The Blog of Young America

Maximum Fun is your home on the internet for things that are awesome. Our blog will guide you, our family of podcasts will entertain and inform you, and our lively forum community will connect you with others. About

A beginner's guide to MaximumFun.org

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Hi! Welcome to MaximumFun.org, new person! I'm Jesse. I make this website, which I realize looks like it was designed in 1999. That's because it was actually designed in 1999. We put a lot more effort into our content than we do into our design. At least there's no annoying flash music playing in the background, right?

MaximumFun.org is all about stuff that's awesome. That means comedy, music, film, TV, books, theater, art, whatever. Our podcasts have been chosen as "best of iTunes" every year since iTunes starting picking best podcasts, we've been featured in Time, the Wall Street Journal, Salon.com, and most presitigiously of all, Southwest Airlines Spirit Magazine. In other words, we are legit and worth your time. There's a bunch you can do here.

I blog here, at maximumfun.org/blog. I try to share awesome things I come across on the web and beyond. Videos, music, links, occasionally text interviews. Once a week, we run a podcast review, and we have new episodes of our podcasts, I post them here. If you use a feed reader, subscribe to the RSS feed.

Speaking of which, we've got a bunch of podcasts, too. I like to think of it as a family of podcasts, really. If you want to jump straight to iTunes, you can find them all on one page there, just follow this link.


The Sound of Young America is our flagship show. It's a public radio interview show, hosted by me, with guests who I think are awesome. Subscribe to the podcast, and once or twice a week, you get a new interview with someone from the worlds I listed above -- comedy, music, whatever... we even did a show about donuts once. You can use this link to get the show (free) in iTunes, or this one for the show's RSS feed.

Here are a few of our favorite recent TSOYAs to get you started:
Comedian Louis CK
Singer-Songwriter Nellie McKay
Writer Dan Kennedy
"This American Life" host Ira Glass

You can find all of our old episodes here, in our archive. If you want, there's a feed of older episodes of the show, to help you catch up, called The Sound of Young America Classics. The feed is here, and this is the iTunes link. If you feel like really going whole-hog, you can download whole years of TSOYA shows via bit torrent.


Jordan Jesse Go is our fun talk show. It's sort of like morning radio, if morning radio wasn't dumb. OK, maybe JJGo is a little bit dumb, but in a fun way, I promise. It features me and co-host Jordan Morris (who you may have seen on Fuel TV, especially if you are a 14-year-old boy who loves Xtreme Action Sports) talking about goofy stuff. We also feature guests from the world of alternative comedy joining in on the fun. It's an interactive show, too. Call in on one of our "action items" sometime -- the number's 206-984-4FUN. You can get the show via iTunes or RSS.

Here's a few favorite JJGos:
"Octopus Suprise" with special guests The Sklar Brothers, in which we eat bizarre Japanese snack sticks, discuss Paul Stanley's battle with the laser pointer, and do other cool stuff.
"Old-Tyme AIDS," which was recorded live before an audience of about 500 at UMass Amherst, in which we demonstrate our oldness by interviewing a teenager about what the kids are into.
"Hot Tubbin", the episode that cemented rapper Ashkon's role as a regular guest on the show. Featuring his earth-shattering performance of his hit song "Hot Tubbin," among other things.

If you enjoy JJGo, you might want to check out The College Years, our podcast of Sound of Young America episodes form our college days. Back then, TSOYA was a lot more like JJGo. Also, we were less competent. You can get that in iTunes or via RSS.

We also do comedy podcasts.

Kasper Hauser are the brilliant sketch comedy group behind SkyMaul and Wonderglen. Their podcast, The Kasper Hauser Comedy Podcast, features audio, video and even PDF comedy in very bite-sized pieces. You can check it out via iTunes or RSS. Check out "Phone Call to the 14th Century," or one of the group's amazing This American Life parodies.

Coyle & Sharpe: The Impostors is our podcast of 1960s street put-ons conducted by Mal Sharpe and James P. Coyle. In the early 60s, these two guys walked around San Francisco with a microphone, roping people into some of the most bizarre, surreal and hilarious schemes and ideas you can imagine. Check out "Maniacs in a Living Hell," in which they convince a man to work in a pit of fire, pursued by maniacs and eating nothing but bats he must catch and roast himself. Again, you can check it out via RSS or iTunes.

Also: let's chat! The MaximumFun.org forums are a great place to talk about culture, the arts, and (of course) our shows and blog.

My email is jesse@maximumfun.org, and I always appreciate hearing from you. Let me know what you think of the site. And finally: if you like what we do, donate to support it. That's how I eat.

The Thrills - "Santa Cruz You're Not That Far"

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When I get nostalgic about Old Times, I think of this song, from the Thrills' excellent album So Much for the City, which is all about the California coast. Then I remember that when I first heard it, I thought it was called "Santa Cruz You're Not That Fun," which is even better.

Elephant Larry's Optical Illusion Date

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A brand-new and delightful sketch from our pals at Elephant Larry. Jordan, Theresa and I saw them at Sketchfest on Saturday night, and they blew the crowd away, as always.

Celebrate Valentine's Day with Brandon Bird

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Our old pal Brandon Bird has posted some new Law & Order: SVU valentines on his website. If you're looking for a special way to say that you are defenseless against your partner's love prosecution, this is a great way to do it. Check them out in sets or alone here.

Meshell Ndegeocello: Revolutionary Soul Singer; interview on The Sound of Young America

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Show: 
Bullseye


Meshell Ndegeocello is a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Her work in the early to mid 1990s presaged "neo-soul," and she continues to push boundaries today, recording everything from rock to jazz. We talk with Meshell about coming up in DC's GoGo scene, imagining the sound of the bass, and much more. Ndegeocello's most recent release is "The World Has Made Me the Man of My Dreams."

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If you enjoyed this show, try these:
Raphael Saadiq
Seun Kuti
Mark Oliver Everett of Eels

Monsters of Podcasting

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Monsters of Podcasting
Originally uploaded by Nicole Lee

Thanks to everyone who came out to the show last night. And thanks to the great Dennis Richmond for providing moral and visual support for the Jordan, Jesse Go! portion of the program.

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: "Radio Freetown"

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Who on WFMU is not awesome? This is a serious question. You Max Funsters may — nay, should — already know all about the likes of The Best Show and Seven Second Delay, but the framework built by the entire schedule of what I shall dub America's ultimate free-form radio station is packed with the styrofoam of pure awesome. For just one example, take Radio Freetown [iTunes link], which airs Mondays at 7pm Eastern. Behind the mic and on the turntables is DJ Frank O., a.k.a. DJ Franc O., a.k.a. Frank Gossner, a German so dedicated to his mission of finding and preserving rare West African pop and rock vinyl from the 1970s that he blogs about the stuff, is the subject of a documentary about the stuff and, of course, sends the stuff out weekly on the frequency of 91.1. This dude, let it be said, is an awesome dude.

Fortunately for listeners outside of Jersey and NYC, WFMU boarded the podcasting boat early, and consequently Frank's broadcast spinning sessions are available everywhere in the world — even in the countries his music itself comes from: your Ghanas, your Benins, your Togos, your Nigerias, your Ivory Coasts, your Guineas. Having grown weary of the "sleazy listening" he made his name playing in New York clubs and the classic funk he then became known for laying down in Berlin, Frank relocated to Guinea and picked up a nasty addiction to its dusty old vinyl. Radio Freetown's cuts are the fruits of a dogged quest through the west side of the continent: by foot, bus or rickety makeshift taxi, Frank scoured (with the aid of a network of friends) the remains of all the collections he could dig up, searching for that sweet Afrobeat, Afro-funk, Afro-pop and Afro-rock.

It's tough to know exactly how to describe this music. Though certain recordings are unexpectedly slick, most of it's decidedly "lo-fi", though not in an unappealing, deliberate or ironic way. (Especially not in an ironic way.) West African musicians of the 1970s were, perhaps unsurprisingly, working with fairly basic technology even for the time, and thus had to creatively compensate or adapt to their gear's limitations. The result is a bold, enthusiastic sound filled with sharp horns, spidery guitar, distinctively solid rhythms, borderline-hypnotic repetition and lord knows how many sung languages. So perhaps it's easier to describe its sound than to covey, with much precision, its appeal; in the interest of not dancing too much about the architecture, it's probably best to leave the music to speak for itself. (The music and its cover art, to be precise. Who on Earth, no matter the region, could see covers like these and not want to hear what's pressed into the vinyl inside them?)

Listening to Frank's mixes has, for your Podthinker, been something of an enlightenment. If you hang out with music people, you know — maybe all too well — that anyone who's really into organized sound can easily become afflicted with tunnel vision, or, as it were, tunnel hearing. They delude themselves into thinking that they "know what they like" and tribally restrict their allegiances to a certain style, consciously or unconsciously avoiding all alien musical stimuli, forgetting that when the total music-producing area of the world is multiplied by the time it's been producing music, a huge probability space opens up. In it hide so very many many excellent tracks, albums and entire genres that few have ever even heard of. In previous eras, they'd have an excuse for their ignorance; now, thanks to the sweat-of-the-brow efforts of hardworking DJs like Frank, they don't.

Vital stats:
Format: music; 70s West African music, specifically
Running since: October 2008
Duration: ~1h
Frequency: weekly
Archive available on iTunes: previous month only (but like all WFMU podcasts, older shows can be heard via the fate worse than death that is using RealPlayer)

[Podthinker Colin Marshall receives all his way-out-of-normal-experience music suggestions at colinjmarshall at gmail. Discuss Podthoughts on the forum here or submit your own podcast for the next by-Max-Funsters column here.]

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: "Radio Freetown"

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Add Video

Who on WFMU is not awesome? This is a serious question. You Max Funsters may — nay, should — already know all about the likes of The Best Show and Seven Second Delay, but the framework built by the entire schedule of what I shall dub America's ultimate free-form radio station is packed with the styrofoam of pure awesome. For just one example, take Radio Freetown [iTunes link], which airs Mondays at 7pm Eastern. Behind the mic and on the turntables is DJ Frank O., a.k.a. DJ Franc O., a.k.a. Frank Gossner, a German so dedicated to his mission of finding and preserving rare West African pop and rock vinyl from the 1970s that he blogs about the stuff, is the subject of a documentary about the stuff and, of course, sends the stuff out weekly on the frequency of 91.1. This dude, let it be said, is an awesome dude.

Fortunately for listeners outside of Jersey and NYC, WFMU boarded the podcasting boat early, and consequently Frank's broadcast spinning sessions are available everywhere in the world — even in the countries his music itself comes from: your Ghanas, your Benins, your Togos, your Nigerias, your Ivory Coasts, your Guineas. Having grown weary of the "sleazy listening" he made his name playing in New York clubs and the classic funk he then became known for laying down in Berlin, Frank relocated to Guinea and picked up a nasty addiction to its dusty old vinyl. Radio Freetown's cuts are the fruits of a dogged quest through the west side of the continent: by foot, bus or rickety makeshift taxi, Frank scoured (with the aid of a network of friends) the remains of all the collections he could dig up, searching for that sweet Afrobeat, Afro-funk, Afro-pop and Afro-rock.

It's tough to know exactly how to describe this music. Though certain recordings are unexpectedly slick, most of it's decidedly "lo-fi", though not in an unappealing, deliberate or ironic way. (Especially not in an ironic way.) West African musicians of the 1970s were, perhaps unsurprisingly, working with fairly basic technology even for the time, and thus had to creatively compensate or adapt to their gear's limitations. The result is a bold, enthusiastic sound filled with sharp horns, spidery guitar, distinctively solid rhythms, borderline-hypnotic repetition and lord knows how many sung languages. So perhaps it's easier to describe its sound than to covey, with much precision, its appeal; in the interest of not dancing too much about the architecture, it's probably best to leave the music to speak for itself. (The music and its cover art, to be precise. Who on Earth, no matter the region, could see covers like these and not want to hear what's pressed into the vinyl inside them?)

Listening to Frank's mixes has, for your Podthinker, been something of an enlightenment. If you hang out with music people, you know — maybe all too well — that anyone who's really into organized sound can easily become afflicted with tunnel vision, or, as it were, tunnel hearing. They delude themselves into thinking that they "know what they like" and tribally restrict their allegiances to a certain style, forgetting that when the total music-producing area of the world is multiplied by the time it's been producing music, a huge probability space opens up. In it hide so very many many excellent tracks, albums and entire genres that few have ever even heard of. In previous eras, they'd have an excuse for their ignorance; now, thanks to the sweat-of-the-brow efforts of hardworking DJs like Frank, they don't.


Vital stats:
Format: TTW/BGBAC
Running since: April 2008
Duration: 50m-1h50m
Frequency: erratic
Archive available on iTunes: all

[Podthinker Colin Marshall is also beyond down for both Wild Style andStyle Wars, and will discuss both via e-mail at colinjmarshall at gmail. Discuss Podthoughts on the forum here or submit your own podcast for the next by-Max-Funsters column here.]

The Wire for $82

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"SHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEIT!"

The complete series of The Wire, the best television show ever made, is on Amazon today only for $82. If you live in the first world and have a job, a tv and a dvd player, I can't imagine a better way to spend $82. Actually, The Wire is so good that it's worth buying a TV and DVD player on craigslist for another $50.

If you're already a Wire fan, have you listened to our interview with Andre Royo ("Bubbles") and Wendell Pierce ("Bunk")?

10 Ways to be Best Friends with TSOYA

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Here are ten things you can do to be best friends with The Sound of Young America...

1) Link to our site from your blog or webpage. I will link back to you!

2) Get some stickers for free by sending an SASE to: The Sound of Young America / 720 S. Normandie Ave. #512 / LA CA 90005

3) Fill out the listener survey if you haven't already. Takes five minutes.

4) Buy a t-shirt. They're cheap and nice and make great gifts.

5) Sign up for the email list. I send an email about once a month, and it usually has something good in it.

6) Donate to support the show. Your donations keep the lights on. Contrary to popular belief, none of the stations that carry the show pay me, and I receive no grants or other outside funding.

7) Advertise or underwrite on the website or show. Email me for more info and rates. If you're an individual or non-profit, we can work something out.

8) Hire me for voiceover or podcasting consulting (anything from instruction on techniques to soup-to-nuts production) for your business or non-profit. Again, email me.

9) Review The Sound, the Kasper Hauser Comedy Podcast, or The College Years in iTunes.

10) Be our friend on MySpace or Facebook.

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