So, how’s everyone doing this week, now that so many of us are sheltering in place?
From the bottom of my heart, I’m wishing you and your loved ones health and ease during this supremely strange and unsettling time.
I feel so fortunate to be surrounded by so many wise and compassionate friends who are helping me make sense of the wide variety of emotions that have been coming up around all the continued uncertainty in this ongoing coronavirus situation.
I feel even more fortunate that I had the chance to speak with one of those wise and compassionate friends for this week’s episode.
Today, I’m incredibly pleased to be speaking with my friend, neighbor, and former bandmate, the poet Tony Trigilio.
Tony is the author and editor of 13 books, including, most recently, Ghosts of the Upper Floor (published by BlazeVOX [books] in 2019), which is the third installment in his multivolume poem, The Complete Dark Shadows (of My Childhood). His selected poems, Fuera del Taller del Cosmos, was published in Guatemala by Editorial Poe (translated by Bony Hernández). He is editor of Elise Cowen: Poems and Fragments (published by Ahsahta Press in 2014), and the author of Allen Ginsberg’s Buddhist Poetics (published by Southern Illinois University Press in 2012). Tony coedits the poetry journal Court Green and is an associate editor for Tupelo Quarterly. He is a Professor of English and Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago.
Today we discuss his origin story as a poet, the possibilities that get unlocked by asking a student “tell me more of what you mean by that,” building bridges between the hemispheres of the brain, how playing drums professionally helped Tony unite his practice as a writer with his work as a scholar, and why the best art feels like a friend saying to you, “I’m going to tell you something but it’s hard to say.”
For more information about Tony, you can find him online at starve.org.Read More
Welcome to the coronavirus special.
OK, not really.
But if you’re taking your social distancing seriously–and for the sake of the most vulnerable among us, I hope that you are–you might suddenly find yourself with a bit more time on your freshly washed hands. Hopefully this week’s episode featuring my dear friend the artist Keiler Roberts will be a balm and a welcome hour’s worth of distraction.
Keiler has been writing autobiographical comics for ten years. Her six books include Sunburning, Chlorine Gardens, and, most recently, Rat Time, all three of which were published by Koyama Press. Her self-published autobiographical comic series Powdered Milk received an Ignatz Award for Outstanding Series in 2016, and in 2019 Chlorine Gardens received Slate’s Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Print Comic of 2018, which was selected by The Slate Book Review and The Center for Cartoon Studies. Her work has been included in The Best American Comics in 2016 and 2018 and was mentioned on their Notables list for 2014. Her work has been featured in numerous gallery exhibitions, including a solo show in Northern Ireland at The Naughton Gallery at Queen’s University, Belfast, curated by Ben Crothers. She has taught at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago since 2013 and lives in Evanston, Illinois, with her husband, the artist Scott Roberts, their daughter Xia, and perhaps the most famous cartoon pet since Snoopy, their dog Crooky.
This week on the show, Keiler and I talk about the thrill of the possibility of failure, embracing disorganization, the difficulties that arise when you try to do an unnameable activity, why telling someone “just be yourself” can be bad advice, and the difference between a story that’s funny to tell and a story that’s funny to draw.Read More
This week on I’ll Follow You, I’m delighted to be speaking with a very dear friend, the theatrical impresario and President of NoHo himself, Mr. Paul Storiale.
Paul is the Artistic Director for the Defiance Theatre Company, the President and Founder of the Valley Theatre Awards in Los Angeles, and creator of the award-winning stage play The Columbine Project. He’s also the creator of the web series Gossip Boy, which you can stream on Amazon Prime, and a successful comedic actor in his own right, having performed for many years in the dinner theater phenomenon Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding and having recently toured the country as part of the cast of My Big Gay Italian Wedding.
And if that’s not enough of a full plate, Paul is also a Los Angeles elected public official, currently serving as president of the NoHo Neighborhood Council, an advisory board created by the Los Angeles City Charter to provide improved access to government and make government more responsive to local needs in the North Hollywood community.
Today we chat about how to create a little bit of healthy antagonism among your cast during rehearsals, establishing a container for catharsis in a live theater space, and the secret of never having to audition as an actor ever again.Read More
Today I’m pleased to have on the show one of my all-time favorite humans, David Higgins.
David teaches English at Inver Hills Community College in Minnesota. He is a specialist in 20th-century American literature and culture, and his research explores transformations in imperial fantasy during the Cold War period and beyond. His article “Toward a Cosmopolitan Science Fiction” won the 2012 Science Fiction Research Association’s Pioneer Award for excellence in scholarship. He has published in journals such as American Literature, Science Fiction Studies, Science Fiction Film and Television, and Extrapolation, and his work has appeared in edited volumes such as The Cambridge Companion to American Science Fiction.
He is also the Speculative Fiction Editor for the Los Angeles Review of Books.
In our chat today, we talk about his upcoming book on reverse colonization narratives in the science fiction of the 1960s, how he’s calibrated his own best creative routines, why he congratulates his undergraduate students when they feel like they’ve failed, and the many flexible ways to approach the study and criticism of speculative fiction.Read More
One of the whack-a-mole topics of conversation that recurs periodically on social media is this whole notion of the side hustle. Do you take one of your hobbies that you’re really good at and then turn it into something you make money off of? Or do you protect that hobby at all costs from the imperatives of capitalism, and instead turn to it as an escape from whatever your daily grind may be?
While of course there are plenty of arguments for and against both of those options, I feel like a big part of what I’m trying to do with this podcast is shining a light on people who take a sort of third route, where it’s a little more difficult to dismiss these major parts of people’s lives as “just” a hobby, even if it’s not something they make any money from or gain any significant notoriety for. I think there are way more interesting, and way less reductive, ways to think about the specific things that people commit their time and attention and energy to.
Which is why I’m so excited to be able to introduce you all today to my good friend Michael Sherron.
Although there are any number of things he and I could have spent an hour talking about, I specifically wanted him to talk about the process of becoming a docent at the Phoenix Art Museum in Arizona.
He’s currently an apprentice docent from the class of 2018 and now leads tours there for adults and school groups. In his day job, he’s an engineering manager building large scale cloud hosting solutions for the enterprise.
Mike is one of the most remarkable people I know, in terms of his sheer capacity to tackle incredibly ambitious projects simply for the joy of learning how to do them. That deep focus and insatiable curiosity is definitely at the heart of what led him to commit the past two years to studying really intensely in order to start giving tours at the Phoenix Art Museum.
In addition to talking about what the program was like, in the last twenty or so minutes of our chat, Mike guides me through a deeper look at two paintings from the Phoenix Art Museum’s collection, Lew Davis’s The Rebel and Frida Kahlo’s The Suicide of Dorothy Hale.Read More
Just this past week, my band, the Felus Cremins Band, released our latest album. It’s called American Romantic Music, and you can stream it right here, or check it out on our Bandcamp page.
To mark the occasion, I asked my bandmate and partner Brian Cremins to join me to chat specifically about the making of the title track, the song “American Romantic Music.”
Rather than slogging through a whole boring track-by-track rundown of the entire album, I thought it might be instructive to focus just on this one song. I think the process by which it came to be written and recorded is particularly illustrative of the way that we collaborate.
In addition to our chat, you’ll also get to hear how the song progressed from its first demo to its first live performance to the final recorded version that’s the heart of the new album.
Many of you will be familiar with Brian’s work as a writer and scholar, but he is equally insightful about listening to, writing, and playing music. So I really think you’re going to be delighted by our conversation here.
Brian first started playing guitar when he was 16, and he joined his first bands while attending Dartmouth College in the ’90s. Some of the most memorable of these bands were The Frost Heaves, Hamlet Machine, and Wonderland Accident.
While in grad school at the University of Connecticut, he played guitar and sang in the rock trio The Confessors. They played all over the East Coast at notable venues including CBGBs, TT the Bear’s, and Toad’s Place, and lots of other clubs that have been turned into parking lots since then.
In Chicago, he’s played with and written songs for the bands Ten Hundred, Short Punks in Love, Tiny Magnets, and Pet Theories.
Though primarily self-taught, Brian has been studying jazz guitar with John Moulder for the past four years, and is currently also learning to play the oud.Read More
So, as soon as I started my podcast project “I’ll Follow You,” I knew with absolute certainty that I had to have today’s guest on, preferably sooner rather than later. I’m absolutely thrilled not just to have him on for this wonderful chat, but also to be able to introduce him and his work to those of you who may not have had the pleasure of knowing him–yet.
Today I’m so excited to welcome to the show Dr. Gene Kannenberg Jr.
Gene is a cartoonist living in Evanston, Illinois. His comics, mostly abstract with asemic writing, include Qodèxx, Space Year 2015, and The Abstract Circus. His work was included in the Minnesota Center for Book Arts’ 2017 exhibit “Asemic Writing: Offline & In the Gallery” and also appears in the book Abstraction et bande dessinée, produced by the ACME Comics Research Group at the University of Liège in Belgium.
Gene received his PhD from the University of Connecticut in 2002, and he has served in the past as Chair of both the International Comic Arts Festival and the Comic Art & Comics section of the Popular Culture Association. His book 500 Essential Graphic Novels was published by Collins Design in 2008.
Gene is currently the Research and Media Assistant at the Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies at Northwestern University, where he has curated two exhibits on comic art.
As we allude to later in the conversation, Gene moved to Illinois in late 2014, and it was one of those rare examples of a later-in-life instant friendship. Just like, “yep, you’re my people.” He had gone to grad school with my partner Brian Cremins (whom we also allude to later in the conversation), and pretty much from the moment he signed the lease on his apartment, he was showing up at our gigs and taking the best photographs of us playing music, inviting us out to excellent readings and film screenings, and just generally being a key part of our urban family. We also collaborated together on a modern take on the Book and Record set with his project Qodèxx, an abstract graphic novella for which Brian and I composed the soundtrack. (You can read a bit more about my thoughts on making the album here.)
So, pardon all the giggles and excited blathering that you’ll hear from me here–it really does come from a place of extreme warmth and affection for Gene and our friendship and of course my enthusiasm for his work. So now to let him speak more for himself, here’s my conversation with Gene Kannenberg.Read More