Trixie’s List had an opportunity to talk with Mat Zucker, producer of the Citdiot podcast. Cidiot’s fortnightly podcast explores the adventures of a newcomer learning to live – and love – the Hudson Valley.
Trixie’s List: What made you decide to move upstate? Why upstate and not Long Island, Jersey, or someplace else?
Mat: My husband and I started to experiment by renting in different towns. We choose up here because it felt more year-round than Long Island or the Jersey Shore. We spent a summer in Spencertown, a summer in Ghent, and a summer in Rhinebeck. We settled on Red Hook. We are now full-time. That was in 2014.
Trixie’s List: The term “Cidiot” is generally used in a derogatory manner. Why did you decide to call your podcast “Cidiot”?
Mat: It’s really controversial. For me, it’s taking back a negative word, trying to put a positive spin on it. It does turn heads. It’s easy to find in the podcast store… For me, the definition is a little different. “Cidiot” can be an obnoxious, rude person, who hasn’t acclimated, who has city manners. That’s not what I’m trying to be. I’m trying to teach people – the newcomer, the naive. For me, it’s the curious person, maybe a little naive, maybe I’ve done some dumb things. But, not obnoxious, not rude. Someone who is trying to adapt, who’s not quite there. It’s someone who’s a little humble.
Trixie’s List: How would you define a “Cidiot”? Newcomers from the City, and it could be a newcomer this week or ten years ago.
Mat: The Cidiot is trying to make a transition in their lives. For some, they are a first-time home owner. It could be environment. They are used to all the conveniences. It could be the difference between sewer plumbing and septic plumbing. It could be being around animals and the farm life. It could be a change in the geography, culture, the conveniences, the types of people you’re around. There are a lot of adjustments.
Your circle of friends change, too. The people in your social circle may be of different ages, maybe there’s more kids, different generations, even political persuasions. You have to be a little more open, and give yourself permission to grow some new skills. You have to change some of your skills and behaviors. A lot of people will get a second or third job. So many things have to change in you.
You also need to be part of the community. You need to join stuff, and not just drive around in your asshole SUV.
Trixie’s List: What is the geographic range that the podcast covers? Are there differences between various areas of the Hudson Valley?
Mat: I’ve been focusing on Columbia, Dutchess, Ulster and Greene, and I’m going into Saratoga and the Berkshires – although [in the Berkshires], they do not use the word Cidiot, so, it may not be as relevant.
There are differences between the two sides of the river. Geographically, the other [west] side of the river is more woodsy/mountain. This side is mostly farms. The access to conveniences are different. The west side has more space; it goes on and on.
Trixie’s List: What about the Locals? Are they listening to the podcast? What is their point of view on Cidiots?
Mat: Some locals are listening, and I do hear from them. One reaction is a visceral backlash – “Get outta here! Take your anti-gun laws.” They don’t listen to the show. They see the advertisements, and there’s a bad response.
The locals who do listen to the show get a kick out of it. I think they like that I’m poking fun of myself. In the song, we are making fun of ourselves. It’s about getting acclimated, and I’m trying to teach better behaviors.
Trixie’s List: Is there a point when you change from a “Cidiot” to a “Local”?
Mat: I asked this journalistically, I’ve researched this, “When are you no longer new?” article in the Red Hook Daily Catch. I’ve asked a lot of people. Some people give a time limit – five or ten years. Others have said, “things that you’ve achieved”, like your name on a sign.
A few people said it was in behaviors, like being recognized on the street. It’s when people know you or know your name, and say ‘Hello’ to you.
But, a lot of people say NEVER!