Tag Archives: Arts and Culture

The Blarg No. 65: Joy Young

Wearing sweaters as the world burns…

December showed up as it always does. Right on time. One moment it’s November 30th at 11:59 pm, and then, boom, December 1st is right there on top of things. Despite despising the holidays, I actually really like December. I’d say it’s probably my favorite month, and not just because I was born in it. I like the atmosphere, I like the crisp snap of the air, but above all I like wearing sweaters. I love wearing sweaters. I wish it were sweater weather all the time, but in Arizona, sweater time is very, very limited. I’m not weird about it or anything—I don’t have some weird sweater fetish—I like the softness of them, I like that you can get away with wearing them at work, and they’re super-comfortable, so it’s almost like you feel you’re getting away with something. I guess I should say “I” feel that way, because it is extraordinarily presumptive of me to think anyone else might feel the same.

This year, though, something feels off. I’m not getting to enjoy my sweater time as much as I normally do. Maybe, and I’m just hypothesizing here, it’s because it seems as though the entire world is either literally or metaphorically on fire. Hard to feel good about being comfy and cozy when you are also an empathetic person and paying attention to everything going on around you. Again, that “you” is presumptive, and I’m doing my best to quit presumption. I’m sure there’s some sort of presumptive support group or multi-step program, but I’m determined to quit presumption cold turkey.

I had a really fun conversation with Joy Young. I really like their work, and this was the first time I’ve had occasion to talk to them about their process, where their stories come from, and connect creatively. It turns out the reason for this might be that, although we’re both pretty active in similar, often connecting or intersecting literary circles, we’re also both pretty cripplingly shy and suffer from heavy social anxiety. It’s apparently not terribly uncommon for literary types who appear confident and have success on stage to be incredibly introverted. Who knew? Well, I did know actually, but it’s still nice to connect and not feel so alone.

Joy Young is a performance and teaching spoken word artist based in Phoenix, Az. Their poetry and workshops, much of which centers on transgressing borders, entering topics pertaining to social justice through poetic personal narratives has been featured on Button Poetry and Everyday Feminism as well as on stages and in colleges and classrooms across the country. Joy is a co-founder of Off the Page—a monthly recurring workshop and open mic at Wasted Ink Zine Distro that seeks to build connection and community within Phoenix’s diverse literary and performance communities. Learn more about them at https://www.joyyoungpoetry.com/

Best,
Jared

Listen to LE 65 – Joy Young

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under The Blarg

The Blarg No. 64: Cardboard House Press

What Is Downtime?

I took a little break from Limited Engagement. It had to be done. I needed to relax. There’s a lot of work that goes into producing a weekly show, and I’ve gone over all of it before, I’m pretty sure, so I don’t see any need to rehash it here, but it was all becoming really stressful, and I needed to take a little break, to regroup. So what did I do? I created another podcast. Because I apparently don’t know what “downtime” means.

Hoot N Review is a pop culture review pod, which will focus on my views regarding music, film, TV, literature, and really any other medium I feel I might have something to say about. As a lifetime consumer of “stuff,” with a sort of obsessive need to study and explore beyond the surface, this is a passion project, which I hope some other people out there might have an interest in hearing. We have a super-cute logo. You can listen to it by clicking the picture below.

twitter

LE is back, though, and this week’s guests are Maggie Messerschmidt and Giancarlo Huapaya of Cardboard House Press. We’ve been talking about having them on the show since back when we were still doing the monthly live show, and we finally managed to make the calendars align. It was a great conversation—veering into the political at times, but it’s hard not to—and I’m glad we were able to make it happen.

Cardboard House Press is a non-profit publisher bringing powerfully beautiful works of Latin American and Spanish literature to an English-speaking audience that would otherwise have no outlet or exposure—works of great social, cultural and political import in their countries of origin. They recently setup a subscription plan where you can receive forthcoming publications at either a 6 or 9-title level, and you can learn more at cardboardhousepress.org

Best,
Jared

Listen to LE 64 – Cardboard House Press

Leave a comment

Filed under The Blarg

The Blarg 61: PHX Zine Fest

Up in the Air

On the road again—well, technically, in the air, I suppose. Nothing fun this time, off to Anaheim—a work thing at the Disneyland conference. Never has the happiest place on earth been a less apropos slogan. I haven’t been to Disneyland since 1987 or ’88. It was one of the last things I did with my dad, and I don’t recall being terribly happy then either. We went on Star Tours—that was cool.

I’m a much better flyer than I used to be, but I still hate doing it. I don’t know that I’ve really talked about it much here, so I apologize for any retread. The thing is, I don’t think people belong in airplanes. It’s just not natural being up there in a big metal tube. I understand that there are very scientific principles, sound mathematics, and fancy physics keeping me airborne, but I don’t trust it for a second. People belong on the ground.

Naturally, this conflicts with my love of science fiction and desire to be aboard the Enterprise (TOS or TNG only, thank you very much), or to shoot down TIE fighters in the Millennium Falcon, but what are you gonna do? How likely is any of that anyway? I’m thinking not so much.

I think this week’s show is pretty cool. As you may or may not know, we set up shop (read: a couple of mic stands, mics, and my handy ZOOM H4N) at this year’s PHX Zine Fest and made ourselves available to anyone who wanted to records their experience there—either as a vendor or an attendee. We got some really cool stories, and they are pieced together here for your listening pleasure.

To listen to the show and find links to projects for all of the guests, head here: LE 61 – PHX Zine Fest

Best,
Jared

Leave a comment

Filed under The Blarg

The Blarg No. 59: Lisa Olson

This is a first: I’m writing The Blarg days ahead of time. I usually do all this stuff on the weekend/just before I post the show on Sunday night. However, this weekend, we’re leaving Friday night to table/promote Limited Engagement for the first time at the Las Vegas Book Festival on Saturday. We’re at the table with a bunch of friends, so it should be fun. Then, on Sunday, we’re over at PHX Zine Fest. I’ve pretty much been going non-stop, and I’m really tired. Since I’m pre-writing this, let’s say that everything was a smashing success, and everything is awesome.

Brief little anecdote, roughly a week apart, we went to two very different concerts. The first, Billy Bragg over at the Crescent Ballroom, was fucking awesome. Despite the fact that he’d lost his voice (and sold out of t-shirts) in California, Mr. Bragg, sans opener, put on a two hour show with nothing but four cups of tea, two guitars, and some of the most natural, entertaining banter. Plus, he was armed with a brace of amazing songs that weren’t even a little bit ruined by a dismissive remark about podcasters. If you don’t know who Billy Bragg is, or it’s been a while since you’ve listened to his music, you owe it to yourself to go have a listen—he’s exactly the sort of singer-songwriter we need right now, and he’s been the kind of songwriter we need for more than thirty years.

The second show was not even one we were planning to go to, and that was Dinosaur Jr. They’re a great band, J. Mascis is an amazing guitarist, but to be honest, I’m much more of a Lou Barlow fan. Sebadoh is one of my favorite bands, and Lou’s solo work—Emoh in particular—is awesome, so I went ahead and reached out to Lou to see if he’d be interested in doing the show, and he said sure, so Janell and I went down to the Van Buren and Lou and I chatted for about an hour or so. Then he asked if we were going to the show, I said we didn’t get tickets (I left out the part about how it was because I needed some sleep), and he asked if we wanted to be put on the guest list. How do you say no to that? So we saw Dinosaur Jr., and they were great, but they were really loud—to the point where I wished I had earplugs, and I felt super old. I’d like to highlight, though, that the whole experience was amazing, and I never thought I’d be at a point in life where I get to sit and chat to my musical idols and get put on guest lists.

Lisa Olson is a really cool person, and she runs this really cool place called Practical Art, a retail space and gallery that features the work of 150+ local artists (and the only store that carries our book, The Arg in Blarg). She’s also a photographer, and you can check out her work here. We recorded in the shop, so you’ll notice a few pauses here and there for customer traffic, some background music, and a point around the 30 min mark where I apparently forgot how to put words together. That last bit has nothing to do with where the recording was done, it’s apparently just a special gift I have.

Best,
Jared

Listen to LE 59 – Lisa Olson

Leave a comment

Filed under The Blarg

The Blarg No. 56: Howl Theatre Project

2017 has a lot to answer for, but it’s offered up some amazing moments as well—for Limited Engagement in particular and myself along the way. It’s been rough but rewarding keeping up with the weekly format. I kinda miss the monthly live show, but if I bring it back, it needs to be something that sets it apart from the regular podcast—something special. I’m not sure what that something is yet, hence the continued hiatus as hurl ourselves into October, hoping to burst across December’s finish line. Hoot N Waddle is coming along, slowly but surely. It’s not where I was hoping it would be yet, but patience is something I’ve never been great with. We’re doing Hoot N Waddle right, and that takes time.

To that end, we launched our first podcast on the network, a partnership with Jessie Balli and Chatterbox, the appropriately titled Chatterpod. You can hear the pilot as a Limited Engagement episode (LE 50), and the first official show on the Chatterpod landing page (more episodes are coming soon, I promise). Also, this last week, I recorded a show for Leah Marche and Mike Pfister at The Nash—it was fucking awesome. I’m not sure exactly how or when that is going to come out, but it’s a long-term partnership, and there are more shows to come. Then, this month we’ll be setup over at Phx Zine Fest to record anyone interested in sharing their experience—vendors and attendees alike. Should be fun.

Adding to the milestone of our “Best Podcast” nod from PHOENIX Magazine in their Best of the Valley issue, Phoenix New Times just named Limited Engagement “Best Cultural Podcast” in their Best of Phoenix 2017 issue. It’s really cool to have the show acknowledged and legitimized in the media like this, but I’ve gotta say, it stresses me out a little. Now, I feel like I’ve got more people paying attention, and when you’re named the best of anything, there’s this tendency for people to wait for something to slip quality-wise, so they can say, “Eh, that show’s not that great.” I’ve just got to keep my head down and keep doing what I’ve been doing. I think I can handle that without imploding. I’ll let you know.

This week, I talk to Chris Danowski, Bethanne Abramovich, Jamie Haas Hendricks, and Jake Jack Hylton of Howl Theatre Project. I had a blast talking to these guys. Somehow we managed to get completely absurd while weaving in a serious discussion on the state of independent theatre in Phoenix, as well as talk about the craft and work involved in mounting a stage production. Their most recent show is The New Phoenicians, and if you ever have the opportunity to check out anything they do, you absolutely should, because they’re awesome.

Listen to LE 56 – Howl Theatre Project

Leave a comment

Filed under The Blarg

The Blarg No. 53: Gift Children Books

Saturday night, Janell and I had the great pleasure of seeing first The SunPunchers, and then the Howe Gelb Jazz trio at Valley Bar. The SunPunchers are a superb Americana band led by the sizeable songwriting talent and beautiful voice of Betsy Ganz, and featuring the talents of Mr. Jon Rauhouse—a veritable wizard of a musician. I’m not just praising The SunPunchers because they’re going to be on the show soon, that’s just an added bonus. I highly suggest you check them out—they are equally stunning on record and in person.

For a little while there, it looked like I was going to get a chance to talk to Howe Gelb for the podcast, but it didn’t happen. We were first emailing, then texting back and forth all the way up until the last text I received from him just prior to The SunPunchers set, which reads, “meyer fo.” I’m not sure what that means, I think it was supposed to be “maybe so” based on the conversation we were having, but somehow “meyer fo” is better. No big deal, I think I’ll get to talk to him some day, and it was pretty cool to have a text-versation with a musician whose work I admire deeply.

Howe’s set was fantastic. He and his band have a tight telepathic connection—they have to in order to keep up with the unpredictability of the show (he half-joked about midway through the set that he hasn’t had a setlist in over 35 years). Several references were made to his advancing age and the effects of jet lag, but during a break between piano sets, Howe broke out an acoustic guitar and proceeded to display some impressive, agile, nimble licks. His style as a guitarist is that rare, precious mixture of technical know-how and effortlessly emotional execution that punches you in the head and the heart all at once. The cherry on top was hearing the gorgeous, haunting vocals of Lonna Kelley float over the last few songs of the performance. Howe Gelb’s album Future Standards (which features Kelley heavily throughout) is a gem, and I highly recommend it.

On this week’s show, our 53rd, I talk to Nazlah Hassan, the founder of Gift Children Books, an organization with the mission of getting books in the hands of children from families with economic hardships who would otherwise be unable to afford them. The organization holds annual bookfairs in Harlem and Phoenix, and the Phoenix bookfair will take place on November 11th at Booker T. Washington Child Development Center. November 4th, in the same location from 9am to 5pm, Gift Children Books is holding a fundraising book sale where members of the public will have the opportunity to purchase from a selection of 1500 titles written by and about African Americans.

Best,
Jared

Listen to LE 53 – Gift Children Books

Leave a comment

Filed under The Blarg

The Blarg No. 52: Chicago Edition

As I’m sitting here, writing this week’s blarg, it is our fifth and final day in Chicago. If you factor in Thursday being our arrival/getting settled in day, Sunday being taken up by wedding—which was the whole reason we flew out, and it was a lovely wedding—and today being the pack things up and leave day, we had roughly two days to explore the downtown area. I have the same feelings about Chicago that I do with any other city I’ve visited, which are that I could live here for years and never really know the city, that I feel most at home in a city, and that I really, really hate driving in the city. Driving is great in the suburbs and more open, rural areas, where there is space, long stretches of scenic viewing, and most importantly, more room between vehicles. Driving in the city is stressful, and I much prefer walking and utilizing public transit, because really, in a well-planned city, you almost don’t need a car. Which is why I would say Los Angeles is not well-planned at all. As the great poet laureate of the endearingly cranky once sang, “I love L.A.,” but I’m pretty sure that it was designed by someone who wondered what it would be like if all of the layers of layer were presented in pancake form.

Chicago has some wonderful, iconic cultural attractions, that I highly recommend you check out when you visit the city, and I hope to visit them as well the next time we come out. What I was more interested in, though, was book and record stores, so if you’re interested in hearing about those, then this week’s show is made for you. Janell’s family is here in Chicago, so the likelihood is that we’ll be back, and I’ll have the opportunity to do more exploring, but there is also an equal likelihood that I will continue to seek out the record stores that I didn’t get to on this trip. I’m a man with a mission, you see—I’ve been looking for a vinyl edition of Frank, my favorite Squeeze album, for quite a number of years now, and this search dominates every excursion we make outside of the Phoenix area. An obsession? Yes. An unhealthy one? That’s debatable. You live your life, I’ll live mine. We did go to a jazz festival, and that was interesting…

This week’s show was meant to be recorded entirely in Chicago, but I had difficulty finding circumstances under which I could record and not look like a crazy person, so some of it is recorded in Chicago, and some of it will be recorded when we get back into Phoenix, and the whole thing is going up a day late, because, well, we’ll say it’s due to the Labor Day holiday. Look for it to be posted late Monday or sometime on Tuesday.

LE 52 contains some thoughts on the institution of marriage and weddings themselves; reviews of the record and bookstores we went to; talk of breakfast food, a particularly delicious cookie sandwich, and our lack of culinary adventurousness; reflections on Chicago; and an explanation of how the unifying thread of this entire trip was the Tom Waits song “Better Off Without a Wife.” If this sort of stream of consciousness thing appeals to you, then this week’s show is so far up your alley, it’s tickling your tonsils.

Best,
Jared

Listen to LE 52 – Chicago Edition

Leave a comment

Filed under The Blarg