Episode 57: Gary Shteyngart, Guitars go Electric, and Killer Fries

Gary Shteyngart/Courtesy Lacombe

This week: Celebrated novelist Gary Shteyngart doggedly pursues mental health… A history lesson you can crank to eleven… and Rico learns French Fries know no limits

Icebreaker: Flashback
Clay Weiner, director of the upcoming Fred: the Movie, presents a joke that’ll blow your mind, man.

Small Talk: Maximum Mail, Angry Young Men and the Soap Opera of Soap Operas
The folks at Marketplace, regale us with some news stories you might’ve missed. (Our radio listeners heard National Review blogger Reihan Salam wax ecstatic about a smart-phone app that turns real-life chores into a virtual adventure.)

A History Lesson With Booze: The Electric Guitar & “The Electric Lemonade
In 1931, lap-steel guitarist George Beauchamp and partner Adolph Rickenbacker invented the modern electric guitar, laying the foundations for ear-splitting rock ‘n’ roll, youth revolutions, and holding up your lighter during a power ballad. Toast the greatest invention ever with this take on an amped-up cocktail standard:

ELECTRIC LEMONADE (VARIATION), as mixed by Megan Jones of Crosby Restaurant in Santa Ana,CA, home of Rickenbacker HQ:

In a chilled highball glass add:

  • 1.25 oz. vodka
  • .5 oz. St-Germain Elderflower liquor
  • .25 oz. freshly-squeezed lemonade
  • splash of soda water or ginger ale

Sip, pump fist, bang head. Repeat ‘til deaf.


Gage Brewer, a small-time performer from Northwest Oklahoma, picks away at electrified Hawaiian and Spanish-style Rickenbackers in a home recording from 1932. Gage was the first musician ever to play live with an electric guitar — his “Frying Pan” sits proudly at the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum, and the only copy of this 78-rpm belongs to local Scott Kern. He generously gave us permission to listen in on an excerpt:

Guest of Honor: Gary Shteyngart
Absurdistan author Gary Shteyngart brings the satire home with his new book Super Sad True Love Story. It’s a boy-meets-girl tale set in a near-future where China, corporations, and cute (see-through) jeans rule the world. Shteyngart tells Brendan about the difficulties of outrunning the headlines, his distaste for “crunch culture,” and his canine analyst.

Main Course: Fresh Fries
Rico speaks with the owners of the L.A. food truck “Fresh Fries” about “The Peanut Butter Cup” — a dish that takes French Fries to a diabetically delicious level.

One For The Road: Dark Dark Dark – “Daydreaming”
Last week Minneapolis sextet Dark Dark Dark regaled us with a joke — but their forthcoming album is anything but. The advance single “Daydreaming” is the perfect soundtrack for moving away from home in the middle of a rainstorm.

Music On This Week’s Show:

The Sea & Cake – “The Argument”

The Wedding Present – “Signal”

Link Wray – “Jack the Ripper”

Tipsy – “Liquordelic”

Duke Ellington – “Diga Diga Doo”

Harpo Marx – “Hungarian Rhapsody #2”

Replicants – “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?”

Kraftwerk – “Trans Europe Express”

Booker T. & the M.G.’s – “My Sweet Potato”

Dark Dark Dark – “Daydreaming”