Podcast-Based Book Explores The Tragic Comedy of Suburban Sprawl

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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 http://KunstlerCast.com/book

Contact, EJ Hurst  1-800-567-6772 x 121 EJ@newsociety.com


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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: http://kunstlercast.com/religiousright


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: http://Kunstler.com/BigSlide


Artwork and publicity images are available at: http://www.kunstler.com/BigSlide/PublicityImages.php

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: KunstlerCast.com.
[ Headshot: James Howard Kunstler ]