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04-03-09 : A 2009 Tax-Time Interview with Roni Deutch : "The Tax Lady"

As an interviewer, I try to avoid agendas when getting ready to speak with an interviewee. If someone wants to know in advance what questions I'm going to ask, I'll inform them that they'll hear them when I speak them in the interview. I research the work, write up the questions and present them on the spot. But for Roni Deutch, I took a different approach.

It's tax time and I didn't want to have an interview that was as long as the tax law books and just as boring and unfocused. I told Roni that when we spoke, I'd be asking her about a very specific situation — I wanted tax information for those of us who had heretofore worked in pretty much simple, corporate jobs but had ended up working as part-time artists and entrepreneurs. It's pretty much a shock to go from handing over a couple of W-2s — or entering them into some horrific tax program — to keeping track of expenses, knowing what you can deduct and even just preparing to collect all the crap you need to present to person qualified to complete the paperwork for you. Deutch nails every bit of advice you need in about 20 hard-driving minutes, which you can hear via this linked MP3 file.

04-02-09 : Agony Column Broadcast Radio Show from January 25, 2009 : Kirsten Menger-Anderson, Sean Stewart and Aimee Bender

If the world is ever filled with trouble and woe, and it is, then it is also filled with way too much for me to do as well. I find myself constantly in the process of catching up with myself. So, in this regard, I hope listeners won't mind, if while the rest of the world is in April, I'm in January, podcasting my broadcast version of the interviews with Kirsten Menger-Anderson, Sean Stewart and Aimee Bender.

The broadcast versions of my interviews are often fairly different from what I podcast for a couple of reasons. In the first place, I have to edit for both time and language; in the second place, I generally try to put two or more voices in the same and to my mind that proximity alters the perception of each voice. Plus, I throw in the interstitial music, though I spare my Internet listeners the grant announcements. I would definitely love to hear any feedback on the pacing and content of the broadcast version of The Agony Column; someday, I hope to bring it to a radio near everyone. You can help — email me. After, of course, downloading today's podcast.

04-01-09 : A 2009 Interview with Jerry Mander : Un-Making History

'The Superferry Chronicles: Hawaii's Uprising Against Militarism, Commercialism, and the Desecration of the Earth' is a valuable document, to be sure, but hearing the voices is as important as reading the words. I spoke with Jerry Mander at the Capitola Book Café, where he was greeted by a huge, enthusiastic audience. And yes, I did blow the title in my introduction.

I really didn't have to ask any questions; once I set the ball rolling, Mander followed through his course of action with passion and verve. He talked about his history of the Superferry and the investigative journalism he and others did to reveal the military nature of the Superferry — it just happens, doncha just know, that the Navy was looking for a new fleet of cheap boats with which to confront China.

Equally interesting is the story behind the scenes. Corruption, graft, double-dealing and double-dipping, and buddy-buddy backroom deals (mostly with Republican congress-critters), brought a well-connected entrepreneur's dream to life. You can hear Jerry Mander tell his story by following this link to the MP3 audio file of our interview.

03-31-09 : A 2009 Interview with John Bargetto : 2 Acres of Pinot Grigiot

Books and wine share a similar vibe; layered, complex and perhaps, a little intimidating. But they both also provide a great entertainment value, and though apparently intimidating, they're really pretty easy to get into. So, no surprise that Capitola Book Café roped Santa Cruz Winery Bargetto Wines into a wine-tasting event. I really like the Café aspect of the Book Café, because I love to read and eat, What better place to do so than a bookstore, where you can peruse books while catching a quick lunch?

John Bargetto is enthusiastic about the synergy between his winery and the bookstore, and it came across when we spoke. But he also told me the history of his family's winery, which itself is likely to become the subject of a book someday. The tasting at Capitola Book Café featured the Bargetto Pinto Grigiot, which he calls the "anti-Chardonnay." I must admit that I find the almost military maneuvering between different wine types to be pretty amusing. The battles and skirmishes are fascinating to watch unfold; tempests in a wine barrel, I suppose. You can hear John Bargetto talk about the history of his winery and the beginning of his Pinot Grigio experiment in this linked audio file.

03-30-09 : A 2009 Interview with Keith Donohue : The Invisible Spectrum

Turn the dial and the years go by. One moment, we're tapping tables and raising ghosts. The next, we're dropping the bomb on Hiroshima. And all at the behest of invisible spirits, all in the name of that which we will never be able to see with our own two eyes.

And how often does it come to pass that even those things we do see with our own two eyes are not recognized? How often can we look at our children and refuse to see what stands in front of us?

Keith Donohue is a master at rendering the invisible visible, at drawing back the cloak from the world we live in to show the world behind our lives, to draw out the invisible powers of love, hatred, hope and fear. I had the chance to talk with Donohue about the invisible spectrum at KQED earlier this month, and about his new novel, 'Angels of Destruction.'

Keith Donohue writes from that place where the invisible lives with us. He's a master craftsman of prose that is compelling and gripping, yet dense and packed with omens and conjurations of the beyond. One of the most interesting aspects of speaking with writers is the wide variance of their approaches to writing. Donohue writes fantastically detailed narratives that unfold in an achingly beautiful world we know. His characters and their histories and their locations and lives integrate themselves seamlessly into the readers' reality.

But Donohue is at heart a fantasist, and he imagines this world of ours so that he can explore the invisible spectrum of our perceptions and evoke the fantastic world that lies beyond. You can't call his work genre fiction in any typical, that is, sales-oriented sense, but all the parts are there. They're just re-ordered by a mind that approaches writing much more like I imagine an artist would approach painting. And in fact, in my interview with him, he talks about the art that helped inspire his latest novel. For readers and writers alike, this conversation is filled with insights that illuminate his latest work without really every talking too directly about the plot. You can hear our conversation by following the invisible path of this link to the audio file.

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