Archive for the ‘Radio Free Dogpatch’ 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.