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What’s a Podcast: Episode 10: Travis Jones

This week, me and CB had CB’s long-time collaborator in indie films, writer, actor and storyteller, Travis Jones on the show. Not only did we talk about everything, like we do every week, but Travis told some amazing stories about his life, including failed romances that while humiliating are all too familiar and relatable.  Even more exciting is the fact that this is our TENTH podcast, meaning that if two assholes sit down and b.s. with each other long enough, someone WILL listen.

Click here to listen.

Also, in the future we hope to have some really exciting guys on the podcast.  including James Paulk, Chris Dembitz and the great, recently roasted Dan Ellison, the educated redneck (his term, not mine).

Lastly, there’s a Twitter account for the Podcast now @whatsapodcast, so that if you have any ideas you want talked about or general criticism to give me and CB, there’s an easily focused target for your outrage.  Or if you want to show some love, it’s a good place to do so as well.

See ya soon!

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What’s a Podcast: Episode 9

This time we had Jim Seward on.  Jim Seward is a member of Plan B Improv, a Stand-up Comedian, Actor and 20 year veteran of the Air Force.  It was a great podcast, we talked about Iraq, AK-47s, and stand-up comedy.  And we all say mean things about each other.

Check it out!

Just click here!

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So, I figured, if you’re into what I’m doing, my attempts at stand-up comedy and storytelling, you might be interested in another project I’ve started: Podcasting.  Me and my buddy CB Willkins have begun producing a new podcast called “What’s a Podcast?”  The idea behind this title was that neither of us had really ever fully researched exactly what we thought a podcast should be.  So this podcast is what CB and I think that people would be interested in listening to.  In essence, we both think a great deal of what’s on the podcast is what we both enjoy, bullshitting with each other and recording the stupid insights we have into each other’s lives.

It’s not on iTunes yet, as we’ve not produced a separate site/feed to host all the mp3’s, so for now, what we’ve done is produced the show and listed it on SoundCloud.com where it can be both Downloaded AND Streamed here.

I’m a bit late posting this, as the link above is to our second attempt at podcasting. If you like the link above, check out our first attempt here: here.

If you have any ideas about stuff you would like us to talk about, questions, and anything in between, shoot us an email at whatsapodcast “AT” yahoo.com.

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Video Blog 7/4/11

Sorry it’s taken me so long to put up another video blog… day job and all.

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“New Choice”

Basically, every time you say something, the MC has the power to shout “New Choice” and you have to make up something new off the top of your head to replace what you just said. The language can get to be a bit much at times, but… you’ll see how much fun it is.

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To help pay my bills between shows, I do have a day job.  It sucks, as every time someone wants to act as though they are making a dig at your talents, they merely shout “don’t quit your day job.”  One cannot simply stare back at the person judging them and  shout “I see what you’re getting at, but you see, until one has developed a certain network of booked comedy gigs, figured out an efficient way to travel the large distances between venues, and generally survive on a payment system that’s not effectively changed since the 80’s,  it’s kind of hard to support one’s self off of comedy alone.”

No.  This typically doesn’t work on stage.  Instead, one must usually rely on stand-bys like something penis-related, or, if the venue allows for it, the comedy club stand-by of years past, present and future:  “fuck you.”  Having not worked in a grocery store before though, it’s all very new to me.

First of all, you never have an opportunity to get bored. As soon as you clock in, your day’s tasks have been delineated for you. Work old frozen foods, work the freshly delivered frozen foods, stock the produce, corral the shopping carts, lunch break, steal the women, rape the horses, etc. This is great, because, one of my favorite things about the restaurant business is that if you’re working hard enough, time flies. I remember once working at Macado’s (an extremely popular family dining/sandwich shop/bar chain) in Blacksburg on a game day, clocking in at 9, and clocking out at 4:30, and having no idea where all the time went, as I just stood in the same spot the whole time.

Second, it’s a lot more physical labor than I thought it would be. It’s apparently so much that in the last year or so, 8 or 9 people quit after their first day because it was too much. To me, it’s just enough to be a little sore and tired at the end of the day. But yea, you’re lifting stuff of varying weight all day long, which I love, as if I work good and hard all day, by the end of the day, I’m just tired and happy from the little bit of endorphins. If I am not active enough during the day, I end up all fidgety by 8:30, and I’ve noticed that any day I work, I fall asleep very well that night.

Third, the shoppers. It’s really funny the wide range of folk that come into the stores and how much of an adjustment it is from my Portsmouth folks.  The store is in Virginia Beach’s nicer northern end, and as such there’s a lot of people with very high-end attitudes.  I was training on the register one day and this older gentleman had an interesting looking tie on… it looked like an impressionist painting.  I asked him about it, he told me it was his payday tie. I asked why, he said it was because when he wore it, he always had “Monet.”  I laughed, and correctly guessed that the painting the tie’d been made from, and told him about actually being able to see the painting live and up close at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Then he slapped me in the face and told me to take his bags out to his car.  Okay, the last part didn’t really happen, but it almost feels like it could, as there is always an understood dynamic of subservience and inferiority between those with a name tag and those without.

Another subset of rich people are the health-nuts, which I really don’t mind, as it is not visually unpleasant seeing a woman who has tried really hard to keep her body in shape wearing spandex and a sports bra while she buys her groceries. Though, there is a funny side effect of this.  Pretty women are so used to men hitting on them that, for some, any conversation seems like a sexual advance.

For example, if I see a woman of above average desirability staring at the same few spots in the freezer, looking confused. So I walk up, and ask “you finding everything okay?” She, being apparently such a beautiful woman, hears something else, perhaps grunts and clapping,  and looks at me like I’ve just delivered the worst pickup line in my life.  But seriously.  It’s part of why they pay me to be friendly and offer assistance.

To this woman, I’d like to say this:  I’m sure when you sit down to pee and take off your panties it has to be hard quieting down the angelic choir-like tone and blindingly radiant light your lady parts emit, and I’m sure you’ve accidentally inspired Trojan wars and/or circle jerks through the simple act of picking up your dry cleaning, but you know what? I’m just doing my job. I am just trying to meet the obligations inherent to my paycheck, not bed you.

If I do, I know what I’d have to do first.  Quit my day job.

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Portsmouth, VA

If you watched my first video blog or if you’ve seen me do stand-up, you know that I talk about Portsmouth a lot.  Portsmouth as a city, isn’t completely crappy.  There’s actually a few nice blocks in the downtown “Old-Town” area that are less full of crack and poverty.  It’s as if the crack epidemic of the 80’s was a zombie uprising and the uninfected set up a perimeter that held some office buildings and the The Bier Garden (seriously one of my favorite places in the entire universe that I strongly recommend you check out if you ever do find yourself in Portsmouth).  But aside from Old Town, Portsmouth is a grimy place that has the continuous feeling that something you shouldn’t know about is happening just around the corner, and trying to figure out exactly what that is could kill you.

That being said, you’re likely wondering why I would spend time in such a place.  In what now seems like a past life, I led the life of a beer distributor salesman.  What that mostly entailed was visiting five or six grocery stores and about a hundred convenience stores in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Suffolk and lastly, Portsmouth; and write down what they needed delivered the next day.  Now, convenience stores, in general, are not good places to be.  The entire business model is set up on the premise that usury is okay if instead of interest on loans, one makes an exorbitant profit on household items in the name of convenience/easy access to products that help you get intoxicated.  If you’re from another country, it’s a great way to make quick money.  In addition to this, convenience stores always have large fluid reserves of cash on premises, which make their mere presence a certain kind of security risk.  Put all of that in a neighborhood where people are struggling with drug addiction, drug sales and food stamps, and things can get really interesting.

My first entry into Portsmouth’s rougher neighborhoods made me very uncomfortable, for a variety of reasons.  The most obvious reason was that I stood out.  Like a white thumb.  Portsmouth’s largest racial demographic is African Americans, and again, if you know me, you know that I’ll never be confused for being African American (credit score notwithstanding).  Essentially, if you were to look up Caucasian in the dictionary, you would find a picture of me with an innocently ignorant smile on my face, drinking a glass of milk, doing something that unwittingly seems offensive to other ethnicities.  And so, I was worried.  I don’t know why I was worried.  In retrospect, it’s not as though I seriously expected that, upon making visual confirmation of my presence, a signal would be given and I would be mandatorily stabbed, or called cracker, or something silly like that.  Yet still, I was tense.  It was a tension I had internalized and taken for granted, up until the moment we were about to get out of the car.

I was being trained by a veteran of these neighborhoods named Ray.  Ray was about 6’4, and also black.  We parked in front of Save and Save.  Save and Save was a small grocery store directly across from some low income housing, and bordered by two vacant lots that seemed to be good for not much else besides storing random chunks of concrete.  As I turned the key off to my car, I likely exhibited the same energy that is given off in the moment of self doubt that make it clear some men will become other men’s girlfriends in prison.  Ray leaned over to me and whispered.

“You’re not the first white person these people have ever seen.”

“Cool.  No mandatory racial violence,” I said in my head.  Just in case, though, I figured I’d put on my war face.  A carapace through which no fear could be seen.  I put on a face that, to me said “don’t mess with this guy… it’s just not worth it.”  Tough guy face on, head high up, chest out, swagger down pat… I came up to the front door and those who loitered around it.  One of the locals began eyeing me.

“What you look so pissed off for man?”

Great.  In trying to look unfuckwithable, I apparently still came across as just looking like I needed to change my tampon.  Also, that day, I realized that the great majority of people are good folks, just trying to make the best out of a shitty situation.  Even the convenience owners.  The great majority of them had come from around the world, trying to find a better life.  A great majority of them had come from Palestine, India and Korea, but they’d also come from places as familiar to people from the Hampton Roads area as the Philipines.  All in search of the American dream, though if one were to look at parts of US history and some new immigrants’ interactions in convenience stores, they might just think the American dream was just in fact being dickish as hell to black folks.

See, despite the fact that these folks came from around the world to end up where they did, after some time, they’d absorb the local culture.  Just as “you can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy,” if you’re in Portsmouth long enough, it becomes part of you.  All convenience store owners present a certain swagger and absolute unwillingness to back down from any fight.  Every now and then though, one goes above and beyond and begins incorporating the dialect into their own use of English.  A great example of this was Jimmy, who runs a One Stop on Turnpike Blvd.  I walked in one day, and saw Jimmy, who that day, had wetted down his black Indian hair and combed it straight.  I told Jimmy, “you’re looking slick today, buddy.’

Jimmy replied, through an accent as thick as curry, “you know how I do.”

The locals were always full of surprises as well.  One day, I went to my scariest convenience store of them all, Freddy’s, the place where those who, by some mistake made earlier in life, found themselves living in Portsmouth’s Lincoln Park projects, located at Deep Creek and Frederick.  According to one cashier, it was where both “the sellers and the buyers” came to get their beer and blunt wraps.  Even my supervisor, Ray, veteran of the streets, felt uncomfortable hanging out at Freddy’s too long.  Freddy’s has that ghetto vibe where, if the cops drive by, the place empties out, but it is otherwise, a combination diner, grocery store and watering hole.  After going in one day to write their weekly order, two girls began an argument.

The root cause of the disagreement was that, one girl had engaged in a tryst with the man of the other girl, though the man had been involved in a relationship with the second girl.  It very nearly came to blows, and everyone felt uncomfortable, as there’s no easy way of breaking up a fight between two women.  One girl, deciding that violence was inappropriate, decided to threaten the girl in a different way.

“You fucked someone I fucked, so I’m’a fuck someone you fucked!”  While I deeply respect the use of the F word, that’s not a very creative sentence.  Like half the words in there are “fuck.”  Also, I have this mental image sometimes that this argument will end up causing a pyramid scheme-like effect in which after this fight, there are literally hundreds of men who have gotten laid due to a blood fued via intercourse.

The thing about ghetto things in Portsmouth, is that they always happened by surprise.  You would never expect it to happen, and then you round a corner, and Wow.  I once went into one of my stores to write an order.  I had been at this store, probably hundreds of times.  It wasn’t a great neighborhood.  Crack sales happened there with little shyness.  Well, either that, or most people love looking over their shoulders frequently before shaking hands, and they both always have somewhere to be quickly afterward.

At any rate, I walked into the store, walked out of the store, and then thought I saw someone looking into my car.  She caught my eye, and as she did, I realized she was also pulling up her pants at the same time.  It turned out she had actually stopped to pee, and hid behind my car and just happened to be pulling her pants up as I walked past.  How did I deduce this?  As we eventually made eye contact, she said to me “Oh, I’m sorry, I just had to take a piss.”  And in your head, when you imagine someone taking a piss next to your car, you have this mental image that you’re going to say “NO!  DON’T URINATE NEXT TO MY CAR!  WE’RE HUMAN BEINGS FOR CHRIST’S SAKE!”  In reality, when someone urinates next to your car… you just want to get away as fast as possible.  It was moments like these, or a crackhead screwing up the words of the hook for “my neck, my back” as “my neck, my back, my pussy set up just like that,”that made my days the most interesting for better or for worse.

All in all, I was lucky that I never got hassled too much.  To be fair, a great deal of the real violence happened at night, and people usually had some reason to worry before they got hurt.  And sometimes, I miss some of the people I got to interact with.  At the same time, I’m happy I don’t have to go out there.

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And now, a blog referencing a blog, referencing a vlog

Aforementioned friend of Brendan Kennedy’s blog, the lab, again posted a link today, featuring Narduar interviewing NERD/Pharrel. What makes this video so impressive is that he knows so much about Pharrel and where he’s from and what he’s into, that the rapper/producer is left speechless. Video after the jump.

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