the circular runner

Posts Tagged ‘Marc Maron’

genius is like porn: I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it….

In media, music, writing on July 19, 2012 at 6:20 am

Recently, I heard an interview between Fiona Apple and Marc Maron.  It was on the WTF podcast, which I recommend listening to if you are interested in Apple or if you aren’t familiar with Marc Maron as an interviewer. I was excited to hear the talk because I love Apple’s music.  Well, I’m not sure I always love the music, but I’m always excited about her albums because I think Apple is a genius.

That word gets overused.  There are very few geniuses.  I tend to think of them the way one should think of a Pegasus. As in you’re walking down some country road and over to the left, you see a pasture and some horses race by.  If you’ve ever seen horses run, not being ridden but just running, then you probably know that the sight is awe-inspiring.  Horses are beautiful animals.  The power, the speed, the grace.  But these animals, as amazing as they are, are not geniuses.  The genius is the white horse running in the opposite direction from the rest of the pack.  The one with the wings.  The one that now is flying toward you.  Jesus, you’re thinking, horses don’t do that.  You might be scared at seeing this.  You might want to get up close and touch this crazy horse.  Maybe you want to do both at once.

Well, damn skippy!!!  Your reaction is natural.  Horses don’t fly.  Neither do writers nor singers nor painters nor fill-in-the-blank.  But occasionally one of these people does the impossible.  That’s the genius.

Listening to Apple sing makes me feel like I’m seeing a Pegasus.  Again, I’m not always loving the music.  But I want to understand it.  I want to know how/why a thirty-something singer gets away with putting out an album with a title that’s got so many words that you have to use an elipsis.  (The most recent title is The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do)  Is it pretentious? You might want to say so but I’m not sure.  Mind you, this is an album that has a song on it called Hot Butter, which I kid you not is a pop song that uses kettle drum, piano, and voices in counter-point.  How does Apple pull this off?  How is this not some kind of crazy art song?  How is this song popular enough that it plays on a Starbucks speaker system, which is how I first heard it?

It’s the power of genius, my friends.  You might not like the song, you might not like her music, but you know that Fiona Apple has wings.


Young People Fighting in San Francisco & Other Ugly Things I’ve Been Thinking About…PART 2

In life, media, observations, writing on January 18, 2012 at 11:50 am

Ugly Thing #2: I’m a fan of the podcast, WTF with Marc Maron. I’ve said this already a million times, but I am one to repeat myself, and I’m getting old so there’s that. But for those not in the know, this is a show in which a comedian interviews other comedians (though there have been a few non-comedians as well) about life and the art of making people laugh. Even if this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, give it a try if you like honest interviewing. Mr. Maron is like Terry Gross on Fresh Air except that he curses and he can get into topics that NPR would never allow.

I bring this up here on a post about ugliness because on the most recent show, there is an interview with a comedian who comes out of the closet. The coming-out is not the ugly part, mind you. What struck me about the conversation was that the comedian, Todd Glass, a middle-aged man, was so at pains to be honest about who he is.  No, that’s not even ugly. The really ugly part is the part that we all play in making people hide who they are–this guy is 47 and it took him til now to feel ok admitting publicly to this important part of his life.  Maybe this isn’t ugly. Maybe it’s sad. Maybe it’s both.

Now, my anti-preachy spidey-sense is tingling. Honestly, I kind of hate it when someone–usually a liberal like myself–goes off on people about their biases. It’s needlessly sanctimonious, and that doesn’t help anyone. We’re all in this stew of culture and sex and religion together, and though I get angry at the injustice of shaming people who want to love people of their same sex, it’s kind of a facile anger for me, I think. Biases/prejudices are crosses to bear, which I think is a truth that many on the religious right don’t seem to realize.  So let me rephrase. Let me put this in more personal and less political, less accusatory terms.

Listening to the podcast with Mr. Glass, I was both heartbroken and annoyed. Yes, I’ll admit I was annoyed because I couldn’t believe that this guy was having such a problem with the word, gay. I mean he came out and yet at the same time, he barely could use the word when describing himself. I could imagine there being members of the Gay community yelling at their radios, telling the guy to get over it, to be proud. Hell, I’m straight, and I was yelling. But then I had to check myself. I had to think about what it would be like to feel like you need to keep a huge part of yourself locked away.  Obviously there’s a reason this guy felt that way, and he is not the only one by a long-shot. And though there are a lot of brave men and women who still put themselves out there and risk rejection at very young ages, that doesn’t change the fact that someone like Todd Glass was brave when he was ready.

So maybe this isn’t a post about ugliness in the end. But I’ve already written it and its title, so let’s go with it. I mean even if the story ends well for Mr. Glass, there are so many people out there who can’t face their families and friends, who can’t be true to themselves. That’s sad, obviously. But now that I think about it, my first intuition was right, it’s an ugly truth that we all have to deal with that we push away people who are different from the so-called norm.

Now go listen to the interview and tell me what you think. As Marc Maron says, “DO IT.”

Channeling My Inner Turetz

In life, media, observations, writers & books on December 2, 2011 at 6:23 pm

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know I’m kind of obsessed with Marc Maron‘s podcast, WTF. When I work out, I have to force myself to shut off the podcast and put on the Rocky theme, or the Elzhi or the Foo Fighters songs I need to pump my fat ass harder than I would if I were listening to people talking. But apart from that, if I’m not working or hangin’ with the wife, I’m listening to the anger and seething that is Marc Maron, and it’s affecting me.

Obsessions of any kind are not healthy, I know it. I’m also kind of obsessed with double espressos right now, and I know that’s not good, but the Marc Maron thing is affecting me more deeply than even the espresso. I can sleep the caffeine off-eventually. Maron’s affecting my speech, my thoughts. What the fuck?

Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, but if I listen to people talk for too long, I start to mimic them. At first, it’s kind of an afterthought. I’m talking and then out of the blue, some word or phrase comes out and I think, wow, that’s so-and-so’s line. My best man and ex-roommate in Brooklyn is one of the funnier people I know, and I can’t tell you how many catch-phrases that I make people laugh with are really his. I even say them with a southern twang because he’s from Alabama and that’s how he talks. I remember one summer, he told me about this really cheesy guy at work who was full of himself and who every time he tried to hit on a woman in the office, would come up to him and say, “You like that, Jeff? You like that?” The guy was a New Yorker with a Bronx accent, so Jeff started randomly repeating that phrase all summer with his Alabama-version of a Bronx accent, which I then took on as a California-version of an Alabama-version of a Bronx accent. To this day, if I see some cocky dude, it just pops out: “You like that, Jeff?” Jeff lives 3,000 miles away and I’m not talking to another Jeff, either. But that’s the phrase, goddammit, and I gotta say it the way I learned it.  YOu like that, Jeff? You like that? (Right now, I’m actually asking Jeff because I know he reads this blog.) So, Jeff, do you like that? I do.

Words, I guess, are kind of like shoes. There are phrases that fit and there are others that don’t. I work with young people and sayings like, “You feel me?” don’t get felt by me at all. They sound awkward and they get locked up in my throat like a chicken bone going in the opposite direction. (I’m using a lot of metaphors here: shoes and bones and…well, not that many.) So, it’s not like I’m a parrot. I guess I connect to Marc Maron, who doesn’t use metaphors at all.

But let me give you an example of what I mean about how Maron is seeping into my mind. If you listen to his podcast, and you should, he always does this slurping thing with his coffee followed by a hearty “POW!” There’s just something about the sound of the slurp and the percussive-P that makes me laugh out loud. It’s like all the saliva in his mouth water-logs his tongue making him sound like he’s drunk or old. I love it. I love it so much, in fact, that I now catch myself yelling out, “POW!” at random and sometimes inappropriate times. In the classroom, a kid finally gets fractions, and I’m like, “POW!” Another kid struggles with subject-verb agreement, he also gets a “POW!” right before I correct him. Driving down the street, my mind wanders and, then…”POW!!”

To make things even weirder, I also always laugh after I say this, which freaks me out because it’s like I’m channelling my inner Marc Maron “POW-ING” that then channels my inner-inner Me who is listening to me channeling my inner-Marc Maron and laughing at my…POW! I lost the strand of meta-stuff I was throwing out there.

Is this the start of Turetz? Can you Turetz-ify yourself? I’m a little bit of a hypochondriac, as is Maron, which is scary at another level, but it is also why I’m probably loving the guy’s podcasts. POW! Help me, someone. POW! I need…h…POW. POW. AND one more for the road, POW!

That’s it. I’m done. Time for a double espresso.

Marc Maron - Caricature

Image by DonkeyHotey via Flickr

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Thanksgiving trip–final leg

In life, media, observations, writing on November 27, 2011 at 8:23 pm

OK, so I’m here at a Starbucks in the middle of California–Soledad, California to be exact, which means solitude in Spanish even though this place produces anything but.  For one thing, it’s one of those towns that’s kind of typical out here in the West.  You’re driving in complete blackness because there are only fields for miles and miles (you know this because of the odd smells that waft through the windows) in any case, you’re driving and then, BAM! POW! every national-chain-eating-establishment is there before you sparkling in neon-luminosity. It makes you wonder where everyone who works here lives.  I know these coffee/burger making, gas station attending, cashier-people live around somewhere, though I’d like to know exactly where.  Could it be that Starbucks has barracks for all of them? I should ask, but I fear that I might find out that I’ve hit on the truth.

So, why am I here?  I’ve pulled over because I wanted to take a break and try to work on my script for an hour.  But before I do that, I thought I’d share a few more thoughts about road trips: specifically, I am going to share how I get by during all these miles of smelly darkness: podcasts.  This, I believe is a progression, though I’m not sure it’s a healthy one.  I used to make this drive a lot when I was in my early 20s.  Then, I was all about radio.  Most of my friends who drove with me wanted CD’s, but I used to argue that listening to local radio was better because then we’d get a sense of the communities we were rushing by.  It’s true that then, the selection was limited to Christian radio and country, and now, the selection is only slightly broader in that there is also Christian Spanish, but I tried.  Because I’m in Cali, there were a good number of NPR stations for large chunks of the trip, but there were also hours’ worth of NPR silence, so I listened to music back then.  Now, with ITunes, I switched over from CD’s to Podcasts of NPR shows I love, which now that I think of it, is a pretty isolated activity except that I like to imagine that there was once a time when lots of people heard the same show, which means that I’m communing with them–sort of.  But now, my love of hearing people talk has moved me even further out into social bubble status.  Now, I’m hooked on the myriad DIY podcasts, which never played on radios for many people.  They are, for the most part, done by comics, some lonely, many neurotic or bitter–and they are produced in garages.  So they are made by loners for loners.

For seven hours, driving at high speeds, I have been listening to cranky comics go off–usually about themselves and their selfish narcissism, which I admit somewhat ironically leads me back to me.  As one of the comics said, “my listeners, by the very nature of the podcast, are lonely, socially awkward young men.”  OK, I’m not so young.  That much I know, but I’m not sure where I fall with regard to the rest.  I’d be tempted to say that all of this makes me want to go osme place and think on it except that that would mean that I’m using my time to think about myself, which I think might be the dictionary definition of a self-involved narcissist, so I’ll stop myself and think about something else.  What?  I have no idea.  Suggestions?

Thanksgiving Chronicles, part 3

In life, observations, writing on November 26, 2011 at 12:47 am


It’s a little after midnight on Saturday or is it Friday?  I really never remember.  I also never remember if I’m a first generation American because I was born here or if my parents are because they came here.  Doesn’t really matter in the end, I guess.  There’s a stamp date if you’re curious–not on me or my parents but on the entry. You knew that.

I’ve been listening to Marc Maron‘s WTF podcast during my whole trip down here.  I’m a little obsessed, which is probably why I’m kind of all over the place, but I’m hoping you’re also obsessed with Marc, or short of that, that you’ll be patient as I channel my inner-neurotic.  It’s been 24 hours since I got down here.  My wife is up north because she’s a baker and bakers don’t get time off around the holidays, so I’m here seeing my folks by myself, and right now, at this very moment, I’m at a coffee place in Santa Monica, less than a mile from where I went to high school.  I’m here because I decided that I was going to actually do some work.  Lately, I seem only to be able to work after drinking a double espresso while listening to Radiohead/Beirut surrounded by other suffering, procrastinating writers who almost to the man and woman work on 15 in. Apple laptops.  I have a 17 in. because I didn’t listen to a good friend years back about the trade off of two extra inches for ten added pounds, but that’s not important.  I just got here and though the place is open 24 hours, I will leave in an hour because A. I need to get up tomorrow and not waste the day like I did today, not that hanging out with my mom is wasting time, even if she loves Judge Judy and Everyone Loves Raymond and makes me watch while she nervously wonders why I’m not laughing.  Here’s the reason: Judge Judy is a real BITCH and Raymond sounds like he needs to blow his nose.

But I digress.

Here’s the question I have for you all: when you go home, do you feel the need to put everything off so that you can hang out with family who you don’t get to see that often?  I fel like the answer is yes. There’s more to life than work.  But on the other hand, Ray Romano is pretty hard to watch for long periods of time and his voice does not really facilitate mature family connection. Still, today, aside from talking and eating and napping, I really can’t say I got anything done, which is fine, but I waited for my folks to go to sleep so I could feel guiltless as I traveled mile after mile through the Los Angeles basin to hang with my sister for a couple hours so I could then get some LA in me and do some work. 212 Pier is tonight’s choice where old surfers are arguing about chess and a couple would-be novelists are facing Facebook.  Tomorrow, as part of what seems like my mini-tour of LA grungy coffee bars that serve charred espressos, I’m off to the Bourgeois Pig, an LA spot for suffering screeenwriters who I’m sure also look at Facebook or Tweet.  The only difference between the Pig and this place is that from what I’ve heard the Pig (not sure of they call it that, but I’m not sure if I’m spelling Bourgeois correctly) is across the street from Scientology’s Hollywood headquarters.  If I don’t get any work done tomorrow night, I guess I can join Scientology and drown my sadness in L. Ron Hubbard.  That’s not sad.  Not at all.

Stay tuned.

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