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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

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!


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