#160 | Don't Believe The Hype: The Media, Branding Psychedelics, & The War On Drugs w/ Stephen Siff

In this episode, I speak with Stephen Siff, Associate Professor of Journalism at Miami University and the author of ‘Acid Hype: American News Media and the Psychedelic Experience.’ In this discussion, we get into the U.S. news media's role in the promotion, and in particular the "hype," of psychedelic drug use in the 1950s and '60s — initially by prominent public figures and the "Intelligentsia," and eventually the wider population more generally. We also get into the Nixon Administration's role in instigating the War on Drugs, and the role the US media played in propagandizing the government's agenda regarding the prohibition of psychedelic compounds and cannabis.

As a proponent of cannabis and the psychedelic experience, I have become increasingly aware that our popular perception of psychedelic and cannabis use has largely been formed by very prominent cultural forces, in particular the U.S. news media, pro-capitalist interests, and the State. The media has played a major role in the “branding” of psychedelics and cannabis, both in a positive and negative light (depending on the time, and the context of their legal status). As Stephen examines in his book and in this interview, the initial coverage of LSD and other psychedelic compounds was initially very positive, with media outlets “hyping” the use and potential applications of these substances, effectively branding the psychedelic experience as a countercultural phenomenon. Along with this, Stephen discusses the other role the U.S news media has played in our popular perceptions of these substances. Leading up to the eventual criminalization of these substances under the Controlled Substance Act in 1970, the news media shifted its coverage of these substances, playing into the Nixon and successive administrations’ propaganda campaign to demonize and stigmatize psychedelic and drug use more broadly. Considering we are in the midst of a “psychedelic renaissance,” with a renewed interest in psychedelic research and cannabis legalization across the U.S. and the Western world, it is important to frame this subject within the broader historical context of the news media’s role in shaping the perceptions of these substances, in particular with something as valuable and important as the psychedelic experience.

Stephen Siff, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Journalism and the author of ‘Acid Hype: American News Media and the Psychedelic Experience,’ an account of mainstream media’s introduction of new drugs and new styles of recreational drug use in the 1950s and 1960s. His research as a journalism historian examines news coverage and government propaganda about illegal drug use and drug users during the latter half of the twentieth century. He has also published research in Journalism History and Newspaper Research Journal.✦

✦Source: http://bit.ly/SiffBio

Episode Notes:

- Learn more about and purchase Stephen’s book ‘Acid Hype: American News Media and the Psychedelic Experience’ here: http://bit.ly/AcidHype

- Read Stephen’s article ‘The Illegalization of Marijuana: A Brief History’: http://bit.ly/2QHDi1X

- The song featured in this episode is “Voodoo Doll” by Son of Dave from the album Shake A Bone.

#159 | The Privilege To Leave: Stepping Away From The Center Of Empire w/ Michael Sliwa

In this episode, I speak with Michael Sliwa — author, former educator, and “one of the foremost speakers on simple living.”⚐ My discussion with Michael addresses the traps of modernity — including work, consumerism, settler-colonialism, our culture’s attachment to things, and the path Michael has taken to move further away from the center of Empire in an attempt to liberate himself from false needs and excessive wants, in turn learning to live much more simply, nomadically, and communally.

In particular, what we discuss is that in spite of this worthy effort, privilege plays an enormous role in an individual’s ability to move away from the destructive nature and impact of this industrial culture, and as Michael addresses in this episode, the recognition of this fundamental aspect of living within a society forged in settler-colonial values and maintained through the socio-economic imposition to “make a living” informs this effort in more ways than can be initially understood. The false sense of security careers and material accumulation brings in a culture bereft of community and land-based consciousness is something worth addressing and overcoming in spite of this, especially in the face of widespread ecological disintegration and abrupt climate disruption — a result of this imposition to “make a living” regardless of the long-term consequences. Michael and I get at the worthiness of the effort to liberate oneself of false needs and wants, and what interesting paths await those that make the leap toward personal responsibility and deep recognition of the role privilege plays in the maintaining of the illusion of stability and prosperity in this society, in light of the devastating impact this logic has had on the living systems of this planet — in which we are inextricably tied to. Michael’s insight is a treasure, and we discuss these subjects and more in this episode.

Michael Sliwa is the author of 'Chasing A Different Carrot: A Manifesto For The Predicament Of Privilege’ and is one of the foremost speakers on simple living. He and his wife Karen are former educators who left behind their careers and most of their worldly possessions in order to pursue a life of genuine connectivity. For years Michael and Karen have been traveling, working and speaking about what it means to live a life of simplicity. They have built a skill set that has allowed them to continue along a path where stress and chaos are left behind and efficiency and durability take their place. Michael has shared their story through keynotes, workshops, assemblies, and TEDx Talks along the way. Today Michael is the Co-Founder and Development Specialist for one of the most dynamic speaking agencies in the country, TRUality, and is the former co-host of Nature Bats Last on the Progressive Radio Network.⚐

⚐ Source: http://bit.ly/2ANMhEO

Episode Notes:

- Learn more about Michael’s work at his website: https://michaelsliwa.wordpress.com

- Watch Michael’s video series ‘Another Way’ here: http://bit.ly/MSanotherway

- Learn more about and purchase Michael’s book ‘Chasing A Different Carrot: A Manifesto For The Predicament Of Privilege’ here: https://amzn.to/2PejD4Y

- Follow Michael on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/michael.j.sliwa

- Follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CarrotChasing

- The songs featured in this episode are “Right On,” “African New Wave,” and “The Doldrums” by Paul White from the album Rapping With Paul White.

#158 | Super Uncle Sam Very American: Crafting Comedy In Our Inverted Moral Universe w/ Lee Camp

In this episode, I speak with Lee Camp — stand up comedian, political commentator, and the head writer and host of the national TV show Redacted Tonight on RT America. We discuss his recently released comedy special ‘Super Patriotic Very Uncle Sam Comedy Special Not Allowed On American TV’ — his first comedy special in over four years. We discuss such topics as the value of voting under a corporate oligarchy, our “inverted moral universe,” and the far-reaching implications of the recently revealed sealed indictment against WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange by the United States Justice Department under the Trump Administration — in particular the threat this case poses for the freedom of press under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

In Lee’s newest comedy special, no stone is left unturned. Covering a wide, but ultimately connected, series of subjects, Lee digs deeply into our contemporary political, environmental, and cultural predicament, uncovering the root of our “inverted moral universe” with the skill of a veteran comedian and political commentator. In this discussion, we get into Lee’s process in crafting comedy, his ability to deliver sobering truths about the state of things in 2018 America, all while empowering his audience to recognize the collective power we have in the face of the bleak reality we find ourselves in. Considering how much is at stake, what role can comedy play in disseminating truths (cutting through the bullshit narratives promulgated by the corporate press) while empowering individual and collective action in the face of seemingly hopeless conditions? We discuss this and more in this episode.

Lee Camp is the head writer and host of the national TV show ‘Redacted Tonight with Lee Camp’ on RT America. He’s a former contributor to The Onion, former staff humor writer for the Huffington Post, and his web series ‘Moment of Clarity’ has been viewed by millions. He’s toured the country and the world with his fierce brand of standup comedy, and George Carlin’s daughter Kelly said he’s one of the few comics keeping her father’s torch lit. Bill Hicks’s brother Steve said Lee is one of only a handful with Bill’s “message and passion.”✧

✧Source: https://leecamp.com/about

Episode Notes:

- Watch Lee’s new comedy special ‘Super Patriotic Very Uncle Sam Comedy Special Not Allowed On American TV’ and use the code “UNCLE SAM” to get a discount: https://www.leecampcomedyspecial.com

- Learn more about Lee and his work at his website: https://leecamp.com

- Watch ‘Redacted Tonight’ on RT and on the YouTube channel: http://bit.ly/RedTonight

- ‘Redacted Tonight’ goes on tour. Learn more here: https://leecamp.com/schedule

- Follow Lee on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LeeCampComedian

- Follow Lee on Twitter: https://twitter.com/LeeCamp

- The songs featured in this episode are “1 Night” and “Zoro” by Lord Raja from the Zoro EP.

#157 | Good Grief: Building Individual Resilience w/ Aimee Lewis-Reau & LaUra Schmidt

In this episode, I speak with Aimee Lewis-Reau and LaUra Schmidt, co-founders of the Good Grief Network, an organization that “cultivates individual resilience to metabolize collective grief.”

In this conversation with Aimee and LaUra, we discuss what it means to build psychosocial resilience in our time of accelerating climate change and ecological stress and despair. Presented in ten steps, the program cultivated by LaUra and Aimee is meant to be presented and worked with in a group setting. LaUra and Aimee expound on each of these steps in this discussion:

1) Accept the problem and its severity.

2) Acknowledge that I am part of the problem as well as the solution.

3) Practice sitting with uncertainty.

4) Confront my own mortality and the mortality of all.

5) Feel my feelings.

6) Do inner work.

7) Take breaks and rest as needed.

8) Develop awareness of brain patterns and perception.

9) Show up.

10) Reinvest into problem-solving efforts.

The dominant culture often discourages us from fully feeling the heavy and difficult emotions that come with recognizing our mortality, in particular when that realization is placed within the context of a rapidly unraveling biosphere -- one in which we fully depend on, not only for our physical wellbeing, but for our spiritual, psychological, and emotional wellbeing as well. Aimee and LaUra have done a tremendous service in providing a means to grapple with these emotions, build psychosocial resilience, and allow us to face our predicament with clarity, focus, power, and love.

Aimee Lewis-Reau was born and raised in southeast Michigan, and is a certified Scholè Yoga Instructor and RYT 200, and received her Bachelor’s degree in English, Poetry, and Religion from Central Michigan University before obtaining her MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Georgia College & State University. She DJs under the name eXis10shAL and takes delight in making crowds dance, because Alice Walker said it best: “Hard times require furious dancing.”✧

LaUra Schmidt hails from Michigan and is a graduate of Central Michigan University with a BS in Environmental Studies, Biology, and Religious Studies. She earned her MS in Environmental Humanities from the University of Utah. She’s a Climate Reality Leadership Corps member and finds inspiration in natural landscapes and honest, open-hearted dialogue.✧

✧Source: http://bit.ly/GoodGabout

Episode Notes:

- Learn more about the Good Grief Network: http://www.goodgriefgroup.org

- Learn more about the “10 Steps to Psychosocial Resilience” here: http://bit.ly/2BtJdPW

- Listen and subscribe to Aimee and LaUra’s podcast ‘WHY?!?’ on iTunes: https://apple.co/2DWqU8g

- Support the Good Grief Network on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/GoodGriefNetwork

- The songs featured in this episode are “Suspirium” and “Has Ended” by Thom Yorke from the album Suspiria (Music for the Luca Guadagnino Film).

#156 | Not Him: The Farce Of Liberal Democracy & Indigenous Rights In Brazil w/ Mirna Wabi-Sabi

In this episode, I speak with Mirna Wabi-Sabi — writer and Co-Editor of Gods & Radicals Press. We discuss the recent presidential election in her home country of Brazil and her recent piece on the subject; voting and the farce of liberal democracy; the destruction of indigenous and quilombist peoples’ lands, culture, and heritage and the ecocide currently underway in the rainforests of Brazil; the ongoing efforts by leftist and indigenous groups to generate dialogue and united action in the face of rising far right populist organizing and violence.

Mirna and I address her recent piece in Gods & Radicals ‘‘A Luta Continua’: The Struggle Continues,’ in which she addresses the recent presidential election in Brazil, resulting in the election of far right neofascist candidate Jair Bolsonaro (referred to as “J.B.” or “the dude” in this episode). As an anti-capitalist and an anarchist, Mirna elaborates on her views about voting as expressed in her piece: “People are so stressed that even anarchists are talking about voting and doing the ‘lesser-evil’ thing. But what will voting actually do?”⚑ We get into what participating in the voting process would actually accomplish, as well as the social/economic/political realities of the situation in Brazil in spite of which candidate is elected. Mirna also elaborates on the struggle of the indigenous and quilombist peoples to maintain and gain real autonomy and protect the wholeness and health of the rainforests of Brazil, especially in the face of J.B. promises that “there won’t be a square centimeter demarcated as an indigenous reserve” and “where there is indigenous land, there is wealth underneath it.”☍ Even in the face of this threat, which is to be taken very seriously, the health of the Amazon is already under massive threat and vast destruction due to both legal and illegal mining, logging, fossil fuel extraction, and agricultural projects.

This conversation covers a wide variety of subjects, and addresses the sense of anxiety present in Brazilian society as a result of this election, particularly within minority groups most affected by this election. Mirna was very open about her worries and fears about the state of affairs in her home country, and what these trends mean for the future of not only the people and ecology of Brazil, but also the global implications of these developments as well. I thank her for her willingness to have this discussion with me.

Mirna Wabi-Sabi is an anti-capitalist writer and organizer in Brazil, and is the Co-Editor of Gods & Radicals Press — “a site of beautiful resistance” — where writes about decoloniality, feminism, and anti-capitalism.

⚑ Source: http://bit.ly/2qW2a7X

☍ Source: https://nyti.ms/2K6cnHz

Episode Notes:

- Read Mirna’s writing at Gods & Radicals Press: http://bit.ly/GRmirna

- Follow Mirna on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MirnaWabiSabi

- Read more excellent pieces from Gods & Radicals Press: https://godsandradicals.org

- The documentary Mirna mentions is ‘Master Moa of Katendê - The First Victim’ by Carlos Pronzato. The documentary now has English subtitles: https://youtu.be/-iV7RQ_oc5U

- The songs featured in this episode are “I’m Overflow” and “Feels Like A Wheel” by Death Grips from the album Government Plates.