Elegant and Cranky

still home sweet home for the new year

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, something to read, and something to listen to. Themes include but are not limited to: rebel violinists, immortal jellyfish, revolution. Thanks for subscribing and spreading the word.
Here’s all of us, super fancy and filled with vitality at home for the big ushering out of 2020. Happy New Year, misfit fam. We made it. Photo credit: C. Z. Shi, @skulkingfaux.


Welcome, my misfit fam, to the ball drop, the home sweet home edition.

For all of my grouchy ranting against holiday consumerism, I’m all about rituals of acknowledgement for symbolic starts and ends — full moons, semesters, calendar years marked with Prosecco and kissing.

I know we’re all looking forward to leaving 2020 behind, but before we do I’d like to take a moment to be grateful for how weird this year has made all of us. Or, maybe everyone’s been weird all along, but after ten months of lockdown we just can’t keep all that awkwardness under wraps anymore.

Either way, I’m here for it. The makeup-free selfies. The bad Tik Tok dancing. The unfiltered crying out on Twitter for a return to reading books alone in crowded bars.

If there’s anyone who appreciates an eccentric misfit, it’s Olivia Laing. I’m currently reading Funny Weather: Art in an Emergency, Laing's latest collection exploring the impulse to create through essays about the lives of artists from Basquiat to Freddie Mercury. I was so struck by one of the pieces, The wild beauty of Georgia O’Keeffe, that I looked it up and was thrilled to find it on The Guardian so that I could share it here with all of you. Especially this sentence, for my fellow imperfect and moody creatives:

“Elegance shares a border with crankiness, independence with selfishness, and O’Keeffe was by no means a saint.”

As we head into the new year, let’s bring our strange and complicated selves with us. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that time is both short and long, so we might as well be ourselves while we’re here.


If your couch and the view of your neighbors on their couch is starting to feel a little too familiar after this endless year of quarantine, Barb Abelhauser’s story is for you. After 14 years in a cubicle, she abandoned office life for a job as a bridgetender on the Ortega River Bridge in Jacksonville, Florida.

In this 2-minute StoryCorp feature, The View From Here, Abelhauser tells us what she’s seen and heard over the last eight years from her post on the bridge: marriage proposals, old fishermen, the barking of baby alligators. Heads up: the twist at the end is a heartbreaker.


There’s a lucky beaver in New York's Hudson Valley that’s been rescued by a nice woman named Nancy Coyne. His name, obviously, is Beave, and as you can imagine, he’s busy.

Coyne’s home has become Beave’s marsh, as he has taken to damming all of the dwelling’s doorways with whatever he can find: wrapping paper rolls, toilet plungers, a rouge neck pillow.

Lucky for us, his rescue mom has been documenting his good work on Tik Tok, and NPR covered the story: Meet Beave, The Internet's Most Famous Beaver.



That’s a wrap for issue 22 of ROCK PAPER RADIO, and also for the most unprecedented/uncertain/etc year of all years.

Strong work, everyone. We made it.

See you next Thursday.


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