Posts Tagged ‘Radio Free Dogpatch’

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.

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:

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.

No foolin’

April 1, 2016
The 2009 iMac, resurrected (however temporarily) for service as a podcasting tool.

The 2009 iMac, resurrected (however temporarily) for service as a podcasting tool.

Consider this your shelter from the storm that is April Fool’s Day.

Here at Mad Dog Media we do the perpetual tee hee, 24/7 and 365. As George Carlin noted on “Carlin at Carnegie Hall”:

“I am a professional comedian. As opposed to the kind you see at work all day long.”

To be honest, it’s been something of a pro-am week here at Ye Olde Gagge Factorie. I had professional obligations to Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, and despite being sidetracked by the death of one of my favorite authors I managed to, as we say out here in the West, “Git ‘er done.” It was not unlike shitting a full case of broken whiskey bottles.

During rest intervals I reacquainted myself with the ins and outs of podcasting. This was strictly amateur hour.

Longtime victims of the blog may recall that I’ve dabbled in audio a time or two, but it’s been a couple years since my last episode of Radio Free Dogpatch. I even pulled the link off the site. It felt like driving past the same shuttered storefront every day.

GarageBand '11, v6.0.5, had a dedicated "Podcast" option. The "improved" version, not so much.

GarageBand ’11, v6.0.5, had a dedicated “Podcast” option. The “improved” version, not so much.

I started out recording with Felt Tip’s Sound Studio, an application I got for free, I think, maybe with a hardware purchase from Other World Computing. Then I tried Audacity, another gratis bit of software, and finally moved over to Apple’s GarageBand, which I considered the least user-friendly of the three. But it comes with every Mac, so there you have it. And there was a dedicated “Podcast” selection in the startup menu, plus you could pull jingles and other sound effects out of the library it shared with iMovie.

Well, that’s all history. If anything GarageBand is even less user- and podcast-friendly than it was before. And I’m a couple years dumberer. So, yeah, there was a little bit of the wailing, the gnashing of teeth and the rending of the garments as we became reacquainted. It was like running into the smartypants kid from high school, the one you hated, and finding out that he had landed a job providing a service you needed.

Once I got back up to speed with recording myself as a solo act, I studied up on adding additional voices (and no, not the ones in my head).

The fun part was learning how to record a Skype call and import the audio into GarageBand. Any old scribbler has spent a fair amount of time recording phone interviews, but a painstaking transcription traditionally followed and the quotes gleaned thereby were worked into what we used to call “a story,” or “copy,” as in, “O’Grady, where the fuck is my copy? News editor has a two-inch hole on D42 and the slot man is drunk again.” Journalism 101, right there in the tar pits, next to the brontosaurus.

Here at the FutureFair a modern Bozo (or Bozoette) wants to add the actual audio from that chat to a podcast. It’s a breeze, thanks to the brainiacs at Ecamm. Their Call Recorder records both sides of the Skype call directly to your Mac, and a widget lets you split the recording into individual tracks. Another widget converts those files into mp3 and you drag them sumbitches into GarageBand for editing. It’s easier than slipping a fabricated quote past a drunk slot man.

Anyway, my man Hal Walter and I did a short test drive yesterday. The wheels didn’t fall off, and nothing exploded, so our next attempt will be an actual podcast. No foolin’. Don’t touch that dial.

 

Soccer to me

December 6, 2013

RFD-Logo-12062013I’ve put my foot in it again — this time, the target is a pro soccer franchise that needs a million-dollar kiss on the lips before it will screw the sports fans here in Bibleburg.

Yes, yes, yes — it’s your Finally Friday installment of Radio Free Dogpatch.

• Editor’s note: I’m in the process of moving Radio Free Dogpatch from its home at the old Mad Dog Media.com website to the podcast host Libsyn. Once the transition is complete, if you’re interested — as I appear to be, for no justifiable reason — you should be able to subscribe to RFD via iTunes. I think. I hope. I’ll keep you posted.

Black Friday or Blue Christmas?

November 29, 2013

rfd-logo-2-xsYes, it’s another edition of Radio Free Dogpatch!