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Sabbatical Series: Breakmaster Cylinder and Claire Friedman, Week 3 of 5

The Hot Pod Visual Issue

I don’t know what you see in your mind’s eye when you’re listening to pods, but I see lots of things: colors, vistas, shapes, people, movement, a melange of different things from the backlog of the stuff that my brain’s accumulated over time.

As a matter of mental phenomena, I suspect it’s the same for other people. And so I figured, why not get very talented artists to visualize the things they see? For this issue, I reached out to Claire Friedman, who I previously commissioned to design the new Hot Pod logo, and the mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder, who you might know best as the figure that scores Reply All, to create three of such pieces each.

We’ll start with Breakmaster.

Breakmaster Cylinder

Reply All #104 – The Case of the Phantom Caller.
“A woman receives a maelstrom of weird phone calls from random phone numbers, playing her ambient recordings of people’s lives that may or may not tell a larger story.” — B Cylinder


David Rakoff on This American Life no. 464, pt 3
“Three months before his death, David Rakoff (who I adore) dances for a live audience, his left arm hanging from his side ‘ heavy and insensate as a bag of oranges.'” — B Cylinder

The Books on Song Exploder, no 22
“Nick Zammuto from The Books explains a technique where he carves up the center circle of records and plays them like organic drum machines, while it turns out crows are everywhere.”
— B Cylinder

So, this one’s pretty cool: Breakmaster recorded the sound that the altered record produced, and then built a ditty around the sound that came out. Here’s the organic sound, and here’s the ditty.


Claire Friedman

Hardcore History. “Hardcore History to me has always felt like half college seminar half punk show. Dan Carlin has managed to paint such an intense world with just his voice, no fancy production, no sound design, no interviews, just story. He’s been on a real Roman kick for the past couple of years, so I wanted the design to feel like Julius Caesar was playing their first big venue after months of touring basements.” — C Friedman

Reveal. “I think Reveal is one of the best examples of investigative journalism happening anywhere. The allusion here is pretty simple — there’s a big monster, only a small part of it is visible, it’s dangerous and scary but they’re going to find it. We need people to find that monster.” — C Friedman

Your Stories. “Your Stories was the first podcast I was ever involved in. It’s a live storytelling show taped once a month in Chicago, and its focus is on letting anyone and everyone get up in front of other people and share a story that they think is important. The pattern made me think of a playmat, a place where a bunch of disparate kids can come together and goof and share with each other. It’s simple, smiley, not quite symmetrical; it’s accessible and full of joy.” — C Friedman


Breakmaster Cylinder is “an anonymous composer/producer for ads/podcasts/hip hop/yuks” with more than 40 podcast themes under ze’s belt. Likes dogs.

Claire Friedman is an artist, illustrator, and comedian living in Brooklyn. She formerly ran the Chicago Podcast Cooperative while working at Cards Against Humanity, where she was also the proud mother of a Big, Pointless Hole. She is hella available for freelance work.

They were both absolutely wonderful to work with, and you should give them all your commissions. Also, you should contact them directly if you’re interested in buying these images as ~prints~.