🌊 Is ̶S̶a̶n̶t̶a̶ Santos Real?

Congressman-elect Santos comes clean, NFL legend retires, and most popular wraps, 2/4

Many consider today to be the birthday of cinema. On December 28, 1895, Louis and August Lumière — possibly distant relatives of the candlestick in Beauty and the Beast — screened a series of movie scenes in Paris. We've come a long way since then: Their characters were black and white; ours are now blue.

In today's edition:

  • Congressman-elect Santos comes clean

  • NFL legend retires

  • Most Popular Wraps, 2/4

 🔑 Key Stories

Elon's No Good, Terrible, Very Bad Year

Tesla stock dropped 11% Tuesday, putting the company on pace for its worst recorded month, quarter, and year 

  • Tesla shares now cost $108, down from near $400 at the start of the year. Their price has fallen 73% this year, 59% this quarter, and 44% this month

  • Investors are worried about CEO Elon Musk’s relationship with Twitter, whose financial problems have caused him to sell billions in Tesla stock, as well as Tesla production, prices, and demand

  • Tesla has now replaced Meta as the year’s worst large tech stock, and Bernard Arnault (LVMH CEO) has replaced Elon as the world’s richest person

Dig Deeper

  • Tesla's market cap peaked at $1.2T in November 2021; it is now at $345B — a $895B drop

War Talk Escalates in Balkans

Serbia’s army went on its highest level of alert amid rising tensions between Serbia and Kosovo 

  • Serbia is a mainly Christian Serb country; Kosovo is predominantly Muslim Albanian. Both were part of Yugoslavia, in southeastern Europe

  • Kosovo broke away from Serbia after a war in the 1990s. Serbia doesn’t recognize its independence

  • On Tuesday, Serbia’s president claimed Kosovo is preparing to “kill the Serbs” living in northern Kosovo and put the country’s army on high alert

  • Kosovo officials say Serbia is stirring up a conflict so it can seize Kosovo territory 

Dig Deeper

  • In 1999, the US-led NATO in bombing Serbia to stop what it considered a genocide in Kosovo. Kosovo then officially declared its independence in 2008, and over 100 countries – including the US – now recognize it as independent

Congressman-Elect Admits to Lying

George Santos, a Republican recently elected to Congress in Long Island, NY, admitted to making up many details about his life

  • Santos had said he was Jewish, gay, graduated from college, and worked at 2 top Wall Street firms. After he won, it was reported that he didn’t graduate from college or work for either firm; is not Jewish; and was married to a woman for 5 years

  • Santos now says he “embellished” his resume. He says he truly is gay and he is Catholic, but because of his background he called himself “Jew-ish”

  • He hasn’t resigned, and said this “will not deter” him

Dig Deeper

  • Santos admitted he "didn’t graduate from any institution of higher learning"; “never worked directly” for either Wall Street firm; and didn't own properties he had previously claimed. The New York Times also alleges that he pleaded guilty to check fraud in Brazil over a decade ago

Sausage Tycoon Falls Out Window

A Russian sausage mogul died after falling out a window

  • The man, Pavel Antov, was in eastern India. 2 days prior, another member of his travel group had died in India, reportedly of a stroke

  • Antov had a ~$140M fortune, which he made through meat processing. He was also a prominent politician in his city, Vladimir, which is near Moscow

  • Antov is the latest in a number of extremely rich Russians to have died since the start of the war in Ukraine. Russian officials said local police found no signs of foul play

Dig Deeper

Big News Ruining Your Sleep?

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  • Apollo wearers report fewer sleepless nights and deeper sleep; better focus; and improvements to overall mood and energy. They reported experiencing an average 40% less stress, 25% more concentration, and 19% more time in deep sleep 

Dig Deeper

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🍿 Popcorn

ICYMI

  • Holly jolly outage: 14,000+ people in Washington state lost power on Christmas Day after a series of power grid attacks. Police have not yet identified suspects

  • Jumpin' the guns: Director James Cameron says he cut out 10 minutes of gun violence from the new Avatar movie. He does not want to "fetishize guns anymore"

  • Quarterbacks, rejoice: NFL veteran JJ Watt announced that this season will be his last. He is one of 3 players to win the Defensive Player of the Year award 3 times

Wildcard 

  • Let the foreplay begin: South Korea has lifted a ban on the import of adult-sized sex dolls. Officials have seized thousands of sex dolls at customs in recent years

  • Kick game $trong: The sneaker resale market is raking in billions each year. One firm estimates the industry will generate $30B globally in 2030

  • Saturday Night Lonely: Pete Davidson and Emily Ratajkowski are reportedly no more. The comedian was first linked with the model in early November

  • Travel Troubles: Going somewhere? Don't forget Faye travel insurance. *Sponsored content

👇 What do you think?

Today's Poll

Favorite book genre? 📖

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Today's Question:

What's the best thing that has happened to you this year?

Reply to this email with your answers!

See yesterday's results below the Wrap! 

🌯 Roca Wrap

Cooking Meats

This week we're counting down our most popular Wraps of the year. Today's is a dispatch from Hurricane Ian-hit Florida, where the Maxes visited Operation Barbecue Relief. It's written by Max Frost. 

Port Charlotte, Florida

Food is a major challenge in disaster zones.

Some people have no food; others have only the random cans in their homes. Those who prepared may not have water or power to cook.

Residents are also working long days to repair homes or clean up neighborhoods, as are emergency workers. People can go weeks without getting the nutrition – or mental benefit – of a hot meal.

Enter, Operation Barbecue Relief.

We spent 2 days with Operation Barbecue Relief in Port Charlotte, Florida, where they are cooking 30,000+ meals each day for those impacted by hurricane Ian. In total, they’ve cooked over 600,000 meals since the storm hit.

Operation Barbecue Relief isn’t giving out cheese sandwiches: Their meals consist of slow-cooked barbecue and sides, prepared by world-champion barbecue cooks. The organization launched in 2011, when tornados decimated Joplin, Missouri. At the time, the organization’s founders were competing in parking lot BBQ cook-offs each weekend.

“They were cooking in parking lots each weekend,” IT head Jeremy Bruce told us, “and after the Joplin disaster, they said, ‘We’re cooking parking lots already, we’ve got to do something.’”

12 days later, they had prepared 120,000 meals. “They said, “We’ve got something here, and operationalized it,’” Jeremy said.

And operationalize it they did.

The site we visited is their largest disaster site ever, and it appears to run seamlessly. 200 volunteers are participating each day, cooking thousands of pounds of meat and sides, packaging it, and delivering it to those in need. Their base is a large parking lot, where they have air-conditioned trailers, each of which has 14 bunks.

At the area of the site dedicated to cooking, there were a number of barbecue smokers that run all-night, slow-cooking meat. As one barbecuer told us, they focus on the “holy trinity” of barbecue: Smoke, heat, and sauce. “You’ve got to have them all right or it ain’t gonna be right.”

Their largest machine – ”hogzilla” – cooks enough meat for 4,000 meals at once. Someone tends to the smokers throughout the night, making sure the smoking process runs smoothly. Beginning around 4:30 AM, they take the meat off the heat, chop it, and pack it into insulated boxes that contain 200 meals a piece.

Once packed up, the meals are loaded onto trucks and dispatched to the disaster zones. They also employ local food trucks – whose business dries up during disasters – to make deliveries. New volunteers show up every day and are slotted into the process, no training necessary. Where other emergency volunteer groups require volunteers to have experience, Operation Barbecue Relief does not.

David Marks, head of corporate outreach, told us that Operation Barbecue Relief works because, “We’ve always had a common language, we’re all competitive barbecuers.”

We commented on how the charity seemed much more disciplined and effective than other charities.

David attributed that to Operation Barbecue Relief's leaders’ competitive nature: Many of them have bested tens of thousands of other cooks in barbecue competitions. David himself won a national title for the country’s best BBQ wings. To call their barbecuing a hobby would diminish the seriousness of it.

“Winners win,” David said.

***

Jeremy, the IT head, told us that they began setting up the hurricane Ian compound as soon as the storm had passed. Gesturing at the mall parking lot he said, “You walk in and you can’t fathom how big this is going to be.”

“The parking lot was half underwater or thigh-deep in water, debris everywhere. We used satellite imagery to spot storm drains, then went through the water and cleared those. It created a vortex, sucked my shoe off.

“The first day, we went from nothing to 20 RVs and tents. And we started cooking on day 2.”

They’ve since become instrumental to the relief effort, and are often the only organization providing hot meals in a given area. We saw their impact first hand, as many people – from clean-up crews to island residents – told us that the only hot meals they had had were delivered by Operation Barbecue Relief.

The team believes a BBQ meal goes further than just about anything else. It’s the opposite of an emergency meal: It’s hearty, slow-cooked, and associated with good times.

“These people are down,” Jeremy said, “They’ve just lost everything.”

“So when you can hand them a hot plate and a hot barbecue meal, it gives them a moment. It gives them that energy and that hope.”

“And it gives them something to look forward to.”

If you have thoughts, let us know at [email protected]!

 🌊 Roca Clubhouse

Yesterday's Poll:

Are New Year's resolutions valuable?

Yes: 40%No: 60%

Yesterday's Question:

What is something you’re leaving in 2022?

Jazmin from NYC: “I'm leaving a friendship that is toxic and no longer enriches me.”

Constance from Milwaukee: “I’m leaving poor eating habits behind. I’m starting the Mediterranean Diet in January.”

Jessica from Montana: “Expectations of others. I hope to leave these behind as much as reasonably possible.” 

🧠 Final Thoughts

Yesterday, you all responded to the newsletter and said there is a lot you want to leave behind. We were relieved to see many of you said "Big News" but none of you said Roca. Glad we're on the same page.

Happy Wednesday!

Max and Max