Listening To Jonathon Goldstein Listen

Wiretap with Jonathon GoldsteinWireTap, a show on CBC Radio One hosted by Jonathon Goldstein, is a pseudo talk show, where the host…

…invites you to tune in and eavesdrop as he talks over the phone with some of the country’s best storytellers. Sometimes he catches them on their cell phones making late-night trips to the emergency room, sometimes he finds them at home on a Sunday afternoon, flipping TV stations with Mexican take-out on their lap.

Most of it is improvised:

Most WireTap conversations are born from hours of improvised material that no one in their right mind would want to transcribe, so forgive us if we do not make them available. For now, if you’d like to read something you’ve heard on WireTap you’ll just have to sit by your tape deck, record the show and then type it out yourself.

I’ve stumbled on the show many times and I’ve enjoyed it. People call into Goldstein and tell them their problems or talk about what’s on their mind. It’s funny, witty, intelligent, and original. Great radio.

One well-written segment brought a lump to my throat: a young woman called in telling how she wants to be a writer, but her family of doctors want her to take science at university, which she’s currently studying. She asks if Jonathon will listen to something she wrote, giving her his opinion of her talent. He agrees. She then tells a simple, honest tale about a man and a woman on a date, and it’s SO well written that it’s stunning.

When she finishes there’s a pause, a pause to just think about how wonderful her prose is, how simple and honest it is. Jonathon then says something like, “I wish you all the best as a writer.” Her gleeful reaction is great.

That story was from a book, which was mentioned at the end of the show, but I forget what it is now, God damn it.

The show has great writing and acting, and it’s well produced. It’s worth tuning in to.

Ethiopia Medium Roast

“I take my coffee black, with a little of cream.
I wake up every morning with the sun.”

Greg Brown

Tommboy sent me a shoe box full of coffee beans. It arrived yesterday. (Good thinking, Tom, the coffee smell effectively disguises the smell of the dope.) In the shoe box are sample packs of the following flavours: The Dark Side (dark roast); Sumatra (dark roast); Ethiopia (medium roast); Peru (dark roast); Columbia (medium roast); Nicaragua (dark roast). The last three are certified organic fair trade. They’re all roasted fresh from an associate of Tom’s.

I’m drinking a cup of the Ethiopian medium roast as I write this, and it’s excellent. What else do I need to say? It’s a real good cup of coffee. Strong but smooth, slightly nutty aftertaste. This is the way to drink coffee. Fresh beans, freshly roasted, freshly ground so that a thick layer of foam forms when the water is poured through a #2 cone filter. All those bubbles indicate oxygen in the beans, which means more flavour, which only happens with the freshest beans. Sometimes you get bubbles, but if it builds up into a thick foam in about two seconds like this cup did — coffee doesn’t any better than that. (I haven’t tried cold filtered coffee yet.) Tom, man, this is one damn good cup of coffee! I gotta go make another cup. Back in a few minutes…
Continue reading Ethiopia Medium Roast

Etta Baker on Guitar and Banjo (MP3s)

I’ve become a regular visitor to the Old Blue Bus audio blog. It continues to turn me on to some real good musicians I probably would not have otherwise been exposed to. The latest is Etta Baker who plays guitar and banjo in a style that reminds me of Elizabeth Cotton and Mississippi John Hurt.

A young Taj Mahall was a college student in the early 1960s when he first heard those recordings. “I was immediately taken by her version of Railroad Bill. She is the greatest influence in my guitar playing.”

In 1962, Paul Clayton brought his friends, Bob Dylan and Susie Rotolo to visit Etta at her home in Morganton to celebrate Dylan’s 21st birthday. After his visit, Dylan rewrote Clayton’s song Whose Going to Buy You Ribbons, When I’m Gone into his classic Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright, in which you can clearly hear Etta’s guitar influence.

Old Blue Bus provides three MP3 downloads of her songs: One Dime Blues, Railroad Bill (recently covered by Greg Brown), and a sweet little banjo number called Going Down the Road Feeling Bad. She has three albums available at CD Baby (with plenty of samples). I’ve ordered Railroad Bill.

A few notes: (1) Etta Baker can be requested on Whole Wheat Radio. (2) The above MP3s are posted on Old Blue Bus for about a week, then they’re gone. So these direct links won’t be valid much longer. (3) This probably won’t be the last time I post about a musician I discovered on the Old Blue Bus audio blog.

West-Jet Waited For Me

Last year in November I almost missed a flight from Hamilton, Ontario to Moncton, New Brunswick. I didn’t miss it because West-Jet logoWest-Jet waited for me. Here’s the letter I sent them today:

I’m writing to thank you for your outstanding, incomparable service.
On Sunday, November 27, 2005 (sorry for the delay in writing this), I had a 1:10pm flight from Hamilton to Moncton. I left London at 9am, 90 minutes earlier than usual since a snow storm was occurring. During the drive I was stuck in traffic on the 401 and 403 for two hours due to accidents. I phoned my travel agent as I waited, asking them if the flight was delayed due to the weather; they said No. I asked them what the deadline was for the check-in time, and they said 30 minutes before the flight – no exceptions. So, I decided to TRY and make my flight, hoping that flight would be delayed.
I arrived 15 minutes before the flight was supposed to leave. I threw my keys to the car rental clerk saying “Fax me the bill!”, then rushed to the West-Jet counter asking, “Am I too late?” The attendant smiled and said, “Jody? We’re waiting for you”, giving me my ticket, and off I went, amazed. Wow. Five minutes later I was on the plane thinking, “I gotta write West-Jet about this.”
I used to fly with your major competitor, but they were dependably undependable: delayed flights, inconvenient flight times, and expensive. No longer. I fly exclusive West-Jet now, with this incident just one example of the great service I receive.

Why am I only posting this now? I’m starting to finish the 50 or so draft posts I have on the go.