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Tuesday, August 09, 2011
Culture Klatsch: 92Y Q&A With Joshua Jackson

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The Checkout: Live from 92YTribeca is curated by Joshua Jackson, host of WBGO’s hour-long music magazine The Checkout. Jackson is an unparalleled enthusiast for modern expressions in jazz. Today, he is also the focus of the 92Y Culture Klatsch, our 12 question interview series that looks at the subjects media and culture diet. Spoiler alert: He’d “rather be in a small aluminum boat in the shallow brackish marsh of Lafourche Parish. Thinking about absolute and infinite nothingness.”

Where do you go for news when you start your day?
I’m contractually obligated to say WBGO, but it’s true. Gary Walker and Doug Doyle are both great at what they do. I also listen to a few stories on the NPR mobile app. BBC News is paramount - their reporting is better than everything. I add long reads to Instapaper for the commute. Harlem to Newark and back gives me ample time to go deeper.

What are your favorite websites?
I like the curation behind Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings. I’m also continually amazed by the amount of interesting things on government websites, particularly NASA and the Library of Congress. I’ve been listening to vintage audio recordings on the National Jukebox lately. 

How much do you use Twitter and Facebook (or other social networking services)?
I use both regularly to share the content I produce for The Checkout and NPR Music, but I don’t engage too much on a personal level. When I do, it’s usually via the Twitter account. I’m still negotiating the fine line between the public and the private self.  There’s value in social networking as a tool, but not so much for being one. My immediate social network is my family. That’s where participation really counts.

What book are you currently reading (or the last one you read)? Print or digital? Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Hardcover. Before that, I read Conquest of the Useless: Reflections from the Making of Fitzcarraldo, Werner Herzog’s recollections from filming Fitzcarraldo in the Amazon. My wife works for a major publisher, and she reads on her iPad exclusively.  I’m still analog.

What magazines do you subscribe to?
The New Yorker, Harper’s, and Atlantic Monthly for the writing quality. I have a gift subscription to Wired. Oxford American is a must - especially the annual Southern Music Issue. 

What are your current (or all time) favorite television shows?
HBO sends me advance screeners for “Treme.” I write about each episode for NPR’s A Blog Supreme, but I would follow the show anyway. Honestly, I think most television programming stinks. When I stare at the box, it’s usually some form of absurdist comedy. 

What’s the last movie you saw?
I finally watched Microcosmos (Le peuple de l’herbe), a Jacques Perrin documentary about the everyday life of insects. It’s fascinating. Those images and recorded sounds with a trippy Bruno Coulais soundtrack make for an awesome headphone experience.

What’s the last performance (dance/opera/theater) you attended?
It’s been so long since I’ve been to anything other than a jazz performance in a club, hall, or festival, I honestly cannot remember what it might have been. All work and no play makes Josh a dull boy.

What’s the last music purchase you made?
The Meters – Cabbage Alley. I bought it on LP for a friend.  The last purchase for myself was Goodbye Babylon, a collection of old gospel recordings from Dust-to-Digital, a boutique reissue imprint.

What radio shows or podcasts do you listen to?
Aside from listening to all the mistakes I make on The Checkout, I listen to The Moth. Maybe it’s the Southerner in me, but I like real people telling stories to real people, as opposed to hosts and producers telling the story they want real people to hear. I say that as someone frequently guilty of the latter. 

What’s your favorite piece of art on display in your home?
A photo of Billie Holiday in high heels, New York, 1955 by Herman Leonard. It was a wedding gift with a personal inscription. You can’t see anything other than her shoes – but that says everything about Billie. Someday I’m going to buy a print of Herman’s famous 1948 still life of saxophonist Lester Young’s porkpie hat. Then I’ll hang it next to the shoes, so Prez and Lady Day can be together again. He would have liked that idea. 

Where do you go / what do you do to “disconnect”?
Southeast Louisiana. That’s my home – what’s left of it, anyway. I only tolerate New York for the jazz. I’d rather be in a small aluminum boat in the shallow brackish marsh of Lafourche Parish. Thinking about absolute and infinite nothingness.

The next The Checkout: Live at 92YTribeca happens tonight, and features Eric Harland and Marcus Strickland.

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