Today I tread on new earth. I had studiously avoided musician interviews because … well, isn’t that what the “real DJ’s” at WUSB are for? They do it all the time and often musician-to-musician magic happens. I made an exception this time because: 1) I had attended a Todd Snider concert at CPI's in Hampton Bays, LI in the late 90’s and have stayed a fan; 2) Da Capo Press had him in their catalog under “soon to be completed novel”; I requested a copy; 3) Read his very special stories of “life on the road."
I did some quick math on time zones. Yes, my interview segment usually begins at 1:30PM Eastern; but Todd is in Nashville. So … will this guy be in any shape (ESPECIALLY after reading his book!) for an interview at 12:30PM his time? Well, long story short, I had to “fill” for many minutes while they rousted this rascal from his slumbers. Good thing I had plenty of fine music to play – Todd Snider tunes of course!
He was great fun and told some of his stories from his recently released novel: “I Never Met A Story I Didn’t Like … Mostly True Tall Tales.” He was totally honest about his preference for addiction over “recovering” and likewise about the stereotypes of backstage women - “groupies”. He has met some real characters on the road and has cast a very wide net that keeps him linked to many of them.
Todd set off, as a very young man, focused on being a music biz “lifer” – he loves the travel, the hotels, the venues and most importantly, the stage time, the applause. He loves an audience that knows his stuff; the ones that share or at least understand his progressive politics and lifestyle.
As a WUSB Spring Radiothon gift to the station, Todd is sending us an autographed copy of his book. First 50-buck donation at WUSB.fm wins the book!
Streets! Love ‘em, hate ‘em. The mind-numbing sameness in the burbs has finally pushed this car guy over the cliff. Sure I have access to some fine country roads, but day-to-day errand running is on the same boring and oftentimes dangerous strip of suburban sprawl. This was country when we moved here over 20 years ago!. I want OUT!! Time for an urban experience that takes advantage of great mass transit and “walkability”, one of the sub-topics today on “Everything is Broken.”
I interviewed John Massengale about his book “Street Design … The Secret To Great Cities and Towns” (Wiley Press). He defines walkability with some basic criteria, all starting with the street itself … is it safe from cars, crime; are there “eyes of the street” (windows facing sidewalk and people in there!). He also said that streets should be viewed as outdoor rooms: width of street proportional to the “walls” – people like shaped spaces. Trees help a great deal. People also want an interesting, short block; not some long expanse of wall, but shops and architecturally pleasing buildings. Research shows that people when showed a stretch of street will invariable pick the same spots they find pleasing. And for you capitalists out there: there is a marked increase in ROI (return on investment) for municipalities when the street has these and other features.
I asked John what his favorite street in North America is. Answer: Main Street, Nantucket, MA. His favorite in Manhattan (he lives there folks): it varies from time to time, but right now: Crosby Street/Howard St. Here is a general reference map, but I suggest you go to Google Earth street view and pan around. What do you think?
Friend, writer, and occasional collaborator/partner-in-crime, one J. David Gray once wrote: "None of us is anywhere close to where we imagined we'd be by now." Since David is a native of the USA Northeast and lives in California wine country; and I a native of Pasadena living in New York … well, I guess we both know a thing or two about that little rumination. And we are both smart enough to keep an entire continent between us ... most of the time.
We picked this clueless bloke to accompany David's poem "A Man In Full" for our book "Synergy" - still makes sense, don't you agree?
Jim Lynch's Blog: