9 episodes

Audio documentaries of Southern California: microcosm of human experience, crossroads of everything.

Each episode explores a different path through its subject matter, but all foreground personal histories and patiently unfolding narratives amidst original music, sound design, and affection for the minutiae of The Southland.

Background, credits, sources, and partial explanations for every episode at valleyofsmoke.com . Created and produced by Alex MacInnis.

Valley of Smoke Alex MacInnis

    • Society & Culture
    • 5.0, 11 Ratings

Audio documentaries of Southern California: microcosm of human experience, crossroads of everything.

Each episode explores a different path through its subject matter, but all foreground personal histories and patiently unfolding narratives amidst original music, sound design, and affection for the minutiae of The Southland.

Background, credits, sources, and partial explanations for every episode at valleyofsmoke.com . Created and produced by Alex MacInnis.

    009 Buttons or Keys? Part 2

    009 Buttons or Keys? Part 2

    The accordion lets its hair down and finds its groove; from animal costume strip-tease to a tiny village in rural Colombia to Tommy Lasorda’s birthday and the world’s largest meatball.

    • 1 hr 8 min
    008 Buttons or Keys? Part 1

    008 Buttons or Keys? Part 1

    The story behind one of the largest accordion schools in history, how impressionable young children were once recruited into esoteric pursuits by strangers appearing at their front door, and the rise and fall of the piano accordion in the USA.

    • 1 hr 17 min
    007 No Direct Flights

    007 No Direct Flights

    Two urban metropolises almost exactly opposite on the globe are each home to over 14 million people. Each sits at the southern foot of a mountain range, and is infamous for traffic, smog, and a hot, dry summer. Each entered their modern age in the 1770’s and came into their own with explosive growth in the 20th Century. Each has been enabled by impressive feats of aqueduct engineering. And one has become a nucleus of the other’s diaspora.
    The personal narratives of four people whose homes have included both Tehran and Southern California reveal glimpses of ever-shifting but consistently-lopsided cultural connections over almost 70 years of history. A taste of what it is to straddle societies, histories, and language. Especially when one of the cultures remains willfully oblivious of the other.

    • 1 hr 16 min
    006 Our Closest Neighbors, Part 2

    006 Our Closest Neighbors, Part 2

    By the late 19th Century, just when there aren't many wild predators left, we turn away from rural living. The deer are happy about this, and reproduce accordingly. And strangely enough (or perhaps, obviously), we then proceed to take animal tourism to a new level, being especially fond of paying money to see large carnivores from other places, both on film and in person. The boom-boom years of the jungle film mean Southern California is, for a time, a mecca for animal tourist attractions. But things don't go well, especially once Walt Disney hits the scene.

    • 1 hr 2 min
    005 Our Closest Neighbors, Part 1

    005 Our Closest Neighbors, Part 1

    The urban areas of The Southland are only getting more popular with the local wildlife. As coyotes and mountain lions become resigned to–if not delighted by–urban living, distinctions such as wilderness and civilization fall away. Scientists are beginning to study the city as natural habitat and are discovering biodiversity far beyond expectation, including brand new species literally in our backyards. Here, underfoot and on the power lines overhead, are the animals we live with but are not pets, the ones we track with sophisticated technology, the ones we kill and the ones we pay to see.

    • 1 hr 5 min
    004 Working Without A Net

    004 Working Without A Net

    An essay on personal and collective responsibility amid shifting economic sands and elusive safety nets, focusing on one of Los Angeles' great economic engines: creativity.  Aerialists, singers, musicians, visual artists, science fiction writers, film directors, and special effects specialists are herein represented in the quest for a healthy professional life. Woven through the stories of these small business owners and entrepreneurs is the history of California's contributions to the development of health insurance in the US. Risk comes in many forms; managing it demands many strategies. Are freelance artists the coal mine canaries for a large portion of our economy? Embrace the uncertain, accept the pain, and pick up some ideas about what to wear to the upcoming semi-formal economy. 

    • 1 hr 11 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
11 Ratings

11 Ratings

DubO27 ,

Cool podcast format!

I’ve never heard a podcast quite like this one - the tone, info, and story-telling style are unique. Loved learning about the history of aerospace in my hometown!

Devondadude ,

Narrative and audio genius!

Hidden Los Angeles history from the people who lived it. The sound design of the podcast takes you there like looking at good art, Valley of Smoke makes you forget what is happening around you and takes you to an LA you want to know more about.

Chuckieblevins ,

Great podcast on LA history/mythology made & being made.

Great podcast on LA history/mythology made & being made.

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