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Episode 128: The Best of 2011

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Hosts Brendan (L) and Rico (R)/Photo by Angela Kim

This week: We celebrate the best of 2011 Hear Guest of Honor interviews with Spike Lee, Carrie Brownstein, and Randy Newman… groove to disco godfather Nile Rodgers’ tale of the birth of “Le Freak”… feast on a heart-stopping sandwich and a 100-year-old egg… toast Sweden’s turn to the right… ponder a bigger Small Talk… then set your New Year’s playlists with Song Of The Year picks from listeners like you.


Icebreaker: Toro Y Moi

The best joke of the year, according to our listeners: Chaz Bundick, aka Toro y Moi, tellth uth a thilly joke about a clothing-optional pool party.


Small Talk: The Hits

We present a mash-up of our favorite below-the-radar headlines, as presented by above-the-fold journalists like the Atlantic’s Richard Lawson, Jezebel’s Jessica Coen, Texas Monthly’s Jake Silverstein and NPR’s own genius, Jad Abumrad. Think of it as the year in review… through the looking glass.


A History Lesson With Booze: Shifting to the Right and the “Swede ’67”

Our favorite history lesson of the year takes us to Sweden, where in 1967, all at once, Swedish traffic moved from the left to the right side of the road. The massive campaign surrounding “H-Day” produced cultural touchstones like the contest-winning song “Keep to the Right, Svensson!” and underwear emblazoned with H logos. Toast H-Day’s success with this nostalgic cocktail.

“The Swede ‘67,” as engineered by Stefan Lindstrom, master bartender at Stockholm restaurant/bar institution Riche.

In a rocks glass, muddle:

  • 1 oz. Elderflower schnapps
  • 2-3 fresh raspberries

Top with as much champagne as you see fit. Lift the glass with your left hand, sip, and set it down on the right side of table. Wait ten minutes and proceed with your right hand.


Guest of Honor 1: Carrie Brownstein

Carrie Brownstein is known to the liberal/artsy crowd everywhere as one of the founding members of revered rock band Sleater Kinney…and its descendant Wild Flag. Now she lovingly satirizes that very crowd — and her hometown of Portland — in the sketch comedy TV show “Portlandia.” Carrie tells Brendan why Portlanders don’t watch the show, why music sounds like music, and about her rendezvous deja-vu.


Guest of Honor 2: Spike Lee

It’s been 20 years since Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing” alternately dazzled or struck fear in the hearts of movie critics. At the beginning of 2011, a new book revisited the making of a film that’s now considered one of the greatest in history. Hear Lee tell Rico about riots, Rosie Perez, the question only white people ask, and the power couple he indirectly brought together. (And then check the extended cut of this interview for a longer look into Spike’s world.)


Eavesdropping: Nile Rodgers

Nile Rodgers, member of the seminal disco band Chic and producer of some of the biggest hits in pop history (for nobodies like Madonna and David Bowie), shares a choice excerpt from his new memoir Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco, and Destiny. Somehow, he was once denied entrance to New York’s disco institution Studio 54. History ensued.


First Course: Paesano’s Cheesesteak Challenger

This year, Saveur magazine named Philadelphia “Sandwich City.” A well-earned title, but some would argue the article left out the city’s greatest sandwich joint: Paesano’s. Brendan heads home to Philly to speak with owner Peter McAndrews about Paesano’s eponymous sandwich.


Second Course: The 100-Year-Old Egg

Earlier this year, in honor of our hundreth episode, Rico and Chinese food writer Carl Chu traveled to the Empress Pavilion restaurant in L.A.’s Chinatown to sample the intimidating “100-year-old-egg.” It looks worse than it sounds… or tastes.


Guest of Honor III: Randy Newman

Randy Newman is an American original. Beloved by children (and Hollywood) for his Academy Award-winning Pixar film scores, adored by Baby Boomers for his satirical pop songs, and revered by music-heads for his songcraft, perhaps the only person who doesn’t appreciate him…is him. Last Spring he released a collection of songs called The Randy Newman Songbook Vol. 2. Brendan talked with Randy about young people, “Short People,” what happens when your dreams come true, and the name he almost shares with a certain radio host’s.


Dinner Party Soundtrack – Brendan, Rico, and YOU

In a departure from tradition, we turn to you to find the best music of the year. Thanks to everyone who wrote in, and especially to Jessica in LA (“Caught a Long Wind” by Feist), Alexis in Eastern Maryland (“Money” by the Drums), Doug in DC (“Video Games” by Lana del Rey) for joining us. Also, Brendan goes “Kaputt” (by Destroyer) and Rico selects “Electronic Days” by Dutch master M-JO & the Jesus Herb.

Other Music in this week’s show:

The Sea & Cake – “The Argument”

Aphex Twin – “Boy/Girl Song”

Tipsy – “Liquordelic”

Trouble Man – “The Righteous Path”

Telstars – “Håll Dig Till Höger Svensson

The Meters – “Yeah You Right”

Carrie Brownstein – “Theme to ‘Portlandia’”

Public Enemy – “Fight the Power”

Chic – “Le Freak”

Paolo Conti – “Sandwich Man”

Ratatat – “Seventeen Years”

Randy Newman – “Laugh and Be Happy”

Destroyer – “Kaputt”

M-JO & the Jesus Herb – “Electronic Days”

Feist – “Caught a Long Wind”

The Drums – “Money”

Lana del Rey – “Video Games”