[joe-frank-list] Re: RE: Ira Glass etc (Steve Schneider)

Steve Schneider scs1 at theavocadopapers.com
Fri Mar 9 11:28:13 PST 2007

I agree -- Reality is altered (as it is in Star Trek, Hamlet, etc.), but
there's an internal logic that allows us to suspend disbelief "safely"
(maybe another way of saying what you're saying is that you "trust" JF to
work within the "rules" he sets for himself -- on a per-show basis, because
certainly the "rules" change from show to show).  -- S.


From: joe-frank-list-bounces at armory.com
[mailto:joe-frank-list-bounces at armory.com] On Behalf Of Harold Johnson
Sent: Friday, March 09, 2007 12:08 PM
To: Joe Frank Mailing List
Subject: Re: [joe-frank-list] Re: RE: Ira Glass etc (Steve Schneider)

I wanted to add to this conversation before it's brought up again in a
future post and in another context, as it most surely will.  I understand
what you're saying and I agree with most of it -- This American Life is
certainly "safe" and boring by comparison with Joe Frank's work.  Yet I
disagree that reason is abandoned in Joe's shows.  This may be a small point
for me to contest, but I sense that Joe's shows are highly-edited and
controlled environments, and I still feel "safe" within his boundaries.
(That is, within his shows' boundaries; I'm not certain I could actually
tolerate being within Joe's boundaries.  That's a joke, folks.) 

I'm not trying to miss the point here; I understand you're simply
differentiating between Glass' and Frank's styles.  I just think this is an
intersting aspect of Joe's work, the sense that "anything can happen".
There certainly is that sense, the sense that you could next be listening
(or *not* listening) to an interview with a mime -- in other words, a minute
or two of dead air -- as Joe once presented us with, decades ago.  Or the
sense that we'll find a preacher arguing violently with Joe about religion,
"casting dispersions", LOL...Or that we'll find ourselves wondering if Joe
is saying goodbye to his work in a show titled "Goodbye".  Yet all this is
still contained within a "safe" environment, thankfully -- a higly-polished
and produced work of art that never completely lapses into an anarchistic
shit-on-your-face "performance art".  (Though I do dig performance art, and
consider Joe somewhat of a performance artist, I prefer his more reasonable
approach to the form, if I can say that without sounding like an asshole.) 
On 2/20/07, Sam Holland <sam.holland at gmail.com> wrote: 

I don't think Ira Glass could fairly be called derivative except in
the broadest possible sense, but his show is much less interesting 
than Joe Frank's. I often have conversations with people who are fans
of This American Life--I don't know anyone who listens to NPR who
doesn't at least claim to be a listener--and they're always very 
enthusiastic, and they want to talk about the show, and talk about
what a visionary radio producer Ira Glass is. And I always tell them
that I think This American Life is boring by comparison.

TAL is "safe" in the way that NPR is "safe." At least--and I might be 
completely wrong on this--the way I perceive it: that even when
addressing dark or unsettling subject matter, I never lose the sense
that I'm listening to the voice of reason, the authoritative tone. Am
I talking out of my ass? And on Joe Frank's show, anything could 
happen. Reason is abandoned. I might be listening to an entire
episode's worth of lunatic ranting. The only thing I'm really sure of
is that it's going to be either sixty or thirty minutes long. I don't 
get that from Ira Glass. And I don't really feel that Glass is an
artist so much as an editor or curator, presiding over the
storytelling equivalent of Sound and Spirit.

> ------------------------------ 
> Message: 4
> Date: Sun, 18 Feb 2007 15:49:47 -0500
> From: "Steve Schneider" <scs1 at theavocadopapers.com>
> Subject: RE: [joe-frank-list] Ira Glass etc 
> To: "'Joe Frank Mailing List'" <joe-frank-list at armory.com>
> Message-ID:
>         <
<mailto:200702182049.l1IKnuCo018370 at svcstatl08.hotspot.t-mobile.com>
200702182049.l1IKnuCo018370 at svcstatl08.hotspot.t-mobile.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
> Re the last few posts about TAL and Ira Glass: This American Life is a
> fantastic show.  I don't know what "edgy" even means (or "abstract," for
> that matter); what I do know is that, like Joe Frank's work, TAL is
> ground-breaking radio.  But they're utterly different!  I have never,
> sensed that Glass was trying to emulate or rip off JF.  TAL seems to me to
> be essentially a magazine: two, three, or rour features reported on by
> various producers, with the occasional fiction thrown in ( e.g. D. Sedaris
> reading a short story).  JF's shows are simply nothing like that, and I'm
> referring to any of his formats: the "reality" shows such as the Karma
> series; the improvised, highly edited radio dramas; the fictional 
> monologues; the non-fictional monologues such as "No Show"; and so on.
> I have seen Glass credit JF at least twice (which is nice, although I'm
> entirely sure that he owes much artistically to JF).  When JF has
> Glass, there has been a tinge of annoyance or jealousy, and frankly I'm
> sure why.  As far as the "God, I really hate David Sedaris and Ira Glass,
> those two miserable geeks, those wretched freaks.  They should move in 
> together, adopt children, leave the country, maybe go to mars. What do you
> think?" quote, which I believe starts off the women-police-officer show:
> we really supposed to take that 100% seriously?  Especially in a show 
> devoted to getting a rise out of people and especially women (by
> that women are not fit to be police officers)?  In another, he complains
> about the phenomenal (by public-radio standards) success of TAL, but in
> piece, he seems to me to be complaining mostly about the lack of support
> that his show gets (from KCRW, I guess).  I've never sensed any real
> animosity towards Glass from JF.  With most of JF, a lot is open to 
> interpretation, of course...
> Look, I basically spent half of 2004 and most of 2005 working through the
> shows -- to the extent that I didn't even read many books during that
> I must have listened to some of the shows 30 times.  I'm a huge admirer.
> But only on a JF mailing list could Ira Glass be seen as a sell-out, or as
> being too mainstream.  (Not that this post is, necessarily, saying that,
> I've seen a lot of bitterness directed towards Glass -- which is funny: I
> doubt there would be any of that were it not for the coincidence that IG
> an intern for JF long, long ago).
> I guess what I'd like to know is, what do people think that Glass "stole"
> from JF?  What things?  Specifically?
> -- Steve.
Joe Frank Mailing List
joe-frank-list at armory.com

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