral absorption-limiting phytic acid content of oats, and 2) Richard Nixon (who was a devout quaker). And I’m nothing if not an opportunist…

…But then I watched the ad. Now I don’t want to talk about either of those things. I just want to cry. Granted, that may be because I had porridge for breakfast and am consequently now severely deficient in iron and zinc. Either way, to take a subject as mundane as breakfast and create something so genuinely emotionally evocative is no mean feat and deserves recognition. A tip of the wideawake hat to you, sir/madam.

This also made me realise that I have basically no idea what sort of mad shit quakers actually believe in, so I took this chance to edify myself. It turns out their core principles can be distilled into a fun little acronym: Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, Stewardship (SPICES). That sounds… quite nice? Shit, did I just become a quaker?

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The Florida Man Cometh.

The land that brought us innovations such as bottomless refills and the chilli cheese dog, America is a hot bed of the most refined expressions of high culture. And the Florida Man is one of the phenomena emerging from the States in recent years that has brought untold joy to supercilious wankers such as myself all around the globe.

What started as a meme in 2013 referring to an alleged prevalence of people performing irrational, maniacal and typically illegal actions in the state of Florida has over time developed its own palpable mythology. The Florida Man is like bigfoot, if bigfoot were wearing a MAGA hat and wrestling an alligator. This week the legend of the Florida Man reached its logical apotheosis as Floridians descended upon Jacksonville to take part in the inaugural Florida Man Games and stake their claim as the most unhinged individual in the most unhinged state in one of the most unhinged countries in this unhinged world.

Events in the games included the “Evading Arrest Obstacle Course”, the “Category 5 Cash Grab” and something called “Eat the Butt”, in which participants simply had to eat as much pork as humanly possible. This is what liberty looks like. Imbibe it. Get drunk on it. Then go for a drive, as is your God-given, constitutionally-enshrined right. And if anyone tries to take your keys, just throw a Budweiser in their face and call them a communist.

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Spaceship Neptune, NEOM and now Liquid Death. This is like a coolsh*t greatest hits. Or a sad reunion for a 90s sitcom where all the cast members are now either fat, addicted to drugs or dead – apart from that one Scientologist, who is a picture of health.

Liquid Death are a prime example of the power of divergent thinking. They must be fellow admirers of Charles Fourier’s principle of l’ecart absolu. Or they’re just batshit insane. Either way, over the last few years Liquid Death have mastered the art of the publicity stunt, and this latest one is their pièce de resistance. We’re going to stop speaking French now.

A couple weeks ago Liquid Death launched a Super Bowl-adjacent stunt offering other brands the opportunity to buy ad space on their boxes. They pitched this as a worthwhile investment since an advertiser who spent $7million on a Super Bowl spot would “only” reach 100m viewers, whereas an on-pack promo with Liquid Death would reach the roughly 200m Americans who shop at retail outlets each week.

After an intense bidding war, the winner is… Coinbase. The crypto bros ponied up $500k for 500k cases, making this the ninth-largest sale in eBay history. Masterclass. Now I’m off to buy some Bitcoin and drink some delightfully carbonated water. Ciao ciao.

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