E05: Dave Sperling – the man who launched a thousand expat careers

Here’s the scoop behind this ESL legend’s own life as an early internet entrepreneur, teacher, traveler, tech geek and family man and how he created the website that seems frozen in time.

If you have ever taught English in a foreign country, there’s probably no way you don’t know all about Dave Sperling and his Dave’s ESL Cafe, the website that “launched thousands of careers”. Here’s the scoop behind this ESL legend’s own life as an early internet entrepreneur, teacher, traveler, tech geek and family man and how he created the website that seems frozen in time. Even if you don’t know Dave from Adam’s house cat – you’ll want to hear about the site that has helped legions of young native English speakers get their first jobs in foreign lands and set them off on life-changing journeys.

If you like Rootabaga, your reviews mean A LOT. And please follow on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Youtube and help spread the word if you like what you hear.

Links to music in the podcast:

Special thanks to Light Organ Records for letting me use the music of We Need Surgery and to Zion Train and Cha Cha for I Believe!

Fall – We Need Surgery – Light Organ Records

Lion – We Need Surgery – Light Organ Records

I Believe – Zion Train Feat. Cha Cha (I saw Cha Cha perform at a small venue in Shanghai. Amazing performance melding her hypnotic voice with elements of reggae, R&B, electronic and hip hop. Check out my other faves: Swimful by Shanghai Blue feat. Cha Cha and You Me (Downstate Ya’nan Mix) by Hamacide and Cha Cha.

All songs used with permission 2019

E04: Traversing a world of words with Jordan A.Y. Smith

California native (Dr.) Jordan A.Y. Smith talks about his prolific life in Japan as a professor, translator, poet and sometimes rapper, about poetry as an antidote to loneliness, the key to surviving multiple 5,000-mile moves with his multi-cultural family, creating poetry for BBC Radio 4 with three Japanese poets in Mt. Fuji’s legendary Sea of Trees, and some of his new music and poetry.

Check out more about Jordan wordSmith’s work with the Sea of Trees: Poetic Gateways to Aokigahara project at BBC Radio 4 and Tokyo Poetry Journal. Thanks to Jordan for all his time and awesome music and poetry. And to Light Organ Records for letting me use the music of We Need Surgery in each episode. Listen to Jordan’s full songs and other original music featured in Rootabaga episodes on SoundCloud.

And Jordan shared links to some of the Japanese poets he has worked with or been inspired by. Check it out if this episode has made you curious about Japanese poetry.

Yumi Fuzuki catranslation.org & poetryinternationalweb.net
Hiromi Ito poetryinternationalweb.net
Mizuta Norikopoetrykanto.com
Tokyo Poetry Journal

If you like this podcast, your reviews mean A LOT. Please leave reviews. And please follow on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Youtube and help spread the word if you like what you hear.

Music in the podcast:

Fall – We Need Surgery – Light Organ Records

I Want Magic – Lyrics/vocals Jordan A.Y. Smith, Music d. dahlinger

Not the Point of No Return – Lyrics/vocals Jordan A.Y. Smith, Music d. dahlinger

Red Threads and Blue (poem) – Jordan A. Y. Smith, from Sea of Trees: Poetic Gateways to Aokigahara (Smith, et al) originally written for BBC Radio 4

Naked Angels Didn’t Descend – Lyrics/vocals Jordan A.Y. Smith, Music d. dahlinger

Mukūhaku: Clearly Not Merely a Blank Space – Lyrics/vocals Jordan A.Y. Smith, Music d. dahlinger  (originally published in √IC: Redux (Tokyo: ToPoJo Excursions, 2018)

All songs used with permission

E03: Marc Chavaneau – a violin maker from Orléans, France with deep roots in South Korea

When luthier Marc Chavaneau left his 15th century violin workshop in Orléans, France in 1997 for a one-year contract to make and repair violins and cellos in South Korea, he never expected that he wouldn’t be returning for good. Find out how that one year working for a dodgy employer in a work-visa black hole would change this craftsman’s life forever.

When luthier Marc Chavaneau left his 15th century violin workshop in Orléans, France in 1997 for a one-year contract to make and repair violins and cellos in South Korea, he never expected that he wouldn’t be returning for good. Find out how that one year working for a dodgy employer in a work-visa black hole would change this craftsman’s life forever.

Big thanks Marc and his family for the nice meal and time together for the interview.

 

Gratitude to Wendy Tennery for her support and contribution to editing this episode. And to Light Organ Records for letting me use the music of We Need Surgery in each episode. Listen to full songs in the links below.If you like this podcast, your reviews mean A LOT. Please leave reviews. And please follow on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube and help spread the word if you like what you hear.

Songs in the podcast: (click to listen)
FallWe Need Surgery – Light Organ Records
Why’s It Gotta be This Way – We need Surgery – Light Organ Records
You Won’t Be Alone (demo) – Brandon Butler

All songs used with permission

E02: Linus Kim’s long road to Bama-style BBQ in Seoul

Rootabaga offers up its first ever full episode with a trip from Hong Kong to Seoul, South Korea to interview Linus Kim.

Linus is a fellow Alabamian who went from a job in Hollywood (no, really), to a gig in finance, only to end up serving his Alabama-style barbecue to the starving masses in South Korea (with a few other gigs along the way). Linus is one of many guests on Rootabaga who seized on that certain kind of freedom and inspiration that the expat life can provide to find his niche and finally do something he really had a passion for.

If you are in Seoul Check out Linus’ Bama Style Barbecue. They don’t have a website but here’s a glowing review and here’s their Facebook page.

Big thanks to Light Organ Records for letting me use the music of We Need Surgery as a the theme in each episode. Listen to full songs in the links below.

Also, each episode would be a hell of a lot more boring without the awesome tunes contributed by my friends. The groovy and sonic instrumental vibes (MK ii demo) in mid episode are compliments of Valentino Avignoni in Tokyo, who has an EP on the way soon, and the custom outro diddy is from the prolific Miso Stefanac in Toronto. There’s a bonus song (not in the episode) by Miso Stefanac – an old demo he made called I’ll Never Win – over at Rootabaga’s SoundCloud page. 

If you like the podcast and the concept, your reviews mean A LOT. Please leave reviews. And please follow on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube and help spread the word if you like what you hear.

Songs in the podcast in order of appearance: (click to listen)
FallWe Need Surgery – Light Organ Records
MK ii (demo) – Valentino Avignoni
Lion – We Need Surgery – Light Organ Records

All songs used with permission

E01: A little taste of Rootabaga

Episode 1 of Rootabaga takes you on a little tour of upcoming interviews with some of the more creative and interesting expats I’ve met in my 23 years living in South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Vancouver and mainland China. You’ll meet musicians, craftsmen, entrepreneurs, digital nomads, and assorted colorful characters who chose to call foreign countries home. You’ll also hear some great original music along the way.

Special thanks to Wendy Tennery for all her contributions, hard work, and ideas. Huge thanks to all the interviewees who gave their time and energy to help me out. Thanks to all the friends and colleagues who supported and encouraged the idea.

Huge props to all the people who are letting me use their music in this podcast. I get so much of a buzz editing the parts with their songs that it makes me want to do a podcast dedicated to the music I love. I am seriously honored to know so many talented musicians and I got more music sent to me than I can actually use – for now.

And a big thanks to Light Organ Records, which is letting me use the music of We Need Surgery in each episode.

If you like the podcast and the concept, your reviews mean A LOT. 

Check out our SoundCloud page for links to some full versions of songs you hear in episodes.

Songs in the podcast in order of appearance: (Click to listen)
FallWe Need Surgery – Light Organ Records
Why’s It Always Gotta be This Way – We Need Surgery – Light Organ Records
Wasting (Demo) – Valentino Avignoni
Money Is Your Answer – Paul Johnson/Steve Johnson
My Turn – Lim Jungkyu/Mineri
Fall – We Need Surgery – Light Organ Records
All songs used with permission

Childhood friends in Hotlanta

One of the cool things about doing this podcast about interesting expats is that it brought me to home turf for the first time in years and connected me to some old friends I haven’t seen in 20 or 30 years. One being @fyicary, who invited me to contribute to the mural in his amazing Buckhead, Atlanta loft. @rootabagapodcast logo, hand chalked by me. 😁 And great IPA-fueled hang.

Have Skype, can hypnotise

Elaine Chou was working in finance in Beijing when she decided that her true calling was helping people resolve their personal problems. She now practices hypnotherapy for mainland Chinese clients from her home in LA via Skype.

In Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago to interview Dave Sperling of Dave’s ESL Cafe and my old bandmate Paul I was treated to an impromptu interview opportunity when I discovered that my host’s girlfriend was herself an expat and digital nomad with a pretty unordinary job. Originally from Taiwan, Elaine Chou was working in finance in Beijing when she decided that her true calling was helping people resolve their personal problems. After earning her masters degree in psychology in China and training in counseling and hypnotherapy in California she created a niche career for herself counseling clients in mainland China via Skype and using hypnosis as one of her main tools – all from, well, wherever she can access the internet.

elaine pic updated best woot.png

Stay tuned here for our really cool chat with Elaine about escaping an unsatisfying job, the Chinese people’s openness to therapy and hypnosis, and living the laptop job dream.

Shout out to Mario for the couch in LA! And just for fun a little theme music for the post.

Anyong, Korea

What a crazy trip to Korea. So much jammed packed in I haven’t had time to share any proper photos, videos, stories. Will have to do it from the US. But in 16 days I interviewed several old friends and acquaintances for Rootabaga, I met up with tons of old friends, hung out with an actress, a model (impressed yet? 😎), an old rock star I was a fan of in the 90s, ate amazing meals, drank more than I should have and saw remote places I’d never been. Can’t wait to share more soon…