JHK Turns up on This American Life Spinoff About S-Town ( aka Woodstock) Alabama
Released: May 31, 2017
In this bonus episode, James Howard Kunstler reunites with former KunstlerCast host/producer Duncan Crary for a behind-the-scenes discussion of JHK’s personal connection to the wildly popular S-Town podcast, a This American Life spinoff program.
Back around 2010-2013, John B. McLemore, the tragic figure at the center of the series began an email correspondence with JHK. John B was a real person, referred to by various people in the series as “brilliant,” “a genius,” “a real character,” and he was for sure. He was also a fan of Jim’s books, and, after getting his phone number off his website, took to calling him on the phone. The two probably had a dozen long phone conversations. It is well-known now that he called his home of Woodstock, Alabama, “Shit-town.” He regaled JHK with many a sordid tale of the home-folk, and even of himself. To Jim, the place sounded like “Hieronymus Bosch meets Dogpatch.” Since John B seemed so unhappy under his mask of hilarity and mirth, Jim tried to encourage him to think about moving. He always had an excuse for not doing that, but clearly John B and the neighbors he disdained, fought with, looked for love with, had a synergistic thing going. They needed each other to play out their never-ending crazy scripts of cracker mischief, vengeance, and failure. After a while, John B went dark. Jim thought JB had just gotten tired of advising him to move. As it turns out, what happened to John would become the subject of an audio documentary that has broken all the records in podcasting and stirred up a bit of controversy. Because so many of the concepts McLemore espouses in the series are inspired by JHK’s blogs and writings (sometimes John uses Jim’s exact phraseology), Duncan suggests the early KunstlerCast years are a bit like a “prequel” to S-Town.
(Note: You can listen to all the previous episodes on the KunstlerCast feed for free, and you can purchase a book based on transcripts from the first five years.)
[ TRANSCRIPT: KUNSTLERCAST S-TOWN ]
(30 MB | 36:39)
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“This book is indeed great fun. … However, Crary’s superior volume has the guts to truly grapple with the harsh realities shaping our times—realities that few dare discuss out in the open.”
“KunstlerCast is an easy read that you can dip into and out of at will”
— Peter Bane, Permaculture Activist Magazine (.pdf), February 2012
“For those of you wanting a good overview of Kunstler’s thinking and for those of you that want to share JHK with others but may fear being embarrassed by the sometimes ‘salty’ language he can use, this book is a great tool. The format is, by design, conversational. You can digest it in small bites or in large pieces. And the Kunstler world through Duncan’s eyes is not necessarily sanitized, but it is communicated in a way that I think will reach a broader audience.”
“The 320-page New Society Publishers offering was just released in paperback and is based on four years of weekly Kunstler riffs recorded by podcasting journalist Duncan Crary. In his introduction to the book, Crary professes to be merely a host, and sometimes a Kunstler foil, but the two upstate New Yorkers really are kindred intellects.”
—Ready to despair? ‘Doomer’ exhorts us to ‘grow up’, Jon Rutter Lancaster Sunday News, Nov. 12, 2011