If only….

From the very cool: http://hyperrealcartography.tumblr.com/

Found thanks to Jad Abumrad.

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Audio Walk of the Lower East Side: Take a Walk through history with StoryCorps + Stories Everywhere Collaboration

Picture 2This Saturday, come join me at the New Museum’s IDEAS CITY StreetFest, where I will be showcasing StoryCorps: Hear and There, an audio tour of New York City’s Bowery and Lower East Side neighborhoods, from Greenwich Village to the East River.  The self-guided mobile-phone tour brings together untold stories of the stoops, streets and sidewalks of the Lower East Side, drawn from StoryCorps’ extensive New York City interview archive.  Walk through the streets and make the walls of the neighborhood talk through the everyday but often remarkable stories of residents past and present, accessible via your mobile phone.

The tour is a collaboration between StoryCorps and myself, and the latest experiment in my locative-storytelling laboratory.  More about that here.

To experience the tour, come grab a map at the StoryCorps table on Stanton St. (between the Bowery and Christie St.) from 11 am – 6 pm Saturday, May 4, 2013.  And say hi!

There will also be a brief discussion of the project from 1:20pm – 1:35pm at the “Speechbuster” table in Sara D. Roosevelt Park.

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I just stumbled on an academic paper that quotes from an article I wrote a couple years ago. A funny and pleasant surprise….

gis paper quotes me

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playing in the wake off Third Coast


Just got back from the *wonderful Third Coast Audio Festival where I gave a talk with the *talented Pejk Malinovski  about our adventures in location-aware storytelling.  I’ll post the recording of our talk soon.  In the meantime, Laura Heberger, *a feisty Sound Cloud Fellow who’s doing a mobile audio walk in Detroit, interviewed me over lunch at Third Coast, and asked for a few tips on making audio tours if you’ve never done one before.  Here’s a link to that interview:


*I’m puttin an adjective in front of every person I talked to, like the ancient greeks.  I love Complimentary Epithets!


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A map of the Lower East Side you can listen to

Here’s the interactive audio map for StoryCorps: Hear and There.  (That’s the narrative archeology project I did of the Lower East Side for StoryCorps last spring, that debuted at the New Museum’s Festival of Ideas.)

Click on a red bubble, and you can hear a whisper of history…. a story from someone who once walked on that very spot on the map.  Better yet, take the map with you and listen to the stories while you’re walking around.

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Driveway moment

A co-worker just walked in to my office to say hi.  In the course of our conversation, he said “by the way, you made one of my favorite radio pieces ever.  I had a driveway moment listening to it.”  In the weird, oddly-shaped world of public radio, this is about the best compliment you can get.  Thank you SH!

Here’s a link to the story, which I’d kind of forgotten about til now.  (you’ll need to click on the “listen” button at the top of the page.)

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Some call it “cow-schwitz”….

News of the recent fire at the Harris Ranch feedlot near Coalinga, and the reports that animal-rights activists are claiming responsibility, made me think of a story I did a few years ago for Weekend America about the place, its famous smell, and its neighbors (which include a state prison, a giant prehistoric mastodon jaw-bone, and a community of migrant farm-workers).

Coming Home to a Smell

The little town of Coalinga is almost exactly half way between Los Angeles and San Francisco, in the country’s most productive agricultural valley. But neither food nor the funny name are what the town is known for.

Coalinga is also not known for the giant, prehistoric fossil-the upper jaw bone of a mastodon found in the hills outside of town.

“That’s his eye socket,” explains Stephanie McHaney, curator of the local history museum. “His eye socket is 28 inches round. So it’s bigger than most everybody’s head! They were all over the place. It was nothing to have them be roaming back and forth. I wouldn’t have wanted to run into them, but you know.”

McHaney likes to show off this jawbone, and many other things the town is not known for, on her museum tour. These things include an extensive collection of famous peoples’ shoes: Ronald Reagan, Loni Anderson, Ann Landers, Pat Boone; a complete set of bedroom furniture from a defunct whorehouse. “The women of the night is the way I put it,” McHaney says.

There are still more things Coalinga is not known for: lovely sunsets, the country’s first female police chief, and the fact that a man named Jack Tarrington used to ride around town on his motorcycle with a pet mountain lion on the back. Coalinga is not known for any of this.

The thing Coalinga is known for becomes inescapable to anyone driving this section of Interstate 5. It hits you like a wall. Fierce. Haunting. First it hits your nose, then it lingers on your tongue. Like something died in your mouth, and then rotted.

Above all else, Coalinga is known for its smell.

“Yeah it doesn’t bother me actually,” says John Harris, the man behind this smell. “It doesn’t really smell bad,” he insists…. CONTINUE

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