This is episode 34 of the podcast, 1 of 2 with web designer and artist Sam Jennings. Sam is my second guest that has a large connection to a man I adore: Prince. Even with this being our episode to talk about fatherhood, we do touch on some of the personal and business aspects of Sam’s near decade of working with Prince. It was quite interesting to hear how much importance Prince put on family during the time Sam was involved with him.
Sam joins the esteemed group of guests that do not come from a traditional One Mom One Dad family situation. One of the things that gives this podcast an ability to have an extensively long lifespan is that everyone is different. But, the added bonus is that everybody’s Dad is different… and everybody’s family life is different, as well. Sam’s family history is quite unique, so I was very interested to get into how that proved to be successful for all of them.
I have no problem repeating this: I feel, dare I say, blessed by the people I am speaking with for the sake of the podcast. Sam is yet another outstanding human being; not only as a son, or even just as a Dad… but also as a person. His generosity and kindness of spirit are characteristics that I constantly strive for in my daily life. Sitting with him for a few hours enabled me to see a lot more of why I had pursued him to be on the podcast in the first place. I feel fortunate to reap the benefits of this and the upcoming episode with Sam and I am excited to pass those rewards on to all of you too!
The 2nd half of my conversation with Brad Rothschild, we pick up right where the previous episode left off: having a very laid-back chat which eventually leads into what Brad does for a living. He’s a documentary filmmaker with films you may have even seen on Netflix or iTunes (Tree Man and Kinderblock 66: Return to Buchenwald).
Brad also makes up half of the team that does The Amen Corner podcast. His partner, Steven A. Cook, you may recall was a recent guest on my podcast as well. But, don’t let yourself think for a second that means the 4 episodes of them are anything alike. They really aren’t.
This episode not only goes into a lot of Brad’s process with his films, but it kind of meanders into some funny territory. We go so far as naming David Lee Roth’s yoga clothing company that he may not even realize he owns. Brad also at one point tells me that my podcast is the cocaine of podcasts. Yeah. I will just leave that here because I’m sure that will bring a lot of new listeners in, right?
I hope you all enjoy this second episode with Brad. I had a great time talking with him. I’m sure you’ll agree that his episodes just kind of flow in a surprising way, for two guys who have never really spoken together before.
Father’s Day is a good opportunity for a quick little episode. There are a few holidays I will do this with. Something that should please some of you who may get frustrated that my episodes don’t fit into your shorter work commute.
This is my 2nd Annual episode to celebrate Father’s Day. It’s now my 27th Father’s Day without my Dad; the 9th such holiday that I, myself, am being heralded as a Dad. I still do not take that title or job lightly.
For those of you who missed 2016’s Father’s Day episode, let me reset you. My Dad’s last Father’s Day was during my Senior year in High School. The doctors had very recently diagnosed him with brain cancer. I was 17 and that was the last time I would be able to praise him according to the holiday for being the fantastic Father that he had been to me and my 7 siblings.
I still go through a number of emotions when I think back to my 17 year old self, completely unable to process what was going on. It is what it is, but I can’t stop regret from flooding over me when I think about it. Regret for the things I never said, for my fear of being present and dealing with the situation better. Even just to take a handful of minutes to think about what he must have been going through. Aside from the obvious of his steady decline from the cancer, the shame he was feeling of having his teenage son… his youngest… his baby helping to take care of him during that time.
Now as an adult, and a father, I cry just thinking about how I would feel with my kids having to take care of some of the things I was doing for my Dad in those final months and weeks of his life. I know it brought his humility level to a place no adult or parent ever dreams of going. He was a great man, a wonderful Father and at the most basic level of everything: I miss him greatly, whether it is Father’s Day or not.
I took the liberty with this episode to repeat one of the things I did in Episode 008: I played a very small snippet for you all to hear my Dad tell a little bit of a story. It’s a memory that I will never forget. Not only because it involves us going to a baseball game. But because it was one of those weekend days that I spent one on one with my Dad. With 8 kids and a wife, you can guess how divided his free time was.
During this episode, I also thanked each and every one of my guests for their time and wished them all a Happy Father’s Day. Yes, I’m releasing this after Father’s Day this year. But we are all Dads every day of the year, right?
The 1st of 2 episodes with Brad Rothschild, this conversation is now becoming a line that is stretching out from its epicenter: my previous guest, Bruce Mendelsohn. So, again, a ton of thanks to Bruce for starting this rolling ball.
Brad makes up half of the team that does The Amen Corner podcast. His partner, Steven A. Cook, you may recall was a recent guest on my podcast as well. But, don’t let yourself think for a second that means the 4 episodes of them are anything alike. They really aren’t. Aside from the fact that it got really close to tears being shed on Steven’s Daddy episode and the same happening here. Although, truth be told, it was me on this episode, rather than the guest.
This part of our conversation got really deep, even if there were a lot of laughs. The history of Brad’s family is intense. His own Father’s family fled the Nazis as Jews in Germany shortly before many people they knew and loved were put in concentration camps. They became refugees, moving from country to country before they eventually came across the ocean to settle in New York.
This episode got a tremendous addition, thanks to an interview that Brad’s Dad did with Kean College back in 1988. I was able to select a few minutes of the audio from that to let everyone here some of that intense struggle in his own words.
Like Brad’s podcast co-host, Steven, we also share the fact that our Dads are no longer with us. We delved into how the passing of a parent changes your life. This also went into a very interesting territory: dying with dignity and some of the other ways death effects a family.
I hope you all enjoy this episode with Brad. I almost felt like I may be able to hang a little with the guys on their podcast after we had this conversation. Even though, as a Red Sox fan dealing with these two Yankees fans, I may have to let them humiliate me in some way in order to make that happen.
Here we are with another pair of episodes with a guest generated through “the machine”. Some of this is going to start to feel like the Six Degrees of Separation phenomenon. Twitter worked to bring former guest Bruce Mendelsohn. Bruce directed me toward Steven A. Cook who then directed me to Brad. Brad and Steven co-host a podcast that you should check out: The Amen Corner.
Brad is a documentary filmmaker living with his family in NYC. The stories he tells in his episodes with me are extremely interesting and at times, compelling. The history of his own Dad, making his journey from Nazi-riddled Germany as a child with his family is fascinating. As our current world deals with the most recent refugee surge into both Europe and the US (amongst many other destinations), it is heart-breaking to think of what families go through to escape their situations in their homeland…most of which are running for their lives in the most literal sense of that phrase.
As a massive bonus to our first episode, Brad pointed me to a video of his Dad’s telling that story to some people from Keane College back in 1988 that I inserted audio from into the podcast episode. You can see that testimony for yourself by clicking here.
You can and absolutely should check out some of Brad’s documentary films. Currently, his film Tree Man is available for streaming on Netflix. (You can see the trailer by clicking on that fancy link I just put there)
The tagline for Brad & Steven’s podcast, The Amen Corner: What do Van Halen, the Yankees, Judaism, Israel, Fatherhood, and Goodfellas have to do with each other?
This is episode 2 of 2 with author and critic Matt Thorne. Like I said on the last episode, if you’ve been here for a while, you noticed that his episodes were released in reverse order. Again: don’t call the authorities. I did that on purpose. The previous episode came out first because it was a little closer to the 1 year anniversary of Prince’s death. That episode was focused very heavily on Prince and the book that Matt wrote some years ago chronicling his life through his music. So, that episode preceded this episode that is more about his being a Dad.
Again, it’s worth repeating that I searched for a while for the right person to sit and record for my podcast with that I could delve deep into my love for Prince and his music. Of course, that someone would need to be a Dad, also. You better believe that Matt Thorne was the perfect guy to start this off with. Yes. This is a start of something. I completely plan on recording more episodes with other Dads out there who can talk about Prince with me. In fact, spoiler alert, I already have. So, that will be coming out soon as well.
As someone who used to call himself a writer years and years ago, I know what it can be like to really write. I mean, write a novel. Write a screenplay. These things normally take a ton of time. I honestly cannot imagine trying to do something like that while being married with children. So, this part of my conversation with Matt was extremely interesting to me.
Matt was also extremely introspective and forthcoming with stories about his own Dad. I got very involved while I listened to him harkening back to his days as a young boy, moving pretty much to the beat of his own drum. I really appreciated Matt’s honesty about his relationship with his Dad. Even with not having my Dad alive anymore, it inspired me to make more efforts with the people I love and to recognize their efforts with me, as well.
I told Matt toward the end of this episode that he is basically living my parallel universe dream life. Which felt awkward as soon as I had said it. But, it rings very true. I hope you rather enjoy this conversation with this remarkable man.
This is the 1st of 2 episodes with author and critic Matt Thorne. For those of you who are regulars, you’ll catch that his episodes are being released in reverse order. That’s not an error. I held off on releasing this episode so as to not completely coincide with the 1 year anniversary of Prince’s death. Matt & I agreed that may not be in the best taste. But, it still made more sense to me to have this one out before his Dad episode (which will follow, shortly).
I had been waiting a long time for the right person to record an episode for my podcast with that I could delve deep into my love for Prince and his music. Matt Thorne was absolutely the right guy to start that off with. Yes, what that implies is completely true. I hope and plan to record more episodes with other Dads out there who can talk about Prince with me.
You can get a little more lead information to this episode and a little extra look into why I am the way I am about Prince by reading my last blog post. Here’s a link, just to make it easier for you: READ THIS 🙂
Matt’s biography of Prince is so much more than that. I almost don’t really like calling it a biography…though it sort of is. Though, it also, sort of isn’t. It does tell a lot about Prince’s life…but it really deeply discusses the music side of Prince: the albums, the performances, the very difficult to get/unreleased music. Matt spent 7 years of his life gathering information for his Prince book, attending dozens and dozens of concerts, speaking with a tremendous number of people that were somehow connected to Prince, the man or his business. It’s really a fascinating book. I’m not just saying that, either. It’s on my bedside table right now, as a matter of fact.
Though it’s pretty much a prerequisite that you’re some level of Prince fan to read Matt’s book, I am not convinced you have to be that to listen to and enjoy this episode. Feel free to allow our passions to rub off on you. And, you can take that sentence however you want; this is an episode about Prince, after all.
You should absolutely read that title with a british accent. I used the word “mad” there in the way a true Brit would, in honor of Matt… and because it’s absolutely true in this case. We both love Prince dearly.
Actually…I think we both probably would agree to use it in the more normal version of the word “mad” as well. Right? Because of how much we love Prince, we should feel a little angry about what took place a little over a year ago. I would expect a great deal of Prince fans feel that anger. One very real and strong emotion amongst many others as we continue to try to muddle our way through the stages of grief since his passing on 4/21/16.
In the summer of 1984, as an 11 year old boy who was about to make the gigantic leap into Junior High from Elementary school (yes, I’m that old that my middle education pre-dated the advent of Middle School), I was already a huge fan of Prince. Again, let’s do some word definition, here. I’m sure you’re all fully aware that the word “fan” is a shortened version of the word “fanatic”. This is a perfect description of what I was (and am) for Prince, even at such a tender age.
I wish I had a picture of what my bedroom walls used to look like during that time. The makeshift DIY wallpapering job I had done with magazine photos of Prince nearly covered every blank space of wall in my room.
However, young pre-pubescent me looks a tiny bit like young Prince Rogers Nelson. Well, that may be a stretch. But, as I entered the 7th Grade at the little private school I attended, I already had a “moustache problem” (I was forced to ‘dry shave’ with a single blade disposable razor as punishment more than once) and actually had a teacher who would try to pluck out my chest hairs to prove I needed to button my shirts up higher.
During Episode 029 of my podcast with Matt, I delve into my origins with Prince. I didn’t get into some of the stories about how I got into trouble here and there in school because I took things a little too far. Our junior high classes were held in little trailers, and most teachers made you “stand out on the line” if you were being a nuisance in class. This basically meant standing outside the trailer on a parking space’s painted stripe. Most times, this just meant I would stand where my classmates could see me through the open door and I would commonly break into some of Prince’s moves that I had memorized from his performances. I was not easily humiliated back then. My wife may say that hasn’t changed at all to this day.
Matt reminisced about how he started getting into Prince, at a very young age himself. We talk a lot about how much Prince means to us both and Matt shares a handful of fantastic stories, many of which occurred during the 7 years spent gathering information and writing his book. We could have easily gone on for hours and hours, and like Matt said in the episode: “….probably days and days…”. He offers up that part of the meaning behind his book was meant to start up the conversation with people about Prince’s music. So, he definitely succeeded with that here. I edited the episode down as much as I could to make it easier for public consumption.
Here are some more photos to give your eyes a break from reading:
This next photo is a lead-in to Episode 030, which is the episode where Matt and I discuss all things Dad-related. This photo is discussed therein and you will understand its full meaning from that episode. His grandfather is the subject of this fantastic image.
Matt Thorne was born in 1974 and educated at Cambridge University and the University of St. Andrews. He is the author of six novels, including Eight Minutes Idle which won an Encore Award and was turned into an award-winning film and Cherry, which was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. He has also written three children’s books, the 39 Castles series, and co-edited two anthologies. He regularly reviews books and film for newspapers and radio and runs the MA in Creative Writing at Brunel University London. His new electronic serial High will be available from Oolipo starting in June, 2017.
This is the 2nd episode with Steven A Cook. He is the Eni Enrico Mattei senior fellow for Middle East and Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Before speaking with Steven, I not only had no clue what all that meant, but it made me laugh a little at the idea of my having a political conversation with him. Kind of like those videos you sometimes see of a professional athlete playing against a little kid. Oh, isn’t that cute? Look how the pro is not even really trying and letting the kid feel like he’s good. Yeah, that would be me as the kid.
Regardless of the vast difference in our levels of knowledge about all things politics, here in the USA and around the world, this was a good and informative conversation between the two of us. I’m not judging my audience, but if you’re anywhere closer on the scale of poli-sci knowhow to where I am, don’t let Steven’s wisdom scare you off from listening to this. I think having me as the other side of the conversation makes this a lot more listenable and accessible than a round-table of the political geniuses may seem to a lot of you.
I hope you all enjoy this episode with Steven. His latest book is coming out in a matter of months, so make sure you keep an eye out for “False Dawn: Protest, Democracy, and Violence in the New Middle East”. You can find his previous books on Amazon. Links to many things Steven A Cook are just below.
My conversation with Steven A. Cook was made possible by last episode’s guest, Bruce Mendelsohn. So, many thanks to Bruce for that. I did my research on Steven immediately when Bruce mentioned him. My first thought, frankly, was that he was going to be out of my league if or when we touched on things other than just about being Dads. I saw that he is the Eni Enrico Mattei senior fellow for Middle East and Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and I not only had no clue what all that meant, but it made me laugh a little at the idea of my having a political conversation with him. Kind of like those videos you sometimes see of a professional athlete playing against a little kid. Oh, isn’t that cute? Look how the pro is not even really trying and letting the kid feel like he’s good. Yeah, that would be me as the kid.
Our episodes prove me wrong. Which serves as a solid reminder in life, really. Not to get a certain 80’s song stuck in your head or anything, but People are People. It’s very true. Which isn’t to say that every human is as gracious as Steven is. But, we are all people… people with stories to tell, with feelings to share with others. It’s up to all of us whether we decide to share those or not, and how far we actually extend that, beyond our little circle of comfort within the people that we know and love.
Steven and I have something in common in that our Dads are both no longer with us. Steven’s Dad passed away 9 years ago, so his experience of loss is not only a bit more fresh than mine, but very different in the way that he experienced his Dad’s passing as an adult. We dug a bit into the grief we both feel and how it still affects us to this day. Steven had some great stories about his Dad and I’m so glad we were able to have this conversation. I think I’m not reaching when I speak for both of us in saying it offered a little bit of emotional healing.
I hope you all enjoy this episode with Steven. His latest book is coming out in a matter of months. So, make sure you keep an eye out for “False Dawn: Protest, Democracy, and Violence in the New Middle East”. You can find his previous books on Amazon. Links to many things Steven A Cook are just below.