projects and writings of Tracy Burkholder
I never win anything. Mostly because I never try to win anything. I don’t play powerball, enter contests or buy raffle tickets. I don’t play sports or board games. When I get into an argument I usually give up or change my mind before ever achieving victory.
So, what a surprise it was when I was contacted on Facebook that I’d won tickets to a taping of the radio show Philosophy Talk. Ok, laugh. I did. I finally win something and it’s to a radio show about philosophy that I’ve never listened to being taped on a Saturday night? Yeah, that seems fitting.
I don’t even know how the free ticket giveaway got into my newsfeed, but there it was and all I had to do was comment on the post to have a chance at winning. The show’s guest was going to be David Shields, an author I’ve heard lecture and read at the Tin House Summer Workshops. I like Shields because he’s smart and opinionated and believes in pushing art and language in new directions. Literary folk often get mad at him and that’s a good sign in my book. So yay, free tickets!
The show took place at the First Congregational Church where I’d never been before, at least not in the actual church part of it. I think, in the end, I would have rather wandered around in there when there was nothing going on, admiring the swooping staircases and arched doorways.
The radio show itself was disappointing. In it’s attempts to appeal to a wider audience and to fit big topics into an abbreviated format they have made some unfortunate choices. Instead of devoting the whole hour to a discussion with David Shields, they offered up two musical interludes by a mediocre duo that sang “Strawberry Fields” and “Ghost Riders in the Sky.” It was painful. And then there was also too much silly banter and not enough substance. The show’s motto is “The program that questions everything, except your intelligence.” I have to disagree.
David Shields didn’t get to talk about anything I hadn’t already heard him speak about at greater length and with more depth. The only exciting moment was when one of the hosts got very worked up over Shields dismissing Jonathon Franzen’s Freedom as a bland novel that refuses to acknowledge the modern age. For a second there I thought someone might get slapped. But then everything calmed down and the show returned to being boring.
Oh well. Sometimes when you try something new, it just kind of sucks so you drive back to the eastside and you and your friend have a cheap margarita at the Space Room. And the Space Room is full of unbearably loud music, bros drinking Rainer and a seemingly endless stream of men and women in pirate outfits. In other words, just another Saturday night.