Don't Call it Magic

no white rabbits - just the worst roommate ever & skateboarding girls

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 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.
This is my latest portrait from my Pandemic Bunny series for the Photographic Center Northwest. Creeped out? Intrigued? See more here. Photo credit: Kristin Leong, Bellevue, WA, January 2021.

Kicking off this week’s newsletter with a moment of silence for the short-lived political career of Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is currently being sacrificed by her own party in an attempt to please the Republican gods with the hopes of saving Lauren Boebert/Josh Hawley/Madison Cawthorn. I’d add Ted Cruz to this list, but not even the space laser believers are rooting for that guy.


Now back to our regular programing. If your pandemic pals - AKA your family members who you’ve been locked down with for the past 11 months - are starting to do unacceptable things like move your water glass or suggest you join them to watch something called a “super bowl,” might I recommend snuggling up with some snacks and reading this from Bridget Read for The Cut: The Nightmare Share: She posted an ad for a roommate. What’s the worst that could happen?

I’m not going to spoil it for you, but I will say this: You think you’ve had bad roommates, but you have not. I guarantee this story will inspire a profound appreciation for anyone you’ve ever lived with, or currently share space with. Enjoy and be horrified!


I recently watched Derek Delgaudio’s Hulu special, In & Of Itself, which is based on his groundbreaking Off-Broadway show. The show made me miss live events intensely. I’m not going to call it a magic show, partly because Delgaudio doesn’t want it to be called a magic show, but also because if you haven’t already seen it I don’t want you to think this performance is some kind of nerdy gimmick with white rabbits.

As I watched, I kept thinking, why do I know this guy?? And then I realized that I had listened to a This American Life segment awhile ago about a magician who, instead of sawing ladies in half, makes his audience cry with their own true stories.

Delgaudio’s show, and this public radio conversation about it, is a moving reminder of the real life magic that happens when we’re seen for who we really are.

Here’s the 23-minute segment from 2017: The Lie Becomes the Truth. I recommend skipping the first half and pressing play at the 37 min mark. Unless you’re into gruesome frat stunts, in which case the first half might be your jam too - it’s about David Blaine literally eating glass.


In Kabul, it’s taboo for girls and women to ride bikes. So are these young women sitting around immobilized by sexist transportation regulations? No, they are not. They’re skateboarding.

In this gorgeous photo essay by Jessica Fulford-Dobson, we meet the young athletes of Skate Girls of Kabul. I was especially struck by this behind-the-scenes glimpse into one of the portraits:

“I let this seven year old find her own pose. I took about nine pictures of her, half sitting down and the other half standing – this was the last photograph I got of her before she had to run for the school bus. So even though she appears to be composed and standing calmly for me, she is in fact poised to turn and run away.” 

Take note, readers—keeping a chill exterior but being ready to sprint at any moment is exactly the energy we need right now.



That’s a wrap for issue 27.

Heads up - I’m aiming to send you all a BONUS ISSUE before next Thursday featuring a big, spicy story I have coming soon with KUOW.

In the meantime, please register for my free event and spread the word! Next Thursday, Feb 11 at 2pm PST / 5pm EST, I’ll be leading a live conversation on YouTube about the spicy story that’s coming soon.

It would be excellent (also, reassuring!) to have our misfit fam participate from the audience. You can register here, and we’ll send you a reminder.

Also - shout out to all of you who did your delicious homework last week and picked up some Sumo oranges - especially to subscriber Debbie who over the course of doing her homework had some adventures in both grocery shopping and using speech-to-text. A+ to you and your charming messages, Debbie!

For your extra credit assignment this week, please make this walnut cider loaf by Macrina Bakery. You can see how my loaf turned out here, along with a little peek into the married lives of lesbians. If you can’t find wheat berries, just throw whatever grains you have into the dough and let us know what happens.

See you (probably before!) next Thursday.


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