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Good People, Cool Things
Good People, Cool Things

Episode 16 · 1 year ago

Journalism Jobs and Punk Rock Karaoke with Janet Jay

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Journalist Janet Jay joins the podcast to talk about her fantastic career, her penchant for upcycling, and the best tunes to choose for punk rock karaoke.

Welcome the good people, cool things,the podcast geaturing conversations with entrepreneurs, writers musiciansand other creatives on your host joiwe held an today's guest is Janet Jy. Whohas some of the most fascinating writing clips out. There she's done adeep dive into how you can make yogurt with your vagina and she's writtenabout being a Cyborg come to life, it's very, very fantastic stuff. All aroundJanet one of the first writers I met back in when I was just getting startedin my writing career. I don't even know if she knows it, though, but we'regoing to get into all of that in this episode so Janet. Take it away. Well,START REAL REAL! Simply. How did you get into writing? Oh Jeez, it was always something I've alwaysbeen a huge nerd. I've always loved reading, really from from as long as Ican remember and as I started kind of growing up andgetting into high school and getting involved with schoolpapers and stuff like thatwhich I was never the kid that was like the editor or wersuper into it. But I got to write some really cool stories in well, not cool stories, but have somecool journalism related experiences in high school, that kind of crystallized that it wassomething that that I was interested in. I had one story: The really that thestory I'm thinking of was my high school spent a bunch ofmoney on a new millions of dollars on a new security system. The year afterColumbine happened, and it was incredibly wasteful and uselessequipment, and I wrote this story about it thatthis guy gave me what work for Security Goffice gave me all these quotes andwhen it was published, the head of the security office came in and said: Oh,this guy has denied giving any of these quotes. Your reporter made ere all up.You have to retract the issue and tear out that story and repriit and I wenthome and got the recorder and like sat it down all this taple in front of them.It was like: Hey Click. Here's the interview. Look at all this stuff. TheGuy told me that I didn't use and he shut up and backed off and wepublished the story and it was a really cool feeling of like oh things. I docan actually have an effect on the world around me and that's a cool choolfeeling. I feel like that's straight out of amovie right. It seems it's very like yeah, I actually did just go home inthe middle of the school day and think because it was still back in the timewhen we had recorders with those little tiny tapes in them that you had to useevery time you, you didn', recording of...

...anything, and I had almost recordedover that side of the tape a couple days before so. Thank goodness, I didnot yes, but that would have been devastating to come back and be likelisten to this push pay yeah and it's like me playing the piano or something totally where te dely, where thatfantastic, but yeah, and then I kind of I hurt my back real bad in high school.That really has restricted the the amount I've been. I Cant I'venever been able to work a like forty fifty hour a week, proper job. Sobecause I hurt my back and so when I went to college, I started thinkingabout what kind of stuff coan I do. That's a little more flexible and heyfreeliance, Turalistem, so sai to focus on man fantastic and that's how we met wasthrough Youpod from way back in the day, oh yeah, which for listeners that Donotis just a pretty substantial group of writersacross both the US and the world. I know there's a lot of overseas folks there as well and justshare in advice resources. It's always amazingto me how someone will come in and be like hey. You know I'm working on astory and I need someone that is a professional juggler, but also asingle mom and thes e fix children and they need to be Betwo iges a three andtwenty four and they also need to have avocanto toast at least once a day likethree people have different sources. For that, I'm just like yeah. It's sucha crazy, extensive network of people- and I remember you being one of thefirst like your name- is one of the first names I remember like seeing andbeing like. Oh, like this Janit's got some good stuff to say: That's awesome, yes and then, like Ilooked into that group honestly, oh absolutely yeah me so helpful to me inso many different ways, and it literally was just a person. I met in acoffee, shop and started talking about writing to was a member of the groupand they were like hey. If this is your jam, you really should get it on this. It made A. I mean it really affectedthe course of my career, I think, being in that group e the amount of opportunities of peoplejust being like Hey, I'm, the new editor of Blah Blah Blah and I'mlooking for pieces on Xyzq, and you know I can wrirde about Xuyz exactly and I had a similar sort ofthing where my sister who's a few years older than me, was working in PR, and Ihad recently graduated college and she had been pitching an editor aboutsomething else and she was like hey. I think you shouldlike call him and say that you're interested in writing- and you knowjust see what he has to say like pick his brain on a phone call, and I saidall right: Let's do it, and so I called...

...him and of course this was you know Ihad written in college but didn't really know what it took to be afreelance or anything like that yeah just kind of probably it was an extremewaste of time for him to talk with me, because I had verylittle prepared a few real generic question but towardsthe end of the call he was like, hey here's. What I would do if I were youhe's like there's this group called Yupon, that's just w writers he's likego in there and check it out. He's like I post every once in a while, but Imostly am just a lurker and kind of you know see what people are up to and I Ithink back then there Wa, I don't even know if there was a questionaire oranything. I think you just deplined to do in the group, and fortunately myfacebook profile made it obvious enough that I do some writing and I was I wasin there and agree. I think, like I found so many either opportunities or sources or just like gotten, to read somereally cool things that I never probably would have stumbled upon.Otherwise, yeah obouts, a lot of just straight up. Wisdom of People Thatvinin the field for long enough and like some less interesting, like businesstype of vice, has been really helpful for people that just like are in the inthe weeds and doing the Nidigridy of getting those jobs and keeping thosejobs and finding other jobs. You know exactly they're doing the tough wookfor us. My first national clip was directly because of YOU POG, like Ipublished a fronabookpiece in Maxum like ten years ago. Fif, I don't hell,I don't even know what it was not long after so, let's see probablyprobably about ten years ago about you, remember anonymous, the likeInternet Group- Oh yes, yes did all the hijinks yeah, so I wrote a little pieceabout them for the November issue. Soitas for GuyFox Day was the the Tian. So I wrote like o what was the head? It was like the assholo meter, the asshole scale,or something it was like different things. Anonymous had done on a scaleof zero to asshole. That was the first national club wellyea. That is a very good maxim piece. It was fun. It was a lot of fun towrite and it was directly because somebody in that group was like. Iheard that Maxim is looking for front of book pieces that are tied into like history events or you knowsomething timely, blah, Blah Blah Blah Blah and just like you said it was likea bunch of different. You know boxes that had to be filled, and it just sohappened that I had had enough clips in whatever they were looking for, that itall worked out. So it's I'm very thankful for that group for surefantastic. Well, that was your first national clip enbut, I dare say,probably not your most popular,...

...because I think you youdeclare such a wonderful mix ofclips. I've been all over the place. An yes and there are two that I definitelywant to cover. But if you'd like to give shout at any others, please feelfree to do so, and I'm sure you know which too I'm talking about. But thefirst one is your Forre into making Vagina Yogurt iyeah. That's always the that's.Definitely the most popular one. Yes still tickles me to the stat, I pageviews. Yes, I want to just apologize again toCicelia Westbrook, who had her like completely disrupted when that thingwent crazy and she is an actual doctor who actually does actual doctor things,whereas I am just a goofy freelance writer that that told her goofy story but yeah, so it this was just a storythat started as like bullshitting in an Internet,chatroom, basically not chateron. We was on like basebook group that we wereall in and yeah I mean it says in the story, butbasically somebody found a cookbook that was likea seat cooking with seman and was kind of clowning on it and people were likewell. Is there an equivalent one for women? No well? Why not? And somebodybrought up the fact that, like Oh Sicilia, brought up the fact that it's actually the same like microphone, the same stuff, that'sin your vachina is the same stuff that you put in milk to make yogurt, basicallyscientistically so yeah it just kind of went from thereto like hey. I wonder if it would actually work and like well I'm makingyogert anyway. So why don't? We just see? And it was just a really. I thought it wasa really neat experiment and looking into it, really showed like howlittle we actually know about virginas in a lot of ways which I didn't really expect, but yeahso tollus. That story in vice and T at was actually my first vice motherboardpiece two and did not expect. I mean I writegoofy stuff all the time and it does not go bunkers viral like that one did, but who boy did it? That's always yeah. It's Alwas, amazingto me like what like resonates with the Internet andI'm sure you got some lovely comments and messages from that. Do. Are thereany in particular that still stand out to you? What is his five years later?Oh Geez...

Yeah! Well, it was they was weird. Isthey talked about it on t on TV a few times, which was very bizarre for me, there's a a daytime talk show that likeSharon Osborne is on with Oh Gosh, I just fined on the other on,but like Sharon Osborne talked about the story and defended it to the other.Women on this daytime talk show as like. Well that sounds kind of interestingand everybody else grows and having a Google or on Vagina Yogurtis an interesting experience. I'll tell you that, because I had to keep an eyeon it like or for myself and for CC since I have mess her world up but yeah,so I had it for and for months it was just like. I would get ten podcasts aweek that were clowning on it. You know that I has and clowning you know on the scale of of well, not even clouding like on one end.You have the fact that it actually led to people did research because of thatstory like, like actual science, experiments were done, based off of questions that werebrought up in it, which I think is the coolest part, but that all the way to you know these Trad fome assholes, like there were atleast a couple podcast of like dudes in their basements wearing masks. Talkingabout how women were the end of all you know so yeah. I turns out you writ aboutanything involving like women and people. People are interested invarious ways. Let's say yeahit sounds like. It certainly ranthe Gamit of both positive and weird we're guys in their basement weryeah. It was it Wasnat experience. Let me tell you, of course you knoweverybody in my life Wen, you commented on it just like just like when I was interviewed inplayboy, which is, I guess, maybe something else that you saw when youlook through my clips, but yeah I mean everybody's got a joke and everybody'sa you know they're, usually pretty funny, but it was very weird seeing like my very conservative, Kentucky familybeing like Hey, I saw your story congrests just Beng like wool, yess tetalk about Tha Gitas. Now such is life. You know you got Ta wrideit such is life yeah and I think that's a a good mindset to have generally is II mean both from a perspective of everyone's got a comment to it. So Iagree. I think that there was actual science coming out of this. Is such acool thing to hang your head on and you pretty much help set that all in motion.You van CC making making that happen,...

...so that's super cool yeah. I mean Ialways feel like I've been privileged to do a lot ofscience, writing and science adjacent writing and for me just to be able to tell the story of somebody'sresearch or somebody's experiment in a way that kind of communicates. That is a real privilegeand I'm so impressed by the people that actually do the work that I then workto tell about. You know. That's so much more more important, I think than than what I do, and it's reallygratifying to see people you know actually advancing knowledge because of again like a sort of goofy story thatcame out of planing around in a chat room and somebody doing an experimentjust for their own, like just to see if it would work- and I think that'sreally cool. So I think a lot of the best ideas comefrom anyway is like hey. This is a silly thing, and I wonder if I mean that was to give a shamelessself promotion to my old youtube channel JK creations, very, verysimilar to your calamity, Jak Creations, which we y. let me Touchn all that in alol, but but I just a friend- and I I would say arguably the most popular video on mychannel was a friend and I one day we were just like hey what, if like, whatwould pokemon moves, look like in real life and we just all the ones in generation one and dida and of course, some are very easy topull off some. We had to do some puns, for others. Id had to throw a littlepost production magic in there, but just a weird forray and yeah likethat's what what it's the most popular. It's always weird what you work, whatyou spend the most time on and what the most people read are not the samestories Noor the same pieces yeah, but I'm Gonnta have to look that up whenwe're done here, because I'm curious, oh absolutely I will. I will share itwith you. Everyone, because it is one of my finest moments- Jupite Ceck suchminimali- that's awesome! So we'll move from onestory that you were the the author of to a little bit of a transition of youbeing the story, because I also think you're becoming a Signborg Ohyeah, justfascinating things as well. So you had mentioned that you had back injuries earlier this, this kind of led to you becominga sidework. So how did? How did all that happen? Yeah? Well, I heard myback in high school in my Sophomore Year of high school, so pretty early onand...

...unfortunately it never. I never reallygot a diagnosis or an explanation for what was wrong or why it was wrong. Ijust all of a sudden was in constant pain and couldn't I couldn't go to school full time I got.I made it through high school with my class, but I was excused from a lot of absencesand I missed Il. I missed a lot of school going to doctors and hospitalsand stuff so yeah that has definitely coulnstrained me and kind of forced my life n in a certain direction,which you know it's been a great life. I don't regret it, but it definitely affected the choicesI made professionally and I've been, you know, going todoctors and hospitals and stuff for now twenty years. So all that said, I've been, you know,kind of, had my career alongside that and then, as you said, they kind of converged,which there was this new type of pain management option, whereas I was on you know opiates every month, which I absolutely think should be an optionfor people D and sometimes is the best option for people, but my pain doctorthat I go to said Hey. You might look at this as a possible ideaah and whatthese spinal simulators are basically is a pain. Sig Pain is justan electrical signal that your body sends your brain and, for whateverreason, sometimes there's a real injury that it is tied to, and sometimes yourbody can just get mixed up basically and have painsignals going where there's not actually an injury either way thisspital stimulator, they implant this thing and it basically drowns out thepain signals on your nerves is the is the rationale so I as going to do this anyway, just as aperson and then as a writer, I thought it was really cool and of course I wasbecause I' me, I've been going around Bacin, sideword jokes and decided that that might besomething that people were interested about. Hearing the process. So, as Iwas getting insurance approval, I was pitching it to people as hey, I'm goingto take pictures and kind of record how this process is. Do you wantme to write about it so, and I got to write about it? It was. It was a reallyneat again. It was. It was a cool science story that got picked up andreally helped people which was so cool o to hear people hear about something that cand helpthem and which is not in paiyment. The...

...world of pain management like therearen't that many options so having a new option out there that that maybe I got some people aware of was really cool was a cool experience. That is awesome. It's always nice tohear that your story has helped someone insome way and in that case, helping a lot of people, especially withsomething that's not as widely known and opening up their eyes to somethingnew, so excellent work. Thank you, but yeah. I got my my actioly, my Eypod, that controls myspine is right on the table in front of me. I just got a new one, so look at you upgrading, yeah! Well, theB. You know it's an ipod, so the battery died. IAT Get a new one planned offs solessence deal, so I tease this a little earlier,but would love to also chat about calamity J creations? Yes, so, let's dive on it, Clemy Dis,just a you know, a goofy nickname that I got along a long time ago. This is so doofy, but it was actuallythe I've been to burning man once and calamity was the name that they made upfor me there. So I actually thought it was a cool dicktame. So when I tri was trying to figure out aname for my ly craft nonsense, I decided to go with that, so yeah I'vealways been real crafty and I like making stuff. I like upsite, win kindof making stuff out of other stuff, so I decided to kind of try to put ittogether, hedput it together period into a blogand unfortunately I really I kind of got itgot. It started and then had one of my disks in my back Hernie Aand I had to go to the hospital and have surgery, so I've not done nearlyas much with it as I wish I had, and in fact I'm using this this time inmy house having all sorts of fun being here by myself for two two weeks now,counting my hope is that I can get that back up and running a little bit better, but yeah. You know I'm. I HAVE IHA a lot of content for it that I justreally need to get ready and get up there, but I love yeah. I love at a Goofy, I'm sittinghere, looking at my big stack of record clocks that I've madethat are waiting to either sell er to give to people there's just a lot of really cool stuffout there, and it's not really it's not hard to make neat stuff out of it and Ijust figured it would be a fun way to kind of get out there and...

...use my crafting abilities for goodexcellent as opposed to for evil well for evil. Well, you know I keep theevil on the deal. One excellent, except for what I do. PODCAST IV mentioned. Isuppose, but you know it's okay, we can bleep it. So Okay Excellenc feel, likeI've, promised t believe ahs of people really AF efer follow up OIS TVD if it'll actually be blaved andspeaking of bliaps. Another thing that you introduced to me, but I have not yet partaken in which istruly a disappointment, is punk ROK Karaoke. I know we're going to have to reall. I know wesaid if I had a dollar for every time we said we would do Punkcak Karioke. Icould pay for a drink at PUN, COT Curioki. I don't, but we really shoulds. We willmake it happen once the the world returns to a at least where you can be less than six feetaway from each other state yeah, a Google hangout, PUK COT Karaoke, Idon't think, would really be quite the same. Unfortunately, I agree and I havecertainly been keeping up with my pungrag listening, but would love tojust hear as a someone who is done. Caryoka, I'm always a big Karaoke Fam,but I've never done pun ak very OPA. What makes for a good Ungrak, Karoke,selection and or performance. That's a good question. I think Punk Rock Karaoke thers a lotmore about your your vibe and your performance that itnecessarily is the song which I think is true for pub rock in general. In alot of times. It's not that passion getting up thereand just going nuts, whereas regular Karioke, you knowsometimess it's about how good your voice is or whatever. I don't thinkthat really that doesn't matter so much of the pop crock caryoke think I'd do very well, then, becausethat's typically what my normal karioke persona is, is I I'm not always going to hit all thenotes with perfect pitch and Tamber, but why not make it entertaining? Those arethe ones I think people remember better anyway, at least for me. I know like I couldn't even tell you half the songsthat some of the most memorable performancees I've seen are it's just.I remember something about the pers, like I remember, a guy singing, FrankSonatra. Who knows what Frank Anantrosong, but he stepped on thetables to like serenade people? He was just like. Oh Wow, that's a table. Iwas like this is amazing. You are truly a braver soul than I, because I wouldfall down. No yeah, that's incredible like I hope he was just the right amount ofdrunk to pull that off, that he didn't...

DRIFP yeah. He managed to stay upright. Ididn't even see him stumble so very, very well done. He also went to a place.I regularly frequented. This was back in college and we never saw him againafter that. So I feel like like I'd like to imagine that he just went fromtown to town and he only did Frank Sonatra, but he had perfected it sowell that you know his next week was in Orlando and then Atlanta. I really likethat idea. I'm going to believe that too, yes Ir Franks Sonotra in the wind. The only time I did Punkrut Karaoke. Iwas completely hoarse the next day, which I did not expect at all, butapparently I had been screaming screaming scream singing. So much asyou do with the PUK rock a punk rock yeah that I woke up horse the next day, but it was all all worthwhile- oh yeah,of course, absolutely fantastic. Okay, so everyone go out,listen to your favorite, punk rock song. After this, but first we got to wrap upwith our top three, which are the top three non fiction pieces that you love.Let's happen all right, so the first one is one of the things that we did not touchon in my in my background, but that I wanted to highlight it's called themurders at the lake. It is a long form, long form piece by Michael Hall thatcame out in Texas monthly, probably five years ago, that was about the murder case thatI've been involved with my entire life, which is an entirely other longconversation. But basically, when I was in when I was in elementary school, Imet a guy who had been frigtened for murder and spent time on death rowbefore being zonerated and through him. I got involved in thiscase that I ended up doing my honor thesis on in college and then gettinginvolved with this whole story and Fred Dannon who's, the reporter that workedon getting these guys out of prison and it's a whole whole big thing. But thisis the long fom pace about. It was a triple murderer in Waco in the late sthat these four men were aframed for, and one was exonerated one was executed bythe Cate of Texas and to plut out and died in prison, still protesting their innocence. Soit's a crazy story and it's something I'm really passionate about, so themurders at the lake by Michael Hall that'll be number one. I guess, and so the other two our stuffI was not involved with, but I don't know if you've ever have youever read any Lester bangs. I have not know ohoh man, I'm gonna, have to spendyou some wig, but...

...one really formative like thing for mein terms of me, as a writer was reading this piece that he wrote, I think it'sjust called asteral weeks in one thousand nine hundred and seventy nineand it's the second story in the it's called psychotic reactionsincorporate or Dung, which is the it's. The book. That's like the firstcollection of lest forbangs pieces is the second piece in there and I verydistinctly remember going going down to the Virgin Mega store to buy CDs inhigh school. If that dates me, a little bit tells you how old I am that we wentto buy se ps but down to the the cool virgin story, and I picked upthis book and was flipping through it. I started reading the story and it's astory about a record that I had not even heard, and the story was so justbeautifully written that it really kind of punch me in the gut, like. Oh, myGod. This is what you can do right thing about music. This is like this isthe level to which this can be taken. That's amazing, and I you know I stert a lot of myearly career writing about music and I think in in large part, because Ithought that was so. Absolutel brilliant and the record is also absolutelybrilliant. So it's a really amazing piece, but it in it. It's not just that.It's amazing it's! He lesster Bangs, writes about this album and says at one point. You know thenworrison claims that this song is about Xys, but he's obviously wrong. The songis obviousy about this and that and the other- and you can tell because thisand he's wrong, you know, and he and you believe it. You agree with thim atthat that the guy that wrote the song is wrong when he says when it's about.I don't know it's just it's a very well written piece about an incredible albumthat I think everybody should check out. So that's number two and number three is: can you say tero by Tom dnod, whichis the they recently made a movie about it? But it's the Mr Roger, Mr Roger Story that they just made amovie about Ihave, not seen the movie yet, but the peace I have forced. I don't evenknow how many people I have forced to read that story over the years. I readit in college in a creative, non fiction class, and so I graduated college in Two Thousandand seven. I have read it probably conservatively like thirty times sincethen I don't think I've ever once gotten through it without crying, and Iam not really like. I don't really cry...

...at movies all the time but yeah. Thatstory like gets me right where right, where the teers come, it's just it's brilliantly written, ind,absolutely beautiful and again something that I read andimmediately was like. Oh my God, this is what you can do with creative nonfiction. This is what you can do with the profile, and it really you know inspired me toto try to be better. I think those both of those to the astro weekspiece as a as a music writer and so many ofell music and then canued tohero, as as writing profiles, both were just like Poly Shit, you, if you tryyour whole life and and do as best you can maybe some day you can writesomething you know in the same ball park as good as these things are, andif I can ever do that, I will be so so pleased with myself. If I cocan writesomething within like the same ball park is either those two pieces ereboth just brilliant, so there's Mytree, boom, Fantasi and, ofcourse, we'll include links in shownotes, O people over them and alsomarvel and how wonderful they are. Yes, I don't link to your poommanddancing. Yes, of course, of course, that will Wen there as well fullyexpect it's adulation for all of that. Well, Janet you're, officially off thehook. Thank you so much for hopping on the PODCAST. Thank you. I had a goodtime, excellent at's, what I like to hear and if people want to find you andyour work onmine, where can te go right now they can't go aright now.Your best bet is unfortunately, just either googling stories or my twitter is at Janet Kj Jay. I ambetween websites right now, I'm transitioning from I was at Janet Jyonline and now I'm going to be at Janet Kjcom, but it is not up yet so this isan unfortunately timed podcast interview but yeah. You know frend me on twitterand when I have the new sigt up, I will let you know it will be great, but Iknow I don't Nov e Ebsite awe wont, certainly Updae the show once de andyeah just sfn twitter in the meantime, you're totally fineiyou know we do have.That is a Corny Jobe to pram thinks I love a Corny Ja, my Gilo Music Tame.Since we I had a Lotun Ronk discussion. What if the drummer named his two twindaughters, I don't know Anda One Anna to Yeahfertoay,...

...utim Chang.

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