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Author: Bill Barol

Where HOME is going, and when

As you know if you’re a friend of HOME, I’ve been experimenting with ways to keep the show sustainable over the long term. There are a lot of moving parts to a project like this — reporting, writing, production, publicity. Of these, reporting is hands down the one that takes up the most time and energy, for a number of reasons. It can be a wasteful, inefficient process, and although my experience as a reporter, going back to Newsweek in the palmy days of the 1980s, helps me avoid some of the more obvious dead ends, some are inevitable. One of my axioms about reporting is that unfortunately people don’t respond according to my schedule, they respond according to theirs. Schedules change, and change again. Other commitments intrude. Leads fizzle. Things fall out. Interviews collapse. There is, to borrow a phrase from retail, a fair amount of spoilage.

That’s somewhat inside baseball, I admit, but it’s the backdrop for this: HOME is moving to a monthly production schedule. I won’t be looking to hit a fixed interval of time between episodes, as I’ve done (mostly) for the last two years; there’ll be a new one sometime in October, a new one sometime in November and so on. My hope is that loosening the show’s rigid seasonal structure will give it (and me) a little space to breathe, particularly when it comes to reporting. It turns out, as was predicted by more experienced podcasters than I was at the start, that reporting and producing six new episodes every two weeks over a 12-week schedule is a heavy lift for a solo operator. More hands on the product helps to make up for some of the momentum loss the problems above can cause. Fewer hands — in my case, two — is liberating, sure. But a few good hard shocks can set the machine reeling. That’s what I’m looking to avoid going forward. Live and learn, right?

The reporting is the heart of HOME; it’s what allows me to identify stories, learn what I need to know in order to tell them properly, sift what I learn and process it all. HOME would be a very different show without those stories. So I hope you’ll bear with me as I continue to figure out how to best serve them, and the people behind them. And as always, thanks for listening.

Image by flickr user GalacticWanderlust: Creative Commons.

Episode 26: Going Tiny

HGTV and glossy magazines have sparked a boomlet of interest in tiny homes, but they’ve also made them look fun, cute and easy. The realities of a tiny lifestyle can be more daunting. Municipalities often don’t know what to make of tiny houses, and living in one legally is, in many places, challenging. There’s a lack of infrastructure for people who want to build them. And although they’re in many ways an imaginative solution to some of the most vexing urban housing issues, they don’t yet have a high profile in cities. Is there a place for tiny homes in Los Angeles? One woman thinks so, and has founded a collective of like-minded people to make it happen.

Learn more about LATCH Collective here, here and here.

Music:

Top: Photo by Ben Chun: Creative Commons

Photo of Tessa Baker courtesy of LATCH Collective

Episode 25: Lost Heroes and Miniature Histories

“The best historians in L.A. are storytellers. They’re gangsters in east L.A., they’re ex-cons, they’re guys who worked in their garage their whole life, they’re guys who’ve worked at one business for forty years, people who’ve lived on one street for forty years… “

“All Night Menu” started with a question: What is a well-known photograph of William Faulkner not telling us about his time in Hollywood? Since then writer Sam Sweet has spent four years prowling LA for its most closely-held stories. The result is a lovingly-produced, meticulously-researched and gorgeously-written three volumes of the city’s secret history.

Top: Photo of the Maravilla handball court by Sam Sweet. Read Sam’s remarkable story on the Maravilla court in its entirety here

Music:

Audio assistance for the episode was provided by Sameer Sengupta.

Summer 1942: William Faulkner at the Highland Hotel, 1922 Highland

Thanks to Sam Sweet, whose non-fiction novel “Hadley Lee Lightcap” will be published in September by All Night Menu Books. You can order the three volumes of “All Night Menu” published so far direct from Sam, or if you’re in Los Angeles, find them at Skylight Books and South Willard.

 

Episode 24: Life, Death, Ego and Eternity

The original Forest Lawn Memorial Park, in the hills above Glendale, may be best known outside California for inspiring the sledgehammer satire of the 1965 cult comedy “The Loved One.” For tourists and curiosity-seekers, it’s the gonzo life’s work of Hubert Eaton, who memorialized himself as The Builder in the park’s every corner. For the families of the people interred there, though, it’s something more, and harder to joke away: A place of their own, green and quiet, and eternity-adjacent.

Take a video tour of Forest Lawn.

MUSIC:

The Builder

Thanks to Adam Papagan, Adrian Glick Kudler (whose excellent story “Los Angeles Is Killing Us” is here) and Elizabeth Harper.

Episode 23: The Last House On Mulholland

How will we live in 20 years? Or 50? Or 100? A one-of-a-kind, only-in-LA plot at the very end of Mulholland Highway inspired some of the world’s best designers to think hard about the home of the future, in Los Angeles and beyond.

MUSIC:

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Welcome back for Season 5 of HOME! You can follow the show at Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Subscribe to the mailing list here. And don’t forget to subscribe to the show feed — it’s just above, it’s one-click-easy, and you’ll get every new episode in your favorite podcatcher the minute it’s released. Finally, if you get a second, please visit the iTunes Store and leave the show a review and a rating. It’s a small thing that makes a big difference in helping to spread the word. Thanks! — bb

***

For more information about The Last House on Mulholland, visit the web site

There’s more information about The Ambivalent House here, and about the Hollywood competition here.

Photo: Steve Alper at the Last House site, May 2017

Rendering of The Ambivalent House by Hirsuta: Jason Payne, Michael Zimmerman, Joseph Giampietro & Ryosuke Imaeda

Special thanks to Steve Alper, Jason Payne and Nick Graham.

Update: Not Podfade Away

Because I’m a mole person who comes late to everything I’ve only just discovered the term “podfading.” It’s a good term. It’s punchy. It’s descriptive. I like it. But because you’re a friend of the show and you I LOVE, it occurs to me that I owe you some clarity on this: It doesn’t describe what’s going on here at HOME. Pull up a chair and let me explain.

I published the most recent episode of HOME in December, then put up a “Gone Fishin'” sign and went on hiatus. That hiatus has gone on longer than I intended. There are a number of reasons for this, and some have nothing to do with the show. For example, my wife and I have taken two extended trips out of the country since January, which will put a serious dent in your ability to wrestle with Logic Pro. (Well. Could I have wrestled with Logic Pro while on safari in South Africa? Sure. Did I want to? No.)

The bigger reasons why this hiatus has distended, though, do have to do with the show, and some thinking I needed to do about its future. I sketched some of these issues out in an update in February. Mostly I needed to think about sustainability, about how to continue to do good work as a solo operator, and how to avoid the entropic spiral the term “podfading” describes. I needed to think long and clearly about big things, like what I want this show to be, and smaller ones, like the mechanics of the process through which I bring it to you. Frankly, I also needed to reconnect to the spirit of energy and enthusiasm in which I launched the show back in the fall of 2015.

I’m glad to say I’ve done all these things, and they’ve been good for me, and — much more to the point — good for the show. As of this morning HOME HQ is reopened for business. Plans are in place to fix some of the under-the-hood issues that dogged me in seasons 1 to 4. (You don’t care, believe me; they mostly have to do with stuff like publicity and marketing, and also with getting some help in editorial research.) Meanwhile, preliminary reporting for Season 5 is underway. The show will relaunch this summer. Sometime. Do I have a date in mind? Not yet. Will I keep you posted? You bet, because you’re my favorite, {your name here}!

I sincerely appreciate the kind things listeners and friends in the podcasting community have had to say about HOME, and the patience you’ve shown while I tried to figure out the best way forward. I hope you’ll agree with me that the time off was worth it.

See you soon.

“Let’s get back to work.” — Assoc. Producer Scout

 

Update: The Future of HOME

Join me, won’t you, as I peel back the curtain on this podcast and kick around some thoughts about its future. (TL;DR: I’m slowing the production cycle a bit to make the project sustainable over the long haul. New season is coming this spring. Also, if you’re a social media wizard and would like to help me flack this thing, drop me a note. )

MUSIC:

Photo: Cape Town, January 2017

Episode 22: Kodachrome, Pt. 2

Who were we? How did we live, and what did it look like? The vast archive of castoff slides captures, in vivid colors, images of the American family at midcentury. But the stories that go with the pictures are most often lost, and we’re left to create our own, and reflect on millions of conscious decisions to untie the knot of memory.

(Click slides to embiggen)

MUSIC by Podington Bear:

Thanks once again to Charles Phoenix.

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