The Corner

Culture

‘Jaywalking,’ or, ‘Impromptus on the Air’

In 2001 (March), I began my Web column, and called it “Impromptus.” The Web was pretty new at the time, I think — I mean, for magazine sites. I wondered whether anyone was reading.

I first wrote for the Web in the summer of 2000, during the Republican convention in Philadelphia. I thought you could say whatever you wanted, because the words sort of went out into the air, without consequence! You could let it all hang out.

For better or worse, I’ve never fully lost that spirit.

Impromptus was, as the name implies, a series of short, fairly casual bits, mainly spontaneous in nature. Dana Perino likes to say that Impromptus was “the original Twitter.” (This is probably more true now, given that Twitter has doubled its character limit.)

In 2003 or so, we at NR first started talking about doing an audio version of Impromptus, to be called “Impromptus on the Air.” With my usual alacrity, I have begun, about 15 years later. “Impromptus on the Air” has an antique ring. We are calling the new podcast “Jaywalking.”

It is indeed an audio version of Impromptus, covering the usual range of topics — but with added touches, such as the playing of music. In fact, I begin the inaugural episode with the playing of some impromptus, by Schubert, Fauré, and Chopin. I go on with talk about Roy Moore, Sweden, and an Israeli judo star. I tell a joke, not quite suited for the dinner table. (It depends on who’s there, I suppose.) And I end with what I call “pretty much the greatest thing on earth” — which is a song, performed scintillatingly in 1975.

See if you like it: here.

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