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Destination DIY Oct. 2014 - Everything Is An Instrument

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Axe violin
Show: 
Destination DIY
Guests: 
Musician & artist Ken Butler

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To Ken Butler, everything is an instrument — he takes repurposing to a whole, new level. This month's story comes from producer Daniel Gross.
Below is a smattering of the hundreds of hybrid instruments Ken has created. For more, visit his website.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Tig Notaro, Ed Helms & Nick Frost

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Tig Notaro
Guests: 
Ed Helms
Guests: 
Nick Frost

Do you live in Los Angeles? Know someone who does? Come see Bullseye with Jesse Thorn LIVE on Wednesday, October 15th at the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Featuring conversation with Dan Harmon (Community, Harmontown), music from Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek, Watkins Family Hour), comedy from Steve Agee (New Girl, The Sarah Silverman Program) and Andy Kindler (Maron, Letterman) and more! Get your tickets now!


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"I Have Nothing to Lose Now": Tig Notaro on Life and Stand Up Comedy After Cancer

In 2012, the stand up comic Tig Notaro had a famously bad year. She caught pneumonia, which snowballed into C. Diff. She and her girlfriend broke up. Her mother passed away unexpectedly. And then, she learned she had breast cancer.

You're probably familiar with what came next. Notaro headed out to a stand up gig in Los Angeles, at the Largo. But she didn't feel right performing her usual set. She decided to open up like she had never before. Hours after she received the diagnosis, she went on stage and said to the audience, "Hello, I have cancer."

She took the audience through the pain she had experienced over the last few months. It was still in her deadpan style, with jokes and stories that were brave and sometimes uncomfortably funny.

Notaro is in remission now, and she's continued to perform stand up, write and record her podcast Professor Blastoff. She's headed off on a new national stand up tour, called Boyish Girl Interrupted.

She talks with Jesse about how she decided to approach that set at the Largo, why cancer and tragedy made her more open to the world, and telling her "bee joke" after an emotionally intense set.

If you liked this, share it! Click here for a streaming, embeddable version of this interview.


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The Part: Nick Frost on Humanizing Greed & Excess in 'Money'

Becoming an actor isn’t easy. Getting cast in your first role is a huge challenge. But even then it’s sometimes YEARS before an actor lands the role that changes everything. It's The Part.

The English actor Nick Frost is known for playing the everyman: goofy, kind, good-hearted men who are easy to love, like his characters in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.

So why did he take a role as the greedy, hedonistic ad director John Self in the BBC adaptation of 'Money'? Well... he'll explain.

Frost voices the henchman Mr. Trout in the new animated movie The Boxtrolls, which is in theaters now.

If you liked this, share it! Click here for a streaming, embeddable version of this interview.


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Ed Helms: From The Daily Show, to The Hangover, to... Bluegrass?

Ed Helms is an A-list comedy star these days. He starred in the mega-successful Hangover trilogy, and on NBC's The Office for seven seasons. And before that, he caught a break as a correspondent on The Daily Show, where his cohort included Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert.

But like most folks in show business, he started out low on the totem pole -- working as a barker for comedy clubs, handing out fliers to people walking by, begging them to come inside.

Helms talks to Jesse about his very early career, how Stephen Colbert helped him both professionally and personally, why he thinks The Hangover doesn’t deserve its reputation as a "bro movie", and why of all things, he started a bluegrass festival.

Helms is currently shooting the new National Lampoon's Vacation movie, in which he stars as Rusty Griswold. If you live in Los Angeles, you can find him hosting the 2014 LA Bluegrass Situation on October 10th and 11th.

If you liked this, share it! Click here for a streaming, embeddable version of this interview.


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The Outshot: Nina Simone's "Four Women"

Jesse talks about one of his very favorite singers, Nina Simone, and "Four Women".

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New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Anna Faris & Otis Brown III

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Anna Faris
Guests: 
Otis Brown III
Guests: 
Davy Rothbart

Do you live in Los Angeles? Know someone who does? Come see Bullseye with Jesse Thorn LIVE on Wednesday, October 15th at the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Featuring conversation with Dan Harmon (Community, Harmontown), music from Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek, Watkins Family Hour), comedy from Steve Agee (New Girl, The Sarah Silverman Program) and more! Get your tickets now!

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Anna Faris Embraces the Darker Side of Funny

Anna Faris made her name doing broad comedy in the blockbuster Scary Movie series in the early aughts. The series was hugely commercially successful, but wasn't well liked by critics. Faris says she learned a specific skill -- how to portray a one-dimensional character.

Her comic and dramatic performances since then have been anything but one-note. Faris went on to produce and star in The House Bunny and appear everything from rom-coms like What's Your Number? and Just Friends, to dramas Lost in Translation and Brokeback Mountain. She's also got a taste for darker comedic work, as we've seen in Observe and Report and her CBS sitcom, Mom.

On Mom, Faris plays a recovering alcoholic and single mom who's taken in her own mother, played by Allison Janney. The show begins its second season on September 29.

She'll talk to Jesse about the conventions of comedic roles for women, having fun with the grotesque in Observe and Report, and what it was like to go to her 20th high school reunion (as a movie star, married to movie star Chris Pratt).

If you liked this, share it! Click here for a streaming, embeddable version of this interview.

Back to School with Davy Rothbart & FOUND Magazine

FOUND Magazine Point Guard Davy Rothbart is back to share more pieces of found ephemera; this time a ransom note, an application to join a secret society, and a collection of very unfortunate teacher course evaluations from one of the nation’s most respected universities.

Rothbart is the author of My Heart is an Idiot, available now in paperback.

If you're in New York City, you can check out the world premiere of the stage production of Found: A New Musical. The show runs through November 9, 2014.

If you liked this, share it! Click here for a streaming, embeddable version of this segment.

Otis Brown III on Modern Jazz Aesthetics, Telling Stories with Percussion, and Love for Shania Twain

Otis Brown III has spent his entire life surrounded by musical talent. His father was a jazz band instructor who played with James Brown and Al Green. His mother was a choir director in addition to being a classically trained pianist.

His godfather was the famous soul and funk drummer Bernard Purdie, though Brown didn’t quite realize the significance of that until later. He was classmates with innovative musicians like Bilal and Robert Glasper. And though Brown pictured himself teaching music in the classroom, rather than gigging around town, the jazz icon Donald Byrd convinced him to try his hand at being a professional musician.

Brown found his calling as a drummer, and has performed and recorded with a number of jazz greats, from Herbie Hancock to Esperanza Spalding. Now he's released his debut album, The Thought of You, on Blue Note/Revive Records.

He talks to us about his career thus far, using the drum as a diverse storytelling tool and why he considers himself a closeted Shania Twain fan.

If you liked this, share it! Click here for a streaming, embeddable version of this interview.

The Outshot: Go Deep with David Rees

Think you know how to flip a coin? Open a door? You don't know till David Rees has showed you how. It's Deep with David Rees.

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Destination DIY - You Are An Authority

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Destination DIY

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This episode includes engaging interviews with author Chris Guillebeau and a doctor who runs her own micro medical practice, where she does it all from taking blood pressure to billing insurance. Also in the hour, you'll hear about a rock star returning to his DIY roots and a road trip that involves pretty much every form of transportation besides a car. This episode also includes a piece on the most controversial subject we've ever covered on the show: self-induced abortion.

The New Republic says self-induced abortion is on the rise. Listen on SoundCloud.

Dr. Chrissie Ott and her micro medical practice. Learn more about this unique approach to medicine.

Jeff Cohen's two little girls talking about a DIY haircut

Photos of Gloria's Secret Cafe by Alex Johnson:


Extended version of Julie's interview with Chris Guillebeau at Makin' It on SoundCloud.


DIY Music For Kids on SoundCloud.


More from Casper Babypants


Summer Camp For Grownups on SoundCloud.


Boaz Frankel and his "Un-Road Trip" on SoundCloud.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: 'Jodorowsky's Dune' and Dee Dee Penny of Dum Dum Girls

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Frank Pavich
Guests: 
Glen Weldon
Guests: 
Linda Holmes
Guests: 
Matt Fraction
Guests: 
Dee Dee Penny

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

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Set design for Jodorowsky's Dune by Chris Foss

Expanding Consciousness with Frank Pavich and 'Jodorowsky's Dune'

When Alejandro Jodorowsky set out to make the first movie adaptation of the sci-fi novel, Dune, he wanted to make something more than a Hollywood sci-fi flick. He wanted something almost beyond description. His goal was to open people's minds and expand their consciousness.

But it was never filmed, and now it lives on a single bound set of storyboards.

Documentarian Frank Pavich interviewed Jodorowsky and his collaborators to tell the story, and called his movie Jodorowsky's Dune. He talks with us about Jodorowsky's dream of making an epic space opera, the process of gathering spiritual warriors and cast members (including Orson Welles, Salvador Dali and Mick Jagger), and how an unfilmed movie can continue to influence other artists.

Jodorowsky's Dune is available on DVD and Blu Ray.

Pop Culture Happy Hour on Sabotage in the Kitchen and Bad-Ass Lady Mercenaries

Linda Holmes and Glen Weldon of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast stop by to share some of their newest pop culture obsessions.

Linda recommends checking out the Food Network series Cutthroat Kitchen, a cooking competition show that has all of the thrills and outlandishness of reality television, along with a sense of humor.

Glen recommends the new comic book series Rat Queens, which takes Dungeons and Dragons-style fantasy and comedy and combines them in a satisfying series about a group of female contract killers.

You can hear Glen and Linda every week on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, and check out Linda's writing on the Monkey See blog.

I Wish I'd Made That: Matt Fraction on Loving 'Enter the Dragon'

Artists -- the people that make stuff -- are always influenced by the work of others. And sometimes, something an artist sees is so good, so perfect that they wish they had made it themselves.

This happens so often to the people we talk to, that we made a segment about it. It’s called I Wish I’d Made That.

Matt Fraction writes comic books. Along with artists David Aja and Javier Pulido, Fraction was behind the acclaimed reboot of Marvel's Hawkeye. He writes the dirty, funny, and intensely imaginative series Sex Criminals (the title is literal -- the main characters discover they can freeze time when having sex and use that power for Robin Hood-style justice).

The thing Matt Fraction wishes he made isn't a comic. It's Bruce Lee's kung-fu classic Enter the Dragon.

Fraction is the author of the acclaimed series Sex Criminals, now on its seventh issue. The first five issues are collected in Sex Criminals Volume 1.

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Dee Dee Penny of Dum Dum Girls Talks about Early Days on MySpace, Creating a Persona, and Overcoming Anxiety and Stage Fright

Kristin Gundred, AKA Dee Dee Penny, is the creative force behind the band Dum Dum Girls. But she wasn't always front and center. She's played in bands for almost fifteen years now, playing drums and singing in other people's groups. Eventually she realized the only way to create the music she wanted was to do it herself. So Dee Dee created a MySpace page and started working on her music.

Now Dee Dee and Dum Dum Girls have three studio albums under their belt, including their newest, Too True.

Dee Dee talks to Jesse about making music in her bedroom, constructing the persona of Dee Dee Dum Dum, and overcoming anxiety and stage fright to be a rock musician.

Dum Dum Girls newest album, Too True is out now. They're also on a North American tour this fall.

The Outshot: Is 'What's Up Fatlip' the Least Braggy Rap Song Ever Written?

Don't call it a comeback. Jesse tells us about the LEAST braggy rap song ever written, "What's Up Fatlip?".

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Ishmael Butler, Allison Janney & Michel Gondry

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Ishmael Butler
Guests: 
Allison Janney
Guests: 
Michel Gondry
Guests: 
Todd Martens

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

And if you're looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.


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Ishmael Butler on the Short Life of Digable Planets and the Cosmic Hip Hop of Shabazz Palaces

In the early 1990s, the hip hop group Digable Planets broke through with their single "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)". The single was jazzy and laid-back, and became a crossover hit. The trio were pegged by some as a counterpoint to gangsta rap, but they didn't love the efforts to categorize their sound. They went further on their next boundary-pushing release, the classic record Blowout Comb. The album was critically acclaimed, but didn't sell well, and the group drifted apart shortly afterward.

Founding member Ishmael Butler was only in his mid 20s when Digable Planets broke up. And so he tried other things, like filmmaking. He still made music, but the releases were few and far between. About five years ago, he teamed up with Tendai Maraire to form a new group called Shabazz Palaces.

Shabazz Palaces' new release is called Lese Majesty, and it expands on their interstellar sound.

Butler spoke to us about his days as a indie label gopher, the awkward audition Digable Planets had to endure for a record company executive, and the the transformative sounds of Shabazz Palaces.

Todd Martens Recommends Pop-Punk and Garage Rock: the Muffs and Twin Peaks

Is there still good pop-punk out there? What's the musical equivalent of a drunk text? Music critic Todd Martens of the Los Angeles Times stops by to answer both of those questions!

He recommends a listen to two new albums: the Muffs' first release in ten years, Whoop Dee Doo, and a new record from Chicago garage rockers Twin Peaks called Wild Onion.

You can find Todd's writing in the LA Times and on their blog, Pop and Hiss.


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"The Song That Changed my Life": Director Michel Gondry Gets Nostalgic for "Le Sud" by Nico Ferrer

There's a certain kind of feeling to the director Michel Gondry's films. A little bit of happiness mixed with sadness. Nostalgia for something that you experienced, or maybe something you wish you had experienced. You may have felt it watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep, or his new film Mood Indigo.

For "The Song That Changed My Life", Gondry describes the feeling of saudade and how he felt watching Nico Ferrer perform the song "Le Sud" on a Saturday night.

Gondry's new film Mood Indigo is a fantastical story of love and loss, starring Audrey Tatou and Romain Duris. You can find it in theaters now.

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Allison Janney, from Loose Cannon Sitcom 'Mom' to Intimate Drama in 'Masters of Sex'

If you've seen Allison Janney on television lately, it's been in one of two very different roles. On the Showtime series Masters of Sex, Janney guest stars as a somewhat naive, vulnerable 1950s housewife who experiences a breakthrough after many years in a sexless (but not loveless) marriage. Her story is both heartbreaking and hopeful. In the CBS sitcom Mom, she plays Bonnie, a recovering alcoholic who's outrageous, biting, and very funny. Bonnie's been down, but she's making peace with her estranged daughter and getting her life back together. Janney's characterizations are versatile; they allow her to be warm, steely, confident, and thin-skinned by turns. Janney is currently nominated for Emmys for both roles; 'Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama' for Masters of Sex, and 'Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy' for Mom.

She spoke to us about her early acting days (including auditioning for an intimidatingly handsome Paul Newman), getting comfortable with the inevitable nude scenes for Masters of Sex, and the ways that her mom's background and brother's struggle with addiction gave her insight and empathy for her current roles.

The Outshot: Orson Welles and 'Touch of Evil'

Jesse explains why the last Hollywood picture Orson Welles directed, Touch of Evil, tells us so much about Welles as an artist.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Lewis Black, Syl Johnson & Annie Hart

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New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

And if you're looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.

Still Fuming: Lewis Black on Drama School, New York, And Why He's Still Fired Up

No comedian is angrier than Lewis Black. For the past 25 years, America has been infuriating him, and he's been on-stage telling us why.

After graduating from the Yale School of Drama in 1977, Black spent ten years as a playwright at the West Bank Cafe Downstairs Theater in New York. He transitioned to stand-up comedy in the late 1980s and has been regularly featured on The Daily Show's "Back In Black" segment for the past 16 years.

Lewis tells us about nearly getting expelled from Yale, why he loves performing in Bismarck, ND, and how theater is like heroin.

Lewis Black's most recent special, Live at the Borgata, is available now in digital formats. This interview originally aired in August 2013.

If you liked this, let someone know! Click here to share this segment.

Hip Hop with Andrew Noz: DJ Quik's Pacific Coast Remix and Rammellzee's Beat Bop

Hip hop blogger and Pitchfork columnist Andrew Noz joins us with a couple of his all-time favorite hip hop tracks. His first recommendation is Pacific Coast Remix by DJ Quik (featuring Ludacris), a track devoted to sunny Los Angeles's dark side. He also suggests checking out the 1983 track Beat Bop by Rammellzee and K-Rob. It's a song from an era where the uptown and downtown communities mingled in a way that the rap world would rarely see again. This segment originally aired in June 2013.

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"The Song That Changed My Life" with Annie Hart of Au Revoir Simone

Annie Hart of Au Revoir Simone grew up in the suburbs of Long Island. As the story goes for a lot of teenagers, she didn't quite fit in. The kids at her school wanted to spend time at the mall. They weren't interested in making stuff, shooting videos and writing zines.

Annie found a whole new world, and a whole new group of friends, through music. The song that changed her life is "Knew Song", by the Long Island hardcore band Silent Majority.

Au Revoir Simone's most recent album is Move In Spectrums. This interview originally aired in January 2014.

If you liked this, let someone know! Click here to share this segment.

The Enigmatic, Grammy-Nominated Syl Johnson

Inspired by the sounds of Jackie Wilson, Little Walter, and Muddy Waters, Syl Johnson set out to make his own mark in music in the 1950s. His own gritty, bluesy voice and funk rhythms earned him a place in the Chicago soul and blues scene. Over the course of a career on Chicago's Twinight and Memphis' Hi Records, Johnson released several singles that climbed their way up the pop and R&B charts ("Different Strokes", "Come On Sock It To Me", "Is It Because I'm Black?") and but never attained the smash success of contemporaries like Al Green or James Brown.

He found ubiquity later in life, when dozens of hip hop artists from Run-DMC to Kanye West dug into his catalog to sample his sounds (perhaps foremost his signature scream on "Different Strokes"). Johnson found himself in the spotlight again a few years ago when the archival label Numero Group assembled a Grammy-nominated boxset of his early cuts, titled Syl Johnson: The Mythology. This interview originally aired in October 2012.

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The Outshot: "Coney Island"

Jesse recommends a portrait of an American caught in between its past and its future in Ric Burns' documentary Coney Island.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Fred Willard & Vocoders with Dave Tompkins

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New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

And if you're looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.

Fred Willard on his comedic beginnings, playing the clueless buffoon, and working with Christopher Guest

For over fifty years, Fred Willard played ignorant, self-absorbed buffoons that are impossible not to laugh at. He's a master improviser and comedian who started with his comedy duo, Greco and Willard, and moved on to work with the Second City and improv groups The Committee and the Ace Trucking Company. Today, he's probably best known and loved as one of Christopher Guest's troupe in films like Waiting For Guffman and Best In Show.

Willard tells us about drag-performances in his military school, the real life inspiration for his improvised comedy, and being the exact opposite of the happy-go-lucky optimists he plays on screen. (This segment originally aired in August 2013)

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Eleni Mandell on "Tom Traubert's Blues": The Song That Changed My Life

Singer-songwriter Eleni Mandell had one of those experiences as a kid that was a hallmark of experiencing music before the internet. She heard a song she liked, went out to the record store, and picked an album by the same artist. The problem? It sounded totally uncool, and not at all like the song she'd heard. It did, however, open her up to a whole new way of listening to music.
Eleni talks to us about the song that changed her life, Tom Waits' "Tom Traubert's Blues." Eleni grew up in Los Angeles loving both punk rockers X and folk rocker Bob Dylan, and her own music mixes airy vocals with 60s pop, country, and folk sounds. Her newest album is "Let's Fly a Kite" is available now.
(This segment originally aired in September 2012)

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Todd Martens recommends two perennial favorite albums by Material Issue and Wilco.

Beyond interesting conversations with people in culture, we like to tell you about interesting cultural stuff. There's so much stuff out there, you don't have time to listen to everything. That's why we've brought in Todd Martens, who writes about music for the LA Times, to tell you about two albums you can dive into without hesitation.

Martens recommends Material Issue's 1991 album, International Pop Overthrow, a combination of cynicism and ideals.

He also recommends the album Summerteeth by Wilco, an album which explores a different side of Wilco.

You can find Martens' writing in the L.A. Times or on their music blog, Pop and Hiss.

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The power of a robot voice: Dave Tompkins talks vocoders, talk boxes, and how they changed music

You may not know it, but when you talk on your cell phone, you're using technology that was first developed for the vocoder. Bell Labs invented the vocoder to make long distance calls cheaper. But it had another application in World War II, when we used it to encode Allied messages.

The vocoder was in large part an analog machine, but it was also one of the first digitizations of speech. It broke down speech into its constituent parts, its separate frequencies, to create the codes. The technology that was in that huge code-making vocoder in 1944, twenty or twenty five years later, became a musical instrument.

Dave Tompkins is the author of How to Wreck a Nice Beach -- which is the way you might hear the phrase “How To Recognize Speech” if it were rendered through a vocoder. The book describes how the vocoder was created to guard phones from codebreakers during World War II, and soon became a voice-altering tool for musicians. Tompkins talks about how the vocoder changed music, the technology behind it, and some examples of music using a vocoder.
(This segment originally aired on The Sound of Young America in October 2010)

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THE OUTSHOT: The Long Goodbye

Elliott Gould may not seem like the hard-boiled noir type, but in 1973, under the direction of Robert Altman, he had that perfect combination of intellect and self-satisfied cool. With Gould playing Raymond Chandler's most famous character, Philip Marlowe, The Long Goodbye explores the powerful narcissism that governed the streets of 1970s Los Angeles.
(This segment originally aired in July 2013)

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Nick Thune & Vince Staples

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Nick Thune
Guests: 
Vince Staples
Guests: 
Marc Weingarten
Guests: 
Tyson Cornell

TELL US WHAT YOU LOVE (or DON'T!) ABOUT BULLSEYE: Take this quick listener survey.
We listen to your input and want to make the show even better for you.

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Nick Thune on Being the Teenage "All-American Rehab Boy", Starting in Stand Up, and 'Folk Hero'

Nick Thune strums the guitar during his stand up, but he's not a guitar comic who plays funny songs. He uses it to underscore his set, which has included everything from non-sequiturs, to audience games, to stories about a talking dalmation and his idea for a "You're Welcome" card.

And while some comics heavily mine their personal lives and demons for comedy, Thune hasn't been one of them. He says that's changing some now, and he's opening up on-stage.

Thune talks to us about his unusual origin story -- from giving testimony at church camp to becoming a stand up comic. He'll explain how a schoolyard fight and teenage drinking helped land him in rehab, when he had his own coming-to-God moment, and how he discovered he loved performing.

Thune's newest special, Folk Hero, is available on Netflix Instant and digital retailers.

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Canonball with Marc Weingarten and Tyson Cornell: King Crimson’s 'In The Court of the Crimson King'

Every so often we like to take a closer look at albums that should be considered classics, to find out what makes them great. It's Canonball.

No one says The Rolling Stones don’t belong in the pop music canon. But what about Genesis? Or Yes? What about the prog rockers? The music wasn’t down and dirty, and the songs weren’t pop-radio short. Sometimes they were downright long. But prog has always had its loyalists.

This week Marc Weingarten and Tyson Cornell, the editors of the prog rock anthology Yes Is The Answer: (And Other Prog Rock Tales), explain why the King Crimson album In The Court of the Crimson King is a classic, and how it laid the foundation for a whole genre. They’ll explain how these classically trained musicians mixed flutes, horns, blues riffs, and synthesizers to create this face melting album.

Yes Is The Answer: (And Other Prog Rock Tales) is now available in paperback.

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Vince Staples on Growing Up in Long Beach, Gang Culture, and 'Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2'

The rapper Vince Staples is 20 years old. As a teenager, he got jumped into a gang in Long Beach, where he’s from. He didn’t expect to become a rapper. And unlike some rappers, he doesn’t think street life is anything to brag about.

He's been fighting against his own upbringing and the gang culture that surrounded him since childhood, and his verses reflect that. He's released several well-received mixtapes, and he's continually outshone other rappers in guest verses on their own tracks.

Staples talks to us about growing up, the inside joke of 'Shyne Coldchain', and why a life of gang banging seemed like fate.

His newest mixtape is Shyne Coldchain, Vol. 2. You can also hear him on the new Common single, Kingdom.

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The Outshot: Game of Thrones

Like the 18 million people who watch it each week, Jesse loves Game of Thrones. But though he finds himself jumping up and down and shouting at the TV, he doesn't care how it all will end. Why? He'll explain.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Luis Guzman

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Luis Guzman: From activist and social worker to prolific character actor

Luis Guzman is one of America's most successful and prolific character actors. He's appeared in dozens of films and television series, from Short Eyes in the 1970s to Miami Vice in the 1980s to Carlito's Way, Boogie Nights and The Limey in the 1990s. He made a name for himself playing thugs and cops. A few years ago, he was on the short-lived but beloved series How To Make It In America.

He talks with us about growing up in New York's Lower East Side, and about his work there as an activist and social worker. As a teen, he hung out at the legendary New Yorican Poets Cafe, watching poets and writers like Amiri Baraka, Allen Ginsburg and Miguel Piñero. Piñero ended up casting Guzman in Short Eyes, and got him his first television audition for Miami Vice. Since then, Guzman has become a favorite of directors like P.T. Anderson and Steven Soderbergh.

Pitchfork's Ian Cohen on his Favorite Heavy Rock

Ian Cohen, contributing editor at Pitchfork, stops by to recommend some of his all-time favorite heavy rock releases.

He tells us about an album which (in a move unusual for its genre) has an entirely pink cover. Deafheaven’s newest album, Sunbather, has been well-received and is on its way to becoming “an absolute landmark.”

In addition, Ian recommends the most recent Swans album,The Seer. In a bold creative move, the band creates a title track well over thirty minutes long.

Artisanal Pencil Sharpening with David Rees

If you knew about David Rees in the 2000s, it was probably for his indie political cartoon Get Your War On. When we caught up with Rees a few years ago, he had decided to get back in touch with an old-school writing instrument -- the pencil. Rees started his own artisanal pencil sharpening service, sharpening bespoke pencils, and wrote a book called How To Sharpen Pencils. Rees joined us to discuss the lost art of pencil sharpening.

Be on the lookout for Rees' upcoming show on the National Geographic Channel, Going Deep with David Rees, this summer.

The Outshot: Threat by Jay-Z

Rap isn't poetry – it's its own thing. But, like poets, many of the best rappers imbue their lyrics with layers of meaning. Need proof? Jesse suggests a close listen to a single verse of Jay-Z's "Threat".

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