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Portraits in Landscapes:
An Interview w/ Jonathan Goldstein

Jonathan Goldstein
Jonathan Goldstein

Listen to Jonathan's Story on our Portraits in Landscapes Page

Jonathan Goldstein is the host of "WireTap," a regular half-hour radio program on CBC, and is currently writing a book-length re-telling of Old Testament stories. Goldstein lives in Montreal with his long-time partner, author Heather O'Neill, and her daughter Arizona. Jonathan and Arizona are regular radio collaborators... Arizona is a frequent guest on WireTap, and Jonathan recently played a part in Arizona's recording of Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events. He played Count Olaf, the villain. This time, they went camping—much to Jonathan's trepidation.

So going camping was Arizona's idea?

Yeah, when I was approached to do something for this series, I could have done anything... and maybe I'm inventing this but I think it was suggested that I run with the bulls, or go on an African safari, and I was like no.... But Arizona had been wanting to go camping, so we went to this place outside Montreal called Oka, which is famous for its cheese. I believe Monks make the cheese.

The Monks make cheese in a town called Oka? Or near the campsite?

The campsite was actually made of cheese.

Ha ha. Okay, other than that, what was the campground like?

Well, there was one point when we got the tent all set up and everything and I was very proud, but for Arizona tent envy set in. There were these guys who seemed like professional campers, professional drinkers, actually, and she was marveling at their tent which was like three stories or something...

Cathedral windows and...

Yeah, that sort of thing.

Were there any challenges you had with making the piece itself?

Nah. Maybe just the problem of trying to get a 12-year-old to talk to you. Like, “How are you feeling about this?” “Uh... it's good.”

Well, actually, the thing that I was most concerned about was that the process of recording the camping trip would somehow eclipse the camping trip itself, but now that I think back on it, “doing radio” took a hind seat to just spending time. Which was cool.

That was quite a packing list that you read off [at the start of the piece.] Did you eat all of that food?

No. I don't think that would have been possible. We ate a fraction of it.

I didn't notice s'mores on the menu. I hope you had s'mores

That's so true, huh? We didn't have s'mores. You see, I really didn't know what I was doing with all of my preparedness.

Jonathan spoke to us from New York City and was mugged, he says, three times during the course of this conversation. The interviewer had no idea. “I didn't want to interrupt the conversation,” he said. “I'm very professional, I know.”

Listen to Jonathan's Story on our Portraits in Landscapes Page

Production: Atlantic Public Media. Curated by Jay Allison and Emily Botein.
Funding: Supported by The Nature Conservancy and Visa.

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