The Virtual Memories Show

Artist & illustrator Maurice Vellekoop joins the show to celebrate his amazing new graphic memoir, I'M SO GLAD WE HAD THIS TIME TOGETHER (Pantheon). We talk about the midlife crisis that led to the memoir (and the subsequent crisis that almost made him give up), the joy and pain of putting his life on the page, his process of self-discovery as a gay man and an artist, and why his mother hoped she wouldn't live to see the book come out. We get into his (editor) partner's sigh that told him the first draft needed a drastic rewrite, the role sublimation has played in his art & sex life, his accidental technique for drawing himself crying, how the AIDS crisis did & didn't affect his life, his decision on how to depict sex in the book, the incredible color palettes he uses throughout the work, and the realization that he had a 500-page book on his hands. We also discuss life on Toronto Island and what it was like during lockdown, why he'd like to try stage design (just once), his Pride tradition, why publishing a book of erotica was a great stepping-stone for making a memoir, and more! Follow Maurice on Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_596_-_Maurice_Vellekoop.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00pm EDT

Historian, professor & author Laura Beers joins the show as we celebrate her important new book, ORWELL'S GHOSTS: Wisdom and Warnings for the Twenty-First Century (Norton). We talk about her course on Orwell and the making of the early twentieth century, how the post-Jan. 6 misuse of "Orwellian" inspired her to write this book, and her own path into Orwell. We get into Orwell's balancing act between freedom of speech and obligation to truth, what he meant when he wrote that he was "for democratic socialism, as I understand it," his family's history with Empire and his hatred of inequality, why my favorite of his essays, Inside The Whale, may be the most misunderstood Orwell piece of all (!), and why The Road To Wigan Pier might have the most influence on her. We also discuss the ways to reckon with Orwell's prejudices and especially his misogyny, why students are still coming into college with Animal Farm under their belt, Laura's trip to Barcelona to follow Orwell's steps in the Spanish Civil War, how her chapter on gender involved some deep, critical reading and writing, how we should look at the "blacklist" Orwell provided to the Information Research Dept., how Laura's next book on the politics of infertility sort of dovetails with Orwell's Ghosts, and more! Follow Laura on Twitter and BlueSky and listen to her on Progressive Britain • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_595_-_Laura_Beers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:09pm EDT

Author, publicist and partially involved narrator Robert Pranzatelli joins the show to celebrate his amazing new book, PILOBOLUS: A Story of Dance and Life (University Press of Florida). We talk about the origins of the legendary Pilobolus dance company, his transformational first experience seeing them in 1997, the workshops he took with them and the friendships they engendered, and the "itchy fingers" moment when he realized he had to write their history. We also get into Pilobolus' unique melding of improvisation and dance technique, the joyful challenge of describing their dance pieces on the page, the importance of capturing the time capsule of Pilobolus' '70s roots (and covering All The Affairs, along with the friendships and fallings-out), how Pilobolus was taken seriously by dance critics long after audiences flocked to them, the company's through-line in its 50+-year history and how they managed to continue the tradition of something that was based on overthrowing tradition. Plus we discuss Robert's history as a writer, how Metal Hurlant & Moebius blew his mind as a teen, how he became a book publicist at Yale University Press, his narrow-focus mode of reading, his greatest eBay score, why he got choked up while reading a text he sent Pilobolus' artistic directors after a performance, and more. More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_594_-_Robert_Pranzatelli.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:24pm EDT

With That's Some Business You're In (Zoop), cartoonist-humorist-author Bob Fingerman has created a career retrospective to celebrate (lament?) his 40th year in comics. We got together in LA to talk about that milestone, what it meant to him to bring together decades of his comics, art, and illustration into a single volume, the challenges of writing the narrative to his work-life, and what he learned from looking at the arc of his career. We get into the 'maybe someday' vibe of the big projects he wants to tackle, the process of getting over his younger shame at making comics for, um, 'lower-prestige' (but well-paying) magazines, the distance he needed on his best-known comic, Minimum Wage, the artist's retrospective he really wants to see, why he enjoys creator-owned work instead of someone else's IP, and his true artistic goal. We also discuss the life-changing stuff — like addressing the tension between narcissism and imposter syndrome, the nature of change, the toxicity of NYC, and the need to leave a better memory — while we talk about life in LA, the writers who blew him away and how he can't begin to emulate them, the way his characters changed from punching bags to people, the joy of hummingbirds and small dogs, and a lot more. Follow Bob on Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_593_-_Bob_Fingerman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:25am EDT

Author & illustrator Swan Huntley joins the show to celebrate her two new books, I WANT YOU MORE (Zibby Books), and YOU'RE GROUNDED: An Anti-Self-Help Book to Calm You the F*ck Down (Tarcherperigee). We talk about how ghostwriting a memoir for a Real Housewife of New York led her to write I Want You More, a thriller novel about fame, identity, and murder, why she uses the first person in fiction and loves the challenge of lying to the reader, how we're seen by others and how we want to be seen, and the fun of writing thrillers and melding character with a big plot. We also talk about how You're Grounded took shape as a melding of words and drawings, how she settled on "anti-self-help", how her various addictions shaped her identity and what it meant to be herself as she overcame (some of) them, how taking up drawing in a writing lull helped bring out different voices, and the need to calm the f*ck down. We also discuss the creation of identity vs. the discovery of identity, why she biked the El Camino pilgrimage solo, the memoir she's working on, the nature of celebrity & our reactions around famous people (& her upcoming essay, "My Best Friend Is Famous"), how she found her place in Los Angeles, and more. Follow Swan on Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_592_-_Swan_Huntley.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:48am EDT

Legendary cartoonist & artist Stan Mack pioneered documentary comics and bought New York's multitudes to life with Stan Mack's Real Life Funnies (RLF) in the Village Voice, and now he joins the show to celebrate the publication of STAN MACK'S REAL LIFE FUNNIES: The Collected Conceits, Delusions, and Hijinks of New Yorkers from 1974 to 1995 (Fantagraphics)! We talk about winnowing down 1,000+ RLF strips to 275 for this book, the comic's secret origin and how we share some Milton Glaser conceptual DNA, what he learned about cartooning and storytelling, the creeping realization that people were actually reading RLF, and how he and the comic grew over 20+ years. We get into whether Real Life Funnies and its snippets of street dialogue could work today when everybody just stares at their phones, how his pre-Voice stint as art director at the New York Herald Tribune made an editor out of him, the moment he realized he was a New Yorker, how he became an activist and used RLF to highlight the squatters' rights movement, the AIDS crisis, and more in NYC, how important the Village Voice was to the city and to America in the '70s and '80s and why we need to bring it out of the pre-digital memory hole (a la DW Young & his new documentary, UNCROPPED), Stan's failure as a backup dancer for Lionel Richie, and a lot more. Follow Stan on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_591_-_Stan_Mack.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:00am EDT

With his amazing new book, Deaths of Artists (Blast Books), archivist Jim Moske explores art, mortality, media, fame and our secret lives. We talk about his chance discovery in the Met Museum's archives of century-old scrapbooks filled with artists' obituaries, his attraction to the obits' tabloid poetry, and how he fell down the rabbit-hole of figuring out the scandalous, redemptive life of their compiler, Arthur D'Hervilly. We get into what these obits — and D'Hervilly's life — can teach us about art and artistic reputation, the challenges of working with 100+-year-old newsprint, the aesthetic pleasure of historical records, and why Jim considered doing this project as a 'zine (just like last week's guest!). We also discuss how he got started as an archivist, his favorite phases of the Met's history, how artists have responded to his book, his archive of illegible historical documents (!), the impact of digitization and electronics on the archivist field, what we lose when materiality goes away, the oblique influence of Bolaño's 2666 on Deaths of Artists, and how D'Hervilly's art-obit collection became a chronicle of the democratization of art. Follow Jim on Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_590_-_Jim_Moske.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:11pm EDT

With his amazing new book, THE WORK OF ART: How Something Comes From Nothing (Penguin Press), hall-of-fame magazine editor Adam Moss explores the artistic process by interviewing more than 40 creators about the evolution of a piece of their art. We talk about the archeology of early drafts and sketches, why he took up painting and how its vexations drove him into making this book, what it's like to tour artists' heads, the creative benefits of "the bounce," the differences between collaborative and solo art-making, and the dizzying iterations of a single artwork by Amy Sillman. We get into where his 40-year magazine editing career began (and where it ended), the process of figuring out how to write and edit his own prose for this project, the incredible design project of bringing The Work Of Art to life as a museum of creativity (& its early life as a 'zine), what happened when he pitched Warren Beatty on this project, and his ongoing attraction to the artifacts of artists in the midst of artworks. We also discuss why I may be the ideal reader for this book, how the introspection of COVID & lockdown influenced The Work Of Art and its subjects, what he learned about interviewing (& which subject intimidated him the most), how he finally learned to stop waiting for a catharsis and learned to take joy in the making of art rather than the finished artwork, and plenty more. More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_589_-_Adam_Moss.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:47pm EDT

With WINGING IT: Improv's Power & Peril in the Age of Trump (Spring Publications), author, professor & philanthropist Randy Fertel explores the role of improvisation & spontaneity in the arts, sciences & culture. We talk about what drew him to the conflict between reason and intuition, the importance of "Yes, And" in more than just a comedic context, the neuroscience of Hot and Cold Cognition, and the moment in graduate school that started him down this path 50 years ago. We get into what improvisation really is, how it underlies creativity and innovation, how Trump embodies its dark side, and how his upbringing in New Orleans may have contributed to his improv-epiphany. We also discuss how canonical authors & works began as outsiders, why the essence of improv is disruption, the importance of ego death and unmediated experience (and why he futilely took heroic amounts of hallucinogens to prepare for a conference panel), the relationship of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to his archetypes, his love for Jon Batiste's 2023 Jazz Fest set, his next project exploring the emergence of global pop culture, and a lot more. Follow Randy on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_588_-_Randy_Fertel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:52pm EDT

For more than 40 years, the breathtaking pictures of photographer James Hamilton have chronicled New York City and America (and a couple of war zones), and now the amazing new documentary UNCROPPED (Greenwich Entertainment) by director D.W. Young has launched a rediscovery of James Hamilton's work, life & times. D.W. rejoins the show to talk about how James' career at the NY Herald, Village Voice, and NY Observer opened the door to a a bigger story about NYC, arts/culture and media, how NYC has changed and how the culture adapts, and how young viewers react upon learning about the city's vibrant newspaper & alt-weekly scene that preceded the internet. We get into the difference between empathy & formality in photography, how after D.W.'s previous movie (The Booksellers) he really didn't want to make another NYC film but wound up making the MOST, James' shift from film to digital (and why some of UNCROPPED is shot on film), why sit-down interviews in documentaries get a bad rap but why they can be so valuable, and how Wes Anderson ended up being interviewed in the movie in a largely empty room. Plus we discuss D.W.'s first post-lockdown movie-theater viewings, the relief of making a short narrative film (Dancing on the Silk Razor) in the midst of making Uncropped, what he learned from making The Booksellers (and what he had to unlearn), why it's a travesty that the Village Voice archives aren't digitized, and a lot more. Follow UNCROPPED on Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_587_-_DW_Young.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:23pm EDT

Author-playwright-screenwriter-poet Jen Silverman returns to the show to celebrate their amazing new novel, THERE'S GOING TO BE TROUBLE (Random House). We get into how Jen accidentally stumbled into the 2018 Gilets Jaunes protests in Paris and triggered this new book, the ways we're shaped by our parents' failures and secrets, the many routes of radicalization, and the theatricality of protests, how they draw people in (with a boost from Théâtre du Soleil), and how they contrast with theater itself. We also talk about the role of art in understanding the times, how Jen's stories start with character, their work on Tokyo Vice and how TV writing differs from other storytelling modes, what it means to protest alongside someone whose politics you disagree with, and what the pandemic era has taught them about community. Plus we discuss the nirvana of MacDowell Colony, learning to use research without being beholden to it, ways to be an effective, engaged human (not just engaged/enraged), the contrast between book and theater critics, the existential question of the past few years, and, oh yeah, whether or not people can change. Follow Jen on Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_586_-_Jen_Silverman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:28pm EDT

With Reading Shakespeare Reading Me (Fordham), professor Leonard Barkan blends memoir and deep reading of Shakespeare's greatest plays to explore his lifelong relationship with literature and the way(s) we use art to construct our identities. We get into what it means to read, hear, perform, direct, teach Shakespeare, why it took him a lifetime to get to this book, how he contrasts himself with a radically naive reader (and why it's important to try to capture our naïveté), the gayness of Shakespeare's two Antonios, the many stories he couldn't tell until his folks were gone, and the role Shakespeare played in Leonard's gay coming of age. We also talk about Narcissism vs. Wissenschaft, his next book about the WWII loss of 434 paintings by the Great Masters (!), Cervantes' role as Shakespeare's literary peer, the on-stage therapy session he held at his career-celebration, and his stint as a theater director and what it taught him about teaching. Plus we discuss the strangeness of King Lear's opening scene, the eerie humor of Hamlet, the fraught subject of having kids, the glory & limitations of mimesis, how it felt to see his book The Hungry Eye on a bookshelf in The Bear, the lifelong struggle of living up to his promise, and a lot more. More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_585_-_Leonard_Barkan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:30pm EDT

After a ~10-year gap, Emily Raboteau rejoins the show to celebrate her amazing new essay collection, LESSONS FOR SURVIVAL: Mothering Against "The Apocalypse" (Holt). We talk about her sparkbird and the Audubon Mural Project in Washington Heights that center the book, her transformation into a climate activist, the joy of the flaneuse, her scavenger hunt for Justin Brice Guariglia's environmental art, and the idea of pain with a purpose. We also get into the differences between mothering & motherhood, the reason she put "the Apocalypse" in quotes in her subtitle, how COVID lockdown made her realize her kids' lives had been overscheduled (and how lockdown gave them some room to breathe), and the nor'easter-battered book-event in Princeton that corroborated her book's community-thesis. Plus we discuss her dream of interviewing Vivian Gornick, how we need to overcome pandemic-amnesia, the place her children really want to visit, how she's changed as a writer since we last talked, what the difference is between surviving and living, and a lot more. Follow Emily on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_584_-_Emily_Raboteau.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:58am EDT

Photographer and writer Kyle Cassidy and actor and model Trillian Stars join us for a Bonus Episode to talk about their new Kickstarter, THIS IS ONLY EARTH, MY DEAR – POEMS & PHOTOS (closing May 4, 2024)! We get into their inspiration to make a book combining the poems of Pre-Raphaelite muse/model/artist Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal with photos of Trillian (in a Pre-Raphaelite mode), how the project changed once they began shooting in East London, how they found enough costumes for all the photos they wanted to take, why Lizzie Siddal was dismissed by the peers of her husband, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and how modeling and acting overlap and differ (and why Kyle prefers shooting with actors). We also get into what they've learned from nearly a dozen Kickstarters, what stretch goals they're hoping to reach for this one, and why they want to give Lizzie Siddal the book she never got when she was alive. GO PLEDGE, and follow Kyle on LiveJournal (!?) and Instagram, and follow Trillian on Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Bonus_Episode_-_Trillian_Stars_and_Kyle_Cassidy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:42am EDT

At long last, artist Leela Corman joins the show as we celebrate her breathtaking new graphic novel, VICTORY PARADE (Schocken Books)! We talk about how the book brings together the women welders of WWII-era Brooklyn Navy Yards, professional wrestling, and her lifelong obsession with the Shoah, how discovering her watercolor style was like the portal between life and death opening, the art school experience that derailed her, and how the artistic ground start shifting beneath her as she got serious about her comics. We get into her life-defining visit to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the sacred responsibility of teaching, the influence of New Objectivity (& a bazillion other styles and modes of art & storytelling) on her work, why she brought characters from her earlier GN Unterzakhn into Victory Parade, her twin polestars of Primo Levi & Lisa Carver, and her music-comics collaboration with Thalia Zedek. Plus we discuss the Gen X practice of warts-and-all autobio comics, transgenerational trauma and the next book in her 'Birnbaumiad' triptych, the BS of artist's statements, the revelation of Neko Case's music, and a lot more. Follow Leela on Bluesky and Instagram, and support her work on Patreon • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_583_-_Leela_Corman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:20pm EDT

How did an eBay search lead to the discovery of a lost classic of comics? How can art help us build a better America? Artist and teacher Keith Mayerson joins the show to talk about co-editing the amazing new book, Frank Johnson: Secret Pioneer of American Comics, Vol. 1 (Fantagraphics) and his multi-decade "wordless novel" in paintings, My American Dream (Karma). We get into how Frank Johnson made thousands of pages of comics in private, never published, and may have created the first American comic-book in history, whether he constitutes an Outsider Artist, how his creative legacy contrasts with Henry Darger's, and what it means to make a lifelong body of work with no sense or expectation of a readership. We also get into Keith's My American Dream project, its roots in 9/11 & the GWBush era, how his paintings play off of each other like panels in a comic (and how the curation of art exhibitions is a form of comics), the mash-up of key cultural figures of modern America, his art-subject trinity of James Dean, Elvis, and Keanu Reeves (and his story of meeting Keanu), how My American Dream works to synthesize aspects of Warhol & Rembrandt (& Haring), and the vitality of his painting of Kermit the Frog on a bicycle and the significance of the Muppets in his vision of America. Plus we discuss Keith's art & comics upbringing, the process of building comics programs at SVA and USC, his cult classic queer horror graphic novel with Dennis Cooper, the artistic act of suturing in to his subjects, why the job of art is keeping hope alive, how he felt when he found a parallel, secret history of comics taking place solely in one person's mind, and a lot more. Follow Keith on Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_582_-_Keith_Mayerson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:16pm EDT

Classicist Edith Hall joins the show to talk about her fantastic, important new book, FACING DOWN THE FURIES: Suicide, the Ancient Greeks, and Me (Yale University Press). We talk about the taboo of talking about suicide, how that taboo can lead to transgenerational damage, how that compares to the family curses in Greek tragedies, and what the Tragedians have to teach us about life (and death) today. We get into her grandmother's suicide and her mother's conspiracy of silence around it, her own suicidal ideation and how Heracles Mad helped her through her worst phase, the way Facing Down the Furies sprung from Edith's previous book, Aristotle's Way, the process of researching her family history after her mother's death, and how Philoctetes embodies It Gets Better. We also get into the gender difference of existentialists and the crappy behavior of male philosophers, the gender difference in our readings of Alcestis, why she's Team Iliad (and supports my reading of Achilles' tragedy), the one Greek tragedy that she wishes survived to reach us, and a lot more. Also, I go LONG in the intro about some family stuff that came up in the lead-in to this episode. It should go without saying: content/trigger warning if discussions about suicide are a problem for you. Follow Edith on Twitter • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_581_-_Edith_Hall.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:17am EDT

LEAN INTO DEAN! Cartoonist, playwright, schmoozer, etc. Dean Haspiel returns for a Bonus Episode to talk about his new Kickstarter, THE RED HOOK X DEAN HASPIEL (closing March 28, 2024)! We get into why he's making the plunge into Meta-Mem-Noir and bringing Dean Haspiel as a character into his New Brooklyn comics universe, what it's like to be part of the story, and how this podcast is also becoming more autobiographical with each passing week. Plus, we talk about getting old and not being able to stay out all night (even though he tried this weekend), what it's like to treat comics as a reductive art rather than a rendering one, the play Dino's working on, what he's learned from his previous Kickstarter projects, Covid Cop and Billy Dogma and Jane Legit, why he's holding off on reading the finale of Howard Chaykin's Time2 project, and more! Follow Dean on Substack, Instagram and . . . LiveJournal!? • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Bonus_Episode_-_Dean_Haspiel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:12pm EDT

With his brand new collection, THE WEREWOLF AT DUSK and Other Stories (Liveright), David Small brings us a trio of stories about the beast within (that is, within the heart, within the psyche, and within the body politic). We talk about the on-and-off 40-year history of this collection, the themes of transformation and aging that suffuse these stories, and the schism in Leonora Carrington's estate that nearly derailed the whole project. We get into the the challenges of adapting prose fiction into comics, his move from graphic novels (think Stitches and Home After Dark) to short stories, why he's come to love drawing digitally, and just how bad most surrealist fiction can be. We also discuss the decline in kids' books, our respective life changes from 2020's COVID check-in, his Truman Capote kick, how we deal with monstrous artists, how hard he has to work to make his drawings look like they were done in 15 seconds, and a lot more. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_580_-_David_Small.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:53pm EDT

With RADIANT: The Life and Line of Keith Haring (Harper), Brad Gooch brings us the biography of Keith Haring, an artist who transformed public art & the art world in the 1980s and whose work has become part of global culture in the three decades since his untimely death from AIDS. We get into Brad's common threads with Haring, the parallels between this book and his biography of Rumi, how fatherhood helped Brad better understand Haring, and his surprise at discovering what a serious artist Haring was. We talk about why Haring's work makes more sense now than in the '80s, what he would have made of social media, the fire that drove him to make more than 10,000 pieces of art in his decade-plus career, the relationship of Haring to artists of color (among other race issues), where the Radiant Baby image came from, and what the younger gay population doesn't know about the AIDS crisis. We also discuss the incredible memorial of Keith and Howard Brookner at a recent Madonna concert, why 60 is a great age to start having kids, how Instagram reminds him of '80s social life, the parallels between the AIDS crisis and the early months of COVID, what Brad's learned in the course of writing four biographies, why Barbra Streisand's memoir reminds him of Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle (!), and more. Follow Brad on Instagram and listen to our 2015 and 2017 conversations, and check out the Nakamura Keith Haring Collection • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_579_-_Brad_Gooch.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:01pm EDT

No conversation this week, except for our host, Gil Roth, in conversation with some virtual memories of his own! On the occasion of going to the movies for the first time since 2018, to see Wim Wenders’ amazing new film Perfect Days, he reflects on a cusp-of-pandemic trip to Japan. This one’s got Keith Haring & Koji Yakusho, a misplaced fortune, The Tokyo Toilet, an empty parking lot, Country & Western, a special 5K run, a big bag of Kit-Kats, and more, so give it a listen. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_578_-_Japan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:20pm EDT

With his fantastic debut novel, PLASTIC (Pantheon), Scott Guild brings us a dystopian future of eco-terrorism, meta-reality, and . . . a world populated by plastic figurines who break out in song? We talk about the 10-year process of writing the book, how he found the stylistic elements that made it work, and why making the lead characters plastic let him bring comedy into his apocalyptic vision of the future. We get into Scott's history as a musician and how songwriting differs from fiction, the album he made (with all sorts of great artists) to accompany the novel, why he'd love to do live performances of it, and how the songs changed genre from the ones in the novel. We also discuss his writing influences, esp. Kafka & Plath, why he dedicated PLASTIC to his high school English teacher, how he accidentally created his own Barbenheimer (the Barbie movie created a conceptual entry point for readers, but the characters are under the Oppenheimer-esque shadow of a nuclear war), why he didn't show his novel to his wife until 3-4 months before their wedding, whether he played with dolls as a kid (spolier: we both did), who wins in the Dostoevsky-Tolstoy Steel Cage Match, and a lot more. Follow Scott on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_577_-_Scott_Guild.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00pm EDT

What is the meaning of Cleveland? Cartoonist Aaron Lange joins the show to talk about AIN'T IT FUN: Peter Laughner & Proto-Punk In The Secret City (Stone Church Press), his breathtaking new graphic novel that weaves together obscure records, urban legends and psychographic history. We talk about Aaron's fascination with Cleveland's punk scene, why the musician Peter Laughner stood out to him, the way Cleveland's hidden landmarks pointed him toward this massive project. We get into the research and interviews Aaron conducted for Ain't It Fun, the process of editing this work into a looping, flaneur-like, discursive (but never aimless) narrative, and the influence of Greil Marcus' Lipstick Traces, Iain Sinclair's Lud Heat, and Adam Curtis' documentaries. We also discuss post-Laughner Pere Ubu, using graphic design rather than panel-to-panel cartooning, visiting the zodiac circle by the Cleveland Museum of Art at all 4 equinoxes, chronicling the city's brutalist architecture, the constraints of the comics market on a book that defies easy description, and a lot more. Follow Aaron on Instagram and support Stone Church Press via Patreon (which doubles as Aaron's blog) • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_576_-_Aaron_Lange.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:40am EDT

With Marcus Aurelius: The Stoic Emperor (Yale University Press), author & therapist Donald J. Robertson brings us the life and philosophy of the last of the Five Good Emperors. We talk about how knowing the life and travails of Marcus Aurelius helps one understand how to lead a Stoic life, how the Antonine Plague compares with our life in Pandemia, the reasons Donald found modern biographies of Marcus Aurelius wanting, and how this book brought him new understanding of the intricacies of Ancient Roman life and Marcus Aurelius' big decisions. We also get into the role of Stoicism in his own life and how that philosophy's been debased into the unhealthy "lower-case stoicism", the literal toxicity of being a tough guy, how Stoicism and its nuanced view of emotions inspired modern Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, why the psychotherapy field is resistant to acknowledging Stoicism's contribution, and why Freudians really disapprove (think symptom substitution). We discuss the importance of building emotional resilience and understanding one's value judgements, Robert Burns' role as a gateway drugs to Stoicism, the alternate history in which Socrates was part of Christian tradition, Donald's Eureka! moment and how he accidentally became a writer, how Wilko Johnson can help me live a fuller mortal life, and a lot more. Follow Donald on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and subscribe to his Substack and his podcast • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_575_-_Donald_J_Robertson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:46am EDT

With her incredible new book, THE FURIES: Women, Vengeance, & Justice (Harper), journalist Elizabeth Flock explores the lives of three women who responded to violence with violence, and how they run up against the social institutions that seem designed to grind them down. We get into how the book grew from her interest in female vigilantes and her own experience of sexual violence, how she wound up reporting on the YPJ all-women army in Syria (but didn't tell her mom until a few days before flying out there), how we try to reconcile revenge and a just world, and how cultures of honor wreak havoc on women and men. We talk about how she balanced reporting with the near-mythic characters of some of her subjects, what she's learned over 15+ years in journalism (including how not to re-traumatize her subjects as they tell her their stories), the mind-body connection & how wrecked her body got by the time she finished writing this book, and how she went into this book starry-eyed and came away with a muddied picture. And we discuss how flexible podcasts are for journalistic storytelling, how women and men have responded to The Furies, what it was like reporting during the pandemic, guns & gun culture (& my embarrassing gun story), that time her dad took her to a murder scene when she was a kid (tbf, he was a journalist), having her first child a few months ago, whether things are getting a little better for women, and a lot more. Follow Liz on Twitter and Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_574_-_Elizabeth_Flock.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:52pm EDT

Hey! Anything good on TV? No? Then listen to legendary film critic David Thomson as we discuss his amazing new book, REMOTELY: Travels in the Binge of TV (Yale University Press)! David & I get into how TV has changed and how it's changed us, the communal experience of going to the movies vs. sitting on the sofa, the ways his relationship with his wife deepened in front of the tube during lockdown (and why he gave her some of the best lines in Remotely), and the personal, political, & social implications of watching crap over a long period of time. We talk about falling into the stream of streaming, how advertising was the snake in American TV's garden, BBC's very strange exception for its licence fee, the courage in actually writing about what he's watching (even though Remotely isn't a critical guide), and what made Ozark special to him. We also discuss Clive James' transformation of TV criticism, the end of a golden age of TV, the importance of live sports events, the joy of seeing Barbie in a packed theater, how everything points to a world where no one is in charge, and a lot more. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_573_-_David_Thomson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:40am EDT

With his graphic novel, BLOOD OF THE VIRGIN (Pantheon), Sammy Harkham tells a story of personal and professional disintegration, against the backdrop of exploitation movies and the Iraqi Jewish diaspora in '70s L.A. We get into the obsessions and family lore that drove him to make the book, why it took him 14 years to complete it, what it means to focus on the 'novel' part of 'graphic novel', and how craft is always trying to catch up to ambition. We talk about the need to get past the cliches of the 'inside Hollywood' story, what he learned about his process over the course of making this book, why he didn't read the earlier chapters until he finished the story, and the John Steinbeck advice that got him over the finish line. We also discuss his comics upbringing, his thoughts on the late Joe Matt, the Jim Woodring panels that have haunted him for decades, the joyful anxiety of not knowing what his next project will be, and a lot more. Follow Sammy on Instagram • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_572_-_Sammy_Harkham.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:26pm EDT

The great cartoonist and humorist Ed Subitzky gets his long-delayed due with the new collection, POOR HELPLESS COMICS! (New York Review Comics). We talk about Ed's amazing career at National Lampoon, how he developed his "can't draw' style after taking a cartooning class with RO Blechman & Charles Slackman A DOZEN TIMES, how the Rapidograph became his Excalibur, and why this collection includes some of his favorite prose pieces alongside all the comics. We get into how he began experimenting with the form & structure of comics, his lifelong curiosities for science and philosophy and how he wound up getting published in the Journal of Consciousness Studies, his longtime career writing direct marketing pieces, and how it took preparing this book and looking back at his work for him to realize his comics were really funny. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_571_-_Ed_Subitzky.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:05am EDT

Did you make a 2024 resolution to put down your phone? This week's guest might make you rethink that! Chris Silverman has been making gorgeous, weird, haunting artwork daily for more than 2 years, using only his iPhone's Notes app and his fingertips. We get into how #notesArt began, how it's evolved, what his drawing process is like, what it's been like to build an audience for his art, and how viewers bring their own meanings to his #notesArt. We talk about the challenges of keeping up a regular art practice (daily!), how upgrading to iOS17 jump-started his new creative phase, the artists and cartoonists who influence him, whether Undo is his friend or enemy, his fascination with traffic lights, empty buildings, and masks, and the subconscious burbling that gives birth to the images he draws. We also share our thoughts on mortality, authenticity and identity, what it means to share your art with the world, the pressure that comes when someone is watching, and a lot more! Follow Chris & #notesArt on Instagram, Mastodon, Glass, and at • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal and via our e-newsletter

Direct download: Episode_570_-_Chris_Silverman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:29pm EDT