‘The Casual Geographer’ Archive is Now Live

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IAQ (Infrequently Asked Questions)

What is The Casual Geographer?

The Casual Geographer was a podcast and radio show (that still exists on Facebook and Twitter). Well, it still technically is a podcast. We never firmly ended it or sent it off; I just unofficially ended the show when I left California. We produced the first episode in late 2011 and produced the final episode in April 2013, ending the run at 31 episodes in total.

Who was The Casual Geographer?

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Tyler, Bret, and Abel… refined. 2011. (Photo and Photoshopping by Dennis Hernandez)

The Casual Geographer began as a trio of myself, Bret Hartt, and Abel Santana. We met while students in the Geography department at Cal State Long Beach. They also ran the Geography Student Association in 2011-2012 (before I got suckered into taking over the presidency the following year), and I ran the idea for a podcast by them while we were chatting after a meeting. That’s the origin story, at least. It’s written in slightly better detail on the Archive page, linked from the top taskbar and here. I’ve also posted links to all the individual episode pages at the bottom of this entry.

No, I mean, who is the person in that title image?

I took that from a portrait I found online of Peter Anich, who was an Austrian cartographer in the 18th century. It’s a somewhat stylized portrait of him; there are certainly better ones available and more abundant. I just liked how this particular portrait lent itself well to the aesthetic we were going for: a double-helix of academic sophistication and thoughtful irreverence. I don’t know much about Anich himself, so our use of his likeness isn’t necessarily for or against him. Also, I have no idea where I originally found the picture.

Why the archive page?

I had two key reasons for re-posting all of these episodes. First and foremost: people were asking me about them. When I blew up my old personal website, I had nowhere to host the audio files, so most of them disappeared from the internet altogether and resided as zeros and ones in my portable hard drive (where they were useless to everyone but me). I stopped by to post an occasional episode for throwback purposes over the past couple years, but I kept on procrastinating actually getting them all back online and listenable.

Second, as I work on finishing my PhD and entering the job market, I wanted to get these out there to show how much I care about spreading the word about how important geography is, and how it continues to grow in importance. I always thought that TCG was a fun way to bring Geography to a general audience and help show how all-encompassing it is. We approached every episode with that mindset and usually succeeded in making something entertaining and educational that let our personalities come through, too.

What is next for The Casual Geographer?

In the short term, I hope to get the podcast series back on iTunes, mainly because that reaches a greater audience and network of enthusiasts for this kind of content. In the longer term, I would like to hold onto the name, at least, in case I do bring the project back to life. I would love to be able to collaborate with Bret and/or Abel again, but since we’re all at different places in our lives (figuratively and literally; I live three time zones away, Bret is working crazy hours for a quality beer distribution company, and Abel is working full-time and raising a bunch of kids). We’re all still good friends, and I’ve kept in touch with most of the guests we had on the show over our 31-episode run as well.

I think the most appropriate answer for the question, though, would be “I don’t know.” What would you like to see and hear?

EPISODE LIST

  1. The Obligatory Scattershot Pilot  (10.26.11)
  2. Diving with Dennis with geographer Dennis Hernandez (11.7.11)
  3. Intersection Songs! (11.21.11)
  4. Motorcycle Ride with anthropologist Ryan Moritz (12.6.11)
  5. Catalina Island with geographers Rob Cisneros and Julia Urcis (12.24.11)
  6. Beer! with geographer David Schwartz and brewer Steph Schwartz-Smith (2.6.12)
  7. Peru with geographers Kat Rojas and Gina Sattui (2.28.12)
  8. Geographer (the band) and the Bay Area with Geographer (3.6.12)
  9. Travel Tips (4.3.12)
  10. Easter Island with geographer Molan Choi (4.10.12)
  11. Hawai’i with geographer Mystyn Mills (4.24.12)
  12. Live from CGS aka ‘Davis Rock City’ with various guests at the California Geographic Society Meeting in Davis, CA (5.3.12)
  13. Bikes, Bikes, Bikes! (5.7.12)
  14. C-Bus a Bus! (Columbus, OH) with comedians Justin Golak, Sumukh Torgalkar, and Travis Irvine (7.25.12)
  15. What We Did on Our Summer Vacation (9.6.12)
  16. Viva Mexico (Central) with geographer Jessica Reyes and Bret’s friend Michelle (9.13.12)
  17. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (9.20.12)
  18. Chicago! with geographer David Schwartz (9.27.12)
  19. SKA with historian Jacob “The Ska Kid” Ingram (10.11.12)
  20. Human Trafficking with Crystal Sprague and Dennis Hernandez of My Refuge House (10.18.12)
  21. Death! with mortician Laura Hardin (10.25.12)
  22. St. Petersburg aka Санкт-Петербург with geographer Emily Feliciano and urban planner Ted Van Houten via phone  (11.1.12)
  23. Florida! (11.8.12)
  24. Winter Sports (11.15.12)
  25. Seattle with geographer Teresa Anderson-Sharma (12.4.12)
  26. Bret’s Journey to Japan and Korea (2.11.13)
  27. LA’s Ethnic Enclaves (2.18.13)
  28. Hip-Hop, Ya Don’t StopHip-Hop, Ya Don’t Stop with geographer Fernando Bogarin (2.25.13)
  29. The American Civil War with geographer Andy Bradford (3.4.13)
  30. Cal State Puvungna (Native America) with various guests at the annual Puvungna Pow-Wow (3.11.13)
  31. Hill Valley, CA (Imagined Geographies of Back to the Future) with Teresa Anderson-Sharma (3.25.13)
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The Casual Geographer Presents: “Intersection Songs”

For those of you who were not connected to me during my time at CSU-Long Beach, my friends Bret Hartt, Abel Santana, and I co-founded a podcast and weekly radio show called “The Casual Geographer.” We produced over thirty episodes, most of which were posted at our original blogspot site here (the audio links no longer work, but the descriptions and graphics are still there, and if I may say so, delightful). Each episode tackled a different subject and explained how geography enveloped said subject. It lasted most of the two years I spent in Long Beach, and we had a lot of fun.

This week, in a seminar on tourism geography, my colleagues and I discussed a wonderful article by Duncan Light on the commodification and consumption of place names. I found it interesting, as a musically-inclined geographer, how he used examples such as AC/DC (seriously, why is there no lightning bolt key?) Street in Melbourne as ways in which cities and regions place and focus what John Urry legendarily called “the tourist gaze.” In particular, Light (2014, 145*) wrote:

…It is the marker – the signage – that is important in affirming and validating the visit. As such the place-name signage (the most commonplace and banal of objects) becomes the principal focus of tourist interest and the setting for a range of activities and performances.

Unsurprisingly, my mind immediately leaped to the corner of Fountain and Fairfax, where I drove by upon moving to the Los Angeles area, motivated by The Afghan Whigs’ dramatic 1993 song of that title**.  My mind then immediately jumped to Episode 3 of The Casual Geographer, where we discussed whatever background information we could find on a handful of songs named after street intersections. These included “53rd and 3rd” (NYC) by the Ramones, “Fountain and Fairfax” (Los Angeles) by the Afghan Whigs, “Queen and John” (Toronto) by Good Riddance, “9th and Hennepin” (Minneapolis) by Tom Waits, and “13th and Euclid” (DC) by the Dismemberment Plan. Thanks to Russ Rankin for his gracious email reply telling us the story of “Queen and John” (which I read during the episode), as well as Travis Morrison for his brief explanation of what happened at a gas station near 13th and Euclid (as well as giving me the go-ahead to use “The Face of the Earth” as a theme song for the show).

I’ll gradually work on wrenching more of these recordings from my archives. For now, have a listen to this episode and I hope you enjoy it. This was an early episode, and the production quality improved from here, I promise.

LINER NOTES

* Light, D. (2014). Tourism and toponymy: commodifying and consuming place names. Tourism Geographies, 16(1), 141-156.

** If you’re at all familiar with the Afghan Whigs or the greater spate of work by Greg Dulli, using the word “dramatic” to describe any of their songs could seem pretty redundant, I realize.

Listen to Tyler and Tree discuss ‘Save the Clocktower,’ Imagined Geographies on the Radio

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As was mentioned on Monday, Teresa “Tree” Anderson-Sharma joined me and Bret on our radio show to talk about just what we mean when we say “imagined geographies” pertaining to Hill Valley, CA and explain more about our project. What’s remarkable was just how much geographic material on the Back to the Future trilogy we didn’t even have time to discuss. Here is the hour show for your listening pleasure. Forgive the freewheeling format; we included some Huey Lewis & the News, if it helps our cause.

More updates soon about the Los Angeles AAG Meeting and other work in the pipeline.