Tag Archives: Arts and Culture

The Blarg Nos. 101 – 109: L. S. Larson

Hey Folks,

It’s been a while. A lot has happened since the last edition of The Blarg, way too much to catch up on. If you’ve been listening to the show (and really, I have no idea why you’d read this and NOT listen to the show), then you know that, while Hoot n Waddle continues unabated, Janell and I have decided to split up. More accurately, Janell decided we should split up. I’ve had a couple of months to come to grips with this, and while I’m not there yet, I’m not going to get into all of that here. I’ve got a new place, I’m starting to look forward to being on my own for the first time in a while, and I’ve got SuSu, so there’s that (see the Ltd Instagram account for a lot of SuSu). There’s a lot going on, so I don’t have time to dwell, and that’s probably for the best.

San Francisco and Portland were great. It was nice to get out of Phoenix for a little bit and put HnW out in front of new audiences. The event for Ron Riekki’s Posttraumatic at Bird and Beckett went really well; I got to catch up with my friend, the poet and lyricist Kurt Lipschutz; and I’ve got the bonus of being able to say that HnW has books available in San Francisco. Portland was a blast—I loved being there, and can’t wait to go back. We made a lot of good connections at AWP, met several of our authors for the first time, and left feeling like we’re making good choices and moving in the right direction. Next year, San Antonio!

Things continue to be extraordinarily busy, and they’re only going to continue to ramp up which is why I haven’t done The Blarg in a while, so why, you may be asking, am I doing this one?

The answer to that is this week’s guest, L. S. Larson and the launch of the new immersive science fiction adventure novel for young readers, IGIST. L. S. is the pen name of Luke Larson, the president of a little company called Axon. While the novel is the central, driving force behind everything else surrounding it, there’s such an integral visual component that I decided to use The Blarg to give people a little glimpse into that aspect of things (see below). What I’m saying is, this shit’s pretty cool.

I get emails fairly regularly these days from people asking if I’d be interested in talking to them about their latest project, which is fantastic—it takes care of the worst part of booking guests: outreach. So when I got this email from L. S. Larson describing IGIST, asking if I’d want to talk about it on the podcast, I checked it out, thought it was a cool concept, and replied, Sure, let’s do it. The thing was that they wanted to do it in time to post prior to a launch event at the Arizona Science Center on 4/20, which meant that we had to do it that week, and I only had a couple of dates available. One of these dates was the same night as Axon HQ’s open house. As you know, I’m not one to research a guest outside of their project, because I prefer to learn about them in person—too much research makes the conversation stiff, and I’m really interested in the work and the creative process, so I had assumed that Axon was just IGIST’s parent company and they were welcoming people to check out their stuff. It certainly seemed like a company that would have that sort of thing, so imagine my surprise when I arrived at the address and saw the name on the building and connected the dots. (It’s a really cool building with interior components inspired by scenes out of classic sci-fi films.)

Now, if you’re not familiar with the name Axon, you’re probably familiar with Taser, which is the company’s flagship product, and what they used to be called just a few years ago. I’m a skeptic at heart, so when I walked in and met L. S./Luke and learned that he was the president of the company some alarm bells went off and I wished for the first time in four years that I’d done more research. Whenever a corporation is involved, I immediately start looking for what the angle is and get concerned that I’m being played, but I took the tour and I listened to the presentation, and I started to relax.

Yes, Axon is a publicly traded corporation, but their mission is one that I wholeheartedly support: to, in their words, “obsolete the bullet,” to provide the means of accountability and transparency in law enforcement, and non-lethal alternatives to deescalate a situation. As a pacifist and staunch anti-gun proponent, I’m on board.

After the open house, Luke and I went into one of the conference rooms and did the recording, and that’s when whatever reservations and skepticism I had vanished. IGIST is a passion project, a labor of love—a love of science fiction, a passion for writing, but more importantly, love for his three daughters and a desire to contribute positively to the anti-patriarchal movement. It’s all there in the conversation, and you can hear it for yourself. It doesn’t hurt that I’m also an unabashed sci-fi geek and Luke seems like the kind of guy I could just hang out with and shoot the shit.

So listen to the episode (available wherever you get your pods—please rate/review while you’re at it) and check out IGIST (see the book trailer and some examples of the artwork below). As I mentioned, there’s a launch event coming up at the Arizona Science Center on 4/20, it’s free to attend, and it’s a fun thing to do with the kids on a Saturday afternoon.

Best,

Jared Duran

Listen to LE 109 – L.S. Larson

Leave a comment

Filed under Arts and Culture, The Blarg

The Blarg No. 98: iNDIEFILMFEST

We’re back! After a sorely needed hiatus, all the rambling intros and tangential, unplanned conversations are once again in the offing for your listening pleasure. As of writing this Blarg, I’m scheduling things in a somewhat manageable way, I haven’t had a drink in a month, and I’m in therapy. I’m finally making choices to take better care of myself, and not beat myself up so much. It only took 36 years. Better late than never? Sometimes I don’t know.

It would be a lie, though, if I said that it were easy getting back into this. This, The Blarg specifically. In all the effort to make the workload more manageable, my head is still not clear enough to write productively. Hell, other than The Blarg and the weekly Hoot n Waddle newsletter, which if you’re not subscribed to, please subscribe, I’ve hardly written anything at all in the last year. For a writer, that’s absolutely devastating. Podcasting is great, I love it. I love working in editing and publishing. I love writing music for the podcasts and exercising that muscle. What I am, though, first and foremost, is a writer. A writer who isn’t writing. I hope all this work unblocks something soon.

I am optimistic, though. We have five unique podcast titles with more on the way (and more that I will not be hosting, which is awesome). We have some really wonderful books coming out this year. We’ll be at ASU’s Desert Nights, Rising Stars conference and AWP in Portland. This show is planned for 40 new episodes (the most I’ve done of any one show in a year), and we’ve got a brand new sponsor (Chris Ayers Creative). Our Patreon is up and running, and sure we could use more patrons, but that will happen. I’m clinging to optimism like that round thing that keeps you afloat out on the ocean where it seems incredibly unlikely that anyone will ever find or rescue you. Sigh.

Anyway, I’m happy to be back, and I’m happy to be starting the year off with this particular conversation. The iNDIEFILMFEST takes place in Downtown Phoenix at three locations (Paz Cantina, FilmBar, and The Crescent Ballroom) on February 1st and 2nd.

Sitting down to talk with me about the inaugural iNDIEFILMFEST is one of the event’s co-directors, Lord Kash, who is also a member of local hip-hop outfit, The Stakes. We had a really great conversation, and he will be back later in the year to discuss his music.

Happy New Year Everyone!
Jared

Listen to LE 98: iNDIEFILMFEST

Leave a comment

Filed under Arts and Culture, Ramblings and Rants, The Blarg

The Blarg No. 97: Best Music of 2018

First off, I want to thank everyone for their responses to last week’s Blarg, or the excerpt of it that was included in the Hoot n Waddle Dispatch. I’m fine, or at least I will be. The whole point of taking the break is to avoid the darkness. So this’ll be the last Limited Engagement of 2018, and I’ll be taking the first several weeks of 2019 off to regroup and put together a more workable schedule. Thank you for all the support. The show’s not going anywhere.

Now, let’s get into this episode, which is the annual best of music episode. This time around, I talked to Ashley Naftule (on for his third appearance!), and had a blast. Ashley is always a lot of fun to talk to, and while there’s some crossover in the sort of music we listen to, there were no repeats between us, so it made for a very lively conversation. Major thanks to Ashley, who was still getting over a cold, for sitting down and doing this show. For those who may not know, Ashley is a writer, performer, and he does a lot of great work with Space 55, so please check all that out.

Since I’m posting the lists, I’ll put the links to the show here, so you don’t have to scroll all the way to the bottom, and I’ll also say thank you to everyone who’s listened to this show. 2018 was a big year, and 2019 is going to be even bigger. As they say, watch this space.

To listen to LE 97 – Best Music of 2018 with Ashley Naftule:
(Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Spotify | Website)

I’m going to post Ashley’s list first, and then my overall list, which ranks everything.

Ashley’s list:

1. Fucked Up “Dose Your Dreams”

2. Beach House “7”

3. Deafheaven “Ordinary Corrupt Human Love”

4. YOB “Our Raw Heart”

5. Earl Sweatshirt “Some Rap Songs”

6. Rolo Tomassi “Time Will Die and Love Will Bury It”

7. SOPHIE “OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES”

8. BODEGA “Endless Scroll”

9. Iceage “Beyondless”

10. JPEGMAFIA “Veteran”

Honorable Mentions (i.e. Albums that reeeallly came close to cracking the top ten):

Advance Base “Animal Companionship”
American Pleasure Club “A Whole Fucking Lifetime Of This”
Arctic Monkeys “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino”
Boygenius “s/t EP”
Lucy Dacus “Historian”
Jean Grae/Quelle Chris “Everything’s Fine”
Let’s Eat Grandma “I’m All Ears”
Makaya McCraven “Universal Beings”
Jeff Rosenstock “POST”
Sylvaine “Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone”
Unreqvited “Mosaic I: l’amour et l’ardeur”
Young Fathers “Cocoa Sugar”
Yves Tumor “Safe in the Hands of Love”

My list (Ranking Out of 10):

  1. Soccer Mommy – Clean 9.8/10
  2. The Good, The Bad & The Queen – Merrie Land 9.7/10
  3. Cat Power – Wanderer 9.6/10
  4. The Beths – Future Me Hates Me 9.5/10
  5. Elvis Costello & The Imposters – Look Now 9.4/10
  6. Neko Case – Hell-On 9.3/10
  7. Snail mail – Lush 9.2/10
  8. Jeff Tweedy – Carm 9.1/10
  9. The Nels Cline 4 – Currents, Constellations 9/10
  10. Marianne Faithfull – Negative Capability 8.95/10
  11. The Love Language – Baby Grand 8.9/10
  12. John Grant – Love Is Magic 8.85/10
  13. Ohmme – Parts 8.8/10
  14. L.A. Salami – The City of Bootmakers 8.75/10
  15. Calexico – The Thread That Keeps Us 8.7/10
  16. Wild Pink – Yolk In the Fur 8.65/10
  17. The Breeders – All Nerve 8.6/10
  18. Laura Viers – The Lookout 8.55/10
  19. Neil & Liam Finn – Lightsleeper 8.5/10
  20. Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – Sparkle Hard 8.45/10
  21. Cowboy Junkies – All That Reckoning 8.4/10
  22. Parquet Courts – Wide Awake 8.35/10
  23. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Hope Downs 8.3/10
  24. Damien Jurado – The Horizon Just Laughed 8.25/10
  25. Nap Eyes – I’m Bad Now 8.2/10
  26. Gorillaz – The Now Now 8.15/10
  27. Sam Phillips – World On Sticks 8.1/10
  28. Cut Worms – Hollow Ground 8/10
  29. First Aid Kit – Ruins 7.95/10
  30. Lord Huron – Vide Noir 7.9/10
  31. Amen Dunes – Freedom 7.85/10
  32. Valley Queen – Supergiant 7.8/10
  33. La Luz – Floating Features 7.75/10
  34. Kurt Vile – Bottle it In 7.7/10
  35. Wye Oak – The Louder I Call, The Faster it Runs 7.65/10
  36. Tony Molina – Kill the Lights 7.6/10
  37. Grant-Lee Phillips – Widdershins 7.55/10
  38. The Essex Green – Hardly Electronic 7.5/10
  39. The Milk Carton Kids – All the Things I Did and All the Things That I Didn’t Do 7.45/10
  40. The Innocence Mission – Sun On the Square 7.4/10
  41. J Mascis – Elastic Days 7.35/10
  42. Totally Mild – Her 7.3/10
  43. Kyle Craft – Full Circle Nightmare 7.25/10
  44. Tomberlin – At Weddings 7.2/10
  45. Caroline Rose – Loner 7.15/10
  46. The Jayhawks – Back Roads and Abandoned Motels 7.1/10
  47. Lanegan/Garwood – With Animals 7/10
  48. Field Music – Open Here 6.95/10
  49. Traceyanne & Danny 6.9/10
  50. Phosphorescent – c’est la vie 6.85/10
  51. Low – Double Negative 6.8/10
  52. They Might Be Giants – I Like Fun 6.75/10
  53. The Sidekicks – Happiness Hours 6.7/10
  54. Marc Ribot – Songs of Resistance 6.65/10
  55. The Blood Feud Family Singers – Adversary 6.6/10
  56. David Byrne – American Utopia 6.55/10
  57. Titus Andronicus – A Productive Cough 6.5/10
  58. Loma 6.45/10
  59. Marissa Nadler – For My Crimes 6.4/10
  60. Yo La Tengo – There’s a Riot Going On 6.35/10
  61. The Invisible Teal – Debt and Quandaries 6.3/10
  62. Josh Rouse – Love in the Modern Age 6.25/10

Leave a comment

Filed under music, Podcast, Reviews, The Blarg

The Blarg No. 94: Ed Masley

There are honestly few things I enjoy more than talking about music—which is more than likely the reason I’m starting yet another podcast, Album Infinitum, which is all about music. It’s close, but I think I may almost enjoy discussing music more than listening to music. It’s not quite there, but it’s close. The reason is that I get to share all of that excitement about something I love that is internalized when listening in solitude. Also, there’s something about having a conversation with another music lover about an artist or album or particular song that you’re both excited about— something that you don’t get from anything else. Casual music listeners don’t understand; they don’t share the passion.

I suppose there’s a similar correlation to any kind of media—film, television, but I feel like there’s a special bond between music appreciators. Especially if there’s a shared experience—a particular concert, for example. This happens to me more and more the longer I do Limited Engagement. Maybe that’s a combination of the kind of music I listen to and the people I interview. On two separate occasions over the last few weeks, I’ve brought up an Elvis Costello concert I went to back in 2010, and had the person across the desk from me say they were at the same show. The first occasion was while talking to Marc Oxborrow (The Haymarket Squares, The Blood Feud Family Singers) about Fountains of Wayne. The other occasion was while talking to this week’s guest, Ed Masley. PLUS, as it happens, when I was Googling to see what the date was for that show, I found that a previous LE guest, Jason Woodbury, was also at that show, because I stumbled on his review in The New Times.

It’s a small world.

Speaking of Elvis Costello, which happens a lot on LE—probably on account of the big Brutal Youth poster hanging on the wall behind me in the office where I record everything (if you’re curious, the other things on that wall in the corner are a signed Glenn Tilbrook poster from The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook Tour, and a framed ticket and liner notes for Folker signed by Paul Westerberg)—I’ve been wanting to talk to Ed Masley ever since being involved in a Twitter thread started by friend, prior LE guest, and What the Fork? co-host, Jason Keil, about EC’s music. I had read articles by Ed here and there and enjoyed his writing (it’s hard to be a music connoisseur in Phoenix without reading Ed’s work), but it was his Costello knowledge that put things over the top. I’m glad he was willing to be on the show, it was a blast talking to him.

Ed Masley is the Pop Music Critic for The Arizona Republic, as well as a musician and songwriter who’s bands include The Frampton Brothers and The Breakup Society. With so much love for music, the conversation rarely stays on track, but it’s a lot of fun for any musicphile.

Best,

Jared

Listen to LE 94: Ed Masley (Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Spotify | Website)

Leave a comment

Filed under Arts and Culture, music, Podcast, The Blarg

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

Leave a comment

Filed under The Blarg

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

Leave a comment

Filed under The Blarg

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

 

Leave a comment

Filed under The Blarg