Jakob Lazzaro, Sophia Lo and David Deloso can’t let go of beer summits and birthdays, Hong Kong and saying yes, and the Zucc and Kanye. Stories featured in this episode hail from This American Life, The New York Times and The Verge. Transcript below.
[Music: Little Lily Swing]
Jakob Lazzaro: Hello and welcome back to Can't Let Go, the NBN podcast where we discuss the news stories and the personal stories from the past week or a few weeks that we can just not let go of. I am, as always, your host, Jakob Lazzaro. I've got two returning guests – they’ve both been on the show before. We've got Sophia Lo to the far left and David Deloso to the slight right. The big change for them is they're both managing editors now. Whoa!
David Deloso: Oh my God.
Jakob Lazzaro: I'm sure you've all listened to, heard of, passed by spiritually, or whatever This American Life at some point, and I'm talking about their episode from September 20th. The episode is called Beer Summit. You guys remember when Barack Obama, like, had the beer summit in the White House?
David: I actually don't remember.
Sophia Lo: No.
Jakob: Okay, maybe this was before your time. Basically this is like the first part of the episode but the theme is beer summits, right? Basically, there's this very famous Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., who is a big history professor, very famous. He was locked out of his own house in Cambridge, Massachusetts. And this is like in 2009, I believe, and he was trying to get inside ,and somebody called the police on him. And for those of you who have not seen Henry Louis Gates Jr. before, he is black. And this white police officer showed up and started interrogating Henry Louis Gates about what he was doing at the house and then Henry Louis Gates was like this is my house and he proved that it was his house, and then he started arguing with the police officer. Like why are you, you know, like harassing me I'm just trying to get inside my house. And they arrested him, and basically Obama got asked about this at a press conference a few days after it happened. And Obama said that the Cambridge Police acted stupidly and I'm sure you all see where this is going. This became a huge, you know, Scandal, but it was eventually resolved by President Obama inviting the police officer who arrested Henry Louis Gates, the sergeant, and Louis Gates to the White House to have a beer with him and just talk it out. So that's like the premise for the episode. But the reason it stuck with me is because there's two acts. Act one is about Botswana which like, you know, a lot of African countries is... the borders kind of are just there. They were drawn up by some, you know, white dudes in Europe without really considering what was, you know, going on the actual place, right? So, you know, there are a lot of different tribal groups that are all in the nation of Botswana. And in other African countries, this presented a problem of you know separatism, resulted in political instability. Civil War, that sort of thing. So when Botswana became independent from Britain in like the 60s or whatever, they decided we want to avoid this potential for conflict by trying to institute policies that get rid of or try to avoid the bad parts of tribalism. And one of these policies is that Botswana government employees – in this case the person profiled in the act as a teacher – are required and are randomly assigned workplaces all over the country and are required to move like every five years or so, and they don't know where they're going. The episode is about this woman who was you know, from like the capital of Botswana, very cosmopolitan, right, and she loved her job teaching there. And then she got reassigned to this tiny, very rural village with a completely different tribe on the other side of the country. And she was like, I don't want to go, oh my god it's going to be so terrible, but she had to go, obviously, because it's required, so she moves their to teach. She hates it. She basically is a hermit. And then after a few months, she and a new colleague go to the neighboring town which is a little bigger to have some beers and just chill. They go into this bar. She meets this guy, the guy's pretty cool. They hit it off, and then eventually she finds out that he's from the village where she's working as a teacher where before she met him, she just dismissed everyone like, oh they're so different for me, different tribes, different culture. I don't like them. They're the worst. And then they fall in love. The policy actually worked, in that case, in at least one specific case in terms of you know, bringing together people of different tribes, different lifestyles in Botswana. And all it took was some beers, which is pretty cool.
David: I think beer is the drink that can bridge gaps between like, you know, the Frat Bros who just like guzzle it at parties to like, you know, older people who maybe don't drink it the same way that college students do, but it's the same beverage. It's the same substance. I don't think any other drink can really do that. Not that I'm advocating for anyone in college, unless they're 21, to consume alcohol.
Jakob: Thank you David for keeping us legal on this podcast. And now I hand the metaphorical cold one that we've just cracked open to you, David. What's your news story?
David: So some phone calls recently leaked in which Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook – who I shall henceforth refer to as the Zucc – was commenting on Elizabeth Warren, presidential candidate, overall Queen. And just her goal to break up large massive corporations, including Facebook of course.
Jakob: one of the biggest Daddies out there.
David: Yeah. I mean, Facebook's pretty big. And the Zucc was just saying that he didn't want legal trouble with his own government, even though Facebook would probably win. But he said it would suck for everyone.
Jakob: But so, didn't he like, take a shot at Twitter?
David: Oh, yeah. Yeah. He said that Facebook was better at upholding democracy because of its size and its universality, which I disagree with. We love Facebook.
Jakob: We love Facebook. Hello, Zuckerberg. Hi. Yes, we know you're listening. Facebook good. Facebook good. Regulation bad. Okay, we are okay. We snuck past them, guys. He won't to catch on to the real us.
Sophia: So today (Oct. 1) is the 70th anniversary of the founding of the PRC. But, you know, Hong Kong has been protesting against China for a bunch of reasons. It started with this whole extradition bill. But yes, they're protesting against China, and since you know China celebrating they were like well this is a good day to protest and also get media attention and everything and today was the first day that someone was shot by a live bullet. Not the first time anyone's been shot. Not the first time anyone's used live bullets, and by anyone I mean the police.
Jakob: Yeah, a lot of people have been shot, well multiple people have been shot in the eye over the past few months, but that's been with, I think, rubber bullets.
Jakob: But, I mean, they are still blind. I mean that's still like, you know, not good.
Sophia: An 18-year-old protestor was shot in the shoulder.
Jakob: Yeah. And I think shoulder shoulder area, from what I saw it was like the bullet is like three centimeters or something from his heart. So he's alive right now. One of his lungs is apparently filled with blood, at least it was.
Sophia: Police in Hong Kong right now, real scary. I mean, honestly the videos from previous protests are so much worse.
Jakob: Like the MTR.
Sophia: Yeah, the people bleeding out and everyone getting beaten by the police and basically it’s really scary for them and also I'm just sad about it. Because Hong Kong – great city. Love her, and now there's so much changing and there's so much uncertainty and I don't really know where the future of Hong Kong is going to be going. I don't see this being peacefully resolved anymore because it has been a few very long months.
David: So I was studying abroad in Beijing over the summer, and that was when tensions were really, really just like there, you know, and it was really hard to get a feel for what the locals in Beijing kind of thought of the situation just because I wasn't really talking to them that much. But just seeing, like, I did make some friends who are either from Hong Kong or flying through Hong Kong, and just seeing how scared they were and seeing some videos and stuff that they posted when they got back. It's just like, it's really it's really, really scary. I don't love the Chinese government. And now that I'm out of the country I can say that freely, so.
Jakob: Just don’t go back.
Sophia: Can’t go back.
Jakob: Or don't transit through Hong Kong airport after they shove the extradition law through. They'll grab you.
David: You know, I'm a journalist, so I’m never going back anyway.
Jakob: Yeet you across the border, be like, oh, where'd he go? Oh now, surprise! He ended up somehow in Shanghai. Whoa!
David: My social credit is already bad.
Jakob: So in light of birthdays, PRC’s 70th celebratory occasion was October 1st. And I think there's an even more important birthday coming up on October 3rd, which is my birthday. We can all agree. I think that's more important than the PRC. I'm turning 22, which is a great age, because it means I can needlessly annoy people with the Taylor Swift song all the livelong day.
[Music: “22” by Taylor Swift]
Jakob: She was feeling 22, which is how I will be feeling in approximately two days at the time of recording. Yeah, so that's my personal story, which is pretty boring. But the exciting part is there's this great brunch/dinner/brewery spot in Evanston on Howard down by Chicago called the Peckish Pig – it’s so fab. And for my birthday, we're all going there, me and nine to ten other people.
David: Including both of us.
Jakob: Including both of you. Yes, we're going to be there and have some lit dinner. Lit beers for those of us who are over 21, and it would be a wonderful time. And I can't think of any better way to celebrate becoming the Taylor Swift age.
David: I mean, you weren't on campus for your last birthday. So really…
Jakob: That's true, I wasn't. My last birthday was kind of weird because it was, I was in Hong Kong on study abroad, right. And it was my 21st birthday, which is like extra. Oh my God.
David: Oh my god, you weren’t even in America.
Jakob: The drinking age in Hong Kong, like most civilized countries, is 18. So it didn't even matter. I literally got dim sum with people, which I did like all the time because I didn't have a kitchen – I lived in student housing. So I got, you know dim sum for dinner a lot. So I just did that and I was like, this is birthday dim sum. It’s different. And then we all went to 7-Eleven and bought beer. I think I got in Asahi, which is you know, all right, and then we sat at the waterfront in Kennedy Town – there's some benches there which are nice – and drank our beers. And that was my 21st birthday. It was very low key event, but compared to what some of my friends have done back in the you know, the Puritan country we currently reside in i.e. the United States, do not compare. All right David, tell us about your favorite artist or whatever.
David: Yeah, so people who know me know that my favorite artist is Kanye West. And no I don't agree with him on anything that he's said about politics or his stance on, like, medication, but his music really means a lot to me. I mean, I've been listening to him since high school, and his albums have gotten me through a lot of very difficult and some very good times in my life. Around like August-ish of last year he announced the new album, which, great. But then a year, over a year came and went and the release date that he announced came and went. And no album. At the start of this month, his wife, Kim Kardashian West, tweeted out a picture of a tracklist to an album. Not the same album that had been teased before, but it was going to be called Jesus is King and come out on Friday. So this past Friday, Kanye had a listening party for that album in Detroit, and I thought wow, this album really exists. I'm going to finally be able to listen to it. And my plan was to listen to it alone in a dining hall, just kind of peacefully.
Jakob: What would you be eating when you're listening?
David: Probably like stir-fry or other dining hall food, but this is all beyond the point, because on Saturday, I woke up to an announcement that another listening party would be happening in Chicago, and Northwestern is right by Chicago. So, I was really excited, because like all of a sudden, completely out of the blue, I would finally get a chance to see my favorite artist. And also, the tickets were going to be free. But very very limited. I do everything I can to get in that like Ticketmaster queue as early as possible, and tickets sell out like almost immediately, so I don't get them. But someone in the group chat said he had resale tickets, so I picked one up and all of a sudden a few hours later, I was in line outside the auditorium theater of Roosevelt University, which is not where I'd expect that event to take place. And we waited for a couple hours, got in, took our seats and Kanye shows up. And, wow. Like you should have seen that theater, it was going nuts. People were having actual religious experiences, people were hugging each other. You know, it looked like a lot of people's bucket list just got shorter. It pains me that he hasn't dropped the album yet because I really want to listen to it again, and also they locked our phones during the performance so I don't have any photo or video evidence that this ever happened. All that like egotism that I've come to expect from Kanye West was not there. He was being very humble in his demeanor.
Jakob: What did he do during his songs? Like because he wasn't playing, was he just standing with his hands in his pockets?
David: Yeah. He was standing there. He was dancing a bit.
Jakob: Was he boppin?
David: Yeah, he was boppin. We were all boppin. Oh my God, some of those songs.
Sophia: My personal story is my personal motto for fall quarter, which is Sophia Yes. I came up with it this summer with some of my friends when I was about to download Tinder, so it would basically justify all my bad decisions, but now basically I've been using it to justify, like, every other horrible decision I make like mostly eating full plates of fries for dinner with Sriracha on them. That's what I did today. So that's good.
Jakob: I'll point out that you selectively ignore Sophia Yes, though. So not to drag you, but how can it be the quarter of Sophia Yes if you only Sophia Yes about, I don't know, a solid 50% of the time.
David: Exactly, you know, Sophia get out of bed. Sophia no. Sophia, you know, stay in bed. No, no. I feel like you cannot use this as your motto if you're not going to commit to it!
Jakob: Go off, David, go off.
Sophia: In my defense, it was meant exclusively for my bad Tinder decisions. And now I've just adapted it to whenever I feel like saying yes to something. And also, I Sophia Yessed…
Sophia: To doing my As-Am readings last night, which I finished all before class.
David: Okay, see, I can get behind that.
Sophia: I’m slowly adapting it to Sophia Yes, but also now that you guys have declared winter quarter Sophia Yikes and spring quarter Sophia All-Time Low, I also just want to see how fast I can get there.
[Music: Little Lily Swing]
Jakob: That's gonna wrap things up for this episode of Can't Let Go. This episode and all other of our NBN podcasts can be found on iTunes and in the Google Play store and on Spotify. Our show's theme is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon, which we use under a Creative Commons Attribution License. I'm, as always, your host, Jakob Lazzaro.
David: I’m David Deloso.
Sophia: And I’m Sophia Lo.
Jakob: And this is NBN Audio.
[Music: Little Lily Swing]
Jakob: You know, he only eats meat he’ll kill. He only will eat meat that he kills.
Jakob: Yeah, part of his like, philosophy.