Over the past six years, there hasn’t been any radio or podcast that has had such an impact on me as WTF with Marc Maron. From the first time I listened I knew it was going to be a long relationship.

MM_Dmitri_von_Klein_29I take Marc for walks, with headphones in my ears, walks around the park nearby. I listen to it in the car if I’m alone and I listen to him on trains, planes, and buses.

I realized pretty quick that his form of comedy, self-depreciation and view of the world matches up to mine so well. His love/hate relationship with technology. His constant worry about things. His awkward feelings towards family and relationships. The talks with actors, writers, comedians, musicians. Often times I see the name of the guest, have no idea who they are, but get so much from it – even if it’s a little snippet of insight into how to live, humanity or life.

Most of all, though, I realize that listening to WTF somehow keeps me sane. Val realizes that I need some time each week to listen to it. That it levels me out. Keeps me from taking a deep dive into my own worries and problems. It’s there each week and for that I’m very thankful.

I just read this piece about his move to new studio in a new garage. The piles of stuff became too much, but the nostalgic memories of that space will live on in podcast land.

If I look back at the list of guests, I can sometimes remember where I was when I listened to that episode, which is an odd feeling. I’ve never remembered where I was listening to a particular radio piece. There’s a lot of research about podcasts and what they do to our brain. But I can’t listen to too many. I try to download other shows but they don’t do something, they don’t capture the zeitgeist enough for me. They leave me feeling like I’ve wasted some time – but WTF always makes me feel a little better about myself than I did before I listened to it.

And I learn things! I can’t even count the number of books, movies, music and TV shows I’ve heard about on WTF that I wouldn’t have found out about without it. Countless jazz and blues musicians. I feel like I could write a history of comedy just from the knowledge I’ve gained from the show. Really though, what is so helpful is how Marc makes us realize that even if you’re famous or have a lot of money, you still are a person with feelings, problems, fears, worries and issues and we all have to deal with those in some way or another.

In the end I’ll probably never be able to fully understand the impact the show has had on me. But it remains a goal of mine to be on the show one day, with my friend Chris, talking about our own show, ideas and how we got there. And to stick around for a cup of coffee, pet Buster, Monkey and LaFonda and say thanks to Marc in person.


Movement || Motorcycles

But to tear down a factory or to revolt against a government or to avoid repair of a motorcycle because it is a system is to attack effects rather than causes; and as long as the attack is upon effects only, no change is possible. The true system, the real system, is our present construction of systematic thought itself, rationality itself, and if a factory is torn down but the rationality which produced it is left standing, then that rationality will simply produce another factory. If a revolution destroys a systematic government, but the systematic patterns of thought that produced that government are left intact, then those patterns will repeat themselves in the succeeding government. There’s so much talk about the system. And so little understanding.

-Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Robert M. Pirsig


The Follow-Through

Going to a food festival that doesn’t exist?

Say you’re doing something but then do something different?

Don’t follow through with a commitment?

This article rang true for me for many reasons and it is fascinating in how basic it seems. A concept that we anthropologists use is the “what you say vs. what you do” — because people will tell you one thing, but then, do something completely different.

There’s no reason why we should act differently in person or digitally – in fact this proves it. It’s only more of the moment, because it’s about food festivals. We all try to create an appearance of who we want others to think we are (aka the concept of the mask) vs. who we actually are.

I could go on with this down a few different routs – psychology for one – but I’ll stick with anthro, because that’s what I know. It is the main reason why anthropologists use participant observation – because if you ask people questions in a lab or office or even a coffee shop, they might tell you that, “yes, I like coffee and drink it all the time”. But when you just observe that same person, you see that they always order tea.

Digital lives are no different. We post images of perfect plates of food, which show one side of the picture – perfection, seasonality, cuteness — to use the terrible term – it’s curated. But elsewhere, the pile of dirty dishes or dirty floor tell a real story. That’s the story anthropologists are interested in. Why the dirty floor and the pristine plates and glasses?