Jan. 9, 2023

Three Interviews: Cronin, Basquiat and Barris

Three Interviews: Cronin, Basquiat and Barris

Hear the 1984 interview tape with this random trio: REO Speedwagon's Kevin Cronin, painter Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Gong Show host Chuck Barris


Notes for I Couldn't Throw It Out Episode 13

The Rando Trio:  REO Speedwagon's Kevin Cronin, painter Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Gong Show host Chuck Barris

When we planned the first season of I Couldn't Throw It Out, we didn't expect to include this odd trio of interviews.  But... as I was digitizing the tape of my 1984 interview with Kiefer Sutherland, I discovered these three interviews on the back side.  So I couldn't ignore them.

Just in case you weren't around when REO Speedwagon had their #1 hits, you can listen to "I Can't Stop This Feeling Anymore" on Youtube.  

(Warning:  That song has been stuck in my head for a week.  So listen with caution.)

The music that inspired Jean-Michel Basquiat while he painted had a very different vibe. Listen to jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker's "Star Eyes" on Youtube.

While doing some research about this song, I came across the original version in the 1942 movie "I Dood It," which was directed by Vincent Minnelli and starred Lena Horne, among others.  Based on the excerpt from the movie on Youtube, it seemed to have no plot -- at least not in the first 20 minutes or so.  But man, what music!  Get a load of the rope dance that follows the opening instrumental number.  It's mind-blowing!  I mean, if people needed a pick-me-up during World War II, this was it!

If you're interested in learning more about the relationship between Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol, you can see them together in this Youtube video:

Meanwhile, for those of you who weren't around to watch Chuck Barris on The Gong Show, or maybe you blocked it out of your mind, you can relive the way he gave a showcase to people with so little talent that you couldn't avert your eyes.  For example, this adult British impersonator of Shirley Temple.

And then there were The Popsicle Twins who got the show in a lot of trouble, merely for the way they enjoyed a wholesome American dessert.

Every once in a while, there was a surprise -- some real talent, like this very unusual juggler.

By the way, if you missed the George Clooney movie based on Barris' book Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, add it to your streaming list now.  It's really fun, and Sam Rockwell does an amazing job of playing Chuck Barris.

Just in case you didn't get enough of Chuck's evasiveness, here's a video in which he discusses the movie and the CIA:

And that brings us to the end of season one of I Couldn't Throw It Out.  But don't lose sleep over it.  I'm already searching through my boxes for more treasures.  We shall return soon!

More info: throwitoutpodcast.com
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Will anything get tossed? Could happen. THANK YOU for listening!

Transcript

I Couldn't Throw It Out Podcast, Episode 13

MICHAEL SMALL: Hello and welcome to I Couldn't Throw It Out, the podcast where I tell the stories behind the treasures I've saved.  And then we TRY to throw them out. For the final episode of season one, we share interviews with a very unlikely trio:  First there's Kevin Cronin, lead singer of the classic rock group REO Speedwagon, then there's Jean-Michael Basquiat, the art world star whose paintings now sell for HUGE amounts, and finally Chuck Barris, the kooky creator of the Dating Game, the Newlywed Game and the Gong Show. How did these super-mismatched people end up on one cassette tape?  Keep listening to find out…

THEME SONG EXCERPT
   I couldn't throw it out
  I have to scream and shout
  Before I turn to dust
  I've got to throw it out
  Before I turn to dust
  I've got to throw it out  
  END OF THEME SONG EXCERPT

MICHAEL SMALL: Hello Sally Libby!

SALLY LIBBY: Hello Michael Small!

MICHAEL: We did it!  We reached the last episode in season one of our podcast – which we like to call I Couldn't Throw It Out!

SALLY: Yay! We did do it!

MICHAEL: Yes, and to celebrate, we've got a new angle.  Today we're going totally rando.  

SALLY: Explanation please.  What are you talking about?

MICHAEL: People like me – who are at least  three months younger than you --  use the word rando to mean random.

SALLY: So what's so random about this, other than the fact that you're too old to be using millennial speak?

MICHAEL: Well, I know that  your own ancient mind wanders when I ramble.  So let me remind you how we ended our last episode  -- the one about Kiefer Sutherland.  Remember him?

SALLY:  Yeah.

MICHAEL: I discovered that the second side of my interview tape was not actually an interview with Kiefer Sutherland.  I had taped over it in 1984 with three totally unrelated and random phone interviews.  All three of these were for the Chatter page – that was the celebrity column I wrote for several years on the last page of PEOPLE Magazine.  For today I just want to wallow in the randomness of the three people who ended up on the backside of my Kiefer Sutherland tape. 

SALLY: Oh.  Woohoo!

MICHAEL: In those days, I was always waiting for celebrities of various types to return my calls.  So when the phone rang, I had to attach my recorder to the phone very quickly with a little suction cup and get a cassette into the recorder pronto.  Apparently, I was low on cassettes in 1984.  And I didn't foresee that a 16-year-old Sutherland becoming famous in my lifetime.  So, I just grabbed the cassette with his interview and I ... taped over it.

SALLY: A little shortsighted, weren't we?

MICHAEL: I still am.  Nearsighted.  Sally – this is gonna sound like a random question.  But are you familiar with the rock band REO Speedwagon?

SALLY: Oh, am I familiar with them!

MICHAEL: Did you date them?

SALLY:  Almost.  I was that close to the stage.

MICHAEL:  Okay.  So now, if you had to choose between "I'm Gonna Keep on Lovin' You" and "I Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore," which would you choose as the greatest REO Speedwagon song?

SALLY: I wouldn't use the word "greatest." But I'd say, "I Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore."

MICHAEL:  I am so with you. Partly because I believe – in the deepest realms of my heart -- that if I had to crawl across the floor, or come crashing through the door, I couldn't fight this feelin' anymore.  And furthermore, it's time to bring this ship into the shore and throw away the oars.  Cause I can't fight this feelin' anymore.

SALLY: I hear ya.

MICHAEL: That song was a #1 hit in 1982 – and REO was still riding high when the lead singer Kevin Cronin called me in 1984. There was a very specific reason why I put in a request for him to call me.  I had read that the band was sponsoring a 25-year-old speed skater named Erik Henriksen for the Sarajevo Winter Olympics.  

SALLY: A rock band sponsored a skater?  I thought that was more of a corporate thing.

MICHAEL: It's unusual.  That's why I wanted to ask him about it.

Now I know you do not remember office life very well because it was a long time ago. But send your mind back.  And you may recall that the work day is full of people who come along and make things more difficult for you.  But Kevin Cronin was NOT one of those people.  Basically, he did my job for me.  All I had to do was answer the phone and turn on the tape recorder.  And we were off to the races.  I'm not gonna play you the whole thing. But here's an excerpt that explains how a rock band became sponsors of a speed skater.  It started when they were watching an interview with Henrickson, maybe on Wide World of Sports or some other TV sports show. Now get ready – because he had a lot to tell me.  We're gonna being right now.

RECORDED INTERVIEW STARTS

KEVIN CRONIN, LEAD SINGER OF REO SPEEDWAGON: The thing is that… that people need to… people need support. And people need to believe in someone.  And everyone needs someone to believe in them. And this just seemed like kind of a natural thing for our band to do after all the kind of songs that we've written about, you know, to keep pushing and ride the storm out and roll with the changes, all those kind of things that I write, you know, to… to uplift myself as well as other people. So this whole situation seemed to make sense.  So we just, uh, well, we talked to him and found out what his needs were and it turned out that if we just kind of did one benefit show for him, that ah… that it could, you know, tide him over for the Olympics. And so that's what we did, and uh…

MICHAEL SMALL: Where was the benefit show?

KEVIN CRONIN: The benefit show was in Champagne Illinois, which is our hometown. And we did….

MICHAEL:  So you're from Champagne also.

KEVIN CRONIN: Yeah, exactly.

MICHAEL: So did you know him?

KEVIN CRONIN: No, no, he's much younger than us.  Not much younger. He's maybe a year or two younger than us.  But, uh, you know… and that's what… exactly… that's what made kind of like the connection.  So…

MICHAEL: How much money did you raise for him?

KEVIN CRONIN: Ah… I don't know exactly.  But uh… But it was the proceeds from an entire show so…. It was… It was a fair amount. Champagne being… is our home town. And it was a sold-out show.  So you can just… yeah, you can imagine that it was… it was a good amount of money and it was enough to tide him over to the Olympics. He's just the kind of guy that I… I think no matter… I have a feeling he's gonna win a gold medal just because… and if he doesn't, he sure deserves to.  It… it'll be interesting.  If he doesn't, then that'll really show how these other athletes worked. Because this guy is just out there, and, uh, you know, and he's just working his butt off.  You know, actually, whether he wins or loses isn't really the point.  It's just the point that, that it just feels good to be behind someone who's willing to work that hard.

RECORDED INTERVIEW ENDS

SALLY: They gave him the proceeds from an entire show!  That must have made such a difference.  But I have to admit.  I don't remember Erick Henrickson.

MICHAEL: I can think of one reason for that.  He represented the U.S. three times at the Olympics.  But he didn't bring home any medals.  However...  if he had to skate across the floor or come crashing through the door, I don't think you'd have to fight the feeling.  Because he was FAST.  He won at least 13 medals at other competitions.     Now before we move on, here's a rando question -- do you know what REO Speedwagon stands for?  

SALLY:  Um… Let's see… That would be… Rapid Eye Optometry?  Speedwagon?  I have no clue.

MICHAEL: I didn't know either. Since I have this little tidbit straight from the REO's mouth, I might as well share it.

RECORDED INTERVIEW STARTS

MICHAEL: What does REO Speedwagon mean?

KEVIN CRONIN: What does REO Speedwagon mean? 

MICHAEL: Uh huh.

KEVIN CRONIN:  The name comes from a… from a car that was… well, actually, it was a motorcar company that was… it ends up being the Oldsmobile Company but… REO stands for Ransom E. Olds, which is just a guy's name.  Nothing interesting, unfortunately.  But the… the reason that the name stuck, the reason we picked it is it was the first… the original REO Speedwagon was a firetruck and it was one of the first firetrucks that, you know, when they finally realized you could get to a fire faster with a motor than you could with a bunch of horses in front of your buggy.  And so the REO Speedwagon was like, you know, was the first fast-moving, high-energy kind of truck, and so it kinda… it kinda fit our image as being, you know, high energy, and, you know, and fast and hot.  So we kinda kept it.

RECORDED INTERVIEW ENDS

SALLY:  That was actually kind of interesting.

MICHAEL:  He's a good talker, right?

SALLY: Oh yeah.

MICHAEL: Definitely, there was a lot of enthusiasm there.

SALLY:  Enthusiasm. Yes.

MICHAEL: And it was all very pleasant.

SALLY:  Pleasant.

MICHAEL: My next interview on the tape involves a whole other type  of art form.  You would never in a million years associate this person with REO Speedwagon.  But, like it or not, he got associated on this tape just because, well, it's random.  And he happened to get on the phone with me in 1984.

This particular interview reminds me that many of the people I wrote about were not so famous when they talked to me.  Like Kiefer Sutherland, right? But man, did they ever get famous later.

SALLY:  Mm – hm.

MICHAEL: The same is true for this young artist who was encouraged to talk to me by an acquaintance of mine who was named Andy.  And yes, his last name was Warhol.  Andy Warhol.  Name drop!

SALLY: I always wondered how you got to know Andy Warhol?

MICHAEL: Oddly enough, we traveled in the same circles. At least for that phase of my life. When I was writing the Chatter column, I'd go to, like, four or five parties a night – and Andy loved to go to parties. We saw each other so often that we got to know each other.  Plus, he was a close friend of one of my friends from college.  She told him I was okay.  So he kinda trusted me.

SALLY: What about this young artist?  Who was it?

MICHAEL: At the time, he was getting famous in art circles. Almost everyone agreed that he was very talented.  And he was also an extremely cool guy. Like, he dated Madonna.  His early paintings had elements of graffiti with words scrawled over images.  They were selling for thousands of dollars, which seemed like a lot to me.  A few months ago, one of his paintings called "The Guilt of Gold Teeth" sold in Hong Kong.  It went for... $42 million.  One painting.  In 2017, one of his untitled paintings from 1982, which was before I spoke to him, that painting sold for $110 million.  $110 million!  Think about that amount.

SALLY: Whoa!

MICHAEL: Beyonce and Jay-Z own one of his paintings, which they bought for $4.2 million. And the artist's name is Jean-Michel Basquiat.  Andy had told me that Jean-Michel was in Hawaii and I'd be calling him there.  So here's how we got started.    

RECORDED INTERVIEW STARTS

MICHAEL: Are you in Hawaii on vacation? Or painting?  Or for both?

JEAN-MICHAEL BASQUIAT: I'm just relaxing.

MICHAEL: What are you looking forward to when you return to New York? Is something gonna be happening?

JEAN-MICHAEL BASQUIAT: Not much.  I'm looking forward to staying here.

MICHAEL: Oh, you're gonna stay there awhile?

JEAN-MICHAEL BASQUIAT: I'm not sure.  I don't know. I'm just… you know… I'm not looking forward to anything really.

RECOREDED INTERVIEW ENDS

MICHAEL: There was a key detail I didn't know.  When I read up on Jean-Michel yesterday, I found out that his trip to Hawaii was a sort of rehab, to get over his drug addiction. Now that I know that, I can see why my question seemed pretty ridiculous to him.  But that was just the beginning of my awkward questioning, as you'll hear when I asked him more about his art. Of course, at the time, I had no idea what this interview would mean in 2023.  Because – get this -- right now there's a play on Broadway called The Collaboration, and it's about the relationship between Jean-Michel and Andy Warhol. True! So, even if I kind of messed up the interview, I'm glad that I can add at least a few of these small details to that tale.

RECORDED INTERVIEW BEGINS

MICHAEL: Do you have a big project that you're working on now?

JEAN-MICHAEL BASQUIAT: No.

MICHAEL: Okay.  Are… do you paint … um… like, almost every day? Or…

JEAN-MICHAEL BASQUIAT:  I paint or draw something every day.

MICHAEL: Uh huh. I was wondering if there are any… any stories… like, I don't know… Do you know Andy pretty well at this point?  Because it'll be sort of introduced as… you know… he thinks your stuff's really great. And is there any…

JEAN-MICHAEL BASQUIAT: No, no, no.  We're friends together.  Like, you know, when I'm in the city, you know, I see him, you know, five days a week, you know.  For an hour or two around lunchtime. And then, you know, we do a couple pushups and stuff. And then, you know, I go to my studio and I work.  And he stays there and he works. You know, we talk.  He gives me advice and stuff, you know what I mean?

MICHAEL: Have you ever painted anything together?

JEAN-MICHAEL BASQUIAT: (long pause) Mike, so he doesn't paint.  So not exactly.

MICHAEL: Yeah. But… you haven't worked on any projects together?

JEAN-MICHAEL BASQUIAT:  Yeah, yeah, yeah. I will do one thing with him, with Francesco Clemente, you know.  But it hasn't happened yet. It's still… it's still in the making. Collaborative painting.

MICHAEL: Where you would paint and he would do some photography, or…

JEAN-MICHAEL BASQUIAT: Um.  I don't know.  Each… All three of us will touch the canvas in some way, you know?

MICHAEL: Uh huh.

JEAN-MICHAEL BASQUIAT: Yeah. Yeah. I think he's gonna, whatever, package it.  He's the one whose gonna package it all. 

MICHAEL: Uh huh.  Can you tell me the name of the other person again? I didn't get it.

JEAN-MICHAEL BASQUIAT: Francesco Clemente.  You ever heard of him?

MICHAEL:  I… I haven't.  I'm sorry.  I probably should have.

JEAN-MICHAEL BASQUIAT: Here's more famous than me.

MICHAEL: Well, that just goes to show.

JEAN-MICHAEL BASQUIAT: He's Italien too.

MICHAEL: Uh huh.

JEAN-MICHAEL BASQUIAT:  Yeah, he's imported stuff.

RECORDED INTERVIEW ENDS

MICHAEL: I don't know if you can tell, Sally, but that was embarrassing.   Admitting that I didn't know who Francesco Clemente was, even though he was one of the most successful artists at the time.  I did at least find out that Jean-Michel and Andy Warhol did push-ups after lunch, which was interesting.  Interesting image.  And when I asked him if he was making enough money to support himself from his art, he did kid around with me in a way that seems a little bit friendly.

RECORDED INTERVIEW STARTS

MICHAEL:  Is your income mostly from your painting?  Or do you have another job?

JEAN-MICHAEL BASQUIAT:  I'm a gigolo. No.  I don't know. Mostly from painting.

MICHAEL: Okay.

JEAN-MICHAEL BASQUIAT:  I could say some thing [unintelligible]. If I could say anything I want, say that.  How do I get my money?  I find it.  I find it.

RECORDED INTERVIEW ENDS

MICHAEL: By the end of the interview,  everything I asked annoyed him.  And when I offered him a chance to say whatever he wanted, that annoyed him too.   It's a little painful to hear.  But why not?  Here it is.  

RECORDED INTERVIEW BEGINS

MICHAEL: If there's anything at all you want to say about your art, this is the chance to do it.  I really wish you would take advantage of the chance to say something.

JEAN-MICHAEL BASQUIAT:  I said it! You didn't hear me?

MICHAEL: No, I did hear it.  But I'm just giving you a final summation time if you have anything more you want to say.

JEAN-MICHAEL BASQUIAT:  Oh. If you put in that thing about "Star Eyes," that's it. Did you get that down?

MICHAEL: Um. I hope so. I'm trying to write fast.

JEAN-MICHAEL BASQUIAT:  Okay, Michael. [unintelligible] Like, you know, it's like, um…. Let's say the song is the object, right?

MICHAEL: Mm-hm.

JEAN-MICHAEL BASQUIAT:  Or the object… the object is the song to the painter, right?  It's just his execution of that song.  That object. And now anytime somebody plays that song, it's gonna be heard a different way. But it's still recognizable as "Star Eyes," right?

MICHAEL: Right.

JEAN-MICHAEL BASQUIAT:  So… it's just, um… it's… it's all a variation on… there's only a couple of themes, you know what I mean? All this talk about… about all this other stuff is bullshit. It's just… there's only a couple things you can paint. And it's the way you do it, you know?

MICHAEL: Uh huh.

JEAN-MICHAEL BASQUIAT:  And that's what… and that's… and I can't really describe the… the way I do it.  You know, I just go at this.  You know what I mean?

MICHAEL: Yeah.

JEAN-MICHAEL BASQUIAT:  And that's all I want to say.

MICHAEL:  Okay.  Well, thanks for taking the time to speak with me.  And ah… I appreciate it.

JEAN-MICHAEL BASQUIAT:  Sure, sure, sure.

RECORDED INTERIEW ENDS

SALLY: What is "Star Eyes"?

MICHAEL:  Well, I had no idea at the time.  So I looked it up.  It was a song from a movie in 1943 called I Dood It.  I Dood It.  It was directed by Liza Minelli's father Vincent Minelli. 

SALLY: I Dood It?  Pretty odd.  

MICHAEL: Yeah.  The movie may have been lost.  But in 1951, Charlie Parker recorded the song and then it became kind of a jazz standard.

SALLY: Oh.

MICHAEL: If anyone wants to hear what was inspiring Jean-Michel Basquiat, I'll put a link to the Charlie Parker version on our website:  throwitoutpodcast.com. I did seeJean-Michel once after that, when we were both at a party at the Area nightclub.  And I decided, based on his reaction to me on the phone, not to remind him that I was the person who did a phone interview with him.

SALLY: You know what your biggest mistake was?  You didn't take every penny you had to buy his cheapest paintings.

MICHAEL: You're so right.  I could have retired long ago.  Just another case of woulda, coulda, shoulda.  But I just couldn't see into the future.  One of the things that I never would have predicted is that Jean-Michael Basquiat died in 1988 from a drug overdose.

SALLY:  So he was only 28 when he passed.

MICHAEL: Actually he was only 27. And think of what he would have done if he had survived.  That's really a great tragedy. But when I crossed paths with him, I was so busy that I never stopped long enough to think about where he was going, what his importance was, or to really study his art as much as it deserved.  My inability to see what was coming was particularly true with the next interview that ended up on the Kiefer tape.  Once again, it was so random.  Someone who couldn't have been farther from REO Speedwagon and Jean-Michel Basquiat.  But it was someone who was particularly entertaining. Of all the people I interviewed, this was one of the smartest and most wonderful bullshitters.  His name was Chuck Barris.  Does that name ring a bell?

SALLY: Chuck Barris! Yes!

MICHAEL: Do you remember what he's known for?

SALLY: I sure do.  The Gong Show.

MICHAEL: Which was…

SALLY: It was a talent show that had people on that were just awful.

MICHAEL: And that was the joy of it.

SALLY: Yes.  I mean, it was like… That show was like a horrible car wreck that you absolutely couldn't help but look at. I mean, this guy was so crazy, and you loved to hate him.  But there was also something a little bit likable about him.

MICHAEL: Sure. Now here's another test.  Do you remember what other TV shows are affiliated with Chuck Barris?

SALLY: Chuck. Barris… No I don't.

MICHAEL: Well, he  was creator of The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game.

SALLY: Figures.

MICHAEL: And even if people don't remember those shows, they were extremely popular, and they were kind of like the early versions I would say of The Bachelor and Family Feud. 

SALLY: Mm-hm.

MICHAEL: Plus, on the side, he wrote the song Palisades Park..

SALLY: Oh yeah.

MICHAEL… which got to #3 on the Billboard Chart in 1962.

SALLY:  (singing) Wheee! Down at Palisades Park.

MICHAEL: There you go. But of all the kooky things he did, the kookiest was his book called Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.  Did you see the George Clooney movie based on that book? 

SALLY:  No but now that you mention it, I want to see it.

MICHAEL: It was great.  And one of my favorite actors of all-time – Sam Rockwell – played Chuck Barris and he was amazing.   But the book was written long before the movie came out in 2002.  In fact, no surprise, it was published in 1984 – which is exactly why Chuck Barris ended up on the same tape.  This was a crazy interview because the book was about a character like Barris who supposedly was a CIA operative and hitman on the side, while he was running game shows.  And he claimed that he couldn't confirm any of it for me.  Because it was all off-limits. It was all secret. So we have this extremely absurd conversation, where I keep going back to the same question and he keeps not answering.  Here we go:

RECORDED INTERVIEW BEGINS

MICHAEL: I'm trying to figure out if you were actually saying, "I was there at the Civil Rights March for the CIA.

CHUCK BARRIS:  Well, again, there's a lot of things I'd like to talk about and a lot of things I'd like to not talk about. And it blurs for me. So I'm tellin' ya, Michael.  I just don't wanna… I don't think it really does me or the book any good to mention certain things.  Other things, I think it does. So I have to be evasive in that… in that respect. 

MICHAEL:  I understand your evasiveness.  What I'm trying to understand is that in reading the book…

CHUCK BARRIS: Did you like it?

MICHAEL: I found it very entertaining.

CHUCK BARRIS:  That's all that counts.  That's all I care about.  If you found it entertaining, I'm a happy cat.  I mean, that… If I gave you a few… a few hours of entertainment, I figure the book served its purpose. It really did. I just feel that's…. that's the best thing that's happened so far this morning, to hear that you got a little, just had some fun out of it.

MICHAEL: Nonetheless, even though I got a lot of fun out of it, the column that this is for is sort of a newsy type column.

CHUCK BARRIS: Right.

MICHAEL: And so…. I don't want to pin you in.. in directions that you don't want to be pushed. I want to understand as much as you're saying, that you were involved in domestic CIA activities.

CHUCK BARRIS:  I can't comment on that Michael.

MICHAEL: So, in fact, the book could be fiction. It is being marketed as non-fiction.  But, in fact, the book could be fiction?

CHUCK BARRIS: Well, I don't know how the book could be fiction if uh…

MICHAEL: 'Cause if you can't comment on whether the book is true or not.

CHUCK BARRIS: Well, if I… If I can't comment on whether the book is… is nonfiction, I can equally not comment on… If I couldn't comment on whether the book is fiction, does that automatically make it nonfiction? I mean, I don't understand.

MICHAEL: So you just won't say whether the book is fiction or nonfiction.

CHUCK BARRIS: Exactly. I actually won't say much.  Probably gonna be a very poor interview.

MICHAEL: Do you expect people to be skeptical?

CHUCK BARRIS: Of course. I just think they… they've got to be. I mean, I believe, it's a mind-boggling situation.  So the problem…

MICHAEL: So you wanted the book just read as entertainment, whether it was true or not, you would have just sold it just as fiction. It would have been a novel and that's that.

CHUCK BARRIS: Exactly. But I don't believe it is in that respect a novel. And I think it's not being a novel in that respect, the respect being, there's a lot of truth in the book, makes it more interesting to the reader. And uh… if that makes it more entertaining to the reader, that's… that's… important to me.

MICHAEL: Okay.

CHUCK BARRIS: Now, the problem has always existed I imagine from the beginning how to categorize the book.  Where's it gonna… What bestseller list is it gonna be in if it's lucky enough to be a bestseller. I don't know.  And I can't handle that. I can only go out and say, "I wrote a book. I hope you're entertained by it.  It's in the bookshtores, and uh…"

RECORDED INTERVIEW ENDS

MICHAEL: Do you believe him? Do you think he was in the CIA?

SALLY:  I… do… not.

MICHAEL:  You don't?  Interesting.

SALLY:  No.  I think he's full of it.

MICHAEL: Okay.

SALLY: But, you know, it could be a very entertaining book.  So believe what you will. 

MICHAEL: Yup.  And you've gotta see that movie. Unfortunately, he's no longer with us.  He died in 2017. He was 87. I'm glad that I got to see what a fun person he was, even if it meant that I couldn't share all my Kiefer Sutherland interview with you, because we were listening to him talk about that book.  But this brings us to the key moment.  You've heard the whole tape, Sally.  With Kiefer Sutherland on side one, and on side two, the rando trio:  Kevin Cronin,  Jean-Michael Basquiat, and Chuck Barris.  Are you going to try to tell me that this artifact of 1984 should go in the trash? 
 SALLY: Mike, either it definitely should go in the trash.  Or it should definitely be saved.  I just can't figure out which one. It's so odd. And it might keep you, you know, entertained for a few more years.

MICHAEL:   I did digitize the full interviews.  But I feel like, this tape right here, this is special.

SALLY: Put it in the middle file. The one where you're gonna think about it.

MICHAEL: Okay. That's all we've got for today is… we were just listening to the tape. So there it is.  But I'm afraid it's that time again.

SALLY: What time?

MICHAEL: Time for me to go crawling to the door and crashing through the floor – because I can't fight the feelin' anymore that our first season is done. I guess we'll take a break before season 2, before we return with more mounds of treasures that I've saved. 

SALLY:  But before that, I have a few last questions.

MICHAEL: Oh.

SALLY: Like, can you remind me how much you've thrown out so far?

MICHAEL: That's such a mean question.  Um, okay, let's try to review. We certainly didn't throw out anything relating to Joni.  I did throw out that greeting card.  I shredded that greeting card from you in the very first episode, that you sent me.

SALLY: Yes, I remember that.

MICHAEL:  Threw out some cards after the kidney transplant.  And I threw out that mix tape from Cindy. I still have the clang of the trash can in my ear.  That painful clang.  No more mix tape from Cindy.  It's gone.  It is gone.  I've got 24 boxes of this stuff and all that's gone is, like, one quarter of an inch worth.

SALLY: So, Mike,  would it be correct to call this experiment a failure?

MICHAEL: No!  I mean, for me, so many memories came back to me that I had completely lost.  And thinking about what I did during these years of my career and high school. And how it all came together.  Let me toss this back at you.  Did anything come out of this podcast that was valuable to you?

SALLY: Ah, it put your life in kind of perspective. And if feels like you're living twice. You know, when you're busy and living your life and it's all hectic.  But then when you go back and you have all these mementos, then you process things and you really sort of put this picture together of your life. I think it's kind of cool.

MICHAEL: You know, it's not accidental that you're my friend. All these years.  I am so glad you said that.  Because I agree with that. Everybody says, well at least with the tapes, that I should digitize them and toss them. But I don't trust that and I have a very good reason.

SALLY: Why is that?

MICHAEL: Well, back in… I don't know… it must have been 1994,  I helped to create one of the very first websites, which was for Wired Magazine. They promised us it would be there for eternity.  I did interviews with Laurie Anderson, Yoko Ono, and I didn't save any of it because I believed in eternity.  But eternity didn't even last a decade. Now all that content is gone for good.  Disappeared forever.  So that's why I'm not a big believer in digital files.  I think these three-dimensional objects are much more reliable.

SALLY: But you promised that you'd get everything out of Nancy's garage so she and Cindy wouldn't be stuck with it if you die ahead of schedule.

MICHAEL:  You know, I just met with a financial advisor.  We're planning for retirement.  He had on his chart, it said, "End of plan for Michael" and "End of plan for Cindy."

SALLY: Oh, it sounds so final.

MICHAEL: Well, yeah. "End of plan" means you die.

SALLY: Yeah.

MICHAEL: So, thinking ahead to my "end of plan," I created a new box called "Processed." And everything that we didn't throw out this season went into that box.  If I happen to reach my hour of doom before you and Cindy and the Very Famous Nancy, the three of you can certainly toss that box first.  Because at least it's been processed. And then this rest of it, I leave on your conscience.  Do what you have to do. However, I do think it is highly likely that both you and I will make it to season two.

SALLY: Any thoughts about what you'll try to toss in the next season?

MICHAEL: During the past few months, I think both of us have heard from people who told us about their own treasures that they saved. I was thinking we'd do some episodes with other people telling their stories and trying to throw out their things.

SALLY: Un huh.  See if they have any more luck.

MICHAEL:  Yeah. And I have so much stuff in these boxes.  

SALLY: You need to step up and get throwing.

MICHAEL: I think that it will be time to toss a few more things before you hear me say what words, Sally?

SALLY: I Couldn't Throw It Out

THEME SONG EXCERPT

I couldn't throw it out

I had to scream and shout

END THEME SONG EXCERPT

SALLY: Please remember:  If you enjoyed this season, go to Apple Podcasts and give us a positive review.  Or tell a friend about it.  Or follow us at Instagram at:  throwitoutpod.  Or see all our links, photos and more info about each episode at throwitoutpodcast.com

MICHAEL: And, while we're at it, many thanks to the key people who made this season possible:  Gotta start with The Very Famous Nancy, who is storing all my stuff; Cindy Ruskin, for a million reasons;  Ed Hernstadt for advice and guidance.  A very special thanks to Boots Camp, Jen Ayers and Don Rauf, who gave us such an excellent theme song. And last of all, infinite thanks to all our friends who encouraged us – we are so grateful to every one of you.  And now I've gotta go sort through some boxes. Bye, Sal!

SALLY: Bye Mike!  See ya, season 2!

THEME SONG:  I Couldn't Throw It Out
    Performed by Don Rauf, Boots Kamp, and Jen Ayers
    Music by Boots Kamp and Don Rauf
    Lyrics by Don Rauf and Michael Small
 
Out here in Nancy's – her big garage
This isn't a mi-  This isn't a mirage

Decades of stories, memories stacked
There is a redolence of some irrelevant facts.
But I couldn't throw it out
I have to scream and shout

It all seems so unjust
But still I know I must
Before I turn to dust
I've got to throw it out
Before I turn to dust
I've got to throw it out

Well, I couldn't throw it out
I couldn't throw it out
I'll sort through my possessions
In these painful sessions
I guess this is what it's about
The poems, cards and papers
The moldy musty vapors
I just gotta sort it out.

Well I couldn't throw it out
I couldn't throw it out
I couldn't throw it out
I couldn't throw it out
 
END OF EPISODE 13