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Sly & the Family Stone - If You Want Me To Stay

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This is my all-time favorite song.

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: Podcasts by Maximum Funsters

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In my column on Experts and Intermediates, I introduced the genre designation "Two Twentysomething White Guys", by far the most common format in podcasting. I think I can dial it in even further: "Two Twentysomething White Guys B.S.ing About Culture" (TTWGBAC) sounds altogether more descriptive. In this first installment of my destined-to-be-epic series of Podthoughts on podcasts made by Maximum Funsters, I give you two new additions to this proud tradition.


From Max Funster crazyforswayze comes the just-about-weekly Stop Podcasting Yourself [iTunes link], starring Vancouverite twentysomething white guys Graham Clark and Dave Shumka. (How to tell them apart: Graham sounds weirdly insincere, while Dave sounds weirdly sincere.) Amid a sea of TTWGBACs, the program's geographical grounding makes it stand out: the hosts routinely discuss such distinctly Canadian things as MuchMusic, ugly people on television, public transportation, and aspiring to be a mailman. They also discuss such distinctly Vancouverian things as being accosted by junkies and enviro-proselytizers on every square of the sidewalk.

To Americans, most Canadian stuff feels civilizedly bland, sort of pleasantly inferior, but that's not the case with Stop Podcasting Yourself; it's pretty solid, not that it entirely skirts the standard suite of new-TTWGBAC issues (about which more below). It's already being embraced on the forum as, and I quote, "comedy gold", and blindsiding bits of top-flight humor scattered through the first nineteen episodes stand in evidence. Example: a guest who's planning to cross Canada by Greyhound, when asked why he opted not to hitchhike, replies that he's "not that cool." Graham adds, "And you don't want to be that raped."

Also of note is the show's heavy use of segments, each of which has its very own jingle. Now that's production value. The concepts of these segments vary widely in workability — "Overheard" is a bottomless well of goodness, "Pop Rocks Minute" is a valiant effort, "Celebrity Odds" plays the dangerous game of trading solely on ridiculousness — but that's balanced out by the fact that turnover is high. Even the shortest-lived segments — and here I'm thinking of the likes of "Paxton or Pullman" and "Blanchett or Winslet" — are just about worth the shot Graham and Dave give them.


From Max Funster Semisorick comes The Internet's Maximum Potential [iTunes link], where the TTWGBAC phenomenon comes straight outta Milwaukee. In a slightly-more-frequently-than-weekly free-form discussion — a very, very free-form discussion — hosts Drew Steck and Rick Katschke (how to tell them apart: Rick sounds a lot like American Movie's Mark Borchardt) wend their way around such cultural events of our time as the Sex and the City movie (I feel the need to point out that one of the hosts claims to have watched every episode of the television show, and also claims heterosexuality), Phantom Planet's live show (apparently, it sucks), and Alice Cooper's Starbucks patronage. The guys also occasionally lapse into sports talk; having never heard of sports, I feel unqualified to comment, but I thought it was unusual enough to make a thing of.

Because it's almost ten installments newer than Stop Podcasting Yourself, I have commensurately less to say about The Internet's Maximum Potential, suffice to say that I've heard some promising stories and exchanges. For instance, in the third episode [MP3], one Maximum Potentialist, a film major, recalls a dopey, garrulous dorm-mate who was hell-bent on bringing The Giver to the silver screen. That or making a movie about how Holocaust-like genocide could happen today, but it wouldn't be set in an African country — that doesn't sound realistic. (Maybe that doesn't translate well to text, but you should hear Rick tell it. Or Drew, I forget.)

As with any TTWGBAC, the listening experience improves as you get to know the twentysomething white guys behind the mics. Thus, there's a pretty serious time investment required, but the returns on that time increase. For the first episode or two, you'll always be like, "Who? What? Which one's talking? Why are they talking about this? Was that an in-joke?" But the disorientation always subsides. Put in the work on TTWGBAC-listening, and sooner or later you'll have a large stable of twentysomething white male perspectives with which to compare notes on what's going on in the worlds of film, comedy, and old Third Eye Blind albums.

I have only one recommendation for these TTWGBACs: nobody's forcing you to go the whole hour, so you can stop recording before you run out of steam or edit the show down down until it ends before you run out of steam. It's admirable to want to give the listener all the material you can, but there's something to be said for leavin' 'em wantin' more, even if that means a shorter podcast. This will also minimize the number of what I call "So... yeah" moments — any podcast-listener knows them all too well — and when those hit the cutting room floor, everyone wins.

[Tough but fair freelance Podthinker Colin Marshall hacks under the cyber-handle colinjmarshall at gmail. Discuss Podthoughts here, or submit your podcast for the next by-Max-Funsters column here.]

Podcast: Live in New York with Michael Showalter, Dawn Landes and Pangea 3000

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Show: 
Bullseye

Last month, The Sound of Young America taped our third live program in New York, as part of Sketchfest NYC. In a few days we'll post interviews with Ze Frank and Jay Smooth, but first I'd like to present the performance portions of the program. You can find the normal audio links below, but we've also got video of the show, so it seemed crazy not to share that here.

First up was Pangea 3000. This New York sketch group performed a sketch that I am not allowed by law to play on the radio, no matter how badly I want to.

Pangea 3000 - "Spelling Bee"

Next up was Michael Showalter. You may know Michael from The State, from Stella, or perhaps as Coop in Wet Hot American Summer. He's also a standup, and released his first standup CD, Cats & Sandwiches, last year. He told a story about trying to adopt a cat, shared some very silly poetry, and closed with some info about frogs. You can download the portion of his set that we didn't podcast from this direct link.

Michael Showalter

Our musical performance came from singer-songwriter Dawn Landes. Dawn was suggested to me by Brooklyn Vegan, and as soon as I heard her sing, I knew she was the perfect choice.

Dawn Landes

All our videos for this show were shot by Benjamin Ahr Harrison, a New-York based videographer. You can find him online at badcharacter.com. Thanks, Ben!

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If you enjoyed this show, try these:
Miranda July
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Louis Theroux

Interview: Wes Jackson, founder of the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival

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Wes Jackson is the founder of the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival, co-founder of Seven Heads Entertainment, and president of marketing firm The Room Service Group. He answered my questions via email about his motivation for creating the Festival and what he looks for in a performer, among other things.

Aaron Matthews: Why did you start the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival?

WJ: I started the Festival for several reasons. One, I thought hip-hop should have a world class festival on par with the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.  An all day, outdoor representation of the city’s music, cuisine, culture and energy. 

Secondly, I wanted to create an event that would help reclaim the hip-hop brand from years of bad press, vultures and interlopers.  Hip-Hop needs to grow up and take itself seriously.  There teenage fans of hip-hop as well as 30, 40, and 50 year-old fans. Hip-Hop fans of all ages need quality music and events that appeal to where they are in life.

The Summer Jams take care of the teenagers. There is Rock The Bells who attacks this issue with a sledgehammer and a slightly alternative spin.  I wanted to create one for our demographic as well. Metropolitan, educated, slightly older, female, and racially/ethnically diverse.

AM: What do you look for in a performer when you are assembling the lineup for the festival?

WJ: Someone with fundamental skills. More than this elusive ‘swagger’ that is so prevalent these days.  I am looking for someone who is pushing the art forward. I look for real content. Stage presence. When putting together the line-up, I look for a balance of old school and new school. Local acts and acts that rarely make it to Brooklyn. 

AM: How do you balance the different tastes of long time Brooklynites and more recent arrivals?

WJ: It’s not that tough. I get Big Daddy Kane and KRS-One for the old heads. Lupe [Fiasco] and Mickey Factz for the gentrifiers. Is that a word?  At the end, both old and new Brooklynites appreciate quality and history.  We also price the event so that as many socio and economic groups can participate.  This brings the old and new communities together.

AM: Have there ever been issues over which acts have been chosen?

WJ: Sure. Everyone has their favourites and I have the final say. Feathers get ruffled sometimes but we are all pros and sort it out.  The one who gets pissed is me when I let people talk me into acts I know don’t fit the brand.  I have learned to use my experience and lead without being despotic. My gut instincts on this are usually right. For the most part we all come to a consensus.

What was your initial goal in starting Seven Heads Entertainment?

WJ: My goal was to work with my friends and changed the world. Still is. [Laughs]

Back then I was enamoured with the idea of running a record label. I wanted to be Russell Simmons. After the returns started to mount, that dream ended. Fundamentally I just wanted to get my vision of hip-hop out there. I wanted to start my own business and realize my dreams.  We did some great things. Released some fantastic records. Saw the world. I hope to bring the brand back soon as a digital entity.

The main performance day of the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival starts at 4pm tomorrow, featuring performances by Mickey Factz, Blu & Exile, KRS-One, DJ Premier, 88 Keys and more.

You can find out more about the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival at brooklynbodega.com.

Podcast: Coyle & Sharpe Episode 30: Portable Radio

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Welcome to season two of Coyle & Sharpe: The Imposters! In the early 1960s, James P. Coyle and Mal Sharpe roamed the streets of San Francisco, microphone in hand, roping strangers into bizarre schemes and surreal stunts. These original recordings are from the Sharpe family archive, which is tended by Mal's daughter, Jennifer Sharpe. You can learn more about Coyle & Sharpe on their website or on MySpace. Their recent box set is These 2 Men Are Imposters.

On this episode: The Imposters approach a man on the street to find out what kind of music he likes. The answer doesn't much matter as you'll soon find out.

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Pledge Drive Followup

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If you're on this list, Chris the Intern needs your shirt size and mailing address. We've emailed you, but haven't heard back -- perhaps because you have an old email on your PayPal account. If you're on this list, can you email chris@maximumfun.org with your name, address and shirt size?

Baird, Jamie
Banas, Robert S.
Beecher, Eoghan
Boman, Linus
Coughlin, Joseph
Donnelly, B.
Fischer, Jarrod
Girouard, Patrick
Helm, Ted
Hulse, Laura
Laushman, Rusty
Snadden, Tim

Podcast: TSOYA Classic: Holiday Party

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Show: 
Bullseye


We continue our journey into The Sound of Young America's vast audio archive with this program from The Sound of Young America Classics.

Everyone's favorite 30-year-old paperboy, Chris Elliott, sits down with us. Actor, comedian, author, and professional David Letterman guest. Is there anything this guy can't do? Also on the show, a classic bit of street pranking brought to you by Coyle & Sharp and Hang it up/Keep it up.

Please share your thoughts on the show in the comments section!

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"Operation horse kick..."

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Congress Struggles To Come Up With Cool Name For Anti-Drug Initiative

These Onion videos are so fantastic. I feel like I post about every third one, but they're just that funny. I think these C-Span parodies are my favorites... but I can't decide.

Podcast: Coyle & Sharpe Episode 29: Daring, but Dead

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Welcome to season two of Coyle & Sharpe: The Imposters! In the early 1960s, James P. Coyle and Mal Sharpe roamed the streets of San Francisco, microphone in hand, roping strangers into bizarre schemes and surreal stunts. These original recordings are from the Sharpe family archive, which is tended by Mal's daughter, Jennifer Sharpe. You can learn more about Coyle & Sharpe on their website or on MySpace. Their recent box set is These 2 Men Are Imposters.

On this episode: The Imposters talk a military man into robbing a bank with them, and when they reveal it's all a hoax, he has a truly remarkable reaction.

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