Episode 171: Ben Gibbard, Jens Lekman, and Fake Presidents

Benjamin Gibbard/Photo by Ryan Russell

This week: Ben Gibbard, of the band Death Cab For Cutie, goes solo… Political comedian W. Kamau Bell lists his favorite fake presidents… Swedish rocker Jens Lekman tells of his fake almost-marriage… Advice for debate-watchers and couch-crashers from the Emily Post Institute kids… Top chef Michael Cimarusti makes a big deal about little fishes… and John Paul Getty III’s ear-ie kidnapping. Plus: a new track from Kanye West, the science of disgusting, and trampolines ‘cross the Seine.

Icebreaker: Aaron Britt

Aaron Britt of Dwell Magazine calls out our polite northern neighbors.

Small Talk: Aaron Britt

Dwell Magazine Deputy Editor Aaron Britt tells us about a proposal for a bouncy new Seine River bridge that’s made out of fun.

A History Lesson with Booze: Getty’s Mis-trust and the “Young American”

This week back in 1973, the Italian kidnappers of young John Paul Getty III demonstrated to his skinflint billionaire grandfather they meant business. Just in time for Halloween, learn about the creepy international incident, then get your spirits up by downing this custom drink:

The “Young American,” as drafted by Michael Madrussen and delivered by Eric Alperin, owner of The Varnish in Los Angeles.

Coat a Collins glass with:

  • 2 barspoons Absinthe

Then fill it with:

  • 1 part sweet vermouth
  • 1 part Campari

Top with soda and drink till you can’t feel your ears.

Guest List: W. Kamau Bell

This month, The New York Times called W. Kamau Bell the “most promising new talent in political comedy in many years.” Bell’s the founder of the comedy collective “Laughter Against the Machine” and hosts the late-night TV show “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell” (New episodes just started airing on FX). He shares a totally biased – and hilarious – list of his favorite fake politicians:

Etiquette: The Posts

When it comes to matters of politesse, Lizzie Post and Dan Post-Senning, the great-great grandkids of Emily Post, have a leg up on the rest of us. In this week’s session, they address our listeners’ questions about couch-crashing, debate-watching, and double-parking. Then, somehow, we squeeze just a tiny bit of rudeness out of the pair. Victory! (As always, you can find Lizzie and Dan’s wisdom via the Emily Post Institute or in their encyclopedic manners manual.)

Eavesdropping: Jens Lekman

Swedish troubadour Jens Lekman just began a U.S. tour to support his new album “I Know What Love Isn’t.” His witty and romantic songs have made him an indie-fan favorite. He’s also known for his live shows, and for the bittersweet tales he tells between tunes. This week we overhear one about love…and legal residency.

WEB EXTRA: Jens Lekman Performs In-Studio After telling the story behind his title track “I Don’t Know What Love is,” Jens played a lovely acoustic rendition in our studio. Check it out:

Soundcloud – Jens Lekman Acoustic by The Dinner Party

Chattering Class: Rachel Herz

Scent is more seductive than looks. Disgust is the last emotion we learn. There is such a thing as “Rapunzel Syndrome.” These are just a few of the things Rachel Herz, an expert on the psychology of smell and emotion, teaches Brendan while discussing her book “That’s Disgusting.” (Warning: it’s disgusting.)

Guest of Honor: Ben Gibbard

Ben Gibbard is songwriter-in-chief for the indie band Death Cab for Cutie. They’ve put out seven albums, topped the Billboard charts, and been nominated for Grammys. Ben’s also the mastermind behind the The Postal Service, the much-revered ‘project’ he doesn’t intend to repeat. This week, though, Ben releases his first solo album: Former Lives compiles a dozen songs he’s written over the years. He tells Brendan about finding inspiration in expected places, his short-lived modeling days, and audio nougat.

Main Course: The Rise of Little Fish

Little fish are having a big moment: you’ll find sardines, anchovies, herring and other oily little sea creatures on many a fine dining menu these days. Still, for many, the little guys – on pizza or anywhere else — don’t appetize. For some pointers on converting non-believers, Rico caught up with Top Chef Michael Cimarusti of the seafood-centric, Michelin-starred L.A. restaurant Providence, who cooks up a classic dish that now haunts our host’s dreams.

One for the Road: Kanye West – “White Dress”

On October 26, RZA from the Wu Tang Clan makes his directorial debut with the kung-fu extravaganza “The Man With the Iron Fists.” He also produced the soundtrack (out Nov. 2), which includes Kanye West’s standout track “White Dress.” It’s perfect for the moments after your next party.

Other Music in this week’s show:

The Sea & Cake – “The Argument”

Aphex Twin – “Boy/Girl Song”

Tipsy – “Liquordelic”

Nino Rota – “Tutti a vedere il Rex”

Christopher Barnett – “Payback Intermission”

Andrew Bird – “Fake Palindromes”

The Black Keys – “Act Nice and Gentle”

Jurgen Kneiper – “Urstomtal (The Glacial Valley)”

Jens Lekman – “I Don’t Know What Love is”

Ben Gibbard – “Bigger Than Love”

Ben Gibbard – “Shepherd’s Bush Lullaby”

Ben Gibbard – “Duncan Where Have You Gone?”

Anthony Moore – “A.B.C.D. Gol’fish”

Kanye West – “White Dress”