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Vol. #79 - May 14, 2021

Hello Hello! Thanks again for coming through to WesRecs. It has been a looong week and there's plenty more on my plate ahead but the sun is shining and I'm excited about the work so no complaints. I also know more about Bruce Lee than I ever thought I would due to a fun freelance biography podcast writing project I'm working on. Hopefully I'll be able to share the work with you before too long and over the next few weeks I'll be jumping into Pablo Neruda with the same level of immersion so it's time to dust off that Spanish I took from 7th grade - freshman year of college. Nice.

Anyway, I'll keep the intro short this week, I hope you enjoy and I'll talk to you soon!
In this week's cooking recap: First time doing fish on the grill (other than that ridiculously decadent salmon cream cheese thing from October that I detailed in WR 51). I tried out a Tilapia and a Red Snapper. Both were great, I preferred the snapper. They only take about 15-20 minutes on the grill so they don't get a chance to take on a lot of smoke/wood flavor but stuffing them with a bunch of garlic/peppers/aromatics was pretty dope.
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
J. Cole's The Off-Season.

Welp, I have an early contender for both my album of the summer and year. I first heard this within the last 15 hours and have already spun it multiple times. I have not done standup live in over a year and I'm not sure if anything else has made me miss it or gotten me as motivated me to get back on stage with a vengeance as this.

Bars and beats, J. Cole brought it here. Brain melted.

Race & Policing

Towards The Reduction Of Harm

Magic Actions: Looking back on the George Floyd rebellion - n+1

Damn. I don't have enough adjectives for this one. Vast. Heavy. Perspicacious. Meditative. Exuberant. Just...damn. Such an amazing reflections on last years riots and rebellion in the wake of George Floyd's murder and so much other police violence and the utter failure of the state to protect its most vulnerable people during COVID. Race, class, history, and the riots yet to come. You just hhave to read it.

King’s nonviolent protest was the fruit of a rigorous spiritual discipline—as well as a tactic, deployed pragmatically, before a scrim of mounting chaos. This was a theory of “direct action.” Tension and confrontation were fundamental to the task. By applying unremitting pressure to every facet of civic life, he wished, as he wrote in “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” to foment “a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation.” The backdrop to that negotiation was the black rage breaking out in cities across the country; armed resistance groups were forming in black enclaves in the north and west. Here was another “crisis-packed” possibility, so some of the state’s concessions to the Baptist reverend may have been clinched by the urban rebels. And by the late 1960s, as King’s vision swept beyond mere equality before the law, he came to see revolt as a simple fact of his political moment. Nothing to relish or openly cultivate—or bombastically decry. “The constructive achievement of the decade 1955 to 1965 deceived us,” he wrote. “Everyone underestimated the amount of violence and rage Negroes were suppressing and the vast amount of bigotry the white majority was disguising.”


Prisons mop up poor people, not bad people. (Last year’s decarceration program—a measure adopted in many, but not enough, jurisdictions as a means to curb the spread of Covid—has yet to be statistically linked to rearrests.) Vital to abolitionist thought is, as a first step, a redistributive mission. The extraordinary amount of money spent on punishment in the US should instead go to preventive and rehabilitation programs—a “nonreformist reform”—but more crucial is an assault, on every level, on the political consensus that’s ripped the welfare state to ribbons. This will raise the “social wage” and drive fewer to the desperation simply classified as crime.


So it’s possible that the death of Floyd reverberated so painfully because under the delirious conditions induced by the pandemic, sections of the middle class seemed to walk through the political looking glass. In an instant they were poorer and even more insecure, their noses bluntly rubbed in their disposability to capital. Left without a livelihood by callous fiat in a moment of crisis, they were treated to that peculiar mélange of state control and state neglect—the punitive abandonment that paints the lives of the black poor.

It’s impossible to say what comes next, either for the black movement against state terror or the state-facing redistributive effort, but short of a defeat of capital in a single, stunning stroke, any left that hopes to assemble its flailing forces must find a way to join the two clearest fronts of conflict: on one hand build class power by wresting benefits from the state, on the other slay the beast that eats the dark and poor.
What we’re seeing now is just the latest chapter in Israel’s dispossession of the Palestinians - Washington Post

This section of WR is usually all about America but racism, racial/religious apartheid, state oppression, and the settler colonial mentality is the same the world over. Solidarity against tyranny everywhere fam.
These are not “riots” or a “real estate dispute,” as the endlessly repeated Israeli talking points would have it. The context for these events in Jerusalem, in Gaza and elsewhere in Palestine and Israel is summarized in the words of the Israeli deputy mayor of Jerusalem, Aryeh King, who recently stated that the Sheikh Jarrah evictions were “of course” part of Israel’s plan to place “layers of Jews” throughout the eastern half of the city. The aim, he said, was to “secure the future of Jerusalem as a Jewish capital for the Jewish people.”

This is the logic behind marches by heavily armed Jewish religious nationalist settlers through Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem, protected by Israeli security forces as they attack and intimidate residents. It is the logic behind Israeli police forcibly preventing Palestinians from enjoying Ramadan nights at the Damascus Gate plaza, one of the few open areas around the Old City. It is the logic behind attacks by soldiers on worshippers at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound night after night during the last days of Ramadan, including firing stun grenades and tear gas canisters into the third-holiest mosque in the Islamic world. What would the global reaction be to a similar attack on worshippers inside a major church or synagogue on a religious holiday?

As long as the United States ignores the bedrock principle of absolute equality in Palestine/Israel — which it has never advocated — it will continue to be part of the problem rather than part of the solution. U.S. representatives speak of Israel’s right to self-defense. What of the right of the Palestinians to resist their 70-plus years of dispossession?

🎵To The Left! To The Left!🎵

On That Commie Pinko Tip

The case for canceling student debt - Vox

Student debt in America needs to go. It's hardly the only ill that needs fixing but it will help us all (not just those whose debt is cleared) and it will help those who come after us.
All of this forces us to think very narrowly about education. When you’re enrolling in college, and you’re taking on a vast sum of debt, it changes the way you think about what you need to do. It makes you think about the need to get a return on investment. That’s the disciplining function. If you’re young and want to think about how best you can contribute to society, if you want some time to pursue your curiosities, you think, “Well, damn, I can’t do that because I have to be pragmatic and pay all this debt back.” This distorts the whole framework for education. You go to school knowing you have to take on a bunch of debt and you shape your education around the singular goal of being able to pay it back.

We say in our book Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay that “The problem isn’t that we’re living beyond our means. We’re denied the means to live.” You’re in debt because your wages don’t cover your daily needs. You’re in debt because what you’re offered is student loans and not public education. The reason you have to put medical bills on your credit card is because there isn’t universal health care. So under these conditions, we think it’s justified for debtors to push back and to revolt. And so economic disobedience is a way of saying, “We have to push back, just like civil disobedience pushes back against immoral laws. Civil disobedience is about doing an accounting and saying, “This might be the law, but to enact my values, I might have to break it.”

Student debt cancellation isn’t the end-all and be-all. It’s one policy among many. If we care about targeting relief, then you don’t do it through student debt cancellation. You do it by taxing income and wealth. This is one of those things where it kind of breaks your brain. It shouldn’t even be a debate. Let people go to college for free and earn what they earn, and let’s try to create justice in that, in terms of access to college if people want to go. But then let’s tax people, tax their income, and use that money to fund public services. And I also believe that you don’t make good jobs by making more college graduates. So let’s improve the jobs that exist so that you don’t have to get a college degree to earn a living wage and have a dignified life.
Yeah, this is great. If you can't pay your employees fairly you just might end up with no employees. Especially if their job is stressful and thankless and potentially dangerous and you gave them no support during the most recent major crisis.

Things Read

Worthwhile Words

My sordid Disneyland past: Confessions of a Magic Kingdom popcorn man - LA Times

What a delightfully weird remembrance. Here, a self-identified Baby Boomer stereotype (like straight out of The Big Chill) takes a fond look back on his childhood obsession with Disneyland and how it was like a Mecca for his whole family, then he gets into his antiwar LSD-soaked dropout days in Haight-Ashbury, then he talks about cleaning up and getting a job as a popcorn vendor in the park where he becomes obsessed with the military-grade private security measures that are in place there just out of sight of the guests. I don't know if anyone needs to read this but I'm glad I did.

During breaks, I roamed “backstage,” envying those in character… until I saw how dangerous and demoralizing those roles became.

The moment the kids dropped that dwarf costume over their heads, they became prisoners of Disney mythology. The public arms were wires encased by cloth, ending with rubber “hands” — dangling, useless —while their own arms remained inside the rubber, conical head. Walking became a treacherous balancing act, since their only view was through a screen “eye” in their forehead. Lacking peripheral vision, they endured assaults from packs of kids: kicks, punches, curses. (Which is why you never see a character alone, without another staff member.)

I envied only one character: an actual dwarf who talked like a carny, cursed freely and loathed children. Even when he struck a rude guest with the baton, security chose not to reprimand Walt’s favorite Mickey Mouse.

My summer of paranoia had begun. My brightly striped uniform made me an easy target, so on breaks in the employee cafeteria, I discreetly investigated. I identified the Keystone Kop on Main Street, U.S.A., as an official undercover policeman. In Frontierland, it was the Cowboy. On Tom Sawyer Island, the Cavalrymen kept watch. All could escort anyone breaking the rules of Disneyland — drunks, spitters, kids who threw things from a gondola of the now-defunct Skyway — to the backstage Anaheim Police Department jail. What if security checked my job application? It had been nothing but an outrageous series of distortions, lies and delusions. Could lying to Disney be a federal crime?

A few hosts had a weird response to my persistent questions about security. They hinted that the big game I was hunting could be found on the roof of the Pirates of the Caribbean. So on a bright afternoon I climbed some ladders and followed a narrow-plank walkway zigzagging across the roof to a three-walled hut. The planks creaked when I paused behind the security host seated on a stool, his binoculars trained on the parking lot below — the “outer lobby.” He scanned cars for criminal acts — sex in back seats, boozing, doping, thefts, loitering.

He never gave me a glance. “Go ahead, it’s in focus,” he said, referring to a telescope on a tiny tripod to his right, aimed in the opposite direction. I peered through the lens and saw, in perfect focus, a maid in a Disneyland Hotel bedroom. I watched her make the bed and, after what seemed like a safe length of time, stood to leave.

“See anything? No? Too early. Come tonight during the fireworks. Honeymooners tend to get it on for Tinker Bell.”
How Much Do Authors Make Per Book?  - Book Riot

Sobering and depressing, like, with rare exception, these numbers are somehow worse than indie music earnings and that's saying a lot.
In 2018, the Authors Guild partnered with 14 other writers organizations as well as some publishing platforms to conduct a survey of 5,067 professional writers in the United States. The median 2017 income of participating authors was $6,080 with just $3,100 of that being from book income alone (as opposed to speaking fees, teaching, book reviewing, and other supplemental activities). The median income of people who described themselves as full-time authors was just $20,300 when including all book-related activities.


Romance is the largest segment of the consumer book market and also the market most welcoming of ebooks, so there are a lot of self-published (and hybrid) authors making a living there. There are also, of course, plenty of authors making just a couple hundred per book. Sherie* has published six books with digital publishers and self-published two. She didn’t receive an advance for any of the books and has earned a total of $750 on all of her books. She has won RWA chapter awards and spent more than $5,000 going to book signings and conferences and self-publishing her books. In 2019, she made about $500 for teaching workshops and doing presentations, but that work has decreased during the pandemic.


Jamie Krakover is a self-published author of the YA sci-fi book Tracker220. She has made $200 on the book since its October release but has spent $1,800 to promote it. Some of those ads and opportunities haven’t yet had a chance to make an impact on sales, but she’s optimistic. “Indie authors typically have to build a pretty decent sized backlog before they can make enough to sustain,” she told me.


Nick* has seen the difference genre makes. He published a short literary story collection with a small press in 2013 and a horror novel with a large independent press. The first earned him a $1,000 advance and no royalties, while the second earned him a $35,000 advance plus $4,000 for foreign rights. He has a job as a university professor to pay the bills, but it also affords him the opportunity to read or speak at other universities that pay him $500–1,000 per appearance. In 2020, he was awarded a large prize of $25,000 and has won other prizes with smaller awards of around $1,000.
Well that was an unexpected short short story.
Comics icon Alan Moore absolutely dunking on his fans that just don't get it is absolutely the smile that you need.

Things Seen

Watched Recently By Wes

Mortician Answers Dead Body Questions From Twitter | Tech Support | WIRED

All the fun/weird/practical stuff you've ever wanted to ask a mortician but were afraid to, so you just threw your query into the ether of Twitter, and then an intrepid content editor/producer trawled for it and packaged it into a fun short video for Wired.

I love this guy. He is the most patient, professional, aw shucks undertaker imaginable and it's clear that he is both good at his job and enthusiastic about it. Fun fact: while the handling of dead bodies is obviously a hugely important part of being a mortician, the main purpose of the profession is to ease the burden on and bring some comfort to the loved ones of the deceased and this dude just makes it clear that he's all about that.
3am random thought: How strong exactly is a gorilla? Like obviously they could tear a human apart without much trouble, but could a gorilla lift the back end of a car? Could a gorilla break down a strong door? How much could a gorilla bench??? Luckily there is (both weirdly...and predictably...because, ya know, the Internet) a video about more or less just that (fun fact: in terms of how much they can lift in proportion to body weight the gorilla is the 4th strongest animal on the planet and the only one that's not an insect. You really don't want to mess with a human-sized dung beetle btw).

But I found this compilation video of the dominant Gorilla among a group of gorillas in a zoo enclosure asserting his status and it was actually a lot more interesting. Some thoughts:
  • We all know that a gorilla will beat its chest as a dominance display but I had absolutely no idea that it was so...percussive. Like I'd always thought the main purpose/effect of the chest beating was visual. A show of aggression and a sign of strength and yeah i suppose it is that, but it is also very very loud and reverberation. Like it sounds like someone is playing the bongos. Here it seems like the sound component is the even more important thing. That sound would carry a long way through forests and serve as a warning/challenge. At least I think so, I'm hardly a primatologist over here but watching this the sound is absolutely the takeaway from the chest beating.
  • Over time in my life I have been thrilled by zoos as the most exciting day trip imaginable, I have been indifferent to zoos as lame pastimes for little kids, I have hated zoos as exploitative animal prisons, and (after reading Yann Martel's well-reasoned apologia for zoos in The Life of Pi) I've come to see them as both a useful means of increasing the public's appreciation/empathy for animals. Watching this video made me realize just how psychologically deep a lifelong zoo animal's integration with the visiting audience is. In all of these clips the gorilla is receiving and (in some ways) responding to the constant ooohs and aaahs of the crowd. Those crowd reactions are a near constant feature of its life while outside in its enclosure. I can't imagine what kind of effect that has on the way it views the world and conducts itself in it. Aside from not being socialized to interact with other gorillas in the wild or used to foraging food on their own the apes here would, I imagine, feel profoundly disoriented if dropped into the rainforest to never again hear the roar of the crowd or see all of the awed faces staring down on them. Not in the sense that they need the attention so much as in the sense of walking outside one day to find that the Sun was purple all of a sudden. This video made me think about just how much of a constant that crowd noise and human interaction is in these animals' lives and for it to stop all of a sudden one day would be a huge shift in their reality. And now I want to read the #longread think piece about what COVID was like for zoo animals.
EASY SURF FISHING TIPS- How to catch the MOST fish on the beach!

OK, after this week's culinary fish adventure detailed above I am this close to buying a pole and getting out there. I've been researching different types of fishing in NY state (marine/freshwater, surf/pier/lake, etc) and it's a lot of info to take in. I'm definitely more interested in catching saltwater fish and I'm not getting on a boat to do it so beach surf fishing is looking to be the way to go. I really liked this YouTuber and have watched a bunch of his stuff so far. Surf fishing seems wild, like literally any species of anything can be on the other end of your line. Fascinating.
Random Viewing

Word of The Week

Up That Vocab Game

Accipitral, adj
[ ak - SIP- i -truhl ]

Meaning: Resembling that of a falcon or hawk, esp. in respect of sight or temperament; sharp-eyed, hawklike.

Origin: classical Latin accipiter any of several species of hawk, in post-classical Latin also denoting a nose bandage (16th cent. in a translation of Galen), probably < acu- (found also in acupedius swift-footed, recorded in an isolated attestation in an 8th-cent. epitome of a 2nd-cent. grammarian; ultimately < the same Indo-European base as ancient Greek ὠκύς swift: see Ocypode n.) + a second element < the same Indo-European base as classical Latin petere to seek and ancient Greek πτερόν feather, wing (ultimately related to feather n.), with alteration as a result of folk-etymological association with accipere accept + -AL suffix.

Fun Facts

Trivia To Bend Your Brain

  • If you don't swing your arms while you walk it requires about 12% more effort, equivalent to walking about 20% slower.
  • Cuba and North Korea are the only 2 countries in the world where Coca-Cola is not sold.
  • Hippos don't actually swim, they walk or gallop along the bottom of the water.
  • Human farts can travel about 6.8mph
  • Almost all kangaroos are left-handed
  • Ronald Reagan's pet name for his wife Nancy was "Mommy Poo Pants". (eww)
Copyright © 2021 Wes Hazard -- Comic. Poet. Performer., All rights reserved.

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