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a crack in your ear through which sound surreptitiously slips, or an illicit substance which gives your ears immense pleasure while enslaving them to a crippling addiction

Sunday, November 20, 2005

dj steinski

A friend of mine just turned me on to this really great DJ named Steinski. Apparently in the DJ world he's, like, a legend. Since as far back as 1983, he's been taking a very wide range of audio samples from various aspects of popular culture, and weaving them into these slick little pieces of music. I think one of the reasons I've never heard of him is that his music uses so much sampled material that the clearance rights have made it impossible to distribute legally. Another reason may be that I'm woefully ignorant of DJ culture.

But that's why God created Google, which not only led me to a few informative articles and interviews, but some mp3's of his music as well. And thanks to the miracle of copy and paste technology, I'm able to offer them to you, here, today.

Lesson 1: The Payoff Mix (mirror)
Lesson 2: The James Brown Mix (mirror)
Lesson 3: History of Hip-Hop (mirror)

(These mp3s are graciously hosted by Andre and Cameron)

Friday, November 18, 2005

surrender dorothy

Last summer, I rode the train to Chittenango, New York. It was the weekend of their annual Ozfest, and I had a reservation for one at Friday evening's Spaghetti Dinner with the Munchkins in the Chittenango High School Cafeteria. The guests of honor would be three of the actors who played munchkins in the obscure 1939 film adaptation of L. Frank Baum's book "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." You know, the one starring Judy Garland? The Wicked Witch of the West? Flying Monkeys?

Anyway, so Chittenango is L. Frank Baum's birthplace, he lived there until he was five. But I have the feeling that when he was living there, the sidewalks weren't painted gold like they are now, and the Poppy Field in the town center was just a bunch of grass or dirt or something. I'd also be willing to bet that back then, they didn't host an annual festival in Baum's honor, featuring said spaghetti dinner, a screening of the film, a carnival, a parade, and a costume contest for the kids. But luckily for us they do now, and people travel from miles around just to be there.

I had a really wonderful time. Most of the people I met were very friendly, and the whole event had that old-timey small town feel to it. I even got to meet the Munchkins! I recorded everything, not for posterity, but for the radio. That's right, I was on assignment. Studio 360 was producing a brand new episode of their American Icons series, and I was their man in the field...of poppies. This weekend, you can hear the results.

Here's the show description:

Studio 360 follows the yellow brick road. You may think you know the story, but Kurt Andersen and guests will take you to places in the land of Oz that are more wonderful, and weirder, than you ever imagined. We'll meet the original man behind the curtain, L. Frank Baum, who had all the vision of Walt Disney, but none of the business sense. We'll discover how Oz took over the Soviet Union. We'll check in with filmmakers Neil LaBute and Nora Ephron, novelist Salman Rushdie, performer Bobby McFerrin, and others from across the world who find magic, meaning, and inspiration in Oz.

I did a lot of work on it, including preparing the final mix of the whole show. But all I really care about you hearing is this. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

prx podcast: two from terin

I ran accross an interesting producer on the Public Radio Exchange, named Terin Mayer. He's a sophomore at Carleton College, and he produces a show for KRLX in Northfield, Minnesota called "Periscope Radio".

PRX is featuring two pieces of his in a podcast:

Freshmen Formations: James Hannaway
James Hannaway spent this last summer working with a political non-profit walking door to door to raise the minimum wage.

"Subaru’s are the best by the way; most reliably democratic car. Jaguars the least.”

A Prohibition
Originally curated for a temporary museum installation at Carleton College, "A Prohibition" is a poetic contemplation of campus race relations. What do you mean when you say the word "black"? Why can't you say the word "nigger"? Three African American students navigate the language of identity.

click here to download the mp3.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

monster stash

smashedI know it's about 5 days out of fashion right now, but I was just thinking about Halloween as sort of like an American secular cultural exorcism, clearing the way for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's as though, in order to enjoy all that heartwarming family buying power, we have to get all the darkness out of our systems first.

When I was a very young kid, I remember Halloween seriously freaking me out. Anything could be real at that age. I mean, I still believed in Santa Claus, and if he’s real, all bets are off. But however scary it got, the next morning it was always ameliorated by a fresh bucket of candy for my mom to hide from me. That candy was like my heavenly reward for surviving the darkness.


But I’m older now and, while some of you may still cling to the hope that (as of November 1st) we’ve rid the world of the beasts that haunt your soul, I know better. Which is why I offer to you this piece, recently re-broadcast on Studio 360. It's about monsters. It was originally produced in 2003, click here to listen.

Two more pieces that recently aired:

October 26th, on Marketplace Morning Report, a (brand new!) piece I produced about a play that's been running in New York for 18 years, called "Perfect Crime". Click here to listen.

And Studio 360 is airing the Peabody Award-winning episode about Moby-Dick this weekend (check out the nifty new American Icons website design).

(pumpkin photo by Timothy Bates)

Friday, November 04, 2005

paul pena

I’ve just become aware that Paul Pena passed away last month, on October 1st. As I type this blog post, WNYC is playing his recording of “Jet Airliner”, a song he wrote that was made famous by the Steve Miller Band. (His version is much better, in my opinion)

I interviewed Pena at his home in San Francisco in 2003. He was blind, and it was fascinating to see the inside of his apartment, because of course nothing was there for looks. He was in very poor health when I saw him. If you hear earlier tape of him speaking, it’s clear how sick he was when we talked. He struck me as a very talented and soulful performer, who never quite attained the success that his talents might have allowed. But he did enjoy some renewed attention near the end of his life, mostly due to the 1999 video documentary Genghis Blues.

Here is the piece I produced. In it, Pena tells the story of how he discovered Tuvan throat singing, and divulges his secret for attaining the perfect Kargyraa Moan (it's hands down my favorite interview memory EVER).

Here is the announcement from his website.

We're sad to report that Paul passed away Saturday October 1, 2005 in the early evening at his apartment in San Francisco. He'd been through a long battle with Pancreatitis and Diabetes. This is a huge loss for all of us.

During the the past 8 years, Paul's health has been on the decline and his quality of life was greatly diminished by the nearly constant state of pain that he was in. We can take comfort in knowing that he's no longer suffering.

October 2, 2005
San Francisco