Recess Interviews: W. Kamau Bell

W. Kamau Bell, perhaps best known for his FXX series Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell, is a standup comic based in New York City with strong ties to San Francisco. Bell performs Friday, April 4 as part of his Oh, Everything! Tour at DSI Comedy Theater in Chapel Hill. Tickets are available online. Recess online editor Prashanth Kamalakanthan spoke with Bell about the benefits of a TV-fueled childhood, the untouchability of Dave Chapelle, race of audiences and more.

The Chronicle: People call you a "political comedian," but you've said before that you don't really like that label. Are all comedians political? Do you think comedy can be used to further political goals, or is it sort of a separate thing?

W... Read more

Travelogue: Rose's Meat Market and Sweet Shop

I could’ve sworn I was in a butcher shop straight out of the Wild West. I half-expected to hear a group of cowboys conversing outside, a horse carriage rumbling past.

But nope. Just another incredibly unique restaurant in Durham.

As far as location, most people will recognize this classic area as Shooters territory. Wander past that esteemed venue for a block or so, though, and you will come upon a quaint, white shop with a simple “Meat Market & Sweet Shop” sign painted on the side.

This is Rose’s Meat Market, a fantastic deli and sandwich restaurant.

I stepped inside, not really sure what to expect. There was a long bar and a huge amount of space behind the counter for the small staff diligently working to cut up choice cuts, make sandwiches and prepare the fresh, local meat for sale.

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Recess predicts the Oscars

The most exciting award show of the year is this Sunday, February 27. In this post, five Recess staff members weigh in with their predictions on how the night will go down. Feel free to share your opinion, make fun of our pretension or ridicule our choices in the comments.

To view the nominees, go to

Best Picture

The Recess staff was surprisingly divided on this one. Critics, initially split between the ensemble-cast, Oscar-bait “American Hustle” and the dark historical epic “12 Years a Slave,” have settled on “12 Years” as the favorite. However, “Gravity,” with its fantastic technological achievements, and “Hustle” still remain extremely strong contenders.

Who Will Win

Adam Schutzman: “12 Years a Slave.” “12 Years a Slave” burst onto the scene as an immediate frontrunner and hasn’t slowed down a bit... Read more

Prashanth's Picks, Part IV

Friends, Recessers, Chronicleers: lend me your ears.

But more importantly, lend me your hearts. Because this week, I am sorry, dear readers. I fear that in this, our hallowed fourth volume of Prashanth’s Picks, I cannot in good faith fork over the most eagerly-awaited list of community goings-on in the Triangle.

This weekend is different.

This weekend is, in short, my birthday weekend.

And over it, I intend to do what any respectable birthday boy should in so weird ‘n’ wacky a time. I plan to retreat into the warm and numbing chrysalis of my closest homies’ embrace, from which I will emerge a butterfly of a post-birthday human being. A butterfly that can legally drink.

So forgive me for not wanting to be specious. Forgive me for not curating this weekend’s coolest cultural calendar as I, insulated thus, cannot safely guarantee the coolness of my picks.

You will not, however, have to forgive me for letting you down... Read more

Students have a chance to get in on Inside Joke

Julia Dunn / The Chronicle

Imagine someone who’s not an employee walks through an employees-only door. What happens to him next?

Duke audiences will have a chance to ponder this and other existential questions this Friday at the performance by Duke’s lone student sketch comedy troupe, Inside Joke. The members have worked for months to come up with sketches, developing them through improv work and polishing them up for the show. This process was still lively and ongoing as recently as Sunday afternoon, when a dozen members assembled in a conference room to hash out the final scripts, tossing out suggestions for the optimal punchline to a skit involving attempted hook-ups and diorama class projects.

“I think the gay porn ending could work,” one member suggested.

What differentiates sketch comedy from improv is this degree of process and revision. Improv requires being funny on a moment’s notice; sketch comedy involves carefully crafting a humorous situation over a period of days or weeks... Read more

The people's publishers

We see the same magazines at the grocery store checkout every day—and often, it seems as though they are literally the same ones: glossy celebrities surrounded by bright lettering, promises of learning how to become the best you, one more set of “Ten Steps to….”

Yet there’s another side to the publishing industry: independent magazines that are printed in small batches or even handmade, ranging from intricately designed works of art to stapled-together printer paper. When I first discovered them, I felt a sense of human connection that seemed absent from the checkout line. You can tell someone chose the stories, designed the layout and coordinated publication, all likely from your hometown.

Seeing these, it’s hard not to get sent on a wave of nineties nostalgia. Or, since I was born in 1993, a pining to have been a teenager during the golden age of indie magazines, when zines played a huge role in feminism, punk rock and DIY culture. You name it, there was a zine for it.

However, there’s hope in the Raleigh-Durham area... Read more

Artist profile: David Mayer

I’ll spare you the rant about our school being a breeding ground for pre-professional zombies, but the fact remains that only a small minority of Duke students will graduate to pursue art as their primary vocation. David Mayer is one of them.

A native Durhamite, David’s involvement with Riverside High School’s newspaper spurred an interest in storytelling that steadily developed throughout his four years. David had heard about the Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) before coming to Duke and made it a point to take Gary Hawkins’s introductory production course the second semester of his freshman year. He’s wanted to make films ever since.

“I figure it’s about as good of a thing to do as anything else,” he said during our interview—but don’t mistake his nonchalance for a passive approach to filmmaking. David is serious about his craft, and he’s already produced a varied range of pieces to show for it... Read more

Left in Letters

My first visit to Letters Bookshop was an instance of classical conditioning. While walking along Main Street in early January, I heard the buzz of my phone, read the Duke Alert message “Tornado Warning: Seek Shelter Immediately” and ran into the nearest shop as it began to pour. You know, in accordance with Murphy’s Law: If you are planning a walk in Durham, it will rain.

But it turns out I had chosen the best place to be trapped in during a tornado: a beautiful used bookstore. With a basement.

For its relatively small size, Durham has lots of real, honest-to-goodness bookstores. Not the type that distract you with Pumpkin Spice candles and Moleskine notebooks, for example, but where you’ll know that you’ll leave with the promise of a good read. Durham has, among others, the Regulator on 9th Street, Books Do Furnish a Room (the bright blue trailer set back from West Markham Ave) and Wentworth and Leggett Books, a rare book store in Brightleaf Square... Read more

The night I skied to Shooters

Shooters II Saloon is officially a ski-friendly establishment.

But I did not know this at the start of Wednesday night. As I strapped on my cross-country skis for a nocturnal expedition, my mind churned with doubts. This is Durham, North Carolinawhat if they don’t want people showing up with skis? What if they turn me away for carrying two pointy, metal-tipped poles into a bar? Will my ski helmet provoke social ostracization?

But classes were canceled; most every bar and restaurant was shuttered; the roads lay hidden beneath several inches of snow with more still falling; and despite it all, Shooters had kept its dance floor burning bright.

This was indeed a dilemma worthy of my liberal arts education.

Snow gods help me.

A cross country ski, while lacking the sharp edges and tight control of its downhill counterpart, sports a scaly underside optimized for sliding along the surface of a snowy landscape... Read more

Prashanth's Picks, Part III

Greetings, computer chronicleurs.

Your (allegorical) boy penned a pretty long editor’s note this week—and it just might have sapped all the extra words out of him. Scooped them right up.


So pardon the pith, please. These are Prashanth’s Picks, Part III: “The Ice-Picks” (Feb. 14-16).


8 p.m.: Show your love for a gazillion different Triangle mainstays—Durham-based Mount Moriah, Bombadil and Loamlands; Chapel Hill’s Daniel Bachman; and North Carolina State University’s college radio station WKNC—at the same time, on the final night of WKNC’s 11th Annual Double Barrel Benefit. At Lincoln Theater in Raleigh.

10:30 p.m.: Read more