“What is Smoke?”
SMOKE is a new form of podcast, a fast paced action comedy, with characterizations, music and sound effects designed to create the effect of an “audio motion picture”. Listen with earbuds if you can! SMOKE is a single story, presented in thirteen Episodes. So please start at the beginning, with Episode 1. And oh, yes, though the theater is in your mind, we should probably tell you some of the material is “R” rated. If you have any question about it, watch the trailer first. It will give you an idea what’s coming.
The SMOKE podcast is based on the SMOKE Audiobook, available now on Audible. A SMOKE print edition is also available now on Amazon. So, you have a choice. You can listen to the podcast free here on the site as the Episodes are released OR you can subscribe free on iTunes and other audio platforms and download the episodes automatically as they’re released, OR if you don’t want to wait, you can get the audiobook or the print edition now on Audible or Amazon.com.
By the way, if you need help understanding how to subscribe to a podcast, there’s a great tutorial by Ira Glass you can watch to help you get started.
Episode 01: PLAYER
Getting bounced off the Oakland PD isn’t that easy to do. When it happened to Eddie Fuentes, his wife was so torn up about it, she cleaned out the apartment and took off with the cash. Then, Eddie got a call from his friendly hometown coroner. Seems his dope grower dad went off a bridge. Now, Eddie’s back in Redwood County to clean up the mess. Or maybe not. Twenty-four hours in, his old Mynot Indian pal, Russell George, already has him hooked up with a sexy redhead who’s running some kind of con. And Eddie’s playing caped crusader at a demonstration, seriously pissing off a wacko log trucker. But hey, compared to what was going on in Oakland, maybe things are looking up. Episode Details (CH 1 – 2)
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THE STORY BEHIND THE SMOKE
While SMOKE is a work of fiction (with all appropriate disclaimers about similarities to actual persons living or dead), it was inspired by some real life events and situations.
The story goes back to a time when I was living in San Francisco. I got to know a couple (they were both teachers) who became fed up living in the city, and decided to move “back to the land” in Humboldt County. They weren’t alone. A bunch of ex-hippies had started doing this all the way back in the 1960s. So my friends were following a familiar path. They bought twenty acres that had been subdivided out of an old clearcut after it was logged off. They built a house themselves, had children, grew their own food, even made their own clothes, trying to live off the land. But they quickly found out they still needed cash, and that the best cash crop was something called marijuana. Weed definitely helped with the money problems, but it also brought complications. For one thing, it brought outlaws who thought it might be easier to rip off the weed than grow it. This led to fences, guns and surveillance equipment.
What’s more, the expats from San Francisco found out that they hadn’t moved into a vacuum. There was already a culture in Humboldt County—a rough and tumble logger culture that had sprung up after the Trinity gold rush in the 1850s. These were people who didn’t like the government and didn’t trust people from the city. It created an odd set of parallel worlds, where chain saw repair shops thrived next to head shops, and used books stores operated next to old time pool halls and smoky bars serving meatball submarines.
Nothing strained the relationship between the kids from San Francisco and the natives of Humboldt County more than the issue of the environment. The expats looked at the redwood trees and saw an irreplaceable natural treasure. The natives looked at the same trees and saw them as the only viable way of making a living. The issue came to a head when a man by the name of Charles Hurwitz entered the picture.
Through his company, MAXXAM, Hurwitz executed a hostile takeover of Pacific Lumber Company (known as PALCO). The takeover was accomplished with borrowed money. Eager to pay it back, Hurwitz quickly began trying to clearcut everything in sight. This resulted in sit-ins and protests by environmental groups, culminating in Redwood Summer in 1990. Eventually, the demonstrations culminated in the Government’s purchase of an old growth stand which became part of the Headwaters Forest Preserve. Fascinated by the Humboldt County conflict as a microcosm of American culture, I traveled there while the demonstrations were going on and talked with people on both sides of the issue. Later, a friend arranged for me to spend time with a logging family in Chehalis, Washington, where I spent time in the woods, seeing what that way of life really was. This gave me a much better understanding of the issue.
In the meantime, I became interested in the story of the local Native American tribes. The California tribes had been dispossessed of their lands and herded into mini-reservations called Rancherias where it was virtually impossible to earn a living. It seemed ironic to me that the only business it made sense for them to engage in was casino gambling.
So the story that began with my friends leaving the city to lead a simple life in the country ended with the people who had lived that life creating something that looked more like Las Vegas. In my view, it was hard to think of a story that said more about modern day America.
Creator of SMOKE
SMOKE is written and performed by Hank Shaeffer. Hank lives and works in Los Angeles. He graduated from the Wharton School with an honors degree in Economics. Then he got a law degree from Harvard magna cum laude. Since then, he has intermittently practiced meditation, practiced law, written screenplays, and made toys.
A New York City native, George Landress, is a Grammy nominated producer, mixer, and recording engineer working in Los Angeles. George has engineered audio book projects for celebrities including Dudley Moore, Natalie Makarova and Olivia Newton-John, among others. He also mixes network TV for Snuffy Walden Productions, including most recently Nashville (ABC) and Under the Dome (CBS). George can be reached through his studio website, www.emilysbasement.com
Webster StoneExecutive Producer/Publisher
Webster is a book publisher book and film producer. Books he published include Character by Chris Wallace, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, and Mr. Untouchable by Leroy (“Nicky”) Barnes. Books he published have appeared on the front page of The New York Times, The Today Show, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. His films include The Conspirator, Gone in Sixty Seconds, and The Negotiator.
“I had absolutely nothing to do with the Smoke Podcast.”Quentin Tarantino
“We didn’t either.”Joel and Ethan Coen
“How the hell did you get my number?!”Elmore Leonard to the author, Hank Shaeffer, in 2012