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Vol. #71 - March 19, 2021

Hello once again after a very rough week in America in a year+ of rough weeks. I hope you're holding up and that you have someone to love, something to do and something to look forward to. I worked a LOT this week in a lot of different jobs (I took 5 different COVID tests for background acting work and spent more time on ZOOM than I'd have liked) and I am currently exhausted, but I also was invigorated by performance in a way that I haven't been in a while (see below), and I got to flex my research muscles for a good cause, and spent more time outside than I have in months. This country remains this country...eternally, but I have some great people in my life and I cherish that, and we forge on. So there's that.

As ever:
If you're newer to WesRecs thanks for being here. As I've often said: this is a compendium of the stuff I've come across (or remembered) in the last week that I think you might dig. It's long. I recommend perusing here and there, spending time with what interests you at a given point and maybe saving or coming back to what you might be interested in down the road. Some of it’s really serious, some of it’s fun & dumb. Go with what you feel, subscribe if it's something you like, and thanks again. I love you all. 
A few weeks ago a friend/producer I know from back in the Boston comedy scene reached out to offer me a spot on a dating-themed comedy show, to take place withing the Hily dating app, on St. Patrick's Day.

The money offered was *nowhere* near what a startup tech company should be offering to professional talent for a show that was to be held on their platform in an effort to boost user engagement (vs. something just for Hily employees as a work function...the kind of event which in itself should also have commanded a lot more). In addition to being short money the conditions, as described from jump sound like the literal opposite of what you want for environment, audience, timing for a virtual comedy show to do well.

The businessman in me said "absolutely do not take this gig". The storyteller in me said "this will probably generate some interesting material." So as I've done a lot in my life: I did it for the story.

And yeah, it did not disappoint! Oh my God that was so fun for none of the right reasons. They were 10 minute sets, so beforehand I worked out a rough set-list of some of my tried and true dating material (I've accumulated a decent amount of it in a decade and a half of performing). I won't bore you with the technical details but the show was organized in a very convoluted way with each individual performer basically having to create their own public live chat in the app as the previous performer was wrapping up, with the expectation that the audience for the previous comic would then migrate to the new room. I ended up with 530 dating app users digitally staring at me and open by riffing on the fact that since I had to make an actual Hily profile to do the show it was the first time I'd ever been asked by a booker whether I preferred a "thin", "average", "fit", or "a little extra" body type in a potential partner instead of what credit I wanted to brought up to. This got no laughs...because it was a virtual show and there was no way to hear the audience...but it earned some laugh emojis...and a bunch of comments about how I was whack and questions about if this was the best the app could do for comedy. I forged on through another 2 mins of actual material, again with some laugh and clap emojis but also with a lot of "zzz" and "I could do better than this" and that's when I just said fuck it and started reading the negative commentary, acknowledging what was clever in it, and ripping into the audience for the rest of it, and the rest of the set felt....AWESOME. As I told the Gen Z audience: I grew up comedically doing shows in Boston dive bars during Red Sox playoff runs, there truly ain't shit that a bunch of 21 year olds on a dating app can do to faze me. I went in on them, they came back at me, and we were off and running and it was truly the most alive I've felt on a virtual stage since the pandemic started. I've done my fair share of Zoom shows in the last year from regular comedy, to presentation comedy with Power Point slides, to storytelling, to podcast recordings, to game shows. I've appreciated the chance to do them all and some have been extremely fun and rewarding experiences but I have not felt as on my toes and as close to to the thrill of being in front of a packed house of living breathing people as I felt mixing it up off the cuff with a bunch of people born in the late 90s trying to rip on the fact that I'm balding via chat. By the end I was getting a lot of emoji love from the crowd and grinning ear to ear and I dismounted by telling them they were all sad 20 year old virgins who would never be touched and I had a wonderful time.

Some of the other comics enjoyed it less, and I certainly get why, but this captured an element of performing that I hadn't realized I had missed so much (even if it sucks just as often as it's rewarding). Icing on the cake was the message we all got the next morning from the Hily staffer who organized. No need to apologize to me! Thank YOU.

Pay me more. But THANK YOU.
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.


As this newsletter's title would indicate, I recommend everything you'll find below. It's all stuff which I've personally found rewarding this week and I think you will too! But for the benefit of all you skimmers out there here are links to a few items that I'm happy to briefly highlight for you. You can find more detailed commentary/context below:

Gravity Visualized
Take 90 seconds to understand the force that is keeping you on the ground rn

History Throwback: Black Business In Brooklyn, 1906
My archival excavations into a 115 magazine

The Senate Is Making a Mockery of Itself
A podcast ep about broken government

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


What Are We Doing Here?

Over the last year we lost live music, and movie theaters, and indoor dining. But America barely skipped a beat with police killings and mass shootings. This was a hard week in a hard year.

The Atlanta Shootings Fit Into a Long Legacy of Anti-Asian Violence in America - Time

We've seen this movie before. Horrifying and tragic, but unfortunately not surprising...which is its own tragedy.
In the dissonance was confirmation of what many Asian Americans already knew: the violence that has long targeted their community is rarely seen for what it is. Since the start of the pandemic last spring, Asian Americans have faced racist violence at a much higher rate than in previous years. Stop AAPI Hate, a reporting database created at the beginning of the pandemic as a response to the increase in racial violence, received 3,795 reports of anti-Asian discrimination between March 19, 2020, and Feb. 28, 2021; women reported hate incidents at 2.3 times the rate of men.


The current surge in anti-Asian hate crimes was exacerbated by the xenophobic rhetoric of former President Donald Trump, who has continued to refer to COVID-19 as “the China virus,” blaming the country for the pandemic. Trump’s choice of words followed a long American history of using diseases to justify anti-Asian xenophobia–one that has helped to shape perception of Asian Americans as “perpetual foreigners.” “There’s a clear correlation between President Trump’s incendiary comments, his insistence on using the term Chinese virus, and the subsequent hate speech spread on social media and the hate violence directed toward us,” says Russell Jeung, a co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate and a professor of Asian American studies at San Francisco State University.


Rather than turning to additional policing, community leaders have stressed the importance of grassroots organizing at this time, as well as the need for cross-community solidarity. “We know that this is an issue that affects all our communities, and we have to break the cycle of violence,” says Jeung, the Stop AAPI Hate co-founder.

Additional policing doesn’t pose a threat just to Black and brown communities; people of Asian descent have also suffered disproportionately at the hands of law enforcement. In the aftermath of the March 16 killings, many were reminded of the 2017 death of Yang Song, a massage-parlor worker who fell to her death while trying to escape a police raid in Flushing, Queens: “Don’t tell me increased police presence will save us,” tweeted writer Mia Sato. For activists, stories like Song’s are a reminder of the need to build solidarity across racial, economic and social lines. “Asians with power and visibility should be appalled that white men are targeting our most vulnerable groups–poor, immigrant women,” writer and activist Roslyn Talusan said on Twitter. “Protecting and advocating for Asian sex workers should be the founding pillars of any movement for racial justice in Asian communities.”


There are no quick solutions to racial violence. What Biden calls “un-American” is, after all, deeply rooted in American history. Ending anti-Asian racism in the U.S. means confronting centuries of discrimination, violence and oppression, and recognizing how it manifests in the present day. As Au noted in her statements this week, “This is a new chapter in a very old story.” In order to write a new story, we have to acknowledge the ugly past that brought us here.
I do not care about this worm and his "bad day". Let's focus on the lights that were extinguished.

Son of Atlanta Shooting Victim Calls ‘Bullshit’ on Sex Addiction Claim - Daily Beast
“You see this stuff in TV shows and movies,” Park told The Daily Beast. “It’s surreal. But I have a younger brother that I have to take care of now, so as much as I want to be sad and grieve—and I am super sad—I have no choice but to move on. To figure out the whole living situation for probably the next year with my brother.”


Much of the national conversation about the shooting has centered on Cherokee County sheriffs apparently taking the suspect, a white kid from the suburbs, at his word that he was not motivated by racial animus. That dynamic was only worsened when, as The Daily Beast first reported, it was revealed the very official in that department perpetuating that narrative posted racist t-shirts that specifically targeted the Asian-American community.


Park does not buy that explanation for a second.

“That’s bullshit,” he told The Daily Beast.

“My question to the family is, what did y’all teach him?” he added. “Did you turn him in because you’re scared that you’ll be affiliated with him? You just gonna scapegoat your son out? And they just get away scot free? Like, no, you guys definitely taught him some shit. Take some fucking responsibility.”


Park said his mother “worked her ass off,” and that she told him she was an elementary school teacher in Korea before coming to America for “regular immigrant reasons.”

“And here in America, she did what she had to do,” he said. “She was a single mother of two kids who dedicated her whole life to raising them."
Xiaojie Tan dreamed of traveling the world and celebrating her 50th birthday with her daughter. Then the Atlanta shooter ended her life. - USA Today

So much love gone.
Instead, Jami Webb, 29, and her father, Michael Webb, 64, spent Tan’s birthday planning her funeral at a Catholic church.

“She did everything for me and for the family. She provided everything. She worked every day, 12 hours a day, so that me and our family would have a better life,” Jami Webb said of her mother.


“She was very invested in becoming an American,” Clark said of Tan, who became a naturalized U.S. citizen and registered to vote for the first time in 2012.

For Clark, it was no surprise that Tan was able to go from being a nail tech to owning two businesses within the span of 15 years. She said Tan was always very savvy with bookkeeping and knowing how to find deals on all kinds of products.


Meanwhile, in China, family members gathered to celebrate what should have been Tan's 50th birthday.

Jami said her aunt, her mother's sister, had heart problems and needed to be put on oxygen when she found out about the killings. After, the family couldn't bring themselves to tell Tan's mother that her daughter was dead. Instead, the family cut a cake and called Jami Webb to ask about the guest of honor.

"She kept asking to talk to my mom. We told my grandma that my mom lost her phone and couldn't answer," Jami Webb said.
The Senate is Making a Mockery of Itself - The Ezra Klein Show (Podcast)

The U.S. Senate is regularly referred to as the "world's greatest deliberative body". In 2021 that is...LAUGHABLE. The Senate in its current form (and maybe even structurally?) is a total joke. Let's for the moment sidestep the fact that in our currently 50-50, evenly divided Senate the Democratic half represents nearly 42M more people than the Republican half and focus just on how those 100 people legislate (and expect to legislate) on a daily basis.

As it stands it is not possible for any policy of any real substance that will have a truly enduring effect to pass. Sure, Biden's $1.9T COVID relief and Trump's tax cuts for the rich did get through, but they did so via a process called Budget Reconciliation and not only can that process only accommodate budget related matters, the things that it puts in place have definite time limits and large provisions of both bills will expire within the next few years. The way the Senate is designed combined with the *extremely* polarized partisan politics of our current era means that the Senate simply cannot function in any way that brings about real and lasting change. Every staffer and senator knows this and very few are willing to change it (via abolishing the filibuster) because of the belief that doing so would nuke any possibility of bipartisanship. Aside from the fact that trying to reach bipartisan consensus with the current Trumpist GOP is delusional and suicidal and morally wrong this podcast makes a very convincing argument that holding on to the filibuster actually ensures that we *don't* enact truly bipartisan policy. As currently structured the party that is not in power has every enticement to drag their feet and obstruct on every single policy agenda offered by their rivals, regardless of how much they may be in ideological alignment if for no other reason than stymying the efforts of their rivals will boost their chances in the next election cycle.

What we're doing now is outdated, irrational, and helping NO ONE. Nuke the filibuster.
There are things you learn, reporting on institutions like the Senate, that never quite make it into your stories. They’re a mood, not a news break. But they matter. And here’s one: Almost everybody in the Senate hates what the body has become. This is not a case where it takes an outsider’s perspective to see an institution’s flaws. You will never hear more searing denunciations than you do from the insiders themselves. They may disagree on what’s wrong, and how to fix it. But in my experience, no one, be it Republican or Democrat, staffer or elected, believes the body is working. It’s led to a wave of retirements, of attempts at reform, and now, a truly excellent book.


Ezra: Senator Mitt Romney’s child allowance plan is the kind of proposal where you could really imagine Democrats and Republicans working together. But, to my knowledge, not one Republican senator has come out and supported it.

I think this is a way the 60-vote threshold impedes bipartisanship. It seems plausible to me that there are bills out there that could get, say, 43 Democrats and nine Republicans and pass with a simple majority. But you can’t pass a bill like that under a 60-vote threshold.

Adam: This is one of the biggest misconceptions about the filibuster: the idea that it promotes bipartisanship. In fact, it does the opposite because it gives the party that’s out of power the means, motive and opportunity to block the party that’s in power from getting anything done. And when the party that’s in power doesn’t get anything done — when voters see nothing but gridlock from Washington — they turn to the party that’s out of power and try to put them back in office.
I’ve Spent $60,000 to Pay Back Student Loans and Owe More Than Before I Began - NYT

Somebody always, ALWAYS has it worse than you.

As I've written before here re: student loans, I borrowed $61.5K in funds to get my graduate degree, via Federal loans. In the 10 years since I've graduated I have paid back $41K. I now owe...$60k. It is a dastardly hamster wheel of debt peonage that has affected my life in ways I can't even fully grasp but at the end of the day, while financially burdened, I am FINE in the ways that it matters most. I have a roof over my head, I'm healthy (enough), I earn $$ doing things I love, I pay my bills, I have fun. I will have roommates when I'm 50 but I've never missed payments so my credit is stellar. It's a very weird, very American place to be.

I've frequently argued and shared many arguments so much more knowledgeable and nuanced than mine in this newsletter about why student loan debt forgiveness should be enacted in the U.S., how it would benefit damn near everyone in America (not just borrowers), and how without relief the economy is giant time bomb that will absolutely go off within our lifetimes.

This piece brought to my attention an entire class of borrowers (6 million people) who are in the worst possible situation with loans that are officially administered by the Federal government but which are regarded by the government as private and thus ineligible for any of the borrowers protections and CARES act forbearance that Federal loans are supposed to receive. If that all sound a bit technical I'll just say that on a human level I really felt what this writer was talking about re: the ways your debt obligation can control your life, the sleep you can lose over the debt albatross chained to your neck, and the Atlas task of trying to pay down a debt that only ever grows. Honest and infuriating.
When I finished school in 2007 — with an undergraduate degree in biology and a master’s in science journalism — I owed $78,060 in federal loans. I was actually relieved: my loans were below $100,000, a number that seemed like the line between manageable and unmanageable debt.


Many nights, the growing debt paced the edges of my consciousness, keeping me awake. At the same time, I knew all the career success I’ve ever had has been a direct result of my education and the loans that enabled it.

I continued to pay what loans I could, and for the rest, forbearance. Today, 14 years after my last day of school, I’ve paid $60,000 toward $78,000 of loans. Somehow, I am now $100,000 in debt.

And yet I am ineligible for the CARES Act.


Some six million Goldilocks debtors like me exist in a sort of limbo. Our loans are still listed as federal, so Congress sets the interest rates and we can’t negotiate. But because they are held privately, we don’t qualify for federal relief, like the CARES Act.

Race & Policing

Towards The Reduction Of Harm

Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery

Straight up: white Americans take slavery too lightly. I truly believe this is one of the core problems in this country: the broad lack of any meaningful appreciation for the utter horror and the intensity and the all-encompassing nature of what it was like to live in bondage as a slave in the U.S.

You see it all the time in whack school curricula that describe slaves as "servants" or "immigrants", in plantation tour group questions about whether the slaves of a given estate were "treated well", in ridiculous arguments about how slaves "didn't have it that bad" because they were fed and clothed while somebody else's white immigrant great great great great grandfather came to America "without a dollar to their name" but still managed to make something of themselves with "no handouts". You see it in plantation weddings, and antebellum-themed debutante balls, and slave traders being honored with busts in state capitals. So many people think of slavery, if they think of it at all, as nothing more than a "hard job" that yeah, was a "bad thing", but which was on par with the struggle of any immigrant group that came to America and which is long gone and which has no lasting bearing on America today. If you believe that nonsense you will fail to grasp the degree to which America has never had the racial reckoning that it so desperately needs and the degree to which the institution helped shape every single facet of this country.

I don't have the time or space here to detail the depths of slavery's evil, the way it chewed up generations of black people, and the way in which so much of that same harm is still being inflicted today (this book was one of the many many great resources I've personally spent time with if you want to get into it). However one central aspect of slavery that sometimes gets looked over amid the centuries of kidnapping, torture, murder, sexual assault, and the general treatment of people as cattle that went down on the soil of this land is the systematic destruction of families due to the slave trade. A slave had as many rights as a pig, which is to say none. They could be bought, sold, worked, and used in any manner their masters saw fit. If you killed another person's slave your main crime was property destruction, not murder. Slaves often "married" but these unions had no legal binding whatsoever and you could wake up on any given day to find out that you or your spouse or your children had been sold away and that none of you would ever see each other again and have absolutely no way to track or communicate with each other. I mean, just imagine: you're born in bondage, you do backbreaking labor 6.5 days a week from the time you're 5 until the day your body physically can't do it anymore, you're subject to oversight and punishment for every action and word at the whim of another person who literally owns you, you're forbidden to read, you might wear nothing more than rags, you might sleep on a dirt floor in a cold and windowless shack, and one day you find out that your 14 year old daughter got sold to cover a gambling debt for your master and poof, she's gone. You might never know where she ended up and you'll never see her again and you still have to go out into the fields that day and do the same body-busting work you've always done and always will do.

It wasn't quite death, but it was a kind of death, and SO MANY families were terminated in this way and the fact that this specific atrocity inherent in the institution isn't usually the very first thing that we think of when we do bother to think of the horrors of slavery should indicate just how diabolic the who whole enterprise was.

All of this is what makes me so grateful that a resource like Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery exists. In the project's own words:

Last Seen is recovering the stories of families separated in the domestic slave trade. You can search thousands of Information Wanted Ads taken out by former slaves to look for your ancestors, help us transcribe these ads, and find out how educators are using these family stories in their classrooms.

There are so many of these ads, each heartbreaking, each totally compelling. I spent a bit of time with the database and the organization and searchability is impressive. I threw my own name into the search bar and made this mini collage out of just a fraction of the 57 results that popped up so you get a sense of the scale of the tragedy. Check it out.
Prison - Ellen Dubreuil

Some excellent art from @thlastdraw (aka Ellen Dubreuil) a very talented artist who had the pleasure of knowing in my time back in Boston and who did the amazing and inventive posters for my old monthly multi-genre show back at the former Weirdo Records in Cambridge. I loved producing that series for the year and a half I got to do it - and alongside the dope talent I got to book and our one-of-a-kind venue (a record shop with the floor space of 2 Toyota Camrys) Ellen's posters were always a highlight every month.

Things Read

Worthwhile Words

So... everyone seems to think clubhouse is the "next big thing" - but I think it's going to fail. - @ShaanVP (Tweet Thread)

I got on the Clubhouse platform last month because literally every comic I knew was going crazy over it and spending hours a day on it and saying it was the next big wave, the kind of thing you need to adopt NOW so you don't miss the boat. Additionally a bunch of non-performer acquaintances were saying that just loved to tune in to it and spent hours a day listening to and talking with new people. So I said what the hell and did it.

So far I've been pretty underwhelmed but I'm willing to believe that I just haven't spent enough time there or found the right people.

None of that stopped me from LOVING this projection of what the future holds for the current it-thing in social media. Having worked at a tech startup for years this trajectory and the amazing details that are included in it just feels really really really on point. Even if IPOs & user analytics, and SXSW mean nothing to you I think you'll understand and enjoy this.
You're winning baby. A16Z gives you a term sheet. The valuation has 3 commas. You're a unicorn. You decide to sign the paperwork. They facetime Andre Iguodala during the signing. You're not sure why, but you say hi to iggy.
You're getting calls from every news outlet. Forbes puts you on the "future billionaires" list. Tech Crunch declares "The Future is Audio". Stephen Colbert mentions clubhouse in his opening monologue. He's making fun of it..but hey - Colbert knows our name baby!
Emily Chang invites you on Bloomberg. You wear your visionary grey v-neck.

You dress simple, but you talk fancy.

This isn't just a chatroom app. It's a "serendipity network". It's "auditory escapism".


This is hard.

Creators with big audience (proven good content) don't want to switch platforms. Spend an hour "live" on clubhouse reaching 2,000 people... or do a podcast and reach 200,000?
So you offer podcasters a "recording" feature.

Do the show live on clubhouse - & get a recording for your podcast! EZ Peazy

You tell the engineers to ship the recording feature "asap or sooner".

In their private slack, they make fun of you because that phrase makes no sense.

Things Seen

Watched Recently By Wes

Video: Professional Sawyer Being Awesome at His Job

Apologies for not being able to embed the actual video here (Reddit be like that sometimes) but def click the link to be the most impressed you'll be all year with somebody chopping down a big tree. I almost never think about the actual processes, variables, and dangers involved during the act felling trees. Reading the comments on this post from other sawyers admiring the work and talking about their own experiences was enlightening. I also never think about all of the different reasons a tree may be chopped down. There are the obvious cases of clearing land for development or harvesting for lumber products but other common reasons are fire management or tree-disease prevention.

Apparently one of the most dangerous jobs out there is working near and/or felling giant trees that have been damaged by fire since they're liable to fall at any time creating massive lethal splinter bombs of wood with no warning. Here's a comment on that:

I’ve worked with some sawyers on big project fires in BC, where there is a need to bring down dangerous burned out trees maybe a 100 or 150 foot tree, maybe 1 m across at the base that is completely hollowed out in the Center, with maybe a ring of 3 or 4 inches holding wood around perhaps 3/4 of the tree with rest burned out. Winds can suddenly take them down and with fire crews working the area they pose a major danger. The thing is, unless you examine them to see the burned out center, they just look normal, healthy trees and with 1000s of trees around, they can be easy to miss. Once I was having a conversation standing maybe 20 ft away from a big one, which had the burned side not facing us so we didn’t notice, come down. Just silently at first, then groans, then explosion as they weight of the tree crushed the hollowed out portion.

The dedicated fire crew sawyers would even be scared to try to bring down some of the bad ones as they are just too unpredictable and it would be left to these gnarly 50 year olds sawyers who worked as professional loggers in the nearby logging camps. We always respected the sawyers who knew when to take a pass.

Somewhat in the same vein I wanted to resurface one of my favorite pieces that I've ever included in the newsletter (all the way back in WesRecs Vol. 03 actually). It's a truly brilliant essay by forest ecologist about how the meditative solitary work helps him cope with the trauma of having served in Afghanistan and I cannot recommend it enough: Ghosts of War in a Wisconsin Forest.

OK, having watched this I feel simultaneously really smart/accomplished and also hella stupid. On the accomplished side: I think I grasp the nature of gravity more clearly than I ever have before, and it felt effortless to get there after even just 90 seconds of this video because the commentary and the demonstrating exercise that have been set up here (a giant piece of Lyrca stretched out over a hoop) are just so lucid.

I feel dumb because it took me this long and because the concept isn't that hard....just kind of hard to explain. 24 hours ago I thought gravity was a kind of attractive force that anything in the universe that possesses mass is imbued with. Objects like marbles and people and buildings all exert a pull of gravity on the things around them, but their mass is so small, and their gravity so weak as a result, that it can't be perceived in any meaningful way until you get to celestial sized objects. That is what I thought. And given what the average American learns about physics in high school it's a totally reasonable thing to think. But that is not what gravity is at all. If you are confused watch this video to become confused. If you already knew that then share this video with your confused friends.

The video is apparently a high school/middle school physics teacher at a professional development event with other teachers demonstrating a cool hands-on activity he does each year to explain gravity to his students. It is a very good exercise. I feel smarter. I feel dumber. I'm happy to share those feelings with you. (Warning: there is some *choice* dad humor in here, which, come to think of it, who in the world is more qualified to deliver than a high school teacher wearing Dockers. Thank you Mr. Burns).
The 40 words that make up 40% of words used in English, this shows their frequency on 2 pages of an average book.

Yeah if you like Scrabble and crosswords you will love this.

Wizard Apprentice "Exorcism" Official Video

Been watching documentaries about Tiger Woods and Woody Allen and reading the news and thinking about men and being a man and relationships and life and vampires and harm and narcissism and this song is very good and this video should have way more views.

You can buy Wizard Apprentice music HERE.
Random Viewing

Things Made

By My Own Hand

Here's a fun pre-COVID blast from the past that I'd entirely forgotten that I was a part of until this week.

Way back in September 2019 while doing my usual hunt for background/extra work on film & TV productions in NYC I came across a casting call for trivia podcast guests. Being a staunch fan of both trivia and podcasts I submitted for it and I was soon booked for one of the first recording sessions for Factorious, where Matt Iseman (host of American Ninja Warrior...and also a doctor??) quizzes 3 random people about general knowledge trivia in a cool format with the the chance that one of them will walk away with the the GRAND PRIZE thousand dollars. Which hey, it's certainly no Jeopardy! or The Chase in terms of $$$ potential but I regularly play trivia for free (and I also regularly pay to play trivia) so I was down for it.

The podcast hadn't been released yet and they were just banking a ton of episodes to have ready for when it did drop. It was both a random and a chill recording session, I was there for maybe 2 hours, and when it was over they said they'd let us know when our individual eps would air.

Flash forward to April 2020, which was, I imagine, a pretty fraught time for all podcasts, esp short 20 minute-ish ones meant to be consumed during your commute or lunch break. The producers did inform us then that they would be dropping episodes weekly from then on, and they have (it's been chugging along on a weekly schedule for nearly a year now). However they never let me personally know when mine was coming up and I thus completely forgot about it until I was rearranging my subscriptions in my podcast app and saw the icon for Factorious and then just googled "factorious wes" to find that yes, my ep dropped back in late November. So from me to you: here's an 18 month old recording of me playing trivia that was released 4 months ago. Pretty fun game if I do say so myself.
This year I joined a local food co-op in Brooklyn. We don't yet have a physical space but that's the mission. We do however have a newsletter, and I wrote up this little thing about a small piece of Black-owned business history in the area for it. I'm definitely going to back into this archival resource for further enlightenment but this is a cool little slice of history that I wanted to share.
History Throwback: To Be Black, In Brooklyn, and In Business at the Turn of the 20th Century.
The Negro in Business in Greater New York - The Colored American Magazine Vol. X, No.3 (March, 1906)

Here we have an image captured from a 1906 profile of Edward Watkins, proprietor of the True Reformer Burial Association, located at 788 Fulton St. in Brooklyn. The piece gives a brief account of his upbringing, his arrival in New York, and his rise from being a barbershop bootblack to owning his own business (where his skill in advertising is particularly noted). While Watkins success and industry can be appreciated today it's also worth noting the way in which the circumstances of the time shaped the limits and the very idea of success. A large part of the profile is devoted to story which frames his greatest professional achievement as being called upon to attend to the body of a rich white man whose wealth is heralded by the fact that the house call was to a residence in "one of the wealthiest sections of Brooklyn" where Watkins knew "no colored people were in that section, even as servants." He made several hundred dollars for the work (in 1906 $$$) so get that money my man, but it's interesting to think about the height of success then vs. what a vision for community oriented co-operative business looks like now.

You can read the whole profile, and the entirety of the publication HERE (the Watkins profile is on PDF page 26 -scanned page 168-). I've had a chance to spend some time with this issue number and....I would highly recommend it. Included there are:
  • A weird (to modern ears) plea to Black Americans to fund the building of a monument to white abolitionists and statesmen who helped the anti-slavery cause.
  • An obituary/takedown of a Confederate general who ended up in the U.S. Congress and then fought in the Spanish American War and retired with US Army honors and benefits.
  • An exuberant celebration of the opportunities for Blacks in the Oklahoma Territory "What may be truthfully termed the Afro-American's paradise is the territory of Oklahoma..." / "In no section of the country have colored man had a wider opportunity for development; in no section have they used their opportunity to better account." Which, with historical hindsight reads as kind of chilling in light of the annihilating violence that we know is to come to Tulsa in 1921.
  • A moralizing, preachy, and all-around questionable poem called The Knocker's Philosophy.
Plus a whole lot more, and I haven't even cracked the other issues yet or learned nearly enough about what looks to be the very contentious history of the magazine.

Word of The Week

Up That Vocab Game

ornatrix, n
[ AWR - nay - triks ]

Meaning: A woman who adorns another, a wardrobe assistant or hairdresser, a lady's maid.

Origin: Classical Latin ōrnātrīx female adorner < ōrnāre orn v. + -trīx -trix suffix.

Fun Facts

Trivia To Bend Your Brain

  • Berlin's current population is still lower than it was just before WWII.
  • The "black box" flight recorders on airplanes are actually orange.
  • Your glutes (gluteus Maximus, gluteus minimus, gluteus medius) are the scientific name for the muscles in your ass but the scientific name for your asscrack is the "intergluteal cleft".
  • The average person farts 1.5L of gas each day.
  • The harmonica is the world's bestselling musical instrument.
Copyright © 2021 Wes Hazard -- Comic. Poet. Performer., All rights reserved.

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