The Virtual Memories Show (general)

Drew Friedman, the Vermeer of the Borscht Belt, joins us at the 2nd Ave. Deli in NYC to talk about painting Old Jewish Comedians, being Howard Stern's favorite artist, spending his childhood watching TV and reading comic books, why he left New York, and more!

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_21_-_The_Guy_Who_Drew_the_Liver_Spots.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:34pm EST

Phillip Lopate joins us to talk about his career as America's pre-eminent personal essayist, his literary influences, his teaching methods, his two new collections, his favorite NY Met, and more!

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_20_-_Slipping_the_Noose_of_the_Topical.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:56am EST

“It’s not natural to forgive without some sense of evening the score. It’s intolerable to know that someone gets away with something, and there’s no sense of avenging the act.”

Thane Rosenbaum talks revenge in the second episode of our two-part 9/11 special! An author and law professor, Thane recently published Payback: The Case for Revenge (University of Chicago Press), an exploration of how the American judicial system has excluded vengeance from justice, to the detriment of the polity and the moral universe.

“I’m not advocating that people go seek revenge as self-help; I am advocating that the legal system has to do a better job to do it on our behalf.”

We discuss why the American legal system has a problem with emotion, how victims have been trivialized, what to do about suicide bombers, how western man split justice and revenge (and why it was a huge mistake), how Aeschylus’ Oresteia creates a perfect model for the justice system, how to make better lawyers (and better people), and how The Godfather demonstrates the rule of proportionality.

“Let’s stop pretending that we don’t believe in vengeance. Because if you believe in justice, you believe in vengeance. It’s a false distinction between them.”

Bonus: You get to hear about the time I had to decide whether to have someone killed!

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_19_-_Great_Vengeance_and_Furious_Anger.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:38pm EST

Jonathan Hyman is the first guest of our two-part 9/11 special! Jonathan began photographing 9/11 murals, tattoos and other memorials immediately after the attacks and continued the project for 10 years, amassing a collection of 20,000 photos, as well as field notes and interviews. (We first met when a mutual pal told him about my 9/11 tattoo.)

University of Texas Press recently published a collection of critical essays about Jonathan's work, The Landscapes of 9/11: A Photographer's Journey, and it includes some of his amazing photos (like the one above, as well as this guy), as well as some great commentary about memorial artwork in other cultures.

We had a fantastic conversation about his decade-long project, the notion of these mementos mori as American folk art, his own 9/11 experience, how he became a photographer, and his struggle to keep this work from defining him as a person.

Photo by Jonathan Hyman.

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_18_-_American_Graffiti.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:54pm EST

I take something that seems obscure, and it leads you to somewhere that is not where you expect.

--David Rothenberg

First, philosopher, musicologist, clarinetist and author David Rothenberg joins us to talk about his new book, Bug Music: How Insects Gave Us Rhythm and Noise, and its accompanying CD. It's a fun conversation about rhythms and meta-rhythms, 17-year cicadas, David's lifetime of music, the joy of bringing different people's worlds together,  how aesthetic preference sorta trumps survival of the fittest. the development of bugstep, and the secret to finding a rewarding job teaching the humanities. (And, really, you should listen just to find out that secret.)

These points in your life, you often wonder what would have happened if you'd taken the other course. I could've gone into theology or some bloody thing. Instead I wound up in science and I'm atheist now.

--Clive Bennett

Then (around the 43:00 mark), we have a conversation with Clive Bennett, the CEO of Halo Pharma, a pharmaceutical contract manufacturing organization. I met Clive through my day job, and found him so delightfully literate, discursive and thoughtful that I asked him to record a segment on the podcast. Once I had him cornered, I asked him why he'd gone into the sciences, given his artistic, historical, musical and literary interests. (Really, I think it was just a condemnation of myself for not doing more with my time.) He decided to bring his Kindle along to break out what he's reading and why. It's two men talking about the choices we make and those that are made for us.

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_17_-_Arts_and_Sciences_and_Bugs.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:46pm EST

In Part 2 of our Readercon 2013 special, we talk with authors Theodora Goss, Valya Lupescu and Nancy Hightower about their new books, their writing careers, their literary influences, what Readercon means to them, and more!

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_16_-_Readercon_-_Monsters_Memories_and_Mythmaking.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

It's time for a 2-part podcast! I went up to Readercon 24 in Burlington, MA in July and came back with a passel of conversations!

First, John Crowley, author of Little, Big, Aegypt, Engine Summer and other great novels and short stories, joined us talk about his work, his influences, the shifting nature of the literary marketplace, the allure of imaginary books, and more!

Then, fiction-writer, editor, wrestling biographer (?) and ukelele enthusiast Scott Edelman joins us to talk about zombies, literary genre ghettoes, his history at conventions, his time working at Marvel Comics in the '70s, and the virtues of workshopping fiction!

Next episode: Readercon conversations with Theodora Goss, Valya Dudycz Lupescu and Nancy Hightower!

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_15_-_Readercon_-_Fairies_and_Zombies.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:36pm EST

David Gates, author of JerniganPreston Falls, and The Wonders of the Invisible World, talks about his writing career, owning his niche (once accurately described as “smart but self-destructive white American middle-class men in crisis”), teaching fiction, leaving the east coast for Montana, building a country/rock band of writers and critics, how he feels about the end of Newsweek, and the anxiety that drove him into writing his first novel. It’s a fun, rambling conversation with one of my favorite living writers. Then, repeat guest Ann Rivera joins us to talk about her recent reads and how she escaped the postmodern condition!

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_14_-_The_Wonders_of_the_Audible_World.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:58pm EST

Season 3, Episode 13 - Mike and Ivan's Cartoon Cabaret

This time around on the Virtual Memories Show, we talk to a couple of great cartoonists! First up, Michael Kupperman, the cartoonist behind Tales Designed to Thrizzle, Snake & Bacon's Cartoon Cabaret, and Mark Twain's Autobiography: 1910-2010, talks about absurdism, cartooning as stress relief, how the UCB taught him to stop worrying and start performing his comics on stage, how he got the idea to mash up Quincy and Inception, and where the whole Mark Twain thing comes from. Conan O'Brien says he has "one of the best comedy brains on the planet."

"A lot of artists dismiss what they're working on because it's not what they want to be working on, or because it could be better. Whatever you've been doing, THAT'S your work. It's not the stuff you've been thinking about doing, or wanting to do, it's what you actually produced." -- Ivan Brunetti

Then Ivan Brunetti joins us to talk about his new book, Aesthetics: A Memoir, as well as how he began teaching cartooning, what he learned from trying to win the art job on Nancy, how he wound up becoming a cover artist for the New Yorker, and how he managed to drag himself out of the self-loathing misanthropy captured in his early Schizo comics!

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_13_-_Mike_and_Ivans_Comics_Cabaret.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:59pm EST

Eva Brann of St. John's College tells us about how the school and its Great Books program has (and hasn't) changed over the FIFTY-SEVEN YEARS she's been a tutor there. Then alum Ian Kelley talks about his experiences in the program and how they informed his decision to join the U.S. Navy.

Direct download: Season_3_Episode_12_-_Highest_Learning.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:36pm EST