Is the Cure to Male Loneliness Drinking Night Water?

Plus: Gonna see what them racket sports can do

Is the Cure to Male Loneliness Drinking Night Water?

Good evening, readers, and welcome to the Night Water Variety Email. This is the first edition of a brand spankin’ new format for Night Water—a textual variety show of links, memes, special guests, and even a commercial break. There’s a free month of Day Soda in it for whoever can come up with the best title for this series—reply to this email with your great ideas.

Let’s check in on pickleball

Paddleball Paul makes a point of annoying pickleball players. Out at the handball courts in Central Park, Paul shows up first thing in the morning to claim a court dead center. He’s afraid to go to the bathroom, lest someone steal his court. “When he practiced,” writes Allie Conti in the New York Times, “his ball would frequently spin off into the middle of their play. That seemed to be the whole point.”

Longtime Night Water readers might remember last November’s interview with the folks behind Club Leftist Tennis, a group dedicated to memeing pickleball out of existence. Paddleball Paul would fit right in—he hands out flyers to the pickleball-curious that read, in all caps and with a few key underlines, “PICKLEBALL’S WELL-OFF AGGRESSIVE ELITE USURPS HANDBALL CTS FROM INNER CITY KIDS ROBBING ONCE-OPEN WALLSPORTS KEY IN YOUTH GROWTH.” Someone get this guy a Twitter account!

Even if you don’t agree with the rhetoric that pickleball is an inherently fascist movement ruining tennis and handball courts alike, you might dislike pickleball because it’s really fucking loud. The sound of a pickleball hitting a racket is 70 decibels—15 decibels louder than the normal background noise of a city and 30 decibels louder than a tennis match. It’s also high-pitched, which makes it ear-catching and particularly annoying.

Don’t worry—the Times is on it. Andrew Keh, reporting live from communities across the country:

The hubbub has given new meaning to the phrase racket sport, testing the sanity of anyone within earshot of a game.

“It’s like having a pistol range in your backyard,” said John Mancini, 82, whose Wellesley, Mass., home abuts a cluster of public courts.

… “One of our neighbors who lived directly across from the courts and was dying from cancer noted the pickleball noise was worse than his cancer,” Dan Lavery, a West Linn resident, said at the meeting. “Sadly, he recently passed.”

Of course, the New York Times has an almost pathological need to present both sides, even when one side is made up of literal fascists (see also: the Trump era). That’s how we got the op-ed “Is the Cure to Male Loneliness Out on the Pickleball Court?” from Michelle Cottle and this absolutely incredible work of art from Benjamin Marra:

A painting of a man crying while looking at a court of four men playing pickleball while beams of sunlight shine down from behind a cloud.

I do not believe it is hyperbole to say that this is a perfect work of art. The thick flow of tears, the rays of light from Heaven itself, the fact that they’re playing pickleball on what appears to be wild grass despite that surface’s complete lack of bounce necessary to play the game. I saw the memes before I ever read the op-ed:

Tweet: "Is the Cure to Male Loneliness Racing in the Boonta Eve Classic?" Photoshopped image of male crying in front of podracing scene from Star Wars Episode One.
Tweet: "Is the Cure to Male Loneliness being in the Roman Legion?" Photoshopped image of male crying in front a painting of Roman soldiers.

It’s made even funnier by the fact that the op-ed only ever mentions pickleball once, in the very last paragraph. (No shoutout for Paddleball Paul, who has had friendships actively destroyed by disagreements over pickleball.) It is otherwise a perfectly reasonable—if a bit reductive—call for men to have hobbies and to do those hobbies with friends. That didn’t stop commenters like Louise from dropping their opinions on pickleball: “It might cure men’s loneliness, but the pickleball noise for its neighbors is driving them nuts!”

Speaking of racket sports

Because I published something with the word “tennis” in the headline a few months ago, an enterprising intern added me to a PR list of tennis aficionados. I got a few interesting pitches during Wimbledon, but my favorite came from an OnlyFans competitor called My.Club.

You might’ve caught the story of tennis players Stefanos Tsitsipas and Paula Badosa, who were recently revealed to be both partners in love and mixed doubles. (They also have a joint Instagram account @tsitsidosa.) Unfortunately, due to an injury, Badosa withdrew from the competition, and the world did not get a chance to see the lovers play together.

If it were up to My.Club, however, we’d all get to see them play together for a monthly fee. The adult site offered the couple $100,000 to set up an account and post regularly for one year on the site—presumably, all pornographic, as the press release notes that they “are both crafty with shafts and balls.”

This is, apparently, a thing that My.Club does—a few months ago, they offered Inter Milan a multi-million-pound sponsorship deal, saying, “…we’re all about penetrating new verticals. Much how Inter’s players squeeze their balls into tight spaces, into the box and then score, we’re looking to do the same.”

Will a series of tabloid stories filled with testicular puns help My.Club jump ahead of OnlyFans? Or will they find themselves holding an empty sack? I’ll let you know if they penetrate my inbox again anytime soon.

And now, a quick commercial break

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Your Weekly Late Night Vibe

Phillip Blackowl is a designer with incredible taste. Each Sunday, he collects film, tv, and book recommendations, great articles from around the web, cool products to put your paycheck towards, and other aesthetically pleasing items of interest into a newsletter called Your Weekly Phil. And, most importantly, Phil is a Night Water reader.

This week, Phil’s sharing his late night vibes around the water cooler:

“In a word: pedestrian (jejune felt too pretentious). In a few additional words, a recipe of sorts:

  • One heaping scoop of not complete silence, but certainly a hushed (Dan!) environment.
  • A dash of ambient noise from neuroscience-backed Endel© or the mollifying sounds of frog chirps (no croaks pls).
  • A cumulous-like comforter (even in 90°F plus weather) to subdue/smother/suppress any residual qualms accumulated over the course of the day.
  • Exactly one 2.5mg oHHo grapefruit yuzu gummy.”

Phil, may all your nights be jejune and devoid of baritone frogs.

Make sure you sign up for Your Weekly Phil to start getting Phil’s anything-but-pedestrian newsletter every Sunday.

Tonight’s extra special musical guest

Anohni is back with her first new release in six years (and her first collaboration with her old band in 13 years). My Back Was a Bridge for You to Cross doesn’t disappoint—it’s an intense but accessible listen, eschewing the harsh electronic sound of her solo work for something a bit more stripped back, with Anohni’s voice carrying most of the weight. That’s extremely evident during the slow build of “Can’t.” Mourning a friend, Anohni reaches a finale that is both joyful and plaintive in its denial of death, with no interest in resolving the inherent contradiction: “Can’t undo it, can’t reverse it / I won’t have it, I won’t have it.”

Night Water Cooler: Barbenheimer

By now, you all must’ve seen at least one half of the Barbie / Oppenheimer double-feature. When I went to see Oppenheimer on Friday (in 70mm at Regal Union Square), the theater was absolutely overrun. I don’t know if I’d ever seen that theater so busy—they even opened up the second concessions counter for the first time since COVID. It was a beautiful sight! My Barbie showing last night was similarly packed to the gills, but thanks to the wonders of dine-in theaters, no one who wanted popcorn missed out.

So, assuming you’ve enjoyed a solid five hours at the movies this weekend, what did you think of the summer’s two hottest flicks?