Hmm Weekly for April 20, 2021

We're Minting A Non-Fungible Tuesday

ART DEP'T.

THE COMMERCIAL AND artistic sensation of 2021 has been the Non-Fungible Token (NFT), a one-of-a-kind digital embodiment of an artwork that is also a secure certificate of its possession. NFTs—sitting as they do at the intersection of art, technology, and finance—have drawn frenzied commercial and media attention, with some of them selling for staggering prices.

Today, Hmm Weekly proudly enters the realm of NFTs with a three-part artistic meditation on financial or technological hope, drawing on our years of experience with the rise and fall of futuristic value-propositions. Our set of NFT artworks, ITEMS OF ANTICIPATED VALUE, records this history of lost possibilities and transforms it into newborn items for this newborn artistic market to evaluate. Own a piece of the past, as it becomes the future!

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Items of Anticipated Value: A Limited Series

This triptych is offered as part of The Brick House NFT Gala, in support of our journalist-owned cooperative. Please visit the Gala site for more art and artifacts.

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Item No. 1

Letter from Nick Denton to Tom Scocca

This digital token supplies the buyer with a one-of-a-kind digital copy of a letter from Nick Denton to Tom Scocca, dated November 18, 2015, conveying from Denton to Scocca 329,760 stock options in Gawker Media Group, or 0.25 percent of the company at the time of offer.

The strike price of the shares was 32 cents. In a hypothetical $100 million sale of the company, Denton explains, the profit on the shares would amount to $145,094. Or, more precisely, Denton explains the formula for determining the profit, but refrains from calculating the final number.

In early 2016, before the trial in a lawsuit brought against Gawker Media by the former professional wrestler Terry Bollea, also known as Hulk Hogan—a lawsuit engineered by the billionaire investor Peter Thiel, in retaliation for Gawker Media’s coverage of Thiel and other prominent people in the technology industry—Univision explored the possible acquisition of Gawker Media, with the two companies near agreement at a price of $180 million. Had the deal gone through, the options would have been worth $324,950.

Univision held off on completing the deal, pending the result of the lawsuit. In the trial, a Florida jury awarded Bollea $140.1 million; the trial judge, Patricia Campbell, refused to stay the judgment pending appeal, forcing Gawker Media to declare bankruptcy.

Gawker Media sold its assets, except for the flagship website Gawker.com, to Univision in a $135 million bankruptcy auction. The estate of the company paid $31 million to Bollea to settle the case. The bankruptcy and settlement process rendered the stock options in Denton's offer letter worthless.

The 0.25 percent ownership in the company went unrealized, but 0.25 percent of the $31 million settlement paid to Bollea would have been $77,500.

The letter is authentic, and the image contains folds and other marks of wear.

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Item No. 2

Luke Cage, HERO FOR HIRE No. 13 diptych

This digital token connects the owner with a one-of-a-kind digital diptych, 9982 px x 25825 px, consisting of a framed assemblage of all pages of a personal copy of the comic book Luke Cage, HERO FOR HIRE No. 13, 36 pages, ungraded, above an image of the source copy of Luke Cage, HERO FOR HIRE, No. 13, encased in cheap plastic frame.

Purchase includes complete, ungraded, and autographed original comic book used as inspiration for the piece.

ARTIST’S STATEMENT

I definitely lost some paydays thanks to the recent unpleasantness, and I’ve been looking around the house for stuff to liquidate and turn into groceries and mortgage payments and car insurance payments and beer money. My copy of the comic book Luke Cage, HERO FOR HIRE No. 1 has a typical gap in collector value owing to the condition of the item. According to sellmycomicbooks.com, a sealed-in-plastic appraiser-graded 9.8 (out of a now nearly impossible 10.0) went for 25 grand in 2016. My well-read—and I would say better appreciated—copy is maybe worth 50 bucks, but still, if you compare it to the cover price of 20 cents I paid, it was a great investment.

Money aside (but still, it’s kinda about the money) I have a more significant issue of Luke Cage, HERO FOR HIRE. It’s No. 13, “The Claws of Lion-Fang,” wherein Cage is hired by the mayor of New York City to track down a set of killer lions, tigers, and leopards running around mauling city employees, which, when confronted, then try their best, as big cats, to rip our Hero to shreds, at the service of Lion Fang, aka Alejandro Cortez, the embittered school teacher ultimately responsible for the beasts’ actions by means of his educational Thought-Transfer Helmet, which, of course, was rejected as an educational device for humans, so he used it on a a buncha apex predators. As Lion Fang exclaims in a brilliantly efficient one-panel origin story: “When rejected, I combined my work with my hobby, the circus!”

Luke Cage tracks down Lion Fang for a final confrontation, damn near gets murdered again by the cats, and then by Lion Fang’s electro-shock Ray Blast, and ultimately prevails in early Luke Cage, HERO FOR HIRE fashion, which is to say he kills Lion Fang, whose last words are “Cage... You... son... of a....” In the early days of HERO FOR HIRE, anybody who was trying to off Luke Cage usually ended up dead inside of the same single one-issue story, which was why it was such a great comic book. None of that “evildoer escapes” crap, so the writers can recycle the villain for another episode! Luke Cage closes his cases! KRAK!

Also, HERO FOR HIRE No. 13 has always been one of my favorite comic books because of the cover, by the artist Billy Graham, who is also credited, somewhat unusually, for “complete art” in this issue. The cover is incredibly dynamic and colorful, a cyan sky behind a fearsome struggle for survival as Cage, crackling red from Lion-Fang’s ray blast, is overwhelmed by his bloodthirsty orange and yellow adversaries! I know tigers aren’t supposed to be yellow, but it works against the dark-green midground and pale green foreground, it’s all of the colors!

I had my copy of HERO FOR HIRE No. 13 in a Mylar storage bag, stacked up on top of a few other comics I was getting ready to responsibly care for (i.e. don’t stack them on top of each other) with a sturdy acid-free backing board for inside the bag to stand the comics up properly in a comic book storage box. Our housecat Ella, a deceptively cute but foul-tempered little tuxedo cat, had some sort of weird thing for shiny or glossy surfaces, so she pissed all over my stack of comics, and the insidious cat urine found its way inside the bags of a few books, ultimately discoloring the edges of my copy of HERO FOR HIRE No. 13, and reducing its collector value from a possible $27.60 as a grade 4.5 to probably five cents as a grade 0.0 Cat-Pissed-On-It-Kinda-Stinks, now encased in a plastic frame far more valuable than the ruined comic book now hanging on the wall in my basement rumpus room.

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Item No. 3

Hmm Weekly 10K CapyBricknote™

This digital token, representing a banknote designed by Joe MacLeod, will be accompanied by delivery of 10,000 Ethereum-based CVL tokens to the purchaser's wallet. The banknote commemorates the blockchain-based journalism startup Civil, which envisioned using the tokens for both funding and governance of a network of independent publications. CVL tokens were issued to the newsroom of Hmm Daily, one of Civil's "First Fleet" publications.

Due to the vagaries of building the tokens and navigating regulatory hurdles, Civil's member websites launched with limited cash-grant funding before the tokens were available. By the time the tokens were finally issued, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission had required a prohibitively difficult process for buying them, and CVL ultimately failed to sustain user or investor interest.

Hmm Daily, in the form of the publication Hmm Weekly, survives as a member of the Brick House media cooperative. At last check, the CVL token was currently priced at $0.00142333.

Memorialize this fungible but undesired token with this non-fungible token!

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Thank you for inspecting ITEMS OF ANTICIPATED VALUE: A SERIES, offered as part of The Brick House NFT Gala, in support of our journalist-owned cooperative. Please visit the Gala site for more art and artifacts.

Another Week, Another HMM WEEKLY

GOOD MORNING! This is the latest HMM WEEKLY, successor publication to HMM DAILY, distributed via SUBSTACK, a newsletter delivery and reading platform.

We offer paid subscriptions for full access to HMM WEEKLY posts, with intermittent postings available free as we see fit.

We urge you to spread the word about HMM WEEKLY, and we encourage you to correspond with us! Email hmmweekly@hmmweekly.com. Thank you for reading.

THOUGHT DEP’T.

Do you have a thought? Send it to hmmweekly@hmmweekly.com.

ADVICE DEP’T.

THE SOPHIST is here to tell you why you're right. Send your questions to AskTheSophist@hmmweekly.com, and get the answers you want.

BRAIN ITCH DEP’T.

The Falcon & The Winter Snowman

SANDWICH RECIPES DEP’T.

WE PRESENT recipes for sandwiches from Salads, Sandwiches and Chafing Dish Recipes, Copyright 1916, by David McKay, Publisher, and now in the public domain for the delectation of all, written by Marion Harris Neil, M.C.A., former Cookery Editor, The Ladies’ Home Journal, author of How to Cook in Casserole Dishes, Candies and Bonbons and How to Make Them, Canning, Preserving and Pickling, and The Something-Different Dish.

EGG AND LETTUCE SANDWICHES
4 hard-cooked eggs
2 tablespoonfuls chopped celery
Crisp lettuce leaves
4 drops onion-juice
Mayonnaise dressing

Chop the eggs, add the celery, onion-juice, and enough mayonnaise dressing to make the mixture spread nicely, and place with a lettuce leaf between buttered bread.

FIG SANDWICHES
1/2 lb. (2 cups) chopped figs
1/4 lb. (1/2 cup) butter
1 gill (1/2 cups) water
Bread
1/4 lb. (1/2 cup) sugar

Put the figs through a food-chopper, add the sugar and water, and cook until thick. Cool, add the butter, and mix well. Spread between thin slices of bread. If liked, one-half cupful of chopped nut meats may be added.
Another Method.—Put three-fourths cupful of water into a saucepan with one and one-half cupfuls of light brown sugar, and one teaspoonful of butter, and boil to a thick syrup; then take from the fire and add one-half pound of chopped figs, one-half pound of chopped cocoanut, and one-half cupful of chopped English walnut meats.
Chill, and use with bread or crackers.
Or soak eight figs in hot water for two minutes, then drain and dry them, slice in halves lengthwise, fill with chopped English walnut meats, and serve between crackers.

FRENCH SANDWICHES
1 pint (2 cups) frogs’ legs
Lettuce leaves
Mayonnaise dressing
French bread

Boil the frogs’ legs until tender in slightly salted boiling water; then drain and chop the meat and mix it with mayonnaise dressing; spread between lettuce leaves and lay on this slices of buttered French bread.

If you decide to prepare and enjoy any of these sandwiches, kindly send a picture to us at hmmweekly@substack.com.

HMM WEEKLY IS written by Tom Scocca, editor, and Joe MacNFT, creative director. If you enjoy Hmm Weekly, please let a friend know about it! If you're reading this because someone forwarded it to you, we invite you to sign up for a copy of your own right now. Thanks for reading, and any time you want, email us at hmmweekly@substack.com.