Tag Archives: Arts and Culture

LE 85: Steve Ciolek of The Sidekicks

Well, I took full advantage of the Labor Day weekend—to the point where I actually missed my self-imposed Monday morning deadline. It’s bound to happen from time to time. Once in three years ain’t bad.

In the little bit of time I carve out for myself to read something that isn’t a Hoot n Waddle manuscript submission, I have finally gotten around to reading Bruce Springsteen’s memoir, Born to Run. I’ve had a copy sitting around for a couple of years now, but I kept putting off reading it—likely out of fear that I’d be disappointed. That could still happen, but I’m enjoying it so far. However, I can’t help but compare it to Elvis Costello’s memoir, which came out the same year, and I think that Costello’s has more elegant prose, but Springsteen’s is like his songs—relatively plain spoken, containing flashes of profound insight into the human condition, and a rough yet poignant and pointed working class poetic. Which is why I could not be more upset that he devotes only three measly pages to Nebraska. He spends more time talking about the red light district on a tour stop in Germany in 1980 than he does discussing any of the songs on one of my favorite albums of all time. There’s no question that Nebraska changed my life, so it’d be nice if it got a little more than what amounts to a, Yeah, I recorded it on four track Tascam, it was kind of a game changer for me in my songwriting, but whatevs—now on to Born in the USA, the moneymaker!

Anyway, there’s a lot going on right now, so I’m just going to run down the list real quick:

Wednesday, I’ll be down at Fair Trade Cafe recording the one year anniversary edition of Chatterbox for later posting as a Chatterpod, and I’ll be telling a story, too (details here). You can pick up a copy by going to our Square shop. You can also now pre-order our 2nd book, Reading T. S. Eliot to a Bird by David Chorlton.

This Friday, I’ll be down reading on Roosevelt Row for the launch of the new Rinky Dink series (details here).

Then, September 15th is the big launch of Hoot n Waddle’s first book, Chris Danowski’s DOGSEAR (details here). If you’re in Phoenix on that date, and you can make it, that would be amazing.

I’ll be co-hosting two new podcasts that’ll be available soon. The first up is called What the Fork?: Exploring The Good Place (Unofficially), which I’m doing with my friend and prior Limited Engagement guest, Jason Keil. Next is an artist catalog discussion called Album Infinitum, and that will feature myself and a number of guests going through an artist’s discography one album at a time. I don’t have start dates yet for either show, but they’ll both be up by the end of the year, with What the Fork? likely premiering before The Good Place season three premier.

Lastly, there’s another podcast, but it’s Patreon-only podcast. It’s called Apocalyptic Popsicle, and it’s a straightforward review show. Sometimes it’ll be me solo, and sometimes, when I’m lucky, it’ll have my partner in life and Hoot n Waddle, Janell. The podcast will be available to any patron who supports Hoot n Waddle with a donation of $5 or more per month, which you can do by going here. We’ll have the first episode up no later than the end of this month.

On the latest episode of LE, I talk to Steve Ciolek, frontman of The Sidekicks, about touring, songwriting, recording with storied producer John Agnello, working with an artist-centric record label, and much more. The Sidekicks’ new album, Happiness Hours, is available now from Epitaph, and you can catch them live on their fall tour, which kicks off on 9/13, and includes a stop in Phoenix at The Rebel Lounge on 9/26.

As always, you can listen to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, our website, and a number of other podcast sites as well.

I think that’s plenty for now.

Best,

Jared

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The Blarg No. 82: Estrella Payton

Some fifty year old satire bearing a strange relevance in modern times, that’s one thing. That same satire bearing a strange relevance AND acting as a harbinger of events to come within the small matter of a couple of days? That’s just fucking nuts, but such was the case just this past weekend.

You may recall in the previous edition of this podcast my mentioning a then upcoming screening Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 masterpiece, Dr. Strangelove. In case you’re unfamiliar with it, the film satirizes Cold War tensions between Russia and the United States, and prominently features a very subdued, cordial, casual, perhaps overly friendly and un-statesmanlike manner. Pure farce, right? I mean, with the arms race and everything, the overarching story was more than plausible, but the absurdity was pretty far fetched.

Then the “summit” between Putin and Trump in Helsinki happened, and well, the whole fucking thing seems pretty closely fetched after that, right? That thing was a ball returned, thrown out into wilds, returned again, and…you get the idea. What the everloving fuck? Kubrick would look at everything going on right now and throw in the towel.

Now, I say this next bit knowing that I will vote my conscience in November, with the notion that enough other people will do the same, and some sort of change can happen, or at the very least someone might apply a tourniquet to stem the flow of blood currently gushing from the gaping wound that not only sidelined this country in terms of humanistic progress, but sent it backwards. The thing is, I don’t have a whole lot of hope. There’s a large percentage, or at least a very overbearing, vocal percentage of the population that has shown itself to be bigoted, small-minded, short-sighted, mean, and angry as fuck. There’s a lot of opposition, but it’s going to take more than rhetoric, it’s going to take mobilization—getting progressives to the polls. Not just the major races, either. I’m saying we need people with progressive ideology, or at the very least a sense of decency, to read through propositions, research candidates for committees, dig into the decisions of judicial candidates, because it’s the local races that are really going to make the difference. The senate and house are so hopelessly bought, paid for, and spineless. Local politics and policy are where we can make a difference and turn the nationalist, fascist tide.

And let’s make art that speaks to and against this jingoistic bullshit, shall we?

On this edition of Limited Engagement, artist Estrella Payton discusses her work, her acclimation to Phoenix, what it means to be “decidedly Midwestern,” community engagement through the arts, and how she strives to bring art to neighborhoods without the privilege of access through her role as Communications and Community Engagement Manager at the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture. Estrella’s art is a visceral, endlessly fascinating exploration of the human condition and way we interact within the environs of the structure we impose on ourselves—both personally and inter-personally. You can view Estrella’s work on her website, as well as in-person this November as part of duo exhibition at Cochise College.You can view Estrella’s work on her website, as well as in-person this November as part of a duo exhibition at Cochise College.

Listen to LE 82 – Estrella Payton

Best,
Jared

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The Blarg No. 81: Chris Ayers

Perhaps the least enjoyable aspect of podcasting is the editing process. Well, really, the least enjoyable part of anything is the editing process. Actually, I take all that back. The worst part of a process that involves editing is editing your own work. That’s the worst. The worst for me, at any rate. Other people might really enjoy editing their own stuff, but I can’t stand it. I’m not one of those people who doubts the quality of their work—not anymore, anyway, at least not to the point that I let it get in the way.

Where was I going with that?

Oh, yeah, the whole point is that editing myself is the worst, because whether it’s written or audio, I have to deal with my own voice. Audio is the worst! Who wants to listen to themselves talk that much? I can’t be alone in this. Going back and forth over cut points, making sure the tracks sound right when they’re glued back together… It’s a weekly torture. By the time I put a show up, I’m ready to never hear it again. This has absolutely nothing to do with the person I’m talking to, or the quality of the finished product, it’s simply that I can’t stand to hear the sound of my own voice a moment longer than I have to.

As someone who has suffered from more than a little bit of self-doubt, it’s a wonder I manage to put anything out there at all, and it’s only due to years of feedback from people whose opinions I respect, forcing myself to view my own work objectively, and the cultivation of a strong, healthy “Fuck It” attitude that I keep on plugging away.

This is why I envy the role of a producer who isn’t also the host. The actual editing itself is fun, when it’s someone else’s work. I like doing it. When I edit Chatterpod, it’s great, because I’m not in any of it. I just get to listen back to the storytellers, cut out some of the mic handling noises and transitional silences, level out the sound, and post the episode. I think Limited Engagement is a good, quality podcast, but if I never had to hear myself again, I’d be totally cool with that. Which brings us to this episode’s guest, who gets to happily sit behind the boards, as it were.

Chris Ayers is the producer of On the Grid (hosted by prior guest, Phil Haldiman), as well as the art director at RightThisMinute, and he just started up an awesome passion project, PHX Film Collective, which is dedicated “to bringing culturally relevant cinema to Central Phoenix.” PHX Film Collective’s first event, a screening of Dr. Strangelove, takes place at the Phoenix location of Changing Hands on Saturday, July 14th, at 7:30 pm. Be sure to follow PHX Film Collective across social media platforms for more information on this screening and future events.

Listen to LE 81 – Chris Ayers

Best,

Jared

 

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The Blarg No. 80: Philip Haldiman

80 episodes!

First, though, a quick note of thanks to everyone for the feedback on the intro to the last episode. I was nervous about making myself vulnerable to an audience of listeners, but I felt like it had to be done. Depression, anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, it helps to talk about what’s going on, and as a podcast listener, it helps to hear other people going through similar issues, to relate and empathize, so to not open up would have felt dishonest. Again, thanks for listening, and thanks for the feedback.

But, 80 episodes—fuck, man! I don’t know if it’s ever going to sink in that this is a program other people are interested in, that it’s something other people consider worth their time—it’s mind blowing. As of writing this, Limited Engagement has already had more listeners in the first six months of 2018 than we had in all of 2017, which means, at this rate, we might actually double last year’s number. It’s nuts. If you’re reading this and you listen to the podcast (which, really, I’m not sure why you’d read this if you aren’t a listener), my gratitude runs deep. But, also, please rate and review us on iTunes/Apple Podcasts–listens are amazing, and ratings help us get more listens.

Quick Hoot n Waddle plug: we’re taking pre-orders for our first book, Chris Danowski’s DOGSEAR. You can get the book by itself, or purchase a bundle with a t-shirt or poster or both, and there’s a discount on the bundles exclusively for folks who pre-order online. Chris has written a fantastic book, and I am immensely proud to be publishing it.

My guest for our 80th episode is Philip Haldiman. Phil is known to a large swath of rabid fans as Denny from the cult classic film, The Room. In our conversation, Phil discusses what life is like as a member of the pop culture zeitgeist, the comic book he’s written about his Hollywood experience, My Big Break, and much more. Learn more about Phil’s work on his website.

Also on the show, a brief snippet from an upcoming episode of LE of a conversation I had with Tony Moschetti, who is the host of the Starving Artist PHX podcast and a co-founder of Laughing Pig Theatre. Laughing Pig’s original production, Survival Skills, begins a run of four performances at Mesa Arts Center on June 29th. Get your tickets on Ticket Leap and use the code PODCAST at checkout to receive $5 off per ticket.

Listen to LE 80 – Philip Haldiman

Best,

Jared

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The Blarg No. 79: Joey Burns of Calexico

I spend an awful lot of time expecting things to fall apart. That’s just my go-to assumption. It’s not a crippling thing, it doesn’t stop me from doing stuff, but it’s always there in the background, this nagging feeling that I’m going to wake up one morning and everything I’ve worked on will just disappear—and as I pile on projects and they continue to meet with (always unexpected) success, encouragement, and support, that nagging feeling becomes more insistent, manifesting itself in a palpable sense of anxiety that I can’t seem to shake. When it was just Limited Engagement, and it hadn’t gotten much attention yet, this was a pretty mild feeling, but now the podcast has gotten some attention, as well as an increased audience and a higher profile. Then, add to that the launch of Hoot n Waddle, more podcasts, the subsequent launch of our publishing program, the upcoming releases of our first books… I’m about ready to explode and cover everyone within a decent-sized radius in hot, dripping, messy neuroses.

Apologies for that image.

My strategy thus far has been to just keep my head down and do the work, but I am freaking the fuck out. I don’t know what it’s going to take for me to get comfortable, and I don’t know that I ever will. Maybe that’s a good thing, I don’t know. It certainly keeps me working hard and pushing myself to always improve, to grow, to never get stale or stagnate. On the other hand, I recognize that it can also make me very difficult to be around, and I don’t feel like I can ever really slow down or take a break. I’ve heard there’s something called a happy medium, but I haven’t found it. Sometimes it’s all too exhausting, and I find myself getting deeply depressed and discouraged by tiny, tiny things. I try to push that all down as much as possible, but I can see it seeping out, and I know myself well enough to recognize that if I’m noticing it, then I’m not fooling anyone.

Ugh.

I suppose the upside to all that anxiety is that I don’t take any measure of success, or any opportunities to do cool shit for granted. Case in point, this opportunity I had to talk to Joey Burns.

Joey Burns is a leader and founding member (with the brilliant drummer, John Convertino) of one of the most exciting, talented, and critically lauded bands on the planet, Calexico. On this edition of the podcast, Joey discusses the band’s Tucson roots, what the environment brings to the music, fostering a spirit of collaboration, speaks very candidly about Calexico’s creative process, and much more. Calexico is currently on tour in support of their new album, The Thread That Keeps Us (easily one of the best albums of the year thus far), and if you have the chance to see them live, don’t hesitate to do so.

Also on the show, a brief preview of an upcoming conversation with Philip Haldiman, one of the stars of The Room, which will have a screening at FilmBar on Friday, June 15th at 10 pm.

Listen to LE 79 – Joey Burns of Calexico

Best,

Jared

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The Blarg No. 78: Katie Manning

As I write this, it’s Phoenix Comi—sorry, sorry, Phoenix Comic Fest time! Like the High Holidays, but for nerds, such as myself. We walk the halls en masse, we recognize each other’s costumes and t-shirts without irony, we buy stuff we absolutely do not need. It’s amazing. It will also be over by the time you read this, so if you went as well, I hope we all had a good time.

Phoenix New Times listed us in their list of “Phoenix Podcasts You Need to Hear”, which is really cool. It’s really surreal to see the podcast getting more and more attention. I’ve been doing this show for three years now, and I can’t tell you how many times I wondered to myself if anyone was even listening, let alone thinking it was any good. I’d like to take a brief moment to thank everyone who’s been a guest on the show, and a few people who have been particularly supportive: Leah LeMoine, Mike Pfister, Amy Hagerty, and Cynthia Black.

Quick bit of business: Hoot n Waddle, our little publishing and digital media company, is currently accepting manuscript submissions via Submittable. Please read the guidelines, and if you have anything that fits the bill, please send it our way.

On this edition of Limited Engagement, I talk with poet and professor, Katie Manning. Tasty Other, Manning’s first full length collection of poetry and the recipient of the 2016 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award, chronicles the experience of her first pregnancy through surrealistic dream, religious allusion, and striking imagery that conveys all the love, hope, and anxiety that clinical texts can’t begin to relate. Get yourself a copy of Katie’s book.

Listen to LE 78 – Katie Manning

Best,

Jared

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The Blarg No. 76: Omar Pimienta and Jose Antonio Villaran

First, the cat update. For anyone following our Instagram account (@limitedengagement), you know that we are once more sharing our home with a cat—and I purposely don’t say “own,” because I don’t think you ever really own a cat, they’re more kind of like that free-loading roommate who doesn’t clean up after themselves or pay their share of the rent. Her name is Susuwatari, after the little black soot creatures in the Miyazaki film My Neighbor Totoro. We’re calling her Susu for short. The name seems to suit her. She is, as was Alison (my previous cat, for newer listeners), a rescue from the Humane Society. Black cats are often mistreated and are hard to adopt out, and I have a fondness for them, so I do what I can. Susu has certainly dealt with some trauma (on top of being recently spayed, she’d been abandoned, and was pregnant), but she’s settling in nicely. She and Gizmo are still working out the kinks in their relationship, it’ll be fine. She’s weird, he’s weird—she likes having her belly rubbed, which is not a normal cat thing, and she likes headbutting stuff.

I spent some time writing poetry on demand again. This time it was for Independent Bookstore Day over at Changing Hands Phoenix. My second time now, and again I found it very freeing creatively. I’ve seen some of the writers I’ve done this with make notes and write rough drafts prior to typing up their finished pieces, but I composed one draft on the typewriter, and that was it. I’d never pretend that’s the best way to go about it, but it works for me. The Changing Hands requests were much more difficult than the ones I got on Roosevelt Row. For starters, I had to write a couple of poems suitable for children, then there was the woman who wanted something happy about retiring on a farm with pumpkins, goats, and chickens. About a third of the people wanted something happy. I don’t do happy.

All told, over the course of about 4 hours, I wrote 18 poems, which is nothing to sneeze at. They weren’t all great, but I actually really liked a few of them that I’ll probably rework and hang onto. I’ll post my favorites up on Instagram.

We went to see Infinity War last night, and I’ll probably talk a little bit about my impressions when I record the next Hoot N Review this week with Jenna Duncan, but I loved it. We’ll see where it falls in the rankings over time, but I think it’s possibly their best. At this point, they’ve reached a critical mass as far as the amount of characters goes, but they pulled it off. For a while there, I thought I was watching a Paul Thomas Anderson film with amazing special effects.

I had the opportunity recently to sit down with Omar Pimienta and Jose Antonio Villaran, the writer and translator respectively of The Album of Fences (available now from Cardboard House Press). With everything hitting the fan right now, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to have this discussion on the poetics and poetic politics of borders, the responsibility of artists (of all disciplines) to create work that speaks out against the prevailing rhetoric of fascism, social regression, and hatred. We got deep.

Best,
Jared

Listen to LE 76 – Omar Pimienta and Jose Antonio Villaran

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