Jakob Lazzaro Can't Let Go of RussiaLargo and tapas. Elizabeth Guthrie is stuck on white nationalists and pizza reunions, and David Guirgis clings to speakers and Halloween mistakes. Stories featured in this episode hail from The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Daily Northwestern. Transcript below.
[Music: Little Lily Swing]
Jakob Lazzaro: Hey everyone, welcome back to Can't Let Go, the NBN podcast where we discuss news and personal stories from every week that we can’t get out of our heads. I'm your host, Jakob Lazzaro, and I'm here with two new guests to the show – I've got David Guirgis and Elizabeth Guthrie. Guys, you want to introduce yourselves?
David Guirgis: Hi, my name’s David Guirgis. I'm the Opinions Section Editor for NBN, and I'm a sophomore.
Elizabeth Guthrie: Hi, I'm Elizabeth Guthrie. I'm one of the Life and Style editors for NBN, and I'm also a sophomore.
Jakob: So I guess I can get started for this week. My news story involves the whole Trump-Russia scandal, or as the president called it, "that Russia thing," or as I've read online, RussiaLargo, which is my personal favorite. And I'm gonna timestamp this because a lot of developments came out today, we’re recording this on Monday. We found out on Friday that there were sealed indictments, and this morning we found out who that was. So Paul Manafort, who was a big figure in the Trump campaign – his former campaign manager – and this other guy, Rick Gates, who was also involved with the campaign, were indicted today on charges of money laundering. They both pleaded not guilty, but the other interesting thing was that this other guy, George Papadopoulos, who was another Trump campaign orbit person, one of the- early foreign policy advisor. He pleaded guilty for lying to the F.B.I. about meeting with Russian officials, which is really interesting because he’s pleading guilty – so it’s like, why would he do that? I've read a lot of theories online about how Muller has probably flipped him and he’s going to be testifying against other people, because you’ll notice that Manafort and Gates’s charges are much more related to money laundering, which is a different thing. But Papadopoulos is much more related to talking with Russian officials and then lying about it.
David: I think what I find, at least, this really stuck out to me – the judge set Manafort’s bail at 10 million dollars, which is a staggering number and that kind of correlates with the levity of charges against him.
Jakob: Yeah. Muller’s been definitely gunning for Manafort. I remember a few months ago there were reports that there was an F.B.I. raid at his house.
David: I do remember that.
Jakob: Where they broke down the door, guns drawn. It was like, woah, that’s interesting. But now you can see, things are starting to develop.
Elizabeth: It’s definitely a major saga in our presidency, and I just find it all ironic that part of the reason many people supported Trump was that they said his opponent was too corrupt, and now look at what we’re seeing. It’s tragically ironic.
Jakob: Although, I heard some reports over the weekend that it was actually Hillary Clinton who colluded. I think that seems to be the current line in the right wing media sphere, was that Hillary Clinton was the one who actually did the collusion.
Elizabeth: So my story this week is about a white nationalist rally that occurred in Shelbyville, Tennessee on Saturday. And afterward in Brentwood, Tennessee, which is close to there, an interracial couple at a restaurant was harassed and then attacked by a group of white lives matter people, as they so proclaim. It was interesting for me – so I live about an hour from where this took place in Kentucky, so it does it close to home. And I hate how I'm having to read these stories over and over.
David: The one thing that’s really scary for me about all of this is in the same sense a couple years ago people were talking about getting desensitized to mass shootings, I'm starting to feel myself getting desensitized to the idea of another white lives matter protest, and that’s really dangerous.
Jakob: I feel like a lot of people are feeling political burnout or just burnout in general, there’s just been so much… think of how many political-related news stories there have been in the past six months, not even going back to the inauguration. There’s just so much to keep up with. Sometimes I want to tune out of the news, which is bad, because you know we are journalists and we’re not supposed to do that. I just feel like I have to take a break. It’s just not a good feeling.
Elizabeth: I also feel super exhausted with all of this, and I constantly just want to not think about it and just turn off the news and whatever. But also I feel like the fact that I can do that really shows my privilege, and so I want to try not to do that, because I’ll still be fine if I ignore everything that’s going on. But that doesn’t mean that I should.
David: So my story this week is actually very campus related. Northwestern’s College Republicans are bringing Charles Murray to campus.
Jakob: Ah, yes.
David: So I'm guilty of getting into the fight on the meme page that happened sometime this past weekend.
Jakob: For those of you who don’t follow Northwestern University memes, we like most schools have a Facebook meme page where students post memes about campus related things. There was a meme posted a few days ago that was about this event, which was like a thing from Scooby Doo, and the caption was “Wow gang, it turns out NUCR was actually white nationalism!” And I think it was Fred from Scooby Doo who’s pulling the little handkerchief off of the fake ghost. So that’s the context for the meme if you haven’t seen it.
David: I think this has been a huge ongoing topic, especially sparked by the berkeley protests against Milo Yannopoulos months ago. Ever since, I've seen this really troubling rise in college republicans bringing speakers on campus that… for me, it seems like they’re bringing them on campus just to be inflammatory. Charles Murray wrote a piece literally called “The Advantages of Social Apartheid.” That’s unacceptable in any other context, but he’s coming on campus and speaking. And he’s talking about things like “a natural order” and the fact that affirmative action and the department of education are products of a welfare state, and those things are very concerning to think about.
Elizabeth: And I also think, like, I understand about what all these people are saying, like, diversity of thought. But there is a difference between having two opposing views and hate speech and white nationalism, and racism, and sexism, and homophobia and transphobia and all of these things that a lot of these controversial figures are going to be talking about. And I think, like, I'm absolutely ok with hearing opposing views, like political views. But I don’t think that we need to give people a platform to spew hate speech. I don’t think that we as a university need to give them that platform.
[Music: Little Lily Swing]
Jakob: So now it’s the second half of our show where we talk about our personal lives, stories that we personally can’t let go of this week. So, mine’s pretty short. It’s just a feel good kinda thing that happened to me. At the end of last week I was sick, which really sucks. I skipped my classes on Thursday because I didn’t feel well enough to go, and then I had to go to meetings that evening and I was not feeling well. Friday I felt a little better, I went to an NBN party that night for editors in celebration of Halloween, that was really nice. But then I went home at like midnight at went to bed because I was still sick. The nice kind of pinnacle of my weekend when I started feeling better was when my friend Paola, who’s been on the show before, it’s her birthday. Yesterday, Sunday. So on Saturday, me and a group of our friends, we all went out to Tapas Barcelona, which is this tapas restaurant in Evanston. We all had tapas together for her birthday, and that was just really nice. After two days of being sick and not feeling well, it was nice on Friday to just do this thing with people I enjoy being around, feel better, and then on Saturday, do the same thing. It was a nice way to kind of build back up my health.
David: Happy belated Paola, we love you.
Elizabeth: Yes, happy birthday.
David: So my story happened to me several years ago, but I've been thinking about it a lot because of Halloween. So in eighth grade, my school had a school spirit week, and one of the days was superhero day. So I did this thing where I kind of went the route of mistyque slash avatar slash I want an excuse to put weird blue stuff on my face. So I went there. And I came to school…Jakob: Wait, you came as like, one of the characters from Avatar? Like the James Cameron movie?
David: Kind of. What I did was I painted half my face blue, but like, did weird patterns on it. So a lot of people were just like “Wow, you just look really cool. You look really sci-fi, like a superhero.” School spirit week was over, I got a bunch of compliments, and I thought “You know what, I love this attention.” So cue myself about three weeks to a month later, even less than that I think. I decided to just come to school wearing the makeup again.
Jakob: Oh no.
David: It was not school spirit week, there was absolutely no reason for it, it was like March or something so it wasn’t even a Halloween precedent. I walk into school feeling so good about myself. I was like “People are going to love me now, and it’s going to be great.” I come to school and everybody’s looking at me like, “David, you look stupid. You look really dumb. Take that stuff off your face.” Ever since that day, I just haven’t been able to do… I just couldn’t deal with the idea of doing something that embarrassing again.
Jakob: That leftover childhood trauma.
David: Right, so I dressed up this weekend as a bee, but I was so insecure about what I was wearing because I was just like “Oh my god, what if I'm doing something embarrassing? What if my pants are too short? What if this is just, like, bad?”
Jakob: Maybe you should face your eighth grade fear.
David: And do what, just show up to class in one day wearing blue makeup?
Jakob: For all of Halloweek next year…
David: Absolutely not.
Jakob: Actually, make it two weeks. For every single class, stay in costume.
Jakob: Make that your thing, like the guy who goes to class in costume.
David: No, I'm not… listen. Tomorrow’s actual Halloween, and my office is having a Halloween contest and I'm not showing up in costume because I'm so nervous that as soon as I leave the office costume contest people are going to just look at me wearing this makeup on my face and go, “No.”
Jakob: So Elizabeth, what’s your story for this week?
Elizabeth: Ok, so on Friday night, I was going to go out to dinner with a couple of my friends and we could not decide where we were gonna go. So we ended up writing a few places down on slips of paper and then drew them, and then we ended up on this place called Union Pizzeria which is in Evanston.
Jakob: Oh, I've heard of that.
Elizabeth: Yeah, it’s supposed to be this really good pizza place. When we did that, I remembered that when I graduated from high school, my freshman year english teacher named Ms. Medley told me that her aunt named Heather owned a restaurant in Evanston called Union Pizzeria, and that I should go and ask for Heather. So then we went and I was like “Oh yeah, Ms. Medley told me to do this.” So I go up and I'm like “Is there a Heather here?” And they were like “Yeah, she’s over here.” And I was like “Hi, you know Ms. Medley.” And she’s like “Yeah, she’s my niece.” And I'm like “Yeah, she’s my freshman year english teacher from Kentucky.” So then, Heather was super nice. She got us seated right away, and she kept coming over to talk. And she gave us two free desserts.
David: Yes! Yes! Amazing.
Elizabeth: And then she took my picture and sent it to Ms. Medley, and then she said Ms. Medley says I was a bright gal. It was just really sweet, also. I haven’t seen any of my high school teachers in a while, so that was like a sweet encounter and her aunt was so nice and the food was great, so that was a fun time.
Jakob: So, you’d reccomend Union Pizzeria?
Elizabeth: Yeah, I recommend it.
Jakob: Also, I mean I hate the song “It’s a Small World,” but I kind of hear it right now.
David: Yeah, that’s just such a cute serendipity kind of thing. The fact that the moment you picked it out, you were just like oh my god, wait. I have a story to tell.
[Music: Little Lily Swing]
Jakob: So that’s it for this week. You can find our show and all other NBN podcasts on iTunes and the Google Play store. And if you decide you like what you hear on any of our podcasts, just search North by Northwestern in the store, hit subscribe, and you’ll get a notification whenever there is 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.
David: I'm David Guirgis.
Elizabeth: And I'm Elizabeth Guthrie.
Jakob: And this is NBN Audio.
[Music: Little Lily Swing]