3701 - Me and Mom’s Grand Prix


My name is Joel Eutaw Sharpton. Eutaw with an E at the front a W at the end and a long story behind it for another day. I was born in Morehouse Parish General Hospital on the morning of September 21, 1981. 37 years ago today as I release this podcast episode.

I am, and have always been a poor southern red-faced white boy. I’m the son of a carpenter and a school teacher, the grandson of a preacher and a cafateria supervisor. I’m a podcaster, a writer a father of four and twice-married husband of one beautiful redhead. I love Jesus and justice and Lebron James.

I like Nintendo, and I love Nina Simone and I NEED to watch The Godfather series at least once every couple of years. I grew up on Alfred Hitchcock on Nick at Nite and 80’s comedies on HBO and country music on my parent’s radio. I love K.T. Oslin and Ricky Skaggs and Elvis singing gospel and it’s my Nana’s and Daddy’s and Mama’s faults respectively.

3 years ago I started my own business, 3 years from now I’ll be 40. To say I’m in the thick of it, is an understatement. But I love my life as much now as ever before, and every day is an exciting discovery.

I’ve been writing publicly since 2004, podcasting since 2012 and I never shut up. I’ve told my story a bunch of ways to a bunch of people but I’ve never told all of it, and I’ve never told it like this. I want my own voice, my own story for my own recollection if nothing else. Maybe someday my kids will enjoy the ability to stroll through dear old dad’s mind, in this snapshot in time.

So, here’s what you’ll get, if you’re along for the ride. 37 stories of me. One for every year so far and all before I celebrate another trip around the sun. The people who made me, the things I love, and how I got to where I am, in my head, in my heart and my home. 37 Sharpton Stories, Joel flavored, every one. And all starting now.

When I think of “my mom’s car” I picture two, no matter what she’s driving currently. I think of a Mitsibishi Expo “the marshmallow” which I might have a story for another day, and I think of the Grand Prix.

It was gold. Or champagne, or sickly yellow depending on who you’re asking or what picture you’re looking at. It was a two door, and it was (in my memory) roughly 30 feet long. In reality, I think it was a bit less. An early 80’s model, 81 or 82, it was Mom’s pride and joy before her loving children destroyed it slowly with “love” over the rest of the decade. But the destruction started that very first year, with my head and the dashboard trim.

I of course remember none of this, but I retell it as a reminder that I (and most or many of you likely) grew up at time when such a thing could happen.

Mom was carrying me (carseats weren’t mandatory) in the front seat (airbags didn’t exist) of the grand prix when she and dad had an accident and baby Joel was flung into the dashboard. Thankfully, driving while holding a baby was frowned upon even back then. So, I didn’t encounter the steering wheel. The dashboard of the early 80’s Pontiac Grand Prix was expansive, faux wood grain in this model and broken up only by a thick shiny silver plastic piece of trim right down the middle horizontally. My noggin, cracked the plastic trim dead center of the passenger side.

We rode that car to Alabama and Arkansas and all over Louisiana for more than a decade and the trim was never replaced. Thankfully, my noggin didn’t need replacing and other than a bruise and a minor scratch I was left with no permanent damage...that we know of.

Of course, I’d be lying if that was even the worst time they dropped me on my head! But that’s a different story. For a different episode.

These aren’t in order of importance, so if I don’t talk about you yet, don’t get your panties in a twist, I’m sure you’re coming further on down the road. For now, I’m Joel, this is my story or one of them anyway, thanks for listening.

Episode 17: How to Make Your (Podcasting) Hobby Pay, When Your Show Doesn't

Joel Sharpton speaks at PMx as part of Podcast Movement 2016 at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Chicago about his journey towards independence and how narrating audiobooks is one simple method many if not all podcasters can adopt. Thanks to Ramona Rice, host of The Sports Gal Pal podcast and Community Manager for Podcast Websites, for the introduction. Visit http://joelsharpton.com/pmx/ to download my Tips and Tricks. 

Episode 16: Why I Read Weird - 40 Years of Interview with the Vampire

As a kid I read anything and everything I could get my hands on. My sons both love to read but I wonder sometimes about how much I read when I was a kid versus what they read and how I was able to cram in so much. Then I remember there was no iPad or iPhone. The Gameboy lasted about three hours and took a million AA batteries to do it, and cartoons only came on on Saturdays.

So I read. I remember superfudge and Ramona quimby. Encyclopedia Brown, and the Babysitters club. And, while I was a big fraidy cat, I also loved "scary" books. First Bunnicula and The Celery Stalks at Night, then Goosebumps, then Christopher Pike's "Chainletter" and The Last Vampire.

Those Teen novels were my thing by the time I was ten, so when two summers later I found The Tale of the Body Thief at my aunt's house and read the prologue from Lestat, it made sense that I was instantly hooked.

Lestat was arrogant and impetuous. Powerful and prideful. Exotic and exhilarating. He was my favorite fictional character I'd ever found.

So, I asked my aunt what was up with this book and the French vampire with the funny name. She explained the series, four books at the time and now originally it was Lestat's partner Louis who began it all in Interview with the Vampire.

At the end of my trip to see my aunt, I visited the library back home and promptly searched the card catalog for this Anne Rice and her interviewed vampire. I found the large gold foil wrapped hardback copy and made my way to the desk to check it out.

But I was foiled! The librarian scoffed as I handed her my card and the book, telling me "That's an adult book. You have a child's card!"

What the hell sense did that make? If I could understand the words on the page then what business is it of hers of anyone else's how old I am?

Even now, a father of four myself I really don't get what the big deal was. But I played by the rules and waited until my mother came to pick me up, then got her to check it out for me.

Within a month I'd harangued my mother and the head librarian to get me an adult card of my own so that these sorts of misunderstandings wouldn't happen again.

Now, the whole wide world of fiction was open to me. And I read everything. Science fiction and fantasy. Detective novels and westerns. Classic books and modern pop paperbacks. Occasionally even some historical era would catch my fancy and I'd read a series of biographies to fulfill my curiosity.

But mostly, I stuck with Vampires. I read and read the Vampire chronicles from Anne rice. First checking them out then buying my own paperback copies then inevitably buying new ones when I wore the old ones out.

I'm fully happy with our modern digital world. I buy my movies on iTunes and my books on my ipad and I mostly don't miss the old way of doing things, but sometimes when I think about the way a well-loved paperback feels, folding back the spine to hold it open one handed, rolling the cover completely off the thing, duct tape holding the binding together. That stuff I miss.

As each new book in Anne's series would come out, I would wait in line, drop my money and race through it trying to swallow the new info about Lestat and the Children of the Savage Garden whole. But Anne never wrote fast enough to keep me satisfied. I read Brian Lumley and his Necroscope series, Laurel Hamilton and her Anita Blake series. Even the first three novels in the True Blood series along with roughly a million one off takes on the vampire myth from writers big and small, talented and less than so.

But no one ever replaced Lestat's voice. Not when he "slept" after the events of Memnoch, not when Anne put him away as she chased angels, not even when they made that terrible Queen of the Damned movie. That beautiful brat prince has always been in my periphery, whispering just in the next room, always hinting he'll be back. And then he was. Prince Lestat was a surprise for me when Rice announced it. I really never thought she'd return to this world of these characters and had resigned myself to that.

Was it different after so many years? Absolutely. I didn't wait in any lines, I clicked a preorder button in the iTunes Store. There's no well-worn paperback, just my trusty smartphone and the comforting yellowish glow of the books app keeping me up into the wee hours chasing Lestat once again.

I loved the new book, and can't wait to read the adventures promised by its conclusion. But the reason I'm nostalgically tracing my reading history here is that Interview with the Vampire will have been in print for 40 years this month. So, while we all know our favorite French fiend has been stalking the savage garden for 3 centuries, he's been in our collective conscious for 4 decades now. And I at least will be following his stories for as many more in the future as possible.

Happy birthday, Lestat, and thank you, Anne for all you've given us over the years.

Episode 15: What Makes Me Married

Joel Sharpton talks about his wife, Kelly, on their third anniversary. Check out the show notes to get links for Joel and Kelly's full story.

Modern American Love Story Part One: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/makesmeweird/2015/06/25/mag019-og1--modern-american-love-story-wkelly-sharpton

Modern American Love Story Part Two: http://alwayslisteningpod.com/makesmeweird/modernlovestory2

Modern American Love Story Part Three: http://alwayslisteningpod.com/makesmeweird/modernlovestory3

And Part Four coming someday...

Find more from Joel at http://JoelSharpton.com or follow him on Twitter @therogueslife

Episode 12: Netflix and Joel - an Audio Essay on a Visual Medium

Joel has loved Netflix for a long, long time. Hear him discuss his love affair with the little red envelope and what Netflix means today. Also, a personal announcement! and Teaser for upcoming episodes.

Follow everything Joel does and connect with him for your next voice project at http://JoelSharpton.com

Email the show at makesmeweird@gmail.com and share us with a friend to help the show grow.

Episode 7: What Makes Destiny Weird? with Josh Shirley

Episode 7: What Makes Destiny Weird? with Josh Shirley

Destiny, the latest next generation game from HALO developer Bungie, is the topic of discussion in this episode. Josh has been an avid gamer for years, while Joel hasn't played anything more complex than Mario since college. Listen as they discuss Joel's first shot at the game, the advancement in video game mechanics period, and what a newbie can find to enjoy in the midst of this major new franchise.

Episode 6: Modern American Love Story Part 2 with Kelly and Joel Sharpton

Episode 6: Modern American Love Story Part 2 with Kelly and Joel Sharpton

We're taking a break from our regular episodes to dip into Joel's personal archives and pull an episode from his first podcast, Two Guys, One Podcast. His (now) wife, Kelly, appeared on four total episodes, three of which detailed and dicsussed their relationship. In case you've missed the first episode, highlighting how they met, all the way to the wedding day (including a recitation of the vows, seriously, it's pretty awesome), then check out Modern American Love Story Part 1 right here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/makesmeweird/2015/06/25/mag019-og1--modern-american-love-story-wkelly-sharpton