Indignity Vol. 2, No. 64: Happy Indigniversary!


Indignity Vol. 2, No. 64: Happy Indigniversary!

Celebrating One Year of Indignity

GOOD MORNING! One year ago today, we delivered Indignity Vol. 1, No. 1. If you were with us in the beginning, thank you for sticking with us all this while. If you joined us sometime afterward, for one of the 114 other emails since then, thank you for that, too.

How are we doing? When we commenced our current dealings with Substack, with the backing of a one-year Substack Pro grant, we told the people at the platform "we guarantee content." Between those 115 regular emails, our intermittent Orioles Minute audiocast, and our still-recently introduced Wordle Postgame Report, we have delivered on that promise.

Have we turned that reliable (if erratically scheduled) delivery of reading (and sometimes listening) material into the sort of robust and ever-accelerating audience and revenue growth that would prove the value of the individual micro-entrepreneur business model of publishing, on which the newsletter revolution has depended? No. We have not.

Our graphs for subscriber numbers and annualized revenue are both, gratifyingly, steady upward slopes from left to right over time. We operate under the belief that if we keep publishing things we're interested in publishing, more and more readers will keep finding them. The shape of the graph says that belief is correct. The absolute numbers on the Y axis say—

Ah. Yes. Well. Despite the generosity of our benefactors at Substack in supporting our efforts for a year, as part of their effort to promote their platform, we are not sure that the underlying premise—that creative and ambitious people can independently write and publish their own work, while simultaneously marketing that work, also independently—has turned out to be all that sound, or generalizable. There's a reason even tiny, scrappy media startups tend to hire a business person early on.

We would say this leaves Indignity at a crossroads, but "crossroads" implies that we are looking at various roads leading this way or that way. It's more of one paved road that as of tomorrow suddenly turns into gravel, and the gravel on closer inspection turns out to be railway ballast, and somewhere in the distance off to the left, down—oh, hey, these are tracks, aren't they?—is the bright little headlight of an oncoming freight train labeled "THE MORTGAGE."

And yet! We are having a lot of fun writing Indignity for you. Now that our obligation to Substack is expiring, leaving us free agents, we are looking for other ways to keep on having that fun. Maybe one of you, our loyal readers, will feel the impulse to voluntarily increase your personal subscription payment by a factor of a few hundred. Maybe some other funding arrangement will pan out. Maybe a large and prosperous legacy publication will decide it wants to add Indignity to its stable of voices. If you can think of a good one, please let us know. Stranger things have happened!

But right now we're having a little birthday party. We're happy we've been able to share with you the post about the new bird, and the one about the Biblical meteor airburst, and the one about the appalling habits of orcas, and all the ones about The Worst Thing We Read This Week, and all the other ones besides those. From our least-read email, about the late Washington Post opinion editor Fred Hiatt and his section's enthusiasm for war in Iraq, to our most-read ones, about Mary H.K. Choi's apple reviews and about the mainstream enthusiasm for Great Replacement Theory, we have been eager to try out ideas and see if they find readers.

If you've enjoyed any of our items, please try sharing them with your friends or even with strangers, and encourage your friends and strangers to share them with their friends and strangers. Maybe despite the past results and our own limitations, we can make those upward-going lines on the graph go up much more sharply, like the global-warming graphs, only the opposite, both importance-wise and catastrophe-wise. Maybe in the end, none of us will be strangers to anyone else, ever again.

We thank you again for reading through this year. We thank Josh Benson, our pal and our Substack-funded editor, for editing us, and we thank the folks at Substack for underwriting these 12 months. In honor of your ongoing support, and in honor of Substack's less-ongoing support, we present to you a special Getty Images photo gallery, downloaded before our Getty Images privileges get sharply curtailed on Thursday. The theme is INDIGNITY.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 3: John Kelly's dog, Charlie, suffering the INDIGNITY of wearing a clear plastic cone around his neck as a skin infection heals. (Photo by John Kelly/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Fridge magnets featuring Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Harry with his wife Meghan Markle are displayed outside a souvenir shop opposite Windsor Castle on February 17, 2022. - Disgraced British royal Prince Andrew was urged to disappear forever from public life after settling a sexual assault lawsuit at vast cost, as Queen Elizabeth II suffered further INDIGNITY in her Platinum Jubilee year. (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Yard statuary suffers the indignity of another snow producing storm Monday March 17, 2014 in Frederick, MD. The official start of spring is Thursday. (Photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Children Climb On Nelson's Column - Children ignoring a no climbing safety sign, hauling themselves on to the plinth of Nelson's Column, on 15th December 2016, in Trafalgar Square, next to a Christmas nativity scene in London, England. The Greater London Authority (GLA) has banned tourists climbing the 148-year-old lions due to fears they are being damaged, with potentially dangerous cracks appearing as well as the INDIGNITY of having rubbish pushed in their mouths. There has also been a serious injury resulting in an air ambulance helicopter landing to evacuate to hospital in 2015. (Photo by Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images Images)
Puppy Parlour - 13th December 1955: Tuppence, a miniature Yorkshire Terrier, suffers the INDIGNITY of a beauty treatment at Town and Country Dogs in London's Sloane Street. (Photo by John Firth/BIPs/Getty Images)
US-ANIMAL-FOOD-HOTEL-HEALTH-OFFBEAT: Matilda III sits with a leash on the front desk counter at The Algonquin Hotel November 22, 2011 in New York. The cat is the Algonquin's most pampered guest but now has to suffer the INDIGNITY of being leashed until she understands that due to newly enforced city hygiene rules the lobby has been declared for human use only. The restrictions on Matilda's movements came under pressure from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which grades eating establishments around the city and can ruin an outlet's reputation by awarding a dreaded "C." Removing the cat from the seating area of the hotel's lobby area, where food is also served, was a preemptive measure while the hotel awaits what it hopes will be an "A." The Algonquin has always had a house cat since the 1930s. Matilda, the 10th to take up residence, gets regular email and has her own room with a cat door—and room service of course. (Photo: STAN HONDA/AFP via Getty Images)
Not many smiles in the Black Hole Sunday as the Oakland Raiders were eliminated from the playoffs by virtue of Kansas City's earlier victory. The Indianapolis Colts finished the INDIGNITY with a 31-26 victory in Oakland, Calif. (Photo by KARL MONDON/MediaNews Group/Bay Area News via Getty Images)
Members of the court of Neptunus Rex, Ruler of the Raging Main, convene on the deck of a US Navy aircraft carrier as it approaches the equator, Pacific Ocean, October 15, 1942. The court is in action to convert the 'pollywogs' (men who have never crossed the equator) into 'shellbacks,' once they have completed the rituals. Here one of the pollywogs is shorn by another pollywog who has already suffered the INDIGNITY. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)

This has been the inaugural INDIGNITY gettyimages IMAGE DUMP, thank you for a year of your interest, and/or a year of your support, and/or a year of your reading, or at least looking at the pictures!


Subject: Thanks for the baseball posts

In a year where my own home team is showing itself as an antivaxxy moneygrabby bummer, it's nice to read good baseball writing in the backyard, with the grill going and a Stan Musial-themed beer.

—Drew, onetime Cards fan

Subject: Re: OK, what's this Sopranos show about

loved this one. I am, I think, Robert Iler/AJ's exact age, and while I'm not Italian, and Princeton is a bit different than like Passaic or Paterson or wherever Tony is supposed to live, the show's evocation of its particular time and place is even more remarkable watching it two decades later. The Soprano house especially -- how many of those strange over-large McMansions did I play Tekken 2 in as a middle-schooler? Down to Tony's cheesy, top-of-the-line home theater room with the popcorn machine and Godfather poster.

—Max Read
[Previously in Max Read]

WE ENCOURAGE YOU to correspond with us!


A Year in Canceled Subscriptions: Collected messages from Indignity's feedback form for people who unsubscribe.

• Too many public posts. It just felt like there wasn’t enough added value to a paid subscription, above what is sent for free.
• Signed up for a trial to read one article.
• Too many subscriptions
• Substack's embrace of reactionaries is vile, and I'm happy to cost them money via free subscriptions, but I'm not going to help them fund hate speech.
Star Wars...
• Fat finger error

INDIGNITY is a general-interest publication for a discerning and self-selected audience. It could be YOU.