🔮Lizzy's hands are in my hands? 🤲🏻 gossip telephone ☎️ leek juice 🧃 slightly-off game shows 💰 messages from beyond 👻
🍭 👂 You're in for a treat! 🌈 🤸♀️
Today is Monday, August 15. There are 51 days until I go on my next Disney Cruise. In case this email is too long, my mission in life is to get everyone listening to this show, this show is highly underrated, in order to understand why the Supreme Court sucks, you have to understand how Clarence Thomas developed into a piece of shit, here.
ps If you are pleased with Podcast The Newsletter, please spread the word.
👋q & a & q & a & q & a👋
Shin Yu Pai
Describe The Blue Suit in 10 words or less.
A podcast about Asian-American stories told through personal objects.
How did the show come about?
Congressman Andy Kim’s act of donating his blue J Crew suit to the Smithsonian, as an artifact that could tell part of the story of the January 6th insurrection, directly inspired The Blue Suit. The stories in the media about Congressman Kim came at a particular time when there was a huge uptick in anti-Asian hate crime nationwide, targeting our elders and women. His story spoke deeply to me about the need for images and stories about Asian Americans and their strength, character, and personal leadership (broadly defined). Because I’m a museum nerd with an interest in archives, telling stories through objects particularly appealed to me. Plus the idea of creating not just a story series, but a series that also operates as a way to create an archive of the contributions of Asian Americans to culture and society.
Fill in the blank: You will like The Blue Suit if you like _______.
Michelle Zauner’s memoir Crying in H Mart.
Why are you the perfect host for this show?
I’m a poet with an academic background in museum studies who has worked in museums and archives. I apply my skills as a writer to use metaphor, non-linear storytelling, image, setting, and dialogue in the scripts that I produce for my show. As a museologist and former curator, I wrote acquisition rationales and object labels that explored the story of inanimate objects. I bring my love of writing and objects together to weave together stories from the owners of these objects, who are Asian Americans, like me.
How did you decide what objects to feature?
I wanted the stories to focus primarily on individuals with a connection to the Pacific Northwest, whether they currently live in the Seattle area or have lived here in the past. I turned to my community of artists knowing that there would be some personal objects that would have a lot of personal significance. I primarily wanted to curate stories about objects that were made or inherited or gifted - this includes a red glittery chador; sculptural objects made out of repurposed paper and old books; and a piece of vitrified glass from the vitrification plant at the Hanford nuclear site. But there are a couple of objects that don’t fit this criteria which were purchased - like a vintage Califone record player - though that was acquired off of Craigslist. I also wanted to think broadly about the notion of objects and “collections” - to think about things that people might not think of as traditional collections. Like plants. And things that are questionably “objects” – like songs or a culinary ingredient.
What object in your life has significance to you?
I keep a small ball of yellow beeswax in my shrine that was gathered off the floor of a large-scale museum installation for Wolfgang Laib’s career retrospective at the Dallas Museum of Art. He was installing giant beeswax ziggurats in the gallery and there was leftover wax drippings stuck to the floor. I’ve had this ball of wax for 22 years and it’s still fragrant. Laib is one of my favorite artists and I’ve written poems about his work.
What’s an episode of The Blue Suit you are excited for people to hear?
The episode on the night-blooming cereus. I interviewed Jessica Rubenacker, the exhibitions director for The Wing Luke Museum, about her plant collection which numbers over 300 specimens. We talk specifically about an other-worldly plant that she grew from clippings. The night-blooming cereus which blooms and fades in a single night. We talk broadly about plants, as a metaphor for diasporic people who uproot and transplant into new environments which may not always provide hospitable conditions for thriving.
What do you hope The Blue Suit does for people?
I hope The Blue Suit provokes curiosity and wonder, while providing humanizing stories about Asian Americans and their contributions to contemporary culture.
Why is the show called The Blue Suit?
The title is an homage to Andy Kim’s J Crew blue suit which he bought on sale and intended to wear to the presidential inauguration as a suit of celebration.
Are you a podcast listener?
As a poet and writer, I’m more a reader of books than a consumer of podcasts. I feel a bit like finding new podcasts is like discovering new bands that I’ve never heard before. There’s so much material out there having recommendations really helps.
What’s a podcast you love that everyone already knows about?
This American Life is a favorite for its stories which often feel like personal essays.
What do people not ask you that you wish they would?
I wish that more people would express curiosity about my experiences of growing up in Riverside, California - which was a very mixed race, working class community when I was coming up in the world. It’s easy to assume because I grew up in Southern California that I lived in a community with access to other Asian Americans and Asian American culture, heritage, food, language, etc. This was not the case for a large part of my early life. My family did not ever fit into a white adjacent model minority identity. If anything – to borrow a term from writer Anthony Veasno So – I’ve felt like an “off-brand Asian” for most of my life. That is to say that I wish that people would ask me real questions about identity beyond “where are you from” – how social class, geography, gender, and the politics of my immigrant parents have shaped my sense of Taiwaneseness and what that means to me as a lived experience.
🚨If u only have time for 1 thing🚨
If you’ve been following along my podcast-listening ride, you know I am overly invested in In Your Hands, the show where comedian Lizzy Cooperman lets her listeners (her Sourcerers) choose her next life decision, like getting a piercing or taking a job as a guide for the This Is Us tour in LA. She gives us two options. On a recent episode, listeners chose whether Lizzy would get studio shots taken at JCPenney or allow my podcast marketing company Tink to give her a free month of service to help the show grow so that Lizzy can buy a yacht…because honestly, she deserves one. She has innovated the idea of what a podcast can be and this show is so much WORK. Anyway, the listeners chose GROW THE SHOW, which means my only goal in life right now is to move everyone on earth to In Your Hands. If you haven’t listened, start at episode one. Trust me. Do you trust me?
✨If you are not listening to In Your Hands, don’t even talk to me.
🎙️Flloyd Kennedy, an Australian-born, Liverpool based poet, performer, voice and acting coach in her late 70s, has created the comic-audio-drama Am I Old Yet?, a series of self-contained vignettes in which a character named Helen, who is also in her late 70s, adjusts to the reality of ageing with dignity, honesty and joy. Helen engages in conversation with members of her family and friends in a way that makes you feel along for the ride, invited to hear a perspective that is often overlooked in podcasting. What do I keep saying about poets being the best podcasters, you guys? These are beautiful pieces that deal with deep and intimate thoughts we’ll all be confronting sooner or later. Listen here.
🎙️Fatwa is the complete story of the 1989 fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini against Salman Rushdie, and gives the context for Rushdie’s stabbing on Friday. Chloe Hadjimatheou and Mobeen Azhar spend ten episodes defining fatwa, tracking the history of race relations in Britain from 1979-1999, and explaining how The Satanic Verses fueled a movement of fear about writing anything extremists would take issue with. This series is also a crash course in identity, free speech and the connection between the fatwa and contemporary violent jihad. This fatwa is not about the life of one author, it’s much bigger than that. Chloe and Mobeen share wild stories—Rushdie talking about “fatwa sex” on Curb Your Enthusiasm, a Salman Rushdie musical that includes three flying Qurans coming down from heaven to shoot Rushdie with lasers, the feud that involved a wife clipping her husband’s toenails, and the evolution of Rushdie’s own faith. Chloe and Mobeen provide context that helps explain how two British Muslims could have gone to a fascist government to ask a theocratic leader to put a fatwa on one of their citizens in a free country. And how this was a political plot all along, not an order from god. Listen here.
🎙️Reveal’s American Rehab was an investigative series on Synanon, a drug rehabilitation program turned cult, that was extremely well done, but I didn’t ended it wanting more. Maybe it’s just because the story seems somewhat underreported in general and I was pretty obsessed with it. The Sunshine Place is a new show from Robert Downey Jr. that starts out like an episode of This Is Actually Happening, with gripping readings from people with very strange memories of Synanon, and feels much more personal, more dramatized, more of a documentary, than American Rehab, with focus on Charles E. "Chuck" Dederich Sr., the ring leader of this communal circus. If you listened to American Rehab, there’s still a lot of surprising storytelling in The Sunshine Place. And if you didn’t listen to American Rehab, you’re in for a wild ride. Listen here.
🎙️I finished the recent season of Should Be Alive by KGW8 and Vault Studios, the story of trans teen Nikki Kuhnhausen’s murder by David Bogdanov, a man she hooked up with who was so disgusted by her trans identity that he flipped and strangled her with a cell phone chord. This isn’t so much a podcast about the what, who, or why—that’s clear. (Although the series goes into great detail about how police were able to track David'’s cell phone and social media activity, tying him to Nikki’s murder.) It’s also about how a community of people came together to put David in jail, how the stars had to align for that to happen, and the aftermath of Nikki’s family and friends, the judge, a juror, and the trial, which helped prompt the ban on Washington’s gay panic defense. For the first time, when I finished the last episode I sat in silence for awhile thinking about Nikki. We have a little bit of justice and a good podcast but Nikki is dead. To quote Twila Dang in her Sunday morning Twitter Space, “We have built an industry based on someone’s worst day on the planet.” I am sitting with that. Listen here.
🎙️When “grandmother” (they keep calling her this, she was like 50) Emogene Thompson was murdered in her car in broad daylight for a $7K robbery, it seemed pretty plausible it was her ne'er-do-well son, who was on drugs and had already stolen money from her. Further investigation suggests it might have been a cop who killed Emogene, just not the upstanding one named Michael Chapel, who has been sitting in jail for the crime for the last 29 years. In the Land of Lies tells the story of Emogene’s murder, Michael’s conviction, and all the wild shit that happened to put Michael at the center of the target. If the bad apple theory is true, there are good cops, and if Michael is innocent, it means that one of them got completely nailed for a murder that was more likely committed by an extremely corrupt group of cops who called themselves White Boys Against Crime. (The group was later renamed the Roid-Raging Cops, because they were all on steroids.) I have listened to two episodes and am completely drawn in. The story exposes a world even seedier than the police force, one that might sacrifice one of their own to get away with murder. Listen here.
🎙️Normal Gossip is on a much needed break (gossip burnout + podcast burnout = intense, I’m sure) but in the interim we get a fun game of gossip telephone with Defector’s Alex and Justin. They told one gossip story to all past guests and got them to tell it back to them to see how much one gossip story can change from person to person, and how details drift over time. It’s a little repetitive, hearing the same story over and over again—except it’s not the same story over and over again, exactly. It’s interesting to hear how Bobby Finger remembered the story, or the way Tobin Low decided to tell it. (It’s about a boyfriend who went MIA and then came out super Evangelical on social media, denying he was once in a relationship with a man.) I really loved this episode because it’s a creative twist on the show and drives home what’s so interesting about gossip—it tells on us just as much as it does the person at the center of the story, and we can never be sure if we can truly believe the narrator. Listen here.
🎙️Maintenance Phase gave a hilarious takedown of the 2004 book French Women Don’t Get Fat, pointing out the obvious (problem with the title) but also the toxic nuances inside, and how author Mireille Guiliano has basically written an instruction guide on How To Eating Disorder. (And how to live a life as a complete slave to being thin.) I cannot imagine anyone reading it and wanting to steal even a single tip. The book is also a reflection of its time and the discussion is a reminder of what dieting was like in the early 2000s. So maybe the book is valuable as a relic. Listen here and bonus: On my favorite episode of By The Book, Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer try out the diet, and at one point Jolenta discovers she can add a tiny amount of olive oil to the mandated leek juice, and is so overjoyed that she cries. It’s one of those moments in podcasting I’ll never forget. Listen to that here.
🎙️The universe was being kind when it lined up Jamie Loftus on an episode of Bridget Todd’s There Are No Girls on the Internet to talk about #girlboss culture. It’s a recipe for brilliance. Jamie (of Boss Whom Is Girl—watch it) is, whether she likes it or not, a #girlboss expert. Bridget and Jamie give the history of the #girlboss and the context needed to understand how she happened, and also if we’re seeing the end of her rule. The whole thing is so fucked and more complicated than you think. Great points on Sheryl Sandberg, blazers, corporate manipulation, and white woman privilege. Listen here.
🎙️I hope The 11th never stop dropping delightful pieces of audio on the 11th of every month. I find myself getting giddy monthly on the 10th, like a fucking child on Christmas Eve. The pieces are always a huge surprise, from different voices, covering different things in different formats. This month we get to hear letters that were never sent by their writers, and the stories behind them are all about grief, why we write letters, how we should read letters once the writer has died, and all the things that are sparked from a box of letters to a dead person. The episode is a celebration of messages from the beyond and communication with the other side, the ones we lost, and how we carry those people away with us. Listen here.
🎙️Each month on Clown Parade, Bowen Yang and Matt Rogers invite a fresh comedic talent to create a brand new podcast format hosted by an original character of their own creation. On a recent series, Don Saldívar plays a disgraced game show host with his own ideas for game shows—all are games with real contestants that spoof on The Weakest Link, Cash Cab, and Deal or No Deal. This podcast series is innovative, as is the direction Don took it in. The contestants seem justifiably confused but also perfectly play the characters they’ve been given. It’s a surprising comedic treat. Start here.
🎙️5-4 delivers thorough updates on all the shittiness happening in the Supreme Court in an entertaining way. Peter, Michael, and Rhiannon know it sucks, but believe that in order to understand why it sucks, we have to look at the justices as real people. (“What’s going on with you that you think that’s okay?”) Up this week: the court’s ruling that states can prosecute crimes committed by non-Natives on Native land, which is in opposition of centuries of precedent and is a huge threat to tribal sovereignty. It’s hard to take in all the news and sometimes I feel like the Supreme Court sneaks in terrible things that I wouldn’t notice if it were not for 5-4. I am hugely grateful. Listen here.
🎙️Related: I am in the midst of a 4-part Behind the Bastards series on how Clarence Thomas became such a jerk. (What’s going on with you that you think that’s okay?) It starts with Clarence’s childhood—he was born in a shack without electricity in 1948 in Pin Point, Georgia, and as his story unfolds, you start to see consistencies in his beliefs about women and which rights they should have, and his general lack of empathy for anyone having a hard time. This story illustrates a through-line from that shack in Georgia to the end of Roe. It would be just completely a drag to hear, but with The Daily Zeitgeist’s Miles Gray as co-host, it’s actually fun to hear. Start here.
🎙️In an episode made for Devin Andrade and Devin Andrade only, Twenty Thousand Hertz’s Dallas Taylor brings us behind the scenes of Ted Lasso to see how the team had to scramble to create sounds for the show during the freshest moments of the pandemic, when traditional taping was made impossible. The screaming crowds and some of the cast conversations were not recorded how you think. This episode is full of easter eggs for the biggest Ted Lasso fans, and it made me want to rewatch the whole series. (It also will make me the most annoying person at a party, when I inevitably alert everyone that when Dani was singing on the treadmill, he was singing the show’s theme song in Spanish, and he recorded it on his phone.) Listen here.
🎙️Earwolf has picked up TV, I Say, a show hosted by comedian/Vulture writer Ashley Ray. It’s part hilarious part helpful—Ashley talks about what she’s watching and interviews people (like Phoebe Robinson) about what they’re watching, too. So helpful, but not helpful because I added more TV shows to my list than I can handle. (Let me know when I can start listening to podcasts and watching TV at the same time.) Fortunately I received a beautiful press box from Ashley’s team that includes a helpful guide to what to watch when you’re feeling like what. They also sent a blanket which my cat has colonized. It looks nice, but I’m literally not allowed to use it. I was rocking out especially hard to this episode with Shelby Wolstein and her new Keeping Records host EJ Marcus. I was devastated to hear that Caleb was leaving Keeping Records but am so excited to hear from EJ. Listen here.
🎙️On Media Circus, Kim Goldman is talking to people who have endured the aftermath of high profile crimes to get the full what-was-it-like story to be in the media spotlight. For a recent episode, she takes us to Delphi, Indiana, to meet Kelsi German, who was 17 when she drove her sister Libby and Libby’s friend Abby Williams to a local hiking trail and said goodbye for the last time. Before she was murdered, Libby took some video footage on her phone of the man who likely killed her and her friend, which set detectives and armchair detectives alike on a mission to find the murderer. The aftermath, for Kelsi, was a mix of media intrusiveness and living with the fact that she was the last person to see Libby and Abby alive. And also the fact that today Kelsi doesn’t know if someone living in her community—a teacher, a parent, someone she brushes elbows with every day, has gotten away with her sister’s murder. Listen here.
🎙️Maybe it’s because I’m watching The Rehearsal, but I’m getting real Nathan Fielder vibes listening to Who Shat on the Floor at My Wedding, an investigative report about who shat on the floor at Helen Mclaughlin and Karen Whitehouse’s wedding in 2018. The show’s treatment is that of a real murder investigation (was the shatting a crime of passion?) and by interrogating innocent bystanders from the wedding who had no idea what they were getting themselves into by agreeing to be on the podcast, Helen, Karen, and “extremely under-qualified detective Lauren Kilby” are building this brilliant comedy sketch that’s both serious and one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard. Listen here.
🎙️You know how much I love little gems that not enough people talk about, and A Bintel Brief is one of my favorite examples. Brooklyn-based comedian Lynn Harris and South Carolina-based movement-builder Ginna Green are Jewish moms who are tackling listener questions with a mix of authentic girlfriend support, and also a splash of advice from the archives of The Forward’s more than 100-year-old advice column called A Bintel Brief (“a bundle of letters” in Yiddish) that helped Jews new to America navigate life in the US in the early 1900s. The Forward’s archivist, Chana Pollack, pops on to bring in history that ties current Jewish issues to old ones. It’s great chat, advice, and history, all in one, and there is nothing quite like it. Listen here.
🎙️I love you!
This week we’re getting to peek into the listening life of Tess Flannery, a writer, producer, and VO artist based in Brooklyn. She works mostly on kids' podcasts, like Girl Tales, The Ten News, Nature Nerds, and Arabian Nights. She also teaches theater and public speaking at BMCC.
The app you use to listen: I keep it simple, I use Apple podcasts.
What speed do you listen to podcasts? I always forget you can speed them up! So I usually listen at 1x speed, but now I'm going to try some faster settings :-)
How do you discover new shows? Usually via the shows I already listen to, or when I meet people through the Pod People network - or if recommended by a colleague or friend.
One show you love that everybody loves. The Guilty Feminist.
One show you love that most people don't know about. Do enough people know about 'Films to Be Buried With'? It's Brett Goldstein's podcast where he interviews folks about their lives through the films that meant the most to them. It's absolutely glorious.
Anything else you want to say…I love being part of the podcast community, and Pod People especially has been an inviting and awesome space for audio makers. I sort of fell into the world of podcasting several years ago, but I'm extremely happy I did. (Also a quick plug: I'm psyched I got to voice some excellent fiction and nonfiction essays for the forthcoming podcast from Vocal!)