Inside a recess wedding
also, giant bees and a fugitive flamingo
ROCK PAPER RADIO is a dispatch for misfits & unlikely optimists by your favorite hapa haole, beet-pickling, public radio nerd. It’s a weekly email newsletter and podcast that shares three curiosities every Thursday - something to hold on to (that’s the ‘rock’), something to read (that’s the ‘paper‘), and something to listen to (you guessed it, that’s the ‘radio’). Themes include but are not limited to: rebel violinists, immortal jellyfish, revolution. Thanks for subscribing and spreading the word. Learn more at RockPaperRadio.com.
SOMETHING TO READ
One of my favorite ways to get to know people is to have them teach me about something they love. In my early days of figuring out that I was going to attach myself to Keri and her nerdiness forever, she made me a PowerPoint. We were going to be seeing Star Wars with my kid and I needed to, apparently, UNDERSTAND the world of glowy sticks and personable robots that we were about to inhabit for a few hours.
To be real—I don’t remember anything about the movie, but I’ll never forget that slide deck or Keri’s absolutely earnest presentation of it. I was sold. On Keri. Not Star Wars.
This is all to say, people’s Special Interests are the best. Because enthusiasm loves company! So if you think you’re not into giant bees, think again, because I guarantee that the unshakable zeal of American Museum of Natural History assistant Eli Wyman at the heart of this ode by Oliver Milman for The Atlantic will change your mind: The World’s Biggest Bee Isn’t Out of the Woods Yet.
Yes, this piece is about bees the size of rodents that might still be buzzing among us, but it’s also about an Ebay scandal(!), the nature of selfishness, and the heartbreak and determination that comes from screaming your deepest passions into the void. So. Enjoy!
SOMETHING TO LISTEN TO
There’s a joke in audioland that I first heard from public radio whisperer Rob Rosenthal that interviewing kids is cheating. Why? Because if you’re really listening to young people, they will always—without fail—offer up some radio magic.
Children are natural storytellers, and if you haven’t had a chance to chat with someone who carries a Spiderman backpack or wears shoes that light up, I highly recommend it.
Just before the pandemic sent us all home, I had the chance to hang out at The Bureau of Fearless Ideas and talk with students about love for a KUOW Valentine’s Day special feature. Lucky for me, I met third grader Naomi that day and she told me the astounding story of the “recess wedding” that took place on the field at her elementary school, unbeknownst to the grownups who work there.
There’s “bridesmen.” There’s some questionable fashion choices. And, yes, you bet I asked about kissing. Scroll down in this story, We asked Seattle youth about love. They did not disappoint, to find the audiogram featuring our 2-minute convo about the debacle, plus one of my favorite portraits I’ve ever shot showing Naomi looking as fierce and charming as her tale of romance and rejection.
And then! After laughing and crying along with me and Naomi, you should grab yourself a ticket to The Bureau of Fearless Ideas’ People Eating & Giving party on Friday, March 6. It’s going to be at MOHAI, which is one of the coolest places in Seattle. I’ll be interviewing a few of their fearless scholars on stage for the event. Plus, there will be cupcakes. See you there!
SOMETHING TO HOLD ON TO
Have you been weeping in your cubicle dreaming of windows since you were ordered back to the office? Does your teenage roommate begin to make the most elaborate sandwich on earth in actual slow motion after you tell him he was supposed to be in the car ten minutes ago to leave for baseball? Did you miss your neighbor coming around the corner (again) as you were having a detailed conversation with your dog about her recent diarrhea challenges?
Don’t despair. Let Pink Floyd, A.K.A. fugitive flamingo no. 492, inspire your escape.
Fittingly, on Independence Day in 2005, flamingos 492 and 347 decided zoo life in Kansas was no longer for them. 347 went north and was never seen again. But 492 went south and over the last 17 years has been spotted enjoying its untethered life in various faraway locales such as Texas, Arkansas, and Wisconsin. NPR has the story: Pink Floyd, a flamingo on the lam from a Kansas zoo since 2005, is seen again in Texas. #GoPinkFloydGo
WOO HOO SPRING IS HERE
That’s a wrap on issue 78, friends. Thanks for reading, listening, holding on.
It’s spring break next week, so I’ll be teenager-wrangling and I won’t be in your inbox. But then I’ll be back in action. Keep masking, being weird and curious, and inviting all your weird and curious friends to subscribe to RPR too in the meantime. You all are the best.
See you the Thursday after next.