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.
S3E23: Cut-Rate Crematorium with Patt Morrison

Colin Marshall sits down in Pasadena with journalist Patt Morrison, best known for her "Patt Morrison Asks" column in the Los Angeles Times, her years hosting Life and Times and Bookshow with Patt Morrison on public television as well as Patt Morrison on KPCC, and her book Rio L.A.: Tales from the Los Angeles River. They discuss her childhood in an Ohio town of 2,000 people, where the nearest cool place was a book; how and why her family decided to pull up stakes and stay on the move before suddenly deciding to settle in Tuscon, Arizona, a bustling metropolis by comparison; how she developed a kind of historical fourth-dimensional vision, letting her see what's been here as well as what is here; how she came to Los Angeles for Occidental College, and what she discovered here; what others have discovered in Los Angeles, like the individuality of expression, bordering on eccentricity, that comes with a certain type of property; how reading about Nellie Bly as a child convinced her then and there to become a journalist; the lessons she's learned from working across several major media; what she read to better understand Los Angeles, and what books she'd put in the city's welcome wagon kit; her drive to collect stories about "then" as well as "now"; Los Angeles' authentic-ness, as opposed to its authenticity; what you need to master to live the ever-growing number of lifestyles possible in the city; retaining that Los Angeles sense of perpetual astonishment, and reinforcing it by regularly traveling abroad; why we seem to have forgotten the importance of clothing on the West Coast, and whether $500 sweatpants and $100 filp-flops say something meaningful about Los Angeles; popular confusion about the real eastside-westside border, and what she's done to fight the misconceptions; and what to keep in mind when you, too, come to Los Angeles.

Direct download: NCC_S3E23_Patt_Morrison.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:21am UTC

S3E22: Battle Damage with Chris Gore

Colin Marshall sits down in Glassell Park with comedian and man of cinema Chris Gore, who has talked movies on such television shows as The X ShowThe New Movie Show with Chris Gore, and Attack of the Show; has written books including The Ultimate Film Festival Survival GuideThe Complete DVD Book, and The Fifty Greatest Movies Never Made; hosts the podcast PodCRASH with That Chris Gore; and has a new comedy album and picture book coming up called Celebrities Poop. They discuss how he takes his work seriously, but not himself; his "war" on the top five podcasts; his contretemps with Representative Dan Lungren while editing Videogames magazine; Colin's Podthought on PodCRASH, and the superiority of essays and films that don't tell you how to feel; his first television appearances on FX, and how he there learned to read a teleprompter by pretending not to read it; growing up a Michigander and a nerd, discovering alternative culture through film (and building his own eight-millimeter home theater at age seven) while actively not giving a shit what anyone thought of him; his choice to come to Los Angeles because it smelled less like pee than New York; his place in film culture versus nerd culture, and the word "nerd" versus the word "geek"; how he makes a podcast out of his appearances on other podcasts in the podcast Mecca that is Los Angeles; meeting and talking to cool people as a byproduct of a career, or as the raison d'être of one; which of them buys cars and which of them buys bespoke suits; what it felt like being around for the nineties' American indie film boom, and why only Quentin Tarantino has kept up his auteur's head of steam from those days; and why he made My Big Fat Independent Movie when that boom got to be too much.

Direct download: NCC_S3E22_Chris_Gore.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:06pm UTC

S3E21: High-Functioning Freak (HFF) with Tyson Cornell

Colin Marshall sits down above Spring Street in downtown Los Angeles with Tyson Cornell, proprietor of Rare Bird Books and Rare Bird Lit, former longtime Director of Marketing & Publicity at Book Soup on the Sunset Strip, punk rocker, and co-editor of the forthcoming essay collection Yes Is the Answer: And Other Prog Rock Tales. They discuss the seeming contradiction between Los Angeles' image as an "unreaderly" place and its rank as the largest book market in America; this city's tendency not, unlike other cities, to tell you straight-up what it is; how his study of the American newsstand brought him to Los Angeles, and then to Book Soup; the perspective he gained on Los Angeles through both working newsstands and having as a neighbor the manager of the Laugh Factory; how the reading came first in his life, and then the punk rock; Yes Is the Answer and the supposed antagonism between punk and prog; his time rocking in the both-advanced-and-retrograde Japan alongside former hair metalists; Sparkstastic, the upcoming book on Los Angeles (but England-beloved) band Sparks by Tosh Berman, also formerly of Book Soup; the nature of working at a bookstore, or of trying and failing to work at a bookstore, among the industry's classically high-functioning freaks; how much crazier crazy writers can get than crazy rockers, and the ultimately tiresome nature of the non-Thompson, non-Bukowski literary wild man persona; the way that books and bookstores seem both unimprovable, in away, and yet somehow headed straight for disappearance; why books cost so much, and the advantage of slapping dogs on their covers; and the implications (and potential conspiracy theories surrounding) girls who make millions on their self-published vampire e-books.

Direct download: NCC_S3E21_Tyson_Cornell.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:19pm UTC

S3E20: Traitor to Genre with Gabriela Jauregui

Colin Marshall sits down in Mexico City's Colonia Condesa with Gabriela Jauregui, writer, poet, and co-founder of the publishing collective sur+. They discuss her childhood in Coyoacán and at what point during it she realized she lived in a place with a rich literary history; her coming up reading and speaking Spanish, English, and French; the real beginning of Latin American small presses, and what it means for the excitement of Spanish-language literature; why Mexican books get shrinkwrapped, anyway; how she mastered English while studying in Los Angeles, and the pleasure she finds in writing in a language not quite her own, especially one with weird exceptions, non-rules, and all the qualities of a "pirate language"; what her interest in the mechanics of language has to do with her pursuit of poetry; how you never quite know who's a poet in Latin America; the way Los Angeles revealed itself to her, and how understanding Mexico City involves approaching it as something between Los Angeles and New York; her memories of growing up in Mexico City's "dark years," including but not limited to fake M&Ms; "Malinchismo," the Mexican idea that whatever is Mexican is by definition inferior, and how it has fallen away, at least in part, where art and literature are concerned; how to read your way into Los Angeles of Mexico City, and if you don't want to read, how to use Alejandro Jodorowsky movies for the same purpose; and all the layers of history you can experience in Mexico City that, unlike in Europe, you can experience all at once. 

Direct download: NCC_S3E20_Gabriela_Jauregui.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:10pm UTC

S3E19: Nothing Works, Everything Moves with Juan Carlos Cano and Paloma Vera

Colin Marshall sits down in Mexico City's Colonia Condesa with Juan Carlos Cano and Paloma Vera, founders of the architecture and urbanism practice CANO | VERA. They discuss how everything in Mexico City's built environment exists "behind," being interesting in irregular ways; all the untrue superlatives you hear growing up about how Mexico City is the biggest in the world, and what an abstract concept "the biggest city" turns out to be anyway; the miracle of Mexico City's continued improvisational operation, especially as regards garbage collection; the amount of architect-less building going on in Mexico City, and what they're doing to help make it easier and more efficient; the creation of cities through the creation of connections, rather than through the building of beautiful things; where best to walk in the giant soufflé that is Mexico City; the intrinsic sense that Mumbai, Bangkok, or São Paulo make when you come from Mexico City, and how you feel at  home when you have to discover, anonymously, what a place is about; the meaning of Condominio Insurgentes to the urban environment, and the question of who built the thing in the first place; the city as a mirror of society's favorite ideas in one particular moment; the contradictory image of Mexico as a place where nothing works, but everything moves; the historical Mexican relationship to space as it appears both in Teotihuacan and Ciudad Universitaria, in pre-Hispanic markets and downtown today; how Mexico City grew and ego; and the Zócalo, the best place in town to both feel and fill the void.

Direct download: NCC_S3E19_Juan_Carlos_Cano_and_Paloma_Vera.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:05am UTC