We invite you to join along as host Michael Shields guides you deeper into the stories told at the online Arts & Culture magazine, Across the Margin. Listen in as he takes you on a storytelling journey, one where you are bound to meet a plethora of intriguing writers, wordsmiths, poets, artists, musicians, filmmakers, activists, and unhinged eccentrics illustrating the notion that there are captivating stories to be found everywhere…
Episode 169: The Beggar with Michael Gira (Swans)
This episode of Across The Margin : The Podcast features an interview with singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, author, and artist Michael Gira. Gira is the founder of the band Swans, in which he sings and plays guitar. He is also the founder of Young God Records and previously fronted Angels of Light. The focus of this episode is on Swans latest release, a terrific album entitled The Beggar.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Michael Gira discuss the themes abounding in The Beggar and the influence Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges had on the album. They give a hat tip to the talented instrumentalists that were part of the project while exploring how birthing The Beggar during the pandemic affected the entirely captivating work of art. They dig into the ins-and-outs of the 44 minute track on the album entitled “The Beggar Lover” (Three)” where, in the episode, Michael reads a section of poetry found within the all-encompassing journey of a track. They also talk about what to expect from the upcoming tour, how Jim Morrison has inspired Michael throughout his life, and a whole lot more.
Episode 168: A House Made of Splinters with Simon Lereng Wilmont
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with director Simon Lereng Wilmont. Simon’s first feature documentary film, The Distant Barking of Dogs (2017), premiered at IDFA and was awarded Best First Appearance. It has since gone on to win 35+ awards worldwide. His latest documentary, A House Made of Splinters, the focus of this episode, made its world premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival where it won the Best Director prize in the World-Cinema Documentary competition. The celebrated film was an Academy Award Nominee for Best Documentary Feature Film for the 2023 Oscars® and has continued to be a word-of-mouth success and essential to dialogues around crisis-caregiving amid the Russian-led invasion of Ukraine.
A House Made of Splinters explores how the most vulnerable are caught up within institutional bureaucracies, generational traumas, and international flexes of power beyond their control and limits of understanding. It’s a film, as Simon Lereng Wilmont tells it, about “the long term, less visible, but no less devastating consequences that war has had on many of the small communities situated along frontline of the war in Eastern Ukraine. It is also a story about love, compassion and hope. This is what powers the dedicated, big-hearted caregivers working tirelessly to try and give the children a better future, and what makes these incredible children still want to reach out and dare to try and form close human connections despite the tragic circumstances of the broken families that they come from.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Simon Lereng Wilmont discuss the psychological and emotional trauma that is inflicted upon children in times of war. They discuss how profoundly special the shelter at the heart of the film and those working there are. They talking about the generation cycles of trauma caused from war, coping mechanisms that kids are drawn to in dire situations, the power of hope , and so much more.
Episode 167: The Age of Insurrection with David Neiwert
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with journalist, author, and an acknowledged expert in American right-wing extremism, David Neiwert. Neiwert has appeared on Anderson Cooper 360, CNN Newsroom, and The Rachel Maddow Show and is the Pacific Northwest correspondent for the Southern Poverty Law Center. His work has appeared at Mother Jones, The Washington Post, MSNBC.com, and many other publications. His previous books include Of Orcas and Men: What Killer Whales Can Teach Us, And Hell Followed With Her: Crossing the Dark Side of the American Border (NationBooks: Winner of the International Latino Book Award for General Nonfiction), and Alt-America: The Rise of The Radical Right in The Age of Trump. He has won a National Press Club award for Distinguished Online Journalism and his latest book — The Age of Insurrection: The Radical Right’s Assault On American Democracy — is the focus of this episode.
From a smattering of ominous right-wing compounds in the Pacific Northwest in the 1970s, to the shocking January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, America has seen the culmination of a long-building war on Democracy being waged by a fundamentally violent and antidemocratic far-right movement that unironically calls itself the “Patriot” movement. So how did we get here? In his book, The Age of Insurrection, award-winning journalist Neiwert — who been following the rise of extremist groups since the late 1970s, when he was a young reporter in Idaho — explores how the movement was built over decades, how it was set aflame by Donald Trump and his cohorts, and how it will continue to attack American Democracy for the foreseeable future.
In this episode host Michael Shields and David Neiwert get to the bottom of exactly how dangerous the radical right is at this juncture of American history. They break down the components of Trump’s Army while pondering how extremism has gone mainstream in a variety of ways. They talk about Steve Bannon’s role in spreading authoritarianism internationally, how the police have been infiltrated by the radical right, how organized the alt-right attacks are on democratic institutions at every level including local, state, and federal targets, and so much more.
Episode 166: AMERICONNED with Sean Claffey
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with director Sean Claffey who has more than 25 years in the film industry spanning feature films, industry documentaries, and commercials. His latest film, Americonned, is a documentary about income inequality in the U.S. and the tragic destabilizing effects it has on Americans. Radical inequality has led to radicalization at every level of society, and this powerful documentary depicts what happens when America hits its tipping point. Americonned looks back through American history at similar critical moments of instability and notes that the labor movement of the past was born in times like these.
Despite an increase in productivity in recent decades, compensation for the American worker has been stagnant. In addition, 47% of American jobs are at high risk of being lost to automation and A.I. by the mid-2030s. In the United States, there has been an upward redistribution of over $50 trillion from the bottom 90% to the top 1% over the last 40 years. Politicians on both sides of the aisle have created a protection racket for the rich, and corporations are deliberately crushing unions. Americonned takes a hard and important look at a critical problem facing the United States and offers hope, through real life stories of those fighting back and working towards a rebirth of labor that is happening in America right now.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Sean Claffey discuss Chris Smalls inspiring movement to unionize Amazon workers for the first time. They talk about just how rapidly the income inequality gap in America has grown in the past 40 years and the nefarious tactics many in power use to increase their own wealth while drastically eroding the middle class. They explore how A.I. will contribute to increased wealth inequality, how the wealth gap contributes to Democratic instability, and much more.
Episode 165: Scream of My Blood with Gogol Bordello’s Eugene Hütz
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with Ukrainian-born artist, songwriter, and frontman of International punk band Gogol Bordello, Eugene Hütz. Hütz is a rare musical force, raucously illuminating stages alongside System of a Down, Rancid, and Dropkick Murphys, dueting with Regina Spektor, and cutting albums with Rick Rubin & Steve Albini. A lifelong lover of the punk scene growing up in Ukraine, Hütz found himself where he felt he belonged, in New York’s Lower East Side in the late 90s, where he went to shows and later performed at the legendary CBGB. Crashing at friends’ apartments and playing acoustic sets in NYC Ukrainian bars, his group, Gogol Bordello, steadily grew to an 8 piece multicultural band, combining Eastern, Western and Latin traditions. Hütz is a tireless advocate for Ukrainian solidarity, partnering with Nova Ukraine and ArtDopomoga, as well as putting together benefits with Patti Smith, The Hold Steady, Suzanne Vega, Magnetic Fields, Matisyahu and more. Hütz has also appeared in arthouse films such as Liev Schreiber’s Everything Is Illuminated with Elijah Wood, Filth and Wisdom helmed by Madonna and the documentary Gogol Bordello Non-Stop.
On June 13th, a new documentary about Gogol Bordello, entitled Scream of My Blood: A Gogol Bordello Story, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. An intimate, career-spanning portrait of punk legend Eugene Hütz, Scream of My Blood chronicles Hütz’s childhood journey to the U.S., his rise to fame with Gogol Bordello, and his defiant return to Ukraine after the Russian invasion. Through never-before-seen photo and video archives spanning two decades — including concert performances, backstage moments, and intimate interviews — Scream of My Blood follows the epic journey of Hütz as he uses music as a rallying cry for the cultural identity of Ukraine while it continues its fight for sovereignty. Born in Ukraine to a family with Romani roots, Hütz fled his homeland during the Chernobyl disaster. Now, after years of exercising demons through his music, he journeyed home to face down the biggest demon of all. A wild punk-rock-doc that explodes off the screen, Scream of My Blood is a testament to the power of speaking your truth, no matter the cost.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Eugene Hütz discuss what fans can expect from the new Gogol Bordello documentary and how the career-spanning look into the band found within Scream of My Blood came to life. They converse about Hütz’s early days in New York City and the band’s remarkable rise to prominence while exploring the bands that inspired Hütz’s unique sound, what Hütz thinks about the war in Ukraine and his recent visit to the front lines, wild stories of life on the road, and so much more.
Episode 164: Healing Walls with Larissa Trinder
This episode of Across The Margin : The Podcast presents an interview with the senior director of the NYC Health + Hospitals Arts in Medicine program, Larissa Trinder. Larissa is one of the talented people behind the project that inspired the new book Healing Walls: New York City Health + Hospitals Community Mural Project (2019 – 2021) which commemorates a brilliant and benevolent three-year Community Mural Project that persists as a flagship of the NYC Health + Hospitals Arts in Medicine Program. Supported by the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, the Community Mural Project is designed to encourage creativity, lower stress, build trust, and to increase engagement between hospital staff and members of their surrounding communities. The murals also create space for joy as well as healing for patients and frontline medical workers who are always under enormous pressure and were hit especially hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Community Mural Project builds upon a mural tradition that began in the 1930s when the Works Progress Administration (WPA) supported the creation of murals in virtually every New York public hospital.
Healing Walls — a beautiful coffee table book that was gifted to every H+H staff member who participated — vividly documents the ongoing community project as well as many WPA-era hospital murals with new scholarship and images. What’s best is — 100% of all sales of the book will benefit NYC Health + Hospitals Arts in Medicine programs.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Larissa Trinder (and all too briefly editor and author Jan Rothschild) dig into exactly how the Community Mural Project initially came to life while exploring how the gifted artists who are participating in the project were selected. They discuss the cathartic power of art and how decades of research prove that the arts can play a role in “healing the healers” as well as improving patient outcomes and forging community health awareness and partnerships. They talk about the painting parties that occurred when the murals were first erected and the collaborative process that goes into creating each mural that ensures they are strong representations of their respective communities. They talk about the HHArt empathy workshops, a fascinating and important idea known as “Social Prescribing,” and so much more.
Episode 163: Steven Bernstein & Sexmob’s The Hard Way
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with musician trumpeter, slide trumpeter, arranger/composer and bandleader from New York City, Steven Bernstein. Steven is best known for his work in The Lounge Lizards, Sexmob, Spanish Fly, and the Millennial Territory Orchestra. He has released four albums under his own name on John Zorn’s Tzadik Records and he has performed with jazz giants including Roswell Rudd, Sam Rivers, Don Byron, and Medeski, Martin & Wood, as well as musicians ranging from Aretha Franklin to Lou Reed, from Linda Ronstadt to Digable Planets, from Sting to Courtney Love. Steven was a member of Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble band, playing in Helm’s Woodstock home, as well as touring with the band. As an arranger he has written for Bill Frisell, Rufus Wainwright, and Elton John, just to name a few. He has composed for dance, theater, film and television, and with composer John Lurie, arranged the scores to many feature films, including Get Shorty.
While Steven is prolific with his output, this episode centers on two of his projects, Sexmob, which just released a terrific new album called The Hard Way, and The Millennial Territory Orchestra, which recently released four excellent records, in one day, on the Royal Potato Family label. Sexmob’s latest release is a bit of a departure for the band, as with producer Scotty Hard at the board, The Hard Way skews decisively electronic. On it, Hard’s beats and soundscapes provide Steven, saxophonist Briggan Krauss, bassist Tony Scherr and acoustic/electric drummer Kenny Wollesen, all the stimulus they need for further compose and fearlessly reinvent. With each offering, and certainly with The Hard Way and its rich electro-acoustic groove canvas, Steven and crew reveal a modernizing impulse, but also an equally strong foundation in the roots of jazz and American song. Funky, bluesy, with a tattered dissonance conjured up by Krauss Throaty saxophone tone, the distinctive wail of Steven’s rare horn, and the swagger of Scherr and Wollesen’s rhythm section grind, Sexmob continues to chart new paths in 21st-century creative music.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Steven Bernstein talk about Sexmob’s new direction sonically found on The Hard Way while exploring the production process behind this captivating work of art. They converse on producer Scott Hard’s influence on the album, the unique art house label that The Hard Way was released on called Corbett vs. Dempsey, and the four albums Steven recently released with The Millennial Territory Orchestra. They even discuss Sexmob’s forthcoming tour with Laurie Anderson, the many “gifts” Steven received in his career from renowned producer Hal Willner, and so much more.
Episode 162: Madvillain’s Madvillainy with Will Hagle
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with Los Angeles-based writer Will Hagle. Will is a co-host of the Connecting The Classics podcast and a great deal of his work can be found on the webzine Passion of The Weiss. He is also the author of the excellent 33 ⅓ book dedicated to MF DOOM and Madlib’s album Madvillainy. The book — which is the focus of this episode — celebrates Madvillainy as a representation of two genius musical minds melding to form one revered supervillain. A product of circumstance, the album came together soon after MF DOOM’s resurgence and Madlib’s reluctant return from avant-garde jazz to hip-hop.
Written from the alternating perspectives of three fake music journalist superheroes — and featuring interviews with Wildchild, Cut Chemist, M.E.D, Walasia, Stones Throw execs, and many other individuals involved with the album’s creation — Will’s book blends fiction and non-fiction to celebrate Madvillainy not just as an album, but as a folkloric artifact. It is one specific retelling of a story which, like Madvillain’s music, continues to spawn infinite legends.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Will Hagle discuss both Madlib and MF DOOM’s origin story while expounding at length what makes Madvillainy such a special and enduring piece of art. They explore the somewhat disputed stories on how MF DOOM and Madlib connected for the project, and dig into how unique it was that Madvillainy existed as an album that straddled the analog and digital eras. They celebrate the song “Accordion,” as one of the most unparalleled songs in hip-hop history, remark on Madvillainy’s profound influence in modern music, and so much more.
Episode 161: Shielded with Joanna Schwartz
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast features an interview with Joanna Schwartz, a professor of law at UCLA, where she teaches civil procedure and courses on police accountability and public interest lawyering. Her writing, commentary, and research about police misconduct, qualified immunity, indemnification, and local government budgeting have been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Christian Science Monitor, ABC News, NBC News, CBS News, CNN, NPR, and elsewhere. Her latest book, Shielded: How the Police Became Untouchable, is the focus of this episode.
In Shielded, Joanna exposes the myriad ways in which our legal system protects police at all costs, with insightful analyses about subjects ranging from qualified immunity to no-knock warrants. The product of more than two decades of advocacy and research, Shielded is a timely and necessary investigation into why civil rights litigation so rarely leads to justice or prevents future police misconduct. Weaving powerful true stories of people seeking restitution for violated rights, cutting across race, gender, criminal history, tax bracket, and zip code, Schwartz paints a compelling picture of the human cost of our failing criminal justice system, bringing clarity to a problem that is widely known but little understood. Shielded is a masterful work of immediate and enduring consequence, revealing what tragically familiar calls for “justice” truly entail.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Joanna examine the legal principle of Qualified Immunity as well as Section 1983 of The Civil Rights Act which has been methodically made less powerful by the Supreme Court over the last five decades. They discuss the varying barriers to accountability that exist within the legal system and the myths that act as the backbone of justifying the protection of police misconduct. They explore changes that are occurring that might hint at a days ahead with more robust civil rights enforcement, and so much more.
Episode 160: The Future Sea with Deborah Rowan Wright
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast features an interview with Deborah Rowan Wright, an independent researcher, ocean advocate, and marine-policy researcher who writes about marine conservation. She has worked with the UK NGOs Whale & Dolphin Conservation, Friends of the Earth, and Marinet. Her work on marine renewable energy, ocean governance reform, and public-trust law has been published by the International Whaling Commission and the Ecologist, among others. In 2010, her policy document The Ocean Planet formed an integral part of Marinet’s Common Fisheries Policy reform campaign, and it won her Friends of the Earth’s Communication of the Year Award.
The world’s oceans face multiple threats: the effects of Climate Change, pollution, overfishing, plastic waste, and more. Confronted with the immensity of these challenges and of the oceans themselves, we might wonder what more can be done to stop their decline and better protect the sea and marine life. Such widespread environmental threats call for a simple but significant shift in reasoning to bring about long-overdue, elemental change in the way we use ocean resources. In Deborah’s book, Future Sea, she provides the tools for that shift. Questioning the underlying philosophy of established ocean conservation approaches, Rowan Wright lays out a radical alternative — a bold and far-reaching strategy of 100 percent ocean protection that would put an end to destructive industrial activities, better safeguard marine biodiversity, and enable ocean wildlife to return and thrive along coasts and in seas around the globe.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Deborah Rowan Wright discuss the bevy of threats facing the ocean and the countless reasons why protecting the oceans is so crucial. They consider how the oceans aid in fighting Climate Change, how the Public Trust Doctrine might be employed to help protect our oceans, small solutions we can all do to safeguard our seas, the magnificent sea creatures who call the oceans home that need our protection, and much, much more.
Episode 159: Mike Dillon & Puncadelick’s Inflorescence
This episode of Across The Margin : The Podcast presents an interview with prolific percussionist, vibraphonist, bandleader, and vocalist Mike Dillon. How many artists have been praised as a “punk rock provocateur,” “jazz vibraphone visionary,” and “percussion virtuoso”? There’s only one: Mike Dillon. Whether through his affiliation with artists like Les Claypool of Primus, Rickie Lee Jones, Dean Ween Group, and Ani Difranco, and collaborations such as Nolatet, Garage a Trois, The Dead Kenny G’s, Critters Buggin, or bands he has led, including Mike Dillon Band, Mike Dillon’s New Orleans Punk Rock Percussion Consortium, Billy Goat, and Hairy Apes BMX, the Texas-native has set his own standard for three decades now.
Over the past decade, Mike Dillon has released a number of acclaimed albums, intertwining a range of influences from Zappa-esque eccentricity to Fishbone punk funk, D.C. Go-Go to Milt Jackson-influenced vibraphone majesty. His latest project, a trio that goes by the name Punkadelick, features Brian Haas (Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey) on Fender Rhodes, piano, bass Moog and melodica, and Nikki Glaspie (Beyonce, Nth Power) on drums, cymbals, and vocals. Punkadelick’s latest album, Inflorescence, is an expansive 10-track collection, focused and fearless, representing a world where Duke Ellington and Augustus Pablo rub shoulders with crate-digger exotica, the freak-funk of Parliament, and the ‘anything fits’ outsider ethos of acid-fried punks like The Meat Puppets.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Mike Dillon discuss the genesis of Punkadelick and what it’s like creating music with phenomenal talents such as Brian Haas and Nikki Glaspie. They discuss the botanical influence behind the album’s title, life on the road amid their current tour, the forthcoming tour with Les Claypool and The Fearless Flying Frog Brigade, and so much more.
Episode 158: Sentenced with Connor Martin and Tony Kriz
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast features an interview with Director Connor Martin and Executive Producer Tony Kriz, part of the team behind the eye-opening new documentary Sentenced. Each year millions of kids are sentenced to a future they don’t deserve because of their inability to read, and Sentenced shines a bright light on this devastating problem. The motivation behind the film is simple — over 43 million Americans can’t read well enough to get a job and support a family. The film posits there are actually no illiterate children, just children who haven’t learned to read yet. Sentenced exposes this tragic reality and presents a solution for overcoming failing systems and preventing kids from disappearing into society’s margins. Filmed from the point of view of ethnically diverse adults and children who have never learned to read, Sentenced is a powerful yet tender tale of how literacy can free children from the cycles of generational poverty.
In this episode host Michael Shields, Connor Martin, and Tony Kriz discuss the staggering number of adults in the United States who score low in literacy while considering the small window of time that children are afforded the opportunity to learn how to read. They discuss the role of a parent or adult in learning to read and write, how experiencing trauma early in life affects a child’s ability to process information, how illiteracy is passed down through generations in families, and so much more.
Episode 157: To Pimp a Butterfly with Sequoia Maner
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with Sequoia Maner, Assistant Professor of English at Spelman College. She is author of the poetry collection Little Girl Blue (2021) and co-editor of the book Revisiting the Elegy in the Black Lives Matter Era (2020). Her poem “upon reading the autopsy of Sandra Bland” was a finalist for the 2017 Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize. Her essays, poems, and reviews can be found in venues such as Meridians, Obsidian, The Langston Hughes Review, The Feminist Wire, Auburn Avenue, and elsewhere. Sequoia is also the author of the 33 ⅓ book dedicated to Kendrick Lamar’s seminal album To Pimp a Butterfly, which is the focus of this episode.
Breaking the global record for streams in a single day, nearly 10 million people around the world tuned in to hear Kendrick Lamar’s sophomore album in the hours after its release. To Pimp a Butterfly was widely hailed as an instant classic, garnering laudatory album reviews, many awards, and even a canonized place in Harvard’s W. E. B. Du Bois archive. Sequoia’s book takes a deep dive into the sounds, images, and lyrics of To Pimp a Butterfly to suggest that Kendrick appeals to the psyche of a nation in crisis and embraces the development of a radical political conscience. Kendrick breathes fresh life into the Black musical protest tradition and cultivates a platform for loving resistance. Combining funk, jazz, and spoken word, To Pimp a Butterfly‘s expansive sonic and lyrical geography brings a high level of innovation to rap music. Kendrick’s introspective and philosophical songs found on this brilliant work of art launched him into another stratosphere of stardom and influence.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Sequoia Maner explore how a trip to South Africa, and the great Tupac Shakur, inspired the themes and soundscapes of To Pimp a Butterfly. They discuss the impact the empowering track “Alright” had on the protest movement and Black Lives Matter, the collaborative effort it took to bring such a complex album to life, and so much more.
Episode 156: The First Step with Louis L. Reed and Brandon Kramer
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast features an interview with Louis L. Reed, who organized a national grassroots network of reform activists after serving fourteen years in federal prison, and Brandon Kramer, a Washington, DC-based filmmaker and co-founder of Meridian Hill Pictures. Brandon directed City of Trees. and the Webby Award-winning independent documentary series The Messy Truth. Brandon won Best Director at the 2016 Chesapeake Film Festival and Indie Capital Awards, received the Audience Choice Award at the 2015 American Conservation Film Festival, and was a 2015 DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities Individual Arts Fellow. He has directed over 30 short documentaries commissioned by public agencies and nonprofits including AARP and US Institute of Peace. Before starting Meridian Hill Pictures, Brandon served as a teaching artist for the John F. Kennedy Center’s national media education program.
Brandon’s latest documentary, The First Step, finds activist and famed CNN correspondent Van Jones, in a divided American, controversially working across party lines on landmark criminal justice reform and a more humane response to America’s addiction crisis. Attempting to be a bridge builder in a time of extreme polarization takes him deep into the inner workings of a divisive administration, internal debates within both parties, and the lives of frontline activists fighting for their communities.
While trying to pass a bipartisan bill through a deeply polarized Congress, Jones is condemned by the right for his progressive beliefs — and by the left for working with conservatives. The film reveals an intimate portrait of an activist’s isolation and internal struggles, what it takes to make change in a divided nation, and everyday people in both political parties drawn into a historic fight for freedom and justice.
Episode 155: The Strangest Memoir You Will Ever Read with Howard Bloom
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast features an interview with prolific author, renowned scientist and thinker, Howard Bloom, who was also a music publicist in the 1970s and 1980s for performers such as Prince, Billy Joel, Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, and Styx (to name a just few). He has published a book on Islam, The Muhammad Code, an autobiography, How I Accidentally Started The Sixties — which is the focus of this episode — and three books on human evolution and group behavior: The Genius of the Beast, Global Brain, and The Lucifer Principle.
Howard has been called the Einstein, Newton, and Freud of the 21st century (by Britain’s Channel 4 TV). One of his seven books — Global Brain — was the subject of a symposium thrown by the Office of the Secretary of Defense which included representatives from the State Department, the Energy Department, IBM, and MIT. His work has been published in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Wired, Psychology Today, and Scientific American. He has been in Science since the age of ten, starting in microbiology and theoretical physics. Currently, he is working on a project entitled “The Grand Unified Theory of Everything in the Universe Including the Human Soul,” and he can be heard at 1:06 am EST every Wednesday night on 545 radio stations on Coast to Coast AM.
Even amid his enormous contributions to Science, Howard found the time to birth the largest PR firm in the music industry which led him to work with the aforementioned artists as well as with Paul Simon, Bette Midler, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Kiss, Queen, Peter Gabriel, David Byrne, and Run DMC. In that role he helped found Farm Aid and Amnesty International. More recently he’s collaborated with Buzz Aldrin and the 11th president of India, Dr. APJ Kalam, on harvesting solar power in space and transmitting it to earth, a path to net zero and the Green New Deal (For more, see http://howardbloom.institute or howardbloom.net.)
In a career and life spanning interview, host Michael Shields and Howard Bloom dig deep into Howard’s roots, inspirations, and adventures that helped forge one of the most fascinating and innovative minds of the modern era. They discuss the teachings of poets and scientists that have forever shaped Howard’s worldview and the dynamic way in which he lives his life. They explore the idea of “ecstatic” emotions, having an interdisciplinary approach to both work and life, the benefits of being a perpetual outsider, his current work with the Howard Bloom Institute, a project entitled “The Glorified Theory of Everything in the Universe Including the Human Soul,” and so much more.
Episode 154: William J. Carl’s Assassin’s Manuscript
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast features an interview with William J. Carl (PhD), a Greek scholar, screenwriter and playwright, former professor, seminary president, and pastor, who has spoken at Oxford, Cambridge, Princeton, Cornell, Boston University, Carnegie Mellon, as well as many other schools in the U.S., and internationally. He is the author of eight nonfiction books and one novel entitled Assassin’s Manuscript — the focus of this episode. He also lectures on the Brain at medical schools and medical conferences.
Assassin’s Manuscript tells the story of when former CIA assassin Adam Hunter’s last hit goes awry and he attempts to leave behind his world of espionage and murder by embarking on a career in ministry. But soon, he is pulled back in to crack a code hidden in an ancient manuscript in order to foil a terrorist plot. In the meantime, Renie Ellis, a lawyer in the small town he’s moved to, gets caught up in his dilemma and falls in love with him, not realizing he killed her fiancé by accident. The heist of a famous Codex from the British Museum, Papal intrigue in the Vatican, Sicilian and Russian Mafia involvement, and a U.S. President who knows more than she admits, all play key roles in a story that keeps the reader guessing until the end. From Rome to Jerusalem, from Egypt’s Mt. Sinai to Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains, the characters in Assassin’s Manuscript scramble for their lives, racing the clock to prevent an international disaster.
In this episode host Michael Shields and William Carl discuss the vast amount of research involved in bringing Assassin’s Manuscript to life (including interviewing multiple real-life assassins). They discuss the exotic locations brought vividly to life in the book and the diverse and unique motivations of the eclectic grouping of characters found in the novel. They explore the weighty themes present in the book, the legendary text (the Codex Sinaiticus) that lies at the heart of Assassin’s Manuscript, what might be in store for the character of Adam Hunter moving forward, and so much more.
Episode 153: Migration and Health expert Catherine K. Ettman
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast features an interview with Catherine K. Ettman, the chief of staff and director of strategic initiatives at the Boston University School of Public Health. Catherine is the co-editor of Urban Health (Oxford University Press, 2019) and Migration and Health (University of Chicago Press, 2022) — the book that is the focus of this episode. Her important work explores the social and economic factors that shape population mental health.
International migrants compose more than three percent of the world’s population, and internal migrants — those migrating within countries — are more than triple that number. Population migration has long been, and remains today, one of the central demographic shifts shaping the world around us. The world’s history — and its health — is shaped and colored by stories of migration patterns, the policies and political events that drive these movements, and narratives of individual migrants.
Migration and Health offers the most expansive framework to date for understanding and reckoning with human migration’s implications for public health and its determinants. It interrogates this complex relationship by considering not only the welfare of migrants, but also that of the source, destination, and ensuing-generation populations. The result is an elevated, interdisciplinary resource for understanding what is known — and the considerable territory of what is not known—at an intersection that promises to grow in importance and influence as the century unfolds.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Catherine discuss the drivers of migration and just how many people across the globe are classified as migrants. They explore the mental health concerns affecting migrants while considering how Climate Change heightens matters revolving around migration and health. They discuss the role of the World Health Organization (WHO) in mitigating health concerns of migrants, how Universal Health Coverage (UHC) can be a pivotal tool in improving the overall health of migrants, and so much more.
Episode 152: LIVE from Love Velma with David Goodwillie
This episode of Across The Margin : The Podcast presents an interview with novelist David Goodwillie about his book Kings County. Goodwillie is also the author of the novel American Subversive, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and the memoir Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time. Goodwillie has written for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Newsweek, and Popular Science, among other publications. He has also been drafted to play professional baseball, worked as a private investigator, and was an expert at Sotheby’s auction house.
In this episode host Michael Shields, who describes Kings County as a “love letter to Brooklyn,” discusses with Goodwillie his relationship to the borough and to all the musicians and artists featured in the story. They discuss the characters in the book and themes that propel the book revolving around change. They explore how Goodwillie brought to life the big reveal of the book in a deeply-affecting letter, how a minor character ended up having one of the bigger moments in Kings County, the origins behind a gay cat named Richard, and so much more.
Episode 151: From Root To Leaf with Paul Smith
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with Dr. Paul Smith, who serves as the secretary-general of Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI). BGCI leads the Global Tree Assessment and recently published the “State of the World’s Trees Report” showing that one-third of the world’s tree species are threatened with extinction. Prior to joining BGCI, Paul was the head of the Millennium Seed Bank of the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew. He is editor of The Book of Seeds, published by the University of Chicago Press. His most recent book — Trees: From Root To Leaf — is the focus of this episode.
Trees provoke deep affection, spirituality, and creativity. They cover about a third of the world’s land and play a crucial role in our environmental systems — influencing the water, carbon, and nutrient cycles and the global climate. This puts trees at the forefront of research into mitigating our climate emergency. In Paul’s astonishingly comprehensive book, he celebrates all that trees have inspired across nearly every human culture throughout history. Generously illustrated with over 450 images and organized according to a tree’s life cycles — from seeds and leaves to wood, flowers, and fruit — his book lauds the great diversity and beauty of the 60,000 tree species that inhabit our planet.
In this episode, host Michael Shields and Dr. Paul Smith explore the wonders found within Trees: From Root To Leaf. They discuss the magical ways in which seeds spread themselves throughout the world and the crucial work done at seed banks internationally. They discuss how Climate Change is affecting tree populations and other threats to tree extinction throughout the planet, and much, much more.
Episode 150: Gratitude — A Conspiracy of Goodness Simulcast with Dr. Lynda Ulrich
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast finds our host, Michael Shields, in conversation with Dr. Lynda Ulrich, founder of the Goodness Exchange, a website whose aim is to prove that the world is still a beautiful place, full of wonderment, discovery, and compassion. Dr. Ulrich is the author of the book Happiness is an Option: Thriving (Instead of Surviving) In the Era of the Internet, and is also the host of the Conspiracy of Goodness podcast. The Conspiracy of Goodness Podcast is designed to give listeners more joy, less fear, and present evidence that a bright future is possible. In each episode, Dr. Ulrich helps make sense of the world by interviewing those who are tackling some of the world’s most difficult and consequential problems.
This episode distinctly combines the powers of Across The Margin : The Podcast and the Conspiracy of Goodness podcast, and acts as a celebration of the diverse and inspiring guests they are both profoundly grateful to feature on their respective podcasts. To give listeners a taste of what both the Conspiracy of Goodness and Across The Margin podcasts have to offer, Michael and Dr. Ulrich take turns in highlighting a few of each other’s episodes that resonate deeply with them. Episodes of the Conspiracy of Goodness podcast about the power of positivity, turning pain into a teacher, ways in which to overcome fear, and tips on how to make a good living while also making a difference in the world are celebrated, followed by a look at a bevy of powerful episodes of Across The Margin : The Podcast, such as Episode 125: The Other Dark Matter with Lina Zeldovich, Episode 105: Up From Nothing with John Hope Bryant, and Episode 100: How To Do Nothing with Jenny Odell, to name a few.
Episode 149: Pearl Jam’s Long Road with Steven Hyden
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast, host Michael Shields interviews music critic and journalist Steven Hyden, the author of This Isn’t Happening, Twilight of the Gods, Your Favorite Band Is Killing Me, and (with Steve Gorman) Hard to Handle. His writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Washington Post, Billboard, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, Grantland, The A.V. Club, Slate, and Salon. He is currently the cultural critic at UPROXX.
Hyden’s latest book, Long Road: Pearl Jam and the Soundtrack Of A Generation, the focus of this episode, Hyden celebrates the life, career, and music of Pearl Jam, widely considered to be one of the greatest American rock bands of all time. Much like the generation it emerged from, Pearl Jam is a mass of contradictions. They were an enormously successful mainstream rock band who felt deeply uncomfortable with the pursuit of capitalistic spoils. They were progressive activists who spoke in favor of abortion rights and against the Ticketmaster monopoly, and yet they epitomized the sound of traditional, male-dominated rock ‘n’ roll. They were looked at as spokesmen for their generation, even though they ultimately projected profound confusion and alienation. They triumphed, and failed, in equal doses — the quintessential Gen-X tale.
Impressive as their stats, accolades, and longevity may be, Hyden also argues that Pearl Jam’s most definitive accomplishment lies in the impact their music had on Generation X as a whole. Pearl Jam’s music helped an entire generation of listeners connect with the glory of bygone rock mythology, and made it relevant during a period in which tremendous American economic prosperity belied a darkness at the heart of American youth. More than just a chronicle of the band’s career, this book is also a story about Gen-X itself, who like Pearl Jam came from angsty, outspoken roots and then evolved into an establishment institution, without ever fully shaking off their uncertain, outsider past. For so many Gen-Xers growing up at the time, Pearl Jam’s music was a beacon that offered both solace and guidance. They taught an entire generation how to grow up without losing the purest and most essential parts of themselves.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Steven Hyden discuss the unique way in which Hyden decided to organize the book and what a cassette known as the “Momma-Son Tape” meant to the genesis of Pearl Jam. They talk about how a fateful night at Red Rocks Amphitheater in June of 1995 helped shape the band’s identity and how the Grateful Dead influenced Pearl Jam in the later stages of their career. They explore Hyden’s love for guitarist Mark McGrady, the singular way in which Gen-X often turns on their childhood musical heroes, how Pearl Jam found a way to survive and thrive well into their middle ages when so many of their peers crashed and burned, and so much more.
Episode 148: Tom Waits & The Spirit of Los Angeles with Alex Harvey
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with the author of Song Noir : Tom Waits and the Spirit of Los Angeles, Alex Harvey. Alex Harvey is a producer and director of programs including Panorama and The Late Show for the BBC. His films include The Lives of Animals and Enter the Jungle. Based in Los Angeles, he regularly writes on literature, film, and music for the London Review of Books and Los Angeles Review of Books. His book, Song Noir, examines the formative first decade of Tom Waits’s career, when he lived, wrote, and recorded nine albums in Los Angeles: from his soft, folk-inflected debut, Closing Time in 1973, to the abrasive, surreal Swordfishtrombones in 1983. Starting his songwriting career in the seventies, Waits absorbed Los Angeles’s wealth of cultural influences. Combining the spoken idioms of writers like Kerouac and Bukowski with jazz-blues rhythms, he explored the city’s literary and film noir traditions to create hallucinatory dreamscapes. Waits mined a rich seam of the city’s low-life locations and characters, letting the place feed his dark imagination. Mixing the domestic with the mythic, Waits turned quotidian, autobiographical details into something more disturbing and emblematic, a vision of Los Angeles as the warped, narcotic heart of his nocturnal explorations.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Alex Harvey discuss what Tom Wait’s Los Angeles of the 1970s was actually like, a LA that doesn’t exist today. They explore how the Beat writers like Jack Kerouac and Charles Bukowski influenced Waits’ songwriting and how the city eventually became more of a trap than means of escape for Waits. The expound upon the character of Frank that Waits brought to life over a trilogy of albums, his highly accomplished acting career, and so much more.
Episode 147: The Border Within with Tara Watson & Kalee Thompson
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with Tara Watson, professor of economics at Williams College and a co-editor of the Journal of Human Resources, the leading academic journal in labor economics, as well as Kalee Thompson, a journalist and senior editor at Wirecutter and the author of Deadliest Sea: The Untold Story Behind the Greatest Rescue in Coast Guard History. Watson and Thompson are co-authors of The Border Within: The Economics of Immigration in an Age of Fear — the focus of this episode — which is a profoundly eye-opening analysis of the costs and effects of immigration and immigration policy, both on American life and on new Americans.
For decades, immigration has been one of the most divisive, contentious topics in American politics. And for decades, urgent calls for its policy reform have gone mostly unanswered. As the discord surrounding the modern immigration debate has intensified, border enforcement has tightened. Crossing harsher, less porous borders makes unauthorized entry to the United States a permanent, costly undertaking. And the challenges don’t end on the other side.
At once enlightening and devastating, The Border Within examines the costs and ends of America’s interior enforcement — the policies and agencies, including ICE, aimed at removing immigrants already living in the country. Economist Tara Watson and journalist Kalee Thompson pair rigorous analysis with deeply personal stories from immigrants and their families to assess immigration’s effects on every aspect of American life, from the labor force to social welfare programs to tax revenue. What emerges is a critical, utterly complete examination of what non-native Americans bring to the country, including immigration’s tendency to elevate the wages and skills of those who are native-born.
In this episode, host Michael Shields, Tara Watson, and Kalee Thompson discuss the crucial focus of the book (interior immigration enforcement) while dispelling a bevy of myths surrounding immigration regarding the economic benefits of immigration, immigrants effect on crime rates, and the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of enforcement by agencies such as ICE. They discuss the concept of “chilling effects” and ponder what an ideal internal enforcement approach would look like. Ultimately this episode celebrates the essential work that is The Border Within, a book with far-reaching implications for immigrants and non-immigrants alike.
Episode 146: Harvard’s Quixotic Pursuit of a New Science with Patrick L. Schmidt
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with the author of Harvard’s Quixotic Pursuit of a New Science (The Rise and Fall of the Department of Social Relations), Patrick L. Schmidt. In Harvard’s Quixotic Pursuit of a New Science, Schmidt tells the little-known story of how some of the most renowned social scientists of the twentieth century struggled to elevate their emerging disciplines of cultural anthropology, sociology, and social and clinical psychology. Scorned and marginalized in their respective departments in the 1930s for pursuing the controversial theories of Freud and Jung, they persuaded Harvard to establish a new department, promising to create an interdisciplinary science that would surpass in importance Harvard’s “big three” disciplines of economics, government, and history. Although the Department of Social Relations failed to achieve this audacious goal, it nonetheless attracted an outstanding faculty, produced important scholarly work, and trained many notable graduates. At times, it was a wild ride. Some faculty became notorious for their questionable research: Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (reborn as Ram Dass) gave the psychedelic drug psilocybin to students, while Henry Murray traumatized undergraduate Theodore Kaczynski (later the Unabomber) in a three-year-long experiment. Central to the story is the obsessive quest of legendary sociologist Talcott Parsons for a single theory unifying the social sciences — the white whale to his Captain Ahab. All in all, Schmidt’s lively narrative is an instructive tale of academic infighting, hubris, and scandal.
Patrick L. Schmidt is an attorney in Washington, D.C. He received a BA, magna cum laude, from Harvard College, a JD from Georgetown University, and an MIPP from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. He first examined the history of the Department of Social Relations in his undergraduate honors thesis at Harvard, meaning that he has lived with and examined this story for many years now.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Patrick L. Schmidt examine why a group of some of the most distinguished social scientists of the twentieth century embarked up the controversial yet noble endeavor of birthing the multidisciplinary, innovative Department of Social Relations at Harvard. They discuss the famed thinkers that were members of the department such as Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, Henry Murray, and Talcott Parsons. They explore the exciting rise of the Department of Social Relations, it’s controversial downfall, and ultimately expound upon the legacy and lasting impact of the movement and those a part of it.
Episode 145: Evolution Here We Come with Chris Forsyth
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with musician Chris Forsyth. It isn’t hyperbole to describe Chris as one of rock’s most gifted improvisers. Chris got his start in Brooklyn’s experimental circles in the early 2000s and promptly grew into a masterful technical player. As the bandleader of Chris Forsyth & the Solar Motel Band, he composed mostly instrumental pieces that channeled both the psychedelic jamming of the Grateful Dead and the precision of art-punk guitar acts like Television. Whether with the Solar Motel Band or on his other solo projects, Chris sources from an extensive pool of influences — psychedelia, folk, noise, classic rock — melding the varying influences into Chris’s own brand of cerebral improvisational rock.
Chris’s latest album — the focus of this episode — is entitled Evolution Here We Come, a largely instrumental album and a powerful and driving work of art. Featuring contributions from Douglas McCombs (Tortoise), Marshall Allen (Sun Ra Arkestra), Steve Wynn (The Dream Syndicate), Linda Pitmon (The Baseball Project), Tom Malach (Garcia Peoples), Ryan Jewell (Ryley Walker), and co-producer Dave Harrington (Darkside), Evolution Here We Come is seven sprawling sonic journeys that exhibit just how talented of a guitarist Chris persists as.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Chris Forsyth discuss how music from the 80s and bands such as ZZ Top influenced Evolution Here We Come while talking about what it was like co-producing the album with Dave Harrington. They recount how Chris was able to get Marshall Allen to play on the album, what it meant to cover Richard Thompson’s “You’re Going To Need Somebody,” his forthcoming tour with Meg Baird, and so much more.
Episode 144: Kenny Roby’s Kenny Roby
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with Woodstock, New York via North Carolina singer-songwriter Kenny Roby. Roby is the former lead singer of 6 String Drag, which he formed with bassist Rob Keller in the early 1990s, a band which quickly became one of the more notable bands of the Americana movement. The band’s style ranged from old style country with a hint of soul and gospel to rock. While 6 String Drag broke up in the late 1990s, Roby continues to make records and play live shows with the Mercy Filter, which includes Scott McCall of $2 Pistols. Roby has released seven solo albums, his latest album — the focus of the episode — is self-titled and written and recorded in Woodstock, NY. Throughout Kenny Roby, the gifted storyteller embraces the spirits of songwriters who once inhabited the very same hills like Fred Neil, Van Morrison, Tim Hardin, Karen Dalton, Bobby Charles, Levon Helm and, of course, Bob Dylan. Over the album’s dozen tracks, Roby — supported by a cast including Daniel Littleton (guitars), Jeff Hill (bass), Tony Leone (drums) and superb guest vocals from Amy Helm and the legendary John Sebastian on harmonica — takes us on a sprawling walk through the neighborhood of his mind.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Kenny Roby discuss Kenny Roby’s genesis and the themes present in the album. They talk about the outstanding players on the album such as Amy Helm and John Sebastian while exploring how living in Woodstock, New York led to who contributed to the album’s enthralling sound. They discuss Roby’s friendship and working relationship with Neal Casal and the gifts that deep acquaintanceship still award Roby, and so much more.
Episode 143: The National’s Boxer with Ryan Pinkard
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with author Ryan Pinkard, a music journalist from Denver, Colorado. Pinkard is the author of the new 33 1/3 book, Boxer, which is the focus of this episode. Boxer is a comprehensive and enlightening oral history of the band that traces The National’s early career and struggles, culminating in the creation of their watershed album. He has just begun work on his second book for 33 1/3’s new Genre series, in which he’ll explore the ethereal genre of Shoegaze.
We all know the story of the Boxer. That grisly, bruised American allegory of a fighter who somehow gets up more times than he’s knocked down. Pinkard’s 33 1/3 book, Boxer, chronicles the fight that nearly broke The National but turned out to be the one that allowed them to become champions. Released in 2007, The National’s fourth full-length album is the masterpiece that veritably saved them. For fans, Boxer is a profound personal meditation on the unmagnificent lives of adults, an elegant culmination of their sophisticated songwriting, and the first National album many fell in love with. For the band, Boxer symbolizes an obsession, a years-long struggle, a love story, a final give-it-everything-you’ve-got effort to keep their fantasy of being a real rock band alive. Based on extensive original interviews with the fighters who were in the ring and the spectators who witnessed it unfold, Pinkard obsessively reconstructs a transformative chapter in The National’s story, revealing how the Ohio-via-Brooklyn five-piece found the sound, success, and spiritual growth to evolve into one of the most critically acclaimed bands of their time.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Ryan Pinkard dive deeply into what made Boxer such a game-changing album for The National while exploring the challenges and pressures the band faced while working on bringing the album to life. They discuss the importance of lead singer Matt Berninger’s wife Carin becoming his lyric writing partner during the Boxer sessions and how that has shaped the band to this day. They converse upon the political climate of the day that inspired the album’s essence and, ultimately, they ruminate on what Boxer means to the band’s legacy and to their enduring success.
Episode 142: From The Hood To The Holler with Pat McGee
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with Pat McGee, a documentary director in both film and television who works to unearth character-driven stories that push to find common ground. Most recently, McGee directed and produced the award-winning From the Hood to the Holler — the focus of this episode — a feature on political activist Charles Booker of Kentucky, one of the rising stars of the progressive political movement. McGee’s other film credits are notable. Also this year he executive produced and directed the soon-to-be-released project about Warren Jeffs, the leader of the Former Latter Day Saints, for Warner Bros. / Discovery. His debut feature documentary, American Relapse, won feature documentary honors at film festivals across the country. In 2018, Vice TV launched the original Pat McGee Pictures series Dopesick Nation, a 10-part documentary about the opioid epidemic in Florida. In early 2020, Pat McGee directed and produced the feature documentary Bernie Blackout for Vice TV. Other documentary feature credits include The Deported featuring Rosario Dawson.
From The Hood To The Holler finds political activist Charles Booker working to unite people of all socioeconomic backgrounds while fighting against big money in politics, voter suppression, and systemic corruption. Running in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat held by Mitch McConnell, Charles Booker attempted one of the biggest upsets in political history by challenging establishment-backed candidate Amy McGrath. From The Hood To The Holler follows Booker’s campaign across Kentucky, from the most urban to the most rural settings, with Booker and his team rewriting the campaign playbook. Instead of exploiting divisions, they lean into the idea that average Kentuckians have common bonds, united by their shared day-to-day fight to survive. Booker works to represent Kentuckians, both Black and White, who feel entirely left out of the political process. In From the Hood to the Holler, McGee captures a young man finding his voice as a leader and his incredible journey against the odds. Booker’s message is simple: Whether you are from the city “hood” — like Booker — or the Appalachian “holler,” you are not invisible.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Pat McGee discuss what makes Charles Booker such a special candidate, one that is particularly suited for tackling the problems facing Kentucky in these uncertain times. They discuss how genuine of a human and public servant Booker is, and how painful losses in his life and the Black Lives Matter movement affected his campaign and life. They expound upon Booker’s “New Southern Strategy,” his uncanny capacity to thoughtfully listen to his constituents on the campaign trail, his forthcoming electoral face off with Rand Paul in November, and so much more.
Episode 141: Stupid Don’t Get Tired with Alonzo Bodden
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with comedian Alonzo Bodden who has been making people laugh for over twenty years with many fans knowing him as a regular panel member on NPR’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me. A professor of comedy and life, Bodden’ first big comedy break came when he was on the “New Faces of Comedy” showcase at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal. However, it was as the season three winner of NBCʼs Last Comic Standing where Bodden was first introduced to America. Since then, he has starred in two comedy specials for Showtime: Historically Incorrect and Who’s Paying Attention. His television appearances include ABC’s Dr. Ken and Fresh Off the Boat, Dr. Phil, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore and Californication. His latest comedy special, which is tremendous and the focus of this episode, is called Stupid Don’t Get Tired, a must-see performance that emphatically exhibits Bodden’s uniquely meaningful yet light-hearted approach, cunning worldview, and all around savvy.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Bodden converse over a bevy of the themes present in his new stand-up special including COVID, cancel culture, pandemic dogs, being a self-described news junkie, anti-vaxxers, the 1989 Los Angeles Clippers, and beyond. They also dig into Bodden’s first forays into comedy, his widely popular aforementioned NPR podcast, jazz music, and so much more.
Episode 140: Asking For a Friend with Joel Cummins
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with musician and founding member/keyboardist for the progressive rock band Umphrey’s McGee, Joel Cummins. Joel’s keyboard wizardry is widely established throughout the music world. Beyond his heralded work with the increasingly popular, must-see live act that is Umphrey’s McGee, Joel has released impressive solo work and plays in bands with the likes of Nels Cline, Mike Watt, Stephen Perkins of Jane’s Addiction, and Chris Poland of Megadeth. Beyond that, he has collaborated with such acclaimed artists as Huey Lewis, Joshua Redman, Mavis Staples, Phil Lesh, Buddy Guy, Thundercat, A$AP Ferg, Bela Fleck, Victor Wooten, Warren Haynes, Bob Weir, and Les Claypool.
Throughout their now twenty-four year career, Umphrey’s McGee has slowly but surely become one of America’s most crowd pleasing live acts. The band has been completely DIY their entire existence and have been extremely successful at it without any major label or management influence. While grouped within the genre, Umphrey’s McGee doesn’t fit a traditional “jamband” mold. With elements of prog and classic rock, and even heavy metal, influencing their sound and live performances, Umphrey’s McGee is a unique and captivating beast of band, one which has fostered legions of hardcore fans and has propelled to the top of festival bills, annual multi-night stands at venues such as Red Rocks and the Beacon Theater, and an extremely successful touring career.
Their latest album, Asking For a Friend, — the focus of this episode — is the band’s fourteenth studio effort and it might be their most emotionally charged and powerful yet. The reason for this heightened potency is pandemic related. Recorded over the course of three sessions at three different studios during the pandemic, Asking For A Friend represents a new approach for Umphrey’s McGee. With less pressure to finish the album quickly due to the industry-wide pause caused by the pandemic, the band was able to spend more time perfecting each track.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Joel Cummins discuss the fascinating way Asking For a Friend was recorded amid the pandemic while expounding upon the band’s songwriting process in general. They talk about the lyrical themes of the album, what it has been like adding the music from Asking For a Friend into their live repertoire, and a great deal more!
Episode 139: The Storm Is Upon Us with Mike Rothschild
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast features an interview with journalist, published author, and the foremost expert in this ever-changing QAnon conspiracy theory, Mike Rothschild. Mike is a contributing writer for millennial-focused news and technology site the Daily Dot, where he explores the intersections between internet culture and politics through the lens of conspiracy theories. As a subject matter expert in the field of fringe beliefs, Mike has been interviewed by the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, Yahoo, the Daily Beast, CBS, the San Francisco Chronicle, Rolling Stone, Snopes, NBC News, Vice, and Politico, among many others. He is also a frequent speaker, and podcast and radio guest on the topic of conspiracy theories, including NPR’s weekly show “On the Media,” a Vice documentary, and the ReplyAll podcast.
In Mike Rosthchild’s The Storm Is Upon Us — the focus of this episode — readers are whisked from the background conspiracies and cults that fed the Q phenomenon, to its embrace by right-wing media and Donald Trump, through the rending of families as loved ones became addicted to Q’s increasingly violent rhetoric. He also makes a compelling case that mocking the seeming madness of QAnon will get us nowhere. Rather, his impassioned reportage makes clear that it’s critical to figure out what QAnon really is — because QAnon and its relentlessly dark theory of everything isn’t done yet.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Mike Rothschild discuss the appeal of QAnon to far too many Americans while considering how the mythology of QAnon somehow continues to endure. They explore how Anti-semitism is deeply baked into QAnon’s mythology, how violent the movement has alway been (well before the January 6th Insurrection), how the pandemic affected the QAnon movement, how one can potential help release a family member from Q’s spell, and much, much more.
Episode 138: Beautiful Dreamer with Philip Watson
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with journalist and author Philip Watson. Philip worked for a number of years at GQ, where he was deputy editor, and Esquire, where he was editor-at-large. He has been freelance for the past decade or more, contributing articles and features to many publications in Britain, Ireland, and the U.S., including the Guardian, Telegraph Magazine, Sunday Times, Observer, Irish Times, London Evening Standard, Travel + Leisure, and music magazine The Wire.
Philip’s music pieces include interviews with Elvis Costello, Nick Cave, Gil Scott-Heron and D’Angelo — as well as articles on Ray Charles, Chet Baker, John Coltrane, Sun Ra, and such emerging stars of the new British jazz scene as Trish Clowes and Roller Trio. His most recent work Beautiful Dreamers: The Guitarist Who Changed The Sound of American Music — the focus of this episode — is the definitive biography of guitar icon and Grammy Award-winning artist Bill Frisell, featuring exclusive interviews with Paul Simon, Bon Iver and more.
Over a period of forty-five years, Bill Frisell has established himself as one of the most innovative musicians at work today. A quietly revolutionary guitar hero for our genre-blurring times, he has synthesized many disparate musical elements — from jazz to pop, folk to film music, ambient to avant-garde, country to classical — into one compellingly singular sound. Described as “the favorite guitarist of many people who agree on little else in music,” Frisell connects to a diverse range of artists and admirers, including Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, Lucinda Williams, and Bon Iver. Everybody loves Bill Frisell. Through unprecedented access, and interviews with his close family, friends and collaborators, Philip Watson tells the story of why.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Philip Watson discuss Frisell’s many music influences that have contributed to inspiring his signature sound while conversing upon how coming of age in Denver helped shape him musically as well. They explore the many mentors Frisell had throughout his musical journey, talk about what Frisell is like personally, consider the immense impact Frisell has had on a bevy of notable musicians, and much much more.
Episode 137: Marco Benevento’s Benevento
This episode of Across The Margin : The Podcast features an interview with pianist, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer, who has been a fixture of the New York experimental music rock and jazz scene since 1999, Marco Benevento. Marco’s music covers a wide swath of ground, seemingly connecting the dots in the vast space between LCD Soundsystem and legendary musician Leon Russell. His songwriting is smart and earthy, yet simultaneously pulsating with dance rock energy. Benevento’s high energy live shows — fronting a three-piece band currently composed by bassist Karina Rykman and drummer Dave Butler — have led to numerous high profile appearances, ranging from Carnegie Hall, to High Sierra Music Festival, Peach Festival, and beyond. Marco is the founder and recording engineer of Fred Short, a recording studio in Upstate New York, and a member of the groups Benevento/Russo Duo and Joe Russo’s Almost Dead. In the studio, he’s collaborated with the likes of Richard Swift (The Shins, Nathaniel Rateliff), Leon Michels (Lee Fields, Freddie Gibbs) and Simone Felice (The Felice Brothers, The Lumineers) among others.
While Marco’s work is prolific and all worthy of discussion, this episode focuses on his forthcoming album Benevento. Titled as a nod to Paul McCartney’s first solo album, what Benevento amounts to is forty minutes of small-batch psychedelia in which, with few exceptions, Marco played all of the instruments. He also produced and engineered the album, all from Fred Short Studios, located at his Woodstock, NY home. Deeply indebted to the West African psychedelia of artists such as Kiki Gyan, Francis Bebey and William Onyeabor, the songs are rhythmic and repetitive, built into thick mosaics of sound.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Marco Benevento delve into the album’s influences and the manner in which it all came to life within his upstate studio. They discuss how the lyrics were created in collaboration with Al Howard, a San Diego-based poet, and what it was like playing all instruments on the album himself. They also discuss a festival Benevento is curating in Accord, New York this June called Follow The Arrow, and much, much more.
Episode 136: My Fourth Time, We Drowned with Sally Hayden
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast features an interview with award-winning journalist and photographer currently focused on migration, conflict, and humanitarian crises, Sally Hayden. Hayden has worked with VICE News, CNN International, TIME, BBC, the Washington Post, the Guardian, the New York Times, Al Jazeera, NBC News, Newsweek, the Independent, the Telegraph, the National, the Huffington Post and ITV News, and had stories and photojournalism republished on six continents by outlets including National Geographic, NPR, the Observer, ABC News, among many others. She was named as one of Forbes‘ “30 Under 30” in Media in Europe, in part because of her work on refugee issues. Her book My Fourth Time We Drowned: Seeking Refuge on the World’s Deadliest Migration Route — the focus of this episode — exposes a human rights disaster of epic proportions.
One day, Sally Hayden was at home in London when she received a message on Facebook that read: “Hi sister Sally, we need your help.” The sender identified himself as an Eritrean refugee who had been held in a Libyan detention center for months, locked in one big hall with hundreds of others. The city around them was crumbling in a conflict between warring factions, and they remained stuck, defenseless, with only one remaining hope — contacting her.
From this single message begins a staggering account of the migrant crisis across North Africa. With unprecedented access to people currently inside Libyan detention centers, Hayden’s book is based on interviews with hundreds of refugees and migrants who tried to reach Europe and found themselves stuck in Libya once the EU started funding interceptions in 2017.
My Fourth Time, We Drowned is an intimate portrait of life for these detainees, as well as a condemnation of NGOs and the United Nations, whose abdication of international standards will echo throughout history. But most importantly, Hayden’s groundbreaking work of investigative journalism shines a light on the resilience of humans — how refugees and migrants locked up for years fall in love, support each other through the hardest times, and carry out small acts of resistance in order to survive in a system that wants them to be silent and disappear.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Sally Hayden discuss the compelling story of how a cryptic Facebook message led to the revelation of atrocities taking place in detention camps in Northern Africa. They discuss the true scope of the migrant crisis taking place while expounding upon how the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) are largely responsible for the ongoing emergency. They discuss the importance of documenting and paying attention to the suffering in the world, and much more.
Episode 135: The 20th Anniversary of Personal Journals with Sage Francis
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast host Michael Shields interviews independent underground rapper Sage Francis, widely considered one of our generation’s greatest lyricists. His career derives mainly from gifted wordplay which creates vivid narratives to instigate as well as inspire. Dubbed as the “forefather of indie-hop,” Francis originally earned acclaim in the early 2000s by winning the most highly coveted titles of the emcee battle circuit. With little to no funding, Francis sustained himself by selling his innovative “Sick of” mixtapes, all made by hand on the floor of his Providence, Rhode Island apartment. These were essentially bootleg compilations full of select recordings from his 12” vinyl singles, demo sessions, live performances, and radio freestyles. The popularity of these tapes birthed Strange Famous Records (SFR); a meager, one-man operation in 1999.
Despite having no official distribution, Francis’ unique brand of music spread like wildfire via the advent of file sharing networks. This resulted in him attaining a massive cult-like following around the world, creating a demand for his albums and live performances at which point the bigger labels took notice. With his first studio album, Personal Journals (2002), — the focus of this episode — Francis daringly set aside the more boastful side of rap by catering to his poetic leanings and scathing socio-political commentary.
In 2005 Francis was the first hip-hop artist signed to the punk rock label Epitaph Records and soon became one of the highest selling independent artists of his genre. Rather than abandon his day-to-day grind at SFR, he channeled all of his newfound resources into it, allowing the label to expand in staff as well as roster. Having fulfilled his contract obligations with Epitaph Records, Francis has returned to releasing music independently as he gears up to defeat the odds.
But, as alluded to, this episode focuses on where it all began for Francis, his aforementioned first studio album put into the world by the underground hip-hop collective Anticon in 2002. The ambitious eighteen track album featured dazzling production from a grouping of all-too-unheralded producers including Sixtoo, DJ Mayonnaise, Jel, Scott Matelic, Reanimator, Alias, Odd Nosdam, Controller 7, Joe Beats, and Mr. Dibbs. It’s a deeply personal album where Francis wears all of life’s suffering on his sleeve while inviting listeners to join in on a tour of the tortured, introspective mind of a gifted storyteller. While decisively weighty, Personal Journals is also witty, and full of hard-hitting old school boom bap hip-hop brimming with a slam poetry ethos.
Personal Journals, like few hip-hop albums ever birthed, is an amazing display of fearless honesty and it’s easy to look at the lyrical offerings of Personal Journals as akin to Francis pulling wide his scar tissue and narrating a detailed, candid tour of their frayed innards. It’s hard to think that rappers such as Tyler the Creator, Dave, Logic, Isaiah Rashad, or Denzel Curry would feel so comfortable bearing their faults without trailblazers like Francis who lead the way. Francis’s career following Personal Journals is prodigious, and exploring his ensuing work is rewarding campaign unto its own, but it was Personal Journals, a respectable rigid self-examination of an album, flush with soul-baring lyrics, that will persist as the crown jewel of Francis’s legacy.
In this episode Michael Shields and Francis discuss what Francis feels and about Personal Journals with twenty years of hindsight to consider. They explore the meaning behind a bevy of the tracks on the album while Francis shares stories about the Personal Journals recording sessions, how his intimate lyrics were received by those closest to him, and much, much more.
Episode 134: Get a Job with Robert Walter
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with founding member of the seminal groove band The Greyboy Allstars — organ, keyboard, and synth virtuoso Robert Walter. Walter is a dynamic and prolific musician who splits his time between his own 20th Congress, The Greyboy Allstars, and a robust film soundtrack career in Los Angeles.
Initially formed as the backing band for rare groove luminary DJ Greyboy, The Greyboy Allstars became a long term project for Walter with a string of critically acclaimed albums and world tours. The band quickly became home to some of the most revered players in the modern music scene and their success served as a platform for the band’s individual members to launch highly successful and substantially diverse solo careers. The Greyboy Allstars featured a rotating crew of brilliant improvisers and genre-bending musicians over the years including Stanton Moore, Joe Russo, Will Bernard, Cochemea Gastelum, Simon Lott, Victor Little, Chris Alford, Scott Metzger, Andy Hess, and John Kimock.
The Greyboy All Stars recently released an album entitled Get a Job: Music from the Original Broadcast Series Soul Dream, which lies at the heart of this episode. Originally aired as Soul Dream — a four-part, episodic series on Nugs.net in the summer of 2021 — Get a Job is a ten song set of unique never-before-released covers that have become an integral part of the band’s famed live sets for nearly three decades. Songs by artists such as Gene Ammons, Gil Scott-Heron, Sonny Stitt, George Harrison, Gary Bartz and Langston Hughes, Dr. Lonnie Smith, and Burt Bacharach and Hal David.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Robert Walter discuss how Get a Job emanated from the four part episodic series Soul Dream while conversing over how Walter and the Greyboy Allstars decide upon the songs they choose to cover. They go back in time to talk about the genesis of the Greyboy Allstars, celebrating the famed Wednesday night shows at The Green Circle Bar in San Diego where it all began. They discuss Walter’s excellent solo album Better Feathers, how he came to be a part of Mike Gordon from Phish’s band, what it is going to mean to him to return to Jazz Fest this year, and a whole lot more.
Episode 133: Fight Like Hell with Kim Kelly
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast host Michael Shields interviews the author of Fight Like Hell : The Untold History of American Labor, Kim Kelly. Kelly is an independent journalist, author, and organizer. She has been a regular labor columnist for Teen Vogue since 2018, and her writing on labor, class, politics, and culture has appeared in The New Republic, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Baffler, The Nation, The Columbia Journalism Review, and Esquire, among many others. Kelly has also worked as a video correspondent for More Perfect Union, The Real News Network, and Means TV. Previously, she was the heavy metal editor at “Noisey,” VICE’s music vertical, and was an original member of the VICE Union. A third-generation union member, she is a member of the Industrial Workers of the World’s Freelance Journalists Union as well as a member and elected councilperson for the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE).
Kelly’s profoundly researched book shares the stories of working-class heroes who propelled American labor’s relentless push for fairness and equal protection under the law. Those champions of American labor include freed Black women organizing for protection in the Reconstruction-era South, Jewish immigrant garment workers braving deadly conditions for a sliver of independence, Asian American fieldworkers rejecting government-sanctioned indentured servitude across the Pacific, Incarcerated workers advocating for basic human rights and fair wages, and the queer Black labor leader who helped orchestrate America’s civil rights movement. Throughout Fight Like Hell, Kelly excavates these untold histories and shows how the rights the American worker possess today — the forty-hour workweek, workplace-safety standards, restrictions on child labor, protection from harassment and discrimination on the job — were earned with literal blood, sweat, and tears.
Fight Like Hell comes at a time of economic reckoning in America. From Amazon’s warehouses to Starbucks cafes, Appalachian coal mines to the sex workers of Portland’s Stripper Strike, interest in organized labor is at a fever pitch not seen since the early 1960s. Inspirational, intersectional, and full of crucial lessons from the past, Fight Like Hell shows what is possible when the working class demands the dignity it has always deserved.
In this episode Michael Shields and Kim Kelly talk about how a heavy metal writer and editor became a tireless advocate for the working class. They touch on a bevy of the stories told in Fight Like Hell, from early 1800’s washwoman and garment workers to the prison labor unions of today. They converse about how Covid-19 affected the worker’s right movement, the Amazon Union battles, and so much more.
Episode 132: Stuart Bogie’s Prophets in the City
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger, and music producer Stuart Bogie. Bogie has toured and recorded extensively with groups such as Antibalas, Arcade Fire, TV on the Radio, and Iron and Wine, to name a few, and he performed as the featured soloist in the original Broadway production of Fela!. As a composer/arranger, he scored the Oscar nominated documentary How To Survive a Plague, which featured performances by the Kronos Quartet alongside Bogie’s group Superhuman Happiness. He has appeared on recordings by renowned artists such as Craig Finn (of The Hold Steady), Cass McCombs, Sharon Van Etten, Angelique Kidjo (2 Grammy winning albums), Medeski Martin and Wood, Yeasayer, Spencer Day, Holly Miranda, Foals, Passion Pit, Mac Miller, and legendary improvised conductor Butch Morris.
Bogie currently leads The Bogie Band featuring Joe Russo, a nine piece Winds and Drum group that just released their debut album entitled The Prophets In The City (Royal Potato Family) — the main focus of this episode. The Prophets in the City is a collaboration between old friends, as Bogie teams with drummer extraordinaire Joe Russo most known for helming Joe Russo’s Almost Dead. Heightening Bogie’s fiery arrangements and Russo’s dynamic drumming, The Prophets in the City features a supporting cast of musicians whose resumes run through some of New York City’s most beloved bands including Antibalas, The Dap-Kings, Budos Band, St. Vincent, and David Byrne’s American Utopia.The resulting efforts on the debut album are riotous and jubilant, pushing the boundaries of instrumental music.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Stuart Bogie discuss how New York City’s energy and spirit directly inspired The Prophets in the City. They discuss the brilliant grouping of players on the album and what it’s like for Bogie to work with the phenomenally talented Joe Russo. They discuss music that has influenced Bogie over the years, a variety of his other projects, and so much more.
Episode 131: Black in White Space with Elijah Anderson
In this episode of Across The Margin : The Podcast host Michael Shields interviews Elijah Anderson, the Sterling Professor of Sociology and of African American Studies at Yale University. Anderson is one of the leading urban ethnographers in the United States and his publications include Code of the Street: Decency, Violence, and the Moral Life of the Inner City (1999); Streetwise: Race, Class, and Change in an Urban Community (1990); and the classic sociological work, A Place on the Corner (1978). He also wrote The Cosmopolitan Canopy: Race and Civility in Everyday Life (2011) and his latest book — the subject of this episode — is Black In White Space which sheds fresh light on the dire persistence of racial discrimination in our country.
A birder strolling in Central Park. A college student lounging on a university quad. Two men sitting in a coffee shop. Perfectly ordinary actions in ordinary settings — and yet, they sparked jarring and inflammatory responses that involved the police and attracted national media coverage. Why? In essence, Elijah Anderson would argue, because these were Black people existing in white spaces.
In Black In White Space, Anderson brings his immense knowledge and ethnography to bear in this timely study of the racial barriers that are still firmly entrenched in our society at every class level. He focuses on symbolic racism, a new form of racism in America caused by the stubbornly powerful stereotype of the ghetto embedded in the white imagination, which subconsciously connects all Black people with crime and poverty regardless of their social or economic position. From Philadelphia street-corner conversations to Anderson’s own morning jogs through a Cape Cod vacation town, he probes a wealth of experiences to shed new light on how symbolic racism makes all Black people uniquely vulnerable to implicit bias in police stops and racial discrimination in our country.
Throughout this episode Michael Shields and Elijah Anderson discuss how Black In White Space is part of a larger, and critically important, body of work by Anderson. They define and explore the role of ethnographers in social science while breaking down the idea of symbolic racism, the ghetto as a symbol and a mental space, places that Anderson defines as “cosmopolitan canopies,” and so much more.
Episode 130: Democracy in the Time of Coronavirus with Danielle Allen
In this episode of Across The Margin : The Podcast host Michael Shields interviews Danielle Allen, James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University where she is also the principal investigator for the Democratic Knowledge Project. In 2020, she won the Kluge Prize for Achievement in the Study of Humanity, administered by the Library of Congress, that recognizes work in disciplines not covered by the Nobel Prizes. She is the author or co-editor of many books, including Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality, and Democracy in the time of Coronavirus, which is the focus of this episode.
In Democracy in the Time of Coronavirus Allen untangles the U.S. government’s COVID-19 victories and failures to offer a plan for creating a more resilient democratic polity — one that can better respond to both the present pandemic and future crises. Looking to history, Allen also identifies the challenges faced by democracies in other times that required strong government action. In an analysis spanning from ancient Greece to the Reconstruction Amendments and the present day, Allen argues for the relative effectiveness of collaborative federalism over authoritarian compulsion and for the unifying power of a common cause. But for democracy to endure, we — as participatory citizens — must commit to that cause: a just and equal social contract and support for good governance.
In this episode Michael Shields and Danielle Allen explore what exactly an ideal social contract that serves as the basis for a functioning constitutional democracy would look like while examining how currently that social contract is fundamentally broken. They discuss how important leadership is when dealing with massive crises, how the prospect of a “common purpose” could be the most powerful tool in the democratic tool kit, how federalism can be an asset in trying times, what the federal and state governments should have done to combat Covid 19, and much, much more.
Episode 129: Ugly Beauty with Phil Freeman
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with Phil Freeman, a renowned music journalist specializing in jazz and metal. He is the former managing editor of the world music magazine Global Rhythm, the former editor-in-chief of the metal magazine Metal Edge, the founder of MSN Entertainment’s Headbäng daily metal blog, and currently writes a monthly jazz column, Ugly Beauty, for Stereogum. Freeman is also the co-creator of Burning Ambulance, a quarterly journal of arts and culture that encompasses a website, a podcast, and a record label. His latest book, Ugly Beauty: Jazz in the 21st Century, the focus of this episode, highlights how vibrant and diverse today’s Jazz scene truly is.
What does jazz “mean” 20 years into the 21st century? Has streaming culture rendered music literally meaningless, thanks to the removal of all context beyond the playlist? Are there any traditions left to explore? Has the destruction of the apprenticeship model (young musicians learning from their elders) changed the music irrevocably? Are any sounds off limits? How far out can you go and still call it “jazz”? Or should the term be retired? These questions, and many more, are answered in Ugly Beauty, as Phil Freeman digs through his own experiences and conversations with present-day players.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Freeman discuss what to expect when exploring the pages of Ugly Beauty while expounding on the unique jazz sounds coming out of the four cities focused on in the book: Los Angeles, London, Chicago, and New York City. They talk about the current surge in jazz appreciation abounding and the reasons for it, what it meant when Kamasi Washington broke through garnering masses of fans from outside of the Jazz world, and how hip-hop has dramatically affected Jazz in the 21st century. They also praise a slew of artists who cannot be contained by traditional views of what is and isn’t jazz, and so much more.
Episode 128: Scott Metzger’s Too Close To Reason
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with guitarist Scott Metzger, a musician who has spent the past decade earning a reputation as one of the most adventurous improvisers in live music. When he wasn’t sharing the stage with the likes of Phil Lesh, John Scofield or Nels Cline, he was playing to massive crowds with Joe Russo’s Almost Dead. His musical interests, however, run broader than his bonafides might suggest. During downtime from JRAD Metzger pursued projects like WOLF!, a hard-charging, fully electrified guitar trio that balanced tight compositions with group improvisation, and the Showdown Kids, an acoustic gypsy jazz trio.
When the global pandemic darkened stages everywhere, Metzger hunkered down in Brooklyn and did what came naturally — he picked up the guitar every day and wrote instrumental music. Shortly thereafter, he booked time at a Brooklyn recording studio to document the guitar pieces he’d created. The result of those efforts is Too Close to Reason — Metzger’s first solo album and the focus of this episode. The 12-track collection, released by Royal Potato Family, showcases a more contemplative side of his musical personality. From the first swelling notes of the atmospheric ”Appropriate Wattage,” the album is full of musical surprises, starting with the fact that Metzger plays nearly every note of this primarily acoustic guitar-based album. The sole exception is “Only Child,” a ballad with Katie Jacoby, violinist for The Who (and Metzger’s wife).
Too Close To Reason exposes trace elements of Metzger’s musical DNA through influences like Chet Atkins, Django Reinhardt, Jim Hall, and Richard Thompson, but it ultimately presents his own fully-formed and distinct voice as a guitarist. In short, his debut reveals an artist in full bloom who has honed his craft and knows himself, contradictions and all. Within this episode host Michael Shields and Scott Metzger discuss the musicians, the guitar, and the pandemic that inspired his new album. They expound upon the fascinating ways in which the first two singles, “Don’t Be a Stranger” and “Waltz For Beverly,” came to life while conversing about how special it is that he has had the opportunity to create music with his wife, violinist Katie Jacoby. They even discuss how the artist’s recent addiction to running bolstered his capabilities in regard to his performing with Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, and so much more.
Episode 127: American Exceptionalism with Ian Tyrrell
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with Ian Tyrrell, emeritus professor of history at the University of New South Wales. He is the author of numerous books, including True Gardens of the Gods: Californian-Australian Environmental Reform, 1860 –1930 and Historians in Public. His latest book, American Exceptionalism: A New History of an Old Idea, is the focus of this episode and persists as an important and remarkably comprehensive examination of an extremely contentious notion.
The idea that the United States is unlike every other country in world history is a surprisingly resilient one. Throughout his distinguished career, Ian Tyrrell has been one of the most influential historians researching the idea of American Exceptionalism, but he has never written a book focused solely on it, until now. The notion that American identity might be exceptional emerged, Tyrrell shows in his book, from the belief that the nascent early republic was not simply a postcolonial state but a genuinely new experiment in an imperialist world dominated by Britain. Prior to the Civil War, American Exceptionalism fostered declarations of cultural, economic, and spatial independence. As the country grew in population and size, becoming a major player in the global order, its exceptionalist beliefs came more and more into focus — and into question. Over time, a political divide emerged: those who believed that America’s exceptionalism was the basis of its virtue and those who saw America as either a long way from perfect or actually fully unexceptional. Tyrrell masterfully articulates in his book the many forces that made American Exceptionalism such a divisive and definitional concept. Today, the demands that people acknowledge America’s Exceptionalism have grown ever more strident, even as the material and moral evidence for that exceptionalism — to the extent that there ever was any — has withered away.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Ian Tyrrell discuss the origins of American Exceptionalism, how one would go about quantifying a nation’s exceptionalism, how American Exceptionalism persists as ideology representing reality rather than an account of American actuality, the rise of religious-based American Exceptionalism in the 1970s and 80s, how America can increasingly be perceived as exceptional in a negative light, and much, much more.
Episode 126: Day of Rage with Malachy Browne
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast looks back on the distressing events of January 6th, 2021 with an examination of the documentary Day of Rage, a film that culls thousands of hours of videos and audio from rioters and police body cams to tell the story of the Capitol insurrection. The product of a six-month New York Times investigation, Day of Rage provides the most complete picture to date of what happened — and why.
To properly delve into this powerful documentary, this episode features an interview the senior producer of the New York Times Visual Investigations team who produced and co-directed Day of Rage, Malachy Browne. Browne was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2020 for international reporting for coverage of Russian culpability in crimes around the world, including the bombing of hospitals in Syria. He has has led investigations into the killing of Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans by police, the Las Vegas mass shooting, chemical weapons attacks in Syria, extra-judicial military shootings in Nigeria, and the killing of a young Palestinian medic along the Gaza-Israel border. In this episode host Michael Shields and Malachy Browne discuss a bevy of the shocking particulars of the January 6th insurrection that were featured in Day of Rage. They converse upon the massive effort in bringing the documentary to life, who exactly the rioters were as exposed in Day of Rage, the evidence present in the film that that the storming of the Capitol was assuredly premeditated, how the Capitol police were let down by their superiors on that fateful day, and so much more. Join in on an episode that pays tribute to a documentary that lays out plainly just how fragile democracy can be.
Episode 125: The Other Dark Matter with Lina Zeldovich
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast features an interview with Lina Zeldovich, a writer and editor specializing in the journalism of solutions. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Reader’s Digest, Smithsonian, Popular Science, Scientific American, Atlantic, and Newsweek, among many other popular outlets, and she has won awards from the Newswomen’s Club of New York, the Society of Professional Journalists Deadline Club, and the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Her first book, The Other Dark Matter: The Science and Business of Turning Waste Into Wealth and Heath, is the focus of this episode.
In clear and engaging prose that draws on her extensive research and interviews, Lina Zeldovich documents the massive redistribution of nutrients and sanitation inequities across the globe. She profiles the pioneers of waste upcycling, from startups in African villages to innovators in American cities that convert sewage into fertilizer, biogas, crude oil, and even life-saving medicine. She breaks taboos surrounding sewage disposal and shows how hygienic waste repurposing can help battle Climate Change, reduce acid rain, and eliminate toxic algal blooms. Ultimately, she implores us to use our innate organic power for the greater good.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Lina Zeldovich discuss the stigmas around human waste that has led it to being undervalued throughout history. They converse upon many invaluable uses of our organic matter, from fertilizer to biofuels and beyond. And they explore how sewage technologies and greening up fuel can help fight Climate Change. Grossly ambitious and rooted in scientific scholarship, The Other Dark Matter shows how human excrement can be a life-saving, money-making resource — if we make better use of it.
Episode 124: American Gadfly with Skye Wallin
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast introduces you to American Gadlfy, a documentary that tells the story of how, a decade since his last campaign, 89-year-old former senator and 2008 presidential candidate Mike Gravel came out of retirement when a group of teenagers convinces him to run for president one last time. Through the senator’s official Twitter account, the four “Gravel teens” embark on an unlikely adventure to qualify him for the Democratic debates in order to advance an anti-war, anti-corruption, and direct democracy agenda in the 2020 presidential race. Working together, the young activists and the experienced politician confuse and amaze the generations between them.
To properly delve into this powerful, inspiring documentary, this episode features an interview with the director of American Gadfly, Skye Wallin. For over a decade, Wallin has been deeply immersed in the worlds of documentary, journalism, and activism. He spent several years filming with scientists and activists at more than twenty water-related disasters across the United States. Wallin worked closely with Mark Ruffalo on this project, leading video and short documentary production for Ruffalo’s organization Water Defense for three years. Wallin’s work helped to expose multiple water pollution scandals that had been covered up, including EXXON’s poisoning of Lake Conway in Arkansas and millions of organic crops being watered with oil-contaminated water sold to farmers by Chevron, the latter of which resulted in front page coverage in the Los Angeles Times. His latest effort, American Gadlfy, isn’t simply a documentary about an underdog trying to win an election. It’s about how the next generation understands democracy, engages in politics and influences ordinary people with passion, humor and honesty. So tune in to learn all about this rousing political adventure on this latest episode of Across the Margin: The Podcast.
Episode 123: The Aldous Huxley Episode with Jake Poller
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast features an interview with Jake Poller, the author of Aldous Huxley, which is the focus of this episode, and also Aldous Huxley and Alternative Spirituality. Poller edited the essay collection Altered Consciousness in the Twentieth Century and his articles have appeared in the Aldous Huxley Annual, the D.H. Lawrence Review, Aries, Literature and Theology and International Journal for the Study of New Religions. His research focuses on the intersection of alternative spirituality, Western esotericism, philosophy and psychoanalysis with twentieth-century literature and culture.
Aldous Huxley was one of the twentieth century’s most prescient thinkers. Poller’s biography, named after the philosopher, is a rich and lucid account that charts the different phases of Huxley’s career, from the early satirist who depicted the glamorous despair of the postwar generation, to the committed pacifist of the 1930s, the spiritual seeker of the 1940s, the psychedelic sage of the 1950s — who affirmed the spiritual potential of mescaline and LSD — to the New Age prophet that defined his later years. While Huxley is still best known as the author of Brave New World, Jake Poller argues that it is The Perennial Philosophy, The Doors of Perception, and Island — Huxley’s blueprint for a utopian society — that have had the most cultural impact.
Huxley’s influence was vast. We see it today in the ever increasing appetite for spiritual experiences, meditation retreats, ayahuasca holidays, the multi-billion dollar “shroom boom,” the popularity of yoga, tai-chi and other mind-body practices, and the rise of spiritual communities and centers. Now more than ever, Poller points out so vividly in his book, the work of Aldous Huxley leads the way.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Jacob Poller discuss what compelled Huxley to seek out transcendent experiences and how psychedelics changed his life and worldview. They explore what his novel Island means to his legacy and why his bounteous, insightful essays deserve a much wider readership, and much, much more.
Episode 122: Pushing Cool with Keith Wailoo
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with Keith Wailoo, Henry Putnam University Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University. His books include Dying in the City of the Blues, How Cancer Crossed the Color Line, and Pain: A Political History. Along with Dr. Anthony Fauci and others, Wailoo won the prestigious 2021 Dan David Prize which supports outstanding contributions to the study of history and other disciplines that shed light on the human past. Wailoo is also the author of Pushing Cool: Big Tobacco, Racial Marketing, and the Untold Story of the Menthol Cigarette which is the focus of this episode. In Pushing Cool, he tells the intricate and poignant story of menthol cigarettes for the first time. Wailoo pulls back the curtain to reveal the hidden persuaders who shaped menthol buying habits and racial markets across America: the world of tobacco marketers, consultants, psychologists, and social scientists, as well as Black lawmakers and civic groups including the NAACP. Today most Black smokers buy menthol cigarettes, and calls to prohibit their circulation hinge on a history of the industry’s targeted racial marketing. In 2009, when Congress banned flavored cigarettes as criminal enticements to encourage youth smoking, menthol cigarettes were also slated to be banned. Through a detailed study of internal tobacco industry documents, Wailoo exposes why they weren’t and how they remain so popular with Black smokers today. Spanning a century, Pushing Cool reveals how the twin deceptions of health and Black affinity for menthol were crafted — and how the industry’s disturbingly powerful narrative has endured to this day.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Keith Wailoo discuss exactly why menthol cigarettes were “pushed” so vigorously upon Black urban communities and assess how increased governmental restriction on cigarette advertisements actually heightened this push. They explore the lies about the health benefits of menthols used to market the cigarettes, point out a plethora of surprising public figures who have consistently pushed back against a ban on menthols, examine the link in the fight to ban menthol cigarettes to e-cigarettes, and much, much more.
Episode 121: Intentioning with Gloria Feldt
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with best-selling author Gloria Feldt, an acclaimed expert on women, power, and leadership. Feldt is co-founder and president of Take The Lead, whose mission reflects her life’s passion: to prepare, develop, inspire, and propel women to take their fair and equal share of leadership positions across all sectors. She is the bestselling author of five books. Her latest, Intentioning: Sex, Power, Pandemics and How Women Will Take The Lead, examines how people can seize the once-in-a- lifetime opportunity of massive disruption to build back stronger with women at the center of the recovery. Through the lens of women’s stories, Intentioning delivers a fresh set of leadership tools, skills, and concepts that help all women reach their own highest intentions, purposefully creating new norms, while guiding institutions to break through the remaining barriers to gender and racial parity for everyone’s good.
Feldt is formerly president and CEO of the world’s largest reproductive health and advocacy organization, Planned Parenthood. She teaches “Women, Power, and Leadership” at Arizona State University and has been widely quoted and published, including by the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, The Daily Beast, Forbes, Fast Company, Time, Huffington Post, Glamour, Elle and Ms. She has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, the Today Show, Good Morning America and The Daily Show.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Gloria Feldt examining exactly what the word Intentioning means while conversing upon how the disruption of the pandemic can lead to positive changes (if we #putwomenatthecenter). They talk about Feldt’s Nine Leadership Intentioning Tools, how men can be a part of the movement towards women’s parity, the difference between power “over” and power “to,” and much, much more!
Episode 120: The Nutmeg’s Curse with Amitav Ghosh
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with Amitav Ghosh, a novelist and essayist whose many books include the acclaimed Ibis Trilogy (Sea of Poppies, River of Smoke, and Flood of Fire), Gun Island, Jungle Nama: A Story of the Sundarban, and The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable. His latest book, The Nutmeg’s Curse (Parables For a Planet in Crisis), is a powerful work that traces our contemporary planetary crisis back to the discovery of the New World and the sea route to the Indian Ocean. The Nutmeg’s Curse argues that the dynamics of Climate Change today are rooted in a centuries-old geopolitical order constructed by Western colonialism. At the center of Ghosh’s narrative is the now-ubiquitous spice nutmeg. The history of the nutmeg is one of conquest and exploitation — of both human life and the natural environment. In Ghosh’s hands, the story of the nutmeg becomes a parable for our environmental crisis, revealing the ways human history has always been entangled with earthly materials such as spices, tea, sugarcane, opium, and fossil fuels. Our crisis, he shows, is ultimately the result of a mechanistic view of the earth, where nature exists only as a resource for humans to use for our own ends, rather than a force of its own, full of agency and meaning.
Writing against the backdrop of the global pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests, Ghosh frames these historical stories in a way that connects our shared colonial histories with the deep inequality we see around us today. By interweaving discussions on everything from the global history of the oil trade to the migrant crisis and the animist spirituality of Indigenous communities around the world, The Nutmeg’s Curse offers a sharp critique of Western society and speaks to the profoundly remarkable ways in which human history is shaped by non-human forces.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Amitav Ghosh discuss the history of the nutmeg, a spice whose narrative is tied to colonialism in ways that relate to today’s Climate Crisis and particularly fossil fuels. They discuss terraforming, a term known in science-fiction writing that relates to the ways in which colonizers, both in days of yore and today, reshape landscapes to meet their covetous ways. They converse on the power of storytelling in fighting Climate Change, those who see the Earth as an inert body, the future of vitalist politics, and much, much more.
Episode 119: How Vaccines Became Controversial with Stuart Blume
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with Stuart Blume, a professor emeritus of science and technology studies at the University of Amsterdam. Blume’s latest book, entitled Immunization: How Vaccines Became Controversial, is an important and extremely relevant-to-the-moment work that is the focus of this episode. At a time when vaccines are a vital tool in the fight against Covid-19 in all its various mutations, Blume’s hard-hitting book takes a longer historical perspective. It argues that globalization and cuts to healthcare have been eroding faith in the institutions producing and providing vaccines for more than thirty years. It tells the history of immunization from the work of early pioneers such as Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch through the eradication of smallpox in 1980, to the recent introduction of new kinds of genetically engineered vaccines. Immunization exposes the limits of public health authorities while suggesting how they can restore our confidence in the fight against infectious disease.
In this episode host Michael Shields and guest Stuart Blume examine how vaccines protect the human body while also looking at how exactly viruses are “born” into human populations. They contemplate the dawn of vaccine hesitancy, converse about the corporations and politicians that are chiefly to blame for it, and champion the idea that while vaccine technologies are extraordinary tools, addressing the root causes of viruses is absolutely crucial in confronting urgent public health concerns.
Episode 118: The Guitar: Tracing The Grain Back To The Tree
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with Chris Gibson and Andrew Warren. Chris is a professor of geography at the University of Wollongong, Australia while Andrew is a senior lecturer in economic geography at the same university. They are also the co-authors of The Guitar: Tracing The Grain Back To The Tree, a deeply insightful book which lies at the center of this episode.
Guitars inspire cult-like devotion. An aficionado can tell you precisely when and where their favorite instrument was made, the wood it is made from, and that wood’s unique effect on the instrument’s sound. In The Guitar, Chris and Andrew follow that fascination around the globe as they trace guitars all the way back to their source tree. The authors visit guitar factories, port cities, log booms, remote sawmills, Indigenous lands, and distant rainforests, all on a quest for behind-the-scenes stories and insights into how guitars are made, where the much-cherished guitar timbers ultimately come from, and all the while introducing you to the people and skills that craft those timbers along the way.
The authors interviewed hundreds of people to give readers a first-hand account of the ins-and-outs of production methods, timber milling, and forest custodianship in diverse corners of the world, including the Pacific Northwest, Madagascar, Spain, Brazil, Germany, Japan, China, Hawaii, and Australia. They unlock surprising insights into longer arcs of world history: on humanity’s exploitation of nature, colonialism, industrial capitalism, and cultural tensions. But the authors also strike a hopeful note, offering a parable of wider resonance — of the incredible but underappreciated skill and care that goes into growing forests, felling trees, and milling timber in order to craft these enchanting musical instruments. The Guitar promises to resonate with anyone who has ever fallen in love with a guitar.
In this episode host Michael Shields explores with Chris and Andrew the many compelling facets of their comprehensively researched book, including how tracing the roots of the guitar can teach profound insights about history and the human condition. Chris and Andrew pinpoint the exact origins of the modern guitar and examine how Climate Change is threatening the industry, as well as deforestation and irresponsible harvesting. They tip a hat to all the foresters and those in the guitar industry who are employing forest management techniques to preserve guitar wood for generations to come, and much, much more.
Episode 117: Paradise with Lizzie Johnson
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with Lizzie Johnson, a staff writer for the Washington Post. Previously, Johnson worked at the San Francisco Chronicle, where she reported on fifteen of the deadliest, largest, and most destructive blazes in modern California history, and covered over thirty communities impacted by wildfires. Recently she released a book entitled Paradise: One Town’s Struggle To Survive An American Wildfire — the focus of this episode — which serves as the definitive first hand account of California’s Camp Fire, the nation’s deadliest wildfire in a century. Paradise is a riveting examination of what went wrong and how to avert future tragedies as the Climate Crisis unfolds.
On November 8, 2018, the people of Paradise, California, awoke to a mottled gray sky and gusty winds. Soon the Camp Fire, the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California’s history was upon them, consuming an acre a second. Less than two hours after the fire ignited, the town was engulfed in flames, the terrified residents trapped in their homes and cars. By the next morning, eighty-five people were dead. As a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, Lizzie Johnson was there as the town of Paradise burned. She saw the smoldering rubble of a historic covered bridge and the beloved Black Bear Diner and she stayed long afterward, visiting shelters, hotels, and makeshift camps. Drawing upon her years of on-the-ground reporting, and reams of public records, including 911 calls and testimony from a grand jury investigation, Johnson provides a minute-by-minute account of the Camp Fire, following residents and first responders as they fight to save themselves and their town. We see a young mother fleeing with her newborn; a school bus full of children in search of an escape route; and a group of paramedics, patients, and nurses trapped in a cul-de-sac, fending off the fire with rakes and hoses. In Paradise, Johnson documents this unfolding tragedy with empathy and nuance. But she also investigates the root causes, from runaway climate change to a deeply flawed alert system to Pacific Gas and Electric’s decades-long neglect of critical infrastructure. A cautionary tale for a new era of megafires, Paradise is the gripping story of a town wiped off the map and the determination of its people to rise again.
In this episode, host Michael Shields and Lizzie Johnson explore how Climate Change has increased the intensity and size of wildfires throughout the world, how economic factors have increasingly swelled the population in the wildland-urban-interface, the challenges of evacuating the entirety of a town, forest management suppression miscalculations and the need for “controlled” burns, the emotional toll of reporting on tragedies, and much, much more.
Episode 116: The Big Scary “S” Word with Yael Bridge
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker Yael Bridge. Bridge is the producer behind Left on Purpose, winner of the Audience Award at DOC NYC, and also Saving Capitalism, starring former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, which was nominated for an Emmy Award in Business and Economics. Her latest documentary, The Big Scary “S” Word, which is the focus of this episode, delves into the rich history of the American socialist movement and follows the people striving to build a socialist future today. In this enlightening documentary, a former Marine and a public school teacher in two different states find themselves broke and unable to sustain their livelihoods despite being employed. Activated by the energy of the 2016 Bernie Sanders presidential campaign and the murmurs of a state-wide teacher strike, both turn to socialism, a once-fringe ideology, to tackle problems larger than themselves. With inequality growing, a climate catastrophe looming, and right-wing extremism ascending around the world, many Americans are wondering whether capitalism is to blame. But what is the alternative? Socialism is plagued by conflicting definitions. Is it dictatorship or democracy? Norway or Venezuela? Reform or revolution? The Big Scary “S” Word explores where American socialism has been, why it was suppressed, and imagines what a renewed American socialism might look like.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Yael Bridge converse on the inadequately discussed and rich history of socialism in America, revealing that socialism is in fact, as American as apple pie. They explore the roots of current misconceptions about socialism, expose the threat that capitalism poses to human life, expound on the growing appreciation of socialism in America, and much, much more.
Episode 115: Everyone Loves Live Music with Dr. Fabian Holt
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with Dr. Fabian Holt, associate professor in the Department of Communication and Arts at Roskilde University. He is the author of Genre in Popular Music and of Everyone Loves Live Music: A Theory of Performance Institutions, the focus of this episode. For decades, millions of music fans have gathered every summer in parks and fields to hear their favorite bands at such renowned festivals as Lollapalooza, Coachella, and Glastonbury. How did these and countless other festivals across the globe evolve into glamorous pop culture events, and how are they changing our relationship to music, leisure, and public culture? In Everyone Loves Live Music, Dr. Holt looks beyond the marketing hype to show how festivals and other institutions of musical performance have evolved in recent decades, as these once meaningful sources of community and culture are increasingly consumed by corporate giants.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Dr. Fabian Holt explore the ins-and-outs of Everyone Loves Music, discussing the history of music festivals, the joys and community they can offer in the most ideal of form, while dissecting in depth how popular music festivals have been developed into mass-market commodities by a cultural industry and capitalistic societies.
Episode 114: The Psychological Roots of the Climate Crisis with Sally Weintrobe
This episode host Michael Shields interviews Sally Weintrobe, a Fellow of The British Psychoanalytical Society and a founder member of the Climate Psychology Alliance who Chairs the International Psychoanalytic Association’s (IPA’s) Committee on Climate. In 2021 she won an award from the IPA for her climate work. Her past publications include, as editor and contributor, Engaging with Climate Change, short-listed in 2014 for the International Gradiva Prize for contributions to psychoanalysis. Her recent book, Psychological Roots of the Climate Crisis: Neoliberal Exceptionalism and The Culture of Uncare, which is the focus of this episode, tells the story of a fundamental fight between a caring and an uncaring imagination. It helps us to recognize the uncaring imagination in politics, in culture, and also in ourselves.In her enlightening and important book, Sally Weintrobe argues that achieving the shift to greater care requires us to stop colluding with Exceptionalism, the rigid psychological mindset largely responsible for the climate crisis. People in this mindset believe that they are entitled to have the lion’s share and that they can ‘rearrange’ reality with magical omnipotent thinking whenever reality limits these felt entitlements.
Throughout the episode host Michael Shields and Sally Wintrobe explore the themes present in Psychological Roots of the Climate Crisis, exploring in depth how the rigid psychological mindset of Exceptionalism is largely responsible for the Climate Crisis. They also explore how lively entitlement powers the will to act for and care for others, how changing demographics are motivating the neoliberal empire to act more manipulative and brutal to hold onto power, how the Climate Crisis is affecting today’s youth psychologically, and much, much more.
Episode 113: The Queen of Basketball with Ben Proudfoot
This episode host Michael Shields interviews Ben Proudfoot, the Oscar nominated creative force behind Breakwater Studios. Dedicated to the art of the short documentary, the studio’s work has been recognized by the Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, The Emmys, The Webbys, James Beard Foundation, and Telluride Film Festival among others. His film A Concerto is a Conversation, co-directed by Kris Bowers and executive produced by Ava DuVernay, debuted at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Short Subject. Proudfoot’s latest documentary, The Queen of Basketball, is the story of Lucy Harris, a pioneer in women’s basketball who led a rural Mississippi college to three national titles, scored the first basket in women’s Olympic history in 1976 and was remarkably the first and only woman to be drafted into the NBA. In 1992, she became the first Black woman to be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
Throughout the episode Michael and Ben expound upon Lucy’s incredible story, from her upbringing in rural Mississippi to her unparalleled dominance playing college basketball, unto her history making run in the Olympics, and beyond. They also explore what it means to Lucy to be featured in a documentary, how extraordinary it was that she was drafted to play in the National Basketball Association, all the important and fascinating work Ben is doing with Breakwater Studios, his Almost Famous anthology series, and so much more in an episode that serves as an ode to one of the most important American athletes of the 20th century.
Episode 112: White Radicalism and Black Power in 1960s Rock with Patrick Burke
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast features an interview with Patrick Burke, associate professor of music at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Burke is the author of Come In and Hear the Truth: Jazz and Race on 52nd Street and also the recently released Tear Down The Walls: White Radicalism and Black Power in 1960s Rock — the focus of this episode. From the earliest days of rock and roll, white artists regularly achieved fame, wealth, and success that eluded the Black artists whose work had preceded and inspired them. This dynamic continued into the 1960s, even as the music and its fans grew to be more engaged with political issues regarding race. In Tear Down the Walls, Burke tells the story of white American and British rock musicians’ engagement with Black Power politics and African American music during the volatile years of 1968 and 1969. The book sheds new light on a significant but overlooked facet of 1960s rock — white musicians and audiences casting themselves as political revolutionaries by enacting a romanticized vision of African American identity. These artists’ attempts to cast themselves as revolutionary were often naïve, misguided, or arrogant, but they could also reflect genuine interest in African American music and culture and sincere investment in anti-racist politics. White musicians such as those in popular rock groups Jefferson Airplane, the Rolling Stones, and the MC5, fascinated with Black performance and rhetoric, simultaneously perpetuated a long history of racial appropriation and misrepresentation and made thoughtful, self-aware attempts to respectfully present African American music in forms that white leftists found politically relevant. In Tear Down the Walls Patrick Burke neither condemns white rock musicians as inauthentic nor elevates them as revolutionary. The result is a fresh look at 1960s rock that provides new insight into how popular music both reflects and informs our ideas about race and how white musicians and activists can engage meaningfully with Black political movements — and you can learn all about these ideas in this informative, music and history-centric episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast.
Episode 111: Free Radio — Earthworms
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast features an interview with the backbone of the Asheville, North Carolina based hip-hop group Free Radio, emcees Austin Haynes and Johnny Reynolds. Free Radio was formed in 2012 by Haynes and Reynolds when they released their debut album, The Powers That Be. Fueled by Hayne’s beats that dig into everything from classic soul, rock, modern pop, and space-age lounge, both Haynes and Reynolds are accomplished emcees, and around western North Carolina, Reynold’s syrupy flow has become a thing of legend. Over the past decade Free Radio has taken different forms, won multiple awards for “best hip-hop group” by local newspapers, and shared the stage with heavyweights like Wu-Tang Clan, Ice Cube, Slick Rick, Nappy Roots, Digable Planets and Warren Haynes. Today, Free Radio has found its most powerful configuration with the addition of Grammy Award winning singer Debrissa McKinney and Datrian Johnson, whose deep, soulful vocals (think of a modern day Barry White or Isaac Hayes) are brimming with power and authenticity.
Free Radio releases its latest album, Earthworms, this Friday and in this episode host Michael Shields learns from Haynes and Reynolds what to expect from the album. They discuss Free Radio’s conception in 2012, the music that inspires Haynes and Reynolds, and how special it is to now have Grammy Award winning singer Debrissa McKinney and Datrian Johnson in the group. They also discuss what it means to the talented rappers to be coming out of Asheville, North Carolina, the social conscious themes present in Free Radio’s music, and so much more!
Episode 110: Jacob M. Appel
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast features an interview with Jacob M. Appel, one of the most prolific, accomplished, yet humble people in America. Appel is an author, poet, bioethicist, physician, lawyer and social critic best known for his short stories, his work as a playwright, and his writing in the fields of reproductive ethics, organ donation, neuroethics and euthanasia. He is the director of Ethics Education in Psychiatry and an associate professor of psychiatry and medical education at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and he practices emergency psychiatry within the adjoining Mount Sinai Health System. Appel writes for both The Huffington Post and Opposing Views, and he has obtained ten degrees from various institutions, including Harvard Law School and Columbia Medical School.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Jacob Appel discuss Jacob’s writing style and method before Appel, a prolific writer, offers advice to fellow writers on the importance of the first line, how to deal with editorial rejections, and perseverance being the key to success in writing. They discuss what it was like for Appel to be the subject of a popular documentary, how his studies in numerous fields contribute to his craft, and ultimately, the episode serves as an ode to those in life whose aim is to never stop learning.
Episode 109: Sun Ra’s Chicago
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with author and Associate Professor in the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice at the University of Chicago, William Sites. Sites’ first book, entitled Remaking New York: Primitive Globalization and the Politics of Urban Community, focused on the transformation of New York City during the final quarter of the twentieth century. His latest — which is the focus of this episode — is entitled Sun Ra’s Chicago: Afrofuturism and the City, a book that can be aptly described as a comprehensive exploration of the formative years of American jazz composer, bandleader, piano and synthesizer player, and poet Sun Ra. Sun Ra’s Chicago persists as much more than simply a biography, but an analysis of the urban spaces and relationships that shaped the transcendent musician into the otherworldly philosophical leader of his band, the Arkestra.
In this episode host Michael Shields and William Sites converse about Sun Ra’s birthplace of Birmingham, Alabama and examine how the city’s extraordinarily vibrant musical culture began to shape a young Sonny Blount. They then explore Sun Ra’s time in Chicago, where he grew to fame gigging at Club DeLisa and in Calumet City as they explore the myriad of influences and relationships (particularly his friendship with Alton Abraham) that became central to the development of his music and mythology. Ultimately, this episode serves as an ode to the legend and legacy of Sun Ra and serves as a celebration of the intergalactic genius of a true visionary.
Episode 108: The Art of the Interview & New Beginnings with Jimmy Chairman
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast introduces you to producer, writer, filmmaker, and media expert Jimmy Chairman. From 2006 until 2020 Chairman interviewed celebrities for a living. All told, he conducted over 10,000 interviews. On the red carpet night in and night out working for E! Entertainment — in the channel’s heyday — Chairman admirably picked the brains of the world’s most famous actors, athletes, and artists. Beyond his work on the red carpet, Chairman helms his own production company, Chairman Media, and has been releasing captivating content across a bevy of platforms for decades.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Jimmy Chairman confer upon the art of interviewing while considering their shared experiences conversing with thought leaders and artists. They celebrate the opportunities that working in media and television offer, while Chairman recounts a myriad of magical moments and encounters across his many years in showbusiness. Chairman also expounds upon his latest venture, an enterprise called Fix Your Shot, which is a leading hands-on videoconferencing aesthetics support company. Chairman even makes time, throughout the diversified conversation, to share his theory — potentially confirmed by writer and executive producer Terence Winter — of how The Sopranos really concluded, and much, much more.
Episode 107: Row with Daniel Goldstein
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast celebrates, through an interview with director and playwright Daniel Goldstein, the release of the inspiring new musical Row, adapted from the moving memoir A Pearl in the Storm by Tori Murden McClure. Goldstein has directed over 100 plays and musicals worldwide, including work at major theaters across the United States and Asia. He was most recently represented on Broadway by the revival of Godspell and his Off Broadway credits include Walmartopia, Indoor / Outdoor, and Lower Ninth, to name a few. As a writer, Goldstein is currently under commission by the Public Theater, for which he recently wrote the musical adaptation of Tori Murden McClure’s aforementioned memoir A Pearl in the Storm with singer/songwriter Dawn Landes. Row, which tells parallel stories of Tori’s journey across the Atlantic Ocean in a rowboat and through her life, is a heartbreaking and ultimately uplifting story of finding your heart in the middle of the ocean. It was scheduled to make its stage debut at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts in the summer 2020. Instead Row just made its world premiere as a recording available on Audible.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Daniel Goldstein discuss the complexities of Tori Murden McClure’s inspiring journey across the Atlantic, the unique challenges of bringing a musical to life amid the pandemic, the weighty themes present in Row (faith, isolation, self-doubt, fear), the outstanding sound design featured in the performance, and ultimately, they celebrate the birth of the first ever traditional book musical.
Episode 106: Louder Than Bombs with Ed Vulliamy
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with Ed Vulliamy, former reporter for The Guardian and The Observer. He is the author of Amexica: War Along the Borderline and The War is Dead, Long Live the War — Bosnia: The Reckoning. His latest book Louder Than Bombs — part memoir, part reportage — is a story of music from the front lines. In Louder Than Bombs, Vulliamy offers a testimony to his lifelong passion for music. Vulliamy’s reporting has taken him around the world to cover the Bosnian War, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of Communism, the Iraq wars of 1991 and 2003, narco violence in Mexico, and more. All places where he confronted stories of violence, suffering, and injustice. Through it all, Vulliamy has turned to music not only as a reprieve but also as a means to understand and express the complicated emotions that follow. Describing the artists, songs, and concerts that most influenced him, in Louder Than Bombs Vulliamy unites the two largest threads of his life — music and war. Vulliamy’s book is a wildly exciting and informative journey that covers some of the most important musical milestones of the past fifty years, from Jimi Hendrix playing “Machine Gun” at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970 to the Bataclan in Paris under siege in 2015. Vulliamy was present for many of these historic moments, and with him as our guide, we see them afresh through his unique perspective, along the way meeting musicians like B.B. King, Graham Nash, Patti Smith, Daniel Barenboim, Gustavo Dudamel, and Bob Dylan.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Vulliamy converse upon the cathartic power of music while waxing poetically about the ways musicians channel and give birth music. They explore Vulliamy’s interactions with B.B. King and his experience seeing Jimi Hendrix mere days before his passing while recounting the importance of a band called The Plastic People of the Universe around the fall of the Berlin Wall, and ultimately celebrate Graham Nash’s aim to change the world through music, and so much more.
Episode 105: Up From Nothing with John Hope Bryant
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with entrepreneur, author, philanthropist, and prominent thought leader John Hope Bryant, in a thought-provoking episode which centers on Bryant’s latest book, Up From Nothing. John Hope Bryant is the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Operation HOPE, the largest non-profit provider of financial literacy and economic empowerment services in the United States for youth and adults. The last five U.S. presidents have recognized his work, and he has served as an advisor to the last three sitting U.S. presidents from both political parties. He is responsible for financial literacy becoming the policy of the U.S. federal government and has been named one of Atlanta Business Chronicle’s “The Power 100 Most Influential Atlantans of 2020,” Atlanta Business Chronicle’s “Most Admired CEOs” in 2018, and one of Time magazine’s “50 Leaders for the Future.” He has received hundreds of awards and citations for his work, including Oprah Winfrey’s Use Your Life Award, and the John Sherman Award for Excellence in Financial Education from the U.S. Treasury.
In this episode, host Michael Shields and Bryant discuss American optimism while expounding upon how valuable a positive mindset and believing in yourself can be. Bryant also shares his Five Pillars of Success, a roadmap to success he believes every American should have access to, and ultimately Bryant celebrates the idea that America will be a much stronger and happier place if we were to make the effort to invest in each other’s success and well being.
Episode 104: Saint Disruption’s Jeff Firewalker Schmitt
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with musician, folk healer, ceremonialist, and scientist Jeff Firewalker Schmitt. Schmitt, along with renowned jazz musician John Medeski (of Medeski Martin & Wood), have formed a musical collaborative called Saint Disruption bringing together musicians, video artists, and visionaries to create music, art, and experiences that explore the human condition. Saint Disruption, in conjunction with its record label Root Doctor Media, is a model for harnessing collective wisdom, self-organization, recording technology and creative artistry to create compelling works of beauty. Profits from their works are used to support the greater good through alliances with NGOs and nonprofits.
In this episode host Michael Shields and Jeff Firewalker Schmitt dig into the origins of, and inspiration behind, Saint Disruption, discuss the charitable aims of the collective, explore the profoundly socially conscious themes of the music, and speculate on all that might lie ahead for this exciting, multi-faceted project.
Episode 103: Chicago Soul Music & Black Cultural Power with Aaron Cohen
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with Aaron Cohen, author of Move On Up: Chicago Soul Music and Black Cultural Power. In Move On Up, Aaron tells the remarkable story of the explosion of soul music in Chicago. Together, soul music and black-owned businesses thrived and record producers and song-writers broadcasted optimism for black America’s future through their sophisticated, jazz-inspired productions. Soul music also accompanied the rise of African American advertisers and the campaign of Chicago’s first black mayor, Harold Washington, in 1983. This empowerment was set in stark relief by the social unrest roiling in Chicago and across the nation. As Chicago’s homegrown record labels produced rising stars singing songs of progress and freedom, Chicago’s black middle class faced limited economic opportunities and deep-seated segregation. Drawing on more than one hundred interviews and a music critic’s passion for the unmistakable Chicago soul sound, Cohen shows us how soul music became the voice of inspiration and change for a city in turmoil.
In this episode, host Michael Shields and Cohen discuss the countless interviews he took on to bring Move On Up to vivid life, the diversity of sound and influences that defines Chicago soul music, the interconnectedness between music and politics highlighted in the book, the influence of the 1960’s psychedelic counterculture on Chicago’s soul music, the power radio wielded in engaging the community through music and community action, and so much more.
Episode 102: Sanya N’Kanta
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with Sanya N’Kanta, the Jamaican born and Charlotte-based musician who has made a name for himself with his genre-blurring style, bringing together rock, reggae, hip-hop, house music, and electro-pop. Sanya’s latest release, an EP entitled These Are The Days, is an ode to his lifelong love of rock n ‘roll. Common themes throughout These Are The Days are growth, friendship, morality, the importance of time with family, and healing. While the songs on Sanya’s rousing new EP are largely more optimistic and personal than his previous work, his recent singles “I.C.E. at the Door” and “The Lesser of Two Evils,” act as hard-hitting commentaries on the dark political realities of 2020 and America’s fraught history. Sanya is a multi-faceted musician and storyteller, and these two songs are a great example of his commitment to incorporating socially conscious themes into his music.
In this episode Sanya expounds upon immigrating to the United States and his early experiences in the country, his youthful infatuation with American rock n’ roll music, a recent brush with carbon monoxide poisoning that put his life at risk and changed the way he viewed life and creating art, the intricacies behind the crafting of These Are The Days, and much, much more.
Episode 101: The Revisionaries with A.R. Moxon
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast host Michael Shields explores an achievement in fiction writing, a tour de force of a novel heralded by critics as a “modern classic” and a “spectacular invention” entitled The Revisionaries. Penned by A.R. Moxon, who is featured in this episode, The Revisionaries is a wildly imaginative, masterfully rendered, and suspenseful tale that conjures the bold outlandish stylishness of Thomas Pynchon, Michael Chabon, Margaret Atwood, Stephen King, and Alan Moore — while being unlike anything that’s come before it. It is about a priest who may or may not be a priest trying to differentiate between reality and fantasy in order to find the source of his faith. Beyond his quest toward the spiritual, this priest — named Julius — is under pressure to save the world. Featuring a female acrobat with a luxurious beard, the peculiar followers of a religious cult, an enigmatic smoking figure who seems to know what’s going to happen just before it does, and an ancient hereditary evil hidden in the heart of Tennessee’s grandest tourist trap, Pigeon Forge, The Revisionaries is awe-inspiring in scope and delightfully all consuming.
In this episode, Michael and A. R. discuss his collaboration with fellow writer, Ben Colmery, the challenges he had in bringing to life a 400,000 word manuscript, the unique stylization choices he employed, the many weighty, thought-provoking themes found throughout the narrative, the influence of the band Phish on the book, and much, much more.
Episode 100: How To Do Nothing with Jenny Odell
This thought-provoking 100th episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with Oakland, California-based artist, writer, and educator, Jenny Odell. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, New York Magazine, The Paris Review, The Believer, McSweeney’s, and Sierra Magazine. Her visual work has been exhibited internationally, including as a mural on the side of a Google data center in rural Oklahoma. Odell has been an artist in residence at the Internet Archive, the San Francisco Planning Department, and Recology SF (otherwise known as the dump) and is a lecturer in the Department of Art & Art History at Stanford University.
This episode focuses on Odell’s bestselling book How To Do Nothing: Resisting The Attention Economy. In a world where addictive technology is designed to buy and sell our attention, and our value is determined by our 24/7 data productivity, it can seem impossible to escape. But in this inspiring “field guide” to dropping out of the attention economy, Odell teaches us how to win back our lives. Our attention is the most precious — and overdrawn — resource we have and Odell contests we must actively and continuously choose how we use it. We might not spend it on things that capitalism has deemed important…but once we can start paying a new kind of attention, she writes, we can undertake bolder forms of political action, reimagine humankind’s role in the environment, and arrive at more meaningful understandings of happiness and progress. Far from the simple anti-technology screed, or the back-to-nature meditation we read so often, How to do Nothing is an action plan for thinking outside of capitalist narratives of efficiency and techno-determinism. Provocative, timely, and utterly persuasive, Odell’s insightful book will change how you see your place in our world, and this episode acts as the perfect introduction to How To Do Nothing and the important ideas that it holds.
Episode 99: Running To Protest & About The People with Coffey
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with Brooklyn-based filmmaker and activist Coffey. Formerly the fashion editor of the hip-hop magazine XXL and the founder of the Define New York Run Club, Coffey has risen to the times as one of the leaders behind the Running To Protest movement. Running to Protest is a campaign, founded with the help of activist Power Malu, that was born in response to what has been happening to Black people, People of Color, and Indigenous people in America. In the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Admaud Arbery (and far too many others), Coffey began organizing protest events and runs that brought together people who are passionate about change. What has arisen from Coffey’s efforts is an ongoing and growing organization that meets regularly to unite, protest, learn, and lay out pragmatic action plans to work towards racial justice and equity.
Running parallel and in tandem to his work in activism are Coffey’s talents as a filmmaker, writer, and actor. Recently he wrote the screenplay for, and acted in, the short film About The People. About The People is a narrative short film, born of actual events, that examines social injustice and racial inequity in the black and brown community. It is an ode to the power honest conversations about social justice, equity, and race have within these communities. The film centers around a group of concerned pillars of the African American community that hold court at a conference table to discuss how they can improve society for their kinfolk and compel change. They grapple with the political, financial, and educational power structures in America, how they fit inside them, and plans for their re-engineering. Their open dialogue looks to find answers to tough social issues with resolutions and ideas arriving through moments of volatile exchanges. About The People encourages all audience members to have an introspective conversation that sparks real change.
Episode 98: The Righteous Mind with Jonathan Haidt
In this episode of Across The Margin : The Podcast, host Michael Shields interviews social psychologist, Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University, and the author of The Righteous Mind : Why Good People Are Divided By Politics and Religion, Jonathan Haidt. The Righteous Mind, a book The New York Times Book Review called “a landmark contribution to humanity’s understanding of itself,” examines how morality is shaped by emotion and intuition more than by reasoning, and why opposing political groups have different notions of right and wrong. Drawing on his twenty-five years of groundbreaking research on moral psychology, Haidt shows, in his books and in this episode, how moral judgments arise not from reason but from gut feelings and exhibits why liberals, conservatives, and libertarians have such different intuitions about right and wrong, and why each side is actually right about many of its central concerns.
Throughout the conversation Haidt expounds upon the foundations of morality that help explain what drives humans and explores ideas of tribalism and “groupish-ness” and its role in guiding our actions. Haidt also lays out three core ideas that help one to understand exactly what moral psychology is while also spelling out the best way to go about changing another person’s mind (which doesn’t involve appealing to reason!). Ultimately, the discussion veers towards an inspiring culmination where the miracle of human cooperation, and the joy that awaits humans when they trade in anger for understanding, is celebrated.
Episode 97: Happiness is an Option with Dr. Lynda Ulrich
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast, host Michael Shields interviews Dr. Lynda Ulrich, the author of the book Happiness is an Option: Thriving (Instead of Surviving) In the Era of the Internet. Dr. Lynda Ulrich is the founder of Ever Widening Circles (EWC), a website whose aim is to prove that the world is a beautiful place, full of wonderment, discovery, and compassion. Within Ever Widening Circles, one will find articles about remarkable insights and innovations that have gone uncelebrated, and thousands of links to prominent thought leaders who are striving to make the world a better place for humankind. Dr. Ulrich’s aim — which is entirely inspiring — is to offer an alternative to all the negativity found in the news and on social media, negativity that is there not because the world is a negative place, but because it drives ratings, or cultivates clicks. Happiness is an Option, the book that lies at the heart of this episode, is brimming with useful insights to obtaining more joy, less fear, and a brighter future in the age of the internet. This episode features an in-depth conversation about Ever Widening Circles and its dynamic and thought-provoking content, four shifts Dr. Ulrich recommends for better navigating and breaking free from the grip of negativity on the internet, the benefits of being “kinder than you need to be,” the inspiring concept that is the “Conspiracy of Goodness,” and so much more.
Episode 96: Roots and Tings
This episode of Across The Margin : The Podcast serves as an introduction to Roots and Tings, the San Francisco Bay Area-based Revolutionary Culture Music collective. Roots and Tings comprises Quannum and Solesides co-founder, Grammy nominated MC, Lateef the Truth Speaker, acclaimed DJ and producer Jah Yzer, and the multi-talented musician and reggae artist Winstrong. Together, these dynamic artists have created a unique sound fusing elements of dancehall and hip-hop into a stunning reggae tapestry featuring catchy grooves overlaid with subversive lyricism. Roots and Tings music isn’t simply infectious and head nod inducing reggae flecked with hard-hitting hip-hop, it is often politically charged, rife with weighty themes concerning those all too often disenfranchised.
In this episode, host Michael Shields is joined by the accomplished Roots and Tings trio, and together they delve deeply into the origins of the band, their prolific output over the last two years, and the song they crafted in anticipation of “Election Day.” They also discuss the tremendous guest features on their recently released album All of This (including Gift of Gab and Lyrics Born), what’s next for Roots And Tings, and so much more.
Episode 95: Parallels in Autocracy
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast, host Michael Shields interviews Dr. Wolfgang Mack, who shares his vivid memories of living through one of the worst dictatorships in modern history. Dr. Wolfgang Mack knows what causes a country to slide into complete authoritarian control and chaos, and how legitimately elected leaders are able to grab power and gain control. A young boy when the Nazi Party took over Germany, Mack’s lifelong interest in autocratic leadership and dictatorship led to a career that found his business enterprises in several countries under dictatorship rule and he began to dive deeply into the underlying cause of politicians’ abuse of power — the rights and wrongs in the politics of nations — and basic human morality. In his book Parallels in Autocracy: How Nations Lose Their Liberty, which is the focus of this episode, Mack combines his personal journey and political analysis to assess the terrible damage autocracy does to civil society, and provides an overview of our current political systems and present, disconcerting trends in national leadership. Mack couples his recollections with political commentary that assesses the terrible damage that autocracy does to civil society, and how an elected demagogue can nullify the very same democratic mechanism that ushered him into power. Throughout the episode, Mack recounts what it is like growing up under a state controlled by a dictator, discusses several modern day dictators in the western world, and ultimately examines the disquieting trends in America that are veering away from the ideals of Democratic governmentship.
Episode 94: Mucho Much Amore, Dolphin Lover & More with Kareem Tabsch
Kareem Tabsch is an award-winning documentary filmmaker who believes in the power of film to enrich and change lives. His filmmaking focuses on documenting the oft-ignored parts of society, that which isn’t always conventionally beautiful, widely accepted, or deemed normal. As a documentary filmmaker, Tabsch’s works have been official selections of Sundance, SXSW, True/False, Full Frame, HotDocs, Slamdance, AFI Docs, DocNYC, Rooftop Films, and LA Film Fest. His 2015 film Dolphin Lover won the Best Short Documentary Prize at LA Film Fest, and his latest film, Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado (Netflix), a documentary film about the life and career of Walter Mercado, one of the most influential and important astrologists in Latin America and the world, has received wide critical acclaim (and 100% certified fresh from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, 97% audience score). In this episode Kareem and host Michael Shields discuss his unique upbringing in Miami and how he was inspired to be a storyteller, his filling of an art house theater void in Miami by founding O Cinema (a theater dedicated to first-run independent, foreign, art films), the controversy behind his documentary Dolphin Lover, and above all else, the tremendously fascinating life, career, and the cultural phenomenon of Walter Mercado.
Episode 93: The End of Policing with Alex S. Vitale
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast, host Michael Shields interviews Professor of Sociology and Coordinator of the Policing and Social Justice Project at Brooklyn College, Alex S. Vitale. Professor Vitale has spent the last thirty years writing about policing and consults with police departments and human rights organizations internationally. He is a frequent essayist, whose writings have been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Nation, Vice News, Fortune, and USA Today and he has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, NPR, PBS, Democracy Now, and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. Professor Vitale is the author of City of Disorder: How the Quality of Life Campaign Transformed New York Politics and The End of Policing, his latest book which lies at the core of this episode. The End of Policing attempts to spark public discussion by revealing the tainted origins of modern policing as a tool of social control. It shows how the expansion of police authority is inconsistent with community empowerment, social justice — even public safety. Drawing on groundbreaking research from across the world, and covering virtually every area in the increasingly broad range of police work, Professor Vitale demonstrates how law enforcement has come to exacerbate the very problems it is supposed to solve. Expounding upon the ideas put forth in The End of Policing, this episode explores the bevy of myths that surround policing, ones regarding the benefits of diverse police forces, the capabilities of police training, and the idea that the police exist to protect us from the “bad guys.” This episode also surveys the history of policing as we know it, the concept of “broken-window” policing, what Defund The Police authentically means, how alternatives to police such as legalization, restorative justice, and harm reduction can led to reductions in crime, spending, and injustice, and so much more.
Episode 92: Tree Beings
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast, host Michael Shields shines a light on one of his passions: trees. In what amounts to a celebration of the wonders of nature, and specifically some the largest organisms on the planet, this episode honors trees, those majestic giants who benevolently provide humankind with oxygen, store carbon, stabilize the soil, provide shelter to the world’s wildlife, and so much more. Digging deep into the myriad ways in which trees make a difference in our world, Michael interviews Raymond Huber and Sandra Severgnini, the duo behind the soon to be released illustrated book Tree Beings. Raymond Huber is an author, teacher, and editor, and was the Creative NZ-Otago University Writer in Residence in 2018. His work includes acclaimed picture books (Flight of the Honey Bee and Gecko), junior sci-fi novels about bees (Sting and Wings), and the young adult novel Peace Warriors. Sandra Severgnini owned an art gallery and retail store before finally deciding to nurture her lifetime passion and focus on children’s picture books. Her fascination with the magical natural world around her inspires her words and brings sensitivity and humor to her illustrations. Throughout the episode, Michael, Raymond, and Sandra discuss the diverse themes present in Tree Beings, with a focus on four core ideas: Trees give life to the planet; How trees can help minimize the effects of Climate Change; How trees are like Beings; & Trees need our help and protection. In addition, a slew of dedicated scientists, activists, and explorers who helped uncover the mysteries of some of the world’s oldest living organisms are featured in this episode, as well as the ingenious ways in which trees communicate and care for each other, and the planet as a whole.
Episode 91: Words Whispered in Water with Sandy Rosenthal
In this episode of Across The Margin : The Podcast, host Michael Shields converses with the author of the recently released book Words Whispered in Water: Why the Levees Broke in Hurricane Katrina, Sandy Rosenthal. Sandy is a civic activist and founder of Levees.Org, an organization dedicated to educating the American public about levee failures in New Orleans and increasingly around the country. Sandy’s book is the riveting, blow-by-blow story of her battles with the Army Corps of Engineers after defective flood walls broke during Hurricane Katrina, inundating New Orleans, and resulting in over 1,500 deaths and billions worth of damage. Against incredible odds, and facing continuous harassment and deception, Sandy exposed a mammoth federal agency failure and ensuing cover-up. When the protective steel flood-walls broke, the Army Corps of Engineers — with cooperation from big media — turned the blame on natural types of disasters. In the chaotic aftermath, Sandy uncovered the corruption and exposed the entire fatal deceit. In this episode, Michael and Sandy discuss how the Army Corps left the city unprepared prior to Katrina, how they covered up their failure following the storm, and examine just how safe New Orleans is today. In addition, this episode highlights Sandy and Levee.org’s important work outside of Louisiana, specifically in Michigan and California. Join in on an episode that acts as an ode to an authentic hero to the city of New Orleans in a story that proves that the power of a single individual is alive and well.
Episode 90: On Corruption In America with Sarah Chayes
In this episode of Across The Margin : The Podcast, host Michael Shields interviews prizewinning journalist and internationally recognized expert on corruption in government networks throughout the world, Sarah Chayes. Chayes has served as special assistant on corruption to Mike Mullen, former chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as having advised David McKiernan and Stanley McChrystal (commanders of the International Security Assistance Force). She has been a reporter for National Public Radio from Paris, covering Europe and the Balkans. Chayes is the author of The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban and Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security, winner of the 2016 Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She recently penned a book that illustrates the daunting fact that the United States is showing signs similar to some of the most corrupt countries in the world. That book, On Corruption in America: And What Is At Stake, is the focus of this episode, and is one of the most eye-opening and critical books that you will encounter.
From the titans of America’s Gilded Age (Carnegie, Rockefeller, J. P. Morgan, et al.) to the collapse of the stock market in 1929, the Great Depression and FDR’s New Deal; from Joe Kennedy’s years of banking, bootlegging, machine politics, and pursuit of infinite wealth, as well as the Kennedy presidency, to the deregulation of the Reagan Revolution, undermining the middle class and the unions; from the Clinton policies of political favors and personal enrichment to Trump’s hydra-headed network of corruption, systematically undoing the Constitution and our laws, in On Corruption in America, Chayes shows how corrupt systems are organized, how they enforce the rules so their crimes are covered legally, how they are overlooked and downplayed by the richer and better educated, and how they become an overt principle determining the shape of our government, affecting all levels of society. On Corruption in America, and this episode, dramatically highlights what we are all up against.
Episode 89: This Isn’t Happening with Steven Hyden
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast host Michael Shields converses with acclaimed music critic Steven Hyden. Hyden is the host of the podcast Celebration Rock wherein he converses with rock stars and the country’s biggest music writers about what’s happening in rock n’ roll. Additionally, he hosts the podcast Rivals, about the most fascinating feuds in music history, and he is one of the co-hosts of 36 From The Vault (Osiris Media), an excellent Grateful Dead podcast. He has written several tremendous books focused on rock n’ roll including Your Favorite Band Is Killing Me (2016), about famous rivalries in pop music history, and Twilight of the Gods (2018), exploring the history of classic rock. Hyden is a critic for Uproxx and previously served as staff writer at Grantland and an editor at The A.V. Club.
In just a few weeks, Hyden is releasing his latest book entitled This Isn’t Happening, Radiohead’s Kid A and The Beginning of the 21st Century, a book that explores the making and meaning of Radiohead’s groundbreaking, controversial, and epoch-defining album, Kid A. In it, Steven digs deep into the songs, history, legacy, and mystique of Kid A, outlining the album’s pervasive influence and impact on culture, in time for its 20th anniversary. Deploying a mix of criticism, journalism, and personal memoir, Hyden skillfully revisits this enigmatic and alluring LP and investigates the many ways in which Kid A shaped and foreshadowed our current world. In this episode, Michael and Steven talk about what made Kid A so noteworthy and different than anything Radiohead had released prior. They recount multiple meltdowns by the lead singer of Radiohead, Thom Yorke, that directly contributed to the sound of KId A. They converse upon the unique time period that Kid A was born into, where the internet was a far different place than it is today and there existed a certain atmosphere of uncertainty in the air that can be dramatically heard on the album. They explore the struggles the band had in bringing the album to life, the unique relationship between Kid A and Radiohead’s first hit single “Creep,” and a whole lot more. All in all, what is celebrated in this latest episode is an album that is worthy of the sort of thorough examination Hyden gives it in his enthralling new book.
Episode 88: Michael Imperioli & The Nicotine Chronicles
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast host Michael Shields converses with actor and writer Michael Imperioli. Imperioli is best known for his starring role as Christopher Moltisanti in the acclaimed HBO TV series The Sopranos, which earned him a Best Supporting Actor Emmy Award. He also wrote five episodes of the show and was co-screenwriter of the film Summer of Sam, directed by Spike Lee. While best known for his acting, this episode focuses on another one of Imperioli’s gifts, his writing, exploring his contribution to a soon to be released short story collection The Nicotine Chronicles and his debut novel The Perfume Burned His Eyes. The Nicotine Chronicles (Akashic Books), which will be released on September 15th, is edited by Lee Child (best known for his Jack Reacher novels) and also includes stories from some of today’s most prolific writers including Joyce Carol Oates, Jonathan Ames, Eric Bogosian and Cara Black. The Perfume Burned His Eyes is a work of fiction published in 2018 and concerns the atmospheric coming-of-age story of 17-year-old Matthew, whose mother moves them from Queens to a posh apartment in Manhattan in 1976. Join in on an episode that highlights Imperioli’s lesser known, but no less impressive, talent.
Episode 87: Eric Slick’s Wiseacre
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast host Michael Shields converses with multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, and drummer extraordinaire Eric Slick. Slick is best known as the drummer for Dr. Dog (performing on their albums Shame, Shame (2010), Be The Void(2012), B-Room (2013), The Psychedelic Swamp (2016) and Abandoned Mansion (2016)), but his solo work in the last half-decade has been consistently impressive and wholly captivating. This week, Slick releases his latest album Wiseacre, which is named after the location where he became married to singer Natalie Prass, who guests on the album’s mesmerizing single “Closer to Heaven.” While the album features a grouping of airy and enchanting pop-rock songs the are borne of the joy that stems from domestic bliss, Slick delves deeply into self-acceptance and combating your own insecurities throughout the entirety of the album. In this episode, Michael and Eric discuss how personal the Wiseacre project is to him, how the album was birthed (with the help of Grammy-winning producer Jeremy Ferguson), his other solo releases (particularly 2019’s Bullfighter — a song cycle about the first Jewish American matador Sidney Franklin), what Dr.Dog has been up to during quarantine, and a whole lot more.
Episode 86: An Evening with Bukowski Featuring Silvia Bizio
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast the life and legacy of famed poet, novelist, and short story writer Charles Bukowski is explored through an interview with Italian journalist and film producer Silvia Bizio. In 1981, Bizio had the opportunity to conduct an expansive, seven hour interview with Bukowski that was filmed at his home in San Pedro, California, wherein they explored a bevy of subjects including writing, sex, love, and humanity. This conversation ultimately became the basis for a recently released documentary entitled You Never Knew It — An Evening with Bukowski which allows viewers to experience this in-depth, poignant interview that took place at the height of Bukowski’s literary success.
Bukowski, well-known for his novels including Post Office, Factotum, Women, and Ham on Rye, is renowned for brilliantly penning tales concerning the lives of impoverished Americans, the solemn act of writing, relationships with women, and the drudgery of work. He wrote thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories, and six novels, eventually publishing over sixty books throughout his life. In this episode, Bukowski’s legacy is explored through Bizio’s profound insight garnered during their multiple encounters, and in this interview she expounds upon their trusting relationship, the particulars of their discussion that remarkable evening in San Pedro, and the incredible story of how the documentary came to life. Join in an episode which acts as an ode to the “laureate of American lowlife,” Charles Bukowski.
Episode 85: Protest, The Wide Awakes, Black Beuys & Buddhism with Tracey Ryans
In this latest episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast host Michael Shields sits down with activist, philanthropist, businessman, restaurateur, and practicing Buddhist Tracey Ryans for a wide-ranging interview that contemplates the unique moment in time we all inhabit. With a heavy focus on the unfolding global protests for equality and justice and against police violence and corruption, Michael and Tracey expound upon Tracey’s active role in the protests as a member of The Wide Awakes and The Black Beuys Collective. The Wide Awakes, who create in the name of liberation, are a community of critical voices from the fields of art, design, fashion, technology, media, film, music and spirituality aiming to radically reimagine the future and enable self-emancipation. The Black Beuys Collective is a racial justice organization that provides education and resources to help others productively fight against injustices in the world. Beyond his activism, Tracey is a stand up phenomenologist, a practitioner of Tai Chi and Soto Zen Buddhism, a co-owner of multiple long-standing New York restaurants (Miss Lilly’s & La Esquina), and a member of the Hive Collective (which helps companies, nonprofits and individuals maximize their social impact while building their brands) — all of which is touched upon in this dynamic and enlightening episode.
Episode 84: The Future Earth with Eric Holthaus
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast host Michael Shields interviews the author of The Future Earth: A Radical Vision For What’s Possible in The Age of Warming, Eric Holthaus. Holthaus is a leading journalist on all things meteorological and Climate Change who has written regularly for the Wall Street Journal, Slate, Grist, and The Correspondent — where he currently covers humanity’s interconnected relationship with the Earth’s dynamic climate. The Future of Earth is widely considered the first authentically hopeful book about Climate Change, and one that expertly maps out how to reverse the short and long-term effects of this looming catastrophe over the next three decades. Anchored by world-class reporting, interviews with futurists, climatologists, biologists, economists, and Climate Change activists, The Future Earthoffers up a radical vision of our future and displays what the world could look like if we implemented sweeping solutions equal to the scale of the crises we face. In this episode Eric and Michael discuss a bevy of critical ideas present within The Future Earth, such as the idea that the Climate movement is intrinsically woven into Social and Racial justice movements, the concept of a “circular economy,” the power of storytelling in Climate activism, and much more. Ultimately, this episode highlights that now, as the world is rapidly changing, we are given the opportunity to reimagine how our world works entirely — and thus conceive a future in which everyone matters
Episode 83: Billy Martin’s Guilty
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast host Michael Shields converses with American composer, percussionist, visual artist, educator and record producer Billy Martin. Best known as a member of the musical trio Medeski Martin & Wood, Billy Martin recently released an album entitled Guilty, which displays a vast array of his dynamic talents. Co-produced by Rob Reinfurt (aka Night Marcher) Guilty finds Martin playing his own bass riffs for the very first time with the album including outstanding contributions from such musical savants as Marc Ribot (guitar), John Medeski (keyboards), Alexandria Smith (trumpet), Jen Liu (harp), and Martin Dosh (electronics). Throughout the episode, Michael and Billy discuss the ins and outs of the album, his important work with the Creative Music Studio, the crafting of the music video for “Geek Love” (which Martin directed), coming up in the NYC music scene in the ‘80s, and much more.
Episode 82: Defund (& Disarm) The Police
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast, host Michael Shields addresses the current conversation pulsating throughout the United States regarding defunding the police. Defunding the police means different things to different people, but this episode attempts to get to the heart of the matter while also, through an interview with writer and editor D.D. Guttenplan, exploring what a police department would like in an America disarmed. Guttenplan is Editor of The Nation, previously covering the 2016 U.S. presidential election as the magazine’s editor at large and, for two decades before that, was part of its London bureau. His most recent book, The Next Republic: The Rise of a New Radical Majority (Seven Stories Press), which has just come out in paperback, is an extraordinarily intense and wide-ranging account of the recent fall and incipient rise of democracy in America. Recently, Guttenplan penned an article for The Nation entitled “It’s Time To Disarm The Police,” which becomes the focal point of the episode, wherein he condemns the use of unnecessary lethal force on unarmed civilians while probing the lengthy history between armed police and racism. Guttenplan, in his article and throughout this episode, lays out examples where unarmed policing controls crime and minimizes loss of life. Ultimately, this episode envisions a world where the resources and government officials of the people work for the people, and where countless lives are saved from reinventing the way in which society, and in this case, policing, works.
Episode 81: DELANILA’s Overloaded
This episode of Across The Margin : The Podcast finds host Michael Shields in conversation with composer, musician, and performer Danielle Eva Schwob. Originally from London but based in New York, Schwob is a “notable cross-genre composer” (The New Yorker) and “worldly musical chameleon” (TimeOut) with “deep roots in rock music” (NY Times) who writes concert music, avant-garde pop, and film scores. Schwob, who helms that art-pop experimental band DELANILA, recently put forth into the world a captivating album entitled Overloaded, an inventive work of art with cinematic genre-bending flavorings. Co-produced by Schwob and three-time Grammy-winning super producer David Bottrill (Muse, Tool, Peter Gabriel), Overloaded serves as DELANILA’s stunning debut where complex electro-pop arrangements swirl under her bell-like soprano that slips between conversational clarity and eerily angelic musings. In addition to Bottrill, the list of DELANILA collaborators on Overloaded is impressive, including Grammy-winning engineer Emily Lazar (Sia, Coldplay, Haim), top beat programmer and producer Pearse MacIntyre, drummer Aaron Steele (Portugal, The Man), Nick Semrad and Adam Agati of Cory Henry’s Funk Apostles, Jim Orso (Hot Chip), Jennifer Choi (John Zorn), Cornelius DuFallo (FLUX), and more. In this episode, one which contemplates what it means to be a musician and artist in these rapidly changing times, Shields and Schwob expound upon the weighty themes present in the album that confront humankind’s relationship with technology and grapple with feelings of isolation in today’s modern world.
Episode 80: Your Anxiety Beast & You
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast we find host Michael Shields in conversation with clinical psychologist and anxiety disorders / OCD specialist Dr. Eric Goodman. Dr. Goodman, a lecturer in the Psychology and Child Development department at California Polytechnic State University, is the author of Social Courage: Coping and Thriving with the Reality of Social Anxietyas well as Your Anxiety Beast and You: A Compassionate Guide for Living in an Increasingly Anxious World, the book which serves as the foundation of this episode. Ideas and thoughts about how to make peace with the reality of your anxiety are explored with zest in this episode, with the ultimate goal of re-focussing on making your anxiety a better life companion. Following the interview with Dr. Goodman, and to conclude the episode, Shields gets personal and reads an essay (33:30 in) he wrote entitled “ICU,” (originally published at Organic Coffee Haphazardly) that illuminates his intimate battle with anxiety attacks, a side-effect of his father’s own traumatic health problems.
Episode 79: JT Daly & The Voodoo Children
In this episode of Across The Margin : The Podcast we find host Michael Shields in conversation with Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, producer, and visual artist JT Daly. Daly previously fronted the Nashville-based band Paper Route and more recently co-produced K. Flay’s wildly successful album Every Where Is Some Where, including the hit single “Blood in the Cut” (for which Daly received Grammy nominations for Best Rock Song and Best Engineered Album). Daly is onto his next project, a new band called The Voodoo Children who are releasing their debut album this spring entitled Instant Nostalgia. The Voodoo Children could be looked at as a collective, a team of talents that JT has worked with throughout his career. The phenomenally talented lineup includes his partner Jo Meredith (Sad Penny), Daniel Tashian (producer and co-writer with Kacey Musgraves), K.Flay, Bantug, Abby Wright, Angela Plake (Bandit), Oran Thornton, Josh Lippi, his longtime engineer Josh Lovell, and Gregg Alexander of the New Radicals. While The Voodoo Children certainly persist as the main focus of the interview, Michael and JT embark on a career spanning interview where they expound upon JT’s early influences, his solo album entitled Memory, the soundtrack he composed for ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary film Chuck & Tito, and much, much more.
Episode 78: Let The People Pick The President
Wouldn’t it be thrilling to go to the polls on Election Day, regardless of what U.S. state you live in, knowing your vote and voice will count just as much as everyone else’s? In this latest episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast, host Michael Shields meticulously examines the role the Electoral College plays in elections through an interview with Supreme Court journalist and New York Times editorial board member Jesse Wegman. Wegman recently penned the insightful and important book Let The People Pick The President, a thoroughly researched and engaging call to arms that makes a powerful case for abolishing the antiquated and antidemocratic Electoral College. In Let the People Pick the President he demonstrates how as citizens we can at long last make every vote in the United States count — and restore belief in our democratic system. In this episode, Michael and Jesse delve into how the Electoral College functions and the way in which it was conceived by the Founding Fathers. They also examine the many myths associated with its workings, how the Popular Vote could eventually be implemented in choosing the president (hint: The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is involved), and ultimately, what the United States would look like when the final obstacle from the imperfections and built-in equalities of the nation’s founding was eradicated for good. Essentially they ask: How can we tolerate the Electoral College when every vote does not count the same, and the candidate who gets the most votes can lose?
Episode 77: Three Seconds in Munich
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast, host Michael Shields interviews author David Sweet about his latest release, Three Seconds in Munich: The Controversial 1972 Olympic Basketball Final, which recounts the most disputed contest in the history of the Olympics — the 1972 gold-medal basketball game between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). To many, the 1972 Olympics are remembered primarily for a far graver matter, when eleven Israeli team members were killed by Palestinian terrorists, stunning the world and temporarily stopping the games. This unfathomable event is meticulously detailed in Sweet’s book, laying the groundwork for an in-depth, extraordinary expose of the most scandalous sporting finish in Olympic history, where a decision made by a group of talented young athletes to shun their Olympic medals ended up haunting them for the remainder of their lives. Join in on a conversation that delves into the history of the Olympics and pro basketball, is steeped in cold war politics and, ultimately, explores the costs of standing up for what you know to be right.
Episode 76: Drilled News & The Mad Men of Climate Denial
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast, host Michael Shields sits down for an eye-opening interview with journalist and podcast host Amy Westervelt. Amy is the Editor-in-Chief of Drilled News, a Climate accountability website that investigates various drivers of delay on Climate action. Amy is also the host of the Drilled podcast that is one of the few narrative podcasts about Climate Change. Season 1 of Drilled focused on the Climate research conducted by oil companies examining when and how they shifted from studying the problem to denying it. Season 2 followed a community of crab fishermen as they became the first industry to sue Big Oil. Season 3, which is the main focus of this episode, chronicles the 100-year history of fossil fuel public relations campaigns and ties them to the propaganda we still see today.
In this episode Michael and Amy dissect the nefarious tactics employed for decades by fossil fuel propagandists, specifics about the spin masters behind these methods, the unique symbiotic relationship between Big Tobacco and fossil fuel companies, and much, much more. You are not going to want to miss this episode, one that exposes plainly how the fossil fuel industry knew for years that they were destroying the planet, yet chose to value profit over human life, and took extreme measures to cover it all up.
Episode 75: Journeys To The Edge of Consciousness
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast, host Michael Shields sits down with producer and director Rob Harper to discuss his latest project Journeys to the Edge of Consciousness. This thought-provoking feature is a part-animated documentary film which whisks viewers into an animated trip into the depths of the human mind with three brave pioneers of the 1950s/60s: Aldous Huxley, Timothy Leary, and Alan Watts. Journeys to the Edge of Consciousnessfeatures animated narrations of some of these sapient explorers most pivotal psychedelic trip reports, and intertwines interviews with modern psychedelic luminaries such as Amanda Fielding, Ben Sessa, Dennis McKenna, Gabor Mate, Rick Doblin, and Graham Hancock. The film explores three psychedelic trips that changed Western culture forever and begs the question: “What can expanded states of mind teach us about ourselves, the world and our place in it?”
In this episode Michael and Rob discuss the ins and outs of the stories told in the film and then expound upon how psychedelics — while certainly not for everyone — can be a tool to not only open people’s minds to the ways of the world, the spiritual, and what really matters in life, but also potentially help people struggling with anxiety, depression, or post traumatic stress disorder.
Episode 74: Still Chasing with Comedian Mike Finoia
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast, host Michael Shields sits down with comedian Mike Finoia for a career spanning interview. Finoia is a standup comedian based out of NYC where he hosts the music and comedy podcast Amigos (Osiris Media). He is also a writer and producer for the hidden-camera series Impractical Jokers on TruTV. Recently, Mike Finoia and Michael Shields brought to life a limited-podcast series entitled Still Chasing, featuring a deep dive into fanaticism and obsession with a focus on the famed rock n’ roll band Phish. This episode begins with a look back at the Still Chasing project, exploring the podcast’s intricacies and reception before expanding upon Finoia’s comedy career — from its inception where a trying break-up and a badly broken arm steered him towards comedy, to recently taking the stage at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Join in on a podcast that highlights Finoia’s introspective, honest, and always hilarious brand of comedy.
Episode 73: In Flowers Through Space with E Scott Lindner
In this episode of Across The Margin : The podcast, host Michael Shields sits down with New York City-based composer, producer and audio engineer E Scott Lindner to discuss his forthcoming album In Flowers Through Space, as novel a piece of art you will ever come upon. In Flowers Through Space is an experimental concept album based around the mathematical Fibonacci sequence, a spiraling numerical concept often found in nature and associated with beauty and harmony. Recorded at Lindner’s Pinch Recording studio, the number of classical and jazz musicians on each song increases to mirror the Fibonacci sequence — beginning with 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21. The result is a diverse collection of tracks that blend classically-inspired musical forms with contemporary jazz performance, creating an evolving and cinematic listening experience that calls to mind the work similar innovators such as Kamasi Washington or Johnny Greenwood. In this episode listeners will come to know E Scott Lindner’s influences and musical background before being led into the heart of In Flowers Through Space via an in-depth deconstruction of how this fascinating piece of art was brought to life.
Episode 72: The G Love Interview
Across The Margin: The Podcast offers up a career-spanning interview with G. Love, famed frontman of the band G. Love & Special Sauce, now on the cusp of their latest album release, The Juice. Born Garrett Dutton in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, G. Love grew up equally enthralled with folk, blues, and rap, devouring everything from Lead Belly and Run D.M.C. to John Hammond and the Beastie Boys. After migrating to Boston, he and his band, Special Sauce, broke out in 1994 with their Gold-selling self-titled album debut, earning widespread critical acclaim for its bold vision and adventurous production. Over the next twenty-five years, G. Love would go on to release seven more similarly lauded studio albums with his band the Special Sauce (plus four solo albums on his own), solidifying his place in music history as a genre-bending pioneer. On January 17th, 2020 G. Love & Special Sauce are set to release their latest album, the bluesy, political-fueled The Juice. Recorded in Nashville with co-writer and co-producer Keb Mo, The Juicefeatures appearances by a slew of heavy hitters in the music industry, including Robert Randolph, Marcus King, and Roosevelt Collier. G. Love is also currently celebrating the anniversaries of two milestone albums — the self-titled G. Love & Special Sauce (1994) and Philadelphonic (1999) — and this episode takes a look back on his diverse and successful career while looking forward to an exciting future to come.
Episode 71: Skid Row Marathon
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast, host Michael Shields interviews director Mark Hayes and producer Gabriele Hayes, the filmmakers behind the recently released documentary Skid Row Marathon. Skid Row Marathon tells the tale of a criminal court judge who starts a running club on L.A.’s notorious skid row and begins training a motley group of addicts and criminals to run marathons, and soon lives begin to change. The deeply affecting documentary follows four runners as they rise from the mean streets of L.A. to run marathons around the world, fighting the pull of homelessness and addiction at every turn. Their story is one of hope, friendship, and dignity. In the episode, Michael, Mark, and Gabriele discuss at length the benevolent, inspiring judge at the heart of the film (Judge Craig Mitchell), the many challenges it took to bring the documentary to life (particularly in gaining the trust of the subjects from skid row), the many moving and encouraging life lessons one can learn from the documentary, and much, much more.
Episode 70: The Reverend Shawn Amos
This episode of Across The Margin : The Podcast presents an interview with singer, harmonica player, producer, and all-around exemplar of American roots music, The Reverend Shawn Amos. Amos, a fascinating and insightful personality with deep knowledge of blues & roots music, has been featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition, ABC News and Good Day New York, among others. As a performer, Amos has been on a mission to unite people while speaking truth to power through the blues for the past decade. Before that, he made a name for himself as a producer for artists like Quincy Jones and Solomon Burke. Throughout his illustrious career, Amos has been an evangelist for the American musical tradition of the blues in all its forms. His commitment to this populist, down-home approach to his craft has been showcased throughout his long-running Kitchen Table Blues Youtube series. Since 2018’s acclaimed, politically charged The Reverend Shawn Amos Breaks It Down, Amos has been on the road nonstop with The Brotherhood — a band of legit stars including drummer Brady Blade (Dave Matthews, Indigo Girls), bassist Christopher Thomas (Norah Jones, Carly Simon, Macy Gray), and longtime guitarist Chris “Doctor” Roberts. In this episode, host Michael Shields and The Reverend Shawn Amos explore Amos’ childhood growing up in 1970s Los Angeles, his diverse musical influences, his forthcoming album (Blue Sky) and much, much more.
Episode 69: Beyond The Known
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast, host Michael Shields sits down with longtime Across The Margin: The Podcast contributor Georg Guidotti to examine the latest release from Paul Selig, Beyond The Known: Realization. As the story goes, in 1987 a spiritual experience left Paul Selig clairvoyant. Since then, Selig has established himself as one of the foremost spiritual channels in the self-help world. Expanding on and transcending his previous work, the first volume in the Beyond the Known trilogy, Realization, is composed of the pure, unedited words of “The Guides” as they share their wisdom and knowledge through Selig. It serves a psychological-spiritual guide to take readers beyond the perceived limitations of accepted reality and open their minds to ultimate manifestation. Throughout the episode, which marks George Guidotti’s 6th appearance on Across The Margin: The Podcast, Michael and George reveal how they personalized the timeless teachings found in Realization while expounding upon the ways the message of The Guides can be interpreted and applied to everyday life. Before the episode comes to its conclusion, a comparison is made between the weighty themes in Realization to Phish frontman Trey Anastasio’s Ghosts of The Forest project, which leads to an in-depth discussion concerning friendship, death, and the potential of an afterlife.
Episode 68: Climate Change & The Future with Samuel Miller-McDonald
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast, host Michael Shields converses with author and researcher Samuel Miller-McDonald about Climate Change, exploring its intricacies from a vast array of crucial and compelling angles. Samuel Miller-McDonald is a regular essayist at such notable publications as Current Affairs, The New Republic, and The Baffler (to name but a few!). Currently, Miller-McDonald is working towards his PhD at the University of Oxford, researching the intersection of grassroots movements and energy transition. Through a deep dive into Samuels hard-hitting, timely, and important articles, this episode explores the absurdities of our current fossil-fueled food system, the under-discussed scandal of the U.S. bipartisan commitment to fossil fuels, how a new generation of authoritarian leaders are using Climate Change to seize power, what millennials can do to fight Climate Change, and ultimately, what decarbonized, climate-resilient, and equitable cities of tomorrow could look like.
Episode 67: The War and Treaty Episode
Recently The War and Treaty — the husband and wife duo of Michael and Tanya Trotter — were named Emerging Act of the Year at the 2019 Americana Music Association Awards in Nashville. In the wake of this prestigious honor, Across The Margin : The Podcast is proud to feature an interview with the extremely talented duo that comprise this exciting act. In what amounts to a celebration of the soulful, heartfelt gospel-inspired music of The War and Treaty, this episode draws you into the world of a remarkably talented act that appear to be just warming up. As The War and Treaty, Michael and Tanya serve up funky bass lines, keys, lap steel, acoustic strings, and stripped-down percussion to create a swampy Southern soul bed for the couple’s superior vocals. Their latest album, Healing Tide, is an enchanting testament to the group’s talents, and an inspiring tour de force of a release rife with themes of unity, devotion, and above all else, love. In this episode, Michael and Tanya Trotter reveal the details behind their fateful meeting and discuss their musical and personal influences all while expounding upon their remarkable backstories (which includes the extraordinary tale of Michael’s time in the U.S. Army and at war in Iraq which unbelievably steered his life toward a career in music). Join in on a tribute to one of the most intriguing and affecting up and coming bands in all of Americana music.
Episode 66: Ida Mae With Christopher Turpin
In this episode, Across The Margin: The Podcast celebrates the Nashville-based roots rock outfit Ida Mae through an interview with one half of the duo, guitarist and vocalist Christopher Turpin. Ida Mae, comprising the teaming of Christopher Turpin and vocalist Stephanie Jean Ward, recently released their debut album entitled Chasing Lights which blends elements of vintage Delta blues and gritty rock ‘n’ roll with bold modern arrangements and audacious punk swagger. Ida Mae’s music is sincere and honest, where a classic Americana sound is bolstered by rocking British blues moments. Notably, Turpin and Ward achieved a considerable amount of stardom throughout Europe with the alternate rock band Kill It Kid, but despite the successes the duo decided to move on from Kill It Kid, following their hearts towards playing the sort of Americana roots rock music that inspired them to become musicians in the first place. In this episode, the conversation centers around Ida Mae’s musical influences, their decision to move on from Kill It Kid after a major record deal turned sour, the intricacies of their stunning debut album (crafted with legendary producer Ethan Johns), life on the road (with Greta Van Fleet, Blackberry Smoke, Marcus King, The Lone Bellow, etc.), and much, much more.
Episode 65: Penny and Sparrow With Andy Baxter
In this episode, Across The Margin: The Podcast introduces you to the Texas-based Americana duo, Penny and Sparrow, through an interview with one-half of the incredibly talented group, lead singer Andy Baxter. Penny and Sparrow teams Baxter with guitar virtuoso Kyle Jahnke, bringing to life what Baxter describes as “scholastic folk,” where alluring and intricate compositions are paired delicately with lyrical content that explores ideas of religion, love, loss, and increasingly themes concerning coming to terms with the distressing truths of the modern world. Penny and Sparrow’s music is rife with swelling strings and enticing harmonies, and in this episode, Michael and Andy focus in on Penny and Sparrow’s latest release Finch, exploring the bewitching soundscapes and dissecting the weighty, affecting lyrics that comprise the album. Finch is a touch of a departure for Penny and Sparrow, one which finds the duo combining folk and r & b rhythms all while maintaining their soft, lush approach to music. Listeners will learn more about the Penny and Sparrow’s novel sound, their influences, their literary lyrical approach, the fascinating link between Penny and Sparrow’s excellent single “Eloise” and Iron and Wine’s “Walking Far From Home,” and much, much more.
Episode 64: William S. Burroughs & The Cult of Rock ‘n’ Roll
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast host Michael Shields sits down with author Casey Rae to learn more about his deeply insightful release, William S. Burroughs and the Cult of Rock ‘n’ Roll. William S. Burroughs’s fiction and essays are legendary, but his influence on music’s counterculture has been less well documented — until now. Examining how one of America’s most controversial literary figures altered the destinies of many notable and varied musicians, William S. Burroughs and the Cult of Rock ‘n’ Roll reveals the transformations in music history that can be traced to Burroughs. In this episode, Michael and Casey bring to life Burroughs’s parallel rise to fame among daring musicians of the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s, when it became a rite of passage to hang out with the author or to experiment with his cut-up techniques for producing revolutionary lyrics (as both the Beatles and Radiohead did). They converse on the plethora of musicians influenced by Burroughs, the aleatory literary style known as the cut-up technique championed by Burroughs that was employed by many notable artists, the amount of research it took Casey to bring this book to life, and much, much more. Join in on a celebration of William S. Burroughs and the Cult of Rock ‘n’ Roll, a book that finally gives Burroughs his just due in the pantheon of rock ‘n’ roll!
Episode 63: The Katie Hartman Interview
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast host Michael Shields sits down with actor, writer, and comedian Katie Hartman. Katie has starred in film and television, most recently in HBO’s series High Maintenance, TV Land’s Younger, TBS’s Search Party and the Netflix film The Week Of. In 2018 Katie was selected as a New Face of Comedy for the prestigious Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal. She was a staff writer and performer on the WGA nominated Paid Off with Michael Torpey on truTV and a correspondent/writer for Hearst Media’s Seriously.tv. Her hilarious web series Made to Order was listed as one of the “6 Brilliant Web Series” by Marie Claire. In this episode, Michael and Katie converse about her influences, her extraordinarily talented siblings, her assorted and impressive comedy/ acting projects, their shared political angst, where the phrase “going, going, gone!” was coined, and much, much more.
Episode 62: National Parks: Our Living Treasure
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast, host Michael Shields, with the help of author and National Park Service (NPS) authority Dr. Gil Lusk, celebrate the national treasure that is the United States’ National Park System. Dr. Lusk is a retired National Park Service employee with thirty-five years of experience. For his efforts, he was awarded the U.S. Department of Interior’s two highest performance awards: the Meritorious Service and Distinguished Service awards, the latter presented by the Secretary of Interior and the President. Dr. Lusk’s book, National Parks: Our Living Treasure (A Time For Concern), recounts the origins and the rich history of the NPS, while also ushering readers into NPS’s current conflicted era, where an abundance of issues endanger the important mission and preservation goals of the NPS. In this episode, Michael and Dr. Lusk converse over what makes the National Parks and the National Park Service so special, break down the crucial concerns facing the National Park Service (particularly politically), and climatically, Dr. Lusk suggest a series of urgent changes that are needed to bring the NPS back to its prime and ensure the protection of one of America’s most wondrous treasures.
Episode 61: Between Me and My Mind With Steven Cantor
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast host Michael Shields interviews filmmaker Steven Cantor about his latest film Between Me and My Mind, a documentary providing an in-depth and personal look at the life and career of Phish frontman Trey Anastasio. Steven Cantor is best known as the director of such hit documentaries as Dancer (2017), Chasing Tyson(2015), loudQUIETloud: A Film About Pixies (2011), and What Remains (2007). He is also the producer of such films as STEP (2017), Devil’s Playground (2002), Reporter (2011) and Unraveled(2012). He is the founder of NY-based Stick Figure Productions, and the topics of his films have encompassed Willie Nelson, ballet star Sergei Polunin, photographer Sally Mann, boxers Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, musician James Blake, and more.
Between Me and My Mind finds Cantor following Trey Anastasio as he writes songs and prepares for the band’s 2017 New Year’s Eve concert at New York’s famed Madison Square Garden. In addition, it tracks Anastasio through the writing and recording of his deeply personal new solo album Ghosts of the Forest, which came out in April. This podcast episode offers a behind the scenes look at a film that offers an in depth look at the life and career of Anastasio while shining a light on the massive heart and creative force behind a modern day rock n’ roll legend.
Episode 60: A Diet of Worms with Eric Rasmussen
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast author Erik Rasmussen joins in on a conversation about the art of fiction writing, a discussion born through an in-depth examination of his novel A Diet of Worms. Erik Rasmussen is the Editor-In-Chief of At Large, and the former Deputy Editor at Man Of The World. His articles, essays, interviews, and photographs have appeared in a myriad of fashion magazines, literary journals, and websites. He is currently at work on a collection of short stories and his second novel: Recess For Idiots. His first novel, A Diet of Worms, tells the story of a young cynic’s misadventures on the hunt for something to believe in. It is a coming-of-age story inspired by the themes of religion and addiction that have spilled into Erik’s life. In this episode, Erik discusses the challenges of writing fiction, digs into the weighty themes present in A Diet of Worms (religion, sexuality, economic inequality, addiction, etc!), expounds upon his influences and stylistic choices, and a whole lot more!
Episode 59: Mike Gravel’s Twitter & The Gravel Teens
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast features an interview with David Oks, the campaign manager of Democratic presidential nominee Mike Gravel. Mike Gravel is a former U.S. Senator from the state of Alaska and is most famous for being a fierce critic of the Vietnam War and who was responsible for reading the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record, a bold act that put his career at risk. Gravel is also remembered for his 2008 presidential run where he famously challenged his peers at the debates by championing an end to the Iraq war and advocating for increasing direct democracy. Initially not interested in running for president again, Oks, a senior in high school, approached Gravel and urged him to run, eventually earning himself a role as campaign manager. He then was given the keys to Gravel’s Twitter account which has been employed aggressively and sharply to take other presidential candidates to task for their policy record and to provide poignant thoughts on the state of progressive politics in general. The Gravel campaign’s goal, fascinatingly enough, is not to win the presidency but to push the democratic candidate’s policies further to the left and to hopefully get Gravel on stage for the Democratic Party debates to challenge candidates about the issues. Throughout this episode host Michael Shields and Oks discuss his motivations to work with Gravel, the specifics of Gravel’s progressive platform, the concerns and shortcomings of Centrism in America, the candidates that Gravel hopes to propel towards the presidency through his campaign tactics, and the ways in which you can contribute to Gravel’s campaign if so inclined.
Episode 58: Brainiac: Transmissions After Zero With Eric Mahoney
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast host Michael Shields sits down with filmmaker/musician Eric Mahoney to take a look back at the legacy and genius of the the Dayton-based indie-rock band Brainiac (3RA1N1AC). On the cusp of a major label deal and breaking into the mainstream, Brainiac’s lead singer and driving force, Tim Taylor, died tragically in a car accident halting the band’s trajectory and forever affecting everyone in Taylor’s orbit. Mahoney’s documentary, Brainiac: Transmissions After Zero, explores Brainiac’s rise to prominence and dissects the intricacies of their unique sound, one that was light years ahead of its time. The documentary intimately whisks viewers into the lives of those closest to Taylor as they attempt to recover from, and process, the fallout from such a monumental loss. Brainiac: Transmissions After Zero celebrates the life and creativity of one of rock music’s unsung heroes, exploring with humor and heart the way in which individuals cope with the changes that extreme and sudden loss precipitate.
Eric Mahoney is a Dayton, OH born musician and filmmaker now residing in Brooklyn, NY. He fronted the band Murder Your Darlings and his film work has been screened at Tribeca, Cannes, and numerous other festivals around the world. His film, Brainiac: Transmissions After Zero, features interviews with artists who were deeply affected and influenced by Brainiac such as Fred Armisen (who played drums in the Chicago band Trenchmouth before his SNL career), Nirvana/PJ Harvey producer Steve Albini, The National’s Matt Berninger, Cedric Bixler-Zavalaformer of At The Drive-In and The Mars Volta, Hole bassist Melissa Auf der Maur, the Jesus Lizard’s David Yow, and more. In this podcast Michael and Eric discuss an often forgotten band whose influence can be felt throughout the music industry today, and introduce listeners to a documentary that offers a sense of closure and a path to healing for those forever altered by that fateful night when Tim Taylor and his genius was lost.
Episode 57: The Bounce and The Echo With Ian Johnson
In this episode of Across The Margin:The Podcast listeners are introduced to the latest release from ATM Publishing, The Bounce and The Echo, with an interview with author Ian Johnson. Ian is a former pro basketball player who, for the first three decades of his existence, saw his life revolve entirely around the game. Ian played high school basketball at the prestigious Oak Hill Academy alongside Carmelo Anthony, was a star player during his four years at Davidson College in the lead up to the Stephen Curry era, and went on to play five years of professional basketball in Europe. He won multiple championships and a large number of personal accolades along the way, but Ian spent his career living a double life, both as a committed athlete who thrived on competition and as a skeptical observer who struggled to accept that he was devoting his soul to a game. Ian was a star in a cutthroat system, yet also an unwitting cog, his outward personality indentured to a sport, a fact he didn’t fully understand until he tried to walk away from the game at the age of 27. The Bounce and The Echo is a memoir enriched by the enthralling history of the sport of basketball, from its inception unto its current state. It is the story of one person’s attempt to discover himself anew while on a venture to find peace with a game he so desperately wanted to love. The Bounce and The Echo is a story for every athlete who has ever picked up a ball and wondered why, and a book for anyone who has ever wanted to know what happens to a star athlete once the spotlight fades away. In this episode, we learn what compelled Ian to write such a vulnerable and telling memoir, what the word “Dying” in the subtitle of the book truly refers to, how Ian’s struggles with mental health threatened his career and well-being, what the game of basketball and sports in general can better do to prepare athletes for life’s challenges, and much, much more.
Episode 56: A Night At The Garden With Marshall Curry
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast listeners are whisked back in time to the evening of February 20th, 1939, a night where 20,000 Americans rallied in New York’s Madison Square Garden to celebrate the rise of Nazism — an event largely forgotten from American history. This chilling and distressingly relevant to today’s times event is the subject of the recently released, Oscar nominated short film “A Night At The Garden,” and this episode features an interview with the filmmaker behind the film, Marshall Curry. Curry’s body of work is remarkable, from the 2002 Oscar-nominated Street Fight (which chronicled Cory Booker‘s 2002 mayoral campaign), to the Oscar-nominated If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front (about an environmentalist who faced life in prison for burning two timber facilities), and onto his work on Mistaken For Strangers (centering on the band The National), all of Marshall’s films are engaging, revealing to the human condition, socially conscious, and riveting.
While Curry’s extensive career and projects are discussed, this episode’s focus was aimed most sharply at “A Night At The Garden,” a distressing documentary short made entirely from archival footage filmed that fateful night. This affecting film transports audiences to this alarming gathering and shines a light on the power of demagoguery and anti-Semitism in the United States. In this episode Michael and Marshall discuss how the footage was unearthed, the unique way in which Marshall edited and presented the footage, and the frightening relevance of this event, so many years removed from today, to the current political climate in America.
Episode 55: Wasn’t That A Time With Jesse Jarnow
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast host Michael Shields welcomes author Jesse Jarnow to the podcast to discuss his latest work, Wasn’t That a Time: The Weavers, the Blacklist, and the Battle for the Soul of America. Jesse Jarnow’s writing on music, technology, and culture has appeared via Pitchfork, Wired.com, Rolling Stone, the New York Times, and elsewhere, and he is a contributing editor at Relix. He is the author of Heads: A Biography of Psychedelic America and Big Day Coming: Yo La Tengo and the Rise of Indie Rock. Jesse hosts The Frow Show on the independent Jersey City radio station WFMU and is the host of the podcast Alternative Routes (Osiris Media). His latest, The Weavers, the Blacklist, and the Battle for the Soul of America, is a deeply insightful book which details the remarkable rise of Pete Seeger’s unlikely band of folk heroes, from basement hootenannies to the top of the charts, and the harassment campaign that brought them down.
Exploring how a pop group’s harmonies might be heard as a threat worthy of decades of investigation by the FBI, Wasn’t That a Time turns the black-and-white 1950s into vivid color, using the Weavers to illuminate a dark and complex period of American history. With origins in the radical folk collective the Almanac Singers and the ambitious People’s Songs, the singing activists in the Weavers set out to change the world with songs as their weapons, pioneering the use of music as a transformative political organizing tool.
Episode 54: The Year In Music, 2018
With the final episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast of 2018, host Michael Shields curates a pairing of conversations that celebrates the varied and wondrous music released this year. Joined by the head of ATM’s Art Department, editor/artist Chris Thompson, the Top 50 Albums of 2018 as selected by the staff of Across The Margin is analyzed, where marvelous releases by the likes of Kamasi Washington, Janelle Monáe, Phosphorecent, Khruangbin, David Byrne and Spirtualized (and more!) are heralded. Up next, Michael converses with music connoisseurs, and hosts of the podcast Beyond the Pond, Brian Brinkman and David Goldstein. Beyond the Pond is a podcast that introduces listeners to a vast array of bands and artists, starting with specific pieces of improvisation by the Vermont-based band Phish. The aim of Beyond the Pond is to take music fans out of their specific comfort zones and, with the aid of their wealth of musical knowledge, steer people towards a more diverse and eclectic smattering of music. Join in on a music-centric odyssey of an episode, where the sonic bounties of today are trumpeted and rightfully earn their appreciation.
Episode 53: The Emperor’s Handbook
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast, ATM’s Book Club is back in session and this time it is The Emperor’s Handbook by Marcus Aurelius that is placed squarely beneath the microscope. The Emperor’s Handbook is a book that holds within it an abundance of enduring advice from one of the most powerful leaders in all of history. Marcus Aurelius was at the helm of the Roman Empire at its height, yet he remained true to a virtuous code of ethics and was unchanged by the wealth and power that debased many of his predecessors. The Emperor’s Handbook is awash with many of the foundational teachings that aim to ground a person, and steer their thoughts and actions towards a path or righteousness, and this episode serves as an ode to Aurelius’ sage convictions. To assist in the dissection of The Emperor’s Handbook, Across The Margin once again turns to the always inspiring George Guidotti who returns for his fifth episode.
Episode 52: End Climate Silence With Dr. Genevieve Guenther
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast host Michael Shields interviews the Founder & Director of EndClimateSilence.org, Dr. Genevieve Guenther. EndClimateSilence.org is a volunteer organization dedicated to helping the media link stories about Climate-Change impacts to Climate Change itself. Mobilizing through digital activism, they are an organization motivated by the awareness that Climate Change possesses a grave danger to humanity and that an immediate transition from fossil fuels to safe energy is necessary in order to preserve a planet that supports civilization. EndClimateSilence.org recognizes that climate change has begun to hurt people, and it is the media’s job to report on that fact.
In this episode Michael and Dr. Guenther dive deeply into the importance of, and fallout surrounding, the U.N Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC approved by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the abject failure of the media in correctly reporting about Climate Change, the wildfires ravaging California and how they relate to Climate Change, the Midterm elections and how they will affect Climate Change policy, Dr Guenther’s article “Who Is the We in “We Are Causing Climate Change”?, and much more. Join in on one of the most urgent and timely episodes of Across The Margin: The Podcast yet!
Episode 51: What Really Happened? With Andrew Jenks
In this episode of Beyond The Margin, host Michael Shields interviews award-winning filmmaker, TV producer, writer and podcaster Andrew Jenks with an episode focused on his latest project WHAT REALLY HAPPENED? Andrew Jenks is a prodigious storyteller who found success early on in his career. His participatory documentary Room 355, set in an assisted living facility, was picked up by HBO when he was just 19 years old. Following that he crafted additional documentaries aiming attention on the U.S. Criminal Justice System (dream/killer), the struggles of living with HIV/AIDS (It’s Not Over), and a bevy of other extraordinary stories (The Zen of Bobby Z, All American Family, Posterized). The New York Times has remarked that Andrew’s work “shines a light on populations that many of us would just as soon forget,” and now, he is utilizing his storytelling prowess and research-based investigative reporting expertise in the podcasting realm with WHAT REALLY HAPPENED?, a podcast where Andrew examines and contextualizes famous figures and historical events, while discovering untold stories and unraveling newfound narratives. Andrew often times throws a wrench in the gears of history, getting either closer to the truth or creating more questions. WHAT REALLY HAPPENED? is executive produced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Dany Garcia of Seven Bucks Productions, Brian Gewirtz, Andrew Jenks and Cadence 13.
Episode 50: Active Measures With Jack Bryan
To mark its 50th episode, Beyond the Margin tackles one of the most pressing concerns of modern times: Russian influence in the United States’ 2016 presidential election and its ongoing sway on the President of the United States. To accomplish this in a comprehensive manner, host Michael Shields interviews filmmaker Jack Bryan, the figure behind one of 2018’s most talked about documentaries. Bryan is the director, writer, and producer of Active Measures (Available on iTunes and Hulu now!), a documentary which exposes a 30-year history of covert political warfare devised by Vladimir Putin to disrupt, influence, and ultimately control world events and democratic nations through cyber attacks, propaganda campaigns, and corruption. Bryan’s film is an important work of storytelling that provides a rich context for Russia’s interference by tracing the history of its government’s shrewd geopolitical machinations.
Jack Bryan is a dynamic filmmaker, and one intent on telling a story that must be told for the sake of Democracy’s well being in America. In this episode, Michael and Jack unravel the true depth and scope of “the Russia story” as seen in Active Measures. So prepare to dive deep into an extremely important episode that thoroughly explores one of the wildest and most comprehensively orchestrated scandals in political history.
Episode 49: The Deuce With Gary Carr
In this latest episode of Across The Margin’s podcast, host Michael Shields dives into the seedy underworld of 1970’s New York City, with the help of the incredibly talented actor Gary Carr, in an episode that revolves around HBO’s series The Deuce. The drama series, whose second season premieres September 9th at 9 p.m., is a show about the legalization, and subsequent rise of, the porn industry in America. Created by David Simon (The Wire, Treme, Show Me A Hero) and writer/producer George Pelecanos, The Deuce chronicles a unique period of time in America when the sex trade became mainstream and porn’s popularity exploded. This episode provides a glimpse into what lies ahead in The Deuce’s second season, while marveling at the weighty themes present in the entire series, from the ills of capitalism to the misfortunes of gentrification and to the corruptions of the justice system in America.
Gary Carr is a multi-talented actor, director and musician, and he shares his insight into The Deuceand his role as C.C., a pimp, in this terse but informative episode. Carr is best known for his role as Sergeant Fidel Best in Death in Paradise and as the charming jazz musician Jack Ross in Downton Abbey, and his brilliant turn as C.C. in The Deuce is one for which he will be remembered for years to come. Join in as Michael and Gary dissect the psychology between pimps and their girls, the unity that exists between those that dwell in society’s margins, and the humanization of those often shunned by society that can be found in The Deuce, plus much, more!
Episode 48: The Realness With WNYC’S Mary Harris
In this latest episode of Across The Margin’s podcast, host Michael Shields introduces listeners to The Realness, a podcast series exploring the life and death of the rapper Prodigy which focuses in on his lifelong battle with Sickle Cell Anemia. To gain substantive insight into all the series has to offer, this episode features an interview with one of the hosts of The Realness and executive producer of WNYC’s health unit, Mary Harris. Michael and Mary dig into Prodigy’s life story in this episode, and dissect the broader issues surrounding Sickle Cell Anemia — a condition that overwhelmingly affects black Americans and is continuously underfunded — including medical racism and institutional neglect.
Prodigy stood as half (with Havoc) of the Queensbridge rap duo Mobb Deep, one of the most celebrated rap groups in the genre’s history. He was a unique and authentic artist, and a storyteller at heart having published a memoir, a crime novel, and even a cookbook (Commissary Kitchen). Mobb Deep is best known for their second album The Infamous, a bona-fide classic and one of hip-hop’s most influential and treasured albums, but the discussion you will come upon in this episode reaches far outside the realms of Prodigy prodigious talents, and deeply into the condition that affected almost every part of his life: from the sound of his rhymes to the circumstances of his death. So dive into an episode that celebrates the life of a truly remarkable individual (“the classic Greek hero” – Mary Harris), and also serves as an eye opening look at race and institutional neglect in medicine.
Episode 47: The Osiris Music Podcast
In this episode of Across the Margin: The Podcast, host Michael Shields takes a step back from the typical format that regularly comprises the journeys Beyond The Margin, and once again digs into what it means to be a member of the Osiris Media Group. Osiris is a community of podcasts and podcasters that connects enthusiasts of the arts, culture and music with an eclectic and fascinating array of podcasts and live experiences. In Episode 43, Michael dove into the Arts, Culture and Comedy podcasts of Osiris, and to further round out Beyond The Margin’s exploration of the experiences Osiris has to offer, this episode focuses in on the podcasts that are musically inclined, a bevy of offerings that celebrate jazz, indie and psychedelic rock, bluegrass, and more (and unequivocally, Osiris offers the most dynamic and compelling collection of podcasts dedicated to Phish, the Grateful Dead and Ween you will find anywhere)!
Osiris Media’s specialty, its unparalleled strength, is its music podcasts, and this episode acts as a commemoration of this potency. Packing it in and offering insight into a plethora of Osiris’s library, this episode features micro-interviews with Brad Tenbrook from The Helping Friendly Podcast, the God Ween Evan team (Paul Gutkowski, Katie Hartman, Will Nunziata, and, of course, Evan Kaufman), The Tour’s Ted Canova, Phil Freeman of Burning Ambulance Podcast, Jonathan Hart of Brokedown Podcast, Staci Smith of Strangers Stopping Strangers, Ira Haberman of The Sound Podcast, Rob Turner of Inside Out With Turner & Seth, Brian Brinkman of Beyond The Pond, Dawn Jenkins of Phemale-Centrics, and Harvey Couch of The Bluest Tape. So join in on a sonic journey that goes well Beyond The Margin, and deep into the music-laden world of Osiris!
Episode 46: Christian Niedan’s Hollywood Interviews
In this episode of Beyond The Margin, host Michael Shields sits with down writer, editor, and film historian Christian Niedan to talk about his recently-concluded, eight part “Hollywood Interview” series published by Across The Margin. From 2009-2014 Christian ran the film interview site Camera In The Sun, and more recently he published interviews with writers, poets, photographers, comedians, and other creatives on the website of Oakland-California-based literary nonprofit, Nomadic Press, for which he also volunteered as an event coordinator for poet/music showcases around Brooklyn. In addition, Christian recently published several serialized works about film and television for the print/online culture publication At Large Magazine, all of which fashion Christian with an unparalleled wealth of knowledge about the film industry. In this episode, the unique Hollywood artists who are the subjects of Christian’s interviews are discussed (L.Q. Jones, Hampton Fancher, Alison Martino, William Lustig, Penelope Spheeris, Walter Mosley, Larry Cohen, and Thom Anderson) and with it listeners are treated to a behind the scenes looks at filmmaking and what has inspired today’s greatest storytellers. So join in on an episode tailor made for film buffs and storytellers of all kinds!
Episode 45: John Perry Barlow’s Mother American Night
In this episode of Across The Margin’s podcast, host Michael Shields, with the help of recurring guest George Guidotti, explores the recently released memoir of the late, great John Perry Barlow. As exhibited by his memoir, Mother America Night: My Life In Crazy Times, John Perry Barlow was an extraordinary human, who throughout his remarkable life was entirely and wonderfully multifaceted. He was a poet and essayist, a cattle rancher, a political activist, a freedom fighter who championed an independent internet, a lyricist for the Grateful Dead, and a founding member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Freedom of the Press Foundation. There are few individuals in the last fifty years whose life has been at the center of so many cultural and political touchstones as Barlow has, and Mother America Night, and thus this episode, acts as a window into the life of a steadfast American icon.
In this episode, Michael and George delve into Mother America Night, which will forever stand as an essential text for understanding the historic, far-reaching, and influential life of John Perry Barlow. Expanding upon his remarkable experiences and unique encounters, from his early days as a cattle rancher in Wyoming, to clubbing with Andy Warhol in New York, to hanging with the Dead on Haight-Ashbury and beyond, this episode pulls you deep into the riveting life and journeys of Barlow and offers a glimpse of the remarkable memoir he left behind. To finish off the podcast, Barlow’s songwriting is enthusiastically digested, and his profound and much-celebrated list of The 25 Principles of Adult Behavior is examined and praised. So join in on an ode to a true original, and one of the most interesting people to ever walk the planet.
Episode 44: Who Is John Gosslee?
Simply put, John Gosslee is an author, poet, and editor. But with his prodigious and ever-expanding presence in the literary world, we here at Across The Margin believe such an elementary definition of Gosslee will not suffice. With this in mind, we felt the need to get to know more about such a unique and ambitious artist. In order to dig down to the root of the question regarding who exactly John Gosslee is, it was imperative to get a first hand account of the various projects he helms, the books he has written, and the myriad of ventures he has embarked upon. In this latest episode of Beyond the Margin, we take a journey into the mind of a true original and an all around literary citizen.
This is an episode where Gosslee’s early days birthing the renowned literary magazine Fjords Review are recalled, his time at Pank Magazine (“the riskiest magazine on the literary scene”) is discussed, and where we delve into all his work with C and R Press and take a look at his recent tenure as the Editor In Chief of the New York based Arts publication Quiet Lunch. Amazingly, Gosslee oversaw all these endeavors while he was in the midst of releasing a collection of deeply thought-provoking and engaging books including: 12 Sonnets For the Zodiac (nominated for the National Book Critic’s Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize), Blitzkrieg, Analog, the controversial Out Of Context, and Fish Boy, and after touching on each book and to wind down the interview, Gosslee’s exciting forthcoming release, 50 Contemporary Women Artists: Groundbreaking Contemporary Art From 1960 to Now, was discussed as well as his collaboration with Across The Margin in Notes on A Poetry Film I never Made (ATM Publishing, Coming Soon…). Want to learn more about a tireless artist capable of such a prolific output? — find out more on this latest journey Beyond the Margin.
Episode 43: The Osiris Podcast
In this episode of Across the Margin: The Podcast, host Michael Shields takes a step back from the typical format that regularly comprises the journeys Beyond The Margin, and digs into what it means to be a member of the Osiris Media Group. Osiris is a community of podcasts and podcasters that connects enthusiasts of the arts, culture and music with an eclectic and fascinating array of podcasts and live experiences. Across The Margin is thrilled about its newfound relationship with Osiris, and eager to finally spell out some of the details!
In an episode that features three interviews with a trio seasoned and knowledgeable podcasters, Michael delves into the Osiris podcasts that are not musically focused (an episode dedicated to the music-oriented programming of Osiris is forthcoming!). First up, is an interview with Bob Crawford, co-host of the The Road To Now. The Road to Now explains the history behind important events and outstanding individuals of modern times. Created in 2016 by Dr. Benjamin Sawyer of Middle Tennessee State University and Bob Crawford, a founding member of the Grammy-nominated band The Avett Brothers, The Road to Now has brought historians, politicians, journalists and artists to the table for conversations that illuminate the map that brought us to where we are today. Next, listeners are introduced to Fear Of A Craft Beer Planet, a craft beer podcast hosted by lifelong friends Jay Rose, James “Richard” Rabic, and Rob Forczek, through an interview with Jay Rose. Jay and Rob have been in the NJ beer business for decades and Richard is a seasoned broadcaster, and together they converse upon the business of beer, discussing at length the parallels between the beer and the music industries. Beers are knocked back, stories are told, and chaos generally ensues by the end of every episode. Lastly, a glimpse into the podcast Daddy Unscripted is offered through an interview with host Tim Wheaton. Daddy Unscripted is a podcast about being a dad. Each episode is a loose conversation with the host and his guest talking about their history with their own dad, how they approach being a dad, and how they manage doing so within their walk of life. This podcast touches on music, culture and all things parenting.
Episode 42: Borders With Journalist Johnny Harris (Vox)
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast, the stories that are born amid the lines that humans have used to divvy up the planet are explored. In an discussion centered on Borders, a Vox series which examines the human stories behind physical and political borders, one of the most important episodes of Beyond The Margin is birthed. In order to dig deeply into the stories told in Borders, host Michael Shields enlisted the help of the storyteller behind the series, Johnny Harris. Johnny is an Emmy-nominated journalist and filmmaker based in Washington, DC, where he makes web videos for Vox.com, reporting on interesting trends and stories both domestically and around the globe. Johnny’s visual style blends motion graphics with cinematic videography to create content that explains complex issues in relatable ways.
Throughout their discussion, Michael and Johnny discuss the origin of Borders and then promptly embark on a journey around the globe — from Haiti to Japan, Norway to Guatemala and to Nepal and Spain — as they walk through some of the specifics of each intriguing and eye-opening episode. As stated on Border’s website: “Borders can encourage exchange or instigate violence. They can provide refuge, or they can criminalize those that cross them. Borders symbolize a nation’s anxiety about the world, and as political leaders regulate the lines on the map, there will be human stories at the mercy of those choices.” Listen in on a profoundly meaningful episode, rife with stories that absolutely must be told.
Episode 41: Mass Appeal’s Rapture (Netflix) and Word Is Bond (Showtime) With Hip-hop Icon Sacha Jenkins And Documentarian Ben Selkow
Across The Margin: The Podcast explores the making of and significance of two hip-hop related productions, Word is Bond and Rapture (Mass Appeal Productions), with an interview with director and hip-hop icon Sacha Jenkins and director/producer Ben Selkow. In an episode taped in the recording studio at Mass Appeal’s offices in lower Manhattan, host Michael Shields had the opportunity to discuss with Sacha and Ben the soon to be released eight-episode Netflix series Rapture. The must-see series is an inside and deeply personal look into the lives and careers of a bevy of hip-hops’ brightest shining stars such as Nas, 2 Chainz, Just Blaze, and Logic, to name a few. Following a discussion about Rapture, Sacha guides listeners into the intricacies of Word is Bond, a documentary he directed that doubles as a love letter to hip-hop lyricism. It’s a film that takes aim at a specific aspect of hip-hop culture, keying in on the poetry that has continuously and purposefully glided over beats as hip-hop music exploded into the mainstream. Join in and dive deep with us into the world of hip-hop, in an episode that not only takes a look behind the scenes of two profound and important hip-hop productions, but allows for the art form’s nuances, genius, and social impact to be more fully understood and appreciated.
Episode 40: The Power Of Myth With George Guidotti
In this episode Across the Margin welcomes George Guidotti, returning for his third trip Beyond the Margin. In a previous episode, George helped host Michael Shields critically dissect author G. Edward Griffin’s weighty novel, The Creature from Jekyll Island, which promotes undisclosed theories about the motives behind the creation of the United States’ Federal Reserve System. Following that, George and Michael came together for an episode in which they dove deeply into Sebastian Junger’s novel Tribe: On Homecoming & Belonging, a book that examines humanity’s innate attraction to tribal societies and explains why we are stronger when we come together, and how that can be achieved in today’s divided world. Now, they are back with another book-centric episode, this time exploring writer Joseph Campbell’s deeply insightful and affecting book The Power of Myth.
The Power of Myth deals with the universality and evolution of myths in the history of the human race and the place of myths in modern society, and in this podcast Michael and George address the book’s greater themes while exploring the importance of myths to humankind, nature’s connection to humans as depicted in myths, “The Hero’s Journey,” and much, much more. Join in, as the past, present and future of mythology is assessed, in an episode that acts as a tribute to, and an investigation into, Campbell’s brilliant and enlightened worldview.
Episode 39: Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams With Writer and Producer Kalen Egan
In this episode of Across the Margin’s podcast, prolific science-fiction author Philip K. Dick’s work is celebrated via a discussion centered on the exciting new anthology series now streaming on Amazon titled Electric Dreams. Electric Dreams is a series based on the writings of Philip K. Dick1, and in order to fully discern all the splendor Electric Dreams has to offer, Beyond the Margin host Michael Shields enlisted the help of one of the executive producers and writers of the series (as well as The Man In The High Castle), Kalen Egan. More than just one of the creative minds involved in bringing Electric Dreams to life, Kalen also works with Electric Shepherd Productions, a production company that works in partnership with Philip K. Dick’s daughter, Isa Dick Hackett, and is dedicated to stewarding and adapting Dick’s vast catalog for television and film projects.
In this podcast, Michael and Kalen discuss the lengthy process and intricacies behind the spawning of Electric Dreams, as well as the extensive band of creative talents involved in such a dynamic collaboration. As the podcast progresses, Kalen expounds upon an episode of Electric Dreams that he penned with his writing partner Travis Sentell, titled “Safe and Sound” (based on the short story “Foster, You’re Dead!”). Through describing the weighty social, political, and philosophical themes of the episode, Kalen highlights the depth of substance and insight that one encounters when working intamtely with Dick’s source material. So join in as Beyond the Margin unveils all the wonders that Electric Dreams has to offer, an anthology series that acts as a tribute to the genius and legacy of Philip K. Dick.
Episode 38: Rodger Kamenetz’s Natural Dreamwork
In this episode of Across the Margin’s podcast, award-winning poet, author and teacher Rodger Kamenetz ventures Beyond the Margin to discuss a subject he has devoted his entire life to: dreams. Kamenetz, a prolific and bestselling author of ten books, is best known for The Jew in the Lotus, which follows the story of rabbis making a holy pilgrimage through India to meet with the Dalai Lama. His account of their historic dialogue became an international bestseller, prompting a reevaluation of Judaism in the light of Buddhist thought. But of all of Kamenetz’s works, the one that drew in Beyond the Margin host Michael Shields was The History of Last Night’s Dream, a novel that delves into a mysterious inner realm and suggests the idea that dreams are not only intensely meaningful, but hold essential truths about who we are.
When The History of Last Night’s Dream was released in 2007, Oprah Winfrey interviewed Kamenetz on her “Soul Series” program, professing, “What’s so exciting about this book is that it talks about how there’s a whole other life that we are living when we sleep and that our dreams are there as offerings and gifts to us if we only recognize what the dreams are there to teach us.” Building off this idea, Rodger and Michael discuss Rodger’s work and their shared passion for dreams, his journey to becoming a dream guide and expert, the study and practice of Natural Dreamwork (“The Wild Medicine!”), the fallacies of dream interpretation, the healing power of dreams, the function and potential of images, the link between poetry and dreams, Rodger’s forthcoming release which is influenced by his dream work (a taste can be found now at Across the Margin!), and much, much more. So journey Beyond the Margin and come face to face with the extraordinary life-changing power of dreams.
Episode 37: A.B. Lugo’s Spanish Coffee: Black, No Sugar
In this episode of Beyond the Margin, we welcome into the studio author, poet, and award-winning actor and playwright A.B. Lugo to discuss his latest release Spanish Coffee: Black, No Sugar (LCG Press, 2017). Joining in on the podcast are Jonathan Marcantoni, publisher and co-founder of LCG Press, who edited and published Lugo’s latest book, as well as author Patrick Dalton — fashioning the podcast as an author’s roundtable centering on A.B.’s deeply engaging and affecting book.
Digging deep into the origins of Spanish Coffee, we learn that A.B.’s book was composed amid an extremely trying time for the author. Deciding to confront the deaths of his parents only months apart from each other, A.B., to cope with his grief, dedicated himself to writing a poem for each week of 2016, his first year without his parents. From birthdays, holidays and anniversaries, to the waves of social strife, upheaval and tragedy affecting the world, A.B. recounts his thoughts and feelings throughout the year, and what is birthed from such a gut-wrenching endeavor is a story about grieving, an exploration of what comes afterward, and ultimately, a beautiful written and heartfelt book of poetry. Join in as Beyond Margin expounds upon the brand of poignant art all too often born against the backdrop of personal loss and formidable pain.
Episode 36: Psychedelic Integration with Katherine MacLean
In this episode of Beyond the Margin, host Michael Shields welcomes in studio Katherine MacLean, a research psychologist with expertise in studying psychedelics and meditation. Katherine is the founding director of the Psychedelic Program of New York where she leads trainings in psychedelic harm reduction. A true and passionate psychedelic ambassador, Katherine has worked with MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies), The Center for Optimal Living, and the Brooklyn Psychedelic Society in order to further psychedelic research and offer patients a safe place to receive treatment and education. Her Ted Talk, entitled “Open Wide and Say Awe,” details the ways in which psychedelics allow for deeply enriching experiences with long lasting improvements in well-being, greater confidence in making life changes, and reductions in psychedelic distress.
In the podcast Michael and Katherine discuss Katherine’s extensive research background and experience with psychedelics, the reasons for, and benefits of, psychedelic integration, the stigmas surrounding psychedelics, RAFT meditation (a process she originated), microdosing, “openness to experience,” the potential benefits of psychedelic use, and much, much more. So dive deep as Beyond the Margin examines a tool that could possibly, and profoundly, enrich lives, with one of the foremost experts on the topic.
Episode 35: Tribe, Tragedy & Community with George Guidotti
In this episode Across the Margin welcomes back in studio George Guidotti, a seasoned and enlightened software executive and sage mind. In the previous episode featuring George, he and Beyond the Margin’s host Michael Shields critically dissected author G. Edward Griffin’s weighty novel, The Creature from Jekyll Island, which promotes undisclosed theories about the motives behind the creation of the Federal Reserve System. Once again using an enlightening book as the source material for the podcast, in this episode George and Michael delve deeply into Sebastian Junger’s Tribe: On Homecoming & Belonging, a book that examines human’s innate attraction to tribal societies and explains why we are stronger when we come together, and how that can be achieved in today’s divided world.
Expounding about the depth of knowledge that can be found within Tribe, this podcast features discussions about the benefits of close-knit communities, the ability within humans to thrive amid hardships and during tragedies, the reasons people have emigrated from civilized society to tribal communities throughout time, the need for purpose in life, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the community soldiers find when at war, the catharsis involved in giving, and the need to re-convince people (specifically in the United States) that their interest have more in common than they have in conflict. George and Michael even find the time to discuss the hope that can be found in British philosopher Alan Watt’s work. So dive deep, as Beyond the Margin explores human beings eternal quest for meaning and connection in life.
Episode 34: Trevor James Zaple’s Interstitial Burn-Boy Blues
In this episode host Michael Shields conducts an interview with author Trevor James Zaple to delve into the latest release from ATM Publishing, Interstitial Burn-Boy Blues. Illuminating listeners as to the unique, but strangely familiar, world of Trevor’s novel, and elaborating on the propulsive plot and the extraordinary characters to be found within, this episode of Beyond the Margin acts as a primer for those curious about the wild, thought-provoking ride that is Trevor’s latest release. Throughout the podcast, Michael and Trevor discuss the various inspirations behind Interstitial Burn-Boy Blues, which range from Bruce Springsteen, Aristotle, and authors John Steinbeck and Margaret Atwood, and they also unpack some of the weightier themes present in the novelette, from income inequality and American restlessness, to vigilante justice, climate change and beyond. Dive deep, as Beyond the Margin takes you on a journey through the impending American West, a land crippled by war and environmental ruin in an episode that acts as much as a preview to Trevor’s exciting new book as it does a warning about the devastating effects of climate change (or as Margaret Atwood describes it — “everything change!”)
Episode 33: Game of Thrones, Take Two
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast, host Michael Shields welcomes back to the studio Across the Margin’s own GoT Guru, Geoffrey Golia, as well as writer and Thrones buff Krissy Trujillo. This trio, ATM’s GoT squad, once again, digs deeply into all things Game of Thrones in the wake of Season 7’s tension-filled finale. Back due to popular demand following Beyond the Margin’s GoT-themed Episode 32, which prepped viewers for the commencement of the 7th season, this latest episode recaps the season and explores some of the more dramatic and jaw-dropping developments in Westeros.
In this episode, Michael, Geoffrey, and Krissy provide a shared insight into the world of Game of Thrones and discuss the deeper and underlying meanings of the events that transpired now that Winter has finally arrived. The GoT squad put forth their thoughts, predictions, and hopes for the next (and final) season, as well as addressing the abundance of critiques and grievances that the seventh season of Game of Thrones was wrought with. So, buckle in as Michael once again obsesses over Euron’s boat, Krissy’s enduring love for Sansa is reaffirmed, and Geoffrey’s fascination with Jaegon’s gluteal muscles comes to light, as Beyond the Margin takes you through a fitting end to Game of Thrones’ seven week takeover of Across the Margin.
Episode 32: The David Carl Interview
In this episode of Beyond the Margin, host Michael Shields welcomes into the studio actor and comedian David Carl. For the past five years, David has been writing and performing his own solo work with Michole Biancosino as co-creator and director. Currently, you can catch David in Trump Lear every Saturday at Under St. Mark’s Theater in New York City, and you can also find him playing the part of Gary Busey (Pappas!) in Point Break Live. His performance of David Carl’s Celebrity One-Man Hamlet was a breakout hit of the 2014 New York International Fringe Festival, receiving an extended run at Baruch College and an award for “Overall Excellence in Solo Performance.” In 2015, David and actor/comedian Katie Hartman created a dark musical comedy called David and Katie Get Re-Married, and in October 2016, David played Donald Trump at Laugh Boston in Trump Takes On Boston after playing him for a year in Road to the White House at the People’s Improv Theater. These projects all run in tandem with all the film & television, music, and voiceover work that David tirelessly pursues.
During the podcast, Michael And David dig into the origins and the ins-and-outs of Trump Lear, discuss Carl’s early acting career and his journey into and through the New York comedy scene, and as the podcast progresses, David opens up about the challenges and thrills of his craft, the side jobs rife with life lessons that enabled his artistic career, and the motivations and the vigor required to impersonate huge personalities such as Donald Trump and Gary Busey. So dive deep in another installment of Beyond the Margin, with an episode that offers both laughs and a weighty insight into a cunning comedic mind.
Episode 31: The Game of Thrones Episode
ATM welcomes to the studio Across the Margin’s own GOT Guru, Geoffrey Golia, and writer and Thrones buff Krissy Trujillo, to dig into all things Game of Thrones. Geoffrey has been Across the Margin’s Game of Thrones expert for the past two seasons, utilizing his profound expertise to deconstruct and make sense of the episodes. He is the host of the trivia night A Trivia of Ice and Fire: Presented by the Upjumped Sellswords and the foremost GOT authority you will likely encounter not named George R.R. Martin. Krissy has contributed articles to Across the Margin centered around film (“For Your Consideration: La La Land”), television (“My Dearest Gilmore Girls”), the LGBTQ community in America (“Safe Spaces”), and of course Game of Thrones (“Queen of the North”).
On this episode Michael, Geoffrey, and Krissy meticulously dissect the season premiere (“Dragonstone”), consider a handful of fan theories and their plausibility, propose where they feel the series may be heading in its final two seasons, and much, much more. Jumping off topic to conclude the podcast, Michael asks Geoffrey to let the listeners in on his day job, where he works at Getting Out Staying Out, an incredible Not-for-Profit that works to reduce recidivism in New York City and aid men aged sixteen to twenty-four at Rikers Island Correctional Facility to become productive members of the community (learn more about GOSO here!) Join us as Beyond the Margin explores a world rife with backstabbing, dragon fire, and where the night is dark and full of terror…
Episode 30: Rass Kass & El Gant – The Jamo Gang Interview
In this episode host Michael Shields, as well as oft-co-host Brian Sachson, spend time with two remarkably gifted emcees, Ras Kass and El Gant. Ras Kass is a true hip-hop pioneer, a remarkable wordsmith who throughout his fabled career has remained socially conscious. His intellectual approach to hip-hop has earned him immense respect from his peers and fans as one of the best lyricists of all time. He is a member of the hip-hop supergroup The HRSMN along with Canibus, Kurupt, and Killa Priest, and is a member of the group Golden State Warriors with Xzibit and Saafir. El Gant is an incredibly talented New York-based emcee who established himself by appearing on the full length LP The Originators with the legendary hip-hop group and production duo The Beatnuts, and by touring with the best in the business, including Jay-Z as well as appearing on records with many of hip-hop’s most notables.
Ras Kass and El Gant have teamed up with producer J57 to form the group The Jamo Gang, and to commence this podcast, Ras Kass and El Gant reveal the origins of the project and let us know what we can expect once the EP is released (Listen to the first single, “Here We Go Again,” featuring featuring Mobb Deep/Alchemist affiliate Big Twins here!). While this episode dwells in the realm of hip-hop, it also delves into many weighty political topics, focusing in on the Trump administration’s ills, the delicacy of race relations in America, the recurrence of acquittals of police officers charged in unjustified killings, and much, much more. So dive in as Beyond the Margin marries the political and the musical, while introducing an exciting new project by two of hip-hop’s veteran wordsmiths.
Episode 29: Climate Change, Two Ways
In an episode separated into two distinct halves, but dedicated entirely to the science of climate change, host Michael Shields interviews two prominent and passionate meteorologists who have made the study of climate change their life’s work. The first half of the podcast features an interview with John Morales, the renowned Chief Meteorologist at NBC6 in South Florida. John (@JohnMoralesNBC6) is a three time Emmy Award winner and the longest tenured broadcast meteorologist in South Florida. He is one of a select few broadcast meteorologists elected to be a prestigious Fellow of the American Meteorological Society (AMS), and has earned an AMS Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Advance of Applied Meteorology. In 1997, John participated in Vice President Al Gore’s White House conference on global warming and climate change and John had the opportunity to return to the White House at the invitation of President Barack Obama in 2014 for the release of the National Climate Assessment because of his fabled contributions. His passion for communicating the risks associated with climate change is resolute, and in this podcast John expounds upon the reasons for and the risk associated with the global concern, and he also discusses multiple scenarios where climate change is affecting Planet Earth at this very moment.
In the second half of the podcast, Michael takes the time to hear the other side of the argument concerning the issue of climate change with help from veteran meteorologist Joe Bastardi (AccuWeather, WeatherBELL). Joe (@BigJoeBastardi) is one of the most prominent skeptics within the growing movement to curb climate change. He has famously clashed with Bill Nye on the topic, and he can be seen regularly sharing his opinions on CNN and Fox News. His viewpoints are steeped in his meteorological studies, and his suspicion of man-made global warming has made him a hero of the right, and a villain by those on the left. Michael and Joe’s discussion is expansive and allows for those who have yet to be exposed to the argument in opposition to what has become the consensus across the globe about climate change to better comprehend the division in understanding.
Episode 28: A Bit Of Housekeeping (Six Months Across the Margin, 2017)
This episode delves into all the happenings at the magazine the first half of 2017. Expounding upon all the fiction, non-fiction, poetry and more that can be found Across the Margin, Michael and Chris steer the listener towards a few of their favorite stories published this year, including deeply affecting pieces by Cameron Finch (“We Are Not Made Of Glass”), Christina Rosso (“Exposure”), Miriam Hamilton (“Manosphere”), Donald Hubbard (“Ridge”), Roger Gude (“Leon Is Going To Die”), Patrick Dalton (“Anatomy of Shadows”), Bonnie Wilkins Overcott (“You Can Do Anything to Them”) and William Lucas (“Reunion”).
Indulging their passion for music, Michael and Chris also dig into several articles that are a part of ATM’s Twenty Years Later series, celebrating albums by Radiohead, Yo La Tengo, Elliott Smith, and Nick Cave, and then later hinting at their selections from ATM’s forthcoming article regarding the best songs of 2017 (so far!). So dive deep, and join us on a journey that travels both Beyond and Across the Margin, with an episode that includes not just one, but two, special announcements concerning the future of ATM.
Episode 27: The Boundless Wonders of Jordan
The 27th episode of Beyond the Margin features an interview with Omar Banihani, Marketing Manager at the Jordan Tourism Board. In his current role, Omar handles the design and implementation of consumer and trade advertising campaigns, as well as forming strategic trade marketing partnerships to increase travel to Jordan. As the tour guide for the podcast, Omar shines a bright light on the lands of Jordan, opening up the listener’s eyes to the extensive marvels (both natural and manmade) and the rich, vibrant culture of an oft-misunderstood country.
While digging into the history, the people, and the boundless wonders that await a tourist in Jordan (particularly, the City of Petra!), we get to know the country through the personal experiences of Omar, a man who now considers both Jordan and the Unites States home, and who can specifically expand on the dual experience of being a Middle Easterner in the United States and an American in the Middle East.
Episode 26: The Climate March & 100 Days of Trump
On the eve of both the 2017 People’s Climate March in Washington D.C. and the day marking Trump’s 100th day as President of the United States, host Michael Shields is joined by frequent co-host Brian Sachson (and later on, in the second half of the podcast, is joined by Across the Margin cohort Christine Roden!) to wax political and discuss their motivations for attending the People’s Climate March, and then subsequently dig into their views surrounding the pros and cons of protest marches in general, all while stressing the need for action in the face of our planet’s looming environmental ruin.
In an episode which is divided into two parts, the first half recorded prior to the march in D.C., and the second half recorded post march in Baltimore, MD, President Trump’s first 100 days in office are analyzed, the president’s achievements (or lack thereof) are examined, and the administration’s incompetence and the inherent danger of mixing policy making and ignorance are placed directly in the line of fire.
Episode 25: Into The Heart of the Gamba Forest
Across the Margin introduces you to the exciting and eclectic world of GAMBA. GAMBA stands for Generating Authentic Momentary Boundless Art, and is the brainchild of founders Melissa Hunter Gurney and Christopher Carr. Melissa is a Brooklyn-based independent writer as well as a high school English teacher in public schools reaching from Miami, San Francisco, Venezuela and now Brooklyn. Although she defines herself as a writer, she dabbles in painting when the characters she creates in her novels and stories drive her to the brush. Her written work (which she describes as “fiction because there is no truth”) explores the multi-faceted aspects of being a woman and an artist in today’s world and can be found in various independent magazines including The Opiate, Those That This, Pank, At Large Magazine, Brilliant Short Fiction and Across the Margin, where we featured her story, “Whiskers Beyond the Pot.” Christopher is a medievalist and the quintessential Brooklyn indie artist. He’s a photographer, an emcee, and the founder of Brooklyn Wildlife (an event planning/creative firm specializing in indie/alternative art and music). Christopher uses his photography as a way to gain insight into various aspects of culture that others may never experience or be exposed to. Aspects that while not immediately apparent, are real, legitimate and nonetheless meaningful. Christopher has been an independent hip-hop musician for the past fifteen years as well as a beatmaker, poet, event host and promoter, while at the same time playing various roles in the creation, production and presentation of music. As a creative partnership Melissa and Chris founded GAMBA Magazine, GAMBA Z’s Artist Residency and GAMBA Forest (an art gallery and event space in Greenpoint, Brooklyn).
In this podcast host Michael Shields makes a visit to the GAMBA Forest to learn more about Melissa and Christopher’s art and inspirations, as well as the bountiful and diverse events held in the Greenpoint, Brooklyn art space. Michael, Melissa and Christopher dive into the early days of GAMBA Magazine (including the charming story of how the founders met!), the challenges of combating norms in art and life, motivations and process in creating, Christopher’s recent life-altering bike accident and much, much more.
Episode 24: Attack on the Fed with George Guidotti
Across the Margin welcomes in studio George Guidotti, a seasoned and enlightened software executive who has advised and served registered investment consultants and financial professionals throughout his lengthy career. George guides host Michael Shields, who wades deep outside of his comfort zone and into murky financial waters, to discuss the mystifying inception, and potentially dubious intentions, of The Federal Reserve of the United States. Utilizing George’s vast knowledge of the inner workings of the banking industry, the duo digs into The Federal Reserve from the bottom up, discussing what in fact The Federal Reserve is, why it was conceived, and its benefits and numerous imperfections.
In a conversation that begins lighthearted, where the practice of meditation is lauded, and that ends equally blithesome with a hopeful discussion about humans’ innate desire to unite, what occurs in the meat of this podcast is an in-depth, and often eye-opening, discussion about greed and misconduct. Utilizing and critically dissecting author (and “far-right conspirator”) G. Edward Griffin’s weighty novel, The Creature from Jekyll Island, which promotes undisclosed theories about the motives behind the creation of the Federal Reserve System, this podcast attempts to get to the bottom of the innermost, and often obscure and controversial, workings of arguably the most influential institution in the United States. Join in as Beyond the Margin takes dead aim at the way money is employed and manipulated in the United States (as well as much, much more!), in an “Attack on the Fed!”
Episode 23: DJ Trackstar of Run the Jewels
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast, host Michael Shields conducts an interview with Gabe Moskoff, better known to fans and the hip-hop community as Trackstar the DJ. Trackstar is best known for his prolific mixtape work and as the touring DJ (and unofficial third member) for Run the Jewels (RTJ), the rap supergroup composed of El-P and Killer Mike. Trackstar has performed at hundreds of venues and dozens of festivals all over the world, including Madison Square Garden, Coachella, and Glastonbury Festival. Along with longtime collaborators Run the Jewels (which has never performed with another DJ), DJ Trackstar has also appeared on Late Night with David Letterman (twice), Conan O’Brien, the NME Awards, the BBC, and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Trackstar has released over one hundred and fifty mixtapes, including collaborations with Royce da 5’9, Big Boi, Killer Mike, El-P, Lupe Fiasco, Hot97’s Peter Rosenberg, Pete Rock and Camp Lo, amongst others, and he is the man behind the popular RAP FAN clothing line. In this podcast Michael and Trackstar converse about their shared love for hip-hop and traverse through Trackstar’s notable career, eventually coming upon the remarkable story of how he first came to know Killer Mike, forging a relationship which ultimately led to his becoming the touring DJ for Killer Mike and then Run the Jewels. Disclosing what it is like to be the “non-famous guy” amid the RTJ phenomenon, and expounding on what an unbelievable experience it has been to be taken on such a remarkable ride, Trackstar offers up a unique perspective of a true hip-hop and rap fan who is authentically living every hip-hop junkie’s dream.
Episode 22: Spanning the Globe with Timothy Konrad
In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast, host Michael Shields, with help from BTM regular Brian Sachson, dig into life as a ski bum and the profound benefits of a livelihood brimming with travel in an interview with Timothy Konrad, Founder and CEO of Unofficial Networks. Unofficial Networks hails itself as a “ski bum’s guide to outdoor news and entertainment” and is an increasingly popular outdoors website with a focus on skiing and snowboarding. In addition to his work with Unofficial Networks, Tim advises on strategic growth and development at gCaptain, currently the world’s largest online maritime publication, and produced the cult-classic ski-film G.N.A.R. The Movie. He also works in association with SkiDUCK, a volunteer based non-profit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of disadvantaged and financially underprivileged youth through teaching and sharing the joys of skiing and snowboarding. In this latest outdoors-themed episode, Mike, Brian and Tim delve into the pacifying effects of a life spent deeply immersed in nature, expound upon the astonishing expanse of The Dolomites in Northern Italy, and Tim, ultimately and impactfully, provides an answer to the question: Where can one go to embark upon the ultimate ski adventure?
Episode 21: The Refugee Crisis & America’s Cold Shoulder
Appalled by the Trump Administration’s lack of empathy for those in need of urgent help, host Michael Shields and Across The Margin: The Podcast regular Brian Sachson explore President Trump’s failed attempt at halting the flow of refugees into the U.S. and the impetus that underscored this unsuccessful executive action. Opening on the global stage, Michael and Brian dig deep into the worldwide refugee crisis, assessing the authentic threat (or lack thereof) refugees entering the United States pose while expounding on the rigorous vetting process they must endure to gain entry. To help illustrate the decency and goodwill of refugees throughout the world and the depth of their struggle, this episode of Beyond the Margin includes an interview with Kim Proal, a volunteer who works in conjunction with the Norwegian-based NGO, Drapen i Havet (“A Drop in the Ocean”), that provides aid to Syrian refugees in Greece. In this podcast’s second act, Kim walks the listener through the refugee camps she has worked in, providing insight and understanding into the daily lives of those she helps and in doing so she draws attention to the continuing struggles of those she grew close to, people Kim describes as “the the kindest, most generous humans” she has ever met.
Episode 20: Micah White & The End of Protest
Host Michael Shields conducts an interview with Micah White, a lifelong activist who co-created Occupy Wall Street, a global social movement that spread to eighty-two countries, while an editor at Adbusters magazine. His essays and interviews on the future of protest have been published internationally in such noted publications as The New York Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post, Poder (Brazil), and The Los Angeles Review of Books. He has been a featured guest on major network television shows such as Bill Maher’s Politically Incorrect, the BBC’s Newsnight and The National, Canada’s flagship nightly current affairs broadcast. Widely recognized as a pioneer of social movement creation, White has been profiled by The New Yorker and The Guardian, and Esquire has named him one of the most influential young thinkers alive today. In this podcast Michael and Micah discuss the failings of the mass mobilizations that are occurring throughout the United States today and Micah offers his ideas on how protestors and activists can more effectively channel their passion, time, and energy. In a discussion that examines the impact of the 2017 Women’s March on Washington, the idea of rural activism and mental environmentalism, and that dives into climate change and its role in the future of protests, Micah White’s insight and ideas aren’t simply profound, but ultimately inspiring and downright hopeful.
Episode 19: The Singularity
Host Michael Shields attempts to unravel the mysteries surrounding The Singularity, a moment in time that American author, computer scientist, inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil describes: “Within a quarter century, nonbiological intelligence will match the range and subtlety of human intelligence. It will then soar past it because of the continuing acceleration of information-based technologies, as well as the ability of machines to instantly share their knowledge.” To navigate the ins and outs of this technological wonder, Michael employed the help of frequent Beyond the Margin contributor Brian Sachson and this episode’s secret weapon, Rurik Peterson. Rurik has worked in Information Technology for over twenty years across a number of different industries including education, entertainment, and healthcare. He has worked in all aspects of technology from desktop support to systems administration and is currently focused on cloud-based solutions. Rurik is also a part-time actor, writer and filmmaker. Having struggled to balance his logical, rational, and nerdy facets with an emotive and creative artistic side, Rurik is a true renaissance-man and knowledge junky, and the perfect person to help as Beyond the Margin explores the idea of a world dramatically altered by technology.
Episode 18: ATM, A Year End Retrospective
The head editors at Across the Margin, Michael Shields and Chris Thompson, sit down to wax nostalgic about another lively year at the magazine. As 2016 (finally!) draws to its close, Mike and Chris dig into a year where Across the Margin launched its publishing imprint, ATM Publishing, and released its first book, Seneca Rebel by Rayya Deeb. Simultaneously, the magazine released a generous helping of articles and stories, numerous podcast episodes, and pioneered new avenues for getting its stories out into the world. Beyond the Margin’s latest podcast commences with a passionate discussion amongst the editors regarding their choices for the Top 50 Albums of 2016, dissecting what it takes to earn the top spot on the countdown and focusing on works by David Bowie, Car Seat Headrest, A Tribe Called Called Quest, and Kevin Morby. Mike and Chris then discuss Across the Margin’s popular series, Twenty Years Later, expound upon the plethora of superb fiction published throughout the year, and even pre-empt the Oscar buzz by discussing a few of their favorites films in 2016, plus much, much more.
Episode 17: ATM’s Election Roundup
Host Michael Shields welcomes into the studio Brian Sachson to discuss his work in film, the 2016 election results, and much, much more. Brian, the co-owner of Eclectic Productions, has been involved in the film and television industry in New York City for the past fifteen years and has most recently conceived and produced the series Motor City High on Complex, the award-winning short The Backup Singer, and the feature film Four Bottles, which is currently in post-production. In this podcast, Michael and Brian dig deep, exploring the influences that have shaped Brian’s career while commiserating about the results of the election and contemplating upon what this may mean for the country. Brian’s extensive experience traveling around the world and his passion for film production, this podcast highlights, has lead to his belief that film, and the shared passions of individuals, can bring people together and solve even the most daunting global problems.
Episode 16: Mitch Lucas – The Consummate Interview
Michael Shields welcomes Mitch Lucas into the studio to wax nostalgic about a mutual love of film and comedy. Mitch Lucas is a New York-based director and comedian from Bristol, Tennessee. His short films (Shogun of the Upper East Side, etc.) and sketches have been featured on Funny Or Die (“Cash for Pizza” / “The Reunion”) and festivals around New York City. Mitch has performed long-form improv since 2012 at the People’s Improv Theater and currently he can be seen on Saturday nights at 8pm with his house team Gypsy Danger. In this podcast the expanse of Mitch’s influences are dissected, from his early days in Tennessee, unto his later years In Pennsylvania, Kansas, and finally New York City. Mitch digs deep, and throughout this consummate discussion of his life and career, he reveals a terrifying moment from his youth, the exact date of the greatest day of his life (July 2nd, 1984), his affinity for the work of aquarist Takashi Amano, how a photograph by Leon Levenstein drew him to New York City, and much, much more.
Episode 15: Jonathan Marcantoni
Novelist Jonathan Marcantoni is welcomed to the podcast to talk about his three novels (Traveler’s Rest, The Feast of San Sebastian, The Kings of 7th Avenue) which all deal with issues of identity and corruption in both the Puerto Rican diaspora and on the island, and his forthcoming novel, Tristiana. Jonathan, formerly the Editor in Chief of Aignos Publishing, begins a new venture this October with the launch of La Casita Grande, an imprint of Black Rose Writing that specializes in Latino and Caribbean authors. Michael and Jon dig into the reasons for this change in Jon’s career, the style he chooses to champion (“Visualism”), and his undying love for Diego Velázquez’s 1656 painting Las Meninas and how it has impacted his writing. As the discussion progresses, Jon delves deep into the many atrocities and hardships facing Puerto Ricans in their quest for Independence.
Episode 14: Unhinged, Take Two
Michael Shields welcomes former-co host (and veteran Across the Margin co-editor), Chris Thompson, into the studio for a reunion to discuss all the changes in Chris’s life. In one of the most revelatory podcasts in the history of Beyond the Margin, Chris expounds upon the motivations underlying his move to the West Coast and his experiences during his road trip across the United States (with his father as his co-pilot). Mike and Chris, holding little back, leave no stone unturned discussing many of their formative moments in life, topics such as the ills (and benefits) of emerging technologies, the National Emergency that is a possible Donald Trump presidency, a visit to the Studebaker Museum, Louis CK’s most recent performance at Madison Square Garden, and much more. From quips about “Al Gore Truthers,” horseless carriages, a yearning for a return to the days of town criers, and the remote locations of college towns, listeners are offered another episode in the “Unhinged” series, where Mike and Chris sit down with no agenda and allow the conversation to take them where it may.
Episode 13: Rayya Deeb’s Seneca Rebel
Beyond the Margin proudly introduces you to Rayya Deeb, author of Seneca Rebel – the first book released under Across the Margin’s publishing imprint, ATM Publishing. Throughout this podcast, listeners are afforded the opportunity to get to know Rayya, as the discussion courses through her history in screenwriting, her many influences that forged the path towards Seneca Rebel, and much, much more. Opening the door into the expansive world of Seneca, Rayya outlines the novel’s premise, delves deep into its subtleties, reveals the man responsible for Han Solo, discusses the benefit of the Save The Catwriting process, and even hints at what is to come as the Seneca franchise expands.
Episode 12: ATM & The State of The Union
Hosts Michael Shields and Chris Thompson sit down to discuss the current state of affairs at the magazine, delving into its most recent articles and stories and examining the spectacle that is our present-day political climate as we head into the home stretch of the 2016 US Presidential Election. As the episode unfolds, Mike and Chris dive into the present electoral cycle and explore the prevailing idea that today’s voters are being faced with choosing between the “lesser of two evils” as their choice for Commander in Chief. In consideration of the crazed and adequately corrupt systems deeply entrenched in the United States political system, America’s shortcomings are mulled over and in doing so a measure of hope for the future in technology’s ability to bring us together is, by some means, unearthed.
Episode 11: ATM Publishing, Seneca Rebel & Writing Your Truth
Hosts Michael Shields and Chris Thompson discuss Across the Margin’s foray into publishing (ATM Publishing) and the release of their first novel, Rayya Deeb’s Seneca Rebel which is available now! Following this exciting news, Michael and Chris take the listener on a journey Around the Margin, discussing a myriad of noteworthy stories and articles published recently at Across the Margin, and conclude with readings by Tiffany Yu (“Dear Dad“) and Patrick J. Dalton (“Living Remnant“).
Episode 10: Buried Above Ground with Ben Selkow
Across the Margin welcomes award-winning filmmaker Ben Selkow into the studio to talk about his latest film, Buried Above Ground, a documentary that embarks on the road to recovery with three post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) survivors. Buried Above Ground is an important film that contributes to reshaping the way our society thinks about mental health issues and helps viewers dispel the myths and misconceptions about PTSD.
Episode 9: To Bern or Not to Bern
Across the Margin, with the help of Dr. Frank Battaglia (Atlantic City for Bernie Sanders), examines the compelling Presidential campaign of the junior Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders. In dissecting Congressman Sanders’ well established credentials and qualifications for the Presidency, the discussion veered towards a slew of myths that swirl about the Congressman, from such topics as his electability, his age, that he is a one-issue candidate, his lack of foreign policy experience, and the misconceptions that revolve around the term “democratic socialism.” In debunking this slew of fallacies, host Michael Shields and Frank ultimately found themselves marveling over the profound opportunity that Bernie Sanders offers the United States, and expounding upon the importance and uniqueness of Bernie Sanders’ passion.
Episode 8: A Year End Retrospective
In the latest episode of Across the Margin’s podcast, Beyond the Margin, hosts Michael Shields and Chris Thompson sit down independent of guest and wax nostalgic about another lively year at the magazine and expound on all the stories and articles that affected them deeply in 2015.
Episode 7: The Art of Battle Rap with Iron Solomon
Hosts Michael Shields and Chris Thompson enlist the help of the prolific lyricist and performer, Iron Solomon, to provide a glimpse into the underground phenomenon that is Battle Rap. Iron Solomon is a wordsmith, one of the most accomplished battle rappers in the history of the sport, and in this podcast he walks Mike and Chris through his background and extraordinary career and in doing so the techniques of the art form are explored, and a world awash with unparalleled wordplay is unearthed.
Episode 6: Aktion P
With the help of John O’Leary, a researcher and writer chronicling the story of three Americans who discovered the holy grail of Mercedes Benz cars, a Nazi-commissioned 1939 540K Aktion P, hosts Michael Shields and Chris Thompson get behind the wheel of a fascinating car-centric adventure story as they talk with John about one of the most unique automotive finds of World War Two.
Episode 5: Unhinged
Brace yourself as hosts Michael Shields and Chris Thompson let their hair down, and in stepping back from their traditionally themed episodes present an installment of Beyond the Margin simply entitled, “Unhinged.” In this fifth chapter, Mike and Chris delve into all the recent stories and articles at Across the Margin, ruminate on pertinent current events, and even get a little personal – expounding on those things that inspire and fascinate them. Listen in, to the most revealing episode of Beyond the Margin yet!
Episode 4: Race & Institutionalized Inequalities in America
With the help of Paul Gutkowski, a veteran social worker in New York City, hosts Michael Shields and Chris Thompson delve into race and the institutionalized inequalities in America, the responsibilities of everyday citizens in this Post-Ferguson America, the challenges of reducing recidivism, and our broken prison system as a whole. Also, to focus on his other passions, comedy and acting, Paul answers questions about his motivations, his methods, and his goals working in the performing arts.
Episode 3: A Letter to the Internet
Listen in as hosts Michael Shields and Chris Thompson, with help from two dynamic authors and entertainers, Alan Fox and Chris Campanioni, break down the ways in which we interact with the internet, specifically – social media’s role in defining the way in which we live. In this podcast, ideas that revolve around the cultural norms we witness amongst diverging generations – those born before and after the rise of the Digital Age – are discussed in depth, as well as topics such as online identities, the possibility of intimacy through digital connections, and celebrity and privacy in the Digital Age.
Episode 2: The A, B, C & D’s of Science Fiction
We present an ode to the authors who birthed the Science Fiction & Fantasy genre’s such as Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, and Phillip K. Dick. In this podcast, hosts Michael Shields and Chris Thompson take the listener on a journey through the dawn of science fiction and pointedly, to the present, with a series of discussions and readings which highlight the sophistication and poignancy of the genre. “The A, B, C, D’s of Science Fiction” features an interview with one of our favorite emerging Science Fiction authors, Rajan Khanna, who penned the riveting post-apocalyptic thriller Falling Sky and concludes with a short story, a dark tale that wonders what would happen if The Office met The Twilight Zone. Dive deep!
Episode 1: A Primer
This is a chance for you, the listener, to learn more about Across the Margin. It’s an opportunity to come to an understanding about our goals and the types of dynamic content we have to offer at the website, as well as what we have in store for you in upcoming podcasts! Episode 1 features three short stories read by the authors themselves, a selection of tales that we are excited to share and feel exhibit the sort of poignant storytelling that makes Across the Margin so great.