Here are the least popular Rabbit Holes of 2021
Are you going to open this up this time? 'Cause you sure didn't open it up last time AMIRITE?!
Almost everybody is phoning it in this week, or has pre-scheduled all of their posts. Hence, your timelines and feeds are being swamped with best-of lists and year-in-review stories. Or: Hey, here’s all of the stuff you really liked from earlier in the year … again!
Based on my analytics, many of you have already read about Mick Jagger, Tony Hawk, pawpaws, the ferry to Chapel Hill, and the best places to get your ass kicked. But folks, I’m not going to merely list the things that you already read. No! This newsletter was designed to waste your time. That’s why, in the spirit of the season, I am bringing you a list of the least popular Rabbit Holes of 2021. Maybe you were busy. Maybe you skipped them on purpose. Maybe they really sucked. Either way, I’m resurfacing them today so you can see what you missed or, just to stay consistent, you can skip them all over again.
A side note: If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read here over the last year and would like to support the Rabbit Hole and keep it going, you can pay for a monthly or yearly subscription by tapping on the button below. If you’re not actually a subscriber, you can sign up for free by … tapping on that same button below. It’s up to you! Since it’s the season of giving, email me if you’ve donated to (or are planning to donate to) a North Carolina charity, and I’ll give you 30% off. And, if you love this newsletter so much that you want to give more, you can! Folks who go above and beyond can help support more original reporting, which will be coming very very soon.
One change is coming for those of you who already subscribe: Starting next week, Monday newsletters will be for paid subscribers only. Thursday newsletters will still go out to everyone.
Okay, back to the stuff YOU UNGRATEFUL PEOPLE DIDN’T READ.
I kid! I based this bottom 5 list on open rates, which is the percentage of people who actually open an email after it lands in their mailbox. The most-opened newsletter of the year had a 70% open rate, but I’m thrilled when more than half of the people who subscribe to this newsletter actually open it. In fact, out of the 79 newsletters I’ve sent out, only five of them had open rates below 50%.
Here they are, in all of their easily-ignored glory:
5. Andy Griffith is gettin’ you that thar shot
When: September 10
Open Rate: 49%
Andy! Who doesn’t like Andy? Well, guess who? You! You don’t.
(Again, this is an arbitrary measure and a 49% open rate is actually not bad, but play along.)
I can’t say for sure, but it is possible that The Andy Griffith Show is beginning its long slide into oblivion. After all, they stopped making new episodes in 1968. It’s also possible that you all are tired of hearing about Covid. Either or! If you did skip this one, know that it’s about how ol’ Andy got good ol’ Rafe Hollister to get his tetanus shot. Also, Rafe opens fire on Barney and faces no consequences for doing so.
4. Were Exercise Pickles A Thing?
When: April 30
Open Rate: 48%
We all went to Disney World over Thanksgiving, and my 10-year-old nephew was obsessed with my pickle hat:
He asked to borrow it and then wore it around for five days. I would have gotten him one of his own, except that they seem to exist nowhere else in nature. I got the hat when I was working at Our State magazine, ostensibly because some sales person or editor had gone on a tour of the pickle factory, then ended up with a hat they didn’t want, and it went on the free swag table. That person has no taste in haute couture, especially when it comes to the most dad-friendly accessories.
Enough about the hat, though. I wrote about a weird ‘80s pickle ad that featured an entire family in spandex and you all did not want to hear it.
3. The Black man who accidentally created the Mountains-to-Sea Trail
When: March 24
Open Rate: 48%
Howard Lee is a fascinating guy, but for whatever reason this newsletter landed near the bottom. I interviewed him for an episode of Away Message, and there was a lot of stuff that I couldn’t fit in, so I basically unloaded the transcript here. Sure, it’s about how Lee accidentally suggested an idea for a statewide trail that eventually came into being. But many other parts of his life were no accident:
In 1966, I took a position at Duke University, and tried to buy a house in Chapel Hill. No realtor would sell my wife and me a house in a predominantly white area. So I went to the local city council, and they refused to pass an ordinance opening up housing. As a result of that, I decided maybe I should run for mayor.
Lee won, and became the first Black mayor of Chapel Hill.
2. The Ballad of Pat McCrory, Governor of Memes
When: April 15
Open Rate: 45%
Next year, whenever we get around to holding a primary, we’re going to find out whether it’s possible to become a U.S. senator by posting extremely dunkable tweets:
The internet responded with a resounding: I’m sorry, when did Antifa try to take over? McCrory later responded by saying it was only the “media elite and Twitter liberals” who didn’t understand that he was referring to his deployment of the National Guard to Charlotte after the shooting of the Keith Lamont Scott in 2016. Of course, Antifa wasn’t even a term that anyone was actually using back then, according to Google Trends and this fact check from CBS17 in Raleigh. But that’s not the point. The point is that here we are, in December of 2021, still dunking on Pat McCrory, which means we’re still talking about Pat McCrory.
Getting people to yell at you is, sadly, a viable political strategy. Pat is good at that, but he’s always been able to put himself in situations where he can easily get meme’d. This is the guy who told you not to put your stupid hat on. He steps on toes. He’s talked about corridors of crap. He referred to himself—A FORMER GOVERNOR—as an outsider. He once allowed himself to get extorted during a press conference at a racetrack.
I wrote about all of this back in April when Pat first announced that he was running for Senate, and it ended up being one of the least-opened emails of the year. Pat McCrory might get quote-tweeted into your timeline, but he’s not going to make you click on a subject line in Gmail.
1. Here are all of your North Carolina gripes.
When: January 21
Open Rate: 44%
During the presidential inauguration, I asked you to come clean with your deepest, darkest thoughts about this state:
Many of you did! But you know what? Once you got it off your chest, you decided to go out and enjoy life, unburdened by your once-secret feelings about North Carolina. Hence, this was the least-opened newsletter of the year.
Why might that be? The presidential transition was the thing that most people were paying attention to at that time. This newsletter went out to far fewer people eleven months ago, so the sample size of potential gripe-lovers was smaller. Or, maybe people don’t come here to read complaints. That’s what Facebook is for!
However, the thing I’d like to believe in my heart is this: Maybe North Carolina isn’t so bad after all. There’s a lot of struggle and strife happening all across this state, but it’s still a great place to be. As this year comes to a close, I’m thankful for that, and I’m thankful for all of you.
Have a happy new year, and I’ll see you all in 2022.
Thanks for recapping! I really did miss some of these! Probably and mainly because I hadn't started subscribing to your newsletter yet, so it was an honest mistake. I won't miss another! :)
I’m sorry, where you talking to me?