Nothing Urgent is the podcast that shoots the breeze on culture and politics with some of your favorite musicians, artists, journalists, politicos and wonks. Hosted by producer Derek Evers and co-hosted by prolific live photographer Edwina Hay, Nothing Urgent is recorded at Files Audio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and mixed and edited by Nick Pitman for Dead Labour.
Reclaiming Indigenous Identity in 2020
What does reclaiming your culture mean to you? For many Americans, it means trying to embrace an ancestry that is foreign — most are the descendants of immigrants or slaves who were forcibly brought here. But for the first peoples of this country, their identity resides in a duality few of us will be able to understand.
For Shiraz Bhatti and Braudie Blais-Billie it means inhabiting the very modern in cities and art and music, while also having the perspective of living on the land of their ancestors. As the drummer of the Chicago post-punk band Deeper and an aspiring model, Bhatti is Ojibwe and Pakistani and an enrolled tribal member of the Lac Du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. Blais-Billie is a Brooklyn-based writer hailing from the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s Hollywood reservation and editor of the indigenous art, identity and resistance platform indige•zine.
Both stopped by the studios in Lenapehoking to sit down with Derek and Edwina to discuss their unique perspective of where contemporary and traditional native american culture comes together and how it influences their art. We also discussed Super Tuesday, betting on jai alai, how to make a sweat lodge, and Derek’s jealousy of knowing one’s culture.
Listen and learn below, on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Pocket Casts or use our RSS feed to subscribe on your favorite streaming app.
“TI just felt this longing, like something was missing… and I finally went back to the reservation with my sisters and my cousins and it was amazing. It was so beautiful. Canoeing on these rivers that are tied into our folklore, or walking around in the woods where my grandpa’s house is, it just truly feels like home.” —Shiraz Bhatti on Nothing Urgent [15:37]
“[Wake Up] is definitely about having fun. For me, as an artist, I think humor is important. I do try to have fun and put humor into all my shit, but behind all that is a purpose.” —Braudie Blais-Billie on Nothing Urgent [17:52]
I Got 99 Problems and the MTA is One
It happens to every New Yorker, the inevitable frustrations that come with commuting aboard an MTA train or bus. Despite having one of the most robust subway systems in the world, New York City has been plagued by a deterioration in service that parallels the lack of modernization of one of the world’s oldest subway systems. Add to that the above ground traffic snarls that grinds bus service to a walking pace, and city and state leadership whose only credible contribution seems to be passing the proverbial buck, and it’s easy to understand commuter’s daily tweets of rage towards the NYC Transit system.
But after hitting a new on-time performance low of just 58.1 percent in January of 2018, things seemed to be on the upswing with NYC Transit President Andy Byford manning the ship. January of 2020 saw 83.3 percent of weekday trains arrive on time, their best performance in seven years. It was also the month that Byford handed in his resignation after learning his duties would be scaled back amidst a power struggle with Governor Andrew Cuomo. And while most of the improvements can be attributed to Byford’s “Save Safe Seconds Campaign” and a commitment to transparent communication with the public, the real test will be the looming overhaul of the subway signal system and the Queens and Brooklyn busway redesigns. Both of which have been approved in the MTA’s 2020-2024 capital plan, but funding remains in question as threats of service cuts and fair hikes linger.
So we brought in a few people to help answer those questions.
Senior Reporter at The CITY and seasoned transit expert Jose Martinez, Streetsblog reporter Dave Colon, and rapper / public transportation rider in three metropolises Fat Tony—who joined us fresh off the release of his fifth studio album, Wake Up—all came by to discuss our favorite punching bag. From political footballs to Tony’s Thrift Haul plans for the MTA, we give you plenty to digest while you’re waiting out your next commuting delay.
“To their credit, they’ve committed in the next capital plan to making 66 more stations accessible to people with disabilities. Let’s see if that actually happens, but it’s a really good commitment and it’s something Andy Byford pushed for.” —Jose Martinez on Nothing Urgent [33:00]
“Wake Up is definitely about having fun. For me, as an artist, I think humor is important. I do try to have fun and put humor into all my shit, but behind all that is a purpose.” —Fat Tony on Nothing Urgent [11:08]
The World Needs More Jenky Websites
As the internet constricts to a handful of social media apps and monolithic content sites, the playing field has shifted towards major corporate interests in extreme ways. Nowhere is this more evident than in the streaming-sphere where the low pay for musicians and content creators is well-documented. In the case of podcasts, it’s literally non-existent. So what can be done? And what can artists do to tilt things back in their favor?
We invited musicians Jeff Rosenstock and Laura Stevenson, along with Liz Pelly, contributing editor at The Baffler and adjunct instructor at NYU’s Tisch School for the Arts, to discuss the most-pressing issues facing musicians in this new economic reality. Recorded two days before Christmas, we also talk the holidays, new year’s resolutions, Waffle House jukeboxes and the redeeming qualities of Long Island, NY.
“One of the challenges is remembering that the internet is not just social media platforms, and that a lot of people’s perception of what the internet is is just going on Google and Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and not actually thinking about what is the potential to use this medium in ways that actually serve me and my community.” —Liz Pelly on Nothing Urgent [24:15]
Everything's Impeachy Keen
You know that feeling when you record an episode about the impeachment hearing with a look ahead to the 2020 elections, only to have the President divert attention by destabilizing the Middle East before you release it unto the world? Welcome to Nothing Urgent episode 34 with Rolling Stone Politics Staff Writer Ryan Bort and Pile frontman Rick Maguire!
We’re trying to keep things light with talk of Christmas tree mulching, blue ribbon winning peppers and gas station bumper stickers, but the weight of impending doom can be felt as we imagine a world where Donald Trump and Stephen Miller have unchecked power to completely circumvent Congress. Man, can you imagine if that happened?
The State of Labor
With the number of US citizens unionizing and striking at its highest levels since the 1980’s, labor finds itself at the forefront of a growing wealth inequality battle being waged in this country. From the classroom to music festivals, striking workers are having an incredible impact on our economy as we head into the 2020 elections. But does that mean it’s a good time or a bad time for labor? We asked Downtown Boys’ Victoria Ruiz and Joey DeFrancesco, and Jacobin Labor Reporter Alex Press to help us break it all down.
Meanwhile, Nothing Urgent is breaking down the fourth wall: This episode was actually recorded prior to episode 32 with David Roth and Open Mike Eagle, which also happened to be the same week the Deadspin writers quit en masse. So after hearing David’s thoughts on the walkout, you can now hear Alex explain it from a union perspective. Listen to Joey discuss his work on the No Music for ICE campaign, his new La Neve album, The Vital Cord, and his experience as an Uber Eats driver. Lack of holidays and AirBnB also made the cut, but not before Victoria and Alex break down the contradictions between police and labor unions.
We hope you enjoy the fruits of our labor, and if so, please use your labor to like, share and subscribe to Nothing Urgent.
The Modern Day Renaissance Man
After a five-year hiatus, Nothing Urgent has returned to bring you the news you never knew you needed. Don’t worry, not much has changed; We have a new co-host (hi Edwina!), we record with a new team in a new location, and our country is being run by a mafioso Cheeto, but otherwise, everything is almost exactly the same as when we left you. And what better way to return than with a discussion about the under-reported topic of men. Not just any men however, those whose career have taken them on many paths. Like rapper, comedian, actor and wrestler, Open Mike Eagle, and writer, publisher, UnDeadspin editor and GMG Union member, David Roth.
Listen as we discuss the mass exodus of Deadspin writers following the firing of Editor-in-Chief Barry Petchesky, how Open Mike Eagle ended up in a wrestling ring fighting Shiloh Jonze, and how Derek woefully tries to connect the theme of this episode to that of Mike’s Comedy Central show, “New Negroes.” There’s even a Baby Shark cameo! Listen and laugh along with us - and please like and follow us for future episodes. Because, if history is any indication, we’re not going anywhere.
Very informative on indigenous youth, culture!