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WesRecs

Vol. #40 - August 07, 2020

I have spent more time outside in the last week than probably any other week in 5+ years. Part of this has been the general increase of random ambling pleasure walks I've undergone since COVID begin as basic way to safely get out of the house and get some exercise in, part of it has been a little bit of chipping in at the community garden near me. Most of it has been because of GRILL SEASON BABY!!! Yeah, I don't know how I forgot that I liked it this much but I somehow had. Nevertheless I have rediscovered the delicious delicious hobby of charcoal grilling and am fortunate enough to be in an a NYC housing situation that makes it possible, and I've been out there several hours over several days lighting briquettes, getting smoky, and being absolutely eaten alive by mosquitoes. It's a beautiful thing. My plan is to get all of the joy I can out of this activity until the The Civil War erupts in early November and then after that start winding things down as I both try to eliminate meat from my diet and avoid the end of the world. I'm of course joking (mostly) but I found that this solitary, relatively-lengthy, meditative, and gastronomically rewarding activity (which you can and should drink during) has been a nice mental balm that also gets me a lot of time in the sun. my goal is to do a top-shelf pork shoulder by the end of August and beef brisket by the end of September, and then as mentioned, to rapidly draw down my consumption of animal protein which I cannot really morally defend. Baby steps people.
 
I grill meat too (mostly) but this was the only pic I took of this week's cook ups and damn charred broccoli is amazing.
In other outside and outside-adjacent news. I am now, for the first time in my life (in my mid 30s) the owner of a power tool. I am taking my mycological hobbyist pursuits to the next level and needed to drill some holes in a bucket in order to (hopefully) colonize some Blue Oyster spawn. I will let you know how that went in approximately 2 weeks, and now that I have the tool I will see what other DIY projects I can potentially use it with. Also, about 2 months ago I came into possession of a straight-from-the-nursery tomato plant. I transfered it into a sizeable pot, and watered it and looked after it for several weeks and it got noticeably bigger but was producing no flowers and definitely no tomatoes. After some consultation I learned that I'd made a rather massive blunder by keeping it *inside* during all of that time where it could not be pollinated by any insect friends. I then brought it outside and was pleased to see it get even bigger (like by a lot, I had to put two separate sticks in the soil to support the new height) but after several more weeks I was resigned to the fact that my ignorance had made my plant sterile for life. But hope springs eternal and this week I spotted a wonderful flower, its first. I have no idea if that means tomatoes are forthcoming after all but I'll take it.

Lastly, after having gone through the gut punch of becoming rapidly obsessed with The OA (one of the best shows I've seen in years) only to realize the show got canceled after a cliffhanger season 2 finale I stumbled onto this podcast interview about quantum mechanics (cited below re: a separate episode about the criminal punishment system) to say the show and this episode are thematically related is a massive understatement, so that was a pleasant surprise but more importantly the interview BLEW MY MIND. More specifically: the first 40 mins of this blew my mind. The last 30 I’m kind of dumb for. But 3 days ago I’d say I could explain quantum mechanics at a 12 year old level. Just the basic grand vision of it, and how it’s broadly different from classical theory. But now I’m like WHOA. My mind still gets shredded by large numbers and what exactly a "wave function" is, but I defintely have a deeper grasp of the science underlying the idea of parallel worlds and how the idea of "me" is situated in any one of them. Buck wild stuff.

In the past I have often signed off this section of the newsletter with the humble request and true statement of "Be kind to each other, I love you all". And I will continue to do so because I want it and I mean it. BUT I HAD NO IDEA THAT ELLEN HAS BEEN SIGNING OFF HER SHOW WITH "BE KIND TO ONE ANOTHER" FOR YEARS!!!!???? Why did no one one tell me?? Have you all thought I've been copying her this whole time???? No one said anything. I will never trust again. Peace.

---
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.
COVID Corner
Flu in the Arctic: Influenza in Alaska, 1918 - Coyote Shook (Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era)

COVID is very different than the flu in a lot of ways, but the societal outcomes of devastating pandemics of each of them, a century apart, are in many cases very similar. Denial of the problem, the blaming of foreigners, government inaction, unequal health outcomes based on race and income, etc etc. It's all there. Here's a revealing (and brief) historical webcomic detailing the 1918 Flue Epidemic's emergence in Alaska (open the PDF) along with an excellent reading list for historical reference. You can skip directly to the comic HERE.
It’s Time to Tell a New Story About Coronavirus—Our Lives Depend on It - The Nation

In one sense COVID (its existence, its spread, its virulence. etc) is a blunt fact of nature. Viruses exist in the world, new ones mutate into being, they then seek to propagate their genetic material, they do so by infecting a host and then spreading to additional hosts. This is our basic, and basically accurate, modern medicine understanding. It is useful and familiar. However this understanding speaks to astonishingly little about *why* such a thing might occur, how our current way of living (global capitalism) might encourage it, and what we should probably be thinking about if we want to mitigate the next pandemic, and the one after that, and the one after that. Because if we stay on this track there will only ever be more COVIDs (or worse). I hate to rely on mass market Hollywood entertainment to prop up an argument about why we need to change our behavior (individually and as a society) but a good image is a good image so I'll say that much of what's contained in this piece is brilliantly illustrated in the last 90 seconds of the movie Contagion (you can watch that clip here, it doesn't really show any spoilers, but I'd recommend the whole movie as just general and eerily timely entertainment).

There's no exact blueprint for this BUT: the expansion of global markets and increased demands for middle class luxuries (such as the eating of meat every day) leads to evermore human encroachment into wild animal habitats. This pushes those animals into ever-closer proximity to humans and their livestock. This creates breeding grounds for never before seen illnesses. The global supply chains and international business travel that this encroachment allows and encourages simultaneously create an explosion of vectors for these new diseases. And they hyper-capitalist immersion (which we all live and breathe consciously or not) leads us to focus all of our hopes regarding the handling of these new pathogens on big business biomedical solutions which in turn leads to even more human disruption of the natural world. Things need to change. Every single time we run through this cycle the richest among us will be able to buy their health and security while the poor will get poorer and more sick and dead. But fewer and fewer are going to make it through each successive loop. Let's not see how far we can take it. Let's play a different game.
 
"All of which is to say that, contrary to the central plotline of the paradigm of invasion, today’s pathogens don’t arrive in untouched territory as invaders do. Rather, if there is any invasion underway at all, it is spearheaded by us. The majority of pathogens that have emerged since 1940 originated in the bodies of animals and entered human populations not because they invaded us but because we invaded their habitats. By encroaching on wetlands and cutting down forests, we’ve forced wild animals to crowd into ever smaller fragments of habitat, drawing them into intimate contact with human populations. It’s that proximity, which we force through our destruction of wildlife habitats, that allows many animal microbes to find their way into human bodies."

...

"It’s time for a new story, one that more accurately captures the reality of how contagions unfold and why. In this story, pandemics would be cast as both a biological reality and a social phenomenon shaped by human agency. And the coronavirus, if cast as any kind of monster at all, would be a Frankenstein’s monster: a creature of our own making. We, after all, created the world in which SARS-Cov-2 evolved, one in which our industry has swallowed up so much of the planet that microbes from wild animals easily slip into livestock and humans. We created the society of overcrowded prisons and nursing homes staffed by underpaid employees who must work in multiple facilities to make ends meet; in which employers force their workers to labor on meatpacking lines even if they’re sick; in which asylum seekers are crammed into detention centers; and in which people living in hard-hit cities like Detroit lack access to clean water with which to wash their hands."

 
Race & Policing
A former prosecutor's case for prison abolition - The Ezra Klein Show

Podcasts talking to Black activists, Black intellectuals, & Black members the judicial system about police brutality and prison abolition/reform are kind of falling out of the sky these days, and it's long overdue. Keep it coming and don't stop. This is among the most pressing issues of our age and it has an impact on EVERY American. This convo is among my favorite and it's held with a Black man, Paul Butler, who, as a Federal prosecutor was most definitely part of the problem for several decades. But that also means that he has a deep clarity about just how rigged the current system is, and how much it needs to be done away with.
The Making of a Molotov Cocktail - NY Mag

Look, despite me being an abolitionist, there's a part of me that thinks that if you're reckless enough to make a Molotov cocktail out of a Bud Light bottle and toilet paper and then throw that into an (empty) cop car then... that's yo ass. You KNOW the cops are gonna take it personal and bring the hammer down on you when they catch you. And if you do this in one of the most policed and surveilled cities in America, during a period when the cops are out in force and hyper-sensitive to any threats, then I really don't know what outcome you're expecting aside from being caught (immediately or eventually) and facing the most vindictive prosecution possible (if not also getting your ass wildly beat on the way to the station). Like, I hate bullies of all stripes, I have no use for them, but if you're a 90lb nerd and you walk up to a 7th grade tyrant on the playground and slap him in the face he is *assuredly* going to stomp you out in front of the whole class and you should not be surprised by that.

The other, bigger, part of me looks at these actions, and this case, and what Federal prosecutors are trying to bring down on the heads of these two lawyers/activists (for what is essentially vandalism) and screams "What the actual fuck?! Are you serious? This is some gulag shit."

What they did was stupid (I'm not saying immoral or dangerous to the public...just stupid). What the Federal government is doing in response is vicious. In no just world do two people protesting brutality and inequality damage an abandoned (and already heavily damaged) vehicle and end up spending the next 45 years in a dungeon because of it. But that's what America is trying to make happen.

 
“...to work within that system is to understand just how capricious and brutal criminal justice can be — the enormous latitude given to prosecutors, the deference extended to judges and juries, and the procedural protocols and professional ethics that often merely cover for the status quo. And when a president and his advisers seem to regard the law as an obstacle course; when an attorney general metes out favors, not justice; and when immigrant children are held in cages and men are killed on video by police, some lawyers may want to embrace a more flexible definition of “lawless.” As recently as a few years ago, even a progressive-minded lawyer might have regarded fervent, visible participation in a political protest as professionally unbecoming. Today, some of Mattis and Rahman’s friends may concede in private that throwing a Molotov cocktail represents a lapse in judgment, but none are willing to discuss the degree to which their friends may have been ethically, professionally, morally, or legally out of bounds. Instead, they emphasize that violence against government property, especially in the midst of political upheaval, is not the same as violence against a person; that the prosecution of their friends for an act of what amounted to political vandalism is far more extreme than the crime itself; that it amounts to a criminalization of dissent and reflects a broader right-wing crusade against people of color and the progressive left — and, as such, demonstrates precisely the horror of the system they were out in the streets that night to protest. There is a version of the Rahman and Mattis story in which they are civil-rights heroes, even martyrs, instead of professionals who crossed a line.“

...

"The federal indictment, filed on June 11, makes a case for domestic terrorism. It charges Mattis and Rahman with conspiracy. It describes the police car as a vehicle “used in interstate and foreign commerce.” It categorizes the Molotov cocktail as “an incendiary device,” which, in the legal code, includes homemade bombs along with grenades and missiles. The use of this type of “destructive device” in a “crime of violence,” with which Mattis and Rahman were also charged, carries a minimum
sentence three times what it would have been if they had instead used a gun."

An Embattled President. A Mass Movement. A Military Used Against Citizens. We’ve Been Here Before. - Mother Jones

Ain't nothing brand new. The powerful have always jealously guarded their power. The police have always been an instrument of state control and repression. Small, adaptive, and highly organized groups have always found novel ways to resist and stymie them. And those some police have always turned into rampaging beasts when they're outsmarted. Now, thankfully, we have smartphones. Now, regretfully, they have drones and tanks.

"Within minutes of Wilson’s order, for example, 100 people were busted in a sweep at Tenth and K Streets. A Life photographer captured the unbridled joy on the face of a deputy police chief, Theodore Zanders, as he sprayed Mace into the eyes and noses of one group. Even though the protesters weren’t breaking any laws at the moment, he felt justified because “the act of one is the act of all,” Zanders later explained."

...

"It was payback time at the universities. At the George Washington campus, club-wielding police chased protesters who were seeking refuge. The cops pursued them right through the entrance to the law school building and through the hallways. They arrested a law professor who was wearing an armband identifying him as a legal observer. At the university’s hospital, two dozen people who’d been treated at the emergency room for tear-gas inhalation and minor injuries, some of whom had nothing to do with Mayday, were waiting outside for rides home. The police busted all of them, ignoring the protests of doctors and nurses. One of the college’s physical education instructors was dragged off the steps of his office building. In Georgetown, police swept through the streets, arresting kids for any offense they could gin up, such as jaywalking. Young people ran onto the Georgetown campus from the Canal Road entrance with scooter police at their heels. The cops hurled tear-gas bombs against the walls of the Copley Hall dormitory."

...

"America’s largest act of mass civil disobedience had ended in America’s biggest mass arrest. That Monday, and at protests during the next two days, the dragnet snared a total of more than 12,000 people. They were held incommunicado for hours or days with no proper charges against them."

 
Things Read
Circulating the Facts of Slavery: How the American Anti-Slavery Almanac became an influential best seller. - Lapham’s Quarterly

As both entertainment and as one of the best possible trivia-delivery mechanisms ever created I have enjoyed the World Almanac since I was a little kid. I remember the first one I ever got and hardly being able to believe that one single (800 page) book could contain a list of world capitals, a calendar of eclipses for the next few decades, every Kentucky Derby winner there ever was, AND a pictorial rundown (in color!) of the biggest news events of the past year. It was like holding the smallest fraction of Wikipedia in my hands 15 years before I knew what Wikipedia was. Given my general cherishing of almanacs I was especially delighted to learn that in pre-Civil War America one of the most popular almanacs in the country was designed and distributed with the explicitly political aim of bringing about the end of slavery. Almanacs: is there anything they can't do?
 
"By ceaselessly creating facts and linking them together within a reinforcing print system, the AASS forged a factual foundation upon which to build its arguments. Throughout the 1830s, the AASS was an information-gathering, knowledge-producing enterprise. Its most prominent genre—the documentary compendium—was the principal print form through which it compiled, constructed, and dispersed facts about slavery. Its most popular factual compendium in the 1830s was the antislavery almanac. Driven by data, the antislavery almanac deployed the genre’s modes of information analysis to produce antislavery knowledge in a legible and familiar form. Framing its facts through the genre’s customary conventions, it trained its audience to calculate slavery’s immorality. It was also a key node in the AASS’ consolidated print system and the primary pamphlet in many of its distributional plans. Crucial to the formulation of the society’s factual argument, it was essential to its institutional credibility and organizational growth.
 
Through the almanac, the AASS established its knowledge system as sound and its movement as legitimate."

...

"Besides connecting antislavery principles to natural systems, The AAS Almanac also used the genre’s conventions to insert antislavery events into national history. In some editions, the daily calendar records antislavery occasions, such as the Monthly Concert for the Slave and the May Anniversary, to establish the rhythm of the antislavery year. In others, the list of important dates on the upper left-hand side of the page situates antislavery events in a national framework and asserts the movement’s inevitable progress: the dates of Columbus’ landing in America and the Pilgrims’ arrival at Plymouth Rock are side by side with those of William Wilberforce’s birth and the publication of the AASS’ Declaration of Sentiments. Juxtaposing the historical calendar to the daily calendar, which was often situated below it, underscored how everyday activism could produce noteworthy events. By integrating antislavery into historical systems, The AAS Almanac constructed its cause as significant and its success as certain."
Cogs in the climate machine - Medium

We are really really running out the clock on this whole "avoiding turning the planet into a scorching & barren hellscape" issue. And while I won't live to see the absolute worst of it I do feel like I owe something to future generations and I'd rather not experience 20+ days per year of 100+ degrees in NYC when I'm 60. I don't think I'll be able to cope with the ass sweat and the garbage stank.

I liked this piece because of the very simple but highly effective punctuation visualization she deploys and because of the historical approach. Rather than "The end is nigh! We are so screwed!" it's "This is how many millions of years have passed since the Earth last looked like it will look in 100 years if we don't change things up. We are so screwed!"

As with the current pandemic (and future ones), as with endless mechanized war, as with systemic racism in the U.S. and around the world, as with staggering inequality and poverty, the root cause of the climate crisis is global capitalism. I am a citizen of this world, I have lived and breathed capitalism my whole life. I have enjoyed many of the obvious benefits that it brings to someone in the middle class of a strong economy. But it is simply not tenable – not because I don't "like" or "agree" with its downsides, but because if we keep doing this whole planet is going to look like the parking lot of an abandoned strip mall under the August sun.
 
"In my research, I’ve circled around this problem, and come to name capitalism as the intertwined economic, physical and social system as the root cause of our current trajectory. Capitalism manifests itself in concrete ways, in the state capture by industrial interests which are antithetical to different trajectory (as we showed in the case of car dependency) and in the existence of ever growing inequalities, with the affluent most wedded to damaging patterns of consumption and production. The solutions put forward to comfort and maintain these existing power structures and inequalities, such as green growth, have been repeatedly shown to have no basis in reality."

...

"Comfort and security are the past, if you ever had them. Many people never did. The Holocene is behind us. What lies in front is still undetermined, and can still be changed. But it will take the fight of our lives, for all of our lives, to change this. This will not be fun, or fulfilling, or a worthy adventure of self-discovery, or a cute feel-good movie, or a task of personal validation. I mean, maybe from time to time there will be those things, who knows. Who cares. This is a fight for life itself. We get to be depressed, despondent, little creatures against the crushing change of geological epochs and mighty economic systems. But we need to be little creatures who are learning to fight very very very fast and very very very well together against the brutal forces of domination which steer our current course."

 
Decolonizing ecology - briarpatch

Like the saying goes: New problems call for...old solutions???

The Western/white supremacist/colonial way of thinking operates on the basis that "history" didn't really start in an area until some conquistador or merchant set foot in it. In this worldview Indigenous people may have known how to grow enough crops to get through some brutal winters, they may have some interesting rituals or dance or folklore, but that's about it. There's never any recognition of the fact that by virtue of simply having existed in a place for hundreds or thousands of years these peoples became, quite naturally, scientists adept in the science of thriving there. Perhaps a rigorous Baconian method of scientific development was never codified, but they sure as shit knew how to sustainably increase their salmon catch to accommodate for ever growing populations, they knew how to build temperature regulating housing appropriate for the climate, and they knew about soil depletion and crop rotation (even if they never thought of them in these terms).

All of this is to say that there is a lot to be learned from traditional methods of land and resource management. These are methods that may not allow for the maximization of raw year-over-year growth, but if you're goal is to simply feed and clothe your community in a way that ensures you can do that again next year and the year after that (instead of making as much as possible as cheaply as possible so that you can sell it to poorer people halfway around the world for the sole purpose of maximizing profit) then these methods can be pretty damned good.

As always, be wary of ideology that seeks to enshrine a patronizing romantic myth of a "noble savage" or a return to some idea of Eden, but if a given place had an effective and sustainable way to feed a local population every year for centuries before a bunch of gold diggers and fur merchants showed up to use their homeland as a piggy bank it stands to reason that some of those methods (or some modern spin on those methods) might be useful once the bank is smashed.

"So why do we keep participating? There is a complex web of private property owners, industrial farmers, large-scale processors, and chemical companies, buttressed by the cold bureaucracy of the state, that has been allowed to control the narrative of what is good for us. Beer and burgers, elegant salmon dinners, and road trips are a source of visceral pleasure for people who might otherwise experience very little satisfaction in their daily lives. Industries and governments reinforce this attachment with propaganda that simulates a feeling of community by rebranding consumption as support for local economies. With these forms of consumption rooted in genocide and displacement of Indigenous Peoples, and with modern obstacles like global pandemics and ecological change undermining their viability, continuing any of these industrial activities without fundamental changes is unjustifiable. The question then becomes: how do we move forward?

...

“We’re willing to wield science as a tool in our work because truly, our people were scientists,” Jess tells me. “We had systems for organizing and transmitting knowledge. We developed practices, teachings, and laws based on our careful experimentation and observation, our code of ethics, our rigour, our intelligence, our drive to understand the world around us. We don’t differentiate between ‘our knowledge’ and ‘science.’ We differentiate between frameworks: ‘Haíɫzaqv science’ and ‘western science.’” There is no confusion in the community about which methods are most appropriate for Haíɫzaqv people or their territory. “We’ve seen decades of academics coming into our territory to earn degrees studying obscure things that have no practical application here. That doesn’t happen anymore. We now have relationships with academic institutions that allow us to be an early point of contact for researchers in all fields who want to come into the territory. They’re expected to develop projects that will advance our territorial governance and stewardship.”
130 Degrees - NYRB

Really not trying to ruin your day with news of the impending climate apocalypse but I mean...

 
"Higher sea levels mean that storm surges like those that marked Superstorm Sandy in 2012 could be expected, on average, three times a year. The record-setting heatwaves of 2019 “will be considered an unusually cool summer in the three-degree world”; over a billion people would live in zones of the planet “where it becomes impossible to safely work outside artificially cooled environments, even in the shade.” The Amazon dies back, permafrost collapses. Change feeds on itself: at three degrees the albedo, or reflectivity, of the planet is grossly altered, with white ice that bounces sunshine back out to space replaced by blue ocean or brown land that absorbs those rays, amplifying the process."

...

"The extinctions on land and sea will certainly be the worst since the end of the Cretaceous, 65 million years ago, when an asteroid helped bring the age of the dinosaurs to an end. “The difference,” Lynas notes, “is that this time the ‘meteor’ was visible decades in advance, but we simply turned away as it loomed ever larger in the sky.”"

...

"The pandemic provides some useful sense of scale—some sense of how much we’re going to have to change to meet the climate challenge. We ended business as usual for a time this spring, pretty much across the planet—changed our lifestyles far more than we’d imagined possible. We stopped flying, stopped commuting, stopped many factories. The bottom line was that emissions fell, but not by as much as you might expect: by many calculations little more than 10 or 15 percent. What that seems to indicate is that most of the momentum destroying our Earth is hardwired into the systems that run it. Only by attacking those systems—ripping out the fossil-fueled guts and replacing them with renewable energy, even as we make them far more efficient—can we push emissions down to where we stand a chance. Not, as Lynas sadly makes clear, a chance at stopping global warming. A chance at surviving."
Things Seen
The Internet's Own Boy - (Dir. Brian Knappenberger)

I remember reading about Aaron Swartz's death in the news a few years back. What I most recall is immediately registering the likely reason behind why he took his own life: he was a skinny, nerdy, kid who was looking down the barrel of several decades in Federal prison for...downloading a bunch of academic journal articles. A grim prospect to be sure which speaks to both the viciousness and capriciousness of our criminal punishment system. I knew that he was a co-founder of Reddit and a proponent of an open-access approach to information, but not really much more than that.

I watched this doc, and wow... we lost a light. This movie is about Swartz and his life, yes. And that life was as remarkable as it was short (Swartz was, plainly, a "genius" in the popular sense of the term). But it's also about the nature of information, the potentials and pitfalls of the web, prosecutorial overreach, & big business vs. the common good.

A few observations:
  • The academic journal business is a sham. Research and new ideas are produced by scholars and scientists, whose only road to professional security and legitimacy is being published in journals, they are not paid for being published there, and then the publications turn around and charge truly astronomical yearly fees to institutions in order to allow their members to access the info. It's a cartel plain and simple and with current technologies their continued existence is indefensible.
  • DO NOT TALK TO THE COPS WITHOUT A LAWYER. (And even if you have one remember that the cops & DAs *only* care about getting convictions. Not truth, not justice, not what's "right", JUST CONVICTIONS. They will say or do anything to get their convictions. If the powers that be think they can "sell" a case against you in court to a judge or jury such that it will result in a conviction they will go after you with everything they have in order to corner you into a plea deal, regardless as to whether or not they think you really did it, or if the thing you did was actually harmful. One of the greatest lies in America is that the Justice System works to get justice.
  • The Internet is intrinsically neither a world-community-building force for good and the free exchange of endless knowledge NOR a sinister tool of corporate/government control and surveillance. It has the potential to be both at all times depending on who's using it and whether access to to it remains for *all* of us (not just the moneyed and privileged).
  • There are a lot of smart, talented, driven people out there. Very few of them have the will to use those talents first and foremost for "good" vs. money.
"Meteoric" is a word that gets thrown a lot when it comes to descriptions of entertainment careers. But sometimes it's the only right thing to say. It's been a marvel to watch Sam Jay's rise from Boston open mics to NYC, to LA, to SNL, to Netflix, to an album, to Netflix again with this, her first full length TV special. Sam is hands down one of the realest & most authentic performers I have ever met and among the strongest comedic voices working today, and she's really kind of just getting started. If you've not had the good fortune of running across her work before, then start here. I promise you'll be thankful you did. Check out this amazing profile in the NYT.
Wabbit Hunter: Arthur Q. Bryan - (Dir. Anthony Scibelli)

Anthony Scibelli is a comic and a writer and a friend of mine. If you're a WesRecs subscriber you might remember me including my recent appearance in The Stay-At-Home Show, his Zoom-based lockdown webseries or my dual-role involvement in his other webseries from a while back (I'm biased but I recommend both). Anthony is also the oldest soul I know, in the sense that I have never met anyone in my age bracket who so voraciously devours vintage film, comedy, & music. Borscht belt comedy, Old Hollywood, 1930s radio dramas, etc, they're all his jam. Thus I'm hardly surprised that he'd be moved to make a mini-documentary about the voice actor behind Elmer Fudd. In fact with a gun to my head I'd say this is probably the first thing he'd make a doc about.

I grew up on these cartoons (which speaks to just how much the media landscape has changed since then because they were all several decades old by the time I was born) and Elmer Fudd was always one of the least interesting characters to me. Speedy Gonzalez [highly problematic] and Foghorn Leghorn were among my personal favs but I was very happy to have watched this and it added a whole lot of depth and pathos to the character for me and it's chock-full of great toon triva. Additionally, I've heard Anthony talk on stage and in person for hours upon hours over the years and I still ended up suprised by just how AMAZING his voice is in narration mode. Like seriously: warm, clear, knowledgeable, the whole bit. I have no idea when it will be safe to tell jokes in comedy clubs anymore but in the meantime my dude should def put together a voiceover reel.
LOL. Random: But I was googling for the link to the episode of Anthony's webseries that I appeared in (mentioned above) by searching for our names together and this was in the top 3 results, and damn do I love The Internet.
Of all social media / content platforms I go down the most rabbit holes of randomness on YouTube by far. There are obviously channels and topics that I'm drawn to more than others but generally I will watch any video about something I don't know about as long as the thumbnail and title are halfway interesting. Hence I arrived at this awesome little explainer about Asphalt. Who knew there was this much going on with our blacktop???

This dude, Grady Hillhouse, loves pavement and pavement engineering more than I have ever loved another human being. His enthusiasm is infectious and he's great at explaining all of this without jargon.

Trust me when I say this will be the most interesting thing you watch about pavement this year.

Things I learned watching this video:
  • The difference between concrete and cement.
  • Why most concrete roadways have grooves in them.
  • That petrochemicals permeate more of our daily lives than I'd ever realized.
  • Why roadways have weight limits for big rig trucks.
  • Asphalt concrete is the world's most recyclable material (as the title would imply). I had no idea.
Word of the Week
Gemütlich, adj.
[ guh-MOOT-lik ]

Meaning:   Pleasant, cheerful; cosy, snug, homely; genial, goodnatured.
 
Somebody Said This
"Confidence goes back and forth across a tennis net much like the ball itself, and only somewhat less frequently. If two players are on about the same level, no matter what that level is, the player who experiences more minutes of confidence will be the winner."

- Levels of The Game  John McPhee
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