If you haven’t started your own podcast as an excuse for calling old friends for a conversation, you really should.
It was nice calling my friend Jon Cunningham, also known as Corn Mo.
Corn Mo is the kind of guy that can walk into a room full of strangers with an accordion, a cymbal and drumstick stuck to his shoe, and win over even the most cynical audiences.
Broadway World called him, “Charming troubadour and raconteur Corn Mo ,” and praise his, “patented combination of original songs, quirky, off-kilter anecdotes, and charisma,” and The Sydney Morning Herald described his songs as, “absurd, but his voice (as well as his piano and accordion playing) is so great it’s a pleasure to listen to – even when you’re not sure where the laughs are supposed to be.”
So anyhow, I gave Jon a call. I have to warn you, it was a bit awkward at first. I’ve cut out a lot of the pregnant pauses. I was a bit run-down, and I was calling Jon pretty early his time. We both felt we proved we are just boring guys. We pretty much fell into the same conversation we would have had as roommates twenty odd years ago. (But we enjoyed it)
Before I jump into the conversation, I did just want to talk about Corn Mo’s music. He’s written and recorded a lot over the years, but I’m still impacted the most by some of the songs he was performing way back when I met him
Ivan Rana is a true dreamer. But he doesn’t just dream, he really hustles to get things done.
I met him him when I was a producer and editor at Zee TV, the Indian Television network that’s on satellite in the US. I was the first non-Asian hired at the North American headquarters which happened to be in Arlington Texas.
Ivan was also a producer and editor but he was actually from India. We worked closely together for years. We were essentially a two-man team for about two years.
We’ve both come a long way since then. As you’ll hear, Ivan has had a lot of success with his creative endeavors, but there are still things he wants to do, and he’s still hustling.
See if you can hear the envy in my voice when I talk to Rory Scholl about his bohemian lifestyle. Rory is a comedian, a writer and actor in New York. He actually has so many different gigs, we only scratched the surface in this conversation. Way back when I was making student films, I would rope Rory in as talent, because he’s talented, and as you’ll hear, he’s pretty much game for anything, whether that’s playing an airline seat, or trying to make Lenny Bruce kid-friendly. Heeeeere’s Rory.
A young Rory Scholl and an even younger Mark Cuban
When I graduated high school in 1988, my idea of college was equal parts Animal House, Revenge of the Nerds and The Sure Thing.So if you were going to cast the part of my freshman roommate, you couldn’t have found a better person that Norm Bowman.He had it all, a spray-painted Dodge Dart, an anti-establishment attitude, and best of all, he was old enough to buy booze.It’s not surprising he was kind of the nucleus of my circle of friends.These days he’s still anti-establishment but a bit mellowed, with lovely family in the Dallas suburbs. He has a lot to say. We cover the similarities between coffee and condoms, his atheism, his signature style of photographing himself on abandoned furniture, and more.
This episode is easy as Sunday morning. That’s what time it was in Seattle when I spoke to my cousin Jackie Micucci. Jackie is originally from Long Island, New York. She’s one of my many relatives that I know, but I don’t know that well, and I certainly don’t see very often. But even though I’ve only been in the same room with her a few times, I’ve always felt an affinity to her… probably because of her snarky comments on Facebook. But the snark is a bit misleading. As you’ll hear she’s practically a Pollyanna!
I met Chris Flemmons while I was living in the college town of Denton, Texas. He’s a talented singer and songwriter. He has a band called the Baptist Generals. He’s also a filmmaker. He was Director of Photography on a short film I made called “Kung Fu Teenage Bigfoot” the trailer…and he also did the voice over.
I’ve always liked Chris’ demeanor. During this conversation, he mentions he sometimes feels like a crotchety old man, but the thing is, he had that vibe even in his twenties…he wears it well, it suits him. Anyhow, I always get a lot from his point of view. I hope you do too.
Alvin Oon is a very positive, upbeat guy. Usually, I’m suspicious of guys like that, because really, who are they fooling? But for Alvin, that’s genuinely the way he is. And as you’ll hear, any guy who made a choice to pursue the performing arts in Singapore and go his own way and who made a successful life for himself and his family must have a positive attitude.
Alvin is an actor, singer, emcee, director, he can basically do it all. He also writes songs, and some of his songs poking fun at life in Singapore have gone viral, getting hundreds of thousands of views. If you like any of them you hear later, I encourage you to check out the videos on youtube.
Here are pictures and links to a few of the things we mentioned in the show:
What can I say about Sean Sutherlin? He’s just a great guy. You’re going to love him. He has a nice soothing voice. He’s smart, he’s an English professor, he’s part of my first circle of college friends from my freshman year when I went to Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas…and I was only there for one year but that group of friends, we’re still friends…and I don’t want to say much more because this is the special Christmas edition of, “Who Are These People?”
So there’s this guy named Lee Weaver who has decided to run for governor in Texas. And he’s just a normal guy, not a polished politician, and he this to say about his candidacy, “Turns out nothing clears your head quite like transplanting an enormously complicated idea from the safety and privacy of your own mind into the unforgiving wild west of the public square.”
That quote hit home with me, because it’s a big part of why I wanted to start this podcast. I wanted to take the running dialog inside my head and speak it out loud, because it does take a different shape as soon as you do. You realize that some things that bounce around in your own mind sound so easily, sound ridiculous when you try to speak it.
Which brings me to Tony Nash. Tony and I are friends, kind of at the professional level. I knew who he was because he is a frequent guest on Bloomberg, CNBC, BBC etc., here in Asia. He’s an economist and has his own company. Then it so happened that I started working at a company in a small office and Tony rented the room down the hall. So I saw him on a somewhat daily basis for about a year. So obviously we got to know each other pretty well. And Tony, as you’ll hear in this conversation, has some different political views than I do. He’s a Republican and, well, you’ll hear him describe it himself. But first and foremost he’s a very nice and friendly guy.
Even though I met him and got to know him in Singapore, he’s also from North Texas and grew up in the Hurst, Euless, Bedford area…small world.
The year that I was working there with him, happened to overlap with the 2016 presidential campaign. You can imagine as Trump was gaining in the polls, Tony was happily ribbing me, “are you ready for Trump as the next president?” I was amused and bemused and also as the timing would have it, I was at work during normal working hours, when the election was eventually called for Trump. I think Tony could sense he was the only one in a fairly wide radius who was happy about the result. I give him credit, he didn’t gloat and I think he knew that myself and others needed some space. But anyhow, that’s all in the past now…here’s my conversation with Tony Nash.
I haven’t told Scott yet, but he’s on my list of people to interview for the podcast. Here is a brief teaser, where he came up in conversation with Lisa Rawlinson (episode 10), and here are some photos stolen from his Facebook page:
Here is Scott enlightening former President George W. Bush
Mushroom clouds are a recurring theme
A handsome bird
Anyone from Texas of a certain vintage will appreciate this.
So be on the lookout for a future “Who Are These People?” with Scott Winterrowd