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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Two New Apps Redefine San Francisco Audio Tours

Posted By on Wed, Apr 8, 2015 at 8:00 AM

COURTESY JAKE STIMPSON, FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS
  • Courtesy Jake Stimpson, Flickr Creative Commons

Walking the streets of San Francisco with headphones in your ears may seem like the perfect way to shut out your surroundings – but two new audio tour apps would have you do just the opposite. Guidekick and Detour, both only a few months old, are pushing the boundaries of what it means to take a stroll through the city. The former uses audio content and 3-D maps to bring San Francisco’s historic sites to life, while the latter guides listeners through neighborhoods via elegantly produced podcasts. According to the creatives behind the two apps, an audio tour revolution is on the horizon – and San Francisco is the testing ground.

For Mark Paddon, Guidekick’s CEO, it all started thousands of miles from home. On a trip to Machu Picchu, the Pacifica native and his friends realized that their exploration of the ruins lacked historical accompaniment. They wanted to be “teleported back in time,” Paddon says, in order to better understand the site's history. There could be an app for that, they decided – and they could create it.

So they returned to their Bay Area base and began an experiment in teleportation. “We want to recreate how San Francisco’s historic sites were in their golden age,” says Paddon. His vision comes across most clearly in Guidekick’s tour of the Sutro Baths, where a combination of storytelling, music, and 3-D maps transforms the weathered stones and stagnant pools into the crowded 19th-century bathhouse. Paddon is working on tours of Union Square, the Ferry Building, and Fisherman’s Wharf – tourist attractions, to be sure, but he sees Guidekick as more than just fanny pack entertainment. “The most rewarding thing is when locals who have been to these places before experience it in a new and transformative way,” he says. “We have plans to expand, but we definitely want to nail it here in San Francisco.”

Ben Adair, Detour’s Head of Content, is similarly convinced of San Francisco’s auditory promise: “It’s a walking city, and it’s small enough not to be completely overwhelming,” he says. Detour also produces audio stories, but in place of 3-D maps, Detour’s visual component is the listener’s surroundings – the stories reference specific buildings and shops at the precise time a pedestrian encounters them. While Guidekick explores San Francisco’s historic sites, Detour has listeners wandering all over the city, with tours centered around themes (trash, architecture), neighborhoods (the Tenderloin), and epochs (The Beat Generation). Veteran audio-journalists from shows like This American Life and Planet Money produce Detour's content, which aims to take podcasting to another level. “Podcasts do a really good job of explaining,” Adair says. “Our storytelling adds another dimension, which is exploration. We consider this a new medium for storytelling.”

Does this mean future urban wanderers will spend their time hunched over their phones? No, says Adair. Like Guidekick's Paddon, he hopes the audio stories will provide a new way for San Franciscans to experience their city.

“The goal isn’t just entertainment," Adair says. "It’s understanding.”
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Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Write Stuff: Kai Carlson-Wee on the Beauty of Not Really Knowing Who You Are

Posted By on Thu, Apr 18, 2013 at 9:00 AM

GAYLE WALSWORTH
  • Gayle Walsworth

The Write Stuff is a series of interview profiles conducted by Litseen, where authors give exclusive readings from their work.

Kai Carlson-Wee was born and raised on the Minnesota prairie. His poems have appeared in Many Mountains Moving, Linebreak, Forklift Ohio, and Best New Poets 2010. He currently lives in San Francisco, California, where he is a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.

When people ask what do you do, you tell them... ?

Well, I try not to say I'm a poet. I try to avoid it. I say I'm a skater. Or I say I'm a teacher. Or that I spend my time looking out windows at trees. You know, it's funny, but this question actually makes me very nervous. I mean, I've been writing seriously since I was 19 years old, and I'm 30 years old now, so that's 11 years of writing, but it's only been the last year-and-a-half that I've actually been able to call myself a writer. I don't know why this is. I mean, what makes it so painful for a poet to admit that they spend their days looking at trees? Saying you're a poet has all these romantic connotations, you know, and every time I tell someone I'm a writer I see this film-roll of judgment start playing itself out in their brains. They think you're a poser. A self-ordained dandy. One of those faux intellectual hipsters who hangs around coffee shops quoting from Blake -- "To see the world in a grain of sand" -- that sort of thing. I don't know, perhaps it's a symptom of a larger disease.

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Write Stuff: Tatyana Brown on Being a Few Miles Ahead of Successful

Posted By on Thu, Apr 11, 2013 at 1:00 PM

BENJAMIN LZICAR
  • Benjamin Lzicar

The Write Stuff is a series of interview profiles conducted by Litseen, where authors give exclusive readings from their work.

Tatyana Brown is the founding Captain of The Lit Slam, a San Francisco-based, live-audience curated literary show and poetry journal. She ranked 4th at the 2011 Individual World Poetry Slam and has toured North America ever since, facilitating workshops and performing at venues for storytelling and poetry. Her work has appeared on NPR's storytelling show, Snap Judgment, and she holds the distinct honor of winning the longest consecutive string of XXX Haiku Deathmatch Championships at Oakland's Tourettes Without Regrets.

When people ask what do you do, you tell them ... ?

Some or all of the following: I publish an annual poetry journal based on live audience responses to a monthly reading series (which I also curate and produce). I tour all over the country performing my own poetry, teaching writing/performance workshops, and giving talks on subjects ranging from slam as a contemporary American literary tradition to how to tell ethical dirty jokes to practical methods for interrupting and dismantling systemic oppression in real time. I write essays about creativity, privilege, and my experiences as a working class queer progressive artist. I talk about my feelings way more than the average citizen and am perpetually annoyed with my inability to eat gluten. I climb on things I shouldn't. Sometimes I cry in public. I collect bad ideas and silly hats with a near professional level of expertise.

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Write Stuff: Chris Peck the Town Crier on Cultivating Personal Language and Being Part of a Continuum

Posted By on Wed, Apr 3, 2013 at 12:07 PM

AUSTIN PECK
  • Austin Peck

The Write Stuff is a series of interview profiles conducted by Litseen, where authors give exclusive readings from their work.

Chris Peck The Town Crier has been recording and performing "hist-hop" and "song-rap" since his first cassette in 1994. His music has been featured on MTV UK, Current TV, the Wall Street Journal.com, and in his own purple videos. Projects include Ancient Baby, a homemade album to be released on vinyl; I Wish the King, his first novel; and LOAN, a band just getting started. Peck teaches guitar in San Rafael and can often be found crying a capella on the corner of 16th & Mission.

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Friday, March 29, 2013

Paul Corman-Roberts Talks East Bay Lit and Beast Crawl's Hat Party Fundraiser

Posted By on Fri, Mar 29, 2013 at 2:00 PM

Beast_Crawl.jpeg

Last year, inspired by the timely coming together of what seemed to be countless writing posses via social media, and with Litquake as an inspiration and a model, a handful of writers decided to throw a festival in Uptown Oakland that turned into 125 authors reading in 25 venues in three hours -- all for free. Appropriately, they called it Beast Crawl ("East Bay" being "beast" in pig latin). The gathering's second annual edition is right around the corner, and to raise funds and generate excitement, the organizers are throwing a hat party on Monday that will feature live music from Wreck This Place and Titan Ups, plus a raffle with prizes donated from local businesses. We thought this was a good chance to check in and see what The Beast Crawl Collective has in store for us this year.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Write Stuff: Jon Boilard on Pressing On and Fixing What Ails You

Posted By on Wed, Mar 27, 2013 at 3:06 PM

ROBERT HOUSER
  • Robert Houser

The Write Stuff is a series of interview profiles conducted by Litseen, where authors give exclusive readings from their work.

Jon Boilard was born and raised in Western Massachusetts and has been living in Northern California since 1986. More than 50 of his short stories have been published in literary journals in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Asia. A River Closely Watched is his first novel.

When people ask what do you do, you tell them... ?

These days I tell people I'm a writer. I think I know what you're getting at -- it was a while before I felt I had permission to call myself a writer. Because, of course, the follow-up question is always, "Do you have a book?" And I didn't then. But now I do. David Poindexter of MacAdam/Cage, the publisher of my first novel, and I had a conversation over beers one night, during which he basically asked me what I tell people I do for a living. And I confessed to him that I usually talk about my suit and tie job, and I don't mention the fiction writing thing. "That's bullshit," he said. "You're a fucking writer." It was great to hear a true book man like David say that. I felt like I had permission at that moment.

What's your biggest struggle -- work or otherwise?

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Write Stuff: Ginger Murray on Arousal for the Sake of Profound Revelation

Posted By on Wed, Mar 20, 2013 at 10:04 AM

EILEEN MARIE ROCHE
  • Eileen Marie Roche

The Write Stuff is a series of interview profiles conducted by Litseen, where authors give exclusive readings from their work.

Ginger Murray is the editor-in-chief of Whore! Magazine, author of The Sweet Spot column for this blog, and a performance storyteller. She has appeared just about everywhere and done seemingly everything. An avid lover of bad girls, radical idiots, and thinkers, she delights in wild expressions, stories, and the adventures of sublime chaos. We spoke to her recently about her definition of "success," (not) falling in love with strangers, and the public striptease.

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Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Write Stuff: C.R. Stapor on Sex, Bourbon, and What's Wrong With Society Today

Posted By on Thu, Mar 7, 2013 at 10:10 AM

KATHERINE CAMPBELL
  • Katherine Campbell

The Write Stuff is a series of interview profiles conducted by Litseen, where authors give exclusive readings from their work.

The first time I met C.R. Stapor, I told him we were going to be good friends and he kind of shrugged me off. In the almost 10 years since that happened, we've lived together in Charlotte, NC, Knoxville, TN, and Oakland, CA. His writing maneuvers traditional syntax in a way that illuminates the unnecessary distance it often creates between the wonder of experience and its relaying. His imagination and lust for adventure approach the superhuman. He's the author of a peculiar collection of short fiction called The Wraith Atlas, and the novel Kwazee, seeking publication.

When people ask what do you do, you tell them?

I'm a writer.

What's your biggest struggle -- work or otherwise?

Conceiving my own mortality.

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Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Write Stuff: Julia Vinograd on Grandpa Ben's Bookcase

Posted By on Thu, Feb 28, 2013 at 7:30 AM

JULIAVINOGRAD.COM
  • juliavinograd.com

The Write Stuff is a series of interview profiles conducted by Litseen, where authors give exclusive readings from their work.

Poet Julia Vinograd attended the famous Iowa Writers Workshop before moving to Berkeley during the era of the Free Speech Movement and anti-war protests. Not wanting an academic career and resisting mainstream assimilation, Julia has spent 40+ years as a street poet in Berkeley, hawking poems one book at a time (she has written more than 50 of them) to passersby. Recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Berkeley City Council, she is often referred to as the unofficial Poet Laureate of Berkeley.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

StoryFarm: New Storytelling Series Aims to Make Truth-Telling Popular Again

Posted By on Fri, Feb 22, 2013 at 7:30 AM

storyfarm.jpg

By Katie Tandy

For a city that's stranger than fiction -- and proudly so -- it's stranger still that fiction has largely eclipsed the celebration of creative non-fiction here in San Francisco.

StoryFarm -- a new literary cooperative aimed at cultivating community, wonderful wordsmiths, and "other interesting animals" -- is poised to change that.

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Slideshows

  • Fear FestEvil 2015
    Calibree Photography brings back photos from Fear FestEvil 2015 at Rockbar Theater in San Jose on Friday, April 11. Performances included freak shows, and bands: Ghoul, Orchid, and High On Fire.
  • Cherry Blossom Festival @ Japantown
    Beth LaBerge brings back photos from the 2015 Cherry Blossom Festival. Events continue next weekend including the parade on April 19.