Staff Spotlight | Nathan McDowell
What are some of your interests/background?
My background is a little varied. I was an English major in college and have always loved reading and writing since I was a wee lad. I taught English in a few cities in China for awhile, and that was much to live abroad and travel for a little bit as it was to try out teaching as a profession to see if I wanted to do it. After that I came back and brewed professionally at a place called Bent River Brewing Company. It's a very cool place and I learned a lot, but I really wanted to get out of that city and focus more on my writing and getting more directly involved with the artistic community. And so here we are.
Interests: Cooking, brewing, bulldogs writing skateboards, how refreshing it feels to sit down in the middle of a sidewalk, Killer Mike for president, songs that pair well with whiskey, linguistics, traveling, literature that makes pretentious big ideas feel very grounded and real, art as respite whether it be from despair, oppression or anything else that tries to make us small, when people are good to each other, etc, etc
What book have you read and loved in the past year?
I picked up "Calling a Wolf a Wolf" by Kaveh Akbar a few months ago and am still blown away by that book. He has so many lines that make me put the book down for a second and think "Holy shit, that's perfect. That's the perfect way of expressing that" which is one of my favorite feelings reading poetry. It is also a wildly brave book for the emotional breadth it has. Such perfect little moments of happiness, and then unimaginable despair and trauma.
I'm also always reading like, at least three books at once, and lately I've been making my way through as many Two Dollar Radio titles as I can. I just finished Found Audio and loved it. It actually reminded me a lot of my favorite John Keats quote. "Fled is that music, do I sleep or wake?" It's a quote I want to get tattooed eventually, and I want to know if he knows the quote as well and is obsessed with it as I am.
They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us was also a standout. First off, the variety of artists he covers in the book is great. But more importantly, the way he composes these essays just makes a lot of sense to me. The way he weaves in pop culture with his personal life with big social or philosophical ideas just validates all of them, giving pop cultures more weightiness, and grounding the big ideas. He treats a lot of artists, whether it be Carly Rae Jepsen or Boosie Badazz, more seriously than people often do and I think that's great. (I've read so many more books that I loved this year but I gotta stop somewhere)
Why did you want to work for Two Dollar Radio?
So when I was getting ready to move to Columbus, I was searching for ways to try to get involved with the local literary community. One of my friends/mentors told me about Two Dollar Radio, I don't even think he knew about HQ, just was saying that it was a cool press that I should check out, try to get involved with whatever events they might host, etc. When I found out they also had a cool cafe/bookstore where they sold their books and other indie books? Sold a carefully selected menu of craft food and drinks? Hosted cool events for local artists and visiting artists? This is exactly like all of the stuff I'm into. Creating a fun welcoming space for people to come together and try interesting food, drink, take in something cultural and fun. I love meeting regulars and new people, talking about beer, food, or the movie Rad. I love working on the blog, and helping out with some of the work on the press. This is sort of a dream job for me and it's crazy that I kinda stumbled into it the way I did.
What are you listening to right now?
As I'm writing this response, at this very moment, I'm listening to the new The Internet album and it's INCREDIBLE. I'll have more to say about that soon. I just found out about Phoebe Bridgers a few months ago, and I've been really digging her too. She's got that relaxing but sad vibe that pulled me to Elliott Smith all those years ago, but she definitely has her own voice and is a great songwriter. There's this rapper called Iron Br11 from Mozambique. He only has music up on Soundcloud, which is a bummer for me because I'm so reliant on Spotify, but he is so damn good. I really want to get the word out about this guy because I think he's so unique and he got me excited about new music in a way I haven't been in a while. The song Parquinho is my recommended HOT TRACK. Condor and Jaybird too, they were some friends from back home and I think one of the best bands in our city - and I think playing them in Columbus definitely gives me a little hometown pride. Besides that I'm always listening to Frank Ocean, Joni Mitchell, Gogol Bordello, Russian Spy Camera, TV on the Radio, Spoon, Kendrick, Prince, the list goes on and on...
If you could go on a date with anyone, real or fictional, who would it be and what would you do?
Well, besides MY BEAUTIFUL FASCINATING GIRLFRIEND OBVIOUSLY, I want to do anything with Eugene
Hütz. Like I'm sure even just walking through a CVS with him would get nuts pretty quick. But preferably we'd be drinking vodka at a Romani wedding in Ukraine, or running from the cops in Budapest or something. I would also love to hang out in a jazz club with Joni Mitchell. Smoking long cigarettes. Her drink of choice.