Part 4: Everything Else. Music, Pop Culture, and Conversations.

(I love podcasts. I listen around 2 or 3 hours a day between my commute, time at the gym, and household chores. This is part 4 of 4.)

These are the rest of my podcasts.

I’ve noticed a somewhat alarming tendency in myself and some of my friends. We like to insulate ourselves, socializing and interacting mainly with people who dress, speak, act, and think like we do. Life is far more comfortable that way, but since so much interaction is being facilitated by technology that shrinks the effective distance between people, we can actually create bubbles of reality that isolate us -dangerously- from the perspective of the rest of the world. This is why I keep in touch with friends I have very little in common with anymore, why I try to listen to a co-worker even when I assume they are wrong, and one of the reasons I listen to the podcasts of Doug Stanhope and Bret Easton Ellis.

Stanhope’s podcast is almost entirely the chemically boosted conversations of comedians in nightclub greenrooms, before and after shows, on the road, and in hotel rooms. These are people -mostly all men- that are making their living by speaking cleverly at other people. Most of them have no more than a high school education, they are coarse, vulgar and offensive (sometimes a bit misogynistic) and extremely funny. It’s not a world I’ve ever lived in, but I enjoy listening to it.

Ellis’s podcast is much more produced and scripted. He writes a monologue for every show, the equivalent of a short essay or think piece. In spite of his literary background, his favorite topics are movies, (arguably his real great love) pop culture, the state of the national “conversation”, and the gay community. He’s pompous and excessive to a point that approaches the cartoonish, but he has some clever insights and interesting perspectives. His guests are not usually people I would seek out, but the conversations are wide-ranging and captivating.

The Delano Podcast is local(ish) flavor. Delano is a burg a dozen odd miles north of Bakersfield, but the topics are generally pertinent to the greater Valley area in general. It’s very much a local effort with local-levels of monetary support -so the production is lo-fi- but the conversation is hilarious and the output is professional. I enjoy the clever commentary about local goings-on, like the random clowns walking around Wasco late at night, freak dust storms, and Harley-Davidson culture.

All Songs Considered is a show put out by NPR that showcases a fantastic curation of new music. All subgenres find a home here, and the minimal commentary is consistently well-informed and useful. This is one of the first podcasts I started listening to back in 08 and it has led me to so many bands that I’ve loved for years now.

Song Exploder interviews recording artists and engineers, dissecting the entire process of recording a song. The tracks are broken down, showcasing isolated vocals or percussion, while the creative force behind its creation give their commentary. The musical styles range from the lo-fi freneticism of the Thermals to the the elaborate production of The Postal Service, with 8-bit and hip-hop tracks thrown in for good measure.

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