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Vol. #66 - February 12, 2021

Hey everybody, thanks for checking in once again. I hope you're surviving and thriving out there. It's been a busy week on my end as I was on set doing background work once again while also doing a ton of Zoom meetings, hosting trivia, and working on some medium-term projects. This won't be the longest WesRecs as my stacked agenda kept me from compiling  monster-length issues like I did last week and the week before that but there's some interesting stuff in here and I think you'll se something you like. Peace and love until next time!
I got booked to do background on S4 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel this week. I've done it twice before in S3 and unfortunately I didn't make it onto camera either time. We kept the unseen streak alive this week because once I arrived on set clean shaven for the first time in well over a year I was pulled to act as a stand-in rather than an on-camera extra, which is to say I shaved for a role for what ended up being absolutely no reason at all.

Am I annoyed? Yes. Is it a big deal? No. Since there are a ton of shows set in the 80s and 90s taping in NYC right now and since casting directors don't seem to believe that any men had beards between 1880 - 2010 being temporarily clean shaven actually gives me a chance to book a lot of background work that wouldn't be available to me otherwise. I miss my beard and my face gets cold several times a day now so I will be going back to mountain man in short order, but I might rock this for a week or two.

FWIW if you showed me the 2 pics above and asked me which person I trusted more I would EMPHATICALLY say the man on the left. Having worn some kind of facial hair for about 95% of my adult life I am just really weirded out by the pic on the right.
On the cooking front this week I continued my dogged quest to land on the perfect fried chicken recipe that reaches the pinnacles of crispiness, juiciness, and flavor. This batch was my best yet but still not where it needs to be. Most of them I did standard and a few of them I tried a new iteration of Korean gochujang flavoring (they were all double fried of course). The main issue her was it was just too salty I dry brined the wings beforehand with Kosher salt but then also added some salt to the seasoning mix, the Korean wings also got a decent amount of soy sauce in the flavoring. It was all a bit much. Still tasty, but not ideal. I did however achieve my best crispiness yet. The trick here was to coat them in an even mix of flour and potato starch (and seasonings of course), but to pour about a quarter cup of water over the dusted wings before frying. That causes the starch/flour to clump up a bit on the wing which means extra crunch when friend. Definitely going to keep that step as I continue to tweak.
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

F O L L O W on F A C E B O O K F O L L O W on F A C E B O O K
F O L L O W on T W I T T E R F O L L O W on T W I T T E R
F O L L O W on I N S T A G R A M F O L L O W on I N S T A G R A M
How Prince Won The Super Bowl -  Anil Dash

We're about as far away from the next Super Bowl as we can possibly get so as we enter the NFL offseason and forget about football for the next several months I just wanted to highlight this amazing appreciation/analysis of what is near universally regarded as the best halftime show ever, Prince at Super Bowl XLI in 2007.

Song by song Dash offers an insightful and convincing breakdown of Prince's set selection and the artistic/personal/political statement he was making with each of the tunes which included some obvious hits (Let's Go Crazy, Purple Rain) but also quite a few unexpected covers (and covers of covers) by artists like Foo Fighters and Tina Turner. As with everything he did, Prince had a distinct vision of what every song was supposed to communicate and the set itself worked as a kind of artist's statement for an icon who was performing on the biggest stage of a legendary career. (He also fulfilled his pre-game press conference duties by giving a mini concert inside of a conference room instead of you know, just answering questions, like some mere mortal. Damn. RIP to The Purple One.)
For example, next up we get a medley of "Baby I’m A Star" and "1999" sandwiched around "Proud Mary". Of course the two big crowd-pleasing Prince hits make sense, but what role is "Proud Mary" playing here? Though it’s a Credence Clearwater Revival song, the definitive version of “Proud Mary” is Tina Turner’s version — and Prince is clearly belting our Tina's version of the song along with Shelby Johnson. It’s important to note that half of Prince’s bandmates on his biggest stage ever are women. And that context becomes even more resonant when we consider what Ike & Tina did with "Proud Mary". It was, in many ways, a reclamation of rock & roll as Black music, taking back a song by performing it better than the artist who wrote it.


"Watchtower" is a deep choice here: Bob Dylan is really the only other artist who is as key to Minnesota music history as Prince, and the definitive version of the song is Jimi Hendrix's — an artist whose impact on Prince is undeniable (if at times overstated). The important thing here is what Jimi did. "All Along the Watchtower" is another song, the second of this short set, that was written by a white artist and then definitively rendered in a rock & roll rendition by a Black artist. And this time, both the composer and signature performer are artists whose names were brought up in discussions of Prince for his entire career.
The NFL, being the NFL, has infuriatingly decided to not to make the unabridged HD performance available so here's a decent enough retrospective with some commentary from people involved and most of the Purple Rain performance.

COVID Corner

Findings in Plagueland

Here's an equally funny & exasperating video about the past year's greatest urban dining development: the pop-up curbside eating hut that manages to satisfy COVID era indoor dining restrictions...despite being an indisputably indoor dining facility that manages to have even worse ventilation than the actual restaurant its built in front of.

On the one hand I respect the innovation. These went from not existing to being on damned near every street in NYC in a matter of months. I've seen every variation and quality level from super polished jobs that look as spiffy as an Apple store to shanty structures where it's clear the owner just called his cousin who built a deck one time and entrusted them to put up something, anything, that would (hopefully) not fall over.

This video is a brief bike tour & commentary about a handful of these "outdoor dining" setups that range from actual full on outdoor dining (tables and chairs on the sidewalk), to structures that have a room and maybe some heat lamps but no walls (so..OK), to the aforementioned fully enclosed spots that no sane person can defend as outdoor dining with a straight face.

I'd say it was the wild west out here in terms of COVID safety but I saw a lot of footage of bars & partying in Tampa, FL during Super Bowl weekend and I gotta say they're at least making a gesture here. People will still die...but it's a gesture...

Race & Policing

Towards The Reduction Of Harm

Here's another recent entry in the endless march of police murders committed against unarmed individuals. On December 29 Trevor Seever was murdered by Officer Joseph Lamantia in Modesto, CA. The police were called by the victim's sister who was concerned because her brother had said he had a gun and was intending to hurt police officers. So yes, I clearly understand why the cops would have their guard up upon encountering him, but that in no way justifies what goes down here, as is expertly explained in the video above. In addition to the video I've included an article below that provides more background including the highly concerning career of the officer up until this encounter (this was his 4th deadly shooting and his 5th shooting overall).

In this instance both the victim and officer were white and we can never forget that while the systems of white supremacy are of course most devastatingly arrayed against people of color no one is safe. Just as with global capitalism and fascism and any other violent/expansive power-aggregating system it is a *hungry* beast and it will always end up swallowing greater and greater numbers of vulnerable people no matter what they look like or how much money they make. No one is safe in a carceral state where militarized police with no meaningful checks on their power are allowed to use deadly force at the slightest perception of a potential threat.

Video: A Highly Morally and Legally Questionable Shooting Caught on Badge Cam

Tactical/ threat-analysis/ self-defense/ weapon readiness/ military appreciation YouTube is a very weird but often fascinating place. The dominant worldview in that realm is not my jam in the least, but there's some solid content if you're curious and it's wild to see how deep and wide the rabbit hole is. (It's also helpful/sobering to realize just how many people in America are very enthusiastic and extremely prepared for the coming civil war). Case in point: The Active Self Protection channel offers a steady stream of detailed analysis of real-life violent encounters and near misses caught on camera. A personal security professional narrates what's happening and provides feedback on what was done well, what was done poorly, and how it might have been improved upon. There are acronyms and axioms and jargon galore and a wide variety of scenarios are available for your viewing from how to escape a potential cartel carjacking in Mexico or dealing with a snack-stand robber with a less-than-deadly gun. The presenter here is a self-defense/personal combat expert and he is a huge supporter of law enforcement. But he's also very scientific/analytical in his analysis and calls it likes he sees it and even he judges this shooting to be unjustified, reckless, and poorly executed.

Body Camera Video Shows Fatal Shooting of Unarmed California Man by Police - NYT

Police respond to active violent/serious crime very rarely. Most of the time they arrive after such incidents have already occurred. The vast majority of all arrests are for drug possession, vagrancy, and driving on a suspended license. Most cops will make it through their careers without drawing their guns, and most who do take out their weapon will never shoot it. So for one (relatively young) officer to have been involved in FIVE different shootings, where 4 people have died is, at best, statistically improbable and at worst is evidence that a gun, a badge, and near legal immunity have been given to murderous psychopath. He is not the only one.
The Dec. 29 encounter was not the first time Officer Lamantia was involved in a fatal shooting.
According to Ms. Bear, in 2010, Officer Lamantia and one other officer shot and killed Francisco Moran, 45, after the police received reports that Mr. Moran was intoxicated and armed with a knife. He was carrying a metal spatula.

In 2016, Officer Lamantia was also involved in the fatal shooting of Omar Villagomez, a suspect in a drug bust in Turlock, Calif. The police said that Mr. Villagomez rammed an undercover vehicle while trying to escape. The episode was investigated by the Turlock Police Department and found to be justified.

Also in 2016, Officer Lamantia was involved in the fatal shooting of Kim Jackson, a woman who officers said charged at them with knives.

The District Attorney’s Office found the shootings of Mr. Moran and Ms. Jackson to be justified, Ms. Bear said.


     Officer Lamantia was involved in another encounter in 2016, in which several officers subdued and arrested a man using control holds, beanbag guns and a Taser. The man died a few days later.

   And last October, Officer Lamantia was also involved in the shooting in Stockton of a man, David Cummings Jr., who was wanted in a double homicide near downtown Modesto.

    The Stockton Police Department and the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department are investigating that shooting.

ICE Threatened to Expose Asylum-Seekers to Covid-19 if They Did Not Accept Deportation - The Intercept

Abolish ICE. It's not just a slogan, it's the right thing to do. This agency is corrupt and abusive from top to bottom and it cannot be redeemed. I'm not exaggerating when I say they will be the vanguard of the paramilitary storm-trooper force that we'll get if 45 & Co. are able to finish what they tried to start on Jan 6.

The gist of this article is pretty much there in the title and...welp...
After the threats and the assault, Fozao and the others gave up and submitted to the transfer. “What could we do?” he said. “There were so many more of them than us.”

The men said that they were crammed into a van with other detainees and taken to a staging center in Alexandria, Louisiana, where migrants are often grouped together before a deportation flight. There, they were again forced into overcrowded conditions where it was impossible to socially distance. There were about 100 people in one room, estimated one of the detainees, who spoke with The Intercept on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.


Mendez described the medical conditions and the facility’s response to the pandemic as abysmal. This week he had asked for a new mask after losing his, Mendez said, and was told that they had none: “The guard pointed to the empty box, and said, ‘No masks.’” Mendez said he still struggled to catch his breath sometimes and was shocked at the treatment he and others received.

Two of the men held in Pine Prairie who were threatened with Covid-19 exposure were especially vulnerable: Fozao has hypertension, and another of the detainees, who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation, said he had asthma. The asthmatic detainee told the guard he was at high risk for contracting Covid-19. “They don’t care,” he told The Intercept.
What Does It Mean to Be a “Good Cop”? - Slate

So much of the problem of police, and police violence, and the American additiction to incarceration is due to the fact that the police do not exist for the reasons or fulfill the functions that most Americans think that they do.

As a white, male civil rights lawyer working with local communities to combat mass incarceration, I have studied police practices from a position of safety and privilege for 11 years. I have seen virtually the same cycle in every major city: police militarization, surveillance, incarceration, and unconstitutional abuses leading to a particularly high profile crime by police caught on video. Politicians respond to the fallout by pledging more recruitment and training of “good cops,” better “community policing” practices, and rewritten “use of force” policies. These pledges are then followed by increases in police budgets after the unrest subsides. The police bureaucracy keeps expanding, and police keep killing Black people.

This cycle is the result of the gulf between the image and the reality of the role that police serve in our society. In order to preserve the massive (and profitable) policing bureaucracy in this country, police must conceal what they actually do on a systemic level.


...when Michael Brown was killed by a police officer in August 2014, the city of Ferguson, Missouri, averaged 3.6 arrest warrants for every household. The vast majority of these warrants were for unpaid debts to the city, and almost all of them sought to jail a Black person. When a person was arrested, their family faced what can only be described as a formalized ransom process: pay arbitrary amounts of cash to the police or let their loved one sit in a cage. Jail guards negotiated and renegotiated for amounts like $100 or $300 with family members each day. People whose families had no money to spare, like my client Keilee Fant, were jailed for days or weeks with no access to a shower, sunlight, their children, or even toothpaste.


And although every major police department that I have researched has had recent systemic scandals of abuse, lying under oath, and coordinated cover-up, all of that pervasive misconduct pales in comparison to the scope of the daily, largely invisible violence of the standard system that subjects poor communities to mass surveillance and harassment, takes billions of dollars in personal property through police forfeiture, traps people in abusive jails, coerces plea deals, imposes harsh sentences with no connection to empirical evidence, separates individuals from friends and family, and marks millions with a criminal record that closes off opportunities for employment, health care, and housing. This systemic destruction is what “good cops” do in modern America.

🎵To The Left! To The Left!🎵

On That Commie Pinko Tip

Amazon isn't exactly hiring goons with cudgels to crack heads but they are using some definite sleazeball tactics in an attempt to thwart the union organizing efforts of workers in their Bessemer, AL facility. Employees have been texted up to 5x a day with anti-union messaging, anti-union propaganda is hung at eye level in the facility's restroom stalls, employees are required to attend anti-union meetings while at work, and Amazon even worked with the city to tweak the traffic light timing outside of the facility to minimize the amount of time that motorists at the red light would have to speak with workers trying to spread information.

The Alabama Town That Could Defeat Jeff Bezos - TNR

This piece really helps to historically contextualize the situation going on at the Amazon facility in Bessemer right now. Multi-racial union organizing goes WAY BACK in the area and if one place can be the first to make a union stand against Amazon it looks like they may be it.
Amazon is the second-largest employer in the United States, and one of the most powerful companies on the planet. The pandemic, as one financial analyst put it, served as a “growth hormone” for the e-commerce giant. After the government sent money to the U.S. population and shuttered much of the retail industry—Amazon’s competition—many of those dollars wound up in Amazon’s coffers. The results were record profits and a mind-boggling hiring spree. On an earnings call earlier this month, the company said it had added 175,000 employees in Q4 alone, more than triple the number added in the same period of 2019. As for Amazon’s founder, Bezos’s estimated wealth grew by around $100 billion during the pandemic.


The Birmingham-Bessemer region was once a center of both the steel and iron industries, as well as home to coal and iron-ore mines. Coal strikes were a regular occurrence, and it was a stronghold of the United Mine Workers of America, responsible for Alabama having a 25 percent union membership rate by the mid-twentieth century. For context, that’s higher than any state’s current union membership rate. Deindustrialization decimated these numbers: In 2020, only 8 percent of Alabama workers were union members.


“Companies like to hold the vote at the workplace and require people to come there,” says labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein. “Then they can coerce the people who are least engaged to vote, and they’ll vote no. But with a mail-in ballot, the least engaged won’t vote, and that makes it a little more likely the union will win.”
Capitalism will kill you, crush you, rob you, and turn you into a debt slave. But it will also just really really inconvenience you and add a lot of unnecessary annoyance into your life.

Case in point: doing your taxes as an American. All that hustling you have to do to gather forms, check boxes, meet deadlines and such is only a reality due to the avarice of mega corporations and the complicity of politicians who receive donations from them. I mean, this is kind of obvious if you think about. The IRS already has all of the information they need to calculate your tax bill/return each year. You know this because if they didn't they wouldn't be able to confirm whether what you send them is a accurate (and to penalize you if it turns out not to be). So why do you either have to spend a mind-numbing weekend sweating over Turbo Tax or else pay aa few hundred bucks to H&R Block or some other tax prep service in order to do it for you? Because those corporations aggressively lobby congress to keep that happening because it would decimate their bottom lines.

To repeat: millions of Americans are stressed and charged significant fees every single year while completing a task that could be done for free by the government on their behalf for absolutely no other reason than that it means giant companies get to keep lining their pockets.

Things Read

Worthwhile Words

The Republican Party is Radicalizing Against Democracy - The Atlantic

I thought this was a very insightful analysis re: the death throes of the GOP as we know it and its rebirth as the party of Trump. I think it really captures an element that's not being discussed enough and which, is ultimately extremely ominous. Essentially, the aims of this movement are simply irreconcilable with a participatory democracy composed of people from all races, faiths, orientations, and economic classes. It doesn't matter what policies and goals a multiracial gender-equal government might try to pursue. It doesn't matter if those policies are likely to benefit every MAGA hat wearing citizen out there to a far greater degree than whatever Trump or Cruz or the rest of them might offer. It doesn't matter because if the people in power are non-white, or women, or not Christians then the entire power structure will be deemed as automatically illegitimate and every method used to disrupt and topple it will be deemed automatically just and necessary. And that is really not a position that you can effectively negotiate or compromise with. If the rock solid belief of tens of millions of Americans that the legitimate presidential election was "stolen" and the Republican capitulation to Trump even in the aftermath of 1/6 has not confirmed it for you: this is not going to end well. There's a lot of drama ahead and it is going to suck.
There are, of course, real exceptions. The universe of evangelical cultural production—films, books, podcasts—is both extremely successful and widely consumed. And just because most American culture is produced by people with college degrees in metro areas doesn’t mean that it necessarily advances left-wing views. Fox News draws on urban, college-educated professionals to produce its work, but is geared toward right-wing views and viewers. Facebook is produced by the same urban, college-educated cohort but, to a great degree, acts as a funnel for right-wing information. Lots of popular media is reactionary—take television’s many cop shows, for example—or in the service of capital. Economic power in the United States is still in the hands of a ruthlessly amoral set of actors with outsize influence and little sentimental attachment to either political coalition.

All of that said, though, the people who show up to MAGA rallies aren’t wrong when they look out at most of American culture and conclude that the people producing it don’t share their worldview and values.

Which is why I think MAGAism is best understood as being about not any particular agenda so much as the question of who gets to rule. If you understand the hydraulics of polarization and resentment in these terms, you can recognize that although, at the margin, big policy disputes probably do move some voters enough to affect election outcomes—witness the attempted repeal of the Affordable Care Act—on the whole, what’s motivating and mobilizing the Republican coalition is a set of resentments (often intensely gendered and racialized) about who will run the country.


What if those kinds of policy fights offer only limited returns? What if we are conflating two different issues? What if the overwhelming number of Trump supporters simply won’t vote to give control to the Democratic Party, even if the party is pushing agenda items they like? What if the driving imperative for the large majority of voters—but particularly for those on the aggrieved right—is that they want their people in control?


Things Seen

Watched Recently By Wes

How to Fix a Drug Scandal [Netflix]

I was a bit late on this one but DAMN, what a documentary. I remember when the these two separate drug lab scandals in Massachusetts were revealed within a few months of each other and I remember thinking only "wow, that's wild" and "the affected cases should be thrown out" and that's pretty much it. Until I watched this I had absolutely no idea about the scope of the scandals, how different the 2 separate scandals were in both motivation and execution, the degree to which the Massachusetts Attorney General's office tried to cover up the wrongdoing (truly despicable), and the ridiculously uphill battle it was to get the state to act with basic decency and judicial integrity. Additionally it was crazy to see just how absolutely BUCK WILD the behavior of Sonja Farek at the drug lab in Western MA was. The documentary focuses mainly on her case and it does a lot to render her as a sympathetic character, depicting her as a troubled drug addict who gave into her demons and got in over her head. We learn of how she started by raiding her lab's control sample of liquid meth and eventually graduated to using powder cocaine that she pilfered from evidence, and then when that wasn't enough she went even further by using that cocaine to actually cook up crack in the state drug lab and smoking it on duty. Ridiculous.

What these 2 scientists did was wrong, what the state did to cover it up was wrong, and the entire legal/punishment apparatus that made any of this possible in the first place is wrong. If we just decriminalize drug possession & use and make quality drug treatment universally available for free none of this has to happen. Pretty simple really.
Learned a new term this week.
The Enterprise is Insanely Huge

This one's for my nerds. Only watch this is you're interested in an insanely in-depth analysis of the size of the NCC-1701-D Enterprise vs its crew compliment and the absolute vastness of the empty space you would encounter if you were on it. I appreciate this.
Random Viewing

Things Made

By My Own Hand

I've included both of these playlists here before but as we are coming up on Valentine's Day I wanted to include a little something for the lovers and the unlucky lovers. Here are two personally curated playlists for all the lonely hearts and the sad sacks and the brokenhearted that probably won't help in easing the pain exactly, but which will at least make you feel better about the fact that you aren't as pathetic as I was about it during my junior year of high school or my sophomore year of college. Happy Valentine's Day. Enjoy!

My 11th Grade Sad Bastard Playlist

My College Sophomore Sad Bastard Playlist

Word of The Week

Up That Vocab Game

Philargyry, n
[ FILL - arr - jer - ee ]

Meaning:  Love of money; avarice, covetousness.

Origin: classical Latin philargyria (5th cent.) or its etymon ancient Greek ϕιλαργυρία love of money, avarice < ϕιλάργυρος fond of money (ϕιλο- philo- comb. form + ἄργυρος silver, money (see argyr- comb. form)

Fun Facts

Trivia To Bend Your Brain

  • During the undersea salvage effort to recover debris from the Challenger shuttle explosion the Navy discovered 13 shipwrecks, 2 lost airplanes, and a floating duffle bag containing cocaine with a street value of $13M.
  • "Eagles" is the most common team name in U.S. college football.
  • Approximately 90% of all drownings take place in pools, bathtubs, or rivers.
  • The Earth receives more energy from the Sun in one hour than the entire world uses in a whole year.
  • The U.S. has just 3.1% of the world's children but children in the U.S. own 40% of the world's toys.
Copyright © 2021 Wes Hazard -- Comic. Poet. Performer., All rights reserved.

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