Virtual Memories Show 340:
Sylvia Nickerson

“You go along in the world and you experience a lot of people, but how deeply do you experience them, or know them, or connect with them?”

With Creation (Drawn & Quarterly), Sylvia Nickerson explores the decay and renewal of the Rust Belt city of Hamilton, Ontario, tying the personal and political together in an extraordinarily graceful debut graphic novel. We get into her entré to comics, her dissatisfaction with traditional art education, the interplay of her academic and artistic careers, and the encounter that pulled her out of an artistic morass. We also talk about her experience living in Hamilton, how becoming a mother changed her understanding of the city and its citizens, the differences between gentrification and development, how both she and Hamilton have changed in the decade-plus that she’s lived there, the comics her dad drew for her mom when they were courting, and plenty more! Give it a listen! And go buy Creation!

“Art can be a renegotiation of terms between you and your subject.”

“The figure can be very simplified while the environment can be very specific, allowing the reader to experience the environment in a different way.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TuneIn, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Sylvia Nickerson is a comics artist, writer, and illustrator who lives in Hamilton, Canada. Her focus is storytelling in community arts and writing comics examining parenthood, gender identity, social class, and religion. Her illustrations have appeared in The Globe and Mail, The National Post, The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post, and her comics have been nominated for a Doug Wright Award. Her new book is Creation. She’s on Instagram as sylvianickerson.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at the Bethesda North Marriott on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of me & Ms. Nickerson by me. It’s on my instagram. Fancy photo of Ms. Nickerson by Sandra Mulder – Banko Media.

Virtual Memories Show 339:
Simon Critchley

“What are the plays telling us that philosophy is not telling us, and that we need to attend to?”

In his amazing new book, Tragedy, the Greeks, and Us (Pantheon), Simon Critchley explores how Ancient Greek tragedy captures the eternal crises and tensions of human life, and how philosophy went wrong in trying to tame it. We dive into how Critchley learned to appreciate the drama of the tragedies, how it led to his critique of Plato and Aristotle and much of what comes after them, and how we continue to wrestle with the central question of the tragedies: “What shall I do?” Along the way, we talk about the perils of moral monotheism, Wallace Stevens’ philosophy-as-poetry, what it means to treat Plato’s dialogues as drama, the role of women in Greek tragedy, the allure of the antiquity’s lacunae, the difference between reading plays and being at the theater, why he thinks philosophy begins in disappointment, not wonder, and how he’s dealing with recently losing his heavily marked-up copy of The Peregrine. We also explore his various obsessions, including medieval cathedrals, the possibility of change, 19th century America, soccer, and most importantly, David Bowie! Give it a listen! And go buy Tragedy, the Greeks, and Us!

“This book is my quiet — or maybe not so quiet — critique of the profession that I’ve been associated with my whole career: philosophy.”

“I’ve always been attracted to the idea of thought being articulated in non-propositional, non-philosophical forms: music, poetry, even soccer.”

“You always felt like David Bowie was talking to you, and you alone.”

“I’m really grateful to get paid to think. It’s great!”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TuneIn, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Simon Critchley is Hans Jonas Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research. His many books include Very Little . . . Almost Nothing: Death, Philosophy and Literature, The Book of Dead Philosophers, The Faith of the Faithless: Experiments In Political Theology, and Memory Theater: A Novel. He is the series moderator of The Stone, a philosophy column in The New York Times, to which he is a frequent contributor. His new book is Tragedy, the Greeks, and Us.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Simon’s apartment on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photos of Mr. Critchley by me. It’s on my instagram. Photo of bust of Euripides by Marie-Lan Nguyen.

Virtual Memories Show 337:
Amor Towles

“In the back of my mind I knew that if I didn’t write a book that I felt proud of by the time I was 50, I’d probably end up bitter in my old age.”

After a 20-year sojourn in the investment world, Amor Towles returned to his first love by writing the bestselling novels Rules of Civility and A Gentleman In Moscow. We get into how he managed that jump, the lessons he learned from his first failed novel, and the advantages of making a later start in publishing (and whether he could’ve written either of his books when he was young). We talk about his intense outlining and planning process for novels and how it allows for more creativity within the writing itself, his relief at showing his writing teacher (Peter Matthiessen) his books before it was too late, the symphonic model he applies to novels, his best practices for book tours (writing short stories and getting out and seeing the cities he was visiting), the perpetual nostalgia that is New York, his use of recurring characters in his fiction and whether it means he’s creating a Towlesiverse, and more! Give it a listen! And go buy A Gentleman In Moscow and Rules of Civility!

“For a young artist, you don’t need a chorus of support; you need one person.”

“History is not very good at capturing all that is of quality in art. However, history is very good at filtering out all that is mediocre in art.”

“People are always attracted to a New York that’s gone.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TuneIn, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Born and raised in the Boston area, Amor Towles graduated from Yale College and received an MA in English from Stanford University. Mr. Towles’s first novel, Rules of Civility, which was published in 2011, was a New York Times bestseller and was named by the Wall Street Journal as one of the best books of 2011. The book has been translated into over 20 languages, its French translation receiving the 2012 Prix Fitzgerald.

Mr. Towles’s second novel, A Gentleman in Moscow, which was published in 2016, was on the New York Times bestseller list for over a year in hardcover and was named one of the best books of 2016 by the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the San Francisco Chronicle, and NPR. The book has been translated into over thirty languages including Russian. In the summer of 2017, the novel was optioned by EOne and the British director, Tom Harper, to be made into a 6-8 hour miniseries starring Kenneth Branagh.

Having worked as an investment professional for over twenty years, Mr. Towles now devotes himself full time to writing in Manhattan, where he lives with his wife and two children.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Mr. Towles’ home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photos of Mr. Towles by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 331: Liniers

“In my mind, I thought, ‘Maybe if I can get my comic strip to Uruguay, my father will believe this is a real job.’ I’d be an international success. Montevideo was as far as my imagination could go.”

In a rollicking conversation at the Society of Illustrators 128 Bar & Bistro, Argentine comics star Liniers talks about making the jump from Buenos Aires to Vermont to teach at the Center for Cartoon Studies, the amazing US syndication launch of his comic strip Macanudo last year (and the origin of that strip in Argentina), the difference between drawing well and drawing funny, the mix of comic and comedic influences that melted his brain as a kid, the time he almost met Bill Watterson, and what it means to be a Latin American cartoonist. We also get into how he learned English from Mad Magazine, when he caught the live performance bug, why he eschews a regular set of characters in favor of a schizophrenic style of humor in Macanudo, how he felt the first time he saw a tattoo his work on a fan, why seeing his work pirated helped balance out his karma from downloading all those mp3s, and how his kids books help him press Pause on perfect moments from his children’s lives. Give it a listen! (conversation begins around 7:00) And go buy some of Liniers’ Macanudo collections and his TOON books!

“Every cartoonist, this life is their second choice. My first choice, I wanted to be Lou Reed, but that didn’t work out for some reason.”

“My job is not being very good at drawing. It’s making little doodles and somehow infusing them with soul.”

“Every cartoonist, this life is their second choice. My first choice, I wanted to be Lou Reed, but that didn’t work out for some reason.”

“The most difficult things for people to draw are horses and bikes, so I bet the most impossible drawing of all would be a horse riding a bike.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TuneIn, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Born in Argentina in 1973, Liniers began his artistic career when he realized he wasn’t cut out for law school and started making fanzines for friends. Since 2002, when his daily comic strip Macanudo began appearing in La Nación, Argentina’s most widely read newspaper, Liniers has become an international comics star, with many New Yorker covers to his name, among other accolades. Macanudo is published throughout the world, and Liniers’ social media reaches nearly a million followers. In the US, he is also the creator of wonderful children’s books, two of which are about one of the greatest characters in Macanudo: the wry, philosophical girl, Henrietta. Liniers also tours Latin America and Spain with musician Kevin Johansen, drawing on stage while Kevin’s band performs. Liniers currently lives in Vermont with his wife and three daughters.

(NOTE: I’m wearing my Argentina national basketball team jersey, in honor of Liniers’ pal Manu Ginobili.)

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at the Society of Illustrators’ 128 Bar & Bistro on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photos of Liniers by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 330:
Milton Glaser

“Everything is design. Design is planning. It’s having an objective of any kind. When you go out to dinner, you’re designing your meal. There’s no design without intent, and there’s no life without intent.”

He turned 90 a few weeks ago, but design legend Milton Glaser isn’t slowing down. We got together to talk about moving to a new studio after nearly 55 years and what he plans on doing with the 250,000 posters in the cellar. We get into art vs. design, why he painted “Art Is Work” on the transom of his building, how he’s working more actively and faster than he ever has, the first time he saw his work in public, how drawing makes us conscious of reality, the influence of Giorgio Morandi on his life, the joy of ~60 years of teaching, the decay of design into commodity and corporate metrics, and the overlooked role of Push Pin Studios in design history. Along the way, we also get into the worldwide phenomenon of his “I ♥ NY” design, what it’s like to live in an age of collage, where we find things instead of making things, how the computer can compel users into doing what it’s good at instead of what they’re good at, his marriage advice after 60+ years with Shirley Glaser, and his story about designing Trump Vodka. Give it a listen! And go buy some of Milton’s posters!

“Art is not about persuasion; it’s about transformation.”

“Capitalism produces the sense that the only thing that matters is wealth and fame, and that’s a terrible basis for culture.”

“I’ve been possessed by my work for a long time. I’m very old but I have a lot of energy for the work.”

“My mind, fortunately, has not degenerated to the same degree that newsprint paper does.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TuneIn, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Milton Glaser (b.1929) is among the most celebrated graphic designers in the United States. He has had the distinction of one-man-shows at the Museum of Modern Art and the Georges Pompidou Center. He was selected for the lifetime achievement award of the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum in 2004 and the Fulbright Association in 2011, and in 2009 he was the first graphic designer to receive the National Medal of the Arts award. As a Fulbright scholar, Glaser studied with the painter Giorgio Morandi in Bologna, and is an articulate spokesman for the ethical practice of design. He opened Milton Glaser, Inc. in 1974, and continues to produce a prolific amount of work in many fields of design to this day.

(There are longer versions at his site)

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at the offices of Milton Glaser Inc. on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photos of Mr. Glaser and his staff by me. It’s on my instagram.