KONCAST Episode 6: Ray Miller

Click here to for more details on this new episode of The Koncast

In this episode, I talk to Ray Miller, creator of Metal Curse zine, the record label Cursed Productions, and bassist and vocalist of the band Adversary.

We discuss: How we first met 32 years ago, going from Metallica to Death Metal, finding new music in the analog days, how Ray started Metal Curse zine in 1990, Richard C and Wild Rags, John Woods and Rock out Censorship, the 1993 Milwaukee Metalfest, seeing Ice T’s dick, falling asleep while driving on the toll road, how Ray started the Cursed Productions record label, Ed Finkler and Open Sourcing Mental Illness, and making music in the computer age.
Links from this episode:

– Metal Curse zine: http://www.metalcurse.com

– Cursed Productions: http://www.cursedproductions.com

– Paragraph Line: http://www.paragraphline.com

– Jon Konrath: http://www.rumored.com

– Xenocide zine: http://rumored.com/xenocide/

– Rock Out Censorship: http://www.theroc.org

– Dave Marsh on John Woods: https://web.archive.org/web/20110614224956/http://www.starpolish.com/features/print.asp?ID=440

– Ed Finkler: https://osmihelp.org

(Minor correction: the first Poison album wasn’t on Combat Records. The LP was on Enigma, who released bands like Death Angel, Slayer, Voivod, and so on, but the tape was released on Capitol. So, Mandala Effect, brown acid, not sure what happened here.)
Click here to for more details on this new episode of The Koncast

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Story in Horror Sleaze Trash: Prose in Poor Taste

Quick update: I have a story in a new anthology by the folks at Horror Sleaze Trash. The collection is called Prose in Poor Taste.

The HST announcement about this also has a link to download it in PDF format for free: http://www.horrorsleazetrash.com/uncategorized/horror-sleaze-trash-prose-in-poor-taste/

The link on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2wKcS3k

My included story is “The Metaphor of Poundcake” – it has previously appeared online at HST, and was also in my last book, Vol. 13. Lots of other good stuff in this collection, though, so if you’re a completist, check it out.

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Mendocino, Fort Bragg, Glass Beach, etc.

I’ve been back almost a week, but here’s a quick trip report on the tail end of what I wrote about last time.

So I stayed just south of Little River. They have a town hall and post office that are in the same building as a two-pump gas station. So the whole town is basically a Marathon quick-mart, which isn’t unusual in this part of the state. I drove down to Albion, a few miles south, and it’s sort of the same thing.

If you follow the 1 north along the shore of the Pacific, it winds about three miles until you get to Mendocino. It’s a little square peninsula hanging off the highway, with about 800 people living there, and made up mostly of small galleries and shops in buildings that are from the late 1800s. The whole thing has a very New England feel to it; I don’t know if it’s the open sky, the architecture, the whaling and mermaid stuff in all the gift shops, or something about the small feel of the town. Or maybe the way the drag on Main Street only has buildings on one side, and the other faces off to a bunch of cliffs and a headland that dumps right out into a bay off the ocean.

Mendocino was a nice place to walk and look around, and my cell phone worked there, but it wasn’t entirely my trip. There’s one good non-chain grocery store, and a lot of cafes that made me nervous. I was looking at one gluten-free coffee place with sandwiches, and got sketched out by the healthiness of it, so I went outside and found a sign for a taqueria which was on the back of a building, in a space about as big as my home office. I went in and everyone eating there was a construction worker, and nobody spoke English. This was more my speed, and I got a plate of nachos with like ten pounds of carne asada and cheese, plus a bottle of Mexican Coke for like ten bucks, including tip. That was a good find.

Photography was good. (It’s mostly on Flickr, https://flic.kr/s/aHsm7woRAX) It was hard to take a bad photo, although the sun wasn’t out much, and there was a lot of fog. The fog had a certain Twin Peaks feel to it, especially when I was in the cabin, surrounded with evergreens. But for a person with bad Seasonal Affective Disorder, it wasn’t entirely ideal. It wasn’t a hundred degrees, though, which I missed this weekend as I was broiling in Oakland.

Fort Bragg is about ten miles up from Mendocino. It has nothing to do with the Army base, which is confusing at first. There’s about 7,000 people there, and a bit more of a downtown, with that midwestern street layout grid that made me think of places like Goshen or North Liberty or whatever, tree names from left to right, dead presidents or generals from top to bottom. There were a few chain places on the outskirts, like a Safeway, CVS, McDonald’s, and so forth, but the town was more local places. It still had that New England feel to me, and a lot of quirkiness. Like there was a Radio Shack, but inside a Tru-Value hardware that sold everything, and reminded me of a store in the Catskills. Or the brunch place that was inexplicably covered in Wizard of Oz memorabilia.

I reached a point where I normally do when I get incredibly bored and need to go to a big city or a large museum or something. I’m not a social person, and can’t meet strangers on a vacation, so I fall into an isolation funk when I’m on a trip alone. And in a big city, my defense is to lose myself in the masses of people. It’s why Vegas is ideal for me. But here, there was none of that, which caused a real problem for me.

One day I got the idea to take the US 20 inland and go to Willits, which is about four or five thousand people. That drive, from the 1 on the shore to the 101 running through the meat of the state, is brutal. It’s about thirty miles, but with no traffic, it takes at least an hour. It’s all switchback turns and quick elevation changes in a deep forest of redwoods, which is beautiful, but not the place you want to be when weekend warriors are tooling around in RVs. Also, temperature changes galore: I left the house when it was 55 degrees. By the time I got to Fort Bragg and took a right, it was 75. In Willits, it was just about 100. I thought Willits might be interesting, but it was a bit of a bust. There was a pretty walkable downtown that looked desolated, and a cluster of chain fast food right off the highway on-ramps. I went to a McDonald’s and sat at a table next to a woman about fifteen years younger than me who was with her grandchildren, and was pregnant. So, yeah.

Point Cabrillo lighthouse was a nice walk in the middle of nowhere — went on a day when the sky was almost black with rain, a sheet of dark gray overhead, but the desolation in the park was amazing. I also went to Glass Beach a few times. It had magnificent cliffs and coves, great walking alone there. It used to be a garbage dump, and now the waves have turned the broken bottles into pebbles of bright colored glass over the last century. It sits next to what used to be a large lumber yard that went bust a decade or two ago. It’s amazing to see nature taking back the entire area, reversing the years of damage done to it.

So, it was a nice break. Didn’t write as much as I’d thought, but that happens. I think I got a dozen pictures I really liked, and didn’t buy any books I didn’t need. Also didn’t get badly sunburned, which is a first for an ocean stay, so I’ll take it.

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KONCAST Episode 5: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

In this episode, I talk to author John Sheppard about planes, trains, and automobiles – no, not the movie, but actual forms of travel.

We discuss: Taking Amtrak across the country; Denver’s weed money revitalization; the painted deserts of Nevada; the subways of NYC, DC, and LA; flying space-available on the C-5 galaxy; skydiving in Vegas; flying gliders and small planes; filming locations of the show Lost; the agonies of the Florida to midwest family drive; Coastal Florida versus Cracker Florida; and Jon’s East to West vs West to East roadtrips.

Links from this episode:

– Paragraph Line: www.paragraphline.com

– Jon Konrath: www.rumored.com

– John Sheppard: www.johnlsheppard.com

– John’s Amtrak trip photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/midamericabymini/sets/72157683545951874

– Sons of the Pioneers – Ghost Riders in the Sky https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMqKv7BOg_s

– Jon’s acrobatic plane lesson in Vegas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EY9MAAsHTY

– The Idaho silver mine disaster: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunshine_Mine_(Idaho)

– The Project GNOME nuclear test site: http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/16910
Click here to for more details on this new episode of The Koncast

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Little River

I am in a cabin in Little River, CA. This has nothing to do with the Little River Band, who is apparently from Australia. (I had to go look this up.)

Not sure why exactly I’m here. I wanted to bug out of town for a few days, and didn’t want to end up back in Vegas. Didn’t want to go somewhere that involved flying, partly so I could use my own car instead of renting one, and partly because I assumed the second I bought plane tickets, some work disaster would require me to cancel.

I’ve never been to this part of the state before. I guess I’ve driven on I-80 to Reno, and that’s technically further north than this. But this is the other side of the state, on the water.  California is huge, and I’ve never spent any time outside of SF/LA/SD, so here I am.

My original thought was that I would drive up to Astoria, Oregon. I visited there in 1997, and I liked it a lot. But it’s a long drive, maybe 12 or 14 hours. And there’s the issue of ghosts, and I don’t know that I want to deal with that. I don’t mean the paranormal. I mean, I visited there with someone, and I’d probably spend the whole trip thinking about twenty years ago, which isn’t good.

The cabin is weird. There are maybe a half-dozen buildings from the late 40s, divided in half. They are all themed with various retro themes. Mine is “read” and it is filled with books and pictures of libraries. There’s also a tiny kitchenette, which I’ve been using extensively, and a woodburning stove, which I will not touch. I’d either burn down the cabin, or release a lethal storm of allergens into my room.

The drive up here was easy, maybe three hours. Take the 580 over the bridge, past Uncle Charlie’s old place at San Quentin, then the 101 north for a while. I guess I have been to Santa Rosa — there’s a big air museum there. After Cloverdale, you get on 128 and cut west across the state, all the way to the 1 on the shore. That drive on the 128 is pretty crazy — lots of twists and switchbacks and steep drops and rises and dips in elevation. There’s also an insane amount of redwoods there, thick forests of them, completely blocking the light. You can drive for an hour with no cell reception whatsoever, something strange in this day.

This place reminds me of visiting what was left of the Catskills in 1988. In the mountains, there were these little private resorts, campgrounds of cabins for single families, almost like a deconstructed motel, with every couple rooms in its own building. We stayed in one somewhere between Cairo and Freehold, a setup similar to this one. It’s probably a McMansion now. When the pre-Holiday Inn generation died off, stopped summering in the mountains, the land became too valuable. I’m not sure why that hasn’t happened here. The lack of cell phone coverage, and the remoteness to any other city may be the issue.

I’m a few miles from Mendocino, which is about 900 people. It’s mostly galleries, shops, cafes. There’s a grocery where I was able to stock up when I got here yesterday. Lots of incredible views of the Pacific. Lots of buildings from the 19th century, and all of them have these wooden water towers behind them. Something about the architecture — or maybe it’s the nautical feel, or the open space by the water — makes it feel like New England. It reminds me of some random Rhode Island village, where it’s all lighthouses and whale watching.

I think it’s about twenty minutes to Fort Bragg, which is maybe six hundred people. It has more of a downtown, although it’s only a few blocks of it. I saw the smallest Sears store I’ve ever seen, and a still-functional Radio Shack, although it was just part of a hardware store that was also a True Value. Fort Bragg is unrelated to the Army base in North Carolina – that’s probably a hundred times bigger.

So, it’s weird here. I mean, it’s really quiet. The weather is mild, cold at night, not terribly warm or sunny all day. The ocean is beautiful, but it’s rough, choppy. Beautiful colors of blue mixed with the white foam of the waves, but it’s under a canopy of gray that doesn’t want to burn off all morning.

Also, it’s odd vacationing with my car. I’m used to renting a different car, driving an anonymous white Hyundai with rental car stickers all over the interior. Strange to have my daily driver here, to see it in unfamiliar surroundings. I pulled over at a Cove, the top of a windy s-curve road with a vantage point overlooking the beach below. Took a bunch of pictures with the real camera, my dirty Toyota at the edge of the road. It reminds me of when I took my last car from Denver to LA, and stopped in the mountains of some random part of Utah, took pictures in the snow at a rest area of the mud-streaked Yaris, parked next to big rigs of interstate truckers.

I’m supposed to be writing. I’m not. I’m picking at something, but I think the grand scheme was that I’d lock myself in this cabin with a week of TV dinners and a few cases of Coke and come up with some completely new idea. And that didn’t happen. So I’m picking away at this big thing, wondering how I can deal with it, package it, finish it. Or not. I don’t know.

Was sitting on my deck and saw a deer a few hours ago. It wandered past, eating grass, maybe ten yards away. Scared the shit out of me — I’m not used to being around nature. Anyway. I’ll probably go into town tomorrow and buy a bunch of stuff I don’t need at the local bookstore. Here until Monday, so maybe I’ll get to the writing thing.

 

 

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KONCAST Episode 4: First Concerts, Last Concerts

In this episode, I talk to Jessica Anshutz about the first concerts we went to, as well as the last shows we attended.

We discuss The Dead Milkmen, Alabama, Rush, New Kids on the Block, Metallica, Billy Joel, The Grand Ol’ Opry, Taylor Swift, Nashville, The Bluebird Cafe, The Hold Steady, Wilco, Jason Isbell, and Ozzy Osbourne.

Links from this episode:

– Jessica Anshutz is at Flannelkimono.com

– Jon Konrath is at Rumored.com

– Starvation Army: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shSnWf6eQk0

– The 1988 Rush show at Rosemont Horizon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4CO-fWihR4

– The Tiffany documentary: http://www.ithinkwerealonenow.com

– Jon’s review of the Peter Gabriel concert mentioned: http://rumored.com/2002/11/22/645/

– Jessica’s review of the Wilco/Jeff Tweedy concert mentioned: http://www.flannelkimono.com/2017/07/late-to-game-wilcojeff-tweedy.html

 

Click here to for more details on this new episode of The Koncast

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KONCAST Episode 3: Author Jeff O’Brien

In this episode, I talk to Jeff O’Brien, writer of Very True Stories, Big Boobenstein, Byron the Barbarian, and Heart Shaved Box.

 

Links from this episode:

Jeff O’Brien’s author page: https://www.amazon.com/Jeff-OBrien/e/B00B12WAM2/

Jeff’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jeff.obrien.author

I kept referring to a low-budget film director named “Ramirez” and blanking on his book name – Sorry, I am an idiot, and meant Robert Rodriguez, his film El Mariachi, and the book about it called Rebel Without a Crew (http://amzn.to/2ugboiV)

The Little A’Le’Inn: http://www.littlealeinn.com

The Day After Roswell by Philip Corso – http://amzn.to/2sQBMLT
New episode of The Koncast

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Podcasting Tools

Now that I’ve done a few episodes of The Koncast, I can give you a rundown of the tools I’m using.

I use two different methods for recording: remote and in-person. Face-to-face is best, but I interview guests all over the place, so I have to do some remotely.

Remote Recording

  • I am using a site called Zencastr to handle remotes. I fire it up in my browser, give the other person a link to open in their browser, and then we talk away over a VoIP connection. At the end of the session, both browsers upload their copy of the audio to Dropbox, and I can later mix the files together.
  • You’ll need Dropbox for this, so go sign up for a free account.
  • A good USB headset works well for this. We’ve been using a few of the Logitech H390 headsets. The quality is decent, and they’re only 25 bucks online.
  • I’ve heard of people using Skype or Facetime with a plugin to record the calls, which would be easier for the other person, but it would sound like skype.
  • The ultimate way to do this would be to set up Skype to use a real microphone and headphones, then have each person record their end of the conversation, but that’s way too complicated for the casual user.

Face-to-Face Recording

  • I’m using a Zoom H5 recorder. It records four tracks, and has a decent X/Y mic built in, plus handles two XLR inputs with phantom power, so you can use real microphones. One thing that’s nicer on this new version versus the previous H4N is that the built-in mic is removable, and you can swap it out for a different Zoom mic, or an attachment to add two more XLR inputs.
  • For microphones, I use a Shure SM-58 per person. It’s a cardioid mic, which only picks up sounds in front of it, and won’t pick up background noises. I’ve messed with a few different condenser mics, and they seem to pick up everything, so every little bump and rustle and background noise is crisply present. The SM-58 is also pneumatically shock-mounted inside. It’s pretty close to its sibling, the SM-57, but it has a pop filter on it. And after a total nuclear war, the only thing that will be left are cockroaches and SM-58s. They can really take a beating. The only caveat on the Shure mics are that there are many counterfeit Chinese ones floating around eBay, so only buy from somewhere reputable.
  • There are a lot of options for mic stands. I wanted a boom mic, so I got two of this Neewer stand. It seems to work okay, although the clamp can be an issue with table thickness. I recorded a few sessions in a hotel that had a table too thick for the c-clamp and I had to find another table. I have a few other stands as backup, but the Neewar ones are decent.
  • I also use two XLR cables, but the SM-58-CN package from Shure includes those. Oh, don’t forget an SD card for the recorder. And I had a pair of Sony headphones already, but you’ll need something similar.

If you want to cheap out, you could get a Zoom H4n instead, or spend $150 on a Focusrite Scarlett interface and record straight into a laptop. I’m sure Behringer has a knock-off version of the SM-58, but I think the microphone makes the difference, and $100 is a good investment in a mic that’s going to last longer than you will.

Mixing/Production

  • I use Logic Pro X to mix together my individual audio tracks and master them down to an MP3 for hosting. Logic costs $200, and is probably overkill, but I already had a copy, so that’s what I use. The Mac comes with Logic’s little brother, GarageBand, which works similarly. You could also use another DAW like Reaper, Reason, Ableton, or Adobe Audition. If you bought an audio interface, it might come with some bundled software. The Zoom H5 comes with Cubase LE, but I’m not sure how the LE version is kneecapped. Audacity is free, but you will end up deleting an entire episode or finding out it isn’t what you want.
  • I used Band in a Box to record my theme music. Also had a copy of that laying around. BTW, the song is the Thelonius Monk jazz standard “Let’s Cool One.”

Hosting

  • I’m using LibSyn to host. You get a monthly upload quota, and then it’s unlimited downloads for everyone. It creates an RSS feed of your episodes, which you can then submit to iTunes or Google Play and tell people to go subscribe. You can also connect Facebook and whatnot, so it puts the links there. And it provides a basic blog of your episodes, so people can go there and see them.
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The Koncast Episode 2: The Same Picture of Jon Konrath Every Day, Dead Malls

The second episode of The Koncast is now live.

In this episode, I talk to Jessica Anshutz about the history of The Same Picture of Jon Konrath Every Day, and dead malls of the midwest.

Here’s the direct link: http://koncast.libsyn.com/episode-2-the-same-picture-of-jon-konrath-every-day-dead-malls

Don’t forget to subscribe in iTunes here, and visit the podcast site at thekoncast.com. Also, go add us on facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/koncast/

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Introducing: The Koncast

So, I’ve got a new project that’s been brewing for a little while, and the first episode just went live.

It is called THE KONCAST.

TL;DR: thekoncast.com

It is a podcast. Yes, everyone has a podcast now. It’s something I’ve thought about for a long time. Back when I used to commute into Silicon Valley every day, I would spend 2, 3, 4 hours a day in my car, and Audible books would put me to sleep. (This one is good, though.) I got started with podcasts back when they actually involved an iPod, when cell phones were still clam-shell things that involved pressing a key four times to get one letter in a text message. I spent a lot of time listening to Adam Carolla, then Joe Rogan, finally getting hooked on Marc Maron. I liked the comedy and the people interviewed, but most of all I liked the conversation. I liked hearing people talk for an hour, liked hearing something unfold in long format, in an interview that wasn’t just morning zoo three-jokes-plug-product-done.

That’s also the reason I liked blogging, and really got into reading personal blogs ten or fifteen years ago. You got a certain insight into people by hearing their stories. I would spend hours back in the day reading a person’s LiveJournal, their long posts about their drama, or old journal-style blogs about a person’s band or home town or whatever. That stuff was awesome. But now it’s gone. People post a meme or an emoji or a selfie and move on. Nothing wrong with memes, but the life isn’t there anymore.

So I don’t read any blogs anymore, because they are all dead. Hell, I barely talk to people anymore on the phone. Other than work and parental check-ins, I think I’ve had two or three conversations on the phone this year. I used to spend entire days talking to people long distance, burning through a new MCI card, catching up with people across the country. I don’t get to do that anymore, and I wish I could.

So, a few things clicked together recently. First, I was on Hangin’ With Old Lew, which is a podcast that an old writing buddy Joshua Citrak does. Even though we both live in the bay area, we’ve only been hanging out virtually, clicking ‘like’ on various posts or whatever, but his podcast pulled me into the studio so we could spend some time talking shit. And that was a lot of fun, something I wanted to do more.

Second, I saw the movie Uncle Howard. It’s by Aaron Brookner, about his uncle Howard Brookner, who shot a movie about William S. Burroughs back in the late 70s/early 80s. Howard Brookner died of AIDS in 1989, and Aaron barely knew him or his background, since he was just a kid then. So he went back a few years ago to restore this film (I did the Kickstarter for this, which was great) and in the course of this work, he found a treasure trove of old artifacts in the Burroughs bunker in New York: VHS tapes, audio recordings, pictures, reels of old film, notes. It contained tons of shots of the Lower East Side in the Seventies, video of Zappa and Warhol and everyone from the Beat movement, audio tapes of Ginsberg rambling on in restaurants, tons and tons of documentation.

And that is something I wish I had more of. I think about how I could have been taping ideas onto cassettes, how I have almost no pictures of the Nineties, how I owned a camcorder and never recorded my first reading in Boston. And I save emails, but nobody emails anymore. When it is 2027 and I’m thinking back to the then-to-be-dead Facebook era and the people I knew, how will I remember them? What will be left?

Also, I had a bunch of Amazon credits from my rewards Visa card burning a hole in my pocket, and really want to buy some expensive gear.

So, podcast. I will be talking to other writers, bloggers, musicians, whoever has a story or wants to ramble on with me about the past or about writing or anything else. I’ve got the gear to record two people in person, but I’ve also got a setup to record people remotely over the computer. Me and John Sheppard are going to belt out a bunch of these, and I’ve also recorded one with Jessica Anshutz, with more planned. A few people are in the pipeline. The plan is to go biweekly, the first and the fifteenth of the month. I don’t know how long I’ll do this or how much of a time sink it will become, but it has been fun so far.

THE DETAILS:

Go to thekoncast.com (also known as http://koncast.libsyn.com)

The first episode is with John Sheppard, where we talk about zines, the early history of Paragraph Line Books, how we met, and the birth of self-publishing: http://koncast.libsyn.com/episode-1-zines-paragraph-line-and-why-we-write

You can listen to them in a player on those web pages, or click the download link to get an MP3 and then play it at your leisure with whatever program.

The easiest way to handle that automatically is to subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. You can do that here.

If you’re on an Android phone, I’m told you can use Google Play to do this. (I don’t have one so I don’t know how it works.) It’s located in Google Play here.

There is also the Stitcher app, which has it available here.

Goes without saying that you should also rate and review on those respective stores and whatnot, and tell all your friends.

Also, go add us on facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/koncast/

In the future, I’ll be auto-posting links to new shows here, so stay tuned for those. Let me know what you think. And yes, I’m looking for more people to interview, so drop a line.

 

 

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