Episode 153: Patti Smith, Bryan Cranston, and Drinkable Shrubs

Patti Smith/Courtesy of the Artist

This week: Punk icon Patti Smith dreams of little black dresses… “Breaking Bad’s” Bryan Cranston builds green houses, not meth labs… Zosia Mamet (Girls, Mad Men) picks other ‘against-type’ actors… we inhale the tale of the original “smoke-filled room”… and novelist Nathaniel Rich finds a rhino with all the answers. Plus: drinkable shrubs, a new track from Odd Future’s Frank Ocean, and the fastest road in the USA.

Icebreaker: Bryan Cranston

“Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston inches his way toward a punchline. (More from Bryan later in the show…)

Small Talk: John Spong

Texas Monthly’s Senior Editor John Spong tells us there’s a new titleholder for the ‘fastest stretch of highway’ in the US. Don’t mess with Texas drivers.

A History Lesson with Booze: The Smoke-Filled Room and “The Dark Horse”

This week back in 1920, a group of politicians gathered in a hotel suite… and a political cliche was born. Learn about the original “smoke-filled room,” then take a deep drag of this murky cocktail:

“The Dark Horse”…as decided upon by Nandini Khaund of The Violet Hour in Chicago.


  • 1.5 oz Weller 107 Antique bourbon
  • 1/2 oz Smith and Cross rum
  • 1/4 oz Malort
  • 1/8 oz Green Chartreuse
  • 1/4 oz demerara syrup
  • 13 drops Tobacco bitters
  • 6 drops Campfire bitters
  • Rinse Laphroiag

Rinse glass with Laphroiag, set aside. Stir all ingredients except Campfire bitters on ice. Strain into rinsed glass over fresh ice. Add Campfire bitters and a lemon zest. Sip it behind closed doors, in a vaguely shady manner.

Guest List: Zosia Mamet

Actress Zosia Mamet features in two of this spring’s most talked-about shows… but her characters couldn’t be more different. On AMC’s “Mad Men,” she plays the utterly self-assured, openly lesbian Joyce; on HBO’s “Girls,” she portrays the chatty, self-conscious, and – much to her dismay – virginal Shoshanna. She makes the transition look easy… so we asked her to share some other inspired ‘against-type’ performances. Her picks:

Etiquette: The Posts

Just in time for Father’s Day, the gen-etiquettely gifted Lizzie Post returns to answer listener questions, alongside a special guest… her Dad. Like Lizzie, Peter is steeped in the family business: he co-directs the Emily Post Institute and just released the second edition of his book, Essential Manners for Men. He and Lizzie school us in how to deal with name-manglers, unclaimed cocktail bills, and a Dad who’s also your boss.

Eavesdropping: Nathaniel Rich and his Significant Object

For the upcoming collection “Significant Objects” (out July 17), 100 noteworthy writers received 100 trinkets and wrote backstories for them. The objects were then re-posted on eBay alongside the tales and, amazingly, proceeded to sell for up to 100 times the initial purchase price. Today we overhear novelist Nathaniel Rich reading his story about a magical and dangerous rhino figurine. (Nathaniel also contributes to the New York Times, and his second novel, “Odds Against Tomorrow,” will be published next year.)

Main Course: Shrubs

Don’t let the name confuse you – these are not the spiky plants from your backyard, or Monty Python’s forest. We’re talking about old-fashioned vinegar-based drink flavorings that’ve been showing up in fancy cocktails lately. Rico heads over to L.A. restaurant Baco Mercat to get the lowdown from James Beard Award-nominated chef Josef Centeno, who also uses shrubs in tasty non-alcoholic drinks.

Guest of Honor: Patti Smith

Musician, writer and poet Patti Smith burst onto the scene with the 1975 album “Horses,” which earned her the title “godmother of punk. ” She has since released ten albums to critical acclaim. In 2007 she was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, and her 2010 memoir “Just Kids” won the National Book Award. She just released Banga, her first album of new music since 2004. She tells Brendan about her study sessions with Johnny Depp, her long-held aesthetics, and the little black dress of her dreams.

Bryan Cranston on Green Living

Next weekend, the design magazine Dwell hosts its annual “Dwell on Design” conference in Los Angeles. There’ll be presentations by architecture and design professionals, of course, but here’s an unexpected panelist: Bryan Cranston. The actor, who won three consecutive Emmys as the star of TV’s “Breaking Bad,” is currently working with architects to construct a super environmentally-friendly house for his family in Ventura, California. He chats with Rico about his environmental roots, his hatred of hand-me-downs, and his cool stove.

One for the Road: Frank Ocean -“Pyramids”

Frank Ocean is the smoothest member of popular rap collective Odd Future. He’s written songs for artists like Beyonce and John Legend… but on July 17th he releases his own debut, “Channel Orange.” Here’s the lead single “Pyramids.”

Other Music in this week’s show:

The Sea & Cake – “The Argument”

Aphex Twin – “Boy/Girl Song”

Tipsy – “Liquordelic”

John Philip Sousa – “Under The Double Eagle”

Maserati – “Being President Is Like Riding A Tiger”

Jelly Roll Morton – “Smoke House Blues”

Lionel Newman – “Don’t Bother To Knock” theme

Letters to Cleo – “I Want You To Want Me”

Gustavo Santaolalla – “Brokeback Mountain” theme

Henry Mancini – “Pink Panther” theme

Johnny Mandel – piano theme from “Being There” (based on Erik Satie’s “Gnoissennes”)

Mark Miller – “Father’s Day”

Roy Smeck – “Steel Guitar Rag”

Bernard Hermann – “Vertigo”

Rodgers & Hammerstein – “My Favorite Things”

Fool’s Gold – “We Still Got the Taste Dancing On Our Tongues”

Patti Smith – “Banga”

Patti Smith – “Maria”

Patti Smith – “This Is the Girl”

Patti Smith Group – “Easter”

Dave Porter – “Breaking Bad theme”

Frank Ocean – “Pyramids”