The Working Waterfront

Online from Peaks Island, it’s ‘Today in Tabs!’

New York Times touts Rusty Foster’s eclectic content

By Dorathy Martel
Posted 2024-05-30
Last Modified 2024-05-30

From his Peaks Island home, Rusty Foster makes a living writing about other writers’ writing. And sometimes other writers write about him. And then maybe Foster writes about the things other writers write about him. His e-newsletter, “Today in Tabs,” is consistently meta and tongue in cheek.

For example, regarding a recent profile about him in the New York Times, Foster said, “I am glad that someone finally wrote that I’m ‘something of a Zelig-like figure in internet history.’ That’s not for me to say, of course, but it’s true and Steven Kurutz is right to say it.”

Available online for free at, with additional content available to paying subscribers, “Tabs” is crammed with content about media, politics, and all manner of absurd happenings. The April 29 offering references (among other things) renegade zebras and the rodeo professionals who recaptured them; Jerry Seinfeld’s grievance against “woke culture”;

Tabs is Foster’s forum for commenting on the things he reads, most of which come his way through social networks.

President Garfield’s least favorite day; and an un-stallable plane that stalled. There are also links to the source material, screenshots of tweets, and embedded videos.

For a reader with a taste for eclecticism and irreverence, it’s easy to fall down a rabbit hole of content and come up wondering where the time went. Writing new posts for Today in Tabs four days a week, however, is more like putting a puzzle together, Foster says.

“I read broadly but usually not deeply,” he says. “I read whatever comes in and I think, ‘what is the shape of this?’”

Sometimes he does more research, looking for additional views. And if he still can’t find the shape around which to craft a piece of prose? “If not, I write a sonnet instead,” Foster says.

“Tabs” is Foster’s forum for commenting on the things he reads, most of which come his way through social networks. His circle includes people who have worked in media outlets such as “Buzzfeed” and similar New York-based blogs. “I have ties back to the community there—early blog writers and people building [tech] tools,” he explains.

Foster started “Tabs” in 2013 and stopped in 2016.

“I thought it was finished,” he says.

He worked for a software company from 2016 to 2020, helping to develop a product called Scripto, which enables writers to develop scripts collaboratively. The company was cofounded by Stephen Colbert to support writers on his show The Colbert Report.

In 2021 Foster resurrected “Tabs.” This was not a pandemic-driven decision. He didn’t want to stay in software, was already working remotely, and he wanted to get back to writing. Asked whether he currently sees “Tabs” as a lifelong endeavor, Foster says, “I can’t imagine that about anything. Historically I’m not good at doing something for more than seven years.”

Kurutz, the New York Times reporter, wrote that “a surprising thing” about Today in Tabs “is that Mr. Foster writes it from the bucolic setting of Peaks Island, Maine.” Foster, though, doesn’t see anything unusual about covering his diverse subject matter from Peaks.

“Peaks is a unique place. It’s an island; when the boat stops, you’re not getting off the island. There are 1,000 people in one square mile. In a lot of ways, it’s an urban neighborhood and in a lot of ways it’s a country village.”

“I feel like [the Times piece] presented a dichotomy,” he says. “It’s the weird parochialism of New Yorkers. And Mainers are the same way. I find all of us charming.”