Field recordings in the Annapurna region of Nepal near Tibet, including a ceremony for the Buddha’s birthday, a few donkey trains passing in a cacophony of melodious bells; and a five-foot prayer wheel in a Buddhist gompa in Marpha.
From NPR Radio Expeditions, hidden deep in the woods of the Payette National Forest are the terraced remnants of the “Ah Toy Garden” (near the town of Warren, Idaho), now on the National Register of Historic Places. Produced by Carolyn Jensen Chadwick with sound desgin by Michael Scweppe.
When most people are headed to the beach, our producer heads for the ski slopes near his home in Utah. The goal is to find a combination of freezing and thawing in the late spring that gives the mountain snow pack the singular spring skiing experience(on PRX | on NPR).
Attempting to climb the world’s most deadly and second highest demands extreme gear, training, timing, preparation, and a carefully selected team. Joe Frank eschews every bit of that: why make so easy? Excepted from Joe’s hour, Mountain Rain, available on CD and as an MP3. Music: “Buried At Sea” MC 900 Ft Jesus, One Step Ahead of the Spider.
We’re occupying the streets of Los Angeles; our demands: bring us stories…
“Pilgrim Land” (2005 / 0:43 excerpt) Tom Russell
“Old America” (3:32 excerpt)
“Bukowski #2 on the Hustle=” (2:08 excerpt)
“Honky Jazz” (4:14)
“Swap Meet Jesus” (4:21)
From the album Hotwalker: Charles Bukowski & A Ballad for Gone. An Americana ode to old L.A., the music, the culture, from beat outsiders to religious revivals to long gone radio sounds; with stuntman, circus midget, and actor Little Jack Horton.
“Hotwalker is the best Sam Peckinpah movie since Peckinpah died. It’s a ghostly jubilee, an audacious slab of Blue America. Narrated aby noir cowboy, Tom Russell, it is a singular recording, bound to be controversial — it’s not only going to ruffle feathers, but leave feathers scattered on the ground.”
—novelist-poet Luis Urrea
Erica was a private investigator; now she’s a radio producer. The skills overlap: you ask questions, try to figure what happened, and make a report. (None of the interviewees were clients when she recorded them.) Produced by Larry Massett.
A good neighbor goes bad in the producer’s DC block. Dozens of rats are infesting her yard and attacking other houses. Produced for This American Life, “Neighbors,” and part of Katie’s Neighborhood Stories series. End music: Music: “Cheval Noir” Fug, Ready For Us..
“I can break the law because… I am the law.” Sleepless in Tbilisi. A twenty-four hour tour, from Turkish baths to Batumi beaches, through the country of Georgia, in Southwest Asia. High-speed sight-seeing, driven by the accidental tourguide: “a ‘detective,’ or ‘special police,’ or ‘security force.’ It’s not clear. Sometimes he even says ‘KGB,’ though that no longer exists… does it?” Music: “Dachrilis Simgera (Song for Wounded)” Tbilisi Vocal Ensemble, Georgian Folk and Sacred Songs (2002). (Annotated transcript.)
Sure Facebook sux. But it has its moments; and many of them are found on Joe Frank’s page, amongst his semi-regular deliciously dark ramblings:
Flying over the Tanganyika Game Reserve in a hot air balloon. My guide is a drunken Englishman from the old colonial school dressed entirely in white. He has a flask of port strapped to his leg. His nose is red and veined. We travel over a savannah, observing herds of wildebeests and zebras below.
hen the colonel removes his clothes and throws them over the side of the basket. He claims the natives collect them and use them to make flags and scarves, which they sell to the tourists.
Dancing in the streets of Rio in a samba club, making our way up Sugar Loaf Mountain to ascend to the statue of Christ that looks over the city. I feel a sense of exhilaration, my heart bursting with joy. I’m wearing a fantastic feathered woman’s mask, eyeballs on stalks, ears on springs, Pinocchio nose supporting a live tree limb filled with songbirds, and joyously dancing in high heeled platform shoes and net stockings, gyrating my hips, a pair of soccer balls attached to my rear…»
Be his FB-fren and read the rest of this, and many other of his flights of freaky.
A classical composition, in three parts, for strings, winds, and an interview with Tom Martinet, who trained to be a priest, but, instead, started working Nevada dice tables. Premiered 1997 in Vegas, performed by Sierra Wind Quintet. Re-released on PKB’s 2006 Larkin Gifford’s Harmonica.
“Poker at the Ox” (9:54) Alex Chadwick
An NPR hosts pits his wits against the regulars at a downtown small-town casino. Guess who wins. Produced by Carolyn Jensen; sound engineer by Michael Schweppe.
“Old Gambler” (7:07) Joe Frank
An excerpt from Joe’s hour “Zen” in his series The Other Side. What happened in Vegas… definitely didn’t stay in Vegas. Getting on the wrong side of Sin City’s collection crew.
“Bass Keno” (8:18)
Jazz bassist Kelly Roberti (David Murray Quintet) lost his bass to the keno machines. He kicked the habit; the scars remain, but the bass is back. Kelly was a 2010 Governor’s Arts Awards winner.
“Lock It Up” (5:56) John Ridley
A radio drama written for Ridley’s 2001 LA Series on NPR Morning Edition. Performers are Bob Wisdom, Yang Chee, and Jim Wallace (script).
Above photo of the Las Vegas sign by Kcferret, June 2005.
[Fresh from Joe Franks’s Facebook page, reprinted by permission…]
Across the alley is an apartment building. You look into one of the windows and see an old black couple arguing in a loving, formulated fashion that they’ve worked for years to perfection. He gestures violently, his left hand holding a half‑eaten turkey leg.
She, continually wiping her hands on her apron, finally balls her fist up and shakes it in front of his face. He turns away in disgust. Who is she? Bessie, mother of many children, daughter of a sharecropper, opens the Bible to the very same verses. Behind her eyes lurk 1,000 dead Ashanti dreams. She possesses the keys to a house in the suburbs. She gets car fare. She takes the early bus to where she wears the same housedress and walks from room to room carrying a radio. She’s never paid taxes — she’s always paid in cash. She has no Social Security number.
She is an angel on earth, the guardian of the house, forever wiping her hands upon her apron, tucking the children into bed, sitting heavily beside them, her breath sweet, her stories bittersweet, her hair a crinkly, soft white tied with a bandana, always weary, never tired, with a great posterior that moves with grace from room to room. Housemaid, housemother, house spirit, protector of children’s dreams. Verses, Psalms. She sings them in a melody that evokes the sound of a great flowing river, of distant banjos, the scent of magnolias, great porticos upon which gentlemen with drooping mustaches sit, feet up, drinking mint juleps.
She knows the secrets of the master and mistress of the house. She knows where he keeps his pornographic magazines, where she keeps the list of lovers that she visits from time to time. She’s found the wife’s recent love letters, airplane tickets to destinations not mentioned in daily conversations, receipts for jewelry the wife does not possess, and deep within a jar of Vaseline, the key to a motel room.
She’s found the cotton handkerchief into which the teenage son spills his seed in the secret moments of his private ecstasy. She’s found a small, brown bottle with white powder in it, the cap of which is attached by a small, brass chain to a spoon, rolled up into a pair of socks in the drawer of the teenage daughter’s bedroom.
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“)
Sarah Vowell is a gunsmith’s daughter, in “Shooting Dad,” produced for This American Life (from Lies Sissies & Fiascoes). Sarah’s latest book is The Wordy Shipmates. (Music: “Rebel Rouser” Duane Eddy 1958 Have Twangy Guitar Will Travel, “Burnt Down With Feedback” Phono-Comb 1996 Fresh Gasoline, “Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad” Jonathan Richman 1990 Jonathan Goes Country.)
Joe Frank lets us eavesdrop on a father-son phone call between “Larry and Zachary” Block, from Joe’s hour Karma 3.
Host Larry Massett and several other sons try to get to know their “Lost and Found Fathers,” produced for Soundprint, with help from Barrett Golding, Brian Brophy, Bob Burrus, and Henry Dennis.
A nightmare in a city split by three religions, as dreamt by an Jewish soldier, an Arab bomber, and a Mississippi minister; from Joe Frank‘s hour Time’s Arrow. [Music: Air “Alone in Kyoto” Talkie Walkie (2004)].
Growing a tree and understanding on the property of the same family home, in the same family homeland, shared by an Israeli and an Palestinian family; from Sandy Tolan of Homelands Productions. [Music: Dorothy Wang.]
Health caretakers, friends, family, workers and volunteers:
“Dialysis” by Joe Frank: A phone call, kidney failure and a friend indeed; followed by a flight of final fancy, from the hour “Goodbye.”
“Three Woman” by host by Dmae Roberts: Three women, a Chicana, African American and Romanian immigrant, describe their different approaches to surviving breast cancer. Produced as part of the “The Breast Cancer Monologues,” with Miae Kim, Anca Micheti, and music by Maria Esteves.
Howard Dully traces the reasons and repercusssions of his transorbital or “ice pick” lobotomy, a radical new procedure in the treatment of mental illness in this country, pioneered and performed by psychiatrist Walter J. Freeman.
Produced by Dave Isay and Piya Kochhar, with help from Larry Blood, Eliza Bettinger, Brett Myers, Jessica Tickten, Anna Goldman, Maisie Tivnan, Colin Murphy and Jonah Engle Narratored by Howard Dully; edited by Gary Covino. Jack El-Hai was project advisor. Special thanks to: Barbara Dully, Andrew Goldberg, Christine Johnson, Lyle Slovick & David Anderson at the GWU Gelman Library archives. Funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts.