Screaming Into the Void

also the ode to dental hygiene you didn't know you needed

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.
Street art in Finland that captures exactly what it feels like to be embarking on Pandemic Year Two while in-person school resumes and your sisters keep telling you that they’re not getting the vaccine because essential oils provide all the protection they need. Photo credit: Aarón Blanco Tejedor


This is absolutely, 100%, the most chaotic thing I have ever read and I love it so much. From Wayne Koestenbaum for The New York Times Magazine: An Ode to the Pleasures of Flossing.

Is it a poetic tribute to dental hygiene? Maybe. A manic declaration of appreciation for precision and release? Perhaps. I have read this multiple times and I’m still not sure, but really, I love it. For example:

“Faust-like, we think only of profit and immediate pleasure, and we sell our planet-soul to the devil. In a matter of decades, science warns, Mephistopheles will lay claim to us. If only we could remove, with a string of unwaxed mint-flavored Reach, the sin of a mishandled environment, a world laid waste by unchecked fires and spoiled oceans! If only we could floss away our civilization’s crimes!”

And also this:

“Now I impose a rhythm on the sequence of loss. Let there be the meal, and then the after-meal. Flossing gives me the windfall of a brief, terminal futurity: With slender floss stretched like a sling between two hands, I can taste the melancholy pleasure of aftermath. In a theater, a gong announces the end of intermission. Hurry to your seats. If it’s “King Lear,” or even if it’s simply the spectacle of your own morally variegated life, you don’t want to miss the final horror.”

Enjoy? I think so, yes. Enjoy!


If you’re a parent staring anxiously into the abyss of year two (or is it three at this point if we count the spring of 2020?) of pandemic schooling and feeling like a primal scream is in order, you’re not alone.

The innovative makers at The New York Times have brought together our collective pain and panic here: America’s Mothers Are in Crisis: This is a Primal Scream.

This link is a truly multimedia experience. There are articles and op-eds. There are stats to make you ill such as: 48% of Black mothers report that the pandemic has had a major impact on their ability to pay for necessities like housing, utilities, and food. There’s a list of resources for mental health support, legal advice, and housing assistance. And then there are the PRIMAL SCREAMS.

The Times opened a voicemail line and invited moms to release all of their pent up fury and exhaustion into it, and moms did not disappoint. The audio clips are funny and thoughtful and devastating—all of the things so many parents have been swimming in for the last 17 months. If after clicking, you’re feeling like your own parental primal scream is ready to be shared with the world as we head back to school in the midst of this Delta Variant and Breakthrough Covid Era, please reach out. I’m with you.


If you’re also carrying around with you a bowling ball-sized pit of grief and rage that you mostly try to ignore or crush down with jokes and over-filled work responsibilities, I have the tweet for you. This graphic, along with the concise but nonetheless gutting caption by a kindergarten teacher who goes by @HeatherL114, showed up in my timeline recently and stopped me cold.

I thought that perhaps anyone who signed up for a newsletter for misfits and unlikely optimists might feel strangely comforted by it too. So.



That’s a wrap on issue 55, friends. Thanks for reading, listening, holding on.

And just FYI - if you were on the fence about trying my recipe for spicy pickled watermelon rinds from last week’s issue, I’m thrilled to share that my brilliant and discerning friend Yosh ate a jar of my weird pickles and LOVED them.

She said, and I quote, “Yassssssssss!” And then she said she was going to add them to her spring rolls and eat them with cold beer. Now, I’m not saying you all should follow all of my advice, but yes, definitely make those pickles and let me know what you think. Keri’s not a super fan. Yet. I’m trying to convince her.

See you next Thursday, adventurous snackers.


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