Archive for the ‘Podcasting’ Category

Of wheels and wilderness

November 16, 2018

The bike stops here: Just east of Rancho Pendejo sits the Cibola wilderness.

Anyone who thinks Bicycle Retailer and Industry News has gone as dull as dishwater in the absence of my “Mad Dog Unleashed” column hasn’t been reading “Through the Grapevine.”

Interim publisher Marc Sani has taken that rascal over, and what once was originally an industry-gossip collection, and then a news-nuggets amalgamation, has become what management calls “very much an editorial and analysis column.”

It’s now going to be available online, and Sani’s latest sortie, about permitting mountain bikes in wilderness and the Republicans — yes, Republicans — who support the idea, seems to have squeezed the tender grapes of many an outraged reader.

Freelance rumormongers and publishers rarely find themselves in agreement, especially if we’re talking about matters such as prompt payment for services rendered.

But I’ve got to tip the ol’ Sangre de Cristos Cycling Club cap to The Sanitizer on this one, if only for all the trail dust he kicked up. He not only rounded up a whole herd of free-range eyeballs, he blackened ’em for good measure.

I enjoyed the fuss so much I based this week’s edition of Radio Free Dogpatch around it, prowling the Innertubes for relevant tidbits and rolling around in whatever smelled good, including:

• That Grapevine column.

• The Wilderness Act of 1964.

• The House and Senate measures to amend it.

• The Sustainable Trails Coalition.

• Two Outside columns, one from Marc Peruzzi and the other from Christopher Solomon.

Aaron Teasdale’s article in Sierra, the national magazine of the Sierra Club.

Ashley Halsey III’s article about America’s waning love affair with the automobile, from The Washington Post.

• Smithsonian.com’s brief history of America’s complicated relationship with the wild horse.

• And last but not least, Hal Walter’s “The Crash of 1943,” from Colorado Central magazine. Hal and Gary Ziegler of Bear Basin Ranch took us to see the wreckage of that B-25 at Rito Alto Peak, and when it came to transporting camping gear I much preferred Hal’s burros to my mountain bike, or my own back. And for anyone suffering from delusions about the mountain bike’s superiority to simple bipedal locomotion in the high lonesome, Hal once ran away from me and my bike on the upper reaches of Hermit Pass. He didn’t even have a burro with him that time.

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with an Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB microphone and a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder. I edited the audio using Apple’s GarageBand. The background music is “Looking Back Over the Hill” by David-Gwyn Jones, from ZapSplat.com. Other sounds courtesy Freesound.org, with an assist from Your Humble Narrator, with his trusty Tascam DR-10L and Sony ICD-UX533 (no longer available, alas). And finally, that faux taxonomic family you hear? Rotae mortis? That’s Dog Latin for “Wheels of Death.” I’m funny that way. Maybe not.

Fathers and sons: Going the distance

November 2, 2018

Harrison “The Blur” Walter hits the creek crossing at the 2018 Colorado cross-country championships. | Photo: Hal Walter

Kicking off his interview with John Cleese last week, Marc Maron talked briefly about being invited to play guitar alongside Slash and Jimmy Vivino while hosting a benefit show for The Blues Foundation and The Americana Music Association.

Maron plays, but not at that level, and noted afterward: “The thing I always seem to learn over and over when I am around real musicians is they have committed their lives to a magical art. I am always amazed and excited at how consistently they nail songs and take you on that journey.”

Hey, I can dig it. Now me, I’m a professional rumormonger, which is to say that I get money to mong rumors, mostly by writing, occasionally by cartooning. And after more than a few decades of practice, practice, practice, which has yet to get me to Carnegie Hall, I can mong a quick rumor with keyboard or pen at the drop of a hat full of cash.

And a very small hat it usually is, too. More of a cap, actually. The sort one might find on a pint of Jameson or a bottle of Advil.

But podcasting? It feels like typing with boxing gloves, or drawing with a banana.

So, yeah, I get it when Maron — who is a podcaster, among other things — says of his hobbyist guitar-playing: “I can show up, and I can play, but I’m gonna clunk up something … that is not my craft, that is not my art, that is not my form. …”

Which is the long way around to saying that yes, we have another episode of the distinctly unprofessional and gratuitously hobbyist Radio Free Dogpatch on tap. It is quite literally an amateur hour, and you might need the Jameson and Advil to get through it.

In this one I chat at some length (and some distance) with my old comrade Hal Walter about his son Harrison, who just wrapped his first year with the high school cross-country team.

It was an up-and-down season for the 14-year-old, and he didn’t qualify as a varsity athlete for the state championship meet, held last Saturday in Bibleburg. But as an autistic athlete it seems he was eligible to race an event for special-needs kids.

Now, Hal prefers to keep Harrison in the mainstream whenever it’s possible and practical. But Harrison had been talking all season about going to states, and while he hadn’t made the varsity cut, he did have a strong finish to the regular season.

This left his dad with a tough call to make. Give it a listen.

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with a Shure SM58 microphone and a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB audio interface plugged into a a late-2009 iMac, using Ecamm’s Call Recorder for FaceTime, which apparently will not survive Apple’s transition to macOS Mojave. I edited the audio using Apple’s GarageBand. The background music is “Matador’s Entry” from ZapSplat, and the race-day audio was stripped from a couple video clips forwarded by Hal Walter.

There is no slow lane on the road to Hell

October 26, 2018

This sort of nonsense is on a par with descending a ladder made of razor wire and Ginsu knives.

“Thank God it’s Friday,” you say? Not so fast, Sparky. Just when you thought things were winding down, turns out I’ve been winding up another episode of Radio Free Dogpatch.

This one has its roots in a New Yorker essay I read about a risk-management program gone all pear-shaped. The author, neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin, like me an elder of the geezer persuasion, did himself an injury while test-driving an escape ladder and afterward mused at length on the vicissitudes of the calendar, caution, calamity, and consequences.

I had recently been on a ladder myself — not a cheapo folding one, and not dangling from a third story — but happily I made it back to earth without burning up on re-entry.

I can’t say I enjoyed the experience, but if need arose I’d probably do it again, my guiding principle being, “I knew it was wrong but I did it anyway.” This is why, like Levitin, I have spent some time enduring the tender mercies of the medical-industrial complex.

As Roy Blount Jr. has taught us, fucking up is not what it used to be. That was the lede, word for word, to his essay “I Always Plead Guilty,” from the 1984 collection “What Men Don’t Tell Women,” and it’s a lot funnier than Levitin’s New Yorker essay or even this episode of Radio Free Dogpatch.

Blount wrote it in an era not unlike today, in a nation “where major corporations are in charge and there is absolutely no charm left in fucking up.”

Nevertheless, he argued, fucking up is a very American thing — “going into the unknown for the challenge of it” — and urged that we find some middle ground between caution and catastrophe, asking:

“Why do we have to draw back so far from the abyss?”

So, yeah. Read the essay, buy the book, and lend a ragged ear to the latest episode of Radio Free Dogpatch.

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded using an Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB microphone and a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder. I edited the audio on a late-2009 iMac using Apple’s GarageBand. The sound effects are from Freesound, and the blues loop playing in the background is from fredsonic at Freesound.

Running off at the mouth

October 19, 2018

Keep running, big fella. The first ton is the hardest.

Yup, it’s that time of year again.

Something about vile weather, a lack of paying work and the fact that I have all this goddamned technology cluttering up the joint drives me right into the cold mechanical clutches of podcastery.

I don’t know why. I’m a writer first, a cartoonist second, and a back-alley videographer third. An editor if nobody else is available and the pay is medium-heavy. So it’s not as though I lack for creative outlets.

Maybe it’s because I’ve never earned a dime from podcasting. It’s playtime rather than paytime.

Things might have been different had I gone into radio instead of print. Today I’d be working a couple late-night shifts a month at some whistle-stop public radio station and living in a van down by the river. For recreation I’d be pitching upper-case typos at my betters on social media, spraying graffiti on an overpass by the light of a pallet fire, and guzzling cheap gin from the bottle.

Whatevs. In any case, I was glancing back through my training log and noticed that it was full of running for some reason, so I thought it might be fun to let my pie-hole out for a short jog.

And thus, for no good reason other than just because, it’s time for another episode of Radio Free Dogpatch:

• Technical notes: I recorded this episode using a Shure SM58 mic and a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB audio interface, plugged into a late-2009 iMac. I read my script into Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack, then edited the audio in Apple’s GarageBand, where I had already built the intro/outro music out of a bunch of Apple loops. The intro/outro telephone voice is also a GarageBand deal, one of a bunch of vocal presets you can select while recording directly into GB. The running sounds I captured on Trail 365 using a Tascam DR-10L digital recorder clipped to my waistband with a lavalier mic attached to my collar.

Mayor Chris meets The Outspoken Cyclist

January 21, 2018

Hizzoner having a spot of fun between mayoral chores.

Diane Jenks recently spoke with my old college roomie Chris Coursey for “The Outspoken Cyclist,” her radio show-slash-podcast.

They discussed cycling, journalism and Santa Rosa, Calif., which continues to feel the aftereffects of last fall’s horrific fires in Napa and Sonoma counties.

Don’t let the cycling kit fool you — you’ll recall from earlier posts that Chris is the mayor of Santa Rosa, and I expect he’s logging most of his miles in that capacity these days.

“We are still very much in the middle of this disaster, and hopefully on the road to recovery,” says Hizzoner.

You can give the interview a listen here:

T H E   O U T S P O K E N   C Y C L I S T:

Radio Free Friday

January 19, 2018

Mister Boo still looks pretty chipper for an auld fella, unlike the other one cluttering up the joint.

When a dog yelps at 1 a.m. in the Sandia foothills it can mean someone is climbing in a window with a $2 pistol and a $200-a-day habit, or the deer are in the backyard, eating the trees.

Or, if the pooch is of a certain age, it can be the canine equivalent of the old LifeCall bit (“I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”).

Mister Boo is of a certain age, and when he began yelping at 1 a.m. Thursday I was pretty sure it was neither dope fiends nor deer. He wouldn’t be able to ID either one of those, since he’s blind in one eye and can’t see out of the other.

And if it were a dope fiend, and the dope fiend brought treats, well, The Boo would have a new bestie and the rest of us would soon be chatting with the insurance company, or St. Peter.

You may recall that Herself has an actual job of work, while I do not, so as our furry air-raid siren wailed I stumbled over to the other end of the house to gauge the extent of the damage.

The Boo had peed all over his kennel’s absorbent pads, which was fine, and then toppled over into the pee, which was not.

I carried him outdoors, went back inside, replaced the soiled pads with fresh ones, filled a basin with warm soapy water, and set about freshening up our soggy doggy.

The Boo didn’t like this one little bit, being wet and cold and outdoors, and I didn’t like it either, being shirtless and shoeless, and did I mention it was cold out there?

Afterward he had the shakes and required a cuddle to warm up. I tucked him back into bed as a drowsy Herself wandered in, wondering if it was dope fiends or deer this time. Then we tucked ourselves back into bed and one of us drifted off to sleep.

Come morning I was foggy and irritable for some reason and it was a good thing I didn’t have any paying work on the docket. The Boo, of course, was just dandy. He enjoyed a delicious breakfast — ground beef, minced pasta and green beans in a sauce of apple cider and low-sodium chicken broth — and managed to pee and poop outdoors before joining the cats in morning zazen. Their posture is all wrong and their eyes are closed, but they seem to derive great benefit from these sessions nonetheless.

My mind was not at rest and it was a good thing that my friend Hal messaged me about his latest project. He has a nighttime noisemaker of his own and thought it would be a pleasant diversion to read one of his essays from “Endurance” into some device and pop it up on the Innertubes. So he had some questions about audio recording and distribution.

I am hardly an expert, but the distraction was welcome, so off we went, diving down the rabbit holes of iPads and MacBooks, microphones and headphones, QuickTime and GarageBand, Audacity and Sound Studio, Libsyn and SoundCloud.

The detour proved so absorbing that I drifted off into a side project, reviving my old Radio Free Dogpatch podcast. Well, “reviving” may be a little grandiloquent — as I said, I’m no expert, and audio is more complicated and time-consuming than writing, or even video — but I did rework a 2017 Bicycle Retailer column about The Boo into a sonic short.

And here it is:

Something wicked this way comes

January 19, 2017

• Editor’s note: What follows was intended to be a rambling kickoff to a Counter-Inaugural Podcast at Radio Free Dogpatch, but my sidekick Hal Walter developed a bad case of previous commitments, so I’m laying it on you old-school instead. Tomorrow it will be radio silence from yours truly here and on Twitter. But there will be an open-mic post suitable for commentary, so feel free to chime in with your thoughts on what this particular changing of the guard means for you, and for the rest of us. Finally, a tip of the carny’s boater to Ray Bradbury for the headline. It’s a pity — or is it? — that he didn’t live to see Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show come to life.

We're all bozos on this bus. Some of us more than others.

We’re all bozos on this bus. Some of us more than others.

IT’S BEEN A STRUGGLE, TRYING TO FIND WORDS to describe how I feel about what’s going to be happening on Friday — and afterward — in Washington, D.C.

I’ve watched this changing of the guard since before I was eligible to vote, and it rarely goes well for progressives.

In 1969, when Richard Nixon was preparing to take an oath of office he had already violated by undermining the Paris peace talks, the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam staged a three-day counter-inaugural that proved quite the bash, both literally and figuratively.

Yippies Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman brought a revolutionary-theater sideshow to the circus, proposing to inaugurate their own president, a 145-pound hog named Pigasus, with predictable results. The Left immediately set about eating itself alive — Splitters! — rocks, bottles, horseshit and punches were thrown, cops and protesters alike took a beating, 119 people got a tour of the hoosegow, and as is traditional in such matters, both sides claimed victory.

Nixon, of course, claimed the White House. Twice. You may recall how that turned out.

I found it all fascinating, from a safe distance, and when I became eligible to vote in time for the 1972 elections, I tried to register as a member of the Youth International Party, the proper name for the improper Yippies. Never happen, said the county clerk in Bibleburg, and I had to settle for signing up as an “independent.” But Hunter S. Thompson was actually in attendance at the ’69 inaugural, and he didn’t exactly come away with a smile on his lips and a song in his heart.

Recounting the experience for The Boston Globe in February 1969, Thompson wrote: “My first idea was to load up on LSD and cover the Inauguration that way, but the possibilities were ominous: a scene that bad could only be compounded to the realm of mega-horrors by something as powerful as acid.”

As Thompson watched the deal go down during what he called “a king-hell bummer” and “that wretched weekend,” he saw “a new meanness on both sides … and no more humor.”

“Suddenly I felt cold, and vaguely defeated,” he wrote. “More than eight years ago, in San Francisco, I had stayed up all night to watch the election returns … and when Nixon went down I felt like a winner.

“Now, on this Monday night in 1969, President Nixon was being honored with no less than six Inaugural Balls. I brooded on this for a while, then decided I would go over to the Hilton, later on, and punch somebody. Almost anybody would do … but hopefully I could find a police chief from Nashville or some other mean geek. In the meantime, there was nothing to do but go back to the hotel and watch the news on TV … maybe something funny, like film clips of the bastinado.”

• • •

Neither Hunter S. Thompson nor Dick Nixon are with us this time around, but another pair of Sixties relics you may have thought were likewise long gone — LSD and psilocybin — are making something of a comeback as potential treatments for whatever bad scene may be unfolding on the backside of your forehead (or in front of it).

In December, The New York Times reported on a couple of studies that showed “clinically significant reductions” in both anxiety and depression in cancer patients who took synthetic psilocybin.

The studies, which the Times called “the largest and most meticulous among a handful of trials to explore the possible therapeutic benefit of psilocybin,” found the beneficial effects persisted for months.

One patient, who had just completed treatment for stage-3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma, described what he called “an epiphany.”

“I’m not anxious about cancer anymore,” he said. “I’m not anxious about dying.”

Another, whose treatment for acute myeloid leukemia left him with graft-versus-host disease, said the experience left him with “a greater sense of peace with what might come.”

“I’m very grateful, beyond words, for this trial,” he added.

And on January 14, The Atlantic ran a Q&A with Ayelet Waldman, whose new book “A Really Good Day” describes her microdosing with LSD to self-correct what she described as “a pretty significant depression.”

She had tried the traditional remedies served up by the medical-industrial complex — antidepressants, ADHD drugs, SSRIs, you name it — but a couple drops of diluted and highly illegal L-S-Dizzy is what did the trick for her.

Said Waldman: “I felt happier or at least not as profoundly depressed almost immediately the very first day I took it.”

Funniest thing, hey? About 10 years after the good Doctor Thompson was mulling over that Nixon inaugural, a friend and I offered an acid-soaked homage to his fear-and-loathing tour of Las Vegas. But we didn’t have his stamina, and when a jai-alai match at the old MGM Grand started to look like a “Star Wars” shootout we got the fuck out of there at a very high speed indeed, driving all the way back to Alamosa — the Brain Damage Express, via Kaibab and Page, the Four Corners and the terrifying Wolf Creek Pass, with the usual horrible weather and without the enhancements that were still a few years down the road.

But we sure as shit weren’t depressed. We were simply seeing a whole lot of things we’d rather not have and thought a case of beer, a long night’s drive and a plate of his mom’s enchiladas might mellow us out.

Forty years later I can make my own enchiladas but I’m not so sure about the acid. I still have my copy of “The Anarchist Cookbook,” but I was never much at chemistry.

• • •

All trips, both good and bad, come to an end, sooner or later. And in May, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will break down the big top in May for the final time after 146 years.

According to The New York Times, Feld Entertainment, the producer of the circus, cited rising operating costs and falling ticket sales, a condition that worsened after Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey dropped elephants from its show last year.

CEO Kenneth Feld told The Associated Press that moving the show by rail, providing a traveling school for performers’ children and other expenses from a bygone era made carrying on a losing proposition.

“It’s a different model … we can’t see how it works in today’s world to justify and maintain an affordable ticket price,” he said.

And let’s not forget that old devil competition. There’s another, bigger circus coming to town, with a permanent base of operations in Washington, D.C., the financial support of the State, and free worldwide access via social media. Plus elephants, too!

The Greatest Show On Earth is now an angry orange clown with a Twitter account. Hur-ry, hur-ry, hur-ry. …

The ‘Scoop’ on burros and autism

January 14, 2017
The latest book from Hal Walter on fatherhood, autism and the outdoors.

The latest book from Hal Walter on fatherhood, autism and the outdoors.

My man Hal Walter is on something of a virtual whirlwind tour of the digital media landscape.

Hal recently discussed burros, autism and “Nature Deficiency Syndrome” with the folks at the “Stable Scoop” podcast. He comes in around 21 minutes into the show to talk about how he has tried to share his love of burro racing specifically and the outdoors in general with his son, Harrison.

You can also catch Hal on “The Outspoken Cyclist,” from longtime friend of the DogS(h)ite Diane Jenks. Hal’s segment begins at 26:44.

Give him a listen in both places.

Power to the pee-pole!

May 1, 2016

RFD-BugI was casting around this morning for some appropriate socialist content to post on International Workers Day, but May Day 2016 seems light on revolutionary news.

So instead, here’s the latest edition of Radio Free Dogpatch, in which the proletariat (portrayed by Mister Boo) is oppressed by his bladder.

And remember, kids: When you’re smashing the State, don’t forget to keep a smile on your lips, a song in your heart, and a mop within reach.

Useful links

• Manzano Animal Clinic, which did the surgery.

• The New Orleans Jazz Festival, which did not.

• Elvis Costello. This Elvis has mos def not left the building.

• Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. Good God, are they still at it?

• Recipes: None worth mentioning this week. Whenever Herself hits the road, I generally give myself a break from semi-elaborate cookery.

 

The Pod People

April 8, 2016

OK, I’ve been threatening to resurrect the Radio Free Dogpatch podcast for a while now, and the stars finally came into proper alignment this week, so here we go.

For the first time Radio Free Dogpatch is not a solo effort — my friend and colleague Hal Walter joined me for a chat of about 75 minutes that I boiled down in editing to just over an hour.

RFD-BugCall it “Two Dudes Mystery Theatre.” We talked about the passing of poets Jim Harrison and Merle Haggard; Hal’s autistic son, and what it’s like trying to do creative work while raising a child who is not “neuro-typical”; and cooking.

For anyone who’s interested in the nuts and bolts of this Frankensteinian project, we chatted via Skype (Hal lives in Custer County, Colorado, while I’m in Albuquerque). On my end I was using a Samson C01U USB condenser microphone and an old pair of Bose earbuds plugged into an equally old iMac; Hal went even lower-tech, using a $50 Kindle Fire and some Apple earbuds, the kind that include an inline mic’.

I recorded our conversation using Ecamm’s Call Recorder, then split the convo into two tracks and dragged both into Apple’s GarageBand for editing. Once the thing was more or less the way I wanted it, I uploaded it to Libsyn, which hosts RFD and sends an RSS feed to iTunes.

During our ‘cast I promised to provide links with more information about some of the topics we discussed, and here those are:

Jim Harrison

• Tom McGuane’s “Postscript” in The New Yorker.

• Mario Batali recalls mealtimes with Harrison in Time.

• Jimmy Buffett bids a fond adios to his hermano on Facebook.

• Doug Peacock on Harrison and the art of friendship at The Daily Beast.

Merle Haggard

A recollection from Patrick Doyle in Rolling Stone.

• NPR’s “Fresh Air” reprises a 1995 interview with the outlaw country legend.

Cookery

• The food of Apulia, from Florence Fabricant in The New York Times.

• Her recipe for orecchiette with cherry tomatoes and arugula (being a barbarian, I add hot Italian sausage).

Final notes

If you find yourself interested in Hal’s writing, you can visit him at Hardscrabble Times (yeah, it’s been a while since he updated the ol’ blog) or order up one or more of his books (check the link in the sidebar).

Meanwhile, let us know in comments what you think. It’s a little rough around the edges, but so are we. Happily, the podcast can be improved.