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The Soul of California

Let them share.....That's the goal. Let the leading thinkers, writers, academics, artists and activists talk about their work and the influence of California on that work. In these podcasts, I hope to bring out the myth and the ethos that is not only a leading administrative entity in the United States, but also the world. No commercials, just content. Feed your soul. Keep listening.
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Now displaying: October, 2017
Oct 26, 2017

In this 39-minute podcast, Stephen Provost (pronounced Provo), author of  Highway 99 - California’s Main Street, takes listeners down one of American's first highways. 

Stephen starts out with how California led the way in highway building and the adaption of signs and traffic safety and then moves on to the construction of the mythic Grapevine and the Ridge Route and its dangerous driving conditions, After discussing the influence of William Mulholland on California’s water (min. 8), we then cover the burgeoning roadside vernacular and its culture impact, from gas stations, to “auto courts” and to restaurants (min. 15). 

After discussing the influence of the cruising culture around Modesto, where George Lucas and Harrison Ford got their start (min. 15), we move onto street signs and arches (min. 20) and its legacy, being forced for compete with California’s other (more scenic) highways (min. 25). We close discussing the financial impact that being bypassed left (min. 29), its demographic (min. 31), as well as Stephen’s recommendations to visit places along Highway 99 (min. 34).  

Next time: Award winning novelist Dana Johnson. 

Feed you soul. Keep listening. 

 

 

 

Oct 18, 2017

In this 43-minute podcast, Earle Labor gives an extensive overview of Jack London, starting with his two mothers and two fathers and the hard life that he had as a kid (“poverty made me hustle”). Earle then discusses ultimate vs. immediate happiness and the havoc that it wreaked on his life (min. 4) and also argues that London had a substantial “seeking” drive, which took him to the ends of the earth and to the extreme (min. 10). 

We then examine his writing methods (1,000 words a day regardless), his relationship with Sinclair Lewis for plots and the influence of Carl Jung on his “primal” work. After discussing London's health and how his lifestyle impacted it (min. 25), Earle recounts the process of writing the author's biography (min.28) and the shock of opening up a safe on a cold January day in 1975 to see a neat stack of Charmian London’s diaries - all 60 of them. We then close with his reflections on the JL Scholar community (min. 36), Earle’s desert island three and whether film versions come close to the original writing (min. 38). 

All through it, Earle demonstrates his nearly 60 years of love for his career as a Jack London scholar, as a great storyteller, and comes off as one hell of a Southern gentleman.

Cast of Characters 

Parents - William Chaney - likely his biological father; John London - the "father" who reared him; Flora Wellman, his biological mother;  Flora Prentiss - the one who reared him, an African American and a former slave. 

Family - Bessie London - Jack London's first wife, with two daughters, Becky and Joan. Charmian London - Jack London's second wife. Anna Strunsky - his true love, who he did not marry.  

Next up:  Highway 99 - California’s Main Street 

Feed your soul. Keep listening.  

 

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