AUNT BETTY, BYLINE: Hey, y'all. This is Sam's Aunt Betty. This week, why flying feels so much worse and photographing queer intimacy. All right, let's start the show.
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SAM SANDERS, HOST:
Hey, y'all. You're listening to IT'S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR. I'm Sam Sanders. And it is officially holiday season. You know, entering the holiday season also means that we are entering the season of holiday travel - hooray. And, I mean, come on. There's nothing better than hearing the tinny sounds of bad holiday music while a gate agent tells you that your flight has been delayed yet again as you hold on to that last bite of your cold and soggy tuna wrap, knowing it might be the last thing you eat all night. Wait, just me? I kid, I kid.
Anyhoo, I'm actually glad that holiday travel is coming back because that means that we are getting back to some sense of normal. But this year, because 2021, it seems like flying all of a sudden has gotten so much worse.
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UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #1: This has been a rough weekend if you're flying Southwest. Nearly 2,000 flights have been canceled, leaving passengers scrambling.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #2: American Airlines in the midst of a travel meltdown this holiday weekend.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #3: Getting tougher, maybe, to fly, though. American Airlines said it canceled hundreds of flights over the weekend.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #4: Air travel nightmare - Spirit Airlines canceling 50% of its flights today after canceling hundreds of flights every day this week and stranding passengers. Now the company's CEO...
NATALIE COMPTON: Yes. I mean, absolutely. People are upset. People are tweeting about it.
SANDERS: That is Natalie Compton. She's a travel reporter for The Washington Post.
What is the critical mass of cancellation before, like, the metaphorical pitchforks come out? I don't think we're there yet.
COMPTON: I don't think we're there yet, although there was this big issue with Spirit Airlines earlier in the summer when...
SANDERS: Well, I mean, it's Spirit. Come on (laughter).
COMPTON: It's Spirit. You're already signing up for a weird time. But the people were starting to get on top of some of the counters to try to - to yell about getting their bags back.
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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Everybody that works for Spirit, they quit. That's why we still just sitting here.
COMPTON: So there have been moments where it's like, oh, people are livid, and they are showing it. But as far as everybody else goes, I think airlines are offering vouchers or flight credits to try to not have pitchfork status enter just yet.
SANDERS: And even if we aren't at our complete breaking point right now, we might be getting close. So I called up Natalie to dig into why these flight cancellations have been happening and why there have been so many other issues in the industry right now as well, like rising airfares and outbursts from passengers and not enough workers.
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SANDERS: So I've read a lot about these staff shortages for the airlines. What are the big factors? Is it people afraid to be in public spaces because of the pandemic? Is it people resisting their vaccines and not being able to go to work? Is it airline employees, like the rest of us, going through the great I-quit-my-job-ification (ph) of America, where folks are just leaving their jobs? What explains the staff shortages amongst the airlines right now, and how bad are these shortages?
COMPTON: There's a little of most of the things that you just said. I think that, right now, because vaccine issues are so hotly contested, that that's something that's catching people's attention. But in reality, most airline employees have been on board with the vaccine requirements, and it's a very small number of people who don't want to get vaccinated to go back to work.
Otherwise, one of the major issues was that when the pandemic happened and everybody stopped flying, a lot of airlines had to furlough a lot of people. And you can't just hire them back immediately and get them on a plane once you have that demand again. The issue is having to retrain pilots, retrain flight attendants to go through the most up-to-date safety trainings - all these new things. Plus, I mean, just in general, you have to train people before they go and work on planes.
COMPTON: So they couldn't make that happen fast enough. And as a result, they're trying to increase salaries, trying to make new incentives to get people back again. But sometimes that takes time just to rehire them.
SANDERS: Yeah. So are we in a situation now where the number of flights matches the demand for flights? Are we kind of in a flight shortage, and is that part of this crazy delay cancellation boom that we're seeing, too?
COMPTON: What we do know is that airlines put planes away when the pandemic started because they're like, we're not flying as many flights. They have been tinkering with routes this whole time, which is something they can do pretty quickly. They can't just get planes out there as quickly, but they can tinker with routes. But right now, we're still down from 2019 traveler output as far as how many people are going through TSA checkpoints every day. There's still not as many people traveling as there were. For the most part, you can still find great flight deals, which says supply and demand are not lined up at this point.
SANDERS: Yeah, yeah. So it feels like leisure travel is back. Everyone I know has flown at least once now since the pandemic hit, and people feel pretty comfortable doing that. But I don't know anyone that's actually traveled for business. How big of a deal was that for the industry itself? And how much of a game changer could it be if business travel doesn't really come back?
COMPTON: I think that the average traveler doesn't see the absence of business travel as an issue, but it does impact everybody because business travelers are the majority of revenue for a flight. They are at a major loss of revenue.
SANDERS: They subsidize us.
COMPTON: Totally. And that works for hotels. That goes for lots of different aspects of travel. So a lot of business travel has not come back. The numbers that people were hoping for, we're not even close. So we know that conferences are coming back in Vegas. They're booking - the World of Concrete was the first one to come back, and Vegas was stoked.
SANDERS: Wait, the World of Concrete conference?
COMPTON: The World of Concrete. They...
COMPTON: ...Have a conference - lanyards and everything. So that came back. Everybody was thrilled. Delta happened. People had to rethink things, go back to virtual conferences. So even though a lot of business travelers are happy to not have to travel anymore for work and Zoom has made everyone's lives a lot easier in that way, the travel industry is really hurting because that did subsidize travel for everybody.
SANDERS: So then if long term, the nature of business just moves more towards a virtual work-from-home situation and there's less biz travel, period, does that mean a reality in which overall leisure travel is just that much more expensive to account for that loss?
COMPTON: It's very interesting because right now, we're seeing such a benefit because airlines are trying to capture leisure travelers by saying, we know you're price sensitive. You're not going to buy an expensive ticket, so here are these great deals. In the long term, yes, if we're still not having that business travel come back, they're going to have to figure out ways to make money in other ways. So I would say, enjoy this moment now. We're still in the golden age of cheap travel. So at this time, I still believe in the future of cheap flights.
SANDERS: OK. How much of a factor are these crazy stories we hear every now and then of, like, people who don't want to comply with mask mandates on planes and in airports being kicked out and getting in fights with flight attendants and punching people and getting handcuffed? The unruly passenger phenomenon - how big of a deal is that, really?
COMPTON: It does seem like things are out of control or happening a lot more often, and that's because they are happening a lot more often. Before the pandemic, the FAA would get about a couple hundred reports of unruly passengers every year. And in 2021, they've gotten 3,200-plus. But I think it's a real issue for morale because these flight attendants are essential workers, and they've been flying through the pandemic or dealt with furloughs. And to come back and have your job not only be stressful because it's a pandemic...
SANDERS: Yeah, but to be in danger.
COMPTON: ...But you have these people that - yeah. So we're seeing a lot of people who are taking self-defense classes that are provided by the air marshal service because they want to be prepared.
SANDERS: Wait, flight attendants are taking self-defense classes?
SANDERS: What does that look like? Have you been to one? Tell me you've been to one.
COMPTON: I have been to one. I went to one...
COMPTON: (Laughter) Yeah, I went to one in New York. And I got to see flight attendants eye-gouging dummies, punching, kicking, trying to do all these things that might come in handy on a flight if somebody is rowdy. There are many flight attendants all over the country who are going to these trainings that are provided by the air marshals, but it's really upsetting that this has to be a thing that people go to in the first place.
SANDERS: Yeah. How are you feeling about it as someone who covers the airline industry? Do you think it's going to get better at all at any point soon?
COMPTON: I do think it's going to get better. One person that I was speaking with recently was saying, we're getting used to what the, quote-unquote, "status quo" is, and maybe this isn't going to be a hot-button issue forever. Maybe the mask mandate won't be part of our flying forever. No, I do believe that things are going to go back to normal. And for the most part, most flights are going off no problem. Every flight that I've had that wasn't my one cancelled American Airlines flight, everything has been good. And when it did happen to me, I emailed customer service, and I got $150 flight credit. So even though my flight was an issue that day, I still got to fly, and then I got another trip out of it to go on vacation. So...
COMPTON: ...There's silver linings in these dark times. And my other...
SANDERS: Oh, there are. OK (laughter).
COMPTON: The big tip that I would give people right now is while things are still how they are, do not check a bag. If you...
SANDERS: There you go.
COMPTON: ...Can, don't check your bag. Go...
SANDERS: I never check a bag.
COMPTON: Start flying light. Yeah.
SANDERS: I saw that George Clooney movie many years ago, "Up In The Air." I remember there's a whole interview where he's like, never check a bag.
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GEORGE CLOONEY: (As Ryan Bingham) You know how much time you lose by checking in?
ANNA KENDRICK: (As Natalie Keener) I don't know - five, 10 minutes.
CLOONEY: (As Ryan Bingham) Thirty-five minutes a flight. I travel 270 days a year. That's 157 hours. That makes seven days. You willing to throw away an entire week on that?
SANDERS: And I was like, George, you're right.
COMPTON: (Laughter) George.
SANDERS: And ever since then, I haven't checked a bag. And my life is better for it.
COMPTON: Yeah, get George on the phone.
SANDERS: (Laughter) Only if he gives me some free - whatever that tequila he has. He needs to give me a bottle.
COMPTON: Yeah, a little Casamigos.
SANDERS: Then I'll get him on the show. Yeah.
COMPTON: Although, then you do have to check a bag because you have too much liquid. So there's a win-lose.
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SANDERS: (Laughter) Thanks again to Natalie Compton. She's a travel reporter at The Washington Post. All right. Coming up, I chat with Jamal Jordan. He's out with a new book called "Queer Love In Color." And it's just that - photographs of a bunch of queer couples. Jamal tells me what inspired the whole thing and why something so simple is still so profound.
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SANDERS: Hey, y'all. You're listening to IT'S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR. So on this show, we talk to a lot of authors, authors who have written all kinds of books. But I think this might be the first time I've spoken with an author whose book was inspired by an unrequited crush.
JAMAL JORDAN: The story of how it actually came to be is a little embarrassing.
SANDERS: That is Jamal Jordan. He's a journalist and photographer and author.
JORDAN: And I had, like, a really huge crush on this guy. I, like, liked him a lot. And there was a snow day one day and realized that he didn't feel the same way. So I spent the entire day just hiding in my house from the snow, being depressed. And I had to, like, pitch something for this Pride special section the next day.
SANDERS: And because he is resilient, Jamal turned that sad story into a very nice story for The New York Times. The article's premise was very simple. He'd interview queer people in love and take their photos.
JORDAN: I don't know what straight people do, but I imagine that if I were a straight person and I was sad about love, I would, like, you know, look at rom-coms and convince myself that things would be OK. I'm a gay Black dude. I didn't have that. So I wanted to go and make that for myself.
SANDERS: This article struck a chord. It went viral. And soon after, Jamal had the opportunity to turn that idea into an entire book titled "Queer Love In Color." Jamal Jordan is here with me to talk about that book and what it taught him about love and what it means to feel seen. And I tell him a bit about what it taught me as well.
How does one go out to take photos of queer couples? Like, what is the pitch? How do you approach people? Is it kind of like, I think the two of you might be gay, and I think y'all might be together; are you? Can I take your picture? How does that work?
JORDAN: There are so many ways that I approached couples to be in the book. Almost everyone in the book felt a proactive responsibility to, like, share their love story. One of the common threads in the process of meeting all these people is that everyone spoke about having this period where they felt invisible or, like, didn't have inspiration to look for. And so I think...
JORDAN: ...Most people were excited to see that.
SANDERS: Yeah. When you take a queer couple's picture, in what ways is it different or similar to taking a straight couple's picture?
JORDAN: I actually - I learned how many things straight people take for granted, just, like, in being couples, right? Like, I saw, like, a straight couple kiss each other at the gym the other day, and I just, like, couldn't imagine two gay dudes feeling the same kind of comfort in my gym, right? And I feel like that disconnect of comfort can transfer into, like, image-making as well. For a lot of people, there is, like, this period when I start off where I have to kind of be like, hey, you know, it's OK to express intimacy here. You can kiss your boyfriend on the forehead for the photo. And there sometimes is this breaking down of the feeling that holding your queer partner makes you look less dignified. Someone actually said that to me one time. So...
JORDAN: ...There's - yeah. And it was fascinating to me. And I don't think that straight people think that much about taking their picture in general. So even in the moments when it was, like, a less charged, more positive thing, it just felt like a weighted moment.
There's this, actually, one story in the book that really stuck with me. There is this couple, Kay and Blaine. They're this younger couple. And Kay was, like, gay bashed in New York City I think a year and a half before I met them. And so I met them in Oakland. And after speaking for a couple hours about how that event really shifted their perception of safety in public spaces as a queer person, it felt, like, you know, a really momentous, brave moment for them to stand in the middle of a park in the middle of the day and take...
JORDAN: ...Photos publicly with me.
SANDERS: Yeah. You know, it's interesting hearing you talk about the ways that these queer couples would react when you walked up to them with a camera and said, hey, can I take your picture? And I'm sure that there is the gratitude of acknowledgement that I saw in a lot of these images in the book, but I also suppose there was a little trepidation from these queer people when a stranger says, hey, talk to me now, because you're - you have to be a little bit more defensive just moving through the world.
And, like, hearing you talk about what it was like to just go to strangers and ask for their photos - probably, like, two months ago, my S.O. and I were leaving dinner. We'd had a few beers. And we're walking home, and these two women are walking past on the sidewalk, and they're looking at us. And I was like, oh, my God. And then for a second, I was like, are they going to say something weird to these gay guys? But then they get up to us, and they say, y'all are such a cute couple. And we both just stopped, one, because this moment that we thought could've been horrible was immediately defused and, two, at least for me, because no one has ever told me in my life that me with another guy was cute.
SANDERS: And it was just, like, profound and weirdly jarring. And me and my boyfriend had to stop and, like, talk about it on the sidewalk. But, like, that is the kind of baggage that you're interacting with when you ask folks to take their picture and they're queer and they're a couple. Like, our whole worlds are built around having an armor because you don't know what a stranger's going to do to you. And, like, I just wonder how much of that was real for you and how much of that did you see when you were approaching queer folks you did not know, asking them probing questions.
JORDAN: It's such a great point you make because I would say for every one couple whose story's happily in the book, there are probably, like, two or three where there were moments when one partner felt nervous about being photographed with the other. Or I met someone in a public space, and they're like, we can take a photograph, but not anywhere where anyone could see.
JORDAN: Like, for a lot of the reasons that you said. I think it was, first, you're trusting this stranger with your image, and there could be either a conscious or subconscious level that, like, still being seen with a queer person and having that image be out of your control could be dangerous for you. At no point was I never not shocked about couples who felt uncomfortable in public spaces 'cause I always chose spaces where I felt comfortable, like middle of New Orleans in French Quarter, streets in San Francisco, places where I'm like, oh, whatever - the gays, they're out. I really had to, like, learn to respect the different ways that people - particularly, like, lesbian couples or, like, fem and trans people - felt less safe in that space and would feel less safe after, like, the 6-foot-tall photographer guy left.
SANDERS: Yeah, yeah. All right, Jamal, will you tell us the story of perhaps my favorite couple in the book, Mike and Phil from Detroit?
JORDAN: So Mike and Phil are also, like, one of my favorite couples from the book. I met them at a really interesting point in reporting the project that I was working on. About, like, halfway through the book, I went home to Detroit, where I, like, spent my teenage years. And, you know, I'm taking all these photos of all these queer couples. I don't really know what I'm doing. I haven't found the bigger message of the book yet. What do I do? What do I do? And so there is an organization in Detroit called LGBT Detroit. So I was there. I was just, like, lamenting to the guy who runs the program, Curtis Lipscomb. And he's like, you have to meet Mike and Phil. You have to meet them. They'll just inspire you so much.
So I reach out to Mike and Phil, who were, at the time, 71 and 76. It was a couple years before their 50th anniversary. And I usually, like, go into meeting people with a plan. We're going to talk for a few hours about, like, these things. We'll photograph each other this way. But I just showed up at their house, and I was like, you know, I have never actually met older gay Black men together before, and this entire experience is mind-blowing to me. What should I know about getting older in the world? And they really sat and just walked me through all of the chapters of their lives, from growing up in Detroit and Flint, respectively, through the '50s and '60s. They met at church at the Shrine of the Black Madonna on Easter Sunday in the 1960s. And Mike has...
SANDERS: Stop. Stop. Stop right there. Hold on.
SANDERS: That is amazing.
SANDERS: This gay couple met at church in the '60s. What was the first thing they said to each other?
JORDAN: The first memory they have of each other is Phil, who is the more, like, staid, serious member of the couple, seeing Mike and Mike saying that the hot red pants that he wore to church that Sunday, they worked (laughter). And Phil says to Mike that he was being dangerous and that the Lord was sent as his guardian angel to come save him.
SANDERS: Oh, my God.
JORDAN: And 50 years later, they still kind of keep that dynamic going.
SANDERS: I love that so much. Have you seen a photo of the red hot pants?
JORDAN: I - so I can't find a photo of the red hot pants, but, like, here's a funny thing, right? I've seen Mike and Phil, like, three or four times now. I hung out with them again recently for a Washington Post story. And every time I go to photograph them, Mike is still wearing red pants, just like...
SANDERS: Hey, listen. If it works, don't change the formula.
JORDAN: He's like, it works, sir (ph).
SANDERS: You know, you said that one of the central questions you wanted to answer in the process of making this book full of lovely images of queer couples, or at least the question that prompted the book is, well, why can't I see people who look like me in love - Black people, people of color, queer people? So now that you have amassed hundreds, if not thousands, of images of just that, how has it changed you and how you think about love?
JORDAN: There are two things. There's one couple that I met, Denecia and Aimee in Atlanta. And I said offhand to them - I was like, you know, I wish I lived in a place like Atlanta. There's such a strong community of people of color there, even more than New York, and I would just, like, feel much more comfortable. And, like, they said to me, you know, you think that, but really, no matter where you go as a queer person of color in love, even in the most affirming spaces, you're still going to have to, like, search and work and affirm yourself and other people. That just really stuck with me.
I think, like, in terms of how the book changed how I look at love - first, this is going to sound so corny, but I really do think that there is a level of just, like, unlearning so many toxic things that queer people need to do. And, like, seeing different people on these journeys helped me see different things in my life so clearly. What does it mean if you spend the first 15 years of your life being told that holding a boy's hand is a bad thing? How does that affect you when you're, like, 30, 40, 50? And so I was 27, 28 when I made this book. You know, I was very much like, oh, my God, no one's responding to my OkCupid messages. I'm going to die alone.
JORDAN: That was the energy going into it. And I don't know. I have a much more...
JORDAN: ...Patient, expansive look at what love can look like.
SANDERS: I love it. Well, listeners, you can go find Jamal Jordan's book "Queer Love In Color" right now. It's full of lovely, beautiful images of queer people in love. Jamal, will you stick around to play a game after the break?
JORDAN: Yes, thank you.
SANDERS: All righty. Thank you, sir. You're listening to IT'S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR. We'll be right back.
JORDAN: (Singing) IT'S BEEN A MINUTE.
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SANDERS: You're listening to IT'S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR. I'm your host, Sam Sanders, joined now by two friends, who are about to not be friends 'cause I'm going to make them compete against each other. They're both going to play Who Said That? But first, tell folks who you are.
JORDAN: My name is Jamal Jordan. I'm author of "Queer Love In Color" and general person who talks a lot on Twitter.
HASSAN WILLIAMS: I am Hassan Williams, a producer, and I'm just happy to be here.
SANDERS: I love it. I love it. So y'all are two friends who are now about to face off in my favorite game, Who Said That?
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KANDI BURRUSS: Who had been saying that?
PORSHA WILLIAMS: Who said that?
KENYA MOORE: Who said that?
SANDERS: Are you worried that this game and this competition is going to ruin y'all's friendship?
JORDAN: If this game takes down our friendship, you know, maybe we didn't deserve it in the first place. We've been through much more than you can throw at us, Sam. Isn't that right, Hassan?
H WILLIAMS: Many things.
JORDAN: Many things.
H WILLIAMS: Many, many things. Yes.
SANDERS: But you have admitted that there is the potential for this game to ruin the friendship.
H WILLIAMS: Oh, yes, I'm coming for Jamal's neck.
JORDAN: Hassan's about to get ruined (ph). Like...
H WILLIAMS: Yeah, it's on. We're fighting. The girls are fighting.
SANDERS: Well, let's get to it. I share three quotes from the week of news. You tell me who said it or just what I'm talking about. OK?
SANDERS: First quote - "though they were never intimate, their love for each other was legendary. They defined ride-or-die. In the beginning of our relationship, my mind was tortured by their connection. He was 'Pac (ph), and I was me."
H WILLIAMS: Oh, this is Will Smith.
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SANDERS: Yes, it is. OK.
JORDAN: How did you just know that? What?
H WILLIAMS: I'm a bad gal.
SANDERS: (Laughter) Tell the story for our listeners. What happened with the ghost of Tupac and Will Smith this week?
H WILLIAMS: So, like, you know, Will Smith's been on a promo campaign. And, you know, they've been pulling tons of things from his book, I guess. And he was just talking about how he was jealous of Jada and 'Pac when they first got together. He just didn't know the nature of their relationship, I guess. And he just, you know, in a very masculine way kind of just didn't want to be bothered with Tupac because of how close he and Jada were.
SANDERS: I'd be scared to say anything about Tupac, even in his death. Let me tell you, wouldn't be me.
H WILLIAMS: Well, is he really dead?
SANDERS: Talk about it.
JORDAN: I mean, also, like, have y'all seen Tupac? Of course Will Smith was nervous.
H WILLIAMS: I mean...
SANDERS: (Laughter) Yeah. So that quote comes from Will Smith. He was talking about the rapper Tupac Shakur and Tupac's relationship with Will's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. So Will's new memoir, called "Will," is out now, and he's doing the press for it. And he was talking about how before he got with Jada Pinkett, she was really close with Tupac Shakur. Jada and Tupac met at the Baltimore School for the Arts in the '80s. And they were close and public about it. And Will Smith said that he felt kind of in awe of Tupac, but also jealous of Tupac. And he said, quote, "I hated that I wasn't what he was in the world, and I suffered a raging jealousy. I wanted Jada to look at me like that." I got to say, reading yet another quote about the weird, sad relationship between Will and Jada, I'm just like, at this point, stop talking and get divorced.
H WILLIAMS: Oh, yikes.
SANDERS: I feel like it's been, like, two years now. First, there was the entanglement drama.
H WILLIAMS: Very yikes.
SANDERS: And then there was the weird "Red Table" video where, like, Will Smith is just there in tears. And then, like - I feel like every few months, Jada finds a way to shame Will Smith in the love department.
H WILLIAMS: (Laughter) That's certainly a way to put it.
SANDERS: Hassan, you got that point. Here's the next quote. For this one, just tell me what I'm talking about.
SANDERS: Here's the quote. "It was long and loud and impossible to ignore" - a sound heard at the global climate summit this week, a sound you don't want to hear in public around other people. Camilla Parker Bowles said that she heard this sound come from President Joe Biden. It was a bodily function.
H WILLIAMS: Oh, farting.
(SOUNDBITE OF VICTORY TUNE)
H WILLIAMS: He farted in front of the - yeah, he pooted. I'm sorry. I don't know the...
H WILLIAMS: (Laughter) I don't know the appropriate term to say.
SANDERS: (Laughter) I don't know either.
H WILLIAMS: But he tooted his little - he tooted his little bugle horn.
JORDAN: Hassan (laughter).
SANDERS: Apparently, it wasn't little. Apparently, it was big because it was loud and long and impossible to ignore. So that quote comes from a source to the Daily Mail, who said that Camilla Parker Bowles, the Duchess of Cornwall - apparently, she heard President Joe Biden pass gas while they were making small talk at the global climate summit this week. The source went on, saying that Camilla hasn't stopped talking about it. Like, wow.
H WILLIAMS: I love the folks who said he did it on behalf of Diana.
SANDERS: Who said that? What?
H WILLIAMS: Somebody said - somebody out there in the Twitterverse said that he did that in honor of Diana.
JORDAN: That is so chaotic.
H WILLIAMS: And that has brought me great joy (laughter).
SANDERS: OK. Can I just say I don't see it for Joe on this one? Because let me tell you one thing you've got to prepare yourself for - when you're going to a big public event where you'll be forced to be around lots of people for a long time, you need to eat accordingly for the day or two beforehand. I'm sorry. That's what I do. Like, if I got to go to a conference, there's going to be a little, mini cleanse before I get there 'cause I want to just not have that problem.
H WILLIAMS: I do it for special events, but they're not conferences.
JORDAN: Oh, my God.
H WILLIAMS: I'll say that.
SANDERS: That said, who got that point?
H WILLIAMS: Me.
SANDERS: OK. Hassan's on a roll.
H WILLIAMS: Yes.
SANDERS: All right, here's the last quote. This quote tells you everything it's about. I want you to tell me where the quote came from. It's a certain website.
SANDERS: OK, here we go. Here's the quote. "James Corden in no way, shape or form should be in or near the production of 'Wicked,' the movie. That's pretty much it."
H WILLIAMS: Oh, this is the petition website. They put up a petition.
SANDERS: Which one? What's it called - the website?
H WILLIAMS: Ooh.
(SOUNDBITE OF VICTORY TUNE)
JORDAN: Finally, I got one.
SANDERS: So that means Jamal - Jamal, that means you're going to lose just by one point.
H WILLIAMS: Beautiful.
JORDAN: Listen. I take what I can get, OK?
SANDERS: OK, OK. So that line comes from a description of a Change.org petition called, quote, "Keep James Corden Out Of The 'Wicked' Movie." So if you haven't heard already, there's going to be...
JORDAN: I actually signed that petition.
SANDERS: Really? You did it?
JORDAN: I actually signed that petition (laughter).
H WILLIAMS: Not you being a bag stopper.
SANDERS: James Corden has enough bag.
JORDAN: Look; if I have to hear that man sing one more, like, showstopper tune, I am going to give up on musical theater, so.
SANDERS: Anyhoo, all of this hullabaloo is about a new live-action "Wicked" movie that's going to come out soon. It's going to be directed by Jon Chu from "In The Heights" fame, and the leads are going to be Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba, and Ariana Grande is Glinda. Got to say happy with those picks.
With that, I'm happy to announce that the winner of this round of Who Said That is Hassan. Congrats. Give us your speech. Thank the Academy or whatever. Go ahead.
H WILLIAMS: Yes. I just - I want to thank God, first and foremost, 'cause without him, we are nothing. And I want to thank the Academy and my agent and my manager that I don't really have. But, you know, when they do come along, I want to give this to them because I'm just so grateful. And my mom and my family and everybody, thank you so much. You always so wonderful.
SANDERS: Do you want to also thank your friends, like your friend Jamal? You want to thank him for losing to you?
H WILLIAMS: Who?
SANDERS: He said who (laughter).
H WILLIAMS: No, I do. Thank you, Jamal, for inviting me onto this wonderful show and for so gracefully giving me the W. That's what friends are for.
JORDAN: This entire game was rigged. You'll be hearing from my legal team. I don't think that you counted these answers correctly is all I'm saying. I love you, Hassan.
H WILLIAMS: I love you more.
SANDERS: There you go. There you go. I love this. So what a delightful way to end my week. Both of you, please come back soon.
H WILLIAMS: We will.
JORDAN: Thank you so much, Sam. It's really an honor to be here.
SANDERS: Thanks again to Jamal Jordan, author and photographer, and his friend, producer Hassan Williams. Jamal's book is called "Queer Love In Color," and it's out right now. Trust me when I tell you it should be on your coffee table.
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AUNT BETTY: Now it's time to end the show as we always do. Every week, listeners share the best thing that happened to them all week. We encourage folks to brag, and they do. Let's hear a few of those submissions.
DEBORAH: Hi, Sam. This is Deborah (ph). The best day of the entire last year and a half was when I discovered that I truly am cancer-free. We did a test, and there is no circulating tumor DNA. I was diagnosed with virulent breast cancer a year ago last May, so this was a huge, wonderful day.
MIA: Hi, Sam. This is Mia (ph) calling in from New Mexico. The best part of my week was receiving the news yesterday that my student loans are forgiven under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness. I have worked for the government as an attorney and also for a nonprofit for about 13 years, and I'm finally free of my student loan debt.
MICHAEL: Hi, Sam. This week, for the first time in my life, I finished off an entire tub of sour cream before it turned moldy.
SARAH: This is Sarah (ph) from Chicago. The best part of my week was conducting my first-ever middle school choir concert. My sixth- through eighth-graders were really nervous about it. It came together kind of at the last second, but it was amazing to be making live music with real humans again and sharing it with friends and family.
MARK: Hi, Sam. This is Mark (ph). I am normally in Milwaukee, Wis., but I am, at the moment, in Washington, D.C. I'm here having flown halfway across the country to lay a flower on the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. This event has never happened before. The general public have never been able to approach the tomb in this way and may never happen again - truly, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I'm so proud. I'm so grateful that I have this chance.
SARAH: Thank you for all that you do.
MIA: Have a great week.
SANDERS: Thanks again to all those listeners you heard there - Deborah, Mia, Michael (ph), Sarah and Mark. And thanks to sour cream 'cause - yeah. All right, listeners, you can share the best part of your week at any point throughout any week. We always want to hear from you. Just record yourself on your phone and send a voice memo to us via email, email@example.com - at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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SANDERS: All right, this week's episode was produced by Jinae West, Anjuli Sastry-Kurbachek (ph), Audrey Nguyen and Liam McBain. Our intern is Nathan Pugh. Our fearless editor is Jordana Hochman. And our big boss is NPR's senior VP of programming, Anya Grundmann.
All right, listeners, till next time, be good yourselves. I'm Sam Sanders. We'll talk soon.
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