Jesse Thorn

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: E-40, Bay Area rap legend

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E-40

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E-40 on his new record Practice Makes Paper and growing up in the Bay area

When it comes to Bay Area hip-hop, this week's guest is quite possibly the greatest of all time. He goes by many names: Forty Fonzarelli, Charlie Hustle, 40-Water or maybe you know him as the Ambassador of the Bay Area. We couldn't be more excited to share this conversation with the one and only E-40.

He was born and raised in the small town of Vallejo, and he has brought the culture of the Bay Area to the world. His distinctive style is overflowing with language — bars stuffed to the gills with words both real and imagined. He's hip-hop's king of slang and a stylist without peer.

He’s spent his career at the forefront of independent music, building a rap empire that changed the way music was recorded and sold, in hip-hop and beyond. He is both an artist and a movement.

His distinctiveness has kept him relevant for three decades now, from mob music in the 1990's to hyphy slaps in the aughts to new music today.

The themes are simple: hustling, street life, a bit of wisdom and a lot of money making. But even now, in his early 50's he tries to stay humble about his success.

E-40 joins us to talk about his new record. We'll pull up some deep cuts from R&B singer Saint Charles, who 40 knows as his Uncle Chuckie. Chuckie was a huge inspiration for E-40. E will also take us to the root of his passion for music. Plus, he'll talk about his college days at Grambling State University. Did he win the school's talent show? Only one way to find out. Listen up!

E-40's latest record "Practice Makes Paper" is out now.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: The MVP Machine authors Ben Lindbergh and Travis Sawchik

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Bullseye
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Ben Lindbergh
Guests: 
Travis Sawchik

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Photo: Basic Books

Ben Linbergh and Travis Sawchik on their new book "The MVP Machine: How Baseball's New Nonconformists Are Using Data to Build Better Players"

It's "Baseball Week" at Bullseye and bestselling authors Ben Lindbergh and Travis Sawchik have stepped up to the plate. Their new book is titled The MVP Machine: How Baseball's New Nonconformists Are Using Data to Build Better Players. It takes a look at the tide-shift happening in the game of baseball. Even if you're not a huge fan of the game, there's a lot to take away from the lessons in the book.

Chances are you're aware of the change in baseball strategy due to a little film called Moneyball. The film, and the book before it, recounts how general managers and recruiters turned to statistical data and probability to arm their teams with the best players in the league. But with the Yankees and the Dodgers and just about every other team in the league all using the same strategy, the efficacy of this method began to wane. That's where The MVP Machine: How Baseball's New Nonconformists Are Using Data to Build Better Players comes in.

The book gets into how a lot of conventional coaching in the big leagues is totally wrong. Throwing your fastball a lot? Wrong. Having a nice even swing? Wrong. Striking out a lot? Who cares! Furthermore, the book examines the dramatic changes happening in the league and how data technology and innovations in coaching are disrupting the front offices as well as lineups. It's a fascinating look at the history of baseball and the potential future that lies ahead.

The MVP Machine is available now.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Author Chuck Klosterman

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Chuck Klosterman

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The Craziest F-king Day Of My Entire Career: Chuck Klosterman

Chuck Klosterman has written countless articles for GQ, ESPN, The Washington Post, Esquire, The Guardian, and many more.

It's safe to say we're huge fans of his work. In 2014, he joined us to talk about I Wear the Black Hat, which examines villainy through pop culture figures like Batman, Kanye West, and LeBron James. In 2016, he talked about his book: But What if We’re Wrong, which examined how the present will be perceived in the future.

His latest, Raised in Captivity: Fictional Nonfiction, is a collection of 34 short stories. It's a bit of a departure from his earlier work, but it's just as brilliant.


Penguin Press

This time around, Klosterman joins us to tell us about the craziest day of his career.

His crazy day begins before he made it big as a writer. Back in the early 2000's, Chuck was a reporter and columnist for a local newspaper, the Akron Beacon Journal in Ohio. He had just released his first book, Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural Nörth Daköta. Like most people, he thought no one important was reading it. That is until he got a pretty memorable phone call.

Trust us, this is one story you don't want to miss. Klosterman's new book Raised in Captivity: Fictional Nonfiction is out now.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Journalist and author Jeff Chang

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Jeff Chang

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Journalist and author Jeff Chang on his latest project We Gon' Be Alright

Jeff Chang is a journalist and music critic with an emphasis on hip hop music and culture. His writings have appeared in San Francisco Chronicle, the Village Voice, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Spin, and many more.

Nearly 15 years ago, Chang published Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation. He's published three books since then. He joined us in 2015, to talk about Who We Be: A Cultural History of Race in Post-Civil Rights America.

Jeff Chang returns to Bullseye for his latest project, We Gon' Be Alright. It was a book back in 2016, and it's a follow up to Who We Be. Recently, We Gon' Be Alright was turned into a web series by Indie Lens Spotlight.

The series deals with some really tough questions with no easy answer. The current state of racism since Trump became President. Where Asian Americans fall when it comes to discrimination. How bigotry plays out even within the same race.

He wanted to talk about big topics like racial segregation in housing, entertainment and education. It's a look at the state of race relations in America today. And, what he'd like to see people do about it.

Check out We Gon' Be Alright on YouTube.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Comic and actor J.B. Smoove

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J.B. Smoove on Curb Your Enthusiasm, writing on Saturday Night Live and more

J.B. Smoove is without a doubt one of the funniest people we've ever had on Bullseye.

He got his start in television as one of the stars of Def Comedy Jam in the mid-90's. In the early aughts he became a writer on Saturday Night Live. J.B. wrote sketches like a commercial for "Tylenol Extreme," and a hypothetical remake of Norman Lear's "Good Times." He's probably best known for his role as Leon on Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Currently, you can check him out in Spider-Man: Far From Home. In the film, J.B. plays Peter Parker's teacher, Julius Dell. He has some really funny moments as Parker's chaperone.

J.B. joins us to talk about his time on SNL. He'll explain how an audition to be a featured cast member actually landed him a job as a writer instead. We'll hear about a few of his favorite sketches that never made it to air.

He'll also talk about his work on Curb Your Enthusiasm, and why he always goes to an audition in character. Plus, he'll tell us about the time he told Howard Stern, and we quote: "You can't eat spaghetti on an open patio." Join us to learn exactly what he means!

When he's not working on screen he keeps busy on the road. He tries to test out as much new material as possible. You can see him on tour all over the country this summer and fall. Check out his website for latest dates.

A heads up to listeners, this episode contains many censored expletives throughout the interview.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Sinkane's Ahmed Gallab with Guest Host Shereen Marisol Meraji

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Ahmed Gallab

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Sinkane's Ahmed Gallab

Singer-songwriter Ahmed Gallab is a citizen of the world. Born in London and raised in the United States to Sudanese parents, Gallab creates music that draws inspiration from every corner of the planet. His band, Sinkane, is based in Brooklyn and makes music that fuses Afrobeat, funk and Brooklyn indie-rock vibes. There's even a hint of prog rock and electronica mixed in!

Gallab got his start the way a lot of musicians do, as a session musician. He joined the backing bands for Eleanor Friedberger and Caribou and has worked with of Montreal and Born Ruffians. He also led a tribute band to the late Nigerian funk musician William Onyeabor with the likes of David Byrne of Talking Heads and Damon Albarn from Blur.

Sinkane's debut album Sinisterals was released in 2007. Since then Ahmed's made several great albums. The latest, Dépaysé, mixes genres again with a much more personal feel. Seeking a way to find a good time through music while also addressing oppression head-on, Gallab sought out inspiration from music's past and his own. He looked to a few of his musical inspirations from America's post Civil Rights movement: Sly Stone, George Clinton, Bob Marley. The result was an album that sits firmly in the pocket while feeling more "honest" than the artist's previous creations. He draws from his Sudanese roots, conversations with his father about their Arabic background and the political unrest in their homeland to create a sound that is like nothing else.

Bullseye guest host Shereen Marisol Meraji talks with Ahmed about how a dream inspired this record, why his favorite musicians have a clear political message and how an appearance on Letterman twelve years ago finally changed his parent's mind about his career aspirations.

Dépaysé is available now.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Tales of the City's Garcia with Guest Host Shereen Marisol Meraji

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Garcia

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Garcia on their breakout role in "Tales of the City"

Garcia makes their acting debut on the popular Netflix miniseries Tales of the City. It's an update to the LGBTQIA classic which premiered in the 90's on PBS and starred Olympia Dukakis and Laura Linney. The two reprise their roles in the 2019 version. The show is based on the novel series of the same name written by Armistead Maupin which grew out of a newspaper column.

Tales of the City takes place in San Francisco and follows the lives of a group of people living at 28 Barbary Lane. The 90th birthday of Dukakis' Anna Madrigal brings characters together and threatens to uproot deeply seeded secrets and emotions. The cast and characters are from a wide variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds as well as gender expressions and sexual orientations.

In the show, Garcia plays Jake Rodriguez. Jake is a trans man in a relationship with his lesbian girlfriend Margot. Jake is a few years into his transition and is still adjusting to his new life. Margot is adjusting to being in a straight relationship and, although she loves Jake, she expresses her frustrations with the change. This puts a strain on their relationship.

Garcia talks with guest host Shereen Marisol Meraji about working in Hollywood as a trans non-binary person of color and how their chosen family lead them to acting.

Tales of the City is streaming now on Netflix.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Washington Nationals' relief pitcher Sean Doolittle

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Sean Doolittle

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Washington Nationals' relief pitcher Sean Doolittle

Washington Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle might be one of the most interesting players in baseball.

Sean had an improbable journey to the majors. He was originally drafted as a hitter in 2007 before being sidelined by knee injuries. He didn't play for two years as a result. When Sean joined us in 2017, he talked to Jesse about the physical and mental obstacles he faced during recovery. At one point, he thought about giving up and going back to college to earn his degree.

Eventually, Sean was encouraged to try his hand at pitching instead. As it turns out, he had an excellent arm and could throw in the mid-to-high-90s. He played with the A's, and was selected as an All-Star in 2014. It's been a pretty good career for a guy that wasn't even supposed to be a pitcher.

Sean's known as one of the nicest guys in the majors. He's used his platform as a baseball player to raise awareness about a number of causes. He's worked with veteran groups, spoken out publicly for LGBT rights and hosted a Thanksgiving dinner with Syrian refugees.

You can find out what Sean's up to on Twitter.

Listen to this interview on YouTube!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Edie Falco

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Bullseye
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Edie Falco

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Edie Falco on Outside In and her legacy in The Sopranos

Edie Falco was over a decade into her acting career before she got her breakout role as Carmela Soprano in the classic HBO mob drama The Sopranos.

She was brilliant on the show: loving, fierce, tragic and independent. She subverted the mob wife archetypes, too. Above anything else, Carmela wanted a normal life, she wanted her kids to go to a good school, she wanted her husband to show up for dinner.

She then went on to play the lead role in the Showtime dark comedy Nurse Jackie , for which she won an Emmy in 2010 for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.

In 2018, she joined us to talk about Outside In. In the film, Edie plays Carol, a married high school English teacher who became pen pals with a former student named Chris. He's been serving a 20-year prison sentence. After he gets out of prison, things get complicated between them.

Edie talks to Jesse about landing her first acting gig, which she started the day after she graduated from acting school at SUNY Purchase. Plus, Edie tells us why she thinks comedy isn't for her, and she'll reflect on working with James Gandolfini for nearly a decade on The Sopranos.

Click here to listen to Edie Falco's interview on YouTube.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Linda Holmes

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Bullseye
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Linda Holmes

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Writer Linda Holmes on her debut novel "Evvie Drake Starts Over."

If you've arrived from a far-off galaxy and need to quickly ascertain what the most worthy bits of pop culture information are to take back to your home planet, you'd do no better than following the musings of Linda Holmes. Holmes, a pop culture critic and one of the hosts of the NPR podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour is smart, witty, and very funny. She has amazing taste in TV and movies and loves to talk about it. She even recently convinced us that the entire cast of that new Sonic movie is worth pulling for and well… you saw the trailer.

But Linda's first love has always been writing. She's just released her debut novel titled Evvie Drake Starts Over. It's about a young woman dealing with the grief of losing a husband whose life intersects with a major league baseball pitcher who is experiencing a slump in his season.

Linda could have mailed it in. She could have turned in 300 pages about a great TV show or band you've never heard of, but you've probably got a million of those types of books on your bookshelves and tablets already. Instead, she decided to write a book about love, loss, and the power of starting over. It's quite good.

Evvie Drake Starts Over is out now.

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