The Monday Media Diet with Jason Stewart aka Them Jeans

On Whole Foods, trains, and Miami

I’ve been excited to publish this for a while. We had big CB in WITI about a year ago, and now we have his counterpart, Jason Stewart aka TJ aka Them Jeans. The two host one of the most entertaining podcasts around, How Long Gone, and publish at a similar insane velocity to WITI (big up). I wrote Jason a concerned note that CB is mean to him on the show but he gently assures me it is a “bit” and not to worry. In any case, Jason is a great raconteur and a nice person. We’re pleased to have him on the page. Have a great week. -Colin (CJN)

Tell us about yourself.

I’m Jason Stewart from Los Angeles. I was born and raised in Southern California, grew up loving music, food, graffiti, and riding my bike. I currently live in the suburbs of Glendale with my partner Karolyn and spend most of my days at Whole Foods in Burbank. I have a twin brother named Chris but everyone calls him “Stew,’ and I’m extremely tall. I spent the last 15 years of my life DJing, producing events, and doing some low-level ideation for brands in between those things. Now I produce podcasts for some people and host my own called "How Long Gone," with friend of WITI, and myself, Chris Black. In addition to recording 4 episodes a week of our podcast, we design and produce our own merchandise, including our new line of canned coffee called “Mudd” which should be out in a month or so, and are planning some live shows later this year.

Describe your media diet. 

Like everyone else, I get my news from Twitter, and use Instagram to reply to random peoples DM’s. I follow a couple of Discords (Friends With Benefits, and Margaritaville, a private unofficial discord formed by some nice listeners of my podcast.) If I see an article that catches my eye, I’ll save them on Pocket and listen to all of them narrated by an old British computer voice while I go for one of my walks. I used to be obsessed with YouTube cooking videos but not much speaks to me anymore, and I used to be obsessed with magazines as a child but I haven’t bought one in years. I purchase about 4 books a month and read one. Now sometimes as a treat, I will watch old tennis matches on YouTube while I look at Twitter and Instagram.

What’s the last great book you read? The Inner Game Of Tennis.” It basically explains the way your mind and your body communicate with each other in an easily digestible weekend read. If you’re trying to improve your tennis game, this book is a no-brainer "add to cart," but many of the lessons and anecdotes are beneficial across all types of applications, sporting or not. I found myself quoting it to my girlfriend to sound smart about something completely unrelated to sports. If you’re the type of person who yells at themselves, throws rackets, or lets better, taller players get the best of them on the court of their own mind, then this book should be moved from your cart to "buy it now.”

What are you reading now? "My Struggle: Book 1” By Karl Ove Knausgaard. A couple of listeners of our podcast wrote a heady deduction of our show for a substack post that threw around some intense comparisons that made me feel better about myself. One of them is this 6 part autobiography of a writer from Norway. This book basically outlines every detail of his life, every hidden anxiety or ritual that we'd never share with someone. He’s clearly talented as a writer, as millions can’t get enough of his mundane instances, but he apparently speaks about moments that could be considered abusive to his own children, but I haven’t got there yet! Also, the title of the book is technically what Mein Kampf translates out to, which is also very bad. When you have a book, a TV show, or a podcast about nothing, then you can have it be about anything, as long as it’s entertaining.

What’s your reading strategy when you pick up a print copy of your favorite publication? I don’t have a favorite publication and I don’t pick up print copies of them, but when I did, I liked treating them as an entire body of work. Reading everything from cover to cover, skipping over any bullshit that I know I’ll hate, soak it all up, even the ads. A great magazine has an arc, things are where they are for a reason, and it’s really satisfying when a magazine, film, or documentary is laid out and executed in a way that's logically pleasing. When I read things I want to learn, I want to be better at knowing more than I did before I picked up that copy of Men’s Health. When I was a youngster in the 90s, I subscribed to a magazine called BMX PLUS! And my life was so boring that I knew what day of the month it arrived in the mail. The high you’re able to achieve from seeing a magazine cover for the very first time when it's sliding through your maillot like a newborn, not from the internet, not from walking past a newsstand. I won’t have that type of joy again unless I make my own magazine probably.

Who should everyone be reading that they’re not? As you’ve deduced by this point I'm not the person to ask this question, but since you want someone you’re definitely not reading, I suggest Rex Pickett. He wrote the book that was turned into Sideways (2004) which at the time I thought was a decent enough indie flick about a couple of guys on a road trip through wine country. I watched it again in my 30s as a grizzled, beaten, man and it struck a lot more chords than before. I got the book for some reason (high) and was frightened to learn that Rex had quietly written a second and third installment to the Sideways-verse. I began reading them simply to see how the whole thing shook out, kind of like how we all watched Sex And The City 2: Return 2 Abu Dhabi knowing that it was pure shit. If all of this sounds good to you so far, then buy his books. The 3rd and final installment of Sideways follows the boys down to Chile, chasing elusive Syrahs, and maybe even love.

What is the best non-famous app you love on your phone? 

During quarantine, I started dabbling a bit in urban fly fishing. There's an app called “Fishbrain” that's one part social media, one part fishing resource. Users can brag about their catch, show when and where the fish are biting, and have a chat in the comments. It’s like Instagram for people who don’t have a hell of a lot going on in their lives, the type of folks who’d wear a very nice Under Armour hoodie to a funeral. That, and iHandyLevel. It’s an app that I feel like I’ve had longer than most friends of mine. It’s very iOS 1.0, it simply turns your phone into a level like if you were hanging a picture or a shelf in your house. I use it twice a year and it never gets old. Obviously now with technology and all that, my phone can fly a plane, make lifelike buildings appear with augmented reality, or edit a film in 4k, but there's just something about it showing a little bubble moves back and forth to center something, like, you know, on a real level. Those first iPhone moments when people created more tangible apps were really exciting, and will definitely never return as now it’s just a means to TaskRabbit a human leveler to come help hang a shelf for your Zoom background wall. I’m now worried that this listicle is beginning to make me sound older than I am.

Plane or train?

Trains are just as shitty as planes now. I have taken a lot of Amtrak rides up the Cali coast, and while it is relaxing, I can’t stand chugging alongside the very freeway that I'd be doing 93mph on while this rattling tin can barely cracks the speed limit. I can fly to New York in 4 hours but a train will take 85 (I looked it up, almost 4 days) plus I can go to Hawaii on a plane. Film and TV have romanticized train swag, but the Galley on a modern train has 2 cans of shit IPA and some, you guessed it, airplane food available. There is something obviously frightening about "having some trouble" at 30,000 feet, or worse, in the middle of an ocean, but it’s worth it to me. Also, It’s odd that all my life growing up in beachside communities of California, I’ve heard trains chugging and horn blowing in the night. It costs too much money to live here to hear these damn trains in the night, I could move to Wyoming if I wanted this shit.

What is one place everyone should visit? 

You should go to Miami for a week, alone. Live as the locals do, wake up, and walk to get a smoothie from your local spot, or just the closest Whole Foods. Do some stretching in a park, buy groceries, smoke some cigs at Mandolin, and watch the world go by. It can be the most extreme place or the most relaxing place in the world depending on how and where you’re at. Sometimes it rains for 20 minutes and you get all wet, go get a tiny coffee and some plantains. Watch Netflix in your Air BnB, read a book on the balcony. Everyone who lives there correctly is just so relaxed, it's tempting. If you’re wound up from the big city media cyclone tossing your body about, go to Miami where nobody gives a shit about that stuff because why would you when you’re gonna go hang out with your friends on some guy’s boat and then eat crab claws.

Tell us the story of a rabbit hole you fell deep into. 

This is a rabbit hole from a YouTube video that I came across in 2012, it’s now amassed almost 50k views in 10 years, but at the time it was in the hundreds. It’s basically two very smiley very chill bros from the Bay Area who are wearing post-hyphy allover print hoodies and fitted caps who simply spend two minutes listing off different healthy foods that they like. I became obsessed with it at the time, checked out other videos they would make, but nothing ever touched this masterpiece. It’s a great time capsule of a bygone era that we’d all love to forget, a time when everyone “abbreve’d" every single word they said, but these guys have so much residual THC in their system that they almost have created a new language. For example: "Goji Berry" becomes “Goje Behr,” an entry-level Andy Samberg level offering, but with these boys, the word “Pomegranate” becomes a more advanced “Pomegrandeler.” Anyway, I hope these guys are having a nice life and I want them to know that I think about them from time to time.

Thanks for reading,

Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN) & Jason (JS)

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