Jakob Lazzaro Can't Let Go of the time when Harvey Milk crossed a line and how terrifying pigeons are. Maggie Harden fixates on romantic expectations and roommate drama, and Tony Kula talks about Venezuela and a very dedicated professor. Stories featured in this episode hail from Radiolab, The Atlantic and Newsweek. Transcript below.
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Jakob Lazzaro: Hey everyone, welcome back to Can't Let Go, the new podcast from NBN where we talk about news and personal stories from the week we just Can't Let Go of. I'm your host, Jakob Lazzaro.
Maggie Harden: I'm Maggie Harden.
Jakob: And Maggie, what do you do?
Maggie: I'm a managing editor for NBN.
Tony Kula: I'm Tony Kula, I'm a pre-med student at Northwestern majoring in biology.
Jakob: Alright guys, so we’re going to start off this week with some news stories. Maggie, do you want to go first?
Maggie: Sure. So the news story I couldn’t let go of this week was a story I read in The Atlantic called we expect too much from our romantic partners. Everyone expects in a marriage or a good romantic partnership nowadays to have a partner help them realize things about themselves and contribute to their self-actualization, stuff like that. And I read that and I was kind of like, “Why shouldn’t we feel that way?” I feel like that’s a good thing about a romantic partner. But then the article went on, and the conversation went on to say that we want our partner to make us feel loved, but we also want them to criticize us when we’re wrong and make us want to be better versions of ourselves, and it’s hard for someone to do both of those things.
Tony: Yeah, and I feel like in a lot of relationships whenever one partner criticizes another, the recipient of the criticism sort of gets upset and angry, and it’s not really something they can control. It’s a blurred line of where the criticism starts and, like understanding to accept criticism.
Maggie: Yeah, and it’s hard if they don’t criticize you, as you feel like you are not growing as a person in the relationship.
Jakob: Yeah. Especially if you’re looking for that.
Tony: And I think there’s also the question of when in a relationship can you start to give positive criticism or criticism to your partner just to help them grow as a person. Because it’s kind of weird or awkward to have a conversation with them, like can I start telling you things I think you should improve on?
Maggie: Right, like how do you begin that conversation?
Jakob: Right, like on the first date you’re like “Ok, nice to meet you. My name is Jakob. Number one way you can improve yourself.” Like yeah. That’s a good point – what time is it acceptable to do that?
Jakob: Ok, so the news story that I could not let go of this week is actually from another podcast, called Radiolab. Last week they did an episode called "Oliver Sipple," which is about this guy who lived in San Francisco and was a former Marine who saved the life of President Gerald Ford. I did not know this, but there were like two assassination attempts on him?
Maggie: I did not know that.
Tony: I'd heard of that.
Jakob: I'd never heard of that. So he’s in California, he’s in Sacramento. This lady who was formerly part of the Manson cult tried to shoot him in Sacramento, but she was thwarted. a few weeks later, he’s in San Francisco in this hotel, and there’s a big crowd outside of people waiting for him to come out. They’re there for a few hours, and he eventually comes out and there’s this lady there with a pistol. And she raises the pistol, and she fires a shot at him but misses. And she’s getting ready to fire her second shot, but she hesitated for half a second and this marine, Oliver Sipple, tackles her and saves the president’s life, right? And everyone’s like “Oh, he’s a national hero,” but he was actually gay. He was friends with Harvey Milk, who when he heard all the coverage that Oliver Sipple saved the president’s life, called this gossip columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle who was really famous and outed his friend, because Harvey thought it would be a way to advance gay rights. His family back in Detroit, when they found out, they found out their son was gay through all the media coverage, then his parents refused to talk to him ever again. It was a really good episode, for one, two I had never heard of this story, and I was just amazed that it was considered acceptable to like, out somebody – especially in the 1970s.
Maggie: Did he know that his friend was the one who outed him?
Jakob: I'm not sure, I can’t remember if they went into that in the episode, but the Radiolab crew, they did find out that Harvey Milk was the one who called and left a voicemail for the gossip columnist, like “Hey, this guy is actually gay.”
Tony: I think that’s really interesting, because considering that Harvey Milk was gay himself, he probably thought that he had some sort of right to do this in order to promote the rights of their community. But in reality, nobody has the right to breach another person’s privacy.
Jakob: Yeah, and it did ruin the rest of his life. He actually did end up killing himself a few years later. Like, they quote him in the Radiolab story, the reporters would come and would ask him “So, are you gay?” And he’d be like “Don’t talk about the gay thing. That’s not important. I just did what I should do as a decent person. It was just instinct.”
Maggie: Yeah, I agree with that, because it makes this really awesome and heroic thing he did about something totally different, and he really just deserved praise for saving the president’s life.
Tony: Ok, the story I can’t let go of this week is that I saw in the news that Venezuela was preparing for a war against the United States, and I think this comes in after Trump gave his speech to the U.S. basically calling out Venezuela and saying they were having a lot of problems and causing problems for other countries. I think that it’s just interesting, because this seems like a big deal to me but it doesn’t really seem like anybody is talking about it, and nobody sees it as a threat. It’s kind of similar to North Korea, you know, you hear in the news all the time that North Korea is testing missile launches and stuff like that, and people are dismissing it and saying it’s not a big issue, even though the U.S. is like, their biggest enemy.
Maggie: When Trump got elected, obviously a lot of people were really upset, but a lot of people were also like “Well, how much damage can he really do?” But it’s like now, we might be facing two wars with two pretty powerful countries.
Jakob: I mean, pretty powerful. North Korea is powerful in the way they can hold, like, the U.S. kind of effectively hostage with their ICBM which can now reach parts of the U.S., but also by the fact that they have hundreds of thousands of conventional weapons pointed at Seoul that can basically wipe the city off the map within like thirty minutes – that’s what’s expected, millions of civilian casualties. That’s what the real issue is. Venezuela ... they can’t really do anything.
Tony: But I read in the article that they were actually preparing their tanks and their missiles and were making sure everything was ready in the event of a war.
Jakob: I think they’re most likely preparing for a U.S. intervention. Because, I mean, if I'm Trump and I want to do some big military thing to show off how powerful a president I am, I would totally go for Venezuela as opposed to North Korea because Venezuela does not have an ICBM or hundreds of thousands of artillery prepared to destroy Seoul on a moment’s notice.
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Jakob: So now’s the half of the show where we tell our personal stories that we can’t let go of this week. Maggie, do you want to start?
Maggie: Sure. It’s almost Week 3, and I still have not really had a long conversation with my roommate yet. However, I kind of love it, as bad as that sounds.
Jakob: So if you had to count, how many words have you said to your roommate over the past, like, three weeks?
Maggie: Definitely less than 200, probably.
Maggie: We basically... When we walk into the room, we say hello, and then sometimes at night, I'll be like “Do you mind if I turn the light off?”
Jakob: This reminds me of Justin last week, because he was like “I just cohabitate with my roommate.”
Maggie: Yeah, that’s exactly what it is.
Jakob: “I don’t want to talk to him about the air conditioner.”
Tony: This is the same situation with my roommate last year, too. We kind of just like said our hellos in the morning and at night, but didn’t really ever have any expectation of hanging out or spending time together. And I think that’s really nice, having a casual relationship with your roommate and not having any expectations, because you can make your friends outside and then when you get back to your dorm it’s kind of a place to just decompress and spend some time alone.
Jakob: Alright, so my personal story – yesterday Justin, who you heard last week, and I went to go see Glass Animals at the Aragon Ballroom. It was a fantastic show. We’re on the ‘L’, we get to Howard, we get on the Red Line. Next to me is this other guy in a pineapple shirt who was also going to Glass Animals. Across there was this guy who was reading a book that was like Intro to Your MBA or something, and then there was a dad and his kid who had a scooter and a BB-8 helmet, which I thought was really cool. So that’s the cast of characters, now you know. So we’re all on this train, and at the other end there’s these three CTA ladies – the train driver and then two other employees – who are all women. And they’re like, talking about this thing. And everyone in the middle section where we are of the car is like, “What is that?” Then this guy walks on, another CTA employee, with a broom. He tells the lady who is sitting there “You might want to move, because I'm going to get it out,” so she’s like “Ok,” and she walks over to us. And then, we’re like “What was it?” And she goes “Oh, there is a pigeon underneath my seat.” So there’s a pigeon just sitting there on the train, so the guy with the broom comes up and he just starts swiping at the pigeon, and it fucking takes off and flies towards me and Justin, and we’re like “Aaaah!” And then it lands by the other door, but it doesn’t go out. So the guy with the broom runs down the train car and swipes at the pigeon again. So then it flies up behind the kid with the helmet over to the guy with the Intro to Your MBA book. He’s reading it, but it flies at his face and is behind his head, so he’s like “Waaah!” He’s waving his book around trying to get the pigeon to go away, then it flies away and lands by the door. The CTA guy comes up and swipes it out with the broom, and then he jumps out, the doors close, and we pull away, and it was like, hilarious.
Tony: I feel bad for the pigeon, it must have been scared.
Maggie: Did anyone, like, really freak out?
Jakob: Yeah, the guy with the Intro to Your MBA book, because the pigeon basically landed on his head. So he freaked out.
Tony: Ok, so something that happened this week that is a little crazy to me was some drama that happened with my professor. On Monday during class, my professor hobbled in and he was leaning on his umbrella. And then, he sits down behind the podium and he just tells us – very nonchalantly – I fell off a ladder last night. I will be going to the hospital after class, but I will not be moving around at all today. And it looked like he was in pain this entire time and we were all just like “Oh my goodness, is he OK? Like, what’s going on?” He then sent us a message later saying that he was bleeding internally the entire time during class, had multiple puncture wounds to different organs inside of his body and that he went through surgery and would be back most likely on Monday. But we were all confused, because we were like this man came into class, lectured for like an hour in pain until he finally went to the hospital later on Monday. And we all felt really bad, but at the same time we’re all just like why would you not go to the hospital initially if you’re in that much pain?
Jakob: He’s really dedicated to his, um…
Tony: Very dedicated.
Jakob: Education of young minds or whatever.
Tony: But it was just all crazy to us. And then we were wondering, how do you get multiple puncture wounds to different organs and not know it? Like what did you, did you fall on something? Did you fall on knives that were like, laying on the floor? Like, how do you puncture your organs?
Jakob: I think that you just like fall off a ladder, they probably get jumbled around and slammed into your ribs or whatever. Unpleasant.
Tony: Yeah, we were thinking that maybe he broke his ribs.
Jakob: You’re leaving out the part of the story where you thought he was being overdramatic.
Tony: Ok, yes. I did think that my professor was being a little overdramatic when he first came in on Monday, because he told us that he fell off a ladder. So I was like “OK, if it’s really that bad you would have gone to the hospital.” So I guess he was just underestimating his toxic masculinity and his need to show off that he’s fine and doesn’t need to go to the hospital.
Jakob: I don’t know if it’s toxic masculinity as more as his probably unhealthy – not probably – his unhealthy dedication to work, as he literally came in when he had internal bleeding and punctured organs.
Tony: He didn’t know that at the time.
Jakob: But I feel like you could, um, feel.
Maggie: Internal bleeding.
Jakob: I have not had this experience, but I feel like if I fell off a ladder and had internal bleeding and multiple punctured organs, that I would just go to the hospital and not go like “Well, I'll just go to work first and then I'll head to the clinic after, it’ll all be ok.” But I don’t know, I guess I have a lower tolerance for pain than your professor, based on this story.”
Maggie: How old of a guy is he?
Tony: I would say he’s age ambiguous. I don’t really know how old he is. He’s probably definitely 50-60s.
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Jakob: So that’s all the show we have time for this week. The next episode of Can't Let Go will come out next Tuesday. You can find our show on northbynorthwestern.com, of course, but did you know that this show and all other NBN podcasts are on iTunes and in the Google Play store? Just search Can't Let Go or North by Northwestern, tap on subscribe, and you’ll get notified whenever we have a new episode. Our theme song is Little Lily Swing, by Tri-Tachyon under a Creative Commons Attribution License. I'm your host, Jakob Lazzaro.
Tony: I'm Tony Kula.
Maggie: I'm Maggie Harden.
Jakob: And this is NBN Audio.
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Jakob: Also, fun fact, I thought you were going to say “You do speak Australian, don’t you?” and I was like “Yeah...”