Investigative reporter Curt Guyette on the Flint disaster, the future of Ypsi’s Elbow Room, our second on-air swap meet, and sharing meatloaf with musician Greg McIntosh… on episode 37 of The Saturday Six Pack

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I’ve made a couple of comments over the past few days about last week’s episode of the Saturday Six Pack having been bad. In truth, it wasn’t all that bad. I’m re-listening to it now, while folding clothes… which, by the way, is the best way to enjoy the Saturday Six Pack… and there’s actually a lot to like about this episode. Sure, I was a sniffling, coughing mess. And, yes, our first guest was kind of a no-show. And my chair did collapse beneath me at one point. But there were also some really wonderful moments… Here are my brief notes on what transpired, for those of you who don’t fold your clothes.

While it’s true that our first guest, investigative reporter Curt Guyette, apparently forgot that he’d agreed to talk with us, and didn’t pick up his phone the first few times that we called his cell phone, we were eventually able to get through to him and fire off a couple of quick questions about the situation in Flint, which he’s been covering since the beginning, the current state of journalism in America today, and how he manages to walk the line between journalist and activist.

A few people have asked me since the show aired last Saturday if I was angry with Guyette for essentially saying that he didn’t have time to talk with us, even though we’d agreed to it in advance. The answer is no. I admire the hell out of the work he’s been doing in Flint, and I can’t even begin to imagine the kind of pressure that he’s been under since this story first broke through to a national audience. Guyette has been everywhere these past few weeks, talking about the public health crisis in Flint, and I think it speaks to his character that he agreed to talk with me, on a little AM radio station in Ypsilanti, even if he did later forget having done so. He clearly wants to talk with everyone who has an interest, but there just isn’t enough time in the day. It’s inevitable, in cases like this, that some things fall through the cracks, and it just so happens that, this time, we were one of those things. And I totally understand that.

To give you a sense of the demands on Guyette. The day after we spoke, he had a feature run on the Daily Beast. [My guess is that he was trying to finish it the night that we spoke.] And, the day after that, he was on television with Rachel Maddow. And, the day after that, he was receiving an award for being Michigan’s Journalist of the Year. And, all the while, he was doing countless interviews with people around the globe.

And, in spite of all of this, when we finally got through to him, he still gave us ten minutes. And, what’s more, he wrote to me a few days after the show, apologizing for having forgotten our interview… He’s a total class act.

With all of that said, though, I am disappointed by the interview. Maybe it’s because I was sick, or maybe it was just because I got the sense that he didn’t want to talk with me when I finally got though to him, but I got rattled. Hopefully it’s the kind of thing that I get better with over time, but my questions to him were just terrible. I think I’m a pretty good interviewer when people want to talk with me, and we have time to see how things unfold naturally, but, when put on the spot, I don’t do my best work. So, yeah, I’m not happy about this segment, but it has nothing to do with Guyette.

Here I am, telling Guyette that we’re live on-the-air, and reminding him that he’d agreed to talk with us.

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[During this first segment, when killing time between calls to Guyette, AM 1700 staff photographer Kate de Fuccio came out from behind her camera to chat with me, which was very much appreciated. Together, we counted her nieces and nephews, and discussed Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Had I been left alone to flounder, there would have been a lot of painful silence. Kate kept that from happening… So, if I ever get stuck again, don’t be surprised if you hear me say, “Kate, let’s count your nieces and nephews.]

Things got better with our second guest, Andrew Epstein, the new owner of Ypsilanti’s infamous dive bar, the Elbow Room. He told us about his memories of the old bar, where his band once played years ago, and his plans for the future. Epstein, who grew up in Ann Arbor, told us about the time he’d spent in Los Angeles, and how he’d come to decide that he wanted to open a bar that focusing on Mezcal drinks, with a limited food menu relying heavily on recipes from his wife’s family in Mexico.

We talked about how he learned the industry, working eight restaurant jobs in 2013, and how much work he’d put into brining the long-neglected building back to code. We talked about things he’d discovered when working the building, like swastikas on the walls, beneath several layers of old wallpaper, and an old letter concerning the mental institution that used to be just outside of town… Here’s Epstein telling us that he’ll have the old Elbow Room space back open by this summer, and how he’d like to like to have live music.

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[If you would like to listen to episode thirty-six of The Saturday Six Pack, you can either download it from iTunes or scroll the bottom of the page, where you’ll find the Soundcloud file embedded.]

Then our friend Jean Henry dropped by with a bag full of treasures for our second annual on-air swap meet. She surprised me by putting way too much thought into the items that she brought along, all of which she’d carefully selected to represent different facets of my life. Whereas someone more well adjusted than myself would have accepted it in the spirt in which it was intended, I chose to respond by becoming painfully introverted. [It’s hard to explain, as I’m very public in some ways, but, when it comes right down to it, I’m painfully shy.] While we were still able to converse about the individual pieces that she’d brought, I just couldn’t talk about how each related to me and my work, and I still feel bad about that… Judging from the photos, though, Jean had a good time despite my issues.

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Here are a few of the items Jean brought with her. One of them was snagged by Patti Smith, who called in and worked out a trade. The rest are still in my possession, and Jean has left it up to me to do with them what I like… If we have time, I may give them away next week. So be sure to tune in in you want a little wooden doll with my face on it.

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And, at 1:10, musician Gregory McIntosh came by with a plate of meatloaf and mashed potatoes, and we just sat, talked, and ate for about an hour. We talked about anxiety, our various bands, and our love of just wandering aimlessly around Ypsilanti. We talked about mutual friends and their fetishes. We chewed. We whispered. McIntosh played three and a half songs… Here’s the delicious meatloaf, which Greg, I’m pretty sure, had smuggled out of Beezy’s in his pants, before we devoured it.

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Oh, and there was a weird call toward the end of the show from someone claiming to be Pete Townshend, saying that he’d been in contact, through a medium, with the ghost of Ann Landers… Here’s McIntosh trying to make sense of it.

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Thanks, as always, to AM 1700 for hosting the show, Kate de Fuccio for documenting everything with her camera, and Brian Robb for running the board, making sure the bills paid, and insuring that the toilet paper and bleach stays stocked. [All photos above come courtesy of Kate.]

If you like this episode, check out our archive of past shows at iTunes. And do please leave a review if you have the time, OK? It’s nice to know that people are listening, and, unless you call in, that’s pretty much the only way we know.

Now, if you haven’t already, please listen for yourself, and experience the magic firsthand.

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20 Comments

  1. K.
    Posted February 1, 2016 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Good interview with Epstein. I’m encouraged that the new Elbow, whatever it’s called, is going to have live music. We’re in desperate need of another downtown venue. As for the swastikas, my guess is that the building once housed a German club. There were many in the area in the period up to WWII.

  2. Eel
    Posted February 1, 2016 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    “We talked about mutual friends and their fetishes. We chewed. We whispered.”

  3. Anonymous
    Posted February 1, 2016 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    This would explain why Matt Jones is traveling across Michigan tape recording people whispering and chewing. Thank you.

  4. Frosted Flakes
    Posted February 1, 2016 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    I can’t speak for your friend but I am pretty sure 99 percent of people in the ASMR community would object to classifying ASMR triggers as a form of fetish. It is not a sexual fetish. Also it is not a non sexual fetish. I am pretty sure most who experience ASMR would agree there is no “stand-in object” and it is very much a direct form of enjoyment and relaxation involving various sensory triggers. The only way the term “fetish” makes sense is if your definition of the word is stripped of all its connotations. Bad word choice.

  5. Anonymous
    Posted February 1, 2016 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Watch this and tell me that people aren’t getting off.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWVmbq9ylp0

  6. Jean Henry
    Posted February 1, 2016 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Ha! I totally have ASMR reactions to certain things– people who speak and move slowly and methodically. Never knew there was a word to describe it. That’s cool. I can’t imagine responding that way to the sounds of people eating but to each his own. It feels like a purring. It’s very pleasant. As for the use of the word fetish, who cares if one’s response is sexual or not? Maybe sometimes, maybe sometimes not. It’s not like human sexual response is entirely separated from other profound sensations. I was once trapped on a boat with a new age guru cousin who spoke extremely quietly and slowly. I struggled to stay awake. It was no longer entirely pleasant. I fell into a very deep 12 hour sleep afterwards. It was super strange. Now it has a name and I have company. Learn something new everyday.

  7. Frosted Flakes
    Posted February 1, 2016 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Differentiating asmr from fetish is not the same as trying to prudishly distance oneself from sexual experiences. I don’t know Jean, I think you go out of your way to show you are open-minded about certain things sometimes….Feel free to equate anything someone enjoys with fetish (sexual or not) if you want. I just don’t know if embracing misconceptions, conflating and diluting the meanings of word is the best way to go about your day if one of your goals is “learning something new everyday”.

  8. Kat
    Posted February 1, 2016 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    What the fuck kind of subculture have you sucked me into?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYs321htf_Q

  9. site admin
    Posted February 1, 2016 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    If I had to guess, I’d say that Greg and Mark were joking when they referred to it as a fetish.

  10. Jean Henry
    Posted February 1, 2016 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    I do go out of my way to be open minded about sexuality. Why wouldn’t one? It’s a way to cut through a lot of cultural garbage in America. It’s also just easier not to worry about anyone else’s sexuality. I did not conflate ASMR with sexuality, I just said it doesn’t matter and wouldn’t be easy to tease apart. Mine started when I was a child and was pleasant not sexual. It never occurred to me that it has anything to do with arousal. I doubt it does inherently. I’m sure someone else has figured out how to link the two. More power to them. Who cares?

  11. Jean Henry
    Posted February 1, 2016 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Shoes can be a fetish. I like shoes plenty but do not fetishize them. If someone wants to believe that all people who really like shoes are fetishists, that’s really their issue.

  12. Owl
    Posted February 1, 2016 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Are we perhaps hitting a little too close to home, FF? After all, Frosted Flakes do make a very unique sound when being chewed.

  13. Frosted Flakes
    Posted February 1, 2016 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Like I said, I can’t speak for Mark’s friend’s experiences. He may or may not link ASMR triggers with his sexuality. I don’t care about that. To each his own. I was clarifying, the way Mark and his guest mislabeled ASMR as being a form of fetish. The vast majority–more like almost everyone who self identifies as being part of the ASMR community–does not consider their ASMR experiences a form of fetish at all. YouTube ASMR for instance has a very low percentage of videos that are even attempting to be erotic at all. There is a difference between being open minded and not understanding what you are talking about. If you don’t care about clarity, or what a community thinks about themselves and their experiences,then yeah, you are right “who cares”.

  14. Jean Henry
    Posted February 1, 2016 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    when a community seeks to make a point of saying I’m not X, they are implying something is wrong with X. I don’t care if it is a fetish the same way I don’t care if you are gay, even if it is really important for you to be very clear that you are gay or are not gay. my sensitivity to the identity concerns of others stops at insensitivity to others.

  15. Posted February 1, 2016 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    I was joking when I used the word fetish, and I’m sorry. I didn’t think anyone would take offense at it.

    Here’s the background… Matt Jones, upon hearing that I’d be eating meatloaf on the air with Greg, started sending ASMR videos to both of us. And maybe they weren’t good representations of the condition, but, yeah, they came across as somewhat sexual to me. [In each of them, attractive young women were whispering and chewing.] So I asked Matt if this was something that he was into… and the joke kind of grew from there. But, yes, I understand that it’s a real thing, and that not everyone in the ASMR community is there because they enjoy young women whispering about the candy that they’re sucking on

    And, for what it’s worth, there’s apparently an active dialogue within the ASMR community about people who approach it as a fetish, so I wasn’t completely out of my mind for picking up on the sexual undertones.

    .

  16. Peter Larson
    Posted February 2, 2016 at 2:43 am | Permalink

    I didn’t know what that was.

    The Iowa caucuses were too important.

  17. Peter Larson
    Posted February 2, 2016 at 2:47 am | Permalink

    I have no idea what you people talk about most of the time.

    It doesn’t matter though. Life is nothing but darkness. We should turn off the light.

  18. Frosted Flakes
    Posted February 2, 2016 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    No offense was taken I was just pointing out that I thought you were being inaccurate, Mark. And it is ok to be inaccurate, because like In the Russell, you were also being funny. And, no, you are not out of your mind. People who do not have Asmr **always** first assume it is sexual in nature when they first hear about the videos. Asmr is ot tied to the videos, however. Because it is exploding on YouTube and people are making money on it (Maria the gentle whisperer has over a million views on some of her videos) it is only a matter of time before people are going to attempt to get subscribers in different ways under the label “asmr”.

    It sounds like I am being petty but a lot of people have improved their lives by being more aware of their triggers. Call me puritanical if you want, I think I am being ore of a purist (and for good reason)….I just don’t want someone who is trying to cure insomnia to fall into a video that is labelled Asmr to find sexual arousal instead of sleep, for example. It is only a big deal, or worthy of talking about (thanks for your opinion Peter) if you, for example, want a non pharmaceutical way of going to sleep, so you can function the next day….Awareness of Asmr is really helping some people.

  19. Frosted Flakes
    Posted February 2, 2016 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Oops, “like in the Russel Brand video”

  20. Anonymous
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Maybe now that you’re officially colleagues Guyette will answer your call.

    http://www.secondwavemedia.com/metromode/features/detroit-journalists-guyette-neavling-maynard-030316.aspx

One Trackback

  1. By No, I don’t have a soiled mattress fetish on June 1, 2016 at 8:41 pm

    […] this is happening, I don’t know. If I had to guess, I’d say that Jones is angry that, during an episode of my radio show this past winter, I allowed local musician Gregory McIntosh to speculate at length about his fetishes. [According to […]

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