Virtual Memories Show 447:
Peter Schjeldahl

“My job is to give people something to read that is enjoyable and in some other way perhaps worth reading. It’s almost not about the art; it’s about the concentration, the absorption.”

I traveled up to the Catskills this weekend for a round of Rip Van Winkle-themed putt-putt golf, lunch, and some conversation with New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl. We get into Peter’s 2019 diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer and how he gained & then lost the persona of The Dying Man during his one piece of memoiristic writing about it. We also talk about his accidental transition from poet to art writer in the ’60s, why his two criteria for writing about art are quality & significance, his bias for authenticity over authority and sophistication over education, how HOWL changed his life, why he hates reproductions of paintings, why it took him years to come around on Rembrandt, his experience of revisiting Velazquez’ Las Meninas over the years, the piece of art he’d like to revisit when we can travel again, his love of (& aesthete’s approach to) fireworks, and plenty moreon the art of living! Give it a listen! And go read Hot, Cold Heavy, Light: 100 Art Writings 1988-2018

“There’s no art to dying at all.”

“Having talent is like being put in lifetime charge of a wild animal that you have to feed and nurture and obey. And it doesn’t care about you; if taking a bite out of your ass would help the work, it’ll do that in a second.”

“Bad art is its own punishment.”

“The only thing a reproduction has in common with a painting is the image.”

TUNEIN PLAYER TK

“All of my deep art historical knowledge was learned bit by bit on deadline.”

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

Peter Schjeldahl has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1998 and is the magazine’s art critic. He came to the magazine from The Village Voice, where he was the art critic from 1990 to 1998. Previously, he had written frequently for the New York Times’ Arts and Leisure section. His writing has also appeared in Artforum, Art in America, the New York Times Magazine, Vogue, and Vanity Fair. He has received the Clark Prize for Excellence in Arts Writing from the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute; the Frank Jewett Mather Award from the College Art Association, for excellence in art criticism; the Howard Vursell Memorial Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, for “recent prose that merits recognition for the quality of its style”; and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is the author of four books of criticism, including The Hydrogen Jukebox: Selected Writings, and Let’s See: Writings on Art from The New Yorker. His latest book is Hot, Cold, Heavy, Light: 100 Art Writings, 1988-2018.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded on Peter’s back porch 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 Peter by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 446:
Heywood Gould

With his compulsively entertaining new book, Drafted: A Memoir of the ’60s (Tolmitch Press), author, screenwriter, and director Heywood Gould takes his reader on a rollicking tour of New York City in America’s most turbulent decade as he explores his draft-dodging days in the buildup of the Vietnam war. We get into how Drafted evolved from a screenplay into a novel into a memoir, what it was like being a reporter for the New York Post at 22 (when it was a pinko rag, rather than a right-wing rag) and working alongside Nora Ephron and Pete Hamill, his family’s tension between communist leanings & patriotism, and how his race to get out of the draft led him to Paris, civil rights protests, almost to the wedding altar, and Fort Dix. We also talk about Heywood’s career writing and directing movies and TV (like Cocktail, Fort Apache, The Bronx, One Good Cop, The Boys From Brazil and The Equalizer), his one Gabriel Byrne story, why he’ll take NYC over LA, and all the ways Hollywood has changed over the decades, especially in the streaming era. Plus we discuss why he reads the Torah daily (for the storytelling!), his stab at adapting Isaac Babel for the movies, how the Great American Novel has eluded him so far, how he learned Hemingway’s trick of writing fiction like a news story, why being a mortician’s assistant was his favorite non-writing job, and why his next book will be How Not To Be A Cancer Patient, a memoir of his 20 years (and counting) of experience with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Give it a listen! And go read Drafted!

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 the Bronx and raised in Brooklyn, Heywood Gould got his start as reporter for the NY Post. Later he financed years of rejection with the usual colorful jobs — cabdriver, mortician’s assistant, tending bar and writing screenplays. Heywood is the author of nine novels, among them Cocktail, Fort Apache, The Bronx, Double Bang, Serial Killer’s Daughter, Leading Lady and Green Light for Murder. The latter two were both Hammett Award finalists. He has written nine screenplays — including Cocktail, Fort Apache, The Bronx, The Boys From Brazil, Rolling Thunder and Streets of Gold — and has directed four feature films: One Good Cop, starring Michael Keaton, Trial By Jury with William Hurt, Mistrial starring Bill Pullman, and Double Bang with William Baldwin. His latest book is Drafted: A Memoir of the ’60s.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Heywood’s 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. Photo of Heywood by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 445:
Heather Cass White

“I’m sure that my obsessive focus on reading, as much as it is anything else, is a sign of a wound, or a lack.”

Author & professor Heather Cass White joins the show to celebrate her wonderful new book. Books Promiscuously Read: Reading as a Way of Life (FSG). We get into what reading does & doesn’t do for us, how we can lose ourselves & find ourselves in books, how this book gestated for decades while she was working on her scholarship of Marianne Moore, how she snagged the title from a line by Milton, and how promiscuously we should read the word “promiscuously”. We also talk about her read-to-bits childhood copy of Anne of Green Gables, the possibility of getting too much out of Henry James, the lessons she took from studying with Harold Bloom, why you shouldn’t read as if you’re going to die (prompted by my recent health issues), the importance of keeping a patient attitude toward poetry, why she decided not to do more reading about reading once she started to write a book about reading, and more! Give it a listen! And go read Books Promiscuously Read!

“My experience of reading is that it is a whole self experience. I can’t think of many part of myself that haven’t been engaged in some point in my life as a reader. So I liked that sense of ‘promiscuously’ as both unplanned, haphazard, random, but also as playful, contrarian and transgressive. I liked the word for every reason.”

“Once I started to investigate the files in my computer, I discovered ones going back 15 or 20 years. I realized that this book had been waiting for me.”

“There’s very little that happens throughout the day that doesn’t spark some little verbal association to a poem or a novel. A good half of what I think, I don’t know if I even think it, so much as these words are in my head and have taken up residence there.”

“In a funny way, this book is repaying a kind of debt. Reading has shaped my life in every way possible, it felt like I owed it something.”

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

Heather Cass White has edited several collections of Marianne Moore’s work: New Collected Poems; A-Quiver with Significance: Marianne Moore, 1932–1936; and Adversity & Grace: Marianne Moore, 1936–1941. She is a professor of English at the University of Alabama. Her new book is Books Promiscuously Read.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded remotely via Zencastr. I used 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 Heather by Crosby Thomley. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 435:
Dorothy Gallagher

For my first in-person podcast since March 2020 (!), I talked with writer, memoirist & biographer Dorothy Gallagher about her beautiful new collection, Stories I Forgot To Tell You (NYRB). We get into the 2010 death of her husband, literary editor & raconteur Ben Sonnenberg, and how it took her five years before she could begin to write about him, the need to balance elegy and humor in her writing, and the importance of her early days working at Magazine Management (alongside the likes of Mario Puzo & Bruce Jay Friedman). We also discuss whether things are “only things” or evidence of a life, why it’s not good for a biographer to actively dislike her subject, the one biography she’d love to write, her atheist’s notion of an afterlife (less eternal punishment/reward, more eternal cocktail hour), her favorite time & place in NYC, why she misses flea markets, the impact/scars of her Communist upbringing, how she’s handled the pandemic, and why the isolation would have driven her late husband nuts. Give it a listen! And go read Stories I Forgot To Tell You!

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

Dorothy Gallagher’s works include two volumes of memoir — How I Came into My Inheritance and Strangers in the House — as well as a biography of the Italian American anarchist Carlo Tresca and, most recently, Lillian Hellman: An Imperious Life. She lives in New York. Her new book is Stories I Forgot To Tell You.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded remotely via Zencastr. I used 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. No photo of Dorothy: her choice), but I did take a pic of the weird little mule figure she bought in a flea market a while back (above). It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 427:
Kate Lacour

“The part of taxidermy that’s meaningful to me is my personal interest in interacting with physical bodies. There’s a lot of emotional weight and personal tickle involved.”

It’s been a year since I started the COVID Check-In series of podcasts, so I decided to return to the very first guest in that series, artist Kate Lacour, to celebrate! (You know what I mean.) We talk about how her life has changed over the course of a year in Pandemia, and how the urge to document those first few months gave way to other outlets. In her case, Kate rediscovered herself through taxidermy. We get into how she taught herself the rudiments of that art through YouTube and online groups, her philosophy of animals and bodies, the question of realism vs. subjectivity, and why New Orleans is an awfully good place to make a living as a taxidermist. We go deeper into what comics mean to her and how she may return to them, the post-pandemic trip she wants to take, what progress looks like in the sequence of animals she’s preserved, and more. Give it a listen! And go read Kate’s Vivisectionary!

(And listen to my first podcast with Kate and our COVID Check-In!)

“With the kids, I was in constant motion, so I was blessed to never have time to process those first few months.”

“I love being able to work from home, with my hands, in my own space/abattoir, which looks a bit like Texas Chainsaw, but it’s lovely and it’s my space. It’s been deeply life-changing.”

“I’m afraid of articulating visually something that’s important, but doing it poorly because I just wanted to get it out there, just wanted that gratification.”

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

Kate Lacour studied biology and psychology at the University of Chicago and Oberlin, and Art Therapy at the School of Visual Arts. She learned to draw through the Art Students’ League in New York City. Her art and comics are inspired by a love for the aesthetics of science and a fascination/revulsion towards bodies. Her book Vivisectionary was published by Fantagraphics in 2019. She is the winner of the 2016 Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art award, and has given art talks at the Society of Illustrators, American Art Therapy Conference, New Orleans Public Library, Antenna Gallery, Signals, and the Pharmacy Museum. Kate lives in New Orleans with her husband and three children.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded remotely via Zencastr. I used 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 by Kate. It’s on my instagram.