FROM Ross Simonini
The Show About the Show About the Show In the vein of Werner Herzog, Larry David, and Spalding Gray, the radical documentaries of Caveh Zahedi find comedy in pushing social norms. His oddly life-affirming efforts to merge lived experience with art trigger the dissolution of his marriage. When our producer Rachel James visits the set of Zahedi’s The Show about the Show, she too becomes drawn into its inescapable vortex of metanarrative.
Private Ears This week we’ll hear from two artists whose work investigates the growing prevalence of surveillance in societies around the world. Both Lawrence Abu Hamdan and Trevor Paglen approach their art as investigations: They see themselves as detectives, trying to document, though sound and image, corporate and governmental operations that are difficult for the average citizen to see or hear.
Ravening for Delight Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, and the Alien movies all trace their tone of cosmic dread back to the horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, whose stories were published in pulp magazines in the 1920s and 30s. Paul La Farge’s latest novel, The Night Ocean, takes Lovecraft as its subject (or one of its subjects): It's a fictionalized investigation into Lovecraft's unusual relationship with one of his fans, a teenager named Robert Barlow.
The Voice is a Thief We explore the extremes of the human voice with essayist Elena Passarello, winner of New Orleans’ annual “Stella!” scream competition, in which participants channel Marlon Brando’s abject bawling. You’ll also hear Passarello’s rendition of how Koko, the gorilla with a lexicon of 1000 signs, tells the legendarily dirty vaudeville joke “The Aristocrats.”
Appendix: Hypnotic Induction “If you’re listening to this while driving a car, obviously, leave your eyes open.” In this special appendix to our recent episode on psychoacoustics, you’ll hear a hypnotic induction as performed and scored by the hypnotherapist Daniel Ryan.
Sleeping Knowledge How can sound heal a body? With our guides, Susan Rogers—who recorded albums for Prince and David Byrne—and hypnotherapist Daniel Ryan, we explore the psychoacoustic properties of lawn sprinklers and the human voice in a journey that encompasses magician David Blaine, “spiritual entertainer” Alan Watts, parents of crying children, and all of us.
Episode 78: The Topiary Martin Starr (Silicon Valley, Freaks and Geeks), Matt Bush (Adventureland), and Lilan Bowden (Parks and Recreation) star in this science-fiction audio drama. On a distant space colony, Leon carves erotic topiaries as a way to become closer to his coworker Michael—until the arrival of a visitor on the final tourist shuttle begins to turn the men against each other.
Episode 77: The Self-Rattling House In houses that double as musical instruments, Solange Knowles, Will Oldham, and five-year-old children perform on sonic architecture that reflects the raucous acoustics of life in New Orleans.
Episode 76: A Radio Wave In My Brain What is the position of acne-picking in contemporary literature? Otessa Moshfegh, author of Eileen and most recently the collection Homesick for Another World, writes descriptions of bodily functions that rival those of Louis CK. Moshfegh, who was raised in an immigrant family and trained in classical piano, pushes the sonic idiosyncrasies of English as she brings the reader into uncomfortable intimacy with her characters.
Episode 75: The Cool Gaze of Madame Realism Lynne Tillman writes art criticism starring a fictional character, “Madame Realism,” whose experience of art includes more than just the viewing of paintings. Here, Tillman takes the Organist on an expedition through the MoMA, and during a brief misunderstanding, along the sidewalk outside the MoMA…
Episode 74: It's Very Indian to Watch AbFab Tommy Pico’s first book is one long poem in the form of a text — call it an epic sext. But it doesn’t just chronicle Pico’s dalliances with "boys, burgers, and booze" — it rewrites the figure of the Indian, redefining what it means to be a Native American poet in the age of the Internet.
Episode 73: What We Talk about When We Talk about Two Bears High-Fiving Hermann Rorschach’s inkblot test has become ubiquitous in pop-culture as shorthand for both psychiatry and the subconscious. The first biography of Rorschach explores how our popular idea of the test gets it wrong.
Episode 71: Everybody Loves a Winner The story of the guy who wrote a minor hit for a new label in 1961, watched everyone around him get famous singing his songs, and survived to write a great album about it all fifty years later.
Episode 70: A New Career in a New Town SNL’s Kyle Mooney on the art of crafting a three-dimensional bro impersonation and the ways in which the act of uploading a video to YouTube constitutes character development. Also: David J, the bassist of Bauhaus, follows a harmonica line from a jukebox playing "Groovin’ With Mr. Bloe” all the way into David Bowie’s afterlife.
Episode 69: The Testosterone Abyss The website Weird Dude Energy is singularly devoted to collecting the most inexplicable male behavior on the internet. It’s funny and weird, but if you study it carefully, it also raises some troubling and complicated questions: about contemporary masculinity and community—and about violence, misogyny, and Donald Trump.
Securing Public Spaces, Super Wealthy Asians Vehicles are increasingly being used as weapons, as seen in the London Bridge attack over the weekend and in New York’s Times Square last month. The Compton-based company Calpipe is designing security bollards to help make public spaces safer. And novelist Kevin Kwan satirizes the “crazy rich” Asian jet set and their luxurious tastes in his latest book, “Rich People Problems.”
What did Trump accomplish on his first trip abroad? President Trump is wrapping up his Mideast and European tour. We find out what he has accomplished -- good and bad -- and look at what he faces when he comes home.
In 'Speechless,' Scott Silveri combines comedy, family & disability Scott Silveri has written and produced sitcoms for more than 20 years. In all that time, he never encountered a TV family that looked anything like the one he grew up in -- with a mom, a dad...and a brother with cerebral palsy. He changed that with his show Speechless on ABC. Silveri tells us about looking to his own past for stories, and why he was determined to make a family comedy and not just a "disability show."