December 17, 2020

#170 A Song of Impotent Rage

by Reply All

Background show artwork for Reply All

Alex Goldman tackles his newest job: prophet of doom.

Taylor Moore's podcasts, Rude Tales of Magic and Fun City

Emily Atkin's newsletter, Heated

John Colpitts' latest album, The Ochre World

Want to learn to play drums? Learn from John Colpitts



PJ From Gimlet, this is Reply All. I’m PJ Vogt.

ALEX: And I’m Alex Goldman. 



PJ: Hi, Alex. 

ALEX: Um, so do you remember—this is not gonna be hard to remember—the last episode that we did?

PJ: Uhhhh...

ALEX: Confetti Cannon.

PJ: Oh yeah, Confetti Cannon.

ALEX: So, that was our episode right after the election, and I have an update of sorts for it. So just as a reminder, that episode, it was like we started recording calls the day before the election was called, or two days before the election was called. And we just got a lot of people—

PJ: Well, we did it after the voting, but before the resolution.

ALEX: Right.  

PJ: Like before—yeah.

ALEX: And uh, we only got calls of people who were Biden supporters or supporters of him winning the election anyway. And there was a lot of like, "maybe we- I can start to feel hope again, that some of Trump's most sort of destructive policies will be rolled back."

PJ: Yeah, people, people felt relieved.

ALEX: People felt relieved, exactly. I, however, did not feel that relief.

PJ: I know, believe me, I know. 

ALEX: I just sort of felt like—

PJ: You've been, you've been vocal about your feelings. Your feelings are— (sigh)

ALEX: Go ahead.

PJ: We're headed towards Mad Max times.

ALEX: Yep.

PJ: The world's on fire. 

ALEX: Right. 

PJ: Everything's terrible. Uh, we're all gonna die. 

ALEX: I mean—

PJ: Anything that people feel that's good for a second is just a sign that they're baa baa sheep, and only you can see what was really going on. 

ALEX: No, it's not that I think people are baa baa sheep.

PJ: You constantly say people are baa baa sheep.

ALEX: (laughs) But I do think that everything's really bad, and like, things are getting worse, and I feel an incredible amount of anger and hopelessness about things that feel inevitable. Mostly climate change, but climate change incorporates a lot of other things that I worry about.

PJ: What the hell is this update about? 

ALEX: Oh, man, it's going places. I, I guess the thing that I feel is like, incredible anger and total impotence. Like I feel like I am so mad about what's happening and like the lack of attention that's being paid to this thing. And I just have no power to change it in any way. Other than like, I don't know, if I got solar panels on my roof.

PJ: (laughing) That should do it. (laughing)

ALEX: Yeah right. But the thing that I feel strongly is like, I do this enough that when I start doing it, people sort of roll their eyes, and they're like, "Okay, Alex is doing his like climate panic thing again." 

PJ: Yeah.

ALEX: Sarah definitely doesn't want to hear it. You don't really want to hear it. And I was talking to Tim …and he was like “You know, we should find a way to actually capture that feeling but some way that it doesn’t drive everybody crazy…  

PJ: Okay. 

ALEX: And he was like “you should write a song about it.” 

PJ: Oh, no.

ALEX: (laughs) Whoooooo. [coughs]

PJ: You wrote a climate change ballad? 

ALEX: Well, I mean, I liked the idea because it sounded fun to me. And like—

PJ: Yeah

ALEX: If I could like sugarpill my climate worry, maybe other people will feel it. 

PJ: I feel like the enticement of, anyway, we don't have the same musical taste, so you get to listen to a song and you get to worry about climate change is a funny twofer. But I want to hear what you made.

ALEX: Um, well the first thing I wanted to do was like—I'm not a great lyricist. I mostly just like making music, I don't like make, writing lyrics. So I wanted to find someone who could help me do that. Um, and I saw this thing that uh, this guy Taylor Moore tweeted, do you know who Taylor Moore is?

PJ: Taylor Moore. The name is familiar. 

ALEX: He's @chillsitch. 

PJ: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah I've actually met him once. Yeah, he used to run a Twitter account that was like—just—it described chill situations.

ALEX: So like a perfect @chillsitch tweet is "A big, beautiful old tree. Oh, my God, look, there's all those birds." It's just chill situations. It was a real feel good Twitter account.

PJ: It was a nice account. I was sad when it stopped.

ALEX: But he tweeted something where, where I was like, I was like, "Oh, my God. I've been seen for the first time." And the, and the tweet was "Cultural trend alert. The realization that we have no future is going to drive people insane whether they deny or accept it, and that insanity is going to be the defining effect of — affect of the zeitgeist until our total collapse." And I was like—

PJ: God, you are seen.

ALEX: So I called him up to see if he'd collaborate with me. 

ALEX: Um… I'm curious. A thing I don't know is what do you do for a living?

TAYLOR MOORE: I'm a podcaster. I uh, (laughs) I make fiction podcasts, adventure serials.

ALEX: Wow. [dog barking] Okay, you need to get your dog under control, if this is gonna keep going. Um, well, so you know, I've been following you on Twitter forever. Um, I was a big fan of @chillsitch back in the day.

TAYLOR: Oh, wow. That is—that's a deep cut. Yeah, that's good to hear. When I stopped doing @chillsitch, it was because the world was so terrible. And I couldn't bring myself to, because I think I stopped during a week where there was like something like, there were like four school shootings. And there were two, like coups. You know, like there were revolutions going on and like horrible bloody wars. And I was like, "God, you know, I can't write this sort of stuff if this is going on." Uh, and it's been all downhill from there. It hasn't gotten better. 

ALEX: Wow, that's heavy man.

ALEX: And the first half of the conversation, it just felt like coming home, just talking to someone who believed that everything was so bad.

TAYLOR: I think most people think about climate change, and they think, "Okay, at some point, something very bad is going to happen to the environment. And then things might get bad as a result of that." But I think that that is a misunderstanding of the threat. So imagine if you're in a car with a bunch of people, and you're, you’re in the backseat right? Most—it's a van. It's a 13 passenger van. So most people are in the backseat. One person has their hand on the steering wheel driving. Now, you're heading towards a cliff. You are driving straight for a thousand foot cliff. It is extremely dangerous. Things are going to get bad in the van long before you go off the cliff. You know—

ALEX: Oh my god. I'm sorry, Taylor. I just—I think I fucked up. Hold on just a second, I think I might not have been recording this. Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Oh, that's such an amateur move. Can you talk? 

TAYLOR: (laughs) Test, test, test, this is Taylor.

ALEX: Oh my god. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry! We have to start over.

TAYLOR: Oh, that's all right. Well, I've got my side.

ALEX: Oh, yeah, that's right. You got your side! Oh, thank God. 

TAYLOR: Yeah, man. 

ALEX: Oh, I had like a panic attack. My face was turning red. Sorry.

TAYLOR: (laughs) Can I ask you some questions?

ALEX: Yeah, go ahead. 

TAYLOR: And I don't mean to take your time, just like, because I was very excited when you reached out to me the other day, because I can't talk about this even with good friends anymore. You know, before quarantine, I would bring this up at bars and parties or whatever. People don't like it. And now, you know, when every social interaction is so precious, I don't dare talk about this stuff. (laughs)

ALEX: Yeah, I was just thinking, like, "I feel like I'm among my people.” My wife really does not like to talk about this.

TAYLOR: Mine either. No one does! Like you're the first person I've seen that's like, proactively seems to be engaging, talking about this stuff. Not in a "Hey, let's rally the troops or let's raise money for sunrise movement," but a, "How in the world are we as people supposed to live in a world that's ending?" 


TAYLOR: What we are going through is the same—how old are you?

ALEX: I’m 41.

TAYLOR: I’m 38. Right, we’re — granted I don’t have kids, so this isn’t exac— but we are at roughly the same stage in our lives, do you think—

ALEX: Mhmm.

TAYLOR: And this is what really secretly haunts me, and you’re the first person I’ve, I’ve said this to: Do you think that maybe our anxiety about climate change is really a projection of us being scared of our own death and physical decay? Are we just getting old?


TAYLOR: Ok good.

ALEX: (laughs) No!

ALEX: And so I said to him, I was like, "Hey, so listen, I have all this anxiety. I'm thinking about writing a song about it." And he was like, he's like, "I don't think that's a good idea." (laughs)

PJ: How come?

ALEX: He was like, "I think that this is like a crazy serious topic and a song will just feel like a joke."

PJ: It's hard though because you gotta you gotta bring people in with your sugar pill. So like, what was his different—

ALEX: Well, I said, do you have a better idea, and he was like, "No, that's a good point. I'm in." 

PJ: (laughs) Okay. 

ALEX: So, so, I had, I had already started thinking about lyrics and I, I was, I was like, in my head, originally I wanted to do like a, like a Pete Seeger style song. Do you know Pete Seeger, the folk singer?

PJ: Yeah. 

ALEX: So I was thinking of Newspaperman. The song Newspaperman. So I'm just gonna play a little bit of it just to give you an idea of like, what was going on in my head.

PJ: Alex Goldman does Pete Seeger. 

PETE SEEGER: "Oh, newspaperman meet such interesting people. They know the low down, now it can be told. I'll tell you quite reliably, off the—" 

PJ: And the point, the thing you're trying to do is reach other human beings? [Song stops]

ALEX: (laughs) Yeah, that's a good point. That's a good point. 

ALEX: So, I did write some lyrics. 

TAYLOR: Oh, yeah. 

ALEX: And I want to read them to you, and you can tell me what you think. Uh, and maybe they will spark a genre in you. Maybe you will be like, "These are garbage." Okay, here we go. I'm actually stalling because I find it very anxiety-inducing.

TAYLOR: I understand, but I'm with you man. I, I'm totally on your side here. No need, no need to have anxiety on my account. I'm with you. 

ALEX: All right.

ALEX: [Reads lyrics] "2020 was a bad year, that's it's not in dispute. But looking ahead not much will improve. The sea level’s rising. The far right’s on the rise. Half of the country believes only lies. I'm trying my best, but what the hell can I do? The outcome is rigged for me and for you. What the hell is the point? Why even try, when in my lifetime, everyone's gonna die?"

TAYLOR: Yeah, I mean, we got it. 

ALEX: He seemed to like what I came up with, but then he was like  "Can I give you some notes?" He was like, first of all, it's more than half the country that's not paying attention to this. Everyone is [indistinct crosstalk].

PJ: (laughs) Your pop song's not dire enough. 

ALEX: And he was like, "Also I noticed that you said this year is bad."

TAYLOR: So, one thing that I think everyone is doing—I see that online all the time—is talking about 2020 as if it is a boxed event in time, rather than the year that how bad things are going to be really became apparent. 

ALEX: Ooooh

TAYLOR: So I feel like, to mention 2020 as a specifically bad time  


is okay if we acknowledge that it is now going to be 2020 forever. Does that make sense? 

ALEX: Yeah.

ALEX: He has like kind of a PJ Vogt- kind of style of talking where he just uses very evocative metaphors to describe things 

TAYLOR: This is the ribbon-cutting for the decline, right? This year was just— this year was a starter pistol that's a race to catastrophe.

PJ: A PJ Vogt-style of talking. That's very flattering.

ALEX: He used the phrase, "The wolf is at the door," and—

PJ: Ooh, that's kind of catchy. “The wolf's at the door." 

ALEX: Yeah —and like another one was that he was talking about the Republicans and the Democrats and basically saying that all of the differences between them will be completely meaningless when we are hit by a civilization-destroying catastrophe.

TAYLOR: Because neither side addresses that, any superficial differences between them are going to be erased. Just erased. Like a morning fog, it's just burned off.


PJ: I think you're wrong that it's a Pete Seeger song. I feel like it's like a pop punk song.

ALEX: Well, I asked him. I was like, "What do you think this song should sound like?" And he was like, "Well, do you know the band Diarrhea Planet?" (laughs)

PJ: I've heard—Diarrhea Planet shows up on my like, uh, recommended, like I—I'll hear something and be like, "I liked them. I'll listen to more later."

ALEX: And I was like, "Honestly, I can't say that I do." But um, but I went to look at them, and  the top song in their popular is a song called Ghost With a Boner.

PJ Sounds right up your alley.

ALEX: It’s a little too much for me but let me play a little bit of it for you.

PJ: Yeah.

ALEX: [Plays Ghost With a Boner by Diarrhea Planet]

ALEX: This is kind of like poppy, but punky-rocky. 

PJ: Yeah. 

ALEX: [Stops song] So you get the point?

PJ: Yeah, it's kind of like somebody mixed like Joyce Manor and Dead Milkmen.

ALEX: Yeah. 

PJ: You don't know either of those bands. 

ALEX: I know Dead Milkmen

PJ: You know Dead Milkmen.

ALEX: Yeah. 

PJ: One of them came out before 1997. (laughs)

ALEX: (laughs) So—

PJ: And just to, just to make sure I'm understanding the premise, the idea is like, people don't pay enough attention to climate change because it means feeling dread and powerlessness. And those are feelings that people tend to avoid. And your song is going to help by making them feel dread and powerlessness?

ALEX: I’m not saying that my song is going to help in any meaningful way, I’m just saying that I want to be able to express this feeling that I have of like, completely helpless rage in a way that people might actually want to listen to.

PJ: Okay. So?

ALEX: So, he gave me some metaphors. I did another pass with sort of his metaphors incorporated into the thing. And I was interested in finding other people to help me collaborate. And I am an avid reader of a newsletter called Heated, which is about climate change. It's written by this woman named Emily Atkin. And I reached out to her. 


ALEX: How are you?

EMILY: Good, how are you?

ALEX: I'm good...

ALEX: And she was like, "Yeah, I can totally talk to you about this. This is a weird request, but I'm happy to do it. Just so you know, you're not the first podcaster who's gotten in touch with me about a song about climate change." (laughs)

PJ: Really?

ALEX: Apparently, some other guy beat me to the punch. But the difference between him and me is I apparently produce a lot faster, because I think this is gonna come out before his.

PJ: Or he realized it wasn't a great idea.

ALEX: (laughs) And like when I got her on the phone, I was like, trying to commiserate about my hopelessness about the world and how everything's inevitable. And she was like, "I don't feel that, that hopelessness. Like you said you wanted the song to be about your impotent rage, but—”

PJ: Did you use the term impotent rage with everybody?

ALEX: Uh it was sort of the term we started bandying about in the off— or in the discussion of the song we called it “the song of impotent rage.”


ALEX: But Emily was like, “I don’t really share your feelings on this one.”

EMILY: I don't really have terribly dark moments when it comes to climate change in that I don't get very depressed about it. It makes me mad. 


To me, it's a much more productive emotion than despair.

ALEX: Talking to her gave me a bunch of ideas for the song. Like, first of all, she, she went on this like, rant about Jeff Bezos and how like, "Yeah, earlier this year he did pledge $10 billion to climate initiatives. But that's just greenwashing. Considering he’s Jeff Bezos who is the richest person in the world and has like 180 billion dollars it's not a meaningful amount. It’s just like not enough money."

EMILY: He gets a huge PR boost from being such a generous philanthropist. And he gets to make his entire profit off of the climate crisis. I mean, think about how much Amazon contributes to the climate crisis. That boils my blood. 

ALEX: Emily’s whole thing is that the biggest corporations that like drive climate change benefit hugely from people like me feeling helpless. Like they distract us from holding them accountable by putting the responsibility of protecting the environment onto us with big advertising campaigns that are like about measuring your carbon footprint. And then she introduced me to this idea that I was like, “Oh this is definitely going in the song.”

EMILY: It just so happens that a large chunk of us are still very involved with petro-masculinity. You know, big men drive big trucks that roll coal, right?

ALEX: Petro masculinity! That's a thing?!

EMILY: Mhmm.

ALEX: Oh, my God.

EMILY: That’s so much of what drives our continued inaction.

ALEX: And I know this sounds crazy, because, because first of all, you say that every time I talk to someone, they change my mind immediately, and I'm immediately trusting of them. 

PJ: Yes. 

ALEX: But like since that conversation, I've been like, "Okay, this person spends all day looking at all this incredibly grim climate news, and still doesn't feel this hopelessness. Like, how can I possibly feel that? Like, she still feels like there's hope." 

PJ: I completely agree! And I think this gets to the heart of what my problem has always been with, like Alex Goldman: climate warrior is like, you are more angry about it, or have been more angry and despondent about it than people who spend more time thinking and trying to fix it. And so it's like, it's like, you live in a country where some bad stuff's going on. But the guy who feels worse about it doesn't live in the country.

ALEX: Right. You're right. So

PJ: I— but I'm glad that getting some proximity is like helping and making you feel like you could do stuff, like write a diarrhea song about boner ghosts or whatever.

ALEX: (laughs) Sometimes you hear a brand new sentence, like a sentence that's never been uttered—

PJ: (laughs)

ALEX: And it really just tickles a part of your brain. Um, but, but I felt like my first verse could be about hopelessness, and my second verse could be about my anger based on my conversation with Emily. Because that conversation was very helpful to me.

PJ: So the song now has some emotional range.

ALEX: Right. So the second verse now is like, "The wolf is at the door, but my rage is justified. Corporations bought my hopelessness, and I bought into the decline. Uh, wolf is at the door, and now it's our time to shine. Fuck them and fuck the decline."

PJ: How are you going to find the other teenagers to join your punk band?

ALEX: I, well—

PJ: (laughs)


ALEX: So, I record my music in my attic, I have like a bunch of keyboards and a bunch of guitar pedals and just like a bunch of goofy noise-making toys up here. So I started just with a guitar riff, like I tried to do something pretty simple. [Guitar riff starts] 

Because like, I wanted something that I could build on top of, uh rather than something super complex at the beginning. I recorded through a Pro Co Rat—the best distortion panel—into, um—I just have this tiny Vox amp. It's like a five watt amp, and I recorded that. [Guitar riff ends] 

And then I wanted guitar that was super blown out on top of it, just to be like a little more punchy. So I recorded through a Death by Audio Fuzz war pedal directly into my computer. 

[New guitar riff starts] To get just this crazy, crazy sound, um, just really, and I and I turned it up so that it was way too hot. So that like it just clipped and sounded, like the microphone was inside an amplifier or something. Just super, super loud. [New guitar riff stops] 

And then on top of that I have a Moog Matriarch. And I turned the resonance all the way up on both the filters. And I just like, like had the sort of like rising sound. 

[Synth sound plays] 

And then to have this falling sound of like this really beautiful sort of crispy decay, I used an OB Six. [Different synth sounds plays] 

It has this really fuzzy sound to it, which is very different than like the warm sound of a Moog. [Different synth sound repeats]

And then I recorded this kind of wild keyboard solo [Keyboard solo starts] with my Matriarch, where I was like constantly hitting the pitch wheel and the modulation wheel to make it just sort of, sound like it was like screaming a little bit. I also ran that a little hot 'cause I just like distorting everything. [Keyboard solo ends] 

ALEX SINGING: "Sure, this year is bad." 

ALEX: I, I recorded the lyrics while Sarah was in the basement.

ALEX SINGING: "But what else is new"

ALEX: So she couldn't hear me singing them. 

ALEX SINGING: "And at this point, there's not a ton we can do." 

ALEX: This was an incredibly intimidating experience. Definitely not the way I prefer to write a song. Usually I'll have like a melody or a riff or like an idea that sort of blossoms into a song. And if I want to add lyrics, which is almost never, it's like sort of an afterthought. And it's more like, I more think of lyrics as another instrument and like, tend to keep them pretty abstract or minimal. 10 out of 10 difficulty. Don't know if I'd try it again. 

Up until this point, I was doing all of this just to a click track, knowing what I wanted the drums to sound like, but not being a drummer. And so I called up my friend John Colpitts who is a drummer. 

ALEX: What's up, dude?

JOHN COLPITTS : Oh, look at that setup, dude.

ALEX: He's in the band Oneida, he has a solo project that’s really wonderful called Man Forever. And I was like, "Hey, can you give this surf-rock drums?" And he was like, "Yeah, totally. I'll do it." [Drum riff starts] So John got the drums back to me, and then I recruited Bobby Lord, engineer at Gimlet. I was like, "Bobby, can you mix the song?" And he was like—

BOBBY LORD: Yeah. On one condition, actually. I literally just bought a used saxophone. Can I, [Drum kit stops] can I play saxophone on it?

ALEX: And I was like, "Yes, absolutely." [Saxophone riff starts]

PJ: Oh, hell yeah. [Saxophone riff stops]

ALEX: Bobby mixed the song basically all day until just now, and I’m pretty excited about how it turned out. Would you like to hear it?

PJ: Of course I want to hear it. 

ALEX: Great.

HRISHIKESH HIRWAY: And now, here's The Wolf is At The Door by Alex Goldman in its entirety.

ALEX SINGING: "Sure, this year is bad, but what else is new?"

PJ: Ooh.

ALEX SINGING: "And at this point, what the fuck can we do?"

PJ: Sounds pretty good.

ALEX SINGING: "The sea level's rising. The far right's on the rise. 

And still it seems that people just refuse to open their eyes. 

The wolf is at the door, and you act like you're doing fine. I'm trying to show you the wolf's inside. This is our decline. The wolf is at the door, and you act like you're doing fine. This is it. This is it. This is our decline. 

In all honesty, I am incredibly stressed out about systemic climate change, and I don't know what the solution is. 

Corporate greed is choking us. And they pretend they're trying to help. Your climate pledge isn’t good enough. You can go to hell. 

We need a lot more than cash to reach climate stability. Corporations bought my hopelessness. Fuck them and their petro-masculinity. 

The wolf is at the door, but my rage is justified. Corporations bought my hopelessness, and I bought into their decline. The wolf is at the door, and now it’s my time to shine. Fuck them and fuck their decline."

PJ: Now's your time to shine? 

ALEX: Yeah.

ALEX SINGING: "Whooooo. The wolf is at the door, but my rage is justified. Corporations bought my hopelessness, and I bought into their decline. Said the wolf is at our door, and now it's my time to shine. Fuck them and fuck the decline." 


PJ: Stick around, more show after the break.


 Also, if you are interested in climate change there's actually a whole  Gimlet podcast exclusively about it, it’s hosted by our boss and yes yes no frequent guest, Alex Blumberg. With his co-host Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson. It's called "How to Save a Planet." You can find it on Spotify or wherever you listen to your podcasts. 




PJ: Welcome back to the show. So Alex. Here's a question: like, we're different in that I like left college, got into radio, have been doing radio this whole time. You had like, thirty lives before you got to do the thing you wanted to do, like you were like, you worked at a Subway, you worked at a mental hospital, you worked at a record store, you worked at a zine, you worked in IT, you...

ALEX: I could go on but—

PJ: No, go on.

ALEX: You know what, I made a list of all the, not too long ago I made a list of all the jobs I had. I think it's on my phone.

PJ: In your notes app?

ALEX: Yeah. Alright, you ready?

PJ: Yeah.

ALEX: This is in order.

PJ: Ok.

ALEX: Paperboy, dishwasher, Kid Kingdom—

PJ: Kid Kingdom? Was this like a Chuck E. Cheese?

ALEX: It was like Chuck E. Cheese.

PJ: [laughs] What was your job?

ALEX: Make pizza, uh, give kids prizes—

PJ: For what? Oh like they come up with like skee ball tickets?

ALEX: They'd come up with tickets and I'd give them prizes. But I usually just gave stuff, like I was like very bad at, they called it redemption. I was very bad at redemption. This is a thing that kids do, they go up and they're like, they're like, "I really want that thing but I have three tickets." And I'd just be like, "Just take it, it's fine. You don't need to have all the tickets, you can just have it." Um, because it was like literally garbage that I was giving them.

PJ: But that's the whole business! [laughs]

ALEX: I think the business is actually the pizza.

PJ: Ok.

ALEX: Sandwich artist at Subway, cash register at the Earthen Jar Indian Buffet. Landscaping. And then in winter, landscaping became Christmas decor where I'd go to rich people's houses and put Christmas lights on their house.

PJ: Really?

ALEX: Yes. 

PJ: A lot of these jobs are the jobs people have in porn.

ALEX: (laughs) Didn't work out for me like that. Uh, video store, catering, dishwasher again at a restaurant called The Brown Jug—

PJ: The Brown Jug....

ALEX: Record store clerk, phone banking for nonprofits—

PJ: What? Oh ok.

ALEX: Flower delivery, um, vitamin store.

PJ: Vitamins Plus.

ALEX: Yeah. Um, The Denton State School for the Developmentally Disabled, another record store, a zine. There's also a bunch of internships in here. I interned for Tan Dun who's a composer, he composed the music for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

PJ: (laughs) I don't know why that's so funny. What did you do? Like what would happen all day? Would you like get him more sheet music?

ALEX: Uh, it was my first job in New York and um, I would help him write his website and just like, whatever he wanted I would do basically.

PJ: Wow. That's so funny.

ALEX: Um, I interned at like a record promotion company and like, the moment I got there I realized I hated all of them and they all hated me.

PJ: (laughs)

ALEX: Like it was like a group of people who were just like, who were like, "You as a person, not like your ability as a, as a worker but like you as a person, Alex Goldman, like the things that come out of your mouth, I despise every one of them."

PJ: Like why, what were the people like? Why'd they hate you so much?

ALEX: Have you ever met a person and it feels like they sort of have like a shimmering aura where when you meet them you're like, "I hate you."

PJ: Yes.

ALEX: That's how they felt about me.

PJ:  (laughs) Were they like cool, like—

ALEX: They were very cool.

PJ: Yeah.

ALEX: And I'm me.

PJ: [laughs]

ALEX: They wore all black, they had like studded belts. They wore a lot of leather and it was like, it was like every movement I made they all like rolled their eyes and groaned at.

PJ: [laughs]

ALEX: I'd be like, "Can I take this chair?" And they'd be like, "Uh, God. Yes!" Oh and the job was basically to put stickers on CD cases for eight hours. It was horrible.

PJ: Can't believe they don't have a machine that does that... Did you get fired or quit?

ALEX: It was like, it was like, that was definitely a conscious uncoupling.

PJ: [laughs] It's weird to me to think there's an alternate, there are many alternate dimension yous that are just like working at those jobs.

ALEX: Oh, totally. Like I can imagine a world where like I'd gone from like landscaping into construction or something. I would've just been a construction guy.

PJ: I can not imagine- that's like one of the few things I cannot imagine you doing.

ALEX: And this is what I will say about that, that job, landscaping. It was like tough, very physical work. But, it was like really fun, like my mind could wander.

PJ: That was the worst, the worst job I ever had was landscaping.

ALEX: I would just like dig holes and I would park my car near the hole so I could listen to music (laughs), it was great.

PJ: I got yelled at all the time.

ALEX: Why did you get yelled at?...


PJ: That's our show, and that's it for us this year. 2020 for us, like everybody else, was extremely painful, extremely confusing, and the bright spot was just getting to make this show for you. We hope it was half as fun to listen to as it was to make it. We're gonna be back in January, we are working on new stories that we are so excited to share with you. We've got some really cool stuff. We'll see you then.


Reply All is hosted by me, PJ Vogt, Alex Goldman and  Emmanuel Dzotsi. 

Our show’s produced by Sruthi Pinnamaneni, Phia Bennin, Damiano Marchetti, Anna Foley, Jessica Yung, and Lisa Wang. Our executive producer is Tim Howard. We were mixed by Rick Kwan. Fact checking by Michelle Harris. Our intern is Mohini Madgavkar. Unfortunately it is her last week with us, she’s been such a joy to work with, we’re sad to see her go. This is where we would tell you to hire her, but she’s going to work on Heavyweight. Damn you, Jonathan Goldstein. 

Our theme song and other music used in this episode is by the Mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder. Additional music production by Mari Romano. Special thanks to Hrishikesh Hirway, check out his podcast Song Exploder. Also, Taylor Moore, Alex’s apocalypse friend has two podcasts: Rude Tales Of Magic and Fun City. 

Matt Lieber is the first snow of winter before it turns all gray and terrible. You can listen to our show on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Thank you so much for listening. We’ll see you soon.