For many years, Transom.org editor, Sydney Lewis, worked side by side with Studs on his radio show and his books. For this remembrance, a blend of documentary and reminiscence, she brings together a crew of Stud’s co-workers. They share great stories and wonderful previously-unheard tape of Studs himself. Sydney Lewis co-authored Studs’ book Touch and Go: A Memoir.
Paul Simon is offering a free download of “Getting Ready For Christmas Day.” It’s off his upcoming album So Beautiful Or So What (Spring 2011; Hear Music/Concord Music Group) and samples a 1941 speech by American Christian preacher and gospel singer, Reverend J.M. Gates:
Jean Shepherd used words like a jazz musician uses notes, winding around a theme, playing with variations, sending fresh self-reflective storylines out into the night. Marshall McLuhan called Shepherd “the first radio novelist.” From 1956-1977 Shep spun his late night stories over WOR radio, New York City. PBS gave him a TV series, “Jean Shepherd’s America.” In 1983 he co-wrote and narrated the film version of his “A Christmas Story.”
Thanks to Mr. Shearer, KCRW– Santa Monica (and Sarah Spitz), NPR, and Art Silverman for production support, and for allowing us to re-air this two-hour tribute. This is part one; part two is next week.
One time I woke up at 3 o’clock in the morning. My radio was still on, and a man was talking about how you would try to explain the function of an amusement park to visitors from Venus. It was Jean Shepherd. He was on WOR from midnight to 5:30 every night, mixing childhood reminiscence with contemporary critiques, peppered with such characters as the man who could taste an ice cube and tell you the brand name of the refrigerator it came from and the year of manufacture. Shepherd would orchestrate his colorful tales with music ranging from “The Stars and Stripes Forever” to Bessie Smith singing “Empty Bed Blues.”
–Paul Krassner (from “How the Realist popped America’s cherry“)
My audio album, Fragments, is back up on iTunes — they pulled it because it violated several international treaties regulating maximum overt kewlness (or maybe it was site update glitch). Anyroad, it’s back and I kinda like the fact that in iTunes listings, I’m an Artist: Me = BG = The Wandering Jew.
Virtuoso Voices has compiled interviewing tips from pubradio personalities Bob Edwards, Susan Stamberg, Kurt Andersen, Lisa Mullins, John Diliberto, Lynn Neary and others. It’s all in a 25-page Interviewing 3.0 pdf (296KB).
David Schulman’s (of MITOW) thots on interviewing “feng shui” are revalations. Below are some excerpts from “Interviewing Performing Artists… and Others: A Practical Guide”…
Think of it as a conversation and not an interview. If you do an interview, it will likely SOUND like an interview. How do you talk to a friend over a beer? First you LISTEN—and you react to what you’ve heard. If someone tells me something really interesting, I’ll simply say, “Really?” or “No!” Those are little words of encouragement that signal the speaker to continue—and to expand on previous remarks. If your guest is truly confusing, try “Huh?”
Indulge yourself. Ask the question you’ve always wanted to ask. “What’s that lyric about?”
Don’t be afraid to ask the hard question. They aren’t your friends and you don’t have to worry that they won’t like you or walk out. Although occasionally they do.
Don’t be afraid to ask the obvious question. I got this from listening to Terry Gross, who, besides being a probing interviewer, also knows where the good stories are and isn’t afraid to query into known terrain, because a good story is still a good story, even if it’s been heard before. Chances are, most people still don’t know it. Then find a different angle on that story.
David Greenberger meanders around America, lovingly collecting the life stories of old people like fireflies in a jar. On Cherry Picking Apple Blossom Time he visits Milwaukee which, as one elderly resident explains, has the same number of letters as Wisconsin. Over a smoky grid of blues-funk and acoustic guitar played by Paul Cebar and his band, David recites anecdotes and reflections from the Milwaukee senior citizens that he has interviewed on his recent visits there.
In an America that seems increasingly dominated by amnesia, and the erosion of its history, it’s very heartening — and poignant — to hear these fragments of lives as they draw to a close. The rootsy tone of the music — Ry Cooder, Tom Waits, David Byrne and even Beefheart’s Magic Band come to the mind’s ear — adds Americana to these tales of vanishing Midwestern life. Here are the man who cheated at tomato- growing by hanging a purchased one on a vine; the man who made peace with his artificial arm and hung shopping bags from it; and the man in a red shirt who feels like a king. There are exuberant moments, but the most moving pieces are the elegies: people who gently mourn their vanished partners — one speaks of his wife as his co-pilot, another of how he’s tried to replace his wife with crossword puzzles. The matter-of-fact tone that David uses in these vignettes is partly what makes them so emotional. In ‘No Rooms Here’ you can hear the life and memory of the elderly female narrator dissolving as she speaks. Just as certain as our death is the uncertainty of what follows — this ambiguity riddles the inhabitants of Cherry Picking Apple Blossom Time. More…
We’ll leave you with “this historic recording was made by D.H. Van Lenten in 1962 as part of a series of experiments at Bell Laboratories to understand the nature of speech and hearing.” From Vintage Computer Music, “Computer Speech Demonstration w/ “Bicycle Built for Two” (2:19 mp3):
PRX is getting into the digital record-label biz, and their first release on iTunes is by yours truly. The album is called Fragments, the artist is The Wandering Jew, aka, Barrett Golding, aka, me, aka, go buy it fer chrissakes (make that yahweh’s sake).
Senator from Massachusetts Edward Moore “Ted” Kennedy (February 22, 1932 – August 25, 2009). Here’s his eulogy for his brother Bobby, delivered 8 June 1968 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York; “Address at the Public Memorial Service for Robert F. Kennedy” (9:42 mp3 | transcript):
My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.
Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world.
As he said many times, in many parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him: “Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.”
HV used an excerpt from above in our Oddio Art interactive toy, and in our survey of 1968.
The band The Gregory Brothers are turning newscasters, pundits and politicians into “unintentional” pop-singers by auto-tuning their spoken voices into sung melodies. Their “Auto-Tune the News” series are videos on YouTube and songs on Amie Street.
Michael and Evan Gregory tell us about artificially (art-officially?) interacting with the media’s talking heads. Aired on PRI Studio 360; by producer Barrett Golding, “Auto-Tuned News (edit)” (6:26 mp3):
S360 was a bit time-constrained, so couldn’t present the whole piece, including the G-Bros series Songified History (free d/l at Amie Street), w/ JFK, MLK, & Churchill. Here’s the full vers…
Featuring spoken word stories derived from Greenberger’s conversations with elderly residents of Milwaukee, backed by music composed by Paul Cebar that is seamlessly integrated with the mood of the words.
“A King in Milwaukee, part 1” from Cherry Picking Apple Blossom Time (2:23):
The first sound-recording of a presidential inauguration was made in 1925, Calvin Coolidge’s ceremony. It was one of the first electrical recordings, using not acoustical horns to capture audio, but microphones and amplifiers to record the sound. The inaugural speech of Coolidge’s sucessor, Herbert Hoover, was not recorded. President Ford did not have an Inauguration Day, but did have some memorable moments during his “Remarks On Taking the Oath of Office,” So, from their inaugural addresses: Ladies the Gentlemen, the Presidents of the United States…
Video (by Kenny Haner) of the Evolution Control Committee‘s classic splice-happy send-up of the Evening News. As i recall CBS sent a cease & desist. ECC did neither. CBS said wtf, and gave up. (More on this at ECC site.)