Patrick Bryant reads "Somerville Speakout" a column in the Somerville Journal newspaper (Somerville, Massachusetts) where the paper will print any and everything that readers call in with.
1. Qué El Jode Es Speakout De Somerville?
2. Please Don't Hate Me Just Because I'm Fat,
Computer Illiterate, Have Gout and/or Hate The Pope
3. Call Me...The Barber!
4. I Believe That Children Are the Future,
Unless the Children Are From Somerville
5. Let's Put The 'X' in X-Mas
6. Legalize Pot...But Not Gay Marriage
7. Are Your Tax Dollars Paying For Speakout?
8. Uh, Oh. Here Comes the Neighborhood
9. The Evils That Taxis Do
10. Man's Best Friend is Somerville's Greatest Enemy
11. Park It, Mister
12. Have It Your Way, For Twenty Cents Extra
13. That's Entertainment...Until Somebody Loses An Eye
14. Law and Disorder
15. People Calling to Talk About People Calling to
Talk About People Calling to Talk About Speakout
Patrick Bryant, vocals
Peanut Butter Ice Box Pie®
and Maple Danish®
EDITING AND MASTERING
Mark Robinson, Teen-Beat Graphica
"For inquiries on touring, birthday parties, head shots, pony rides, etc., please contact."
The Technology Broadcasting Corporation,
The Somerville Journal,
the Good & Virtuous People of Somerville, Massachusetts,
Sandulli Grace, PC,
who have so much to answer for,
the fab five furries (Ginny Mae, Hudson, Simon, Archie & Bella),
and, of course, Brenda,
a perfect life partner made even more perfect by originally suggesting this project.
It would be easy to say that this is American humor in the vein of Garrison Keillor or the Christopher Guest "mockumentaries," but this is not that. It is real. And what we say when we're really serious about stuff, when transcribed and read by someone else with light band accompaniment, can be really funny. That's what this is.
Somerville Speakout is the public reading (on WMBR radio, Cambridge, Massachusetts) of the rants, diatribes and otherwise strong opinions of real-life residents of Somerville, MA. They are calls left on the voicemail of the local newspaper that are then printed in the paper itself. It's a community soapbox and bulletin board, extolling the virtues of "real" barbers, criticizing those who think they are "water fat" rather than truly "food fat," and otherwise worked up about all kinds of serious and absurd things.
Patrick Bryant, our host, reads these statements with gusto, as if he were reading The Charge of The Light Brigade to a classroom of rapt 1st graders. There's really no other way to read it to be fair to the "writers." Too much tongue in cheek and you're a jerk. Too dry and the absurdity starts flaking away.
WMBR.org has been posting these as podcasts for a while, but legendary indie-rock prince (and Cambridge-ite) Mark Robinson has kindly collected them into an album for the acclaimed Teenbeat label.
This is great--and pretty much good, clean fun. It's a slice of Americana that reminds us of just how silly we get sometimes even when we're dead serious.
But don't take my word for it--listen to the samples on the page. If you don't hear something you like, it's not for you. If you do like it, be the first on your block to get it. You'll be cooler than everyone else first, and you can Tweet on Twitter or blog about it before it blows up big. How cool is that?!
D. Bivins, Brooklyn, New York, USA
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q. Can I speak to Patrick Bryant, host of Subject to Change, a Saturday afternoon radio show on WMBR, MIT's all-volunteer freeform station in Cambridge, Massachusetts?
Q. What the Hell is "Somerville Speakout"?
A. Language, please.
Q. Sorry. What the Heck is "Somerville Speakout"?
A. Somerville, Massachusetts, where I live, is a city just outside Boston and Cambridge and is the most densely-populated place in America.
A. I know, right? Wait, are you being sarcastic?
Q. A little bit.
A. Anywho. The Somerville Journal is a community newspaper published weekly in my Massachusetts hometown. In addition to letters to the editor and opinion columns, the Journal invites readers to leave messages on an answering machine about anything they want. Callers are not asked or required to leave any name or other identification. The Journal then transcribes these voicemails and prints them in the paper in a feature called "Speakout."
A. I don't know. You'd have to ask them.
Q. Gotcha. What number do I call?
Q. What do people call "Speakout" about?
A. Anything and everything – dog parks, bicyclists, dogs, crazy neighbors, trash collection, parking, immigration, dog parks, TV, local politics and the like. Anything short of libel or slander and even that limitation may be negotiable.
Q. What is your role?
A. Each week, I simply read several entries verbatim on the air during my radio show, Subject to Change.
Q. What's that bouncy background music you use?
A. Bert Kaempfert.
A. Very funny. Bert Kaempfert is a long dead German big band leader and composer of easy listening music.
Q. Would I recognize any of his songs?
A. "Strangers in the Night," "Red Roses for a Blue Lady," or "A Swingin' Safari."
Q. Not ringing a bell, frankly.
A. Whatever. I use his music exclusively, as he developed a consistently jovial sound throughout his lengthy career.
Q. That jauntiness is a nice contrast to the, well, negativity of the messages.
Q. Are these calls for real?
A. How would I know?
Q. I mean, do you make them up?
A. Absolutely not. I am offended that you even asked.
Q. Chillax, buddy. I'm just doing my job. Who are these Gladstones that you refer to?
A. Good question.
Q. Thanks. So...
A. Nobody knows. They are rumored to be a family of bicycle pirates in Somerville.
Q. Who is the Barber?
A. He cuts hair.
Q. So I figured. You know, you really are making my job difficult.
A. Sorry about that.
Q. Why hasn't the Somerville Journal sued you?
A. Not sure. Pity, perhaps?
A. I know, right?
Q. Cool. So, you probably can guess what my follow-up is?
A. Of course. Yes, someone called "Speakout" to complain about the article on me and, yes, I read it on the air.
Q. Aren't you making fun of the people who call in?
A. Not at all. I'm giving further exposure to the voice of the downtrodden.
Q. Do you really believe that?
A. Well, kinda.
Q. What music do you play on your show?
A. Disco, dub, no wave, contemporary classical, electronic experimental, etc.
A. I know, I know. And Teenbeat artists, of course.
Q. Sounds like "Somerville Speakout" is the most interesting part of your show.
A. You could say that. Most listeners do.
Q. What does Mark Robinson smell like?
A. A mixture of butterflies and napalm.
Q. Any last words?
A. Yeah, Do you validate parking?