This week on The Sound of Young America, we rediscover our sense of wonder.
Lawrence Weschler spent over 20 years writing for The New Yorker, often profiling the sorts of empassioned eccentrics who change the world. His new book, "Everything That Rises: A Book of Convergences," examines the surprising overlaps in the world, and particularly in visual culture, as well as the meaning of those overlaps. (Seen to the left: Rembrandt's "The Anatomy Lesson" and Freddy Alborta's "The Death of Che")
Michael Ivins is the bassist (and more) of The Flaming Lips, a remarkable rock band who are perhaps more popular today than at any other point in their 20+ year history. Their sonic experimentation and melancholic comic touch are well known in the indie rock world, and so are their wild stage shows, which often include people in rabbit suits and members of the band rolling over the crowd in a giant hamster ball.
(by the way, this hits the podcast feed late tonight, but I'm out of town now)
This week on The Sound of Young America: two guys I've always wanted to have on the show.
Chuck Klosterman is one of America's funniest and most perceptive writers on popular culture. His best-selling books "Fargo Rock City," "Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs," and most recently "Killing Yourself to Live" are favorites for hipsters across the nation. We talk with Chuck about what rock journalism means to him, and how he deals with being a grown-up who cares about music like an 18-year-old.
Dave Foley is one of our finest comic actors. He co-founded the Kids in the Hall, whose television show re-introduced weirdness into the world of sketch comedy. Shortly thereafter, he landed the lead role in Newsradio, one of the finest sitcoms of the 1990s. Lately, he's made a living hosting a celebrity poker show as well as acting and writing. Believe it or not, he's a Sound of Young America listener.
This week on The Sound of Young America, a visit with one old pal and one new pal from Found Magazine.
First we talk with Found co-editor Jason Bitner. Jason is the editor-cum-curator of the book "LaPorte, Indiana." The book is mesmerizing -- a compendium of portraits found in the back room of a diner in the eponymous town. Some are hilarious, some touching, all amazing. We talk with Jason about how he found and chose the photos in this remarkable book.
Davy Rothbart is the editor ("Point Guard") of the magazine. He talks about travelling the country on the Found tour bus, and shares a bunch of great finds. One is from a few small kids, who've started an adventure club. Another is a partnership agreement between some investors in a cafe -- which includes a clause dealing with metal hands.
This week on The Sound of Young America, we look at the indie spirit.
Animator Bill Plympton has always worked independently, creating both short and feature-length animated films. He draws every frame himself, and his absurd humor has netted him two Oscar nominations. He also recently created a music video for Kanye West, about which he talks in our bonus interview. His most recent release is "Plymptoons: The Complete Early Works of Bill Plympton," which includes his Oscar-nominated "Your Face."
Our second guest is Doug Martsch, from the indie rock group Built to Spill. Since coming out of the Seattle rock scene in the early 1990s, Built to Spill have been one of the most important and influential bands in the indie/alternative rock movement. Martsch is considered by many to be the heir to J Mascis' alterna-rock guitar god throne. We talk with Doug about his nearly 20-year career in rock, and why he was never able to support himself with music until he signed to a major label. The band has a new album, "You in Reverse," and is currently on tour.
This week's Sound of Young America is all about what's wrong with this country. And maybe a little about what could be right.
Our first guest is Henry Owings. Henry's the creator of Chunklet Magazine, and the editor of Chunklet's new book, "The Overrated Book." He talks with us about where he finds enough darkness in his heart to oversee the composition of an entire book about things that are overrated -- and to make a list of 1000 overrated things. Contributors to the book include Brian Posehn, Bob Odenkirk, and Neal Pollack.
We also talk with George Saunders. Saunders has published a number of critically acclaimed books, including "CivilWarLand in Bad Decline" and his most recent, "In Persuasion Nation." George talks about his education as a geophysicist, the stigma of humor in literature, and much more.
A few suggested links:
George Saunders Land (exhaustive Saunders fansite)
Chunklet Radio Podcast on MySpace
George Saunders on This American Life, reading "Offloading for Mrs. Schwartz"
George Saunders on This American Life, reading "The 400 Pound CEO"
This week's Sound of Young America returns to familiar territory -- pranks and put-ons. We visit with a couple of old friends of the show who are geniuses of the field.
Our first guest is Matt Walsh. Matt's probably best known for being a founder of the Upright Citizens' Brigade. He was also a correspondent on The Daily Show, and has been seen in films like "Old School." His new series on Comedy Central, Dog Bites Man, is a hybrid of many genres. It follows a fictitious Spokane TV news team through real-life America. They interview real people while playing out a fictional storyline. They've gone to the Southern Republican convention and to a KKK picnic. The show was created by Dan Mazer, the co-creator of Da Ali G Show.
We also talk with Charlie Todd, the creator of a group called Improv Everywhere. Charlie's group stages massive street pranks in New York City, but they eschew pranks with victims. Instead, they focus on creating amazing experiences for ordinary people, and then dissapear -- without revealing their identity.
Also, we hear a street prank from Coyle & Sharpe, a remarkable pair of put-on artists who hosted a local AM radio show in San Francisco in the mid 1960s. Mal Sharpe was a comedian and radio man; James Coyle was a professional con artist. Together, they created some of the most amazing street pranks in history. We hear "Maniacs in a Living Hell" from their amazing CD "Coyle & Sharpe: Audio Visionaries." (Buy It)
This week's Sound of Young America broadcast looks at the future of media -- and at its past.
Mark Frauenfelder and Xeni Jardin are two of the c0-editors of Boing-Boing.net, one of the world's most popular blogs. Frauenfelder started Boing Boing as a print zine in 1988, and grew to a website in the mid-90s, and a blog a few years later. Today, it attracts 1.75 million visitors every day. Topics covered range from futurism and cyber culture to ukeleles and the just plan weird and fascinating. We talk with Mark and Xeni about the history of Boing Boing, internet culture, and how blogs are changing the world of media, and changing themselves as time marches on.
We also talk with John Vanderslice. Vanderslice is a recording artist, as well as a record producer and the owner of Tiny Telephone Recording in San Francisco, one of the last all-analog studios in the United States. He started his career as a member of MK Ultra, before becoming a solo artist. His most recent record "Pixel Revolt," is a dense, literary journey in song. He's also produced records by the Mountain Goats and Spoon. We talk with John about why he still cuts tape in the studio, and about his remarkable songs. Don't miss the bonus interview and MP3 downloads below.
Kevin Kelly on the Future of Books
Kevin Kelly is the "Senior Maverick" at Wired Magazine, as well as the editor of the blog Cool Tools. We talk with Kevin about the future of books in a digital world, from scanning projects going on around the globe to the copyright issues that are currently in court. His recent cover story on the subject ran in the New York Times Magazine.
John Vanderslice on Producing
John tells us about his production work with artists like John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats.
Incidental Music by DJW
We first hear from comedian Will Franken. Will performs a unique form of solo theater comedy -- essentially performing comedy sketches by himself. He's been voted the best comedian in San Francisco by the SF Weekly, and the "Best Alternative to Pyschadelic Drugs" by the SF Bay Guardian. Will talks about his future, and performs a sketch. Be sure to check below for a "too hot for the radio" sketch from Will.
Our second guest is comedian Paul F. Tompkins. These days, Paul is best known as a VH1 "Fundit," but he's also been a regular on TV series including "Mr. Show," "The Daily Show," and "Real Time with Bill Maher." We talk with Paul about his career in funditry, and about his sideline hosting a cult-favorite stage variety show in Los Angeles.
Our final guests are Tim & Eric, the creators of the Cartoon Network [adult swim] series "Tom Goes to the Mayor." The series is a silly and incisive look at the tiny banalities of American life. They also provide a live demonstration of a favorite musical instrument.
Listen to Will Franken's "Wet, Drippy P***ies" Online
Bonus... here's the "Department of Special Projects" short T&E talk about on the show:
This week's Sound of Young America broadcast commemorates my recent layoff with the theme "Career Killers."
My first guest, Annabelle Gurwitch, is the former host of TBS' "Dinner and a Movie," and a comedienne. Her book, "Fired: Tales of the Canned, Cancelled, Downsized, & Dismissed" compiles stories of firings from folks like Felicity Huffman and David Cross. She herself was fired from a play by Woody Allen, who said her performance was "retarded." We talk with her about getting fired, some of the most interesting stories in the book (Jeff Garlin's is a doozy), and more. She's appearing at the San Francisco Documentary Film Festival May 19th and 20th with Robert Reich.
Our second guest, Dan Clowes, is the screenwriter for the new film Art School Confidential. More importantly, though, he's the creator of the long-running comic book title Eightball. Eightball was the birthplace of the film, as well as the home of the story which became "Ghost World." We talk with Dan about his experiences in art school, his artistic process, working with director Terry Zwigoff and more.
Also, a comedy sketch from Free Love Forum.
Incidental Music by Generek