The mouth is a metaphor
home and work, transformational haircuts, art to unsettle you
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
I loved every line of this concise but mighty 2017 essay by Toni Morrison for The New Yorker: The Work You Do, the Person You Are.
If you also joined The Great Resignation and are currently navigating a new role or life between gigs, or if you’re still grinding away at a job that isn’t loving you back, this one's for you.
Morrison is wise and warm as she always is, weaving her story of childhood domestic work into the invaluable lesson she learned from her father about the difference between ourselves as employees, and ourselves as humans with the shelter of our people waiting for us at home.
Towards the end of the piece, she boils down her father’s insights into four points I wish I had read long ago. I’ll be sharing them with The Teenager who told me recently that he hopes his first job is at Taco Bell. Spread the word on this one, it’s a gem.
SOMETHING TO LISTEN TO
As someone whose hair continues to be on journey, I’m always up for a good transformational haircut story, and this 16 minute Song Exploder episode delivers: Episode 237: Sudan Archives.
Sudan Archives is a singer, songwriter, producer, and violinist. In this episode, she takes listeners on a deep dive into her single “Selfish Soul,” which was inspired by the moment she asked her boyfriend to shave her head.
This episode is as much about how a song came to life, as it is about society’s long history of policing Black women’s appearances, and the freedom (and Big Bald Energy) that comes from doing whatever we want with our bodies. I especially loved the gorgeous audio moment about 4 minutes in, when she shares how Ethiopian and Sudanese traditions are threaded into the song, the violin doing a sort of call-and-response with the vocals. I was hypnotized. Enjoy!
SOMETHING TO HOLD ON TO
The eyes may be the window to the soul, but the mouth is its entrance and Israeli artist Ronit Baranga has a few things to say about that through her unsettling sculptures.
Along with lips and teeth, fingers are also recurrent themes in her work, sometimes protruding out of delicate sugar bowls or clustered together in ceramic mounds that look almost inviting if it all wasn’t so terrifying. From The re:art’s profile, The Extraordinary Sculptures of Ronit Baranga:
“The mouth and hands – specifically the fingers – play a very important role in Ronit Baranga’s work, as symbols of the fragile border between external existence and the inner world, as connector – the entrance and, at the same time, the exit – as well as means of communication between the two. Another reason for this choice is the mixed feelings they convey, the disturbing contradiction in experiencing both attraction due to their sensuality and repulse, as a result of the oddity defining the situations created by the artist.”
Here’s to art that makes us feel weird and curious and reminds us that what disturbs us has something to say that we should probably be listening to.
LET’S GO FUZZY SOCK SEASON
That’s a wrap on issue 93, friends. Thanks for listening, reading, holding on. And thank you again for launching our Odd One In podcast with me! If you missed last week’s issue with the links to our debut episode and the Seattle Channel video from our party, here it is.
See you next Thursday.