I may not be much, but I’m all I think about, and I assume you do too. Think about me, I mean. And one of the questions you’ve probably asked yourself is, “Keith has mentioned not having a TV in the Tiny White Box. He can’t be reading and writing and walking all the time. How does he entertain himself?”
Audio podcasts. Exclusively.
I was an early adopter of podcasts, brought into the fold first by my desire to run away and kill myself. (I am willing to bet that’s a sentence no human being has ever uttered before.) Way back in the fall of 2006, I had a first edition iPod Touch—the “video iPod”—given me by a woman who had more faith in my ability than was wise. While living with her and her big beautiful Macintosh computer and fast internet connection, I discovered podcasts on iTunes and proceeded to load my device with shows devoted to hiking and, with unintended irony, survival. You see, my plan was to hike south on the Appalachian Trail, taking on a new name, then offing myself around the Blue Ridge Mountains. In order to make it that far, I needed advice on how best to travel and stay alive. Hence, as I was stealing mouthwash from dollar stores to drink for the alcohol, I had a hundred or so hours of podcasts to accompany me on my journey.
Longtime readers know, and new readers have surmised, I didn’t kill myself, instead seeking help from the Veterans Administration, where I was introduced to a program of recovery that remains central to my life today. Still, I had the iPod Touch, although now I didn’t need hiking and wilderness survival tips, I hungered for survival survival tips, and discovered them in the form of podcasts of speakers from Alcoholics Anonymous meetings from all over the country. Some kind soul had gathered hundreds of speaker tapes and made them available free through iTunes. I was living at Buckingham Place, a transitional program for formerly homeless veterans in downtown Nashua, NH, and had a “getting sober” job at an Office Depot four miles away. Each afternoon, I’d take the bus to work, listening to those podcasts, then get out at 10 pm and walk the 75 minutes home, still listening to Sandy from Washington or Clancy from California, learning how to live sober. Those AA speakers helped me in ways I can never explain, much less repay.
Over time, things got better, I got better at life, and I had a real job and a real car and a real apartment. Still, I’d been bitten by the podcast bug, subscribing to tech shows and comedy programs and history lessons and philosophy discussions. I had girlfriends who moved in and out, bringing televisions with them and taking them when things ended, but I never watched alone.
Although this is going to sound like a humble brag, I don’t have the focus to watch TV and I don’t know why. When I was a kid, I was normal and could let that bluish light of the television bathe me for hours on end, not caring what was on and content to look at the glowing box. Since I graduated high school and went into the Army, I’ve had only a few periods in my life when I had a television set, and often that set would lie dormant for days, weeks at a time. In my most recent living situation, before setting sail in the Tiny White Box, I shared an apartment with two of my daughters. Since for the previous year I’d lived in a Medium-Large Metallic Box (a converted cargo trailer) on the property of a spiritual institute in Raymond, NH, I’d looked forward to showering in my own bathroom instead of going to the YMCA, emptying my waste into water instead of a human cat box and, I supposed, watching TV with my daughters. I bought a good-sized television set, ordered cable service and waited for the right time to hit me, the moment I’d want to sit down and watch something.
It didn’t happen.
Full Disclosure: It sort of did in the form of an incessant need to see all the episodes of a delightfully quirky show called “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” Other than that, though, the TV only went on to watch political debates. Even sports I preferred over the radio than on TV.
To return to my favorite topic, the me of this very moment, I subscribe to 50 or so podcasts (see below), listening to almost all of them in their entirety, although not always with my entire attention. A casual glance will show that many (most?) of them are news or political in nature.
Tomorrow I’ll cast a look in the mirror and see what my podcast diet says about my politics, at least as determined by the Media Bias Chart (http://www.allgeneralizationsarefalse.com/the-chart-version-3-0-what-exactly-are-we-reading/). Anxious readers are encouraged to visit that site for more information.
|1947: The Meet the Press Podcast|
|30 For 30 Podcasts|
|Anderson Cooper 360|
|Can He Do That? Washington Post|
|Commentary Magazine Podcast|
|Common Sense with Dan Carlin|
|Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History|
|Face the Nation on the Radio|
|Fareed Zakaria GPS|
|FOX News Sunday Audio Podcast|
|Hardball with Chris Matthews|
|Last Podcast On The Left|
|MSNBC Morning Joe|
|MSNBC Rachel Maddow|
|NBC Meet the Press|
|NPR Politics Podcast|
|Oh No Ross and Carrie|
|Real Time with Bill Maher|
|SE Cupp Unfiltered|
|State of America|
|State of the Union with Jake Tapper|
|Stay Tuned with Preet|
|The 11th Hour with Brian Williams|
|The Christian Humanist Podcast|
|The Complete Guide to Everything|
|The Daily –NY Times|
|The Daily Standard Podcast –|
|The Last Word|
|The Lead with Jake Tapper|
|The Paranoid Strain|
|The Remnant with Jonah Goldberg|
|The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer|
|Thinking Sideways Podcast|
|Trump, Inc. –NPR|
|This Week with George Stephanopoulos|