Listen now | I was recently on Cory’s podcast, and I enjoyed our conversation so much that I proposed we keep it rolling on mine. That’s how it works with us podcasters. Dinner at my place, dinner at your place. In addition to hosting his very successful podcast, Cory has published
Elayne Boosler lived with Andy Kaufman.
She is alive, recently moved to Italy. She uses Facebook and maybe you could contact her through Facebook.
She was a very successful standup artist herself although you probably don't remember being too young and all.
Chris' comment in the intro about flow state and thinking without thinking made me think of something I read in the book "The Half Has Never Been Told" by Edward Baptist. That book is the single most illuminating book I have ever read about American slavery and its evolution and transitions over the centuries. Flow state is almost always thought about in a positive context. But it always reminds me of a particular passage in this book.
Baptist points out that the invention of the cotton gin made the sorting of cotton exponentially faster. Few consider that this means the bottleneck of cotton production was now solely the speed that slaves could pick cotton. He argues that this resulted in the advent of the "pushing system." Essentially the total amount of cotton that was picked by individual slaves (men, women, and children) was weighed at the end of the day. That weight became a slaves new minimum. If they meet that minimum early they have to keep picking cotton until it gets dark. Yesterday's maximum cotton picked becomes today's minimum. When the minimum isn't met they get beaten and tortured. The more they miss the minimum the more severe the torture. It is in the context of this impossible situation that Baptist describes how slaves must result to what we think of as "flow state" to try and survive and continuously pick more cotton.
In order to meet their minimums he says , "they had to dissociate their minds from pain, that racked stooping backs; from blood running down pricked fingertips; from hands that gnarled into claws over a few short years; from thirst, hunger, blurred vision, and anxiety about the whip behind and before them." He described how one slave, named Patsey, used flow state to ensure she met her minimum, "Patsey worked both sides of her row in perpetual motion, right and left. She reached with one hand and dropped cotton in the bag hanging from her neck with the other, lightening quick motion was in her fingers as no other fingers possessed. She moved like a dancer in an unconscious rhythm, though of displacement rather than pleasure. Patsey's hands - both of them, right and left - each did their own thinking, like those of a pianist."
To me it seems so horrifying that human beings were forced to utilize the state we consider one of calmness, peacefulness, and creativity in a context of terror to attempt to survive another day.
On a brighter note, this video of two strangers playing on the same piano at a train station has always made me marvel. https://youtu.be/4I_NYya-WWg
Thanks a lot for raising so many interesting points in this episode. I've been thinking so much lately about redefining what success means to me. I think I had fallen into the trap of believing that what I create needs to lead to something, needs to be part of a larger path, but I'm really starting to come round to the idea that whatever you do, you're "successful" if you're managing to enjoy what you're doing, while you're doing it. Having the gift of being able to work on something (whether you're "paid" for it or not) that you believe in and that brings you pleasure is really special and worth celebrating. Thanks a lot for bringing this home to me.
(As a side note: regarding the two life currencies of money and time, do we ever get to be "rich" in both simultaneously?)
It might be interesting to compare Bill Cosby & Carlin. These two were born in the same year, 1937.
I'm 10 years older than Chris so I remember when these two hit on the talk and variety shows.
Cosby went all mainstream ASAP, but, that's the thing, being older I witnessed what he was at the beginning and that was really brilliant. His early act was better than Carlin's with the Hippie-Dippy-Weatherman and all. Cosby had stronger acting chips. I think ultimately Carlin had a sort of agit-prop calling. He had something to say and was going to say it no matter what, Fuck Vegas!
Carlin was a true comrade. Like Lenin (or Lennon)
Cosby was a rich hack and behaved like one.
Cosby had nothing to say but was really good at saying it. Thence seemed to totally sell out, Jello, Ford, the TV series (which I never saw even once). I'm talking about your special people with that sick drive now. Then he was the old scolding rich man, all the while engaging in a mindbogglingly pathetic sex game of luring women so he could fuck them with his "Spanish Fly".
I've been indulging in bad rich people docs lately. There are a lot of them. A lot of men who get "successful" and then go into some compulsive sex hobby which usually involves young women, Cosby(Showtime doc is really good), Little Jeffy Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell, Peter J. Nygård, JJoe Francis, etc.
Meanwhile. some of this brilliance you two were on about was fueled by powerful substances. I knew a former friend of Miles. She was a producer on Soul Train. She wasn't his lover, just friends. One night he beat the shit out of her leaving her with brain damage problems the rest of her life. When I her stuff like this, the magic evaporates.
He named a recording for her though:
Gee! You talked a long while about writing books without even mentioning that there was a coauthor for libro uno. They must have has SOME role of function.
If new collaborator hears that they will be warned about vanishing in a decade.
Btw Chris, way to play us out. As always great song. When I started listening to your podcast 10+ years ago, I would get bummed when you would say “I’m going to play you out with ...” because I didn’t come here to listen to music. However, you have great taste in music and have been instrumental in helping me create playlists throughout the years. I’ve come across more new music from your suggestions than I have anywhere else:)
Not to mention you are a Steely Dan fan. That says it all. In may I went to see what’s left of Steely Dan with my childhood friend who introduced me to tangentially speaking. You’ll appreciate this set list:
Here you go man. It’s the set list from the other night.
Home at last
Time out of mind
Don’t take me alive
My old school
Reelin in the years