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WesRecs

Vol. #78 - May 07, 2021

Hello Hello Hello!

Good morning. It has been an insanely busy week over here and the next one will be too. That's part of the reason you're reading this around 7a. The other part is that I've found that a lot more of you read this if I send it at this hour vs say 12:47a so I'm gonna say it's not the fatigue but the metrics this time (but seriously I am looking at tweaks/developments for WR and a slight time shift might be one of them...we'll see...). Either way, I hope you know that I appreciate ya!

Despite a packed week I found some goodies this week's WesRecs and I know that you'll enjoy them. I'm off to bed for right now, but I hope you have a beautiful weekend and that you get some sunshine and that you call your mom. Peace!
I've stayed winning in the mom lottery (and the blazer lottery) since the mid 80s.
So I made this recipe for a Mississippi PoBoy sandwich which is basically half-smoked / half-braised "pulled beef". It came out very very well and now I understand how a pot roast actually works. I was skeptical about the entire packet of ranch dressing that this called for because despite being, by far, the most popular salad dressing in America ranch is, to me, simply what you dip hot wings into when blue cheese dressing isn't available. Then I actually looked up the constituent parts of ranch dressing (a product that has a surprisingly interesting history) and realized that I liked all of them individually and i had faith and it paid off. I will definitely tweak the flavors on this when I inevitably make it again but the basic process was a revelation. Take a cheap af 2.5lb chuck roast, add some amazing smoke flavor to it, then put it in a dutch oven with your favorite spices to the point that it's fall-apart / melt-in-your mouth tender. We've got a winner.

In the process I realized that I could also do this with ox-tails and I think I'm about to change my life. I will be reporting back on that when the attempt is made...
WesRecs is the weekly newsletter where I (comedian/storyteller/TV Host) Wes Hazard recommend a bunch of cool content (recs) to YOU (the person reading this). There's no particular reason for this other than the fact that I love curating stuff and I'm always excited to share items that I personally have found worthwhile, exciting, or necessary. If you like what you see please be sure to subscribe to get each week's edition delivered straight to your inbox and if you know someone else who might be into it definitely share with them. You can check out all past issues HERE.

WES Around the WEB

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Race & Policing

Towards The Reduction Of Harm

Don’t shoot the dogs: The growing epidemic of cops shooting family dogs - Overton county news (2020)

Some cops are cowards. Some are sadists. Many are both. The entire system is rotten to the core and it cannot be reformed.

In some respects it is just plain wild that a country that loves dogs as much as this one and that values private property and the principle of "a man's home is castle" as much as this one would allow armed men to kick in a family's door and shoot their Labrador Retriever for nothing more than barking as often as it does. On the other hand, paramilitary fascist violence against the poor and melanated is kind of our M.O. so I get it.
 
This is the heartless, heartbreaking, hypocritical injustice that passes for law and order in America today. It is estimated that a dog is shot by a police officer “every 98 minutes”. The Department of Justice estimates that at least 25 dogs are killed by police every day.

The Puppycide Database Project estimates the number of dogs being killed by police to be closer to 500 dogs a day, which translates to 182,000 dogs a year.

...

A dog doesn’t even have to be an aggressive breed to be shot by a cop.

Balko has documented countless “dog shootings in which a police officer said he felt “threatened” and had no choice but to use lethal force, including the killing of a Dalmatian (more than once), a yellow Lab , a springer spaniel, a chocolate Lab, a boxer, an Australian cattle dog, a Wheaten terrier, an Akita… a Jack Russell terrier… a 12-pound miniature dachshund… [and] a five-pound chihuahua.”

...

Let’s put this in perspective, shall we?

We’re being asked to believe that a police officer, fully armed, trained in combat and equipped to deal with the worst case scenario when it comes to violence, is so threatened by a yipping purse dog weighing less than 10 pounds that the only recourse is to shoot the dog?

If this is the temperament of police officers bred by the police state, we should all be worried.

...

After all, as the Washington Post points out, while “postal workers regularly encounter both vicious and gregarious dogs on their daily rounds… letter carriers don’t kill dogs, even though they are bitten by the thousands every year. Instead, the Postal Service offers its employees training on how to avoid bites.” Journalist Dale Chappell adds, “Using live dogs, handlers and trainers put postal workers through scenarios to teach them how to read a dog’s behavior and calm a dog, or fend it off, if necessary. Meter readers also have benefited from the same training, drastically reducing incidents of dog bites.”
Lying With Numbers - LA Review of Books

This country talks about race constantly, but in the most elementary and superficial and historically ignorant manner possible. It keeps us on a hamster wheel of outrage, denial, and half measures and useless gestures. This is not new, and a huge part of it is (and has always been) wildly non-objective statistical reporting. This is a dope look at that.
 
The 1890 census showed, for example, that out of the nation’s 82,329 total prisoners, 24,277 were “negro criminals.” While the numbers may have been accurate, their interpretation was profoundly biased, failing to take into account a criminal justice system that disproportionately assumed Black guilt, often arresting Black victims for white crimes or punishing Black citizens who were the victims of attacks by white mobs. Still, the statistics were enough to convince social scientists that Black people were innately criminal.

In a distorted social system, numbers do not speak for themselves. Muhammad looks beyond the data to fallacies in its analysis. As Irish, Italians, Slavs, and other ethnic groups were folded into whiteness, Black crime was compared only to “white” crime. For example, while a 1903 study showed that there were more petty crimes committed by the Irish in the beginning of the century than those committed by Black people, Irish crime was ultimately subsumed into the single normative category of whiteness, while Black crime remained a stand-alone category.

Black inferiority was thus “proven” by statistics rooted in a criminal justice system stacked against Black people, and when it was embraced by respectable academics, it became conventional wisdom, thus creating a kind of social Darwinist circle jerk. For example, high mortality rates among Blacks were also considered biological proof of enfeeblement. Ignored were the causes of these statistics: racism, police brutality, white mob violence, poverty, and a lack of access to health care.

This data-based mythology even spawned a Black disappearance hypothesis, which theorized that Black people, given their fragile health and deviant ways, might, like a virus, just disappear one day. Or, as W. E. B. Du Bois said, “If the Negro will kindly go to the devil and make haste about it, then the American conscience can justify three centuries of shameful history.”

🎵To The Left! To The Left!🎵

On That Commie Pinko Tip

Shell Is Looking Forward The fossil-fuel companies expect to profit from climate change. I went to a private planning meeting and took notes. - NY Magazine

Fascinating and terrifying.

One thing we can be sure of about global petrochemical conglomerates is that they will never ever ever ever ever have any other focus or intention that does not further their aim of preserving and increasing profits. That's all they do, that's all they are designed to do, that's all they know how to do. They will do it if it means scorching the planet, and they will only ever attempt to scorch the planet to a slightly lesser degree if doing allows them to preserve and increase profits. They've know about global warming for years longer than the general public and their response (or non-response) to it has only ever considered the bottom line. This will never change.
 
Actually, the moderator didn’t ask me any questions during the plenary that followed our regional-perspectives panel, either. That might have had something to do with my talk, which included bullet points like “Green growth is a myth” and “Your corporate existence is incompatible with a livable future for cohorts that are already born.” But I didn’t get that impression, not really. I was repeatedly asked to be honest, and everyone was really nice about it. Everyone was really nice in general.
...

So far, the oil and gas companies’ calculations — that delay would make them money and that they could avoid consequences for misleading the public — have been spot on. But denial-backed delay is no longer sufficient, it seems. They’re now hoping to leverage their incumbency, and fossil-fuel wealth, to lay claim to the world’s clean-energy future as well. To do that, they’ll have to persuade young people to forget who caused climate change in the first place, or at least to let bygones be bygones. And if they can transition their corporate profiles from fossil fuel to green energy without missing a profitable quarter, that wouldn’t be a repudiation of their delay strategy; it would be a vindication.

...

This may seem like a progressive outlook and a surprising one for a fossil-fuel company that has faced the ire of climate protesters so directly. But Shell doesn’t seem to see the climate movement as the enemy or even necessarily contrary to the company’s interests. If Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is going to rally millennials around Green New Deal legislation, then it’s a good time to become a green-energy company — or at least buy a few of those and rebrand that way. Climate protesters are just another market reality, one that can be profitable when apprehended correctly, even for a big, old oil and gas firm. The question was how to see that generational conflict coming, how to meet it and harness it and ride it into the future.

...

Shell’s concern, deeper than its fossil-fuel identity and more urgent than the climate crisis, is Shell. I don’t believe it’s going to lead us to the Paris climate goals, and Shell probably doesn’t believe it will either. But in order to survive and keep the bottom line growing, I am convinced the company will do whatever needs to be done, whether that’s networking solar panels, systematic human-rights violations, or both. Maybe it’ll even make some incidental progress along the way, depending on where the subsidies are, but there’s no comprehensive vision for a livable future here, no ethical imagination, no morality to speak of. It is unfit to lead.

Things Read

Worthwhile Words

What If Everything We Know About Gymnastics Is Wrong? - NYT

There's a lot here and I've been thinking about this for days. Gymnastics is so very much not my world, but I do love greatness and ambition and achievement and the idea that maybe, just maybe you can still live out your dreams in your 30s??? Food for thought.
 
Even before Nassar, questions of mistreatment in the sport have overshadowed some of the brightest moments in its history. Kerri Strug’s vault to secure team gold at the 1996 Olympics, for example, which she stuck on an injured ankle, was a defining moment of Olympics heroism, yet even at the time — and despite Strug’s statements to the contrary — journalists wondered if taking off down the vault a second time had been her choice. Gymnasts themselves wondered less: They knew that the sport was organized in such a way that there was only one path to choose. Strug wasn’t able to compete in the all-around or for any of the individual event finals after the vault, and in fact she never engaged in professional competition again. The sacrifice wasn’t even necessary: It turned out later that the Americans had the points needed to win team gold.

...

Can the United States approach high-level gymnastics training more humanely? It’s impossible even to pretend that the status quo is ethical. “Let’s say it’s true: You can’t have a certain level of success without leaving the sport broken,” Sey said when we spoke. “So?” Sey can now “barely walk” on her left ankle as a result of her time in gymnastics, but it was the “emotional and mental stress” on her while she was training that, she said, ended her career: “I literally lost my ability to do the sport.” She added, “Do we want thousands of girls leaving the sport mentally and emotionally damaged?”

...

Memmel’s success is coming after years away from the gym, but even for younger gymnasts, the break caused by the coronavirus has occasioned surprising reflections about the nature of athletic success. Few competitive gymnasts had ever taken a midseason break this long. The 19-year-old Delaware gymnast and national team member Morgan Hurd, a favorite going into Tokyo, told me that before the shutdown, the longest time she could remember being away from gymnastics was just several days — four years earlier, when she went to Myrtle Beach. During the shutdown, she lugged a mat home from her gym and wrestled it up the carpeted stairs to her bedroom, where she stayed conditioned by searching for workouts on YouTube. On March 7, a week or so before the shutdown, Hurd won the American Cup; no woman has won that competition in a games year and not qualified for the Olympics. But when we spoke a month into lockdown, she said the time off hadn’t hurt. “I feel like I got physically stronger,” she said. Last July, the 29-year-old British Olympian Becky Downie posted on Twitter: “Lockdown has taught me gymnasts can definitely have ‘off season’ if you stay conditioned, your skills go nowhere. ... now I look back & think of all the holidays I could have had in 20 years. Where did this myth come from!!!”
Sugar Babies on Guys Like Gaetz: ‘They Don’t Think They’re Paying for Sex’ - The Daily Beast

Matt Gaetz has been a slimeball for many reasons beyond his current legal predicament since day one. I'm truly not interested in that POS beyond his canary-in-a-coalmine utility for gauging just how debased and worrying the state of our national politics is. But I found this reflection by various "sugar babies" about the varied nature of the sugar daddy/baby dynamic to be truly refreshing. Our media & our politicians constantly have so much to say about sex work while so rarely taking into consideration the lived experience or well-being of actual sex workers so it's great to have stuff like this in a bigger name publication that, ya know, actually asks them.

 
But past the blah, blah, blah, says Rose, was the fact that as a sugar baby “obviously it wasn’t explicitly spelled out, but there was the expectation that you were going to have sex.” She goes on: “Being a sugar baby is being an escort with a contract,” with its terms decided on between the daddy and the baby.

Luna, a 21-year-old who has been sugaring the last few years, agrees, but notes that the job also requires a lot of emotional labor. “Sugaring is fully making a man’s fantasy your responsibility in exchange for money,” she tells me over the phone.



“I don’t think that they think they are paying for sex,” Rose says. “A lot of these guys have a whole lot of money, and not a whole lot of time and even less in the way of social skills. They have spent most of their formative years building a business and becoming obscenely wealthy. I think that they think that through their money they are building connections and having genuine relationships.”

“They are paying me because they like me and that is the only way they can show it,” Luna says. “Money is the way they know how to extend affection to me.” Simply put, money is what these men are bringing to the table.



The entire premise behind Seeking Arrangements is that women use their youth and desirability to gain access to knowledge, power and money that is in the hands of their sugar daddies. In this regard, prostitution, sugaring, or being a trophy wife may just a matter of degree. Similarly with paying for time, paying for attention, paying for fantasy fulfillment, or paying for sex.
What Home Staging Showed Me About Housing in America - Catapult

Sometimes I like the mood and vibe and style of an essay more than I appreciate what it accomplishes on an argument/articulation level. If you want to begin to understand the technical/legal/historical factors surrounding implicitly segregationist housing policy in Southern Connecticut then I definitely re-recommend ProPublica's Separated by Design: How Some of America’s Richest Towns Fight Affordable Housing which I included way back in WesRecs 37. If you want to feel a very specific very interesting very human experience related to that phenomenon then read this.
 
This house was not my parents’ first turn working as home managers with a home-staging company that staffs houses on the market with “professionals” with “beautiful art and furnishings” but who need “temporary housing.” Home managers make sure a house is ready for sale: Repairs are made, shelves are dusted, topiaries trimmed, throw pillows positioned. Home managers are also invisible to potential buyers—when a realtor calls, everyone leaves the house as quickly and tidily as possible.



Now I know that these ordinances are called exclusionary zoning, a way of making sure that the only people who lived in Weston were people who could afford to buy a house on two acres in Fairfield County, Connecticut. This means: people who are rich, and if not rich, the kind of “middle class” that can buy BMWs for teenagers. In 2010, 93 percent of the people who lived in Weston were, like my family, white.

In 1989, the state legislature directed all towns to make 10 percent of new housing affordable. Weston never did.

Things Seen

Watched Recently By Wes

This is video of the attempted robbery of an armored car in South Africa. I say attempted because the driver here displays more calm in the face of a life & death pressure situation that maybe I have ever seen. Like...he's definitely done this before because he approaches it with the same decisiveness, heightened calm, and annoyance as the veteran manager of a fast food restaurant encountering an overflowing toilet (basically: "This sucks. I have other shit to do but I will handle this immediately, just like I have a million times before. Kevin, I need you to put up an out-of-order sign and jump on the register. [Sigh as he rolls up his sleeves and grabs the plunger]....why today???"). Now, this dude is a former cop in the South African National Police Force so I'll acknowledge all of the inevitable misery he's contributed to, but for this clip he gets a gold star for keeping it together in a rowdy situation.
Minnie Riperton - Lovin' You (Live 1975)

Yooooo! Not only could she hit those high notes live outside of the studio but she did it better than on the album. Got Damn!

Also just want to shout out the truth and sagacity of the top comment for this on YouTube:
This song did not show up in your recommended videos. You went out of your way and search for this video
I LOVED the WWF and Saturday morning wrestling as a kid. I thought it was real, I was invested in the drama and story lines, I knew the words to all the entrance music, I had action figures. It was a whole thing. Hulk Hogan was BY FAR the most popular wrestler back then with a name recognition that rocketed past the confines of the wrestling world straight into the general pop culture stratosphere. He most kids' favorite wrestler. My forever fav was The Undertaker, but I liked The Ultimate Warrior a lot too.

I never really dug Macho Man Randy Savage though. I can't quite remember why, I think I was just never excited by him and his shtick. Hogan was packaged as basically an all-American superhero. The Undertaker was a mute 6'10" dude who lived in a graveyard and drove a hearse. Warrior wore glorified carnival face paint and seemed like he was on a manic meth bender all the time. Savage kind of just seemed like I dunno...an angry dude in neon cowboy hat  or bandana who sold Slim Jims.

But I realize now that as a child I was blind because this promo (which is exemplary of the average Savage promo vid) is a vivid illustration of the batshit intensity he brought to his persona. Like, this is one of the most pump-up things I ever seen. Is it histrionic, and ludicrous, and almost certainly coke-fueled? YES. Is it also imbued with an absolutely roiling energy that is threatening to break this man apart at the seams on camera? ALSO YES. What a performance! I mean, I'm pretty energetic on stage, but I would have a heart attack going this hard for more than 30 seconds. Like I want to see the physical/mental/emotional/spiritual? preparation that goes into outputting this kind of energy...and I truly love to see what he was like 60 seconds after wrapping it up. Great stuffy. RIP Macho Man.
Lennox Lewis vs Shannon Briggs Full Fight

Insomnia means I watch a lot more boxing on YouTube at 3am than usual and it's been that kind of month so following up from the fantastic Teofimo Lopez fight that I recommended back in WesRecs 76 here's another banger from the squared circle.

This is some of the best heavyweight boxing you will ever see. Nearly non-stop action from start to finish, incredible heart and will on both sides and admirable calm & patience & endurance from the winner. Fair warning: this is a fight of above average violence. If you don't like to see dudes hitting each other in the head with the force of a small car accident over and over again I would not recommend.

I've always liked Lennox Lewis and appreciated his skill, but he never got me invested emotionally in his career like a lot of great fighters. He's a very technical and unflashy boxer who's always seemed like an utterly regularly guy outside of the ring. Was he consistently amazing and could he demolish opponents with his 6' 5" height and devastating right? He sure could. But while he was definitely excellent I never found him exhilarating. However I've been watching and/or re-watching a lot of his fights lately and I'm definitely coming around to his style and a fuller appreciation of a man who was legit one of the 5 best heavyweights ever.
I love me some etymology and both the trivia and the presentation here are truly well done.
Random Viewing

Word of The Week

Up That Vocab Game

crust-hunt, v.
[ KRUST huhnt ]

U.S. and Canadian.
intransitive.


Meaning: To hunt deer or other large game on the snow, when covered with a frozen crust strong enough to bear the hunter, but not to support the game, which sink in and are easily run down.

Origin: crust + hunt. after crust-hunter, crust-hunting, in which crust- is in locative relation to the nouns, as in plain-dweller, sea-faring, etc.

Fun Facts

Trivia To Bend Your Brain

  • American Children are given an average of $3.70 per lost tooth.
  • Countries are almost always named after 1 of 4 things: a directional description of the country, a feature of the land, a tribe name, or an important person (usually male).
  • Three kinds of animal on this planet can laugh: humans, apes, and rats.
  • This one's just basic math BUT: The average number of legs per human being is less than 2.
Copyright © 2021 Wes Hazard -- Comic. Poet. Performer., All rights reserved.


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