The Year In Podcasts, 2020 : Across The Margin

As 2020 comes to its close, Across the Margin takes a look back at this year’s inspiring, thought-provoking, and entertaining episodes of Across The Margin : The Podcast…

Throughout this final week of 2020, Across the Margin has been be seasoning the air with thanks for all those who have spent time within our orbit while sharing our picks for the “Best of Across the Margin, 2020.” Our year end compilations continue with a look at the eclectic and extremely talented guests who have humbled and inspired us all year on Across The Margin : The Podcast…


The Musicians


Episode 73: In Flowers Through Space with E Scott Lindner

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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 79: JT Daly & The Voodoo Children

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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 81: DELANILA’s Overloaded

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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 83: Billy Martin’s Guilty

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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 87: Eric Slick’s Wiseacre

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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 96: Roots and Tings

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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.


The Activists & Game Changers


Episode 76: Drilled News & The Mad Men of Climate Denial

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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 84: The Future Earth with Eric Holthaus

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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 85: Protest, The Wide Awakes, Black Beuys & Buddhism with Tracey Ryans

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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 91: Words Whispered in Water with Sandy Rosenthal

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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’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.


The Authors & Deep Thinkers


Episode 77: Three Seconds in Munich

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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 Finalwhich 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 78: Let The People Pick The President

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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 80: Your Anxiety Beast & You

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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 82: Defund (& Disarm) The Police

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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 88: Michael Imperioli & The Nicotine Chronicles

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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 EyesThe 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 89: This Isn’t Happening with Steven Hyden

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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 90: On Corruption In America with Sarah Chayes

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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 93: The End of Policing with Alex S. Vitale

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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 TimesThe Washington PostThe GuardianThe NationVice NewsFortune, 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 95: Parallels in Autocracy

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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 98: The Righteous Mind with Jonathan Haidt

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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.


The Storytellers & Joy Spreaders


Episode 74: Still Chasing with Comedian Mike Finoia

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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 75: Journeys To The Edge of Consciousness

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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 HuxleyTimothy Leary, and Alan WattsJourneys to the Edge of Consciousness features 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 86: An Evening with Bukowski Featuring Silvia Bizio

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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 OfficeFactotumWomen, and Ham on Rye, is renowned for brilliantly penning tales concerning the lives of impoverished Americans, the solemn act of writingrelationships 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 92: Tree Beings

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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 94: Mucho Much Amore, Dolphin Lover & More with Kareem Tabsch

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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 97: Happiness is an Option with Dr. Lynda Ulrich

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In this episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast, host Michael Shields interviews Dr. Lynda Ulrich, the author of the book Happiness is an OptionThriving (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.


Looking forward to journeying with you all Across The Margin in 2021!

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