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Podcast: Coyle & Sharpe Episode 29: Daring, but Dead

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Welcome to season two of Coyle & Sharpe: The Imposters! In the early 1960s, James P. Coyle and Mal Sharpe roamed the streets of San Francisco, microphone in hand, roping strangers into bizarre schemes and surreal stunts. These original recordings are from the Sharpe family archive, which is tended by Mal's daughter, Jennifer Sharpe. You can learn more about Coyle & Sharpe on their website or on MySpace. Their recent box set is These 2 Men Are Imposters.

On this episode: The Imposters talk a military man into robbing a bank with them, and when they reveal it's all a hoax, he has a truly remarkable reaction.

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The Internets Celebrities: Futuristic Brunch: Chea!

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New joint from the Internets Celebrities. If you are a bigwig, you need to hire these dudes, they need one of those cable shows where people go around doing almost nothing like yesterday.

Mickey Factz: "I'm dope as fuck"

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Some of you web savvy folk might recognize the name Mickey Factz. The Bronx emcee has been the subject of many a blog post as of late thanks to his boundary-pushing approach to hip hop. Not only the music he creates, but they way it is being heard has both hip hop fans and hipsters alike asking “Who is this guy?!” Mickey Factz is an over-night success years in the making. He spoke to me about his digital mix-tape The Leak Vol.1, his evolution as an artist and who he’ll most likely be compared to.

Chris Bowman: You mention in your bio that your "music will get to the masses whether it be through traditional or non-traditional mediums". The success of the on-line mix-tape series has been a prime example of the latter. With The Leak you took a different approach releasing one track at a time. Why did you decide to try this method?

Mickey Factz: Gotta cause a stir up somehow, someway. By doing that it creates a word of mouth campaign, leading people from all walks of life talking about Mickey Factz, whether it’s good or bad. They're talking and that's all that matters. By talking, it creates awareness, people then act on that awareness.

CB: You made a good point when you said "In evolution, only the strong survive. Those unable to adapt to a changing platform or culture, will be left extinct." Over the years you have evolved from Renegade to Jack Danielz to Mickey Factz, changing your style along the way. What have you learned from those previous incarnations?

MF: Interesting question. As Renegade, I was basically vicariously living thru my favorite emcee's. Some of ‘em were violent. Some of ‘em were straight up lyricists and others were just partiers. Because of backlash that I might have gotten from the streets, I used Jack Daniels as a cover up. Saying I was drunk when I did it. Turning into Mickey Factz was essential ‘cause it made me look within myself and become the artist I am today.

CB: Your music has been embraced by a wide variety of fans, earning you the recently coined label of hipster rapper. On the other side of that it seems to have stirred up negative feedback also. As you say, either way at least people are talking. What is it about your style you feel has caused so much buzz?

MF: It’s the flamboyance, the swag, the lyricism, the cockiness, the human side. All of these emotions lead the fans to accept what I do because it’s real and they go thru it too. Every word has a purpose and meaning. Plus I'm dope as fuck.

CB: You have already been offered a record deal from Atlantic Records and a solo deal from Missy Elliot. What made you decide to turn those offers down?

MF: It wasn't the right time. Timing is everything and right now, it’s the time for Mickey to position and align himself properly to gain the maximum exposure he deserves.

CB: What would you like to add that people might not already know about you?

MF: That y’all will compare me to Michael Jackson, that's how confident I am.

Mickey Factz will be performing at the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival along with Blu & Exile, KRS-One, DJ Premier, 88 Keys and more Saturday July 12. Also, you can download the latest installment of The Leak here.

Podcast: JJGo Ep. 67: A Donk Deferred

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Jesse and Jordan discuss a disgusting donk ban, Jesse's bachelor party, getting back at the National Park Service, and much much more.

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TSOYA: Kabluey Writer/Director/Star Scott Prendergast

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Show: 
Bullseye


Scott Prendergast trained as an improviser at The Groundlings in Los Angeles, but even during the two-year run of his solo improvisation show he had his eye on film. He wrote, directed and stars alongside Lisa Kudrow in the new feature Kabluey. His plays a young man who goes to stay with his sister-in-law in an attempt to help her keep her household together after his brother is shipped to Iraq. He gets a job as a costumed character named Kabluey, and learns quickly how easy it is to become invisible when you're wearing a three-foot-diameter blue foam head. The film is now playing in New York, and opening in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin and Portland this summer.

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If you enjoyed this show, try these:
Miranda July
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Louis Theroux

"The diction of the moderator should not sound like a 'valley girl.'"

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From time to time, I get emails from radio listeners. Occasionally they're very, very negative. More frequently, they're complimentary. From time to time, they're critical, but thoughtful. A couple listeners have written to me about my manner of speach, and I thought I'd share one letter I got this morning, along with my response. I've left out the listener's last name in the interest of anonymity.

I’m a listener from New Jersey who catches you at least twice a month. I’m an old [63] fuddy duddy retired English and theater teacher who still enjoys new music and entertainment. What often bothers me and gets in the way of your programs is the language usage. For Blu to spout slang and “like” and “y’know” and other street language fillers is easy to forgive. He’s not a public speaker; and the poetry of his raps shows he can use the language. I’m not as forgiving of the documentary film producer/director/writer, but, again, he’s not in the busines of extemporaneous speech. However, my patience runs real thin when the interviewer/emcee uses the same diction as his subjects. Word choice and vocabulary should, of course, be appropriately casual and contemporary, but the diction of the moderator should not sound like a “valley girl.” You demean the generally high quality of your questions, analysis and guests.

Guy

Hi Guy --

Thanks for taking the time to write. It's always nice to hear from listeners, no matter what their age. You're hardly the only 60-something listening to the show -- I think the name throws people off :).

I'm surprised at your critique of my language usage. I don't know what qualifications to offer to counter it... I did get an 800 out of 800 on the verbal portion of my SATs back in high school, and I believe my mother is still tending a garden of medals from the Junior State of America and the Academic Decathalon. Perhaps those are more the qualifications of a nerd than anything else. I suppose my point is that I make my choices advisedly.

I think the difference is at least in part, generational. I might recommend Stanford linguist Geoff Nunberg's essay on the subject of "like," which is featured in one of his books (can't remember which one), and which he read on Fresh Air a few years ago. Geoff was a guest on The Sound of Young America four or five years
ago
, and he was really wonderful.

Ultimately, I think my choices reflect the informal tone of the program. I could certainly be more formal -- I've had job interviews, too -- but the best answers come from guests who are comfortable speaking their minds, and I think an informal environment is more conducive to frankness. It's certainly more conducive to humor, which is typically the backbone of my show. That said -- I still don't think I sound like a Valley girl. I'm from San Francisco.

In any event, thank you for taking the time to write, and for your kind words about the content of the show. Thanks also for supporting WNYC. Without WNYC's brave support, I don't think I'd even be a professional broadcaster. WNYC produces some of the best shows in public radio, like On the Media and Radiolab, as well as some of the best local programming in the country, and I'm very proud to be a part
of it. You should be glad to support their wonderful efforts.

Jesse

So... what do you think?

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: "Slate's Culture Gabfest"

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I have a friend who believes there's no point in political discussion, because it's merely the playacting of fixed psychological biases. While I'm not quite to that point — I'm still pretty sure all political discussion is psychological playacting except mine — I find myself inching toward his position with each passing day, which is why I haven't made a habit of Slate's Political Gabfest. Fortunately for me, the web magazine of web magazines has started a sister podcast to that ultra-popular offering: the Culture Gabfest [iTunes link]. Sure, cultural discourse may be the circular, brain-dead expression of ossified unreason too — I should know, since I blog about it — but at least you don't have to hear about caucuses.

Mirroring its political relative, this gabfest has a panel chat about the implications of recent events and developments in culture from, as the description says, "highbrow to pop." The panel has varied a bit since the podcast's inception early in the year, but it now seems to have settled on erstwhile "Dilettante" (and my favorite member of the Slate Audio Book Club, about which more in a future column) Stephen Metcalf, film critic Dana Stevens and social (and fashion) commentator Julia Turner. For half an hour every two weeks, they trade opinions on what's goin' down in film, art, music, television, the news, mixed martial arts, and Miley Cyrus. They then cap it off with their "endorsements," recommendations from each panelist about what cultural artifact they're currently experiencing.

Penciling pros and cons onto the ledger, I find that I should by all rights dislike the Culture Gabfest. I prefer bold statements to hedged, mealy-mouthed equivocations, and boy, do these panelists ever make with the hedging; one iTunes reviewer comments that Stevens used the phrase "sort of" 36 times in the process of evaluating one film. This gives the listener next to nothing to latch on to, little to agree with, little to disagree with. I don't care if you're right or wrong, guys; just, please, make statements that can potentially be right or wrong, rather than ones nebulous and untestable against the cultural facts before us.

Discussing Barack Obama — arguably more a cultural phenom than a political one — the crew, who sound like they've thrown up in their mouths whenever a Republican is mentioned, wearily moan about how, sure, they would vote for a literate, thoughtful, candidate who admits to reading Philip Roth, but the flyover certainly wouldn't. Alas, even my iPod, a cutting-edge new model, doesn't come equipped with a "Shut. Up. Just. Shut. The. Hell. Up." button. (Disclosure: I'm from the coast too, though west rather than the east.) Also, this podcast provided my unwelcome introduction to the hideous term "booshie", as in, "to tend to one's booshie rooftop garden after reading the works of Michael Pollan."

The problem may be the lack of a deflater. As another iTunes reviewer put it, the show "needs a co-host with a functioning B.S. detector." That it does, and considering the deflationary role that Metcalf sometimes plays on the Audio Book Club — I clenched my fist victoriously when he stated, albeit in a roundabout way, that Eat, Pray, Love sucks — I'm surprised he can't bring himself to do the same here. One episode [MP3] begins with the question of whether that LeBron-James-and-Giselle-Bundchen Vogue cover was racist. The correct answer is "Who cares?" Without someone to straight-up declare that right away, the panelists only get halfway there, and they do it in a meandering fashion.

But I enjoy the Culture Gabfest nonetheless, especially when glimpses of what it might one day become shine through the haze. One example relevant to Max Funsters is their death-of-George-Carlin segment [MP3]. I'm pro-Carlin, but Metcalf admits to always having disliked him. Rather than simply attacking, though, he explains with clarity and intelligence why one might not like Carlin's stuff; he made me understand a perspective different from my own. In culture as in anything else, that's valuable. (Though, staying with that episode for a moment, Metcalf et al utterly failed to get across to me the appeal of Liz Phair.)

I've focused on negative points here only because, when they're corrected, this'll be one damn fine podcast. It's still early in the game, and, like any enterprise, it improves a little with each iteration. The idea at its core, articulate three-way conversation across the cultural spectrum, is a sound one, and I'm confident that, in time, it'll realize a good deal more of its potential. Until then, brace yourself for the occasional lapse into hand-wringing weenieism.

[Freelance podthinker Colin Marshall can be reached at his secret e-mail address, colinjmarshall at gmail. Discuss Podthoughts or suggest future ones on the forum here.]

Jesse on Weekend America

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The kind folks from Weekend America were nice enough to invite me to appear on their popular radio program this week. It was interesting to be on a show where they actually edit things and make you sound better than you sounded in real life. Also, to be on a show that has a real radio studio. And producers. A receptionist, even. Basically, it was interesting to be on a real radio show.

Thanks Weekend America!

(This week Weekend America is hosted by MaxFunPal John Moe.)

It's time for a visit with Mr. Killer Mike

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Our man Killer Mike aka Killa Kill from the 'Ville has a new video, featuring Ice Cube, called Pressure. Powerful record -- there's a lot going on in the video, not entirely sure what they're shooting for with it. It certainly packs a lot of visceral punch.

Pledge Allegiance to the Grind Volume 2 is in stores Tuesday.

Below, see Mike destroy a freestyle on BET. Rare to see MCs truly freestyle on TV when they could just spit some writtens, but it's obvious that Mike is coming off the dome.

Jules Tygiel

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My friend Jules Tygiel passed this week.

Jules was a cultural historian, focusing on California and baseball. He was my professor at San Francisco State University, and wrote one of my college recommendation letters. When I hastily applied to graduate school, he came through with a letter on short notice without even a hint of complaint. He was an inspirational teacher who shared his passion for both history and baseball unreservedly.

In addition to his research, Jules was a wonderful writer. I read his book "Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and his Legacy" before I'd ever met him. In my childhood and teenage years, I read literally hundreds of books about baseball, and "Baseball's Great Experiment" was one of the best. Then as now I was impressed at its combination of academic depth and lucid, exciting prose. It's certainly the best book about Robinson, and when I sold my baseball books a few years ago, it was one of the dozen or so that I kept -- my special favorites. I have often recommended it to friends, both fans and non-fans. In Jules' San Francisco Chronicle obituatary, I was moved to read that it was Rachel Robinson's favorite book about her late husband. I'm not surprised.

Jules was also a friend, particularly close with the Weinstein-Zitrin family, with whom I spent many hours as a young teenager. He and Richard Zitrin, my childhood friend Gabe's father, would engage in heated discussions of baseball subjects -- I remember Richard having particularly strong opinions on whether Jack Morris was overrated, though I can't remember which side he was on and which side Jules was on. Jules was the commissioner of the Pacific Ghost League, the first fantasy baseball league on the West Coast, which was founded in 1981. I'm sure all the owners of the PGL have Jules in their hearts today.

Jules struggled long and hard with cancer, and his illness in recent months was very severe. I will be thinking of him, and of his family. I hope they can find peace in his passing. I also want to thank Jules Tygiel for all he did for me. He will be missed.

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