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George Arents: Hobbies and the Heathenish Weed

2012-04-04 | 🔗

How did advice from his great uncle inspire tobacco businessman George Arents to become one of the great contemporary bibliophiles? Listen in as Sarah and Deblina interview Michael Inman, the curator of the New York Public Library Rare Books Division.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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Marcus Locomotion stuff. You must, in history class from has to offer, how come hello and welcome to the podcast cast them a charcoal boarding and unfair it out and its please, no secret. If you listen to the pie, cast a lot that we're both really big booklovers, but thus or at least I haven't been much of a book caught. Her don't know about you, sir. I mean either. I knew like two some point and we ve talked about this ever since I got my kinda last year, I ve been dreaming about only buying books than I wanna collectors. Addition exactly that started yet so, while the mast quite a few paperbacks and some random hard back book seventy years, you can hardly call it a collection. So that's one of the biggest in that I learned from researching today's pod, though about George Errants, a bunch of
no matter how valuable they are. Just not a collection may and no matter how much you loved them. If you only went out and chose her favorite authors in your favorite books, wouldn't really make a collection and errants would really know what a collection was he's been called quote, one of the greatest contemporary bitterly of files, over his lifetime. He created two separate but collections, which are now major collections at the New York Public Library. One is the Arabs, tobacco collection, which open to the public in January of nineteen. Forty four, the other, is the arab collection of books in parts and Associated literature which opened in February of nineteen. Fifty seven at this point some of you out there, especially if you're, not a bibliophile yourself, maybe thinking ok. So what why I care about this guy who collected put in all black still. But what really experience interesting. We think at least besides the fact that he was also a business man and an inventor is the
dreamily focused approach that he took to his collections. He wasn't just collecting first, like their mentioned before his initial focus with simply tobacco and we're gonna talk about that alone, but more in a bed of course the other thing that really fascinated us was the process of hard core book collecting that we learned about from research team ass irritants made book collecting into a kind of an adventure, sometimes taking off the pond in a moment's notice, to pursue a volume that he really wanted. He often compared it to a height event or sport and of course, then there is the hidden, the books, any other items in the collections themselves. They have pretty cool stories behind them. Some have even come from the hands of the likes of Queen Elizabeth, the first so weakened
all of these aspects and to cover all these aspects. We decided to take heed of an atypical approach to this episode. We're gonna give you some background on errant first and how he got into collecting in the first place and some of the stories behind items from the collection. But we also had a terrific interview with Michael in men, whose the curator of the rare books division at the New York Public Library where the parents collection is held, and he was a really great resource on the topic of arrogance, on his life and on foot collecting and where books in general so early leading part of that interview in this package today is love, but of course, before we get into all that, we need to tell you a little bit about arrogance and not, how he got the collecting bug, but also how tobacco became part of the equation, because it seems like a strange thing to have a collection centred around it does, but it won't, and a couple minutes towards air and sea was technically George. Urge Junior was born in New York City on May, seventh eighteen, seventy five in discussion
family. You might find that the names can actually get kind of confusing and it might be confusing if you try to look up on your own, because obviously, as father was also named, George errands later on, his son was as well, but we'll try to specify of women and one of the other Georgia's, and despite cast that we're doing so so irritating business was the Alan and Ginger tobacco company, which was established by his great uncle major Louis winter unless come he was known for creating the first cigarette trading cards, which were slow, into cigarette packs, to give them a kind of that stiff quality and they also does a form of advertising, and this was even before kids trading cards came round, so it's kind of venturing into new territory of a sort so because of the family business errant spent a lot of time visiting Richmond Virginia the care, because that was where company was based and in eighteen. Ninety Alan and Inter became part of the american tobacco company. I am sure many of you have heard
but IRAN's family was still very much involved in that new company and he started working there himself in eighteen. Ninety six between his junior and senior year studying at Columbia University. Then in eighteen, ninety seven, he graduated from Colombia and he went on to earn his masters to create fear, keys university, but he didn't just on getting a great education and settling into a comfortable job at the family business. He was and pricing any made his own name in that business with, while around the turn of the century, he helped establish the american machine and foundry company and served as a director there, but he also got choose them invent. He did- and I think we mentioned in the intro this podcast one of his inventions in particular, was a device that made it possible to make the guards with machine. And this was widely adopted in the industry later it
developed into a machine that world cigarettes you mean before their cigarettes had to be rolled by hand. So you can imagine how it would make mass production possible and really kind of revolutionise things in these. Patents ended up being a great source of wealth for him. So in a lot of our power cuts, we would probably stock with this sort of stuff this business life of his and, in truth, a lot of packets subjects. Stop there are two. After all, I mean, if you're that accomplished, if you have made an aim for yourself in business, if you're an inventor, why do you really need to do too much of some people might wonder. Of course, errands did have a personal life. He was married anyhow who cared for fun and a daughter. We already mentioned the sun, but along the way he really went beyond his family life in his business life and took on a few Hobbes to mainly because of some advice he had gotten from his great uncle.
Major Ghent, her pretty early on- and there is an article by sea, Dickinson, Commonwealth Magdalene, where errants actually recounted this advice and a talk he gave at the college William and marry in nineteen thirty nine, he said on one of my many visits and his referring here to the visits to Virginia to visit his family major You gave me some advice which I have never forgotten. It has added greatly to my happiness, and I may be of value to many of you here. He said when you are a young, have many Hobbes, but let your business or profession come first. As you grow older, you will have to abandon some of them. The more you have left you ll, miss those that you have to give up. The earth really took this advice to heart and he started taking on different Hobbes trend. Collective many.
early on as he could, one with race car driving, but that didn't you have very long for him. He drove a Mercedes which was car number five in the first Vanderbilt cop rates, which took place on long island in October of nineteen O. Whose twenty nine years old at the time it was his first race, but he got into an accident that left him pretty badly injured and actually killed his mechanic, though that was the end of that, perhaps kind of proof his uncles point that you're gonna have to abandon Hobbes along the way. One of us Hobbes though, but collecting of course proved to be farce, furthermore, is hard driving and he did sick with that throughout his life seller, William Everts warrant errants early on, and he should specialised when it came to book collecting according to an article that errants prepared for- Syracuse University students called a book collecting, as I have found it ever said, do not buy some sixteenth and seventeenth century. his poems nineteenth and twentieth century novels. That is not a collection
It is just a lot of books, on the subject which interests you and stick to it one day you may find that you formed a great collection, or at least one which will always interest you fell. Errands didn't have to think long and hard about what that focus of his collection would be. Obviously, in that Fame, William and Merry talk we mentioned earlier errant said quote what could be more natural for me with a background of tobacco in my family than to specialise on books relating to the divine herb, though one features tobacco. He really went for that there is a bit of discrepancy regarding what work he started with an when exactly he started over the course of his life. He gave all sorts of ages are pretty much on the younger side, but we wanted to talk to Michael in man. What's the deal with as what was his first lucky, but here's what he had to say areas was in his early twentieth when he bought his first to book on Tibet
He bought his first book in eighteen. Ninety eight- and there is a discrepancy, asked which work was the first book that he published by those accounts. It was selections from original contributions by James Thompson to coaxes tobacco plant, which had been published in eighteen. Eighty nine, but there are other works as a couple of other works which at one time or another, he said that he bought. First, the discrepancy properly lies partly in his memory, and also it lies in the fact that in his expression ledger, which he kept fairly careful notes and asked what he bought. He did list the selections from original contributions by James Thompson to have been the first book the heap he bought when he began collecting, so that as the book that I've always thought was probably was the first or at least
one of which we can be a relatively sir. So once errants collection is tobacco, collection got under way. He started out with the types of books. You d expect things with tee go in the title or as the main subject, but even these This works cover a broad range of takes on tobacco, their history books. There are legal document books about the chemistry of tobacco. Even medical tax the oldest spoke in this connection is the first Latin edition of an account of Amerika Vespuccians travels, which also contains the first round to the new world as America, Walter, I wasn't mentioned by name in this work. The book describes native people off of what is now The swale chewing green leaves so you assumption but they were to track yet another early peace from the collection includes the first mention of the Aztec Red Cigarette and the first reference to tobacco smoking, and it even includes the first use of the word tobacco, which I think
We have made a good could find for our Oxford English dictionary up said, but there are all sorts of I, like your style, other items focused on herbals, for instance, one is a fifteen fifty four book that doesn't actually mentioned tobacco by name, but it contains the earliest illustration of it. So, really was willing to look broadly at in his ass. Tobacco leaves Aaron's also talks about how he tried to collect books or documents that contains source material about the history of tobacco. Like notes from the English Privy Council meetings, which I think is really interesting Its through these documents that historians can trace the interlocking histories of tobacco, whether you're talking about the economic history, social or political, and things are these positive either our approach to back out, we might expect from somebody who had made his career in the tobacco industry in right and one of its most prized works was actually king, James, the first counterblaste to tobacco
apparently, while Elizabeth, the first James Predecessor and Kinswoman enjoyed tobacco Dear sir, Walter Raleigh helped popularize it in her court James. not a very big fan himself now in interesting, lay errants own coffee with one James must have been pretty proud of, because it's part of especially bound fat that he had made for his wife, Queen Ann. Although errants believed that the works were in, such priests condition. He had a hunch. Queen Ann must have never actually read her husband works Another major tobacco opponent was John Smith, who was the author of a general history of Virginia in it. He called tobacco quote. Than a swede since it would draw I've settlers to waste their time, planting that finicky crop instead of food that they actually needed and we ve talked about that connection between tobacco and Virginia before in an earlier upset that thought on the shipwreck that save Jamestown. Really one of my favorites, where John role famous for being Pocahontas husband, managed
Margo. Some central american variety of tobacco feeds into Virginia and started producing the more popular crop there, where it really thrived and completely change the economy. Virginia Yandah really changed economies across the globe to tobacco became kind of like an international currency of the sort usually errants began to expand his collection to include titles that dealt with tobacco anymore general way to, for example, he collected baseball cards. From cigarette advertising, including a homeless Wagner from nineteen ten metre, considered the most expensive baseball Our earnest Wagner apparently was not into having baseball cards made of him, but there are also things that I think would appeal to you. Lot of you guys Alice in Wonderland that concluded, because there is a caterpillar, he smokes a hooker, an errand collected a first edition of it Moby Dick. The wonderful wizard of OZ, the event,
the package very thin all included in that collection. Just because they have something or some mention of tobacco, that he thought with important and so on, this made us really think of any new mention at Oxford. English dictionary, Thou, William, see minor podcast earlier, and that me wonder, how did he find these rights? system of which are really that obvious, and so we asked Michael in that very question and here's what he had done while some of them, he came across quite likely just in the course of his reading and in the course of collecting he would find references to other works relates to the subject, and I think it is safe to say that a great many, these works came to his attention through the the advice were thrown from, that was related to him by various book collectors, and auction houses and so forth, and he had people out there in the antiquarian book world who were on the look out for items which had a tobacco production. However, slight
and as those items came into their stock. They would then contact him and ask if it was something that he was interested in acquiring and then the the transaction would take place. I sort of in both directions in terms of his own research on this and then also people on the look out for things for him. Palest I wanted to tell you about a new podcast from my heart radio called the women hosted by rose red it, fascinating and deep dive interview show where rose talks, to change makers in disruptors and she finds out what really drives them. So she will ask each of them. What was your first? stand and how do you navigate success and failure, and really what's the cost of fighting for others? interviews are really personal and their candid em for those are a little bit crass, but they are always really enlightening. You can listen to these your brands and take away lessons that will help you navigate your own life and for your own path. The debut season includes women like Valerie blame the former CIA agents, who is now running for Congress and whistle blower
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But William Shakespeare is missing from was beaten from Jack than drama entirely, and there is no good reason for that- it's because he never wrote about tobacco and arrogance. That one point related a pretty funny worry about Shakespeare and the lack of tobacco connections. By talking about how he had, to buy a Shakespeare First Oleo at one point: if and only a mention of tobacco, could be found any cut a little nervous about that promised afterwards, because he was expecting there wouldn't be any. Tens and he knew that even for him buying a shake, their first folio would be kind of of put a herd on his bank like understands adventure, certainly, but the best anybody could find was the passage from a midsummer night's dream about pipes. Unfortunately, for areas that turned out to be about Oberon playing pipes of core different pay, different kind of pay that I think it a fascinating that errants familiarity with all of these tangential references aloud
to actually draw some literary inferences from that total lack of tobacco references in Shakespeare. His work contrasted with the frequent mention of tobacco in Roger vacant work and ended up being proof enough for arrogance that Bacon did not write Shakespeare. So, finally, one of the most interesting lines of study in the collection is not just a history of tobacco, but the history of how tobacco was used, for example, a book by Christopher Columbus isn't well, son contained stories from Columbus's travels, including one describing human and smoking cigars, apparently the I didn't know what was going on and thought. Perhaps the Indians were perfuming themselves with these cigars, but it wasn't long obviously, before the sailors took up smoking and started to take it back to the old world, even though folks back at home or pretty puzzled at first. We know what was really going on and one of the interesting items at collection includes is a record.
Spanish sailor being arrested during the inquisition for smoke coming out of his mouth ass. He was having and smoke and folks thought that he must be possessed by the devil, for something so horrifying too to be happening, but by and he got out of prison. He found that everybody around him with smoking. It had become commonplace during just at that time use put away the sailor seemed smoking in London created a riot people thought that they were actually drinking smoke, but it's me caught on in England, some elegant man felt that they actually needed smoking teachers, people who would teach you how to what good they wanted, not that it was ok at the time to walk around and smoke. Men would actually have to duck into apothecary shop, how the smoke, and indeed the streets again So it made sense that tobacco is still considered just no mind any. I try connection there exactly it was like. You had an excuse to be smoking obvious.
Tobacco, and smoking can be a really controversial topic today for health rules had reasons because of health related concerns, some of air. Inclusions reflect how it was controversial. Even throughout history has collapsed contains critiques of tobacco through the ages, the earliest of which, besides the non medicinal use of what was believed to be imaginary arise when you, when you think about today have reminded me a lot of the radium girls podcast that we did last fall and how people with the thought that radium was this law, and they would use it even to treat cancer and things like that and later they figured out. Oh, it's actually causing cancer and similar sort of thing here with tobacco the items that is in the collection, tobacco tortured from sixteen sixty. focuses on degenerate, family man, whose roots his life through tobacco. His wife pleads quote: oh my husband, my house Why dost thou also vainly preferred a vanishing filthy fume before my approval?
virtues. Have I not here brought forth and me of children on tv and the description of ragged man has been destroyed by tobacco kind of reminds me of the classic. After with Special almost except that its from sixteen sixteen, but in about all the controversies that have surrounded tobacco throughout the years and even up to today, meet us really wonder about how a collection of this sort is perceived. So we asked me What about that? We ask Michael in men, and he noted that they haven't really received a lot of flak fur. The tobacco collection bit, that's probably because its mode we historical. He said most of the volumes are actually pre. Nineteen hundred Lonnie author shared because of the huge number of items that aren't really about tobacco. They just have that mention of it about fifty percent of the people who use the collection who consult it for their rights,
urge, aren't really interested in the tobacco content at all in other interested in that Alice in Wonderland copier, though of OZ or whatever it may be something come lately apart from tobacco, but tobacco wasn't all the errand was interested and, as we mentioned, an intruder, this podcast and nineteen twenty four, he started his second but collection books than parts. So it was about what are the century after he started that initial tobacco collection, and it's just me really curious him and we had a sense of what books in parts are about. We wanted to talk to make a little bit about what that entails. The books and parts collection is knowledge is, is a unique lecture me there are other rare, but collections out. There have books in parts material material in parts. I should say that what makes the heiress of books in parts? So special is that so far as I know, it's the only collection of its kind of solely predicated on collecting material and parts and by parts I mean
These are original works of literature and, and Many genres, which still in their original cereal iced form and the individual paper wrappers that they came down. The practice would usually have been to have those individual parts bound up into one a binding, but in fact these actually remain in their original cereals form. I think that that probably was part of the appeal for areas that here just as had been the case with the: U tobacco part of the collection, which also, I believe, is fairly unique in the sense that it solely predicate. along those lines it is dealing with tobacco here was another aspect of book. Collecting that errants could could focus upon. That really was something that was on the other people works like at that time, at any rate, Michael after went onto theorize that starting this second collection, really
the arrogance a great avenue for perfectionists. To take, I mean he was perfectionist than if you collect books in parts you can gradually assemble, not just to complete fat, but a perfect that something that was really appealing to arrogance but another. Another reason why, I have started a second collection is that it allowed him to pursue the chase. Like we talked about earlier. The hunt behind book collecting It allowed him to maintain the pace of book collecting here you still, it was really an adventure for him. As we mentioned, I mean fair and I were really taken with one part of an essay. We read where it said that parents would learn book that he wanted to get in London, and he would just decides. Spur the men on both take off, get on a boat and go get it and that really excited. So we wanted to talk to Michael little that about that thrill of the chase and ask him what his
it started what are some of the most interesting stories of how errants obtained volume and here's what he had. One that comes to mind is that for many years he had had a nearly complete that of hack. Let's voyages, and not only was this- is a distant terribly important work in terms of north american history, in terms of wages and travels and in terms of printing history, but also the particular said that he had acquired had belonged Queen Elizabeth, the first debarrassed her coat of arms on the binding he had a complete set of that work is a multi volume set, except for one volume. missing and finally persistence paid off. He had been searching for it for years and years and it finally turned up at auction and he was able to acquire that missing, but this is something it transpired over a great many years that he doggedly pursued, one missing volume out of a multi boys sat a heap. He was like a dog.
He wouldn't let go of something and he always try to you to acquire the complete work, as I mentioned earlier. So that's one example: he went to great lengths to cry sort of items. Another example of something that he tried to come by over a period of years were very lucky and arabs collection, Have the original manuscript original for act, manuscript Ostrom, whilst the importance of being earnest and that something that again, he had to search for the cap. he sat or a number of years are already multi values, because it's written in several note books and he had to do a search for several years until he was able to assemble that those two works. Allowing me have some exciting news. Yeah I
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and you will you accept. This rose on the icon, radio, app apple pie CAS or wherever you get your bride casts. I think another thing that surprised us during their research was that this was not a static collection, something that's a groan and it's something that has been added to even after errants with death and the like. still. I dont Michael talk a little bit about what acquiring books like today, any said while he hasn't jetted to London to to obtain materials. is still that kind of thrill of the chase element to pursuing a book. That is just perfect for the collection, something that has high research value, but is also incredibly unique, and he said that they need to always, of course, focus on things that have a link to tobacco. That is the prime If, for anything, that's gonna be in a collection, but it really does need to be important. Can't just mentioned. Tobacco has to almost live up to all the items that are already in the collection,
He mentioned research value in particular. The items that they get must have some sort of research value must have some the research value to them. I should say- and so of course talking about all of these volumes and their value made us really wonder what are Michael's favorite things than this collection? As the curator and so We oppose the kind of interesting scenario to him. We know in the night air scenario, but only a nightmare actually for a curator like him, we asked if the building were burning down. What would he take with him? The imports being artist is one of my favorites, certainly is a hand written letter from Queen Elizabeth, the first to Charles, the nice of France. which she writes in french law in response to Charles is offer. He had offered his brothers hand in marriage to Elizabeth in order to an alliance between France and England and so she wrote back to him in this virus or a flowery circumlocution airy prose, I love France.
I adore you and I think your brother's grades and she goes on very into the letter. She says rather tersely sort of thanks, but no thanks. That's a good example again of arrogance. It is a very broad mindedness. In turn, the collecting for years. I wondered why that letter was in the collection because there's no connection to tobacco. The eye can discern at all Only after a number of years, I was able to find some notes. The Arabs had written where he explained he had acquired that item simply because Elizabeth. the first modern female monarch who was known to smoke so The connection there even was somewhat tenuous but ice, He saw the latter at auction or so and offered it to amend. It was just too tempting to pass up. So that's how he was probably able disgusted justify acquiring it. After the fact so that letter, I think there are several others from sir. Rollin, and several other individuals from that period. That are quite magnificent.
there is another item. I really love is the first edition The wizard of OZ by L, Frank, Baum, inscribed to another, very touching little inscription. There were you rights into his mothers, that certainly wonderful, it's really hard to draw the line just two or three. I think it worth goodness forbid, the building I run fire I would probably be in the building much longer than it was probably safe to people trying to grab as many things as I could, but certainly does a beat. A few of the top takes a come to mind. If you were to ask me the same question tomorrow, probably would give you different less than you know, can keep going all out for the next several months. That draft scenario you know the building burning down. What are you gonna save kind of letter? to a less drastic scenario, one of how how are these materials preserve? How do people use them It was interesting to hear that, because this is a library, a lot of them.
Museum where the items are available to the public. You know you can apply to to consult with these materials and look at them yourself, something I think touch them. We have touched them something that I think really that's rare book library This apart Michael told us a little bit about the preservation and how, They have to be to make sure that the the volumes do stay intact so that people can use them in the future as well, and so that's a big aspect of keeping the collections there. It's not just creating them in finding the right volumes and thrill of the chase. It's making sure that there are around provided there are around for a while and to that point we also talked about future of these collections. Thinking about you guys especially mean will these will be available for people to see, even if you can't make a trip all the way to the main building of the new public library. On fifth avenue
he mentioned that there is a digitization project going on the near public library. As I'm sure there are many libraries around the world and their slowly, I think converting all these volumes are as many as they can to digital versions. So, some day you may be able to work this out from the comfort of your home beyond that, really does have to to values, to one that, if you have these high quality reproductions digital reproductions, not as many people need to touch that first manuscript and importance of being earnest if their researching it, but also yeah people who can't make it New York can can take a look at that stuff, take a look at that baseball card or the counterblaste or whatever it may be. Obviously there a lot of alert for us. We always need more materials for research, and so this was kind of We know that of vanity podcast for us like us in that sense, because- or maybe that question in particular was because we we really would love to have asked-
to these, but that's all we have episode on George arrogance in his collection. I would love no, if any listeners out there have their own collections books or otherwise, that they start side projects and have seen and have seen grown throughout the years. I mean I would really have hobbies I hope you are like playing soccer- have been playing music or whatever. I haven't really collected anything ever in that, as always helped a lot of fascination. remain valid. I really liked the idea of a focused but collection, because it meant that errant, even even when he was Even when you didn't have a lot of money to spend on some of these more magnificent items or money to go up to London and collect a huge amount of work, he had a collection and even with,
too few items, and that was the appeal you know. If you have this focus to your collection, even a few books are a collection that you don't need an entire library will, I think, that's a more hope. Way to look at it, so if you do have, if you ve started, even if it's with just a few bucks but collection or any sort of collection- and you want to share that with us- please write us where it is replied cast a discovery, dot com. You can also look us up on Facebook or on Twitter. It must in, and we also have a great article out there for all of you guys you're trying to choose the prime things will be adding to your future, collects, and it's called top ten we're back there. You can find it by searching on our Homepage W W W Thou hast upward dot com. we sort check out our new video podcast stuff from the future joint house to work
as we explore the most promising and perplexing possibilities of tomorrow, the house has arrived downloaded today on ideas. This is Danny. Shapiro post of the head had cast family secrets. To tell you that the new season of my show starts February Sex. I hope you'll join us for some we'll conversations about family identity and what happens to both when the secrets that have been kept from us and the secrets we keep finally come to light, listen and subscribe honey. I radio out apple podcast, or ever you listen to your favorite broadcasts,. hey listeners. I wanted to tell you about a new podcast from my heart. Radio called the women hosted by rose red
fascinating and deep dive interview show where rose talks to change makers and disruptors, and she finds out what really drives them. So she will ask each of them. What was your for? stand, and how do you navigate success and failure and really what's the cost of fighting for others? his interviews are really personal and their candid and for those who are a little bit crass, but they are always really enlightening. You can listen to these your brands, and take away lessons that will help you navigate your own life and for your own path, the debut season includes women like Valerie, blame the former CIA agents, who is now running for Congress and whistleblowers, pediatrician Doktor Mona Hannah, a teacher who exposed the flint water crisis and became the centre of aid swirling swirling amount of problems I am the legendary Buffy Saint Marie Sixty songwriter and activist I have personal interest in this show began: I adore rose and executive produce it and I think you're really going to enjoy the way that she gets into these conversations that feel like to France. Talking
and they are an absolute delight, so subscribed to the women on the Iheart Radio, app on Apple podcast or wherever you get your podcast