Clyde Casey was a street performer in the 1980s who would often perform in the parking lot of L.A.’s Wallenboyd, the experimental theater space where John Cusak, Tim Robbins, and many others got their start. One night the theater’s security guard didn’t show up, so they asked Casey if he could keep an eye on their patrons’ cars before and during the plays. He agreed, but only if he could stay in character—festooned with toys and musical instruments and homemade chrome-painted sculpture, he metamorphosed himself into a surrealist crime fighter, keeping Skid Row safe using only the powers of art: that night, Clyde Casey became The Avant Guardian.
But this is only where Casey’s story begins: he soon commandeered an abandoned gas station across the street from the Wallenboyd and converted it into a remarkable unprecedented (and unrepeated) project called Another Planet, a place beloved and fondly remembered by the hundreds of homeless men and women who frequented it, along with high-ranking city officials, movie stars, and artists.
For over twenty years, no one in L.A. knew what happened to Casey. Producer David Weinberg finally tracked him down, and the Organist is thrilled to present his incredible story on our season-two premiere.
This story is a collaboration between the Organist and Love + Radio from Radiotopia. It was produced by David Weinberg, Nick van der Kolk, and Brendan Baker, with special thanks to Tina Antolini and Austin Hines. The Organist is produced by Andrew Leland, Ross Simonini, and Jenna Weiss-Berman. Thanks to Shelby El-Otmani, Gary Scott, Jenny Radelet, Mario Diaz, and the staff of the Believer and McSweeney’s. Daniel Handler wrote the thing at the top of the show about the acorn.
Inside the January episode of the Organist:
- This whole episode (our season one finale) is a conversation between Lena Dunham and Judy Blume, in Blume’s Manhattan apartment.
Also: We asked Lena Dunham to help us score the interview, and we made this mixtape of the songs she suggested. The mix complies songs Lena thinks go well with the interview, as well as music she’s currently listening to.
Inside the December episode of the Organist:
- Kenneth Walton in conversation with Jonathon Keats on art forgery at the dawn of the internet;
- Andy Battaglia and Ben Vida on aural illusions and the use of psychoacoustics in art;
- A mixtape of Swedish progg selected by Wooden Shjips;
- Lars Iyer on the intersection of philosophy, literature, and the internet;
- Excerpts from an instructional cassette tape that accompanied all medical marijuana prescriptions during the five-month legalization of medical marijuana in the fictional province of Maniscotia in 1978. Courtesy of Sunset Television.
The October episode of the Organist features:
- Jesse Eisenberg performing a short radio drama written by Ben Greenman
- Mac Barnett, Catherine Keener, and Emily Bazelon on Russell Hoban and the “moral question” in children’s literature
- An oral history of the artist Mike Kelley, who died last year, featuring Kelley’s most significant collaborators and friends
- The “listening history” of Alexis Georgopoulos, who records as ARP, describing his musical genesis from dad-Classical through Human League, Terry Riley, and beyond.
- An original bite-sized radio drama written and performed by Jesse Eisenberg
In this month’s episode of the Organist:
- Thomas Lennon (Reno 911!, Hell Baby) as an unhinged Urban Outfitters security guard in a short radio drama written by Nick Jones (Orange is the New Black, Jollyship the Whiz-Bang)
- The story of Chris Stroffolino, ex-Silver Jews, ex-Shakespeare scholar, currently living and performing amazing music in a 1983 Ford Econoline van in L.A.
- Kathleen Hanna on Julie Ruin, the Julie Ruin, and writing her own eulogy
- Mahzarin Banaji on the unconscious racial prejudices of four-year-olds
- Thomas Lennon (see above) reading a short, unhinged radio drama written by Blake Butler (There Is No Year, Ever, Scorch Atlas)
- Nothing else.
Chris Stroffolino’s story was produced by David Weinberg. Kathleen Hanna was interviewed by Jenna Weiss-Berman. Mahzarin Banaji was interviewed by Audrey Quinn.
The August episode of the Organist features:
- Son of Rex, a tiny radio drama written by Nick Antosca and performed by Edgar Oliver;
- Hua Hsu on an ancient unsolved mystery of hiphop sampling;
- Sam McPheeters on shoplifting hardcore punk 7-inches in 80s Manhattan;
- French percussionist David Langlois on how his career began with the theft of his grandmother’s fondue pot;
- Dawn of Midi on what live music can learn from computers;
- Max Tundra’s 10 favorite five-second recordings;
- maybe a tiny bit MORE
The David Langlois piece was produced by David Schulman. The episode was produced by Jenna Weiss-Berman, Ross Simonini, and Whitney Jones, and engineered at KCRW by Ray Guarna. Special thanks to Shelby El-Otmani and John Bosson.
In this Episode:
- Sunset Television’s first-ever foray into radio: “Who’s the Other Celebrity in the Room?” Starring Manute Bol and Sly Stallone
- Vernon Chatman on editing a new album of Andy Kaufman’s personal mini-cassette recordings
- Harmony Korine on his teenage mini-cassette recordings, his first novel, and people who plot things
- Camara Miller and Chris Wood investigate sonic warfare against beetles
- Jack White in conversation with Tempest Storm, the oldest living burlesque dancer
James Yeh produced the Andy Kaufman piece. Ross Simonini produced the Harmony Korine story. Earlier this year, Sunset Television debuted a web series on our Tumblr.
In this episode:
- James Franco performing a new original radio drama by the playwright Will Eno
- Jonathan Coulton on the strange (and infuriating) intersection of Sir Mix-a-Lot, U.S. copyright law, and Glee
- Tao Lin on speaking very slowly
- Kitty and Kool A.D. rapping Tao Lin’s fiction as quickly as possible
- the artist Nick Cave on his horsey sound installations in Grand Central Station
- Isis Aquarian on documenting her years living with two hundred other members of the Source Family cult in a mansion in L.A.
- Julian Koster of the Music Tapes on his touring sideshow, The Traveling Imaginary
- A tiny bit more!
Jonathan Coulton’s story was produced by Andrea Silenzi of the FMA. Christian Lorentzen appears in the Tao Lin piece. Nick Cave’s story was reported by Anna Altman. Isis Aquarian was interviewed by Patrick James.
Listen to a mixtape of songs chosen by Kitty to score this month’s episode.
- Sarah Silverman on the relative merits of her virtual pet owl
- Shane Carruth on the sound of his new film, Upstream Color
- Conan O’Brien on “Benny,” a dissatisfying, unhelpful Frankenstein monster
- A brief, bizarre conversation between Jack White and Conan O’Brien
- Novelist Rachel Kushner (The Flamethrowers, Telex From Cuba) in conversation with painter Laura Owens (many awesome paintings)
- JM Tyree and Ben Walters on the relative merits of the 1958 horror-cheese classic The Blob
- Charlie White and Boom Bip cut an album composed entirely of the anxieties of young people
- Nathan Salsburg on a treasure trove of hillbilly records he found in a Louisville Dumpster
- More, some more
Sarah Silverman’s owl speech was written by Alena Smith. Shane Carruth was interviewed by Ross Simonini, who also produced the Charlie White piece. Conan O’Brien’s Frankenstein riff was produced by Jack White. Nathan Salsburg’s story was produced by Matt Frassica. Thanks for listening! Please give us a rating on iTunes if you have a sec. Sad as it is, podcasts can’t get all of their nutrition from listeners alone — they need iTunes ratings to thrive.
Web extras: hear an extended edit of the Rachel Kushner / Laura Owens interview.
Episode Two exists!
- David Cross describes his aura-sniffing powers
- Andrea Silenzi proposes a copyright-free alternative to the Birthday Song
- Devendra Banhart on the language of songwriting. (Listen to DB’s exclusive mixtape he made for the Organist!)
- Sam Lipsyte’s Old-News Summary
- Thomas Rogers on the origins of the gay male voice
- Brian McMullen’s indirectory of toll-free ogres
Also available on iTunes and KCRW.com. Enjoy!