(Formerly The Marketplace of Ideas.) A world-traveling interview show where Colin Marshall sits down for in-depth conversations with cultural creators, internationalists, and observers of the urban scene about the work they do and the world cities they do it in, from Los Angeles to Osaka to Mexico City to London to Seoul and beyond.
A Year in Seattle Preview: The Young Cynic with Peter Bagge
In downtown Seattle, Colin talks with comic artist Peter Bagge, creator of the legendary alternative comic series Hate, contributing editor and cartoonist at Reason magazine, and author of such graphic novels as Apocalypse Nerd, Other Lives, Reset, and Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story. They discuss whether Seattle is still the place to be for the Buddy Bradleys of the world; the cheap "place to invent yourself" he first found there; the ever-increasing importance of place in his work, and its necessity in telling longer stories; how Seattle won out as a storytelling location versus the other "cities where hipsters gather"; what Seattle once looked like from his perspective in Manhattan; the feeling of a "pioneer town" then and now; how he found Seattleites who took the time to live elsewhere differed from Seattleites who'd never left, and what it has to do with the Seattle inferiority complex; the relationship between Seattle and the alternative comics scene; how he convinced his publisher Fantagraphics to come join him in Seattle, and how the town came subsequently to crawl with cartoonists; Buddy Bradley as a young cynic, and Seattle's accommodation of the young cynic; what the fictional life of Buddy Bradley and the real life of Margaret Sanger have in common, beginning with their premises of "doing exactly what they want to do"; which of Sanger's many accomplishments and battles (which she never fought on straight gender lines) he usually uses to explain her life; why Sanger's achievements in birth-control legalization became so important to all society; our transition out of "the age of stuff"; the probable fate of bookstores, and how they might succeed through the social dimension; why conventions have become more important than ever to comics, and why cities have become more important than ever to life; the impossibility of the Spokane swinger; what his visit to the depleted city of Detroit taught him, especially about the ways the government itself holds back a potential revitalization; where he thinks Seattle goes too far, politically; why he prefers the monorail Seattle might have built to the light rail system it is building; whether governments just can't build transit right, or whether specifically American governments just can't do it right; what happens when anyone's shovel hits an Indian artifact in Seattle; and how to win mayoral office by campaigning against the inevitable.
Notebook on Culture's year in Seattle Kickstarts now (for five days only)!
The Kickstarter drive for Notebook on Cities and Culture's sixth season launches now. If we raise its budget, we'll spend an entire year in Seattle: the city of grunge, Microsoft, Amazon, the Space Needle, Buddy Bradley, Archie McPhee, sleeplessness, Starbucks, and much more we'll discover through at least 52 in-depth conversations with its novelists, journalists, comic artists, filmmakers, broadcasters, explorers, academics, architects, planners, cultural creators, internationalists, observers of the urban scene, and more.
Once we raise season six's full $6000 budget, the show will go on as planned. And for every additional $200 we raise, the season will include an additional episode. In other words, if we raise $10,000 rather than $6000, you’ll get 72 Seattle interviews rather than 52.
Depending upon the amount you pledge to back Notebook on Cities and Culture's year in Seattle, you could get a mention at the end of each episode, postcards from the city, me talking about your project or message at the top of one episode and its associated post, or at the top of all of them. But do note that, since no one likes a long drive, we only have five days to raise the money.
The Kickstarting ends on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. Pacific time, but before then, I’ll put up a special preview episode featuring a new interview with a favorite long Seattle-based guest from whom, if you’ve followed my interviewing career for a long time indeed, you’ve heard a couple provocative and funny hours of conversation before. Visit season six's Kickstarter page for details. Thanks, and stay tuned.
Korea Tour: Opting for Korea with Brother Anthony
In an officetel in Seoul, Colin talks with Brother Anthony of Taizé, one of the most renowned translators of Korean poetry, president of the Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch, and naturalized citizen of South Korea. They discuss the frequency with which he's heard "Why Korea?" in the 35 years since he first arrived as a member of Taizé; the Korean lack of belief that anybody would actually opt for Korea rather than their own homelands; what fills Korean taxi drivers with strong opinions; Korea's aging rural population versus Japan's even more aging rural population; the Seoul he arrived in in 1980, and how it compared with the Philippine slum in which he'd spent years previous; the "trickery and violence" involved in the city's redevelopment; how a "shame culture" deals with modernization (and especially with thatched roofs); how Japanese society accommodates a kind of "nonconformism" that Korean society doesn't; how he began translate Korean poetry, and why he got into poetry rather than other forms of Korean literature; how Korean fiction came into being after the war, and what it often lacks; how the concept of separation has been expressed as "the great Korean thing," and younger Korean writers' desire to get away from it; why "Koreans can't speak Korean"; the endless pattern drills he endured while studying Korean at Yonsei University; how he began "doing tea," and where in Asia the interest has taken him; how China has used Korea as a developmental model; why he isn't sure he wants to live in a "fascinating country"; how some foreigners love traditional Korean music and architecture while most Koreans themselves don't; whether Korea can gain the confidence it has long lacked; why we should rightfully be able to ride the train from Busan to Paris.
Korea Tour: The Style of the Time with Matt VanVolkenburg
In Seoul's Sinchon district, Colin talks with Matt VanVolkenburg, author of Gusts of Popular Feeling, a blog on "Korean society, history, urban space, cyberspace, film, and current events, among other things." They discuss what it feels like to live in Seoul, of all places, without a smartphone; why navigating the city poses so much of a challenge to the newcomer; how he sees the relationship of the Korean media to foreign English teachers, "the new incarnation of the GIs"; what made it possible for the Korean media to talk freely about the acts of foreigners; the history of "Korea as a victim"; why non-English-teaching foreigners surprise Koreans; what makes some Koreans and foreigners alike see entry-level foreign English teachers as third-class citizens; the country's distinctive combination of overregulation and under-enforcement, and what it says about the difference between the legal cultures of Korea and North America; what he does on trips instead of hitting the beach; Isabella Bird Bishop, the 19th-century traveler and write from whom Gusts of Popular Feeling takes its name; why the collapse of the Sampoong Department Store didn't prevent the sinking of the Sewol; the writing of Percival Lowell and others who had more to comment on than dirtiness and superstition did about Korea in the late 19th century; the Chonggyecheon's very short history as a "clean stream"; James Wade, one of the more prolific English-language observers of postwar Korea; what he finds reading old Korean newspapers; his incredulousness at a foreigner's complaint that "you can't get cheese here"; the 1988 Hustler article on the easiness of Korean women; the importance of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) to Korean relations with foreigners in the country; the fallout of "Dog Poop Girl"; the thorough change he's seen in the built environment of Seoul in his 13 years there, and what he notices about the less-developed cityscape revealed in old movies; Korea's relative lack of the geek and the nerd; and what word he really doesn't want to use when describing why he likes living in Korea.
Korea Tour: Concrete Utopia with Minsuk Cho
In Seoul's Itaewon district, Colin talks with architect Minsuk Cho, principal at Mass Studies, designer of the Golden Lion-winning Korean pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2014. They discuss whether he talks about the use of space differently in English than in Korean; how copying, and especially while misinterpreting across cultural boundaries, counts as a way of creating; his earliest memories of Seoul's "building explosion" that grew the city tenfold over fifty years; the difference between current Seoul and the Seoul of his childhood; the "concrete utopia" in which he grew up, and how quickly it went away when the branded "high-density gated community" high-rises that now characterize the city rose; the book that set him on the path to architecture (even as his architect father didn't push him into the profession); the "toilet paper" life expectancy of Korean buildings; how he has reacted to the "bigger, higher, cheaper, faster" building ethos of Seoul; the "blessing" of so much building right up against so much nature; when Korea's dictatorship didn't want people to gather, and what effect that had on the built environment; his experience riding a Yellow Cab from LAX to Palm Springs; how Seoul passed through its "juvenile teenager phase," and what mistakes it made that compare to Los Angeles' onetime avoidance of density; the village fetish that has recently developed; what he felt in New York that made him cartwheel in the streets; why the flatness of Rotterdam bothered him when he worked for Rem Koolhaas; how Korea became, for him, a more appealing place to build things; Mass Studies' Pixel House in the recently developed city of Paju and the island of Jeju; the beginning of a reverse migration out of Seoul; Itaewon's varying role in the city as "a center that is also a void"; the importance of architecturally uniting North and South Korea in Mass Studies' Venice Biennale pavilion; and what he thinks of the prospects of actually reuniting, for architecture or otherwise.
Korea Tour: It Takes a Lifetime with Michael Elliott
In Seoul's Sinchon district, Colin talks with Michael Elliott, creator of the English-learning site for Koreans English in Korean and the Korean-learning site for English-speakers Korean Champ. They discuss why Koreans insist on the difficulty of their own language; whether and why he considers Korean difficult; what it means that "there are so many different ways to say the same thing" in Korean; the perennial issue of saying "you" in Korean; the "native speaker's privilege" to go a little but out of grammatical bounds; why the Korean alphabet has displaced Chinese characters more or less entirely; why Koreans rarely acknowledge the language itself as a driver of interest in Korea; the different, more intense ways trends manifest themselves in Korea than in America; whether we can call English education in Korea a "craze," and why Koreans spend so much money on it to so little apparent result; the degree of parental involvement in English education and how "keeping up with the Joneses" drives it; the trouble with studying the languages of "poor countries" in Korea; the dominance of "the right way and the wrong way" in Korean thought; what it takes to make it to the highest level of Korean study, and why that sets off suspicion in Korean people; how tired he's grown of explaining to those "back home" why he went to Korea to study Korean in the first place; how he got an exemption not just from Korean trends but from American hipsterdom, or indeed any kind of "team"; how he came up with his new Korean Champ videos shot on the streets of Seoul; what would happen to the Cheonggyecheon Stream if built in America; how he studied multiple levels of Korean at once; the importance of observation when learning languages, and the general resistance to it; the "little bit of a scoff" with which Koreans sometimes correct Korean-learners; and the sleep he loses on the rare occasion he says something incorrectly in Korean.
Colin Marshall is one of the most passionate intellectuals. He’s able to find beauty in everything and he articulates that beauty poeticly.
Cultural Creators, Internationalists, and Observers of the Urban Scene take note
My absolute favorite podcast. Colin Marshall's guests always fascinate, educate, and inform. I look forward to every episode and haven't been disappointed yet.
My favorite episode is S4E15 with Jan Gehl. I know I like living in an urban environment. Now I know why!
Keep your finger on the pulse of the world with this show.
If You Want Comedy to Put You to Sleep...
Holy s*%# he makes comedy boring.