Release: S-Town Podcast Prequel: KunstlerCast Ready for Binge Listening

For Immediate Release

Contact: Duncan Crary


  • Famous Author Named in Suicide Note Had Encouraged John B. McLemore To Leave Woodstock, Ala.; Move to Montpelier, Vt. or Ouray, Colo.
  • Phone & Email Correspondence With Deceased Over Years
  • 100s Hours of Spoken Word Podcast Episodes With Kunstler Offer Insight into McLemore’s Worldview



TROY, N.Y. (5/31/17) — For fans of the S-Town podcast who are hungry for more background, an earlier podcast series titled The KunstlerCast offers hundreds of hours of binge-ready content that McLemore himself was immersed in.

On a bonus KunstlerCast episode today, author James Howard Kunstler shares his reaction to learning that he was among the names mentioned in McLemore’s suicide note, which was read during the final chapter of S-Town. Over the years, Kunstler had received several calls and emails from McLemore, an avid reader of his work.

“For those who really want to explore John B. McLemore’s worldview and what shaped it — his fixation on climate change and economic collapse, his rants on sprawl and the built environment, and especially his disdain for tattoos — all the source material that inspired him is in James Howard Kunstler’s podcast,” said Duncan Crary, creator and former host of The KunstlerCast. “In a way, The KunstlerCast is like the ‘prequel’ to S-Town that serves as a background to the kinds of thoughts and issues McLemore was clearly immersed in.”

As revealed in Chapter VII of S-Town, McLemore names James Howard Kuntler in his suicide note, along with other writers of economic/societal collapse. But Kunstler only learned of McLemore’s suicide after Crary brought the S-Town story to his attention.




Kunstler, who is best known as the author of “The Geography of Nowhere,” (1993) “The Long Emergency” (2005) and the “World Made By Hand” novels, said he heard from McLemore somewhere around 2009, first by email and then later he started calling the author after finding his phone number online.

“He was flamboyantly Southern and he sort of played up on it. And I enjoyed talking to him,” Kunstler said.

Mostly they would talk about economic and world issues, “But eventually he started talking to me about the town itself that he was living in and how he called it ‘Shit Town.’ And how everything in it was busted, rusted, shot up, broken, deformed, messed up, ruined — you know, in some way that everything including the human personalities and families and relations in the town were all in some kind of terrible condition,” Kunstler said on the podcast. “It all seemed kind of emblematic of the ruined condition of the flyover heartland of America that ended up voting for Trump.”

Kunstler said he tried to suggest to McLemore that maybe he should move away from Woodstock, to a place like Montpelier, Vt. or Ouray, Colo.

“I said that with the full recognition that people’s home places are very important to them even if they have an extremely destructive neurotic relationship with their home place and all the people in it. They don’t give those things up easily,” Kunstler said.

“He did talk a lot about thinking about killing himself. And, I’m very attuned to relationship rackets that people construct and I recognized that as a possible racket, you know, just a way for him to hook me into, you know, caretaking him psychologically and I really didn’t see that as my role. So I attempted to kind of minimize that. And I just didn’t really buy into it too heavily. I know I suggested to him that it might not be a good idea and that there might be reasons for him to keep on living,” Kunstler said. “In my own defense, I did not get so involved with this guy’s life that it took more than 20 minutes every two weeks for me to talk to him and …. I understood that he was suffering. But I didn’t get hyper-involved with him. I just understood that he was an unhappy person of—with some talent and some brains who lived a distance from me in a terrible place.”

While S-Town reporter Brian Reed presents good reason to believe McLemore may have suffered from mercury poisoning, which could have led to his suicidal ideation, he was also clearly distressed about climate change, economic collapse, resource scarcity and societal failures, which happen to be the main focus of Kunstler’s body of work.


A 2009 New Yorker profile of Kunstler and his peers, titled “The Dystopians,” implied he is a doomer, though Kunstler rejects the label when applied to him, describing himself instead as “cheerful.”

“I’m convinced that we are headed for a reset of the terms of civilization. And I think an awful lot of people would feel that they would like that, that they would like to be in a civilization that wasn’t so cruel and oppressive to them and I don’t even mean in the crudest political terms. I mean in the sense of all the everyday crap that we’re burdened by,” Kunstler said. “I think a lot of what is often labeled as Doomerism or the Doomer psychology is a wish to get to some kind of civilizational serenity or stillness … where you don’t feel like you’re assaulted and bedeviled and beset all the time by all this stuff– you know, by everything from the phone ringing to the idiocies of robot business transactions.”

During the podcast, Crary reads aloud to Kunstler a Dec. 23, 2014 review of The KunstlerCast posted to iTunes in which the anonymous writer, using the handle “Marlowinc,” describes what Kunstler has to write and say as “frickin’ depressing!” while his podcast guests “just add fuel to the flames of hopelessness.” The reviewer goes on to mention “having my cyanide capsules ready,” which is the exact method of suicide used by John B. McLemore of S-Town in June 2015. (Crary does not believe the review was posted by McLemore.)

Kunstler’s message, in response to those who feel depressed by his nonfiction works is to read his four “World Made By Hand” novels.

“The point of those novels was to depict the aftermath of an economic collapse in a way that would make people feel OK and hopeful about whatever reset we moved into,” he said. “I recommend they read them. And they’ll get a picture of a world that has changed, in which not everything is changed for the worse. There are a lot of compensations for living in a world without commuting and a world without — where you have nothing but canned entertainment to fill your idle hours. There’s a lot in there and it was presented that way for a purpose, so that people would feel a little more courageous about entering that new paradigm when the current one kind of loses its mojo.”


Earlier in the podcast episode, Crary plays clips from S-town that contain some of the phraseology and expressions Kunstler is known for — some of which are spoken directly by McLemore, while others are Reed’s paraphrasing of McLemore.

Some examples include:

In Chapter I, McLemore uses the term “Clusterfuck of Sorrow.” Kunstler’s popular blog is titled “Clusterfuck Nation.”

In Chapter II: Reed paraphrasing McLemore: “our country wasn’t worth defending.” Kunstler coined this expression in his 2004 TED Talk, titled “The ghastly tragedy of the suburbs,” in which he famously said “We have about 38,000 places that are not worth caring about in the United States today when we have enough of them, we’re going to have a nation that’s not worth defending.”

Also, in Chapter II, Brian reed narrates: “Later, John will take me on a tour of Bibb County, and this worldview will be on full display. He’ll rattle off a constant stream of grievances as we go. Historic buildings are being demolished overnight. Dollar Generals and Wal-marts are popping up in their stead, serving a populace that is getting fatter and more tattooed by the day.” This sums up Kunstler’s general commentary on the built environment in America, which he first famously described in “The Geography of Nowhere,” (Simon & Schuster). Later, in August 2008, Kunstler’s rants about the proliferation of tattoos went viral on the Internet, first in response to his “Eyesore of the Month” feature, next in a Clusterfuck Nation blog entry, and finally in a dedicated episode of The KunstlerCast, all released during the same month. In that podcast, Kunstler said tattoos have been historically been “the domain of cannibals, whores and sailors” and a marginal activity attempting to “invade the center and I am all for keeping the marginal on the margins.”


From February 2008 through August 2012, Duncan Crary hosted and produced more than 215 episodes of The KunstlerCast, featuring conversations between himself and James Howard Kunstler on a wide range of topics. In later years, the show would sometimes include other authors, such as Richard Heinberg (also named in McLemore’s final note). All of those episodes can be located and listened to at

In Nov. 2011, New Society Publishers released a book, authored by Crary, that presented the best content from those conversations, titled: “The KunstlerCast: Conversations with James Howard Kunstler…the tragic comedy of suburban sprawl.”

Advance praise for The KunstlerCast book:

“James Howard Kunstler plainly has a lot to say about the state of the world. And while much of it is bad, bad news — aggressively, congenitally, perhaps even fatally bad — he speaks with such vim and vigor that you find yourself nodding in agreement rather than looking for a noose. Duncan Crary wrangles these free-wheeling conversations masterfully. A bracing dose of reality for an unreal world.” — STEPHEN J. DUBNER, co-author of Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics


To read a transcript of the May 31, 2017 KunstlerCast: S-Town episode, visit:

Or to read the transcripts for the S-Town episode, the Tattoos episode and the Doomers episode of The KunstlerCast, visit:

For information about the KunstlerCast book, visit:

For a complete listing of the Crary years of The KunstlerCast, visit:

To listen to newer episodes of The KunstlerCast, visit:

To read Kunstler’s April 10, 2017 thoughts on John B. McLemore’s passing, visit:


For more information and high-resolution publicity images, visit

Contact: Duncan Crary,


Podcast-Based Book Explores The Tragic Comedy of Suburban Sprawl

Book Home | Press Release | Praise | Excerpts | FAQ | Artwork | For Booksellers | Reviews | Further Reading

Nov. 29, 2011

For Immediate Release

Contact, EJ Hurst  1-800-567-6772 x 121

Podcast-Based Book Explores The Tragic Comedy of Suburban Sprawl

The KunstlerCast: Conversations with James Howard Kunstler by Duncan Crary

TROY, N.Y. (Nov. 29, 2011) — James Howard Kunstler is one of the most outspoken and funniest critics of suburban sprawl, fossil fuel depletion and the collapsing American dream.


Book Cover: The KunstlerCast, by Duncan Crary (New Society Publishers, 2011)

His best-known books on the subject include “The Geography of Nowhere,” “The Long Emergency,” and the post-oil novel “World Made By Hand.”

A new book-length interview with the acclaimed urban planning/social critic revisits and updates his ideas on America’s built environment, impending energy crisis and unfolding financial meltdown.

“The KunstlerCast: Conversations with James Howard Kunstler … The Tragic Comedy of Suburban Sprawl,” by Duncan Crary (New Society Publishers, Nov. 2011) is available through booksellers. The book is based on four years of recorded conversations between Kunstler and Crary, which first “aired” on the popular weekly “KunstlerCast” podcast.

The topics covered in “The KunstlerCast” are often dire, like peak oil, urban planning, architecture, the economy, gentrification and infrastructure. But these intergenerational conversations between Kunstler, 63, and Crary, 33, are often highly amusing.

“It’s sort of evolved into a comedy act,” Kunstler says of his approach to critiquing life in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. “Samuel Beckett put it well when he said ‘Nothing is funnier than unhappiness.’ Our built environments cause us so much unhappiness, so much distress, that they’re a source of comedy.”

Crary, who has spent more than 100 hours talking with Kunstler on the podcast, says Kunstler’s humor and command of language keep him coming back for more, year after year, despite the commentator’s sometimes bleak and frightening outlook for American civilization.

“Like a lot of Gen X’ers, I was hatched on a cul-de-sac in the American suburbs,” said Crary. “And I was very unhappy growing up out there. But Jim’s maliciously funny view of suburbia has always given me a lot laughs. And it helped me to better articulate the failures of that ‘living arrangement with no future.’”


“James Howard Kunstler plainly has a lot to say about the state of the world. And while much of it is bad, bad news — aggressively, congenitally, perhaps even fatally bad — he speaks with such vim and vigor that you find yourself nodding in agreement rather than looking for a noose. Duncan Crary wrangles these free-wheeling conversations masterfully. A bracing dose of reality for an unreal world.”

— Stephen J. Dubner, co-author, “Freakonomics” and “SuperFreakonomics”


For more information and high-resolution publicity images, visit

Contact, EJ Hurst  1-800-567-6772 x 121


Book Home | Press Release | Praise | Excerpts | FAQ | Artwork | For Booksellers | Reviews | Further Reading

J.H.Kunstler: Religious Theocrats May Spark New Civil War in U.S.

Oct. 11, 2011

For Immediate Release

Contact: Duncan Crary, 518-274-2723

J.H.Kunstler: Religious Theocrats May Spark New Civil War in U.S.

New Apostolic Reformation is a Real Threat to American Civilization

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (Oct. 11, 2011) — Noted social critic James Howard Kunstler believes a new American civil war may be on the horizon, and that the lines may be drawn between secular Americans and right-wing religious extremists like the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement.

“When, and if, battle lines form over who is going to control whatever remains of the national government in America, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the battle lines were drawn again between the North and the South, only this time between a fanatical religious right and a secular, humanist rest of the country,” Kunstler said, because “much more of the religious fanaticism in this country emanates from the South.”

Kunstler is best-known as the author of “The Geography of Nowhere” (Simon & Shuster, 1993), “The Long Emergency” (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2005) and the “World Made By Hand” novels (Grove-Atlantic, 2008, 2010).

Throughout his career, Kunstler has famously argued that America is largely a suburban nation and that suburbia is an unsustainable, spiritually degrading “living arrangement with no future.” He believes that an impending energy crisis, an unfolding financial collapse, political unrest and the unknown effects of climate change are converging to create a very disorderly 21st century in America. He sees these disorders leaving Americans vulnerable to right-wing religious despots like the New Apostolic Reformation, an evangelical Christian movement which has ties to Presidential candidates Rick Perry and Michele Bachman, as well as Sarah Palin.

“The whole political system is threatened by this idea that a particular Christian group wants to take it over, literally, and makes no bones about it,” he said. “I am not ready to surrender American government as we have known it, especially not to power authorities that pretend to speak to God.”

Kunstler made these remarks during a recent installment of his weekly audio podcast, “The KunstlerCast,” after listening to an Oct. 3, 2011 Fresh Air interview by Terry Gross with Colorado Springs “apostle” C. Peter Wagner. Wagner is a leader of the New Apostolic Reformation, who believes that Japan has suffered a tsunami, a nuclear meltdown and a declining stock market all because its emperor literally had sex with a demon. Another leader of the NAR, Alice Patterson, has said that the Democratic Party is a demon structure.

The NAR has a mission to take “dominion” over business, government, media, arts, entertainment, education, family and religion. When pressed by Gross, Wagner denied that his group wants to take over all aspects of American culture, offering instead that it simply strives “to have people” committed to the kingdom of God in positions of influence. Kunstler sees this statement as obfuscation.

“I think they are simply being dishonest about it,” he said. “They don’t just want elected officials to be interested in being saved by Jesus. They want to get hold of the levers of power and actually run a theocratic state. They will not admit it…but it’s clearly what they want to do.”


Though studies have found the millennial generation to be the least religious of all generations in America, Kunstler believes that financial, political and social uncertainties could sway young people in the other direction.

“I’m very troubled by the idea that there are going to be so many people in the United States who have lost the structure in their life that they may end up succumbing to movements like the New Apostolic Reformation,” he said. “I don’t know that they will be able to resist forces as sure of themselves as this kind of fanatical Christianity.”

As a newspaper reporter in the 1970s, Kunstler focused on religious cults. During that time, he said, young people became so lost that “they were willing to accept almost any crazy narrative to adhere to if it would provide them with an armature for them to hang their life on and give them some structure and dimension.”

An agnostic, Kunstler was raised in a religion-free household. “I don’t have a particular animus against religion per se. But I do have an animus against dishonest and insane religious fanatics,” he said.

If Americans do not challenge groups like the New Apostolic Reformation and the real threat they pose to civilization, “It’s basically an invitation to tyranny and despotism,” he said.

New episodes of The KunstlerCast are released Thursday nights, hosted by Duncan Crary. To read a transcript of this episode, visit:


For information and to request an interview with James Howard Kunstler, contact Duncan Crary at 518-274-2723.


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New e-Book by James Howard Kunstler Imagines Collapse of USA

Feb. 2, 2010

For Immediate Release

Contact: Duncan Crary, 518-274-2723

New e-Book by James Howard Kunstler Imagines Collapse of USA

In “Big Slide,” Family Seeks Refuge in Adirondacks During National Meltdown Available as e-Book, Kindle, and Podcast

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (Feb. 2, 2010) — Author and social commentator James Howard Kunstler is using live theater, podcasting and a self-published “e-book” to distribute his new three act-play, titled “Big Slide.”

The story centers on a large family seeking refuge in the Adirondack Mountains of New York state as the country is collapsing into economic and political turmoil.

“Right now, we are a nation going through a slow-motion train wreck. But obviously our situation is not as grave as the compressed events that are portrayed in this play,” Kunstler said. “‘Big Slide’ is a work of the imagination that happens to be circumstantially about the times we’re living in and the times we may be moving into.”

Set in the autumn of an unspecified near-future year, “Big Slide” tells the story of three generations of the Freeman family, who have gathered at their Adirondack “great camp” (near Big Slide Mountain) to take refuge from New York City and Boston during a severe national political maelstrom. We are never fully apprised of the exact nature of this event, but it appears to involve a coup d’etat in the White House and the uprising of local militias all over the nation in response.

The estate at Big Slide is isolated from these events, but news dribbles in by radio. The electricity has stopped working and law enforcement seems to have been suspended, making it dangerous to travel even to the nearest town for food and necessities.

The thirteen members of the family, ranging from the dying patriarch, Clifford Freeman, to his grown children and their spouses, to the two teenage step-siblings, Raven and Zach, struggle to work out how they will organize themselves for survival in the months ahead against a background of old and deep personal grievances with each other.

“This was designed to be a classic, three-act play with a large cast and swirling motion on two levels of the stage,” Kunstler said. “But the situation with regional theater now is that nobody wants to do a play with more than one character, so that all you get is ‘A Night With Emily Dickinson’ or somebody impersonating Truman Capote. When I was a drama student at SUNY Brockport, we did big plays with lots of characters — ‘The Cherry Orchard,”Marat / Sade’ — and that’s what this is.”

“Big Slide” was first performed before a live audience as a “staged reading” by 13 actors on Jan. 9 at the Multi-use Community Cultural Center in Rochester, N.Y. Kunstler said he hopes to see a full-theatrical production in the future. A free audio .mp3 recording of the staged reading is available through author’s weekly podcast, “The KunstlerCast.”

A script of “Big Slide” is available for purchase (price: $5) [Update Sept. 4, 2011: Price Now $2.99] as a downloadable 116-page .PDF, or in Kindle and Kindle-for-the-iPhone editions.

Production and oversight of the “Big Slide” e-book is by Duncan Crary, an independent media and publicity consultant, who hosts and produces “The KunstlerCast.”


Kunstler is the author of four non-fiction books, including “The Geography of Nowhere” (Simon & Schuster, 1993) and “The Long Emergency” (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2005), which have been concerned with a wide range of urgent issues, such as the global oil predicament, the banking fiasco and the problems associated with suburban development in America.

His most recent novel, “World Made By Hand” (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2008), takes place in a post-petroleum American future. A sequel is scheduled to be published this year.

For information, to purchase “Big Slide,” or to listen to the podcast, visit:


Artwork and publicity images are available at:

Review copies for journalists are available upon request.

Click here for broadcast-quality audio clips.

To request an interview with James Howard Kunstker, contact Duncan Crary at 518-274-2723.


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Top Suburban Sprawl Critic Launches Podcast

March 13, 2008

For Immediate Release

Contact: Duncan Crary, 518-274-2723

Top Suburban Sprawl Critic Launches Podcast

James Howard Kunstler, Author of “The Geography of Nowhere”, Features Weekly on Talk Show

TROY, N.Y. — One of the world’s loudest and funniest critics of suburban sprawl is now podcasting.

The KunstlerCast is a weekly talk show about “the tragic comedy of suburban sprawl,” featuring James Howard Kunstler. Updated Thursdays, each 15-minute program tackles the coming end of suburbia and cheap oil.

“Suburbia is a living arrangement with no future,” Kunstler said. “I believe a lot of people share my feelings about the tragic landscape of highway strips, parking lots, housing tracts, mega-malls, junked cities, and ravaged countryside that makes up the everyday environment where most Americans live and work.”

A former staff writer for Rolling Stone Magazine, Kunstler is best known as the author of “The Geography of Nowhere,” a landmark anti-sprawl book that gave people a vocabulary and syntax to articulate their growing disgust with the American suburban landscape. Kunstler’s own language is peppered with snarky descriptions, like “parking lagoons”, “one-story UFOs”, “Nature Band-Aids”, “patriotic totems”, “fry pits”, “starchitecture” and “yesterday’s tomorrow.”

Duncan Crary, 29, the show’s host and producer, approached Kunstler, 59, with the idea of podcasting to expose a new generation of Americans to these ideas.

“As a teenager growing up on a cul-de-sac in the burbs, I knew there was something wrong with the place where I lived. But I couldn’t quite say what it was until I read ‘The Geography of Nowhere.’ Then I figured it out,” Crary said. “Do you know what a cul-de-sac is, really? It’s a dead-end circle.”

Although Kunstler’s books have become standard reading in urban planning courses, he has no formal training in planning or design. In college he majored in theater, which perhaps provided a foundation for his mainstream appeal and humor.

“It’s sort of evolved into a comedy act,” Kunstler said of his approach to critiquing life in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. “Samuel Beckett put it well when he said ‘Nothing is funnier than unhappiness.’ These environments cause us so much unhappiness, so much distress, that they’re a source of comedy.”

Show topics on the KunstlerCast have included the overabundance of chain drugstores, dismal downtown parking garages, European car clubs and the future of small cities. Listeners from across North America have called with questions about hideous architecture, the fate of various cities and alternative fuels.

Kunstler dismisses the quest to find an alternative fuel to replace oil as a wish to keep the American automobile fleet running at all costs. But, he notes, you can’t run 200 million vehicles, WalMart and Disney World on used French fried potato oil.

“The one thing that Americans are never talking about is building walkable cities or walkable neighborhoods. It doesn’t require any heroic new technologies or new discoveries to create walkable environments, which are absolutely the most pleasant places to live in and get around,” Kunstler said. “Sure we all have our own cars at our disposal all the time. But because of that there’s almost no place in America that’s worth being in or driving to!”

Kunstler’s post-oil novel, “World Made By Hand”, was published this month by Atlantic Monthly Press. His nonfiction books include “The City in Mind,” “Home from Nowhere” and “The Long Emergency.”

The KunstlerCast is available for listening anytime for free on the Internet.

The show also airs twice a week on KAYO-LP 92.9 FM & 94.3 FM Northwest Indy Radio in Washington State. Crary said he hopes other independent community radio stations will carry the show soon.

For information, visit:
[ Headshot: James Howard Kunstler ]