Notebook on Cities and Culture
(Formerly The Marketplace of Ideas.) Colin Marshall sits down for in-depth conversations with cultural creators, internationalists, and observers of the urban scene all around Los Angeles and beyond.
Sound, food, performance, Japan, and the world city: multi-disciplinary artist Alan Nakagawa

Colin Marshall talks to Alan Nakagawa; sound artist; visual artist; installation artist; founding member of Los Angeles' long-running, multi-disciplinary, multi-ethnic, soon-to-be-dissolved arts collective Collage Ensemble; director of the experimental music Ear Meal webcast; L.A. Metro public art executive; member of Otonomiyaki, the Southern California Soundscape Ensemble and Ear Diorama Ear; and very serious eater indeed.

Direct download: MOI_Alan_Nakagawa.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:24pm UTC

In Mexico City with David Lida

Recorded on location in Mexico City, Colin Marshall talks to David Lida, author of First Stop in the New World, Las llaves de la ciudad, Travel Advisory: Stories of Mexico, and the blog Mostly Mexico City. A native New Yorker, Lida moved to Mexico City in 1990 — a year considered by many to have been the megalopolis' absolute nadir in terms of crime, crowding, and pollution — and hasn't looked back, becoming the best-known English-language chronicler of el Distrito Federal in the 21st century.

Direct download: MOI_David_Lida.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:07am UTC

To come to terms in L.A.: Slake founding editors Laurie Ochoa and Joe Donnelly

Colin Marshall talks to Laurie Ochoa and Joe Donnelly, founding editors of the new Los Angeles literary journal Slake. The magazine, which has just released its third issue, combines fiction, poetry, essays, reportage, photography, and several different kinds of visual art into a regular exploration of Los Angeles from every angle — and an exploration of the rest of the world from a Los Angeles angle.

Direct download: MOI_Slake.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:23am UTC

When Cold War cinema began: film critic J. Hoberman

Colin Marshall talks to J. Hoberman, senior film critic at The Village Voice and author of books on such cinematic subjects as 8mm and Super 8 pictures, Dennis Hopper, the 1960s, midnight movies, and Yiddish tradition. In his latest title, An Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War, he examines the American decade from 1946 to 1956, a time of "cavalry Westerns, apocalyptic sci-fi flicks, and biblical spectaculars, atomic tests on live TV, God talks on the radio, and Joe McCarthy bracketed with Marilyn Monroe."

Direct download: MOI_J_Hoberman.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:30pm UTC

Who is César Aira?: translators Chris Andrews, Katherine Silver, and Rosalie Knecht

Colin Marshall talks to Chris Andrews, Katherine Silver, and Rosalie Knecht, English translators of the Argentine novelist César Aira, whom some readers in the Anglosphere are now finding as exciting as Borges. Despite having published over fifty books since 1975, Aira has only recently broken into English with novels such as An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter, How I Became a Nun, Ghosts, The Literary Conference, and the new The Seamstress and the Wind that showcase his ability to balance the fine-grained observational detail of with outlandish fantasy and the methodical work habits and genre sensibilities of a mainstream author with the experimentalism and caprice of the avant-garde.

Direct download: MOI_Csar_Aira.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:40pm UTC

Black dog, disgust, or watery house: Peter Toohey, scholar of boredom

Colin Marshall talks to Peter Toohey, professor of Greek and Roman studies at the University of Calgary and author of Boredom: a Lively History. You don't need to keep your finger on the pulse of the contemporary scene to realize how important a subject boredom has become. We've all felt the emotion often — or at least we all think we feel it often. But we've also long felt the absence of a serious exploration of boredom, one that drills down to its true nature. Could Toohey have explained what we're experiencing when we experience boredom and why?

Direct download: MOI_Peter_Toohey.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:03am UTC

To Japan by cow: Nick "Momus" Currie, musician, writer, and artist

Colin Marshall talks to musician, writer, and artist Nick Currie, also known as Momus. Having recently relocated from Berlin to Osaka, he returns to the program to discuss his brand new book Solution 214-238: The Book of Japans. The novel follows up his previous book Solution 11-167: The Book of Scotlands with a similarly humorous exercise in social geography but one within a richer narrative framework — a narrative framework that pits twelve Japan "experts" against twelve Japan "idiots" — dealing with issues of imagination versus experience, monoculture versus diversity, and foreign versus future.

Direct download: MOI_Nick_Currie_2.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:01am UTC

The world dreamed but not judged: traveler and writer Pico Iyer

Colin Marshall talks to essayist, novelist, traveler, and "global soul" Pico Iyer. Since Video Night in Kathmandu, his journey through the rapidly changing Asia of the mid-1980s, Iyer has told us all about what it feels like and what it means to exist in and pass through places from Atlanta to Kyoto to Asunción to Pyongyang. Having been born to an Indian family and grown up equally between England and Santa Barbara, California, he both embodies and tirelessly describes the hybridized, cross-pollinated, geographically conversational world culture in which we all find ourselves.

Direct download: MOI_Pico_Iyer.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:08pm UTC

The surreal life of Mexico City: bilingual bicultural binational journalist Daniel Hernandez

Colin Marshall talks to Daniel Hernandez, bilingual bicultural binational journalist, blogger at Intersections, and author of Down and Delirious in Mexico City: The Aztec Metropolis in the 21st Century. In 2007, the Mexican-American Hernandez moved to Mexico City to explore its spirit of adventure, its multitude of youthful subcultures, its undercurrent of chaos, and its sheer day-to-day surrealism. His first book collects pieces on Mexico City subjects as far-ranging as fashion parties, kidnappings, original punk rock, death, cellphone-thieving transsexuals, a particularly intense native sauna, and the "emo riots" of 2008.

Direct download: MOI_Daniel_Hernandez.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:18am UTC

We have ham radios: Merlin Mann on media, fear, and caring about what you make

Colin Marshall talks to Merlin Mann, thinker, writer, and speaker on time, attention, and creative work. Following up on his June 2009 visit, he's back on the show to talk about a great many things, not least his new podcast Back to Work with Dan Benjamin, a program about productivity, communication, barriers, constraints, tools — and, nearly always, fear. The conversation also ventures into other, unusually personal topics, including dealing with entrepreneurs, trying not to hate the internet, and having one hundred dollars in the bank.

Direct download: MOI_Merlin_Mann_2.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:20am UTC

Trial, error, and economics: Tim Harford, Undercover Economist

Colin Marshall talks to Tim Harford, also known as the Undercover Economist. He wrote the book of the same name as well as The Logic of Life and now Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure. In this latest book, Harford examines the value of numerous small-scale experiments — numerous enough to try many different things, and small-scale enough to fail without serious consequence — in business, technology, medicine, finance, climate change, and even his own life and career.

Direct download: MOI_Tim_Harford_2.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:30am UTC

The modern decorative hermit: novelist Steve Himmer

Colin Marshall talks to Steve Himmer, editor of the webjournal Necessary Fiction and author of the novel The Bee-Loud Glade, wherein an eccentric millionaire named Crane picks Finch, a former corporate blogger, out of a rapidly deepening post-firing squalor. Finch finds himself in a very particular future on Crane's intricately landscaped grounds: employed as a decorative hermit, he must do little more than eat, sleep, meditate, and accomplish occasional (if sometimes inexplicable) Crane-assigned tasks. As it turns out, this suit's Finch's sensibilities just fine, even when Crane's corporate empire begins to crumble.

Direct download: MOI_Steve_Himmer.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:37am UTC

A dozen years of particularly gripping cinema: film critic Dave Kehr

Colin Marshall talks to Dave Kehr, former film critic at the Chicago Reader and Chicago Tribune and current DVD columnist for the New York Times. In his first collection, When Movies Mattered: Reviews from a Transformative Decade, he brings together his writings on some of the finest films and filmmakers of the mid-seventies to the mid-eighties, including Jean-Luc Godard, Manoel de Oliveira, Blake Edwards, and Albert Brooks.

Direct download: MOI_Dave_Kehr.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:58am UTC

The literary in-between: translator Susan Bernofsky

Colin Marshall talks to Susan Bernofsky, author, scholar, and translator of such German-language writers as the Swiss Robert Walser, the Japanese Yoko Tawada, and the German Jenny Erpenbeck. New Directions recently released a strong lot of Bernofsky-translated books from Walser, including the novels The Assistant and The Tanners, as well as Microscripts, a collection of short, hard-to-categorize works originally written in a one- to two-millimeter-high pencil script of Walser's own devising.

Direct download: MOI_Susan_Bernofsky.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:45am UTC

Portland noir: filmmaker Aaron Katz

Colin Marshall talks to Aaron Katz, director of such films as Dance Party USA, Quiet City, and the new Cold Weather. Continuing his established tradition of examining the sphere of urban twentysomethings who aren't quite sure how their lives got to this point or where they're going next with a strikingly aestheticizing gaze, Katz incorporates a near-Sherlock Holmesian plot into his latest film. His central characters, a Portland ice-factory worker, his DJ buddy, and his sister, find themselves embroiled in a forbiddingly seedy mystery when a girl goes missing and it falls to them to find her.

Direct download: MOI_Aaron_Katz.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:36pm UTC

Boredom, the vital subject of our time: novelist Lee Rourke

Colin Marshall talks to Lee Rourke, literary critic, contributing editor at 3:AM Magazine, and author of the story collection Everyday and the novel The Canal, winner of the Guardian's 2010 Not the Booker Prize. A book ostensibly about boredom, The Canal also illustrates, within a brief span of literary time, how boredom isn't really boring — or even how boredom isn't really boredom as we usually conveive of it when we actually sit down and face it, as does the book's protagonist, who one day walks out of his office job and never walks back.

Direct download: MOI_Lee_Rourke.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:59pm UTC

Literary auteurhood: Geoff Dyer, writer and intellectual gatecrasher

Colin Marshall talks to Geoff Dyer, the "intellectual gatecrasher" who has written, in addition to several novels, books on photography, World War I, jazz, John Berger, travel, and D.H. Lawrence. His essays turn out to cover an even wider span of subjects than his books, and his latest collection Otherwise Known as the Human Condition includes pieces on Susan Sontag, Def Leppard, Ian McEwan, avoiding real jobs, Richard Avedon, Editions of Contemporary Music, W.G. Sebald, growing up an only child, and the search for the perfect donut and cappuccino.

Direct download: MOI_Geoff_Dyer.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:50am UTC

Michel de Montaigne's examined life, re-examined

Colin Marshall talks to Sarah Bakewell, author of biographies on Jorgen Jorgenson, Margaret Caroline Rudd, and, most recently, the 16th-century French essayist Michel de Montaigne. How to Live, or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer examines the life of a man whose life you'd have thought was already pretty damned well examined. More remains to learn, it turns out, even after Montaigne himself wrote three volumes of personal essays which have attained over 400 years of success and counting. Bakewell finds a man who, despite revealing no end of personal detail and disclosing no end of his own opinions, paraxodically becomes near-universally relatable to the reading public across the world and through time. Yet could he have achieved this not in spite of his essays' specificity, but because of it?

Direct download: MOI_Sarah_Bakewell.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:57am UTC

You got arthouse film in my experimental literature!: novelist Jeffrey Deshell

Colin Marshall talks to Jeffrey DeShell, associate professor of English at the University of Colorado, Boulder and author of Arthouse, a novel that takes the form, structure, and aesthetic of each of its chapters from famous films like Yasujiro Ozu's Tokyo Story, Bela Tarr's Satantango, Arthur Ripley's Branded to Kill, Bernardo Bertolucci's The Conformist, and Jean-Luc Godard's Contempt. DeShell's protagonist, a "failed fortysomething film studies academic," lives through a story among the meth-dealing toughs of Pueblo, Colorado that pulls him through not the events, not the settings, but the very substance of the cinematic art of these and other classics of the "arthouse" theater.

Direct download: MOI_Jeffrey_DeShell.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:40am UTC

The original king of conversation: David Susskind biographer Stephen Battaglio

Colin Marshall talks to Stephen Battaglio, business editor at TV Guide magazine and author of David Susskind: A Televised Life, the first biography of the pioneering talk show host and producer of both television and film. With his firm Talent Associates Ltd., Susskind made his name with live shows like East Side/West Side, movies like Raisin in the Sun, and theater productions for television like Death of a Salesman. All throughout The David Susskind Show's near-thirty-year tun, Susskind engaged in relaxed, incisive, long-form conversation with a vast array of luminaries from business, politics, entertainment, and the arts, virtually creating the evening television talk show form as audiences knew it at its peak.

Direct download: MOI_Stephen_Battaglio.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:17am UTC

David Markson is not a tragedy: Françoise Palleau-Papin studies an uncompromising novelist

Colin Marshall talks to Françoise Palleau-Papin, teacher of American literature at the Sorbonne Nouvelle and author of This is Not a Tragedy: The Works of David Markson. The book comes as the first study of its length of all of the late Markson's novels, a body of work which includes such early detective "entertainments" as Epitaph for a Tramp and Miss Doll, Go Home, such intermediate and comparatively traditional yet still exuberantly inventive books as Going Down and Springer's Progress, and the final five novels for which readers know him best. Running from Wittgenstein's Mistress to The Last Novel, these brief but deep excursions into isolated creative minds showcased Markson's unmatched skills at shaping facts and ideas from art, philosophy, literature, and history into narratives like no other writer has ever written.

Direct download: MOI_Franoise_Palleau-Papin.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:25pm UTC

Gape into the void: cartoonist and entrepreneur Hugh MacLeod

Colin Marshall talks to cartoonist and entrepreneur Hugh MacLeod. At, MacLeod showcases his business card-sized works of art that strike several particularly tricky balances at once: between light and dark, between abstraction and representation, and between inspirational optimism and stark, abyss-gazing confrontation with the human condition. His cartoons have thus gained a following with not only artists, but marketers, entrepreneurs, job-haters, and many more variants of humanity besides. In his latest book, Evil Plans: Having Fun on the Road to World Domination, MacLeod combines cartoons with writing on subjects like giving artistic gifts, ditching your unsatisfactory life, waking others up, and getting woken up.

Direct download: MOI_Hugh_MacLeod.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:33pm UTC

The quest for seriousness, trammeled by idiocy: philosopher-novelist Lars Iyer

Colin Marshall talks to novelist and philosopher Lars Iyer, author the blog Spurious and the new novel Spurious. In both the blog and the book, the philosophers Lars and W. discuss their favorite artists and writers — Franz Kafka, Andrei Tarkovsky, Maurice Blanchot, Béla Tarr — and what they see as their own pathetic inability to live up to their collective example. As Lars deals with a dampness problem ever encroaching on his apartment, W. berates him with a seemingly endless series of insults that takes friendly verbal abuse to a high art form.

Direct download: MOI_Lars_Iyer.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:44pm UTC

Toro y Moi y moi: Chaz Bundick's experimental pop

Colin Marshall talks to Chaz Bundick, founding member and frontman of the experimental pop project Toro y Moi. Last year, Bundick introduced Toro y Moi to the world with the electronic, relatively sample-heavy solo album Causers of This. Now he darts all the way across the spectrum of the project's sound with Underneath the Pine, a record influenced by late-seventies R&B, film scores, and the unexpected purchase of a bargain-priced Fender Rhodes.

Direct download: MOI_Chaz_Bundick.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:30pm UTC

The reader's best time ever: The Millions founding editor C. Max Magee

Colin Marshall talks to C. Max Magee, founding editor of literary web magazine The Millions. With Jeff Martin, he’s co-edited The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books, a collection of essays from such luminaries as Ander Monson, Reif Larsen, Michael Paul Mason, Jonathan Lethem, and David Gates about the next iteration of their medium, what the reading audience of today best engages with, and the relationship between the ever-evolving industrial capacity of text distribution and the artistic forms to which it gives rise.

Direct download: MOI_C._Max_Magee.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:34pm UTC

In search of lost modernism: novelist and critic Gabriel Josipovici

Colin Marshall talks to Gabriel Josipovici, author of many novels and critical essays involved with the aesthetics and techniques of modernism. In his latest book, What Ever Happened to Modernism?, he traces modernism’s roots further back in history than perhaps any other scholar of modernism has done before. It’s all in the service of the titular question, which expresses a deep concern of anyone who enjoys modernist works today: how and why has the Western world so largely ignored the excitement and potential of modernist art, that is, art conscious of its own limits and responsibilities?

Direct download: MOI_Gabriel_Josipovici.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:56pm UTC

The consummate cinephile: Jonathan Rosenbaum on the changing film culture

Colin Marshall talks to Jonathan Rosenbaum, former Chicago Reader film critic, advocate of international cinema, and author of books on Orson Welles, Abbas Kiarostami, and Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man. In his latest, Goodbye Cinema, Hello Cinephilia: Film Culture in Transition, he examines the way serious engagement with film has changed over the decades, what new experiences it has brought to enthusiasts and critics, and what possibilities it has opened for cinematic artists.

Direct download: MOI_Jonathan_Rosenbaum.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:11pm UTC

Adventures in modern fiction: The Quarterly Conversation editor Scott Esposito

Colin Marshall talks to critic Scott Esposito, blogger at Conversational Reading, editor of The Quarterly Conversation, and marketing coordinator at the Center for the Art of Translation. A lover and promoter of today’s most interesting fiction, Esposito writes about fiction at the intersection of the experimental and the international. This conversation took place at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs’ 2011 conference in Washington, D.C.

Direct download: MOI_Scott_Esposito.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:36pm UTC

From Ernst Lubitsch to Bill Murray: Saul Austerlitz on American film comedy

Colin Marshall talks to cultural journalist Saul Austerlitz, author of Money for Nothing: A History of the Music Video from the Beatles to the White Stripes and, most recently, Another Fine Mess: A History of American Film Comedy, which examines the careers of beloved U.S. comedy icons like Woody Allen and the Marx Brothers as well as more cultishly comedic figures like Albert Brooks as well as filmmakers not normally associated directly with comedy, like Robert Altman and the Coen brothers.

Direct download: MOI_Saul_Austerlitz.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:27pm UTC

The friendliest experimental music in L.A.: Lucky Dragons' Luke Fischbeck

Colin Marshall talks to Luke Fischbeck, founder of Los Angeles experimental music group, art-creation unit, and engine of community Lucky Dragons at the 2011 Art Los Angeles Contemporary international art fair in Santa Monica. Alongside collaborator Sarah Rara, Fischbeck performs with conventional instruments, unconventional instruments, video, improvisation, incompatible technologies, and audience collaboration. The Wire calls their music "a celebration of ancient shared memory and introspective spirituality." Lucky Dragons perform at the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum on Thursday, February 3 at 7:00 p.m.

Direct download: MOI_Luke_Fischbeck.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:18am UTC

Podcasting philosophically: Philosophy Bites' David Edmonds

Colin Marshall talks to David Edmonds, co-host with Nigel Warburton of the popular philosophy podcast Philosophy Bites. Edmonds and Warburton have also collaborated on a new book, Philosophy Bites: 25 Philosophers on 25 Intriguing Subjects. The text features conversations from the podcast, including Peter Singer on animal rights, Alain de Botton on architecture, Adrian Moore on infinity, and Barry Smith on wine.

Direct download: MOI_David_Edmonds.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:06pm UTC

The rise of Korean cinema: film critic Darcy Paquet

Colin Marshall talks to Darcy Paquet, film critic and author of New Korean Cinema: Breaking the Waves. Since 1999, Paquet has maintained the web site as the premiere destination for Anglophone lovers of Korean cinema, which has experienced an unprecedented explosion of creativity and artistry since the beginning of the decade. In his book and on his site, Paquet discusses such vital Korean filmmakers as Bong Joon-ho (The Host, Memories of Murder), Hong Sang-soo (Woman is the Future of Man, Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors), Kim Ki-duk (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring, 3-Iron), and Park Chan-wook (Oldboy, Joint Security Area).

Direct download: MOI_Darcy_Paquet.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:18am UTC

Staying literarily immersed: book critic David L. Ulin

Colin Marshall talks to book critic and former Los Angeles Times book editor David L. Ulin. He’s also the editor of several anthologies of Los Angeles writing and the author of The Myth of Solid Ground. His latest book The Lost Art of Reading examines changes in his own and others’ style of engagement with books in the age of fragmented attention, always-flowing information sources, and countless outlets for on-demand media.

Direct download: MOI_David_Ulin_2.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:22pm UTC