Tuesday, September 27, 2005

It rambles, but it builds toward something interesting.

So last week, I discovered "podcasting" -- a little icon appeared on my new version of ITunes which lets me download free podcasts.

I started with the "ones I recognize" -- Michael Feldman does a partial podcast of his excellent "Whadya Know?" PBS broadcast; Al Franken does a partial podcast, too.

(There is an AirAmerica station is Duluth which is painful to listen to for two reasons:

1. There are no ads -- almost entirely, ad spots are filled with PSAs, a horrible reminder that liberal talk radio is financially unsustainable,
and 2. The reason that liberal talk radio is unsustainable is that the model is off; I listen for hours, twenty-minutes at a time, and what I hear is screeching liberal ideologues instead of screeching conservative ideologues -- missing the fact that Limbaugh is successful not entirely because of his message, but also because of his interactions with the audience. When an idiot political zombie calls in to Rush Limbaugh, opening with "Megadittoes," he is affiliating with a "click." When Sean Hannity answers the phone, callers always open with "You're a Great American, Sean," to which Sean responds, "You're a Great American, my friend" -- the talk radio equivalent of the secret handshake of the Loyal Order of Water Buffalo on the Flintstones.

No one has this down more than a Minneapolis broadcaster in the whack-job conservative arena, whom I now listen to in Duluth because it reminds me of home. Better a whack-job conservative view of home than no view. He includes a lexicon to all the jargon used on his show on his website. It's like Talk Radio is as much about politics as it is about perpetuating cliquish high school dynamics into adulthood.

I digress.

Podcasting. From there, I moved into comic podcasting -- geeks and nostalgic old men discussing the comics they love and interviewing artists they admire. The production values, for operations that are the broadcasting equivalent of garage bands, are pretty good.

Two nights ago, I spent three hours listening to podcasts about Buffy the Vampire Slayer that were in part excited summary of the episode and in part review. Labors of love.

The podcast that had me fascinated last night (http://www.lironbot.com/podcast/) is by someone whom I would swear, from her demeanor and enthusiasm, couldn't be more than 19 -- excited about everything from geeky software to German punk music. I share, maybe, 25% of her interests, but her enthusiasm is infectious. And they are inflected by her status as not a nineteen year old, but a former Sgt. in the Israeli military. She lives outside of Tel-Aviv, and so a nickel of the politics manifests, every once in a while.

Functionally, I don't know what to do about my fascination with podcasts at the moment. They are "collectible" -- that is, one can "download a complete set" of podcasts, which appeals to some sick part of my psychology.

But I think what it most tells me is that what I miss most about the twin cities, about the web of friends I had in the twin cities and the roles I had down there, is not what I expected. For years, when I would walk by Shannon's desk, I would stop to tell some ridiculous story about myself. When I would start a shift at B&N, I would have some story of woe. I thought I would miss talking to other people.

Art, who knows me better than I know myself sometimes, has told me repeatedly that I enjoy no company better than my own. The pleasure I have taken in solitary nights at the lake, at the coffee shop, or at home is evidence of that. The pleasure I am taking in these podcasts is an indication that while I may not miss talking to people, I miss listening to them, as they share what energizes them.


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