Culture

Quote-Unquote: Excerpts from Upcoming Oral Histories

The use of unfiltered direct quotes gives a veneer of authenticity, and the writer doesn’t have to do much actual writing.

oral history

– noun

1. information of historical or sociological importance obtained usually by tape-recorded interviews with persons whose experiences and memories are representative or whose lives have been of special significance.

2. a book, article, recording, or transcription of such information.

+++

The oral history is one of the hottest areas in publishing right now. The use of unfiltered direct quotes gives a veneer of authenticity, and these books are often totally unauthorized, so the reader gets the sense that they’re getting the real story. Also, as a writer, you don’t have to do much actual writing. -- Deborah Kaling, publishing industry analyst

Guys, Where Are We? An Oral History of the Making of Lost

Lloyd Braun, Chairman of ABC, 2002-2004” It all started as a dare. We were at an industry event, and I was pounding the vodka-and-Red Bulls, you know? So me and some CBS guys, we started this thing to see who could come up with the most ridiculous idea for a new TV show. I said, “I got it: I’ll pitch them on a cross between Lord of the Flies, Survivor, Gilligan’s Island and Myst. And we film it in Hawaii, the most expensive place on Earth!” We laughed so hard I literally burst a blood vessel on my nose. Guys start putting up money, you know, double-dog daring me and so forth. So I scrawl out a treatment on the back of a napkin and bring it in Monday. Next thing you know I’ve got a $14 million dollar budget. God, I love this business.

Carlton Cuse, executive producer” Here’s our dirty little secret. You know what keeps the viewers coming back? Clavicles. Seriously, we’ve done the focus group testing. Kate’s clavicles, when she’s all sweaty and wearing those tank tops? Money. Sawyer’s clavicles -- that’s why we keep taking his shirt off. Double money. My God, what a torso that man has. And Juliette? The most glorious clavicles in the history of creation. We’ve got special cameras and lighting rigs just for that women’s chest. That’s it, man. Telling you. Clavicles.

Damon Lindelof, executive producer: By the end of our third season, many viewers -- even longtime, loyal, very attentive viewers -- were still getting confused about the various plot threads we had going. When we introduced the flash-forward device in Season Four, that only further muddied the waters. So in Season Five, we made the decision to introduce the time-traveling element, so that viewers wouldn’t have to keep track of just one linear narrative, but dozens upon dozens of alternate universes and cause-and-effect paradoxes. Why? Because screw ‘em, that’s why.

iCompany: An Oral History of Apple, Inc.

Geoff Reed, longtime Apple investor: All you Windows guys used to totally ridicule me for being a Mac guy back in ’89, ‘90. You couldn’t get decent games or software for Mac back then. Well, while you clowns were playing Quake I was investing in Apple, and guess what? I’m stupid rich now. So you monkeys can suck it.

Teresa Schmidt, former Apple executive” When the iPod was first being considered -- this was way, way early in the conceptual prototype phase -- I sent around a memo saying this iPod idea was a real loser, and that we should be putting our efforts into resurrecting the Newton personal digital assistant. Clearly, this had a negative impact on my career. Did you want a Tall, Grande or Venti?

Ethan Young, retired Apple manager: You know, Jobs has this reputation as a real bastard. But in my experience, he was fair in his own way. He treated everyone the same. Whether you were a new guy or someone like me who, you know, put in 80-hour weeks for years, sacrificed his marriage, health and sanity for the company, and never made it past middle management. Actually, come to think of it, Jobs can go to hell. Bastard.

A-Hole: An Oral History of Alex Rodriguez’ MLB Career

Greg Waterman, little league coach” I remember when he was playing in the junior travel teams in Miami. Even then he seemed to have a prescient sense of his destiny. He’d say things like, “Someday I will be league MVP.” Or, “One day, I’m going to have 50 homers and 200 hits in a season.” Or, “One day I’m going to silently burn in jealously and rage while f---ing Jeter gets all the glory.” It was incredible, really. He knew just where he was headed.

Jim Higbert, trainer, Texas Rangers: He’s a great ballplayer, no doubt about it. But he’s got a big head, you know. No, literally. His head is huge, totally ‘roided out -- we used to watch it grow between innings.

Paul Lowman, sportswriter: Oh, it’s a lot worse than people think. The PED’s are the least of it. Ever wonder why the guy seems so wooden, so devoid of personality? Cybernetics, man. He’s more machine than man now. In fact, I once saw him remove his faceplate before a double-header in Cleveland. Freaky.

Alex Rodriguez

Messing with Texas: An Oral History of the South by Southwest Music Festival

Dean Manning, bassist, Attack Pattern Delta” [March, 2008] This used to be such a great scene, now it’s all corporate and co-opted. It makes me sick.

Gary “Bean” Fellows, lead singer, Carload of Drunk Teenagers” [March, 1998] This used to be an actual, real thing for music people. Now it’s totally co-opted, sold, played out. Makes me sick.

Josh Heltzel, drummer, Sammy Davis’ Other Eye” [March, 1988] Last year was great. Now it sucks. Makes me sick. I’ll tell you who’s the real deal, though -- Terence Trent D'Arby. I guarantee you he’ll be making awesome records 30 years from now.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

'World War 3 Illustrated #51: The World We Are Fighting For'

World War 3 Illustrated #51 displays an eclectic range of artists united in their call to save democracy from rising fascism.

Music

Tiphanie Doucet's "You and I" Is an Exercise in Pastoral Poignancy (premiere)

French singer-songwriter Tiphanie Doucet gives a glimpse of her upcoming EP, Painted Blue, via the sublimely sentimental ode, "You and I".

Music

PM Picks Playlist 3: WEIRDO, Psychobuildings, Lili Pistorius

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of WEIRDO, Brooklyn chillwavers Psychobuildings, the clever alt-pop of Lili Pistorius, visceral post-punk from Sapphire Blues, Team Solo's ska-pop confection, and dubby beats from Ink Project.

By the Book

The Story of Life in 10 1/2 Species (excerpt)

If an alien visitor were to collect ten souvenir life forms to represent life on earth, which would they be? This excerpt of Marianne Taylor's The Story of Life in 10 and a Half Species explores in text and photos the tiny but powerful earthling, the virus.

Marianne Taylor
Film

Exploitation Shenanigans 'Test Tube Babies' and 'Guilty Parents' Contend with the Aftermath

As with so many of these movies about daughters who go astray, Test Tube Babies blames the uptight mothers who never told them about S-E-X. Meanwhile, Guilty Parents exploits poor impulse control and chorus girls showing their underwear.

Music

Deftones Pull a Late-Career Rabbit Out of a Hat with 'Ohms'

Twenty years removed from Deftones' debut album, the iconic alt-metal outfit gel more than ever and discover their poise on Ohms.

Music

Arcade Fire's Will Butler Personalizes History on 'Generations'

Arcade Fire's Will Butler creates bouncy, infectious rhythms and covers them with socially responsible, cerebral lyrics about American life past and present on Generations.

Music

Thelonious Monk's Recently Unearthed 'Palo Alto' Is a Stellar Posthumous Live Set

With a backstory as exhilarating as the music itself, a Thelonious Monk concert recorded at a California high school in 1968 is a rare treat for jazz fans.

Music

Jonnine's 'Blue Hills' Is an Intimate Collection of Half-Awake Pop Songs

What sets experimental pop's Jonnine apart on Blue Hills is her attention to detail, her poetic lyricism, and the indelibly personal touch her sound bears.

Music

Renegade Connection's Gary Asquith Indulges in Creative Tension

From Renegade Soundwave to Renegade Connection, electronic legend Gary Asquith talks about how he continues to produce infectiously innovative music.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.

Books

Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.

Film

'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.

Music

Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.

Film

Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.

Music

Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.