Archive for May 2017

Life, Or Some S— Like It

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Few podcasts have been able to make the leap from indie obsession to achieve mainstream mass success. But 2013’s Serial by This American Life was able to do just that. The concept was simple: investigate a murder that just didn’t add up. A high school teenager was murdered in Baltimore, her jealous ex-boyfriend the only logical suspect. Yet carefully gleaned evidence obtained by a curious outsider (enter Koenig) and great investigative storytelling was enough to get millions of listeners to doubt the seemingly obvious guilty verdict.

And hence, a cultural phenomenon was born. It was the series that made Podcasts accessible and approachable to the masses, no longer just a media outlet reserved for the niche “alternative”.

What came next was an entire movement to free Adnon Sayed from prison, and an audience eager and waiting for round two from the show’s creators. But the second series from the producers of Serial, following an AWOL soldier in the Middle East, fell flat, and left many fans to brush Serial off as a one-hit wonder.

That was 2015. Fast forward now to April 2017, as the team from Serial and This American Life release another story-driven investigative show called S-Town. Less a criminal investigation and more a character study on a curious clock repairman from Alabama, S-Town has a more empathetic energy to it. It tugs at your heartstrings, as its narrator, Brain Reed, attempts to understand the ever complex John B. McLemore from the perspective of a journalist and a friend. It captures the world and workings of one lower-class Alabama community as a microcosm for thousands of similar fringe cities and towns nationwide. It evokes a an addictive curiosity just like it’s hit successor before it, but this time due to its empathetic undercurrent. It’s sad, it’s beautiful, and it’s the best yet from the team behind Serial and This American Life.

Check it out here or stream it for free on iTunes.

Peer Pressure

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Summer. As much as I scoff at the city’s most beloved season – what with its stifling heat (and no A/C), excessive tourists, and the resultant inability to drive just about anywhere – there’s a small part of me that, all pretension aside, secretly loves summer. Maybe its the residual feelings of being a student set free for three months. Or maybe because there’s so much more Vitamin D coursing through my veins. Or maybe still its just because everyone just seems happier, livelier, more adventurous. There’s so much more activity and spirit here in the summer and its highly contagious.

One of my favorite things about an LA summer is the Twilight Concert Series at the Santa Monica Pier. The entire city seems to migrate to the coast come sundown Thursday night. Sweaty, happy citygoers take in the salty air of the Pacific alongside the company of incredible performers and there is a collective sigh of relief as the  crazy/busy/bustling day melts away into the warm evening. It’s really quite amazing.

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This year’s line-up was just announced, and it’s perfect. There’s Khalid, a nineteen-year-old singer/songwriter proving to be a master of mixing genres. There’s the indie favorite Warpaint playing with a mysterious TBA surprise guest. And then folksy Valerie June who was just recently called out for her musicianship by none other than the great Bob Dylan. It’s an eclectic mix, as always. And that’s what makes it great.

Check out the full line-up here.