Luxury Luggage for Cowboy Bob

and a fashion icon's birthday

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.
All true about misfit and unlikely optimist Keri Zierler, whose birthday it is today: She’s a lifetime member of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Fan Club, she was once responsible for placing a voice-controlled escape room at the center of NYC Comic-Con, and she has the unmatched dance moves of a peak 1998 Backstreet Boy. Photo credit: Keri’s wife, June 2020.


This week’s radio offering is coming to you care of my most recent Driveway Moment. Last weekend, me and the watermelon I was driving around with sat in my parked car for the better half of this 33-minute Cowboy Bob - Criminal Spotlight story from PRX’s Radiotopia.

No spoilers, but “Cowboy Bob” is not the slow-talking, whiskey-slugging buckaroo of your John Wayne dreams. This cowboy is a bank robber with an aging mother and an escape plan built around a beach in Mexico.

This story is as much a tribute to unexpected rebels, as it is proof that our healthcare system is badly in need of an overhaul. If you’re able to listen to this from the vantage point of a sandy beach towel, bring along a margarita and pour some out for Bob as the story reaches it’s heartbreaking and inevitable end.


With summer gloriously here hot and early after the last 16 months of lockdown, you may be thinking it’s time to make sure your passport is ready so that you can blast your vaccinated self out of the country for a while. If you’re in NYC, you’re in luck, because there’s a luxury luggage store in Soho that has the perfectly-lit selfie booth you’ve been looking for to make sure your passport photo is as #nofilter flattering as your latest Instagram thirst trap.

But even if you’re nowhere near New York, don’t worry. Because this glorious, utterly chaotic how-to/op-ed/poem by Choire Sicha for the New York Times, The Promise of a Really Great Passport Photo, is a gift to all of us, travelers and I’m-still-staying-home-the-pandemic-is-not-over folks alike.

Behold this description of the brand that has decided to add this glamorous photo opportunity to their store:

“If you stop to browse, you’ll notice that Rimowa luggage is identifiable by its distinctive ridges, like a Ruffles Sour Cream & Onion flavor chip. While traditionally tugged by people wearing cashmere or dead animals, now it is more likely to be toted by folks who look fairly normal except they have buffed skin and Lanvin sneakers, themselves notable for how chicly ugly and inexplicably costly they are.”

And also this note on ASD and not getting too creative in the arrangement of the shape of your mouth, as per the “neutral expression” passport photo rules set forth by the US government:

Speaking of your face, you should also be warned not to get too wacky in the Rimowa photo booth. As opposed to the 50 shades of Rihanna’s Fenty soft matte long-wear foundation, another fine LVMH associated product, your facial palette of expressions here is limited….

Once you start wondering if your smile is “natural,” you may be in for a bad time.

For instance, if you know what the term “masking” means (it is the term of art, popular particularly among some people with autism, for the act of portraying expected or socially sanctioned behavior), you may leave the booth in a bit of a crisis.

Enjoy and be bewildered and enlightened!


Have you ever wondered to yourself, what font is that on Billie Elish’s new album cover? Or perhaps, how could negative letterspacing really make my next all-staff email pop? If so, designer Jeremiah Shoaf is here for you with Typewolf’s third installment of Fonts in Popular Culture Identified.

I love this project not only because I am always up for some font discourse, but also because I am all about obsessive interests and the creatives who pursue and share them with abandon.


That’s a wrap on issue 47, friends. Thanks for listening, reading, holding on.

If you’re up for sharing some good social media vibes, it’s supermodel Keri Zierler’s birthday today and she’s going to be absolutely thrilled to find that I’ve shared this spectacular childhood photo with all of you, and encouraged you to leave her a note in the comments about how you’ve been inspired by her iconic Ellen-but-make-it-Back to the Future lewk.

Keri was ROCK PAPER RADIO’s first subscriber and she’s my original misfit fam, seeing and encouraging all of my unlikely optimism, while amplifying all the good parts of everyone she meets. Thanks for sending her some love.

See you next Thursday.


You can find ROCK PAPER RADIO on Instagram and Twitter @RockPaperRadio.