Across the Margin: The Podcast


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.

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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 Jake 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 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!