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.

 

 

Share

Donald Cried (2016)

Donald Cried is a film in the “you can never go back” camp, but it’s also more about the estranged relationship between two friends who were inseparable as teenagers, but took completely different paths into adulthood.

Originally a short by independent filmmaker Kris Avedisian, this was expanded to a feature-length affair with the help of a successful Kickstarter campaign. The film starts with the protagonist Peter returning to his home town in Rhode Island to handle the affairs of his recently deceased grandmother. He left the small town a dozen years before, and went to New York City to reinvent himself, forget his past, and work on Wall Street. The problem with his quick overnight trip: he’s lost his wallet, so he’s stuck at his grandmother’s old house with no cash, no ID, and a to-do list of funeral home, nursing home, realtor, and everything else involved in closing the last of his involvement with his old life.

With no other options, he turns to his last lifeline, and meets up with his old pal Donald, who he hasn’t seen since high school. Donald is a stoner dropout who lives in his mom’s attic, works part-time at a bowling alley, and is the opposite of Peter, stuck at the same point he was back in the glory days of high school. We quickly find out that Peter was once cut from the same cloth, and had the same love of heavy metal and juvenile delinquency. Peter just needs a ride to pick up his grandma’s ashes and empty out her nursing home, plus a few bucks for bus fare back to the city. Donald is ecstatic about the triumphant return of his old friend. Antics ensue.

I always have a certain nervousness when returning back to Indiana, and that’s captured too well in this film. It’s a mixture of “this could have been me” and flashbacks of the past that bring out the “man, I was an idiot back then.” My nostalgia issues are a bit contrary to Peter’s in the film, though. He’s trying to remain unseen, and not get entangled in the past. For example, the realtor he gets is a woman he went to school with, and that he had some feelings for back in the day, but he initially acts as if he doesn’t remember who she is at all. I’m not saying I seek out people and reunite with them (I did have an ex-girlfriend sighting at a mall a few years ago, and I ducked in another store to escape) but I do seem to seek out old landmarks and get too mentally involved with the ghosts of the past.

The real star of this movie is Avedisian, who plays the character of Donald. He’s this lanky, bearded guy with an awkward Ray Romano-sounding voice and a Keith Moon haircut, and he’s completely cringe-worthy in his total lack of a filter. This starts as a truly hilarious character, like a Mark Borchardt from American Movie, except with no ambition to make films. At first, he’s just the funny guy to the straight guy, but then you become sympathetic to him, feel sorry for him. My feelings bounced between “wow, what is with this dude” to “wow, how could Peter help this dude get his shit together.” And the latter is a strong one for my personal experience, so it really got me.

The small town setting was also big for me. Warwick isn’t a “small” town — it’s the second-biggest city in Rhode Island. But, it’s only 80,000 people, and what is captured in the film is the small town feeling of cruising at night, bowling alleys and convenience stores, little houses, and that feeling that a lot of people never leave, never forget high school, never move on. The duo go, on Donald’s insistence, to visit another one of their high school buddies. When they get there, he’s sitting in bed, unmoving, watching cage fighting matches on TV, like he’s never left the house in fifteen years. Or there’s the bowling alley manager, a burly guy actually played by former WWF wrestler Ted Arcidi, who’s in his office showing a teenaged cashier his grainy VHS tapes of when he used to be a powerlifter back in the Eighties and could bench 700 pounds. It’s an interesting backdrop, and really sets up why Peter left, and why it is such a strange yet compelling place to visit.

Overall, I have only one big problem with this film: I wanted to write a book that was almost exactly this. I started outlining it two years ago, when I went back to Indiana for a weekend. I had the backdrop, and I thought I had the characters. But I never could quite break the story correctly. And Avedisian showed me that I really didn’t have the depth needed to get the characters down. I gave up on the idea a while ago, and now I’m stuck on the thought that I really should do something with it, but of course if I started working on it, I’d unconsciously ape exactly what he did.

Anyway, it’s on iTunes for rent right now. Not for everyone, but I found it pretty entertaining.

Share