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Meet Richard Parks III

Today we’d like to introduce you to Richard Parks III.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
In high school, I got very serious about old-time and bluegrass music. I played in bands and have always recorded the odd novelty song in my bedroom — but I was usually also busy pursuing being a writer. After college, I got into journalism, first making a documentary, and then I was a reporter and then an editor of two newspapers when I was 25. At the same time, I was writing poetry, working on documentary films… About ten years ago, I made my first big radio piece with McSweeney’s and KCRW and The Flaming Lips — an hour-long musical radio drama about a face-shaped mass in Wayne Coyne’s leg that was kind of an update of Mercury Theatre’s War of the Worlds. Around then, I made a bunch of short films — e.g., about the world’s largest collection of records and Biosphere2, music videos — and I randomly started acting. By that time, when I was writing, it’d mostly be about food, for places like Lucky Peach. I’ve since co-authored cookbooks and five years ago, I started Richard’s Famous Food Podcast, which is a surreal, heavily sound-designed, cartoon-like documentary podcast about food. The podcast kind of fuses all these things I’ve done: music, journalism, writing, even acting — plus, my (apparently peculiar) sense of humor. But I still do the other things too.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
One of Richard’s Famous Food Podcast’s catchphrases is, “Why does anybody do anything?” You have to have your reasons outside of money and the typical definitions of “success.”

I don’t consider myself an artist. Everything I do — film, radio, journalism — is some version of writing: the collection of information and ideas and the organization of those things into some digestible form/order. I try be hyper-conscious about feelings — how I feel and how I’m hoping others will feel — and to do it in a way that only I can do. I try to use cliche in an unpredictable way to create surprise and humor. I try to put myself in the work and how I see the world. I’ve been doing it so long now, it’s just a part of how I navigate and process the world.

I often feel a sense of wonderment at the world when I do this type of work. There’s a necessary abandonment of preconceptions that is a part of doing a good job, I believe, that is always challenging and always ultimately freeing. If in presenting my experiences in a way that surprises and delights me, I also surprise and delight you, I feel I’ve earned my right to keep doing it.

We often hear from artists that being an artist can be lonely. Any advice for those looking to connect with other artists?
If you keep doing it and hold tight to whatever reasons you have for why you do it, you will find your people!

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
You can subscribe to Richard’s Famous Food Podcast anywhere you get podcasts and see more at richardsfamousfoodpodcast.com. A drinks and culture book I co-wrote with The Boba Guys, THE BOBA BOOK, just came out on April 7 on Clarkson Potter / Penguin Random House. A good way to keep up with all I have going on is my Twitter @reechardparks and @richardsfamous. I’ve been doing a live cooking show on @richardsfamous at 5 Pacific M-F, “Live At Five,” for the past few weeks. It’s fun! I think the best way to support is follow along.

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Image Credit:
James Braithwaite, Dylan + Jeni

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