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.
S1E27: Spoiled By San Francisco with Jesse Thorn

Colin Marshall sits down nine stories above Westlake with Jesse Thorn, host of Public Radio International's Bullseye, proprietor of the Maximum Fun radio and podcast empire, and host of the men's style web series Put This On. They discuss what it takes for GQ to introduce you as a guy who hates Los Angeles; the points of starkest division between northern and southern California, including burritos and new-aginess; his time growing up in San Francisco's inner Mission district, where he was spoiled by the ease of getting around and much else besides; coming of age amid the city's crack epidemic, nearly witnessing shootings, and dodging batteries thrown from rooftops; neighborhoods as extensions of your home into the outside world; the vast distances one must traverse in Los Angeles, and the toll they takes on one's ability to "pop on over" anywhere; Put This On's exploration of the great men's style cities, including New York, London, and Milan ("the Los Angeles of Italy"); the utilitarianism of dress in America, and the prevalence of surfer and skater traditions in southern California; the twin tendencies of white Angelenos to expensively project the image of not caring about clothes and to nevertheless pay close, anxious attention to their physical attractiveness; and the knowledge that neither he nor anyone else can never go home again to the old now-gentrified San Francisco neighborhood.

Download the interview from Notebook on Cities and Culture’s feed here or on iTunes here.

Direct download: NCC_S1E27_Jesse_Thorn.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:35am UTC

S1E26: Multiplicity with David C. Sloane

Colin Marshall sits down in Del Rey with David C. Sloane, professor and director of undergraduate programs at the University of California's Price School of Public Policy and editor of Planning Los Angeles. They discuss the book's obvious contrarian marketing angle against the widely held idea of Los Angeles as the most chaotic, least planned U.S. city; how people assume Los Angeles to be both older and newer than it really is; the city's much-discussed "polycentricity" coming from trains, not cars; freeways as conduits, Berlin Walls, psychological shortcuts, and Brasília-style monuments; the fears surrounding the non-disaster of "Carmageddon" and what they say about the increasing difficulty of the midcentury Los Angeles lifestyle; the transition to a world of multimodal transportation, where bicycles, cars, and trains coexist; his move to Los Angeles during the inauspicious year of 1992, though one that paradoxically saw several highly auspicious urban developments on the way; the changes in thinking that led to the changes in American cities from their nadir in the late seventies and early eighties; whether Los Angeles, having spread to its geographical limits, has now run out of excuses for not looking inward; and the city's anxiety about which places are "real" and which "fake."

Direct download: NCC_S1E26_David_C_Sloane.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:51pm UTC

S1E25: Paradise of the Ordinary with D.J. Waldie

Colin Marshall sits down in Lakewood City Hall with D.J. Waldie, author of books like Holy Land: A Suburban Memoir and Where We Are Now: Notes from Los Angeles, collaborator on books like Real City with photographer Marissa Roth, and a 34-year employee of the City of Lakewood as Public Information Officer and Deputy City Manager. They discuss the importance of Wallace Stevens' "work and walking" to his own writing; his advice to the latest wave of Los Angeles newcomers looking for solutions to the problem of how to live here; what it means to lead a "redemptive" suburban life, and whether "suburban" means the same thing to every writer; Lakewood and other rapidly built postwar tract-home communities as exciting, frightening experiments in living from which new democratic vistas could well; the meaning of Lakewood's motto that "Times Change, Values Don't"; how considerable variation can arise from built uniformity; his premise that there are no "good" places, and his ongoing interest in the question of what would happen if you fell in love with the place where you are; how knowledge of a place, if not quite love for it, can enrich the experience of that place; how the newest Angelenos seem to long to connect to and invest in their place; and how Los Angeles' resistance to its own history has contributed to bad choices over the years, leading to frustrations financial, racial, and otherwise.

(Photo: Tom Johnson)

Direct download: NCC_S1E25_DJ_Waldie.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:23am UTC