Peace and Absurdity
the jewel of Seattle shines on Odd One In, a pink city, the Buddhist Bug
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
If it’s true that life comes at you fast, then I’d like to add that putting a podcast into the world that’s made up entirely of the heart and guts of a Very Big Year (decades really, of so many Very Big Years) accelerates that speed significantly. Now all of a sudden it’s a month later and our misfit dispatch has been on hold, and the boy has started school, and friends have been missed, and a whole new life has brought me along with it like a wave (a sound wave?). So! Here we are.
Since launching Odd One In last month, I’ve been on a bit of a ride. I’ll share more soon, but in the meantime, just know that all of the love and enthusiasm this little indy podcast-that-could has brought into my world has been fueling my own unlikely optimism is such profound ways. Shout out to all of you, my misfit fam. For real.
And shout out too to The South Seattle Emerald for inviting me to share my hopes for Odd One In and RPR. It was like a balm talking with reporter Amanda Ong about the show and what an honor it is just to be Asian in this strange time, telling the stories I’ve been looking for forever. Here’s the feature: Podcast ‘Odd One In’ With Kristin Leong Gives Misfit Stories a Voice. Thanks for reading and sharing!
SOMETHING TO LISTEN TO
Big congrats to Niki Aggarwal, producer and host of Misrepresented! Her 25-minute episode The Myth of the Pink City was recently celebrated by Gotham/Variety Audio Honors, a new initiative by Wondery recognizing “the boldest voices in the ever-expanding world of audio storytelling.”
I was lucky to hear an early edit of this episode, and so it was especially cool to hear the final cut and to see that Misrepresented is getting the attention it deserves. (Niki is the rallyer behind our Audio Squad. We’re a small but mighty group of Ladios.)
The episode is about Jaipur, the capital of India’s Rajasthan state, known for going nuts with dusty, terracotta pink long before Millennials tried to claim the color. Oh! I know you’re thinking, How charming! A pink city! But that’s not all. The episode does what Niki does best—it breaks down whatever you think you know about this piece of South Asian history with not just corrections and clarifications, but with DRAMA. A royal scandal! An unruly poet! A record-breaking political campaign by a beautiful princess who loses her private plane and ends up in jail! Enjoy!
SOMETHING TO HOLD ON TO
Anida Yoeu Ali is a first-generation Muslim Khmer artist who was born in Cambodia and raised in Chicago. In 2014, she built a 100+ foot long, saffron-colored creature to explore the otherness she’s wrestled with her whole life as a transnational woman straddling countries, cultures, and religions. The sculpture/costume/performance is called The Buddhist Bug.
On one end, Ali’s face pokes out, her head covered. A fellow performer lays inside at the other end, her feet are the tail. The orange is a nod to the robes of Buddhist monks. The Bug is both peaceful and absurd wherever Ali takes it to be viewed and photographed: a market, a temple, a campus eating hall surrounded by unbothered students.
This is what we should all hold on to when we’re feeling mismatched in the world: Peace. Absurdity. Absolute surrender to not fitting in—to the joy of it.
From Ali’s website:
“Set amongst everyday people in ordinary moments, the Bug provokes obvious questions of belonging and displacement. Each vignette presents a moment of real life with the element of the Bug making each frame more surreal and provocative. Consistent throughout this series is the unique combination of humor and otherness. The project reflects the artist’s personality, one that combines humor, performance, science fiction and Ali’s love of everyday culture into moments that transcend the ordinary.”
The Emory Wheel has more: ‘The Buddhist Bug’ explores displacement and identity through interactive performance art.
IT’S DECORATIVE GOURD SEASON, BUDDIES
That’s a wrap on issue 94, friends. Thanks for reading, listening, holding on.
And thank you for spreading the word about Odd One In! Episode 2 is already in the works and I’m feeling very grateful to be telling these stories alongside our misfit crew as we all settle into hoodie and fuzzy socks season together.
See you in your inbox on a Thursday soon.