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Free Comic Book Day

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Today is Free Comic Book Day. Even if you're not a comics fan, it might be worth braving the vague creepiness of your local comic shop to pick up something you might actually like.

Brian Posehn Has a Posse

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Brian Posehn is one of the guests on this coming week's Sound of Young America broadcast. I think I'll release a director's cut of the interview sometime -- he talked a lot about his remarkable history in both comedy and life.

Then he told me this great (breaking) story, about a guy who bragged on the net about spitting in his burger at a Bob's Big Boy the other day. The moral of the story is: don't mess with Brian Posehn. He has people.

Download the MP3 (about three minutes)

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Podcast: The College Years: Official Things

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On this week's College Years podcast, Jesse, Jordan and Gene pick Official Stuff of The Sound of Young America.

Official Bubble Gum Comic: Bazooka Joe
Official Lummox: Gene for Stepping on Jordan's Cord
Official House: Run's
Official Dance: Etch a Sketch
Official Caller: Molly

And more!

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Wholphin's Looking for Comedy

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Wholphin is a new DVD magazine from the good people at McSweeney's. They've already featured material from folks like Bob Odenkirk, Spike Jonze, and Patton Oswalt.

If you're interested in getting your high-quality comedy short or other short film featured in Wholphin, contact Sound of Young America listener and blogger Ian Brill by email at ibrill (at) gmail.com.

Of course, there are no guarantees, but Ian's a good guy and they really are looking for great stuff.

Dr. Katz Live in NYC 5/9

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Jonathan Katz is performing as part of "Dr. Katz Live" at Gotham Comedy Club on Tuesday the 9th. Tickets are only $12. More info on the Gotham website

Something I should have posted on Monday...

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if I wasn't so busy going to Stockton on business.

Jonathan Coulton - First of May (Free MP3)

Man, this song is funny. Be aware that it's not entirely appropriate for children.

CBC Podstravaganza

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Tod Maffin informs us that CBC Radio 1 has begun to podcast... you can find a full lineup, including great shows like Quirks & Quarks and As It Happens, here. There are also regional podcasts, for those of you who are looking for all the hottest news from Saskatchewan.

The future of public media is on many, many platforms... kudos to the CBC!

New Outkast song...

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It's a radio rip, and terrible quality, but it sounds pretty nice. And it's a real Outkast song, too. Not a solo song passing.

The Killer (not the Killers)

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One of the great heroes of The New Sincerity is profiled in PopMatters: Jerry Lee Lewis.

In '57, with Sun founder Sam Phillips manning the dials, Jerry Lee recorded "Whole Lotta Shakin'" which eventually rose to the top of the country and R&B charts. Later that year, he cut "Great Balls of Fire", a rumbling, crudely suggestive rock ditty penned by black tunesmith Otis Blackwell. The song, in all its immortal stomping glory, still sounds wondrous today. And the title itself pretty much encapsulates the whole of Jerry Lee's public existence.

The rock of the 50's is absolutely FILLED with New Sincerity. Can you imagine what it must have been like, in 1957, to see Jerry Lee Lewis? Or Little Richard? It boggles my mind.

My dad listened to Ray Charles records in his basement, with the speakers turned off, by putting his ear next to the needle. He hid the 45s in his bed.

And to see the Killer? Unbelievable.

By the way, if you've never heard "Live at the Star Club," it's amazing.

Tavis Smiley is still shaking up public radio...

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Fascinating article in the Washington Post on Tavis Smiley & public radio.

Tavis, of course, hosted an NPR talk show, designed to attract African-American listeners, for a few years. Then he left, because he felt unsupported at NPR. These days, he has a new, weekly show on Public Radio International. That's the folks who distribute This American Life, among other programs.

Tavis puts the conflict this way:

Smiley says race, however, was at the core of the breakup. "I'm loud, I laugh loud, I was younger than what they're used to, and certainly blacker," he says. "Everything about my personal aesthetic was antithetical to public radio."

An NPR rep says:

"Mr. Smiley is a smart man," NPR spokesman Andi Sporkin says, "so one would assume that he'd done his homework before joining NPR and understood that . . . NPR and public radio overall do speak to a very diverse audience and don't have TV-level budgets for marketing or advertising of any individual show. Given his concerns, we're frankly surprised he's remained in public broadcasting."

A bigwig at DC's WAMU (who air Tavis' NPR replacement, "News & Notes" at 2AM):

Mathes, who was not at WAMU when Smiley's old show was around, says Smiley has misread public radio's motivations. "If I could talk to Tavis one on one, I'd tell him: 'Don't feel dissed. It's not a sign of lack of respect for your show. It's a lack of marketing resources and a basic reluctance to add new programming. We are so listener gift-dependent that you just don't want to tamper with the apple cart.' "

Frankly, I didn't like Smiley's show that much, and I'm not sure if I like News & Notes, either. This from a guy who was basically an African-American Studies major in college (American Studies, really, but there's no ethnic studies departments at UCSC). News & Notes is kind of dull (although they do get points for having TSOYA pal Nick Adams on), and I felt that while Tavis' interviews were sometimes laudably lively, they too often felt kind of superficial -- going for liveliness over depth. They felt like TV interviews.

And I'm similarly ambivalent about the ghetto-ization of NPR News. I'm fine with an African-American issues show, just like I'm fine with, say, Justice Talking, which is about the law. Both are issues that appeal strongly to a smaller audience, and affect a very broad audience.

African-Americans are not a huge percentage of the US population, and highly educated African-Americans are a smaller group still, one that's tough to serve through commercial broadcasting (see: BET, where, needless to say, they are NOT well served). Having a show for specifically African-American issues, with an intelligent, educated perspective is great.

But I worry that NPR is creating a show like that to skirt the real question: where are these voices on All Things Considered? On Morning Edition? Why is it that Tavis can quite legitimately claim to be the only national voice of color on public radio?

This is a function of the cultural (and to some extent ethnic) homogoneity of public radio. Which is what the guy from WAMU should really be copping to. And when Tavis calls WAMU "elitist," I can see where he's coming from, and when I listened to that (excellent, btw) station, I felt a bit of that, too.

A great example of real diversity in public radio is Ray Suarez -- when he hosted Talk of the Nation, he wasn't doing it as an extension of "Latino USA," but his expertise in urban and immigration issues added to his qualifications. Now, almost everyone on NPR does a fantastic job (the current TOTN host Neil Conan included), but where's that kind of diversity? I, personally, don't always hear it.

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