Thu, 19 June 2014
Colin Marshall sits down in Sawtelle (also known as Los Angeles' "Little Osaka") with Eric Nakamura, founder of Asian-American aesthetic culture and lifestyle brand Giant Robot. They discuss the differences between the Sawtelle he grew up in and the Sawtelle he finds himself in today; how and where he got his doses of Japanese pop culture growing up; Los Angeles as a "gateway to Asia" then and now; the days when Giant Robot began as a photocopied zine, and what zinemaking means in 2014; Giant Robot's various manifestations, from shops to galleries even to a restaurant; the local titles applied to him including "Mayor of Sawtelle" and "Sawtelle Shogun"; what he learned about other cities like San Francisco and New York from operating Giant Robot branches in them; the first trips to Japan he remembers, and the American cultural exchange he saw going on in them; his "just hanging out" style of travel, sometimes with stray cats; how Los Angeles' lack of connectedness may have made it a more interesting place; (former Sawtelle resident) Shunji Iwai's Vampire, Wong Kar-Wai's My Blueberry Nights, and what happens when Asian directors work in the West; how Asia has come together in films like Pen-Ek Ratanaruang's Last Life in the Universe; what it means that more artists want to depict Los Angeles these days; and his preference of a role as new guy over a role as elder statesman.
Direct download: NCC_S4E42_Eric_Nakamura.output.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:42am UTC
Thu, 12 June 2014
Colin Marshall sits down in Venice with Geoff Dyer, author of books all across the spectrum between fiction and non-fiction on such subjects as jazz, photography, travel, World War I, and Andrei Tarkovsky's film Stalker. His newest book Another Great Day at Sea follows his two weeks aboard the aircraft carrier the U.S.S. George H.W. Bush, and his first two novels The Color of Memory and The Search have just received their very first American editions. They discuss why America needs to land planes on boats; the call he received from Alain de Botton asking what institution he'd like to visit as a writer in residence; place as the nexus of interests on which his diverse body of work converges; his specific desire to write and reside on an American military ship, a place not full of Englishmen already "born worn down"; The Color of Memory's late-1980s London, "oily, dark, and full of harm"; the idyllic Brixton life he once led amid the city's near-total brokenness; how many "Geoff in Venice" jokes he's heard since moving from London to Los Angeles; the contrast between his Venice life and his last extended American experience, which offered "blissful months in Iowa city"; the comparability of Venice and Brixton's ramshackle countercultural years; when, exactly, the personnel on the aircraft carrier started talking about Jesus; what Effra Road feels like today; his uncanny knack for living in the right place at the wrong time; how he would write The Color of Memory today, and whether he would feel quite so afflicted with a need for "ideological soundness"; the system of discipline he forced upon himself in his twenties, and the system the soldiers on the U.S.S. George H.W. Bush sign up to have forced upon them; when Another Great Day at sea "became a Geoff Dyer Book"; and what comes of the collision between his sensibility and that place, including the ability to ask. at the right moment, if the whole enterprise means anything at all.
Direct download: NCC_S4E41_Geoff_Dyer.output.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:34pm UTC
Sun, 8 June 2014
Colin Marshall sits down in Mar Vista with Streetsblog Los Angeles founder Damien Newton (and his young daughter). They discuss what Los Angeles transportation culture looked like from a distance before he came here (nonexistent); how he found himself covering the city's "turning point"; the advantages to getting around from just where chose to make his home, and the disadvantages that include having to take "the bus to the bus to the train to the train to the train" to Pasadena; the Expo Line's approach to his neighborhood, and what it has made him think about the ways communities can take advantage of new transit; Santa Monica as "basically paradise" (despite the rumors floating around there of coming "soul-crushing traffic"); the relative prevalence of "kind-of car-freeness" in Los Angeles, and what makes the difference between it and other cities allowing absolute car-freeness; the city's early attempt at a bicycle network, like the time it put down "twenty miles of weird sharrows" over a weekend; the benefits of stoking a pretend infrastructure rivalry between Santa Monica and Long Beach; why Los Angeles simultaneously produces complaints about "being forced to drive" and "being forced out of our cars"; the importance to no longer building based on the effects on cars, but the effects on actual people; the generational change that has led some commentators to label young people unmotivated for their lack of driver's licenses; what has made bikes so much cooler today; Los Angeles' first Ciclavia, the initial dread that nobody would show up to it, and the instantaneous dispersal of that dread; the questions of how many times you can just report "This is awesome!" about an event like Ciclavia, and whether its future routes can "give South Los Angeles its due"; the difficulty of every firmly saying "this is Los Angeles," and the non-existence of most Los Angeleses seen in popular culture up to now; and the availability of something culturally new to learn every day in the city, even just on its surface.
Direct download: NCC_S4E30_Damien_Newton.output.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:56pm UTC
Mon, 2 June 2014
Colin Marshall sits down in Mar Vista with Edward Soja, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Urban Planning at UCLA and author of such books as Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory, Thirdspace: Journeys to Los Angeles and Other Real-and-Imagined Places, and now the new My Los Angeles: From Urban Restructuring to Regional Urbanization. They discuss downtown's Bonaventure Hotel back when he sat for a BBC documentary on it and now; how all of us may only ever talk about "my Los Angeles" when we talk about the city; why it surprises people to find Los Angeles has become the densest urbanized are in America; how the "metropolitan model of the city" became so deeply ingrained in our culture, and how that model itself now undergoes changes; how Los Angeles missed out in the 19th's century's phase of centralized urbanization, and what that means for the city today; what he's noticed by keeping an eye on the cross-streets; the "hot-bedding" going on at all those small motels nobody seems to use, and how that fits in to the wider scheme of survival techniques used by informal urban populations; how he discovered in Los Angeles the "largest industrial manufacturing center in the United States," and indeed "the largest job machine in the world"; why observers outside and the inside the city suffer so many blind spots regarding it; Los Angeles as "a kind of laboratory for understanding urban dynamics all over the world"; Jorge Luis Borges' "El Aleph", and how that story's central concept of a point that contains all points helps us understand Los Angeles; seeing the spatial aspect of all things as of equal interest to the historical aspect of all things; his current "weird book," neither quite a novel nor an academic work, dealing with the ultra-spatially just first city in civilization; when people began noticing that "something is happening in suburbia"; and what it means that greater Los Angeles has developed a suburban Chinatown — especially to those with adventurous palates.
Direct download: NCC_S4E39_Edward_Soja.output.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am UTC