The year NPR won April Fool's Day
online outrage performers, this one's for 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
Fair warning, friends: There will be no content about The Slap™️ in today’s dispatch. BUT! As a reminder that award shows are ridiculous and celebrities are actually not like us at all, here is this absolutely bonkers/genius interview by Lawrence Grobel from the Playboy archives with the famously media-shy Al Pacino. It’s entitled, well, Al Pacino: The Playboy Interview (1979).
PLAYBOY: Have you ever gone to the Academy ceremonies?
PACINO: I was at the Oscars once, for Serpico. That was the second time I was nominated. I was sitting in the third or fourth row with Diane Keaton. Jeff Bridges was there with his girl. No one expected me to come. I was a little high. Somebody had done something to my hair, blew it or something, and I looked like I had a bird’s nest on my head, a real mess. I sat there and tried to look indifferent because I was so nervous. Any time I’m nervous, I try to put on an indifferent or a cold look. At one point, I turned to Jeff Bridges and said, “Hey, looks like there won’t be time to get to the Best Actor awards.” He gave me a strange look. He said, “Oh, really?” I said, “It’s over, the hour is up.” He said, “It’s three hours long.” I thought it was an hour TV show, can you imagine that? And I had to pee—bad. So I popped a valium. Actually, I was eating valium like they were candy. Chewed on them. Finally came the Best Actor. Can you imagine the shape I was in? I couldn’t have made it to the stage. I was praying, “Please don’t let it be me. Please.” And I hear…”Jack Lemmon.” I was just so happy I didn’t have to get up, because I never would have made it.
SOMETHING TO LISTEN TO
You might have missed it because the announcement of the the Documentary category at last weekend’s Oscars got a little exciting, but Questlove, the unmatched multi-hyphenate Renaissance Man and frontman of The Roots, won an Academy Award for his directorial debut Summer of Soul.
The film is a documentary about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, which was previously overshadowed by another American music gathering that same year.
NPR shared a great 32-minute interview with Questlove in February giving listeners a glimpse behind the scenes as he embarked on his first foray into film directing, but for me, this 8-min feature with host Audie Cornish from last summer is a standout: Questlove Discusses His Must-See New Doc, 'Summer Of Soul'.
About halfway through, the Grammy winner reveals how he manages his nerves before taking the stage. If you’re with me and your imposter syndrome is also your most present co-worker, this one’s for you.
SOMETHING TO HOLD ON TO
Tomorrow’s April 1st, which means we should all watch out, because The Internet—lover of performative outrage and alternative facts every day of the year—might attempt to pull a few over on us.
I mostly think April Fools Day pranks are dumb, but I have to admit that in 2014 NPR nailed it. I was still a teacher then, but discovering this stunt was perhaps the exact moment I resolved to someday work in public radio.
Here’s what they did: On April 1, 2014 NPR took to social media to share a link to a story with the headline Why doesn’t America read anymore? The lead photo showed shelves full of books. The prank? There was no story admonishing non-readers if you clicked the link. Only this message:
Congratulations, genuine readers, and happy April Fools' Day!
We sometimes get the sense that some people are commenting on NPR stories that they haven't actually read. If you are reading this, please like this post and do not comment on it. Then let's see what people have to say about this "story."
Best wishes and have an enjoyable day,
Your friends at NPR
As you might have guessed, the comments on the posts quickly filled with grouchy “readers” taking NPR to task for an article they did not, in fact, click on or read. Thu-Huong Ha at Quartz shared some of the gems of responses from the most colorful commenters here: This April Fool’s joke perfectly trolls online trolls.
SIDE NOTE: I’d like to dedicate today’s SHOT to the person who commanded KUOW to be better on Facebook last year for “promoting” in-person dining during a pandemic on a post for this beautiful and vulnerable essay by Maura Hubbell and Lisa Jaffe about their last dinner together following their divorce…in 2015. Full disclosure: I was the editor on this piece and I love love love it.
LET’S GO MUSCAT GRAPE SEASON
That’s a wrap on issue 77, friends. Thanks for reading, listening, holding on. And thanks for showing me that KERI WAS RIGHT—apparently she is not the only Chaotic Neutral Wordle player on earth and you all have lost your minds with that start word switch up.
I’m telling you, beans is where it’s at. Join me.
See you next Thursday.
P.S. Keri wanted me to tell you three things: She hasn’t gotten a X/6 yet, she will never be convinced to commit to one start word, and it’s not that she arranged our condiments by country, so much as by genre.