"Letting go of idealism is one of the most painful parts of being unjustly attacked."
-Ukrainian American journalist Natalia Antonova
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.
Hi, misfit fam. Before we dive in, I have exciting news to share! Our Odd One In podcast is now on all the pod platforms—Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, etc.—and our RockPaperRadio.com site is all shined up and relaunched. I’m so excited to be on this ride with all of you. Thanks for clicking, reviewing, subscribing, etc, etc, etc.
SOMETHING TO READ
War has always been vile. However, unfathomably, war seems to have become even more immoral since it’s been combined with a 90210 actress posting a baffling Twitter video about wanting to be Putin’s mom, and crypto bros running scams to “help Ukraine.”
In an effort to find my way through all that maddening (and distracting) noise, I’ve been seeking out Ukrainian voices over the last week, which is how I stumbled across this gorgeous but crushing essay by Ukrainian American journalist Natalia Antonova for The Bulwark: Old Ukraine Is Gone. Ukrainians Carry On. This excerpt especially keeps echoing through my brain:
As I type this, the people I know and love in Ukraine are alive and accounted for—scared, angry, tortured, shaking with righteous fury, fighting on the battlefield, cradling terrified children and animals, but alive. This could change at any moment, and so while I’m here, I’m not really here. When a ghoul seeks to destroy your birthplace, your soul is unmoored.
Here’s to hoping that Putin is stopped, and both Ukrainians and Russians are freed from this Napoleonic campaign soon.
SOMETHING TO LISTEN TO
This week I’m pausing our Odd One In teaser drops to share a staggering story from producer Robyn Semien for This American Life’s recent The Other Mr. President show on Vladimir Putin. If you missed any of our 2-minute teasers, you can find all of the audio Odd One In has shared so far here.
I highly recommend listening to the whole 60-minute show, but if you’re short on time, Semien’s 20-minute first act, Going in with a Bang, is a must listen if you’re wondering how such a hateful, paranoid, delusional little man could be democratically elected into power. (We’re looking at you too, Hitler and Melania’s husband.)
Ostensibly, this act is about the suspicious 1999 bombing in Moscow that ushered in Russia’s war against Chechnya that led to Putin’s quick and unlikely rise to power. However, this bewildering story is also about the power of fear—how when people are afraid, they look for leaders, even if the ones who poke their psychopathic heads above the fray should never have been in a leadership position in the first place.
SOMETHING TO HOLD ON TO
One thing I miss about working in the service industry is the bias for action. Unlike white collar workplaces that are often mired in bureaucratic red tape—delaying everything from birthday cake selection, to #MeToo investigations—bars and restaurants just do things.
Should we kick out that bossy espresso martini drinker who later turns out to be the new girlfriend of the manager? Yep. Should we switch the playlist from Lo-fi Vibes to Wu-Tang right before the rush? Why not.
Which is why I was especially charmed by Bob’s Bar owner Bob Quay in Grand Rapids, Michigan who is quoted in this in this report from the Associated Press, Potent protest: Bars drop Russian vodka, promote Ukraine’s: “The U.S. obviously is putting on sanctions. I thought I would put on sanctions as well.’’
We’re not only with Ukraine, we’re with Bob too.
SHOUT OUT TO SURVEY TAKERS!
It goes against every cell of my half-Chinese heart to ask for you to share your RPR testimonials, but I have to say, as I’ve been reading your warm words in your responses since last week’s issue, I’ve felt a surge of not just love and optimism, but real resolve to keep doing this work.
It’s a strange thing to send out this dispatch into the expanse of The Internet every week. Your notes in the survey are such a nice reminder that there’s real, curious, rad humans on the other side. Thank you, misfit fam. You all are the real ones.
See you next Thursday.
Today’s headline is a line from Natalia Antonova’s essay featured as today’s Something to Read.