Fitness Tunes and fried plantains: The ‘Eclectic City’ flashback interview

What do Nikola Tesla, Disco Demolition Night and Neil Young’s new rendition of “Oh Susannah” have in common? They’re all part of the mix on Gabriel Szoke’s most recent episode of “Eclectic City,” a pod cast of diverse tunes and covers linked only by his imagination.

Gabe, a former illustrator/designer at The News-Sentinel who’s been working in Puerto Rico the last 20 years, was one of my earliest ‘Normal People’ interviews. But listening to his show over the weekend, I realized I forgot to ask him the most obvious question: As a guy who loves music and loves to work out, what are his favorite fitness tunes?

Here is his answer to that question, along with a couple of other things I forgot to ask him the first time around:

A. When I started at the gym I hadn’t begun the podcast yet, but I was doing what I’d been doing for several years, looking for music for my own personal playlists. Once I realized that a typical play list (which I normally used at work) didn’t work out well for the gym, I looked for music that had heavy rhythms to keep me motivated. It’s amazing how much music has a club remix these days, especially if it has a driving rhythm to it. A lot of the music that eventually made my workout play lists turned out to be quality remixes of popular dance tunes, some were mash-ups, and some were songs that needed no remixing or enhancements. A lot of INXS gets mixed into the lists I have now, for instance. Those guys didn’t need any help in that regard. It all stands on its own.

Q. Do bananas taste different when they’re grown locally instead of shipped thousands of miles?
A. I haven’t done a taste comparison of bananas. I do find a difference between many of the big name brand vegetables and fruits and those grown locally, as you’d expect. 90% of the time I get locally grown produce. It’s a sad fact that PR imports a lot of the produce that it could grow on its own. Don’t even start me on the coffee situation.

Q. I recently tried my first triathlon and was amazed how much I sucked at cycling. Any tips you can pass along from your Italian racing bike days?

A. I got heavily into biking as a kid to race other kids on bikes. Competition made it worthwhile, gave me something to work against. Not to sound stupid, but once I got into speed…getting somewhere on my own energy…I was like Johnathan Livingston Seagull. I still miss being in the country within 10 minutes of leaving my apartment in West Central (in the heart of Fort Wayne). Hitting pockets of cool, moist air on a moonlit country road was like finding those rare fish you can only get when you’ve dived deep into the ocean.

Q. I don’t think I asked you about your Death Row meal request. What would you order as your last meal of this lifetime? (I’d be curious if it’s something you’ve grown to like in PR, or a sentimental favorite from the States. Or I guess you could mix the two… on this imaginary Death Row, no request is too outlandish!)

A. To start, Mexican Tortilla Soup, followed by an assortment of East Indian food, with the main dish being Hungarian Goulash and Hungarian garlic bread (usually made from potatoes), and for dessert fried yellow plantains. It would give me helluva heartburn, but at that point, who cares?

Q. As a comicbook fan, have you ever thought about doing a superhero-themed episode of “Eclectic City?”

A. It’s been part of the long-term plan to continue having theme shows on a regular basis. As it is now we’ve had theme shows based on major holidays, but usually only segments based on themes — with the exception of The Radio Show and The New York City Show.

Oddly enough, the first theme we’ve discussed doing is comics. I have discussed this with a few comic creators who are interested in being interviewed in the intro, as well as contribute suggestions for the show. It would be something like a guest DJ project. Plus we’d get to promote projects they’ve developed. The same treatment could be applied to any theme show. With research and a bit of creativity, I think I could approach a variety of shows that way.

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