Objection to the Rule
OTR is a weekly news round table for Radio Free Brooklyn. When the coronavirus struck we started recording remotely and I produced some features for the show.
Fixing the Internet by Building it
NYC Mesh is a community led internet non-profit. Using antennas and Occupy Wallstreet-like spontaneity they are creating their own internet by connecting networks to an IXP in the financial district.
Basically, instead of using Spectrum or a traditional ISP they are building their own path to the global internet and fostering community along the way.
Though it starts as a tech story a story about bridging the broadband gap the story morphs into larger themes about community, what the internet can be, and how movements can be organized and run
First to Go and Last to be Restored
The Muse Brooklyn is a circus arts performance, practice and teaching space. Before the coronavirus their 7,000 Sq foot warehouse was already difficult to finance.
A difficult landlord, temporary event permits, and one of the worlds harsher real estate markets has made it hard for The Muse survive.
Then the coronavirus shut everything down.
In the middle of this uncertainty Angela Buccinni-Butch walks us through what it’s like to lead a group of performers where every event seems like their swan song. Performer and friend Luther Bangert helps me tell this story.
The Muse Brooklyn created a slideshow/video for this piece.
Silver Linings: Bread and Generosity.
The term silver lining has been used a lot to describe the unforeseen benefits of NYC’s coronavirus lockdown. Some get to see their kids more (Many in crowed homes see their kids too much), some workers make more on unemployment than at their jobs, and some people, actually a lot of people, have discovered bread making.
Tyisha Shaia always wanted to try bread making but until the virus she never had the time. Unfortunately, she wasn’t alone and the local yeast supply run out. Yeast producers have a seasonal business: the holidays call for festive loafs of levin delights and afterward demand deflates like an over proofed dough when summer comes.
Tyisha called her mom for help and immediately she rose to the occasion and mailed 48 ozs of yeast to her daughter. This is where our piece begins. Tyisha couldn’t use all the yeast so she gave it away one spring Saturday afternoon. Camped out for just two hours I gathered, at a distance, the stories of my Bed Stuy neighbors and how everyone was coping with the virus and why, out of all things, bread making seemed to help. We hear of some silver linings, look into the origin of the phrase, and meditate on how wonderful bread is.
‘My Brooklyn Died’
Lloyd Porter pulled off contradictions. Originally from California he embodied an old school Brooklyn while embracing the present. Perpetually hustling while at the same time pulling everyone up along with him.
He died from Covid-19.
Thomas Piper is a DJ, producer, and grieving friend of Lloyd Porter. Thomas lays out Lloyd’s impact on him and his philosophy. Before Lloyd died he record backing vocals for Thomas’s upcoming single ‘Just Us’. Dedicated to Fred Hampton, martyred Black Panther leader, ‘Just Us’ is an optimistic rallying cry, a call for community organization, and beautiful summation of Lloyd’s impact on Thomas — though it was recorded far before anyone knew Lloyd would be gone so soon.
Aaron got Covid-19 in early march before NYC became the world’s epicenter for the crisis. He’s a hilarious man with a giant laugh.
In this interview he recalls his experience through the illness, the unforeseen challenges of loosing your sense of taste, and his bureaucratic journey to become a plasma donor for an coronavirus antibody study.
More local features.
These have appeared on outlets like KFAI’s Catalyst, Greening Frogtown, and as special episodes of the podcast Your Eulogy. Some are basic profiles of people or businesses, some are a bit more experimental.
The Nordly: 11:44mins
The Nordlyis a satirical news site for Minnesotans. Using the template perfected by The Onion The Nordly comically brings awareness to local issues and culture. Turns out, there’s no shortage of material. Minnesota is a weird place, and I’m glad to have it under the watch eye of The Nordly.
Death Cafe: 7:36mins
Death Cafes are a global sensation. All over the world people meet up once a month to talk about that scary thing that happens at the end of our lives … even in this moment I’m scared to say the word … death. The twin cities Death Cafe focuses on disrupting that stigma, and they do it with generous treats, decent wine, and friendly people.
Corpse Flower: 6:25mins
Over the 2019 spring break at the University of Minnesota the Corpse Flower, Amorphophallus Titanum, decided to bloom. But not your normal bloom, when the Corpse Flower blooms … it smells like rotting flesh. Many minnesotans gathered to see, and smell, this rare occurrence ( Every 7-10 years). All involved, the observes, botanists, and myself thought it was a strange and wonderful event.
The Radio Station in a Locker Room: 7:10mins
A radio piece on a radio station? Quite self-indulgent of you, huh? Well … yes. But St. Paul Minnesota’s WFNU is a wonderful community station and deserves a nice seven minute shoat out.
Hunt for the Snowy Owl: 5:26mins
This was an audition piece for KFAI’s MinneCulture, a show based out of Minneapolis. It’s a fun surprisingly exciting piece about winter birding in Minnesota. It’s interesting because my guide is a poet-birder so his style of birding is not the stereotypical obsessive birder with a check list, but more of a thoughtful observer letting the world show itself to you.
Tony’s Neighbor (And Why He Likes Him So Much): 5:51mins
Tony Schmitz co-publishes Greening Frogtown, a bi-monthly neighborhood paper. He sent me on assignment to interview a local advocate for seniors, Larry Paulson. I thought it was more interesting why Tony liked him so much. Though, for the record, Larry is great and his help around the neighborhood does deserve recognition.
Joey Went to Cuba: 10:21
Journalist Joey Peters went to Cuba. This is a fun how-was-your-trip piece with some good Cuban/American history stuck in the middle. Cucs, side-hustles, Obama, Trump, and the Monroe Doctrine. ‘Democracy looks like dictatorship’, what does that mean? Listen to find out. (Or I’ll just tell you: US backed dictatorships in latin America were nominally democratic.)
Dale and the Birds: 5:42mins
Here’s a small and quiet piece about my grandma. It’s an audio essay on how we think of/project onto our elders. But mostly, it’s just about a nice quiet moment with a wonderful person.
They Found the Boots!: 13:40mins
Friend and storyteller Joe Sullivan retells the mythical episode of his grandfathers near death experience. In WWII after his P-38 lightning fell to earth on the contested Island of Papau New Guinea Grandpa Sullivan had to escape the people stuck between America and Japan’s fight for control of the island.
John Gebretatose Suite: John Tells Me to Cry (7:02mins) and Pranks my Mom (12:39mins)
I interviewed comedian and improvisor John Gebretatose for Your Eulogy ( johns ep ) and he gave me so much material I did two other pieces. One is a strange tangent on what it’s like to be interviewed about race and we end up crying … not really, but kind of. The other starts off with a discussion about my family’s wealth and ends in a very uncomfortable phone-prank with my mom.
MDQS, Matthew’s Dumb Quiz Show: 1940mins
In the style of Big Fat Quiz of the Year or Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me! I bullied two friends with a trick questions, burning judgement and completely unresearched questions. It was pretty fun.
An Argument Against Female Priests: 14:58mins
Here’s a difficult argument I had with a dear friend. If you don’t want to listen to someone defend the Catholic Church’s policy to deny priesthood for women then do not listen to this piece. It includes some theology, an interesting old Jewish story that continues the Adam and Eve myth in a strange way, and insights into why people prescribe to the Church’s teachings.
James and His Dad: A Cartoonist Reflects on a Strange Man to Live With: 13:40mins
James Harvey is an incredible artist and comic creator. One of my favorite Your Eulogy episodes is his. This is taken from the same interview. James Harvey’s dad is very intense, angry, possibly autistic, and definitely confrontational. His dad influenced James is both good and bad ways.
Law, Like Love. W.H. Auden: 4:42mins
This is me reading my favorite poem.
Ephraim’s Dream: 9:26mins
Simply put, a very strange dream.