I have a conversation with Brittney Ritter aka B Sharp, a familiar face in the Ventura Karaoke scene and organizer of the Sans Souci Book Club. Brittney is a double English and History major at California State University Channel Islands, a person after my own heart, and she shares how her introverted childhood and obsession with reading literature lead her to Hip Hop and writing poetry. Locals might be familiar with B as the unassuming girl who explodes with passion and rapid fire lyrics when she gets behind the microphone and her favorite track is playing. We talk about bearing the burden of caring for her family at a young age and how that shaped her relationship to nightlife and (not) drinking. We talk about how people abuse the person who answers the phone for pizza delivery and where to find secret access to the rooftops of Downtown Ventura. We cover B's results on the Briggs-Myers Personality Test (and mine too) and discuss how being an introvert affects art and creativity. We wonder aloud if literature and the study of English has any use anymore and mention the dire situation of one of Ventura's long standing book sellers. B Sharp sings Handlebars by the FloBots. I rant about the new Harriet Tubman $20 bill, the lower life expectancy of white women and the higher life expectancy of black men in America and the War on Christmas and suggest White Privilege is the common thread between all those stories.
My wife and I have been eating a ketogenic diet for the last few months. It's been really accessible and pretty easy to follow once you get the hang of it. The food is delicious and it has stopped my craving for sugar and sweets. I've lost about 30 pounds in about 3 months and have felt satisfied with the food I've been eating.
The one thing that I crave constantly is pizza. A low-carb diet and pizza simply don't mix and it's one of those things that is hard to forgo. The first place most people go when looking to replace delicious bread-iness in a low-carb diet is caulifower. The crust produced can hold toppings but tastes nothing like pizza crust and is soft and doughy. After a few minutes out of the oven, it can get soggy and fall apart quickly. It totally fails in the eat-cold-out-of-the-fridge-the-next-day department.
I have a conversation with songwriter Zeke Berkley, who just released his second solo album, Berkley II, which I had the honor to review ahead of its release earlier this year. We talk about his craft writing songs, how he puts together albums, and deals with criticism. We discuss the lost of his best friend and musical collaborator, drummer Hunter Cook, and how his passing shaped Zeke's solo efforts. Zeke performs two songs in my studio and I pester him with questions about the definition of the word, "dignity" which involves, somehow, the plot of the Vince Vaughn screwball comedy The Watch. Zeke uses my podcast as a platform to rave about the Tom Cruise flick The Firm and then we delve into the cultural worth of The Star Wars prequels, Episodes I-III, which Zeke loves so much he should probably marry them. We then write a song together about the Phantom Menace, in which I try and fail to harmonize and play the tambourine. We call out people on the internet with similar names as us, including the other Brian Parra, the owner of the unhyphenated brianparra.com. I rant about the concept of cultural appropriation in light of the recent viral video concerning dreadlocks and confess to being a teenage cultural appropriator.
Acoustic performances from this episode
Sink (Acoustic) by Zeke Berkley [File Download]
Dignity (Acoustic) by Zeke Berkley [File Download]
I have a conversation with Jason Amelio, frontman for the long-lived tongue-in-cheek metal band, Fangboy and the Ghouls, author of urban fantasy novel, Jake Swift: Knight, and voice of Foe the Destroyer in The Velveteen Band. Fangboy plays their last show on April 9th after a 21-year run as Ventura's metal jokesters and I ask him about his band and what "being part of the scene" even means, if anything. We talk about the accessibility of creating art in the modern age and the recent phenomenon of conventions and the ever-more compartmentalized character of music. We deal with having daughters and what the difference is between the literary genres, fantasy and hard fantasy. We dissect the problems with the conspiracy theorist mindset and praise the efficiency of the DMV. Jason airs his concerns about Bernie Sanders' bid for the presidency and we basically predict the end of civilization in a generation or two if Star Trek doesn't happen, and fast. I lament the passing of a local teen killed in an experiment gone wrong and agonize over the choice between keeping our kids safe from harm or letting kids explore and experiment with the world around them.
I have a conversation with Dan Flores, manager and voice of Fum the Puppet of The Velveteen Band a multi-genre steampunk band that plays Ventura regularly and is a common sight at steam and comic conventions all over California. Dan has been involved in lots of Ventura bands over the years and always brings a sense of a humor and showmanship to whatever project he's involved with. He's a kindergarten teacher who teaches in Spanish and I ask him about the idea behind that sort of education and how he balances work, life and art. We talk puppets and about a certain seven and a half foot tall rabbit that never seems to be in the same room as Dan. Dan's old band, Force 4-D provided one of the most delightful performances in Anal Family Christmas history and we recount how that came about, including the tribulation of Mr. Dan Watson who was stuck in a box for several hours with nothing more than cigarettes and a bottle of whiskey to comfort him. Dan tries his best to drag me back into producing local music events and I recount the saga of the Local Rock Picnic. Dan sells me on the Netflix series Daredevil and we wonder aloud why Marvel comics have translated well into movies and DC comics have not. I offer up an analogy for understanding human conscience and why it's so difficult to equate distant human suffering with suffering that hits closer to home.
This week, I have a conversation with my long-time friend and former business partner and American Cheese Band bandmate, Travis Whitlock. Travis is currently running The Spindown Record Club, a box-of-the-month club meets Netflix mailer-esque service delivering vinyl records paired with microbrew beer and wine and selling his charcoal drawings via Dapper Crow Art. We talk about how we came to be music promoters in the Ventura music scene by way of the of putting together elaborate campfire shows in the Boy Scouts and what it means to, "slop one's dripper." He details his family's journey across the states to find a place that worked for them and we chat about kids and what music you should expose them to. Answer: "Saturday Morning: Cartoons' Greatest Hits." Travis talks about the myriad projects he's launched over the years, from websites selling punk baby clothes, launching a record label, a record distribution company, a music merch website, and several others. Travis suggests Humbolt is the strangest place in California and we discuss what it means to be an artist and why getting paid to create art made him not want to make art anymore. We defend both being house husbands and Travis lays out his theory about alien encounters. I jam out to the song "Check Your Bones," by the band My Goodness from their record Shiver + Shake on Votiv. I rant about voting for Bernie even though Hillary has the delegate math on her side.
This week, I have a conversation with Camilo Alvear, a comedy promoter who produces a weekly comedy open mic, The Glory Hole at the Hong Kong Inn, and regular headline comedy showcases with his partners in the 805 Comedy Underground. Camilo talks about the comedy scene in Ventura and how he built a community of comedians and fans after being banned from the major comedy club in town. Camilo drops a bombshell about his employment status and Brian credits hosting Camilo's 27th Birthday Roast as part of the inspiration to produce this podcast. We extoll the virtues of Karaoke and Camilo does an amazing Jorge Riverol impression. We discuss the effect of El Nino on Ventura's sandy beaches and what the difference is between Ventura and Hawaii. Camilo plots the perfect murder using the items found in my garage. I rant about Donald Trump's lack of core values and how that might be a good thing.
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