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.
S2E4: The Maybe Pile with Carolyn Kellogg

Colin Marshall sits down in Echo Park with Carolyn Kellogg, writer on books and publishing for the Los Angeles Times and their literary blog Jacket Copy, board member at the National Book Critics Circle, and formerly the blogger and podcaster behind Pinky's Paperhaus. They discuss what happens when the interviewer becomes an interviewee; her use of early internet radio as a social skill-free way to penetrate the Los Angeles literary scene; that scene's coherence through the internet, and its tendency to be "nicer" than New York's, where publishing has cultural primacy; her tendency to strike less of a local-global balance in Jacket Copy than to regard Los Angeles itself as stateless; the city's unknowability, and the probable facetiousness of anyone who claims to know it; whether books, bookstores, reading, and criticism are or were ever in crisis; solid versus ephemeral media, and the importance of your inability to drop your library in the toilet; publishing's former status as a "gentlemen's business," and how that allowed it the tolerance for failure that every creative industry needs; whether Twitter makes people too nice to produce serious criticism; what makes some social networks suitable for book talk, and others completely worthless; the Los Angeles Times' use of blogs, and Tony Pierce's influence on it; her days in the Los Angeles of the eighties, working at an all-night Russian cafe downtown; how writers don't seem to hate it here as much nowadays, though some sort of heartbreak remains; how she filters not just the daily shipment of books to her house, but the onslaught of books that enter existence on a daily basis; and the possibility that someone's finally getting the multimedia reading experience right.

Direct download: NCC_S2E4_Carolyn_Kellogg.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:20pm UTC

S2E3: Jetpacks and Flying Cars with Chris Nichols

Colin Marshall sits down below the mid-Wilshire offices of Los Angeles magazine with its associate editor Chris Nichols, the man behind the Ask Chris column and blog, former chair of the Los Angeles Conservancy Modern Committee, and author of The Leisure Architecture of Wayne McAllister. They discuss the importance of the now-empty Johnie's Coffee Shop on Wilshire and Fairfax; what being a civic booster means in Los Angeles; the remains of the postwar American car culture of easy, breezy livin', and their enduring value; the preponderance of hard-to-explain objects across the Los Angeles landscape, and how he explains them in his writing; the richness and strange inhospitability of La Brea Avenue, currently caught between old and new ideas of the city; architectural preservation, and how much of it in Los Angeles is too much; the surviving Googie coffee shops like Pann's and Norms, Wayne McAllister's pre-Googie creations, and their place in the city's historical palimpsest; his determination to help tourists determine and discover their fantasy of Los Angeles, of which countless many exist; why you have to go out and find the city, and why it will simply never come to you; the wonders of Cucamonga; how he's used Los Angeles as his own personal party space; the Dutch chocolate shop that became a swap meet, and the spectacular twenties movie palace that became a storeroom; how things filled out when "the world moved in" to places like Koreatown, where you can find, for instance, a cafe that is also a boat; what meaning, if any, Frank Gehry's much-discussed Disney Concert Hall has; and his desire to get lost in Los Angeles once again

Direct download: NCC_S2E3_Chris_Nichols.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:15pm UTC

S2E2: The Crushing Burden of History with Frances Anderton

Colin Marshall sits down in Ocean Park with Frances Anderton, host of KCRW's Design and Architecture and Dwell magazine's Los Angeles editor. They discuss how her countrymen Reyner Banham, David Hockney, and Christopher Isherwood opened up the idea of Los Angeles to England, vague as the understanding of its cityscape remained; the modernism of Los Angeles then emblematized by its freeways and its architectural freedom from the crushing burden of history, as unlike her native Bath as possible; how Paris' Pompidou Centre and the mere image of sliding glass patio doors shaped her architectural consciousness; the rise of preservation in Los Angeles, and how it might take an outsider to clearly see the movement's potential to hinder eccentricity; the American tendency to prostrate ourselves before whatever seems sufficiently old; how stark early-sixties modernism rose in Los Angeles without actually displacing anything, except on Bunker Hill; Chris Burden's ideas about the super-fast self-driving car as the transportation of his future, and his generation's implicit yearning to bring back 1962; how she figured out that radio was indeed a suitable medium for the discussion of design, architecture, and aesthetics, especially when it can include conversations about such subjects with the likes of Moby; and what Moby's architecture blog says about the surreality of Los Angeles, as well as where she still finds that surreality herself after 21 years in the city.

Direct download: NCC_S2E2_Frances_Anderton.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:37am UTC

S2E1: Affinity for the Dead with Nate DiMeo

Colin Marshall sits down at the West Hollywood Library with Nate DiMeo, public radio producer and creator of the podcast The Memory Palace. They discuss American history's unique wealth of inventors, fakes, geniuses and eccentrics, such as serial impostor Stanley Clifford Weyman and child prodigy turned streetcar transfer taxonomist William James Sidis; the odd satisfaction of stories that arrive at "close enough" rather than classic success; the issue of the right historical moment for a creation, whether that creation is a podcast, a radio show, or the music of Slash; podcasting's theoretically ideal function as public radio's "indie underground" feeder system, and its failure thus far to perform that function; his own realization that The Memory Palace probably wouldn't take the public radio path, and the freedom that gave him; the enduring appeal, no matter podcasting advantages, of the "kismet" of radio, which can deliver unexpected information, entertainment, and delight; why a relatively high degree of public radio innovation has gone on in Los Angeles, and how a public radio producer can become the hit of any entertainment-industry party here; why the older public radio generation hasn't yielded to the younger; and what it takes for him, as an avowed non-history buff, to draw certain feelings from moments in American history and then reconstitute those feelings in audio form.

Direct download: NCC_S2E1_Nate_DiMeo.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:28am UTC