Jun 9 • 7M


With grass-fed Kentucky beef

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More Carrots, Less Sticks
Episode details

Ryan Fowler, of the internet, asks,

“Two questions related to the Wendell Berry documentary you helped produce, (Look & See):

1. That film came out just as I was discovering Berry, and is particularly meaningful to me, but it’s hard to find now. Is there any chance that it will distributed more widely again?

2. Can you talk more about how you choose projects to be involved with? The distance between Look & See and Pam & Tommy is vast. Or is it? I’d love to hear you explain yourself. ;)”

Ryan, thank you very much for these questions, as well as the old-school winking-smile emoji created with with a semi-colon and close parentheses. Some damn good analogue fun right there. I always enjoyed throwing a question mark nose into that mix, too. ;?) Haha, it’s like a total keyboard party, poppin’ off! Anyway,

Answer #1, regarding Look & See, is that the film appears to be currently available at the website of the filmmaker, Two Birds Films. It’s gone from Netflix and PBS, but you should be able to rent it directly from the source. It’s a beautiful documentary about Wendell Berry’s vision and body of work by filmmakers Laura Dunn and Jef Sewell. I was already a life-long fan of Berry’s work, but the film also allowed me to befriend and fall under the admirable sway of the Berry family. I have since become an enthusiastic supporter of their literary and educational efforts at The Berry Center, not to mention their admirable and savory work in sustainably-grazed beef cattle at Our Home Place Meat.

I would love to tell you that it will see some wider distribution of some sort, but that‘s generally not how it tends to go with documentaries about noble agrarianism. In any case, I hope you’ll still find a way to watch it. Besides all of the legitimate reasons I want you all to see this film, there’s also a petty, selfish one: Laura, the director, asked me to build a three-legged stool to provide a visual underscoring to something Wendell was saying concerning people who make things. Although you never see my face (or perhaps because you never do), I feel like the visual collaboration of my hands, my tools, and a hunk of walnut under some tasty Berry erudition might end being up the pinnacle of my admittedly storied film career.

I wrote a whole chapter about Wendell Berry in my book Gumption, and more about the “Berry stool” and how to make one of your own in my subsequent woodworking tome, Good Clean Fun.

This is the facsimile of the Berry stool I made in Red Eucalyptus for my book Good Clean Fun. Photo: me
Here is the real McCoy from Look & See, utilizing a beetle-ravaged piece of walnut that would have been firewood otherwise. Photo: myself
And a third version in Bay Laurel I made for Stephen Colbert, which they are generous enough to bring out and set my whisky water on when I’m lucky enough to be on The Late Show. Photo: I

Answer #2, Ryan, regarding how I choose my projects, is pretty simple. I listen to my gut. Sometimes I make a stool or a table or a canoe. Sometimes I help produce a documentary or I voice a cartoon or record an audiobook. On occasion, I’ll tour to a town near you and sing clumsy songs about handkerchiefs and the foibles of our society. Sometimes I portray characters onscreen or onstage that are funny or not, ones that can maybe dance with surprising grace, or enjoyably fall on their faces. But they all definitely have one thing in common: they smell not great. And also, hopefully, they’re human. If I think the writing is good and the people are fun and decent, and it won’t over-burden the calendar, then sign me up.


Muleteers, I hope you’re enjoying these tater tots of mere adequacy. Mediocri-tots. Please leave a question in the comments and tell me where you’re from, and I’ll do my best to get to it. If you want to see all the video fare on the weekends, then by all means become a paid subscriber. Your donkey likes a nice carrot. Mediocr-arrots!