Across the Margin: The Podcast

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Episode 148: Tom Waits and 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.



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12/14/2022

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.Learn more about Love Velma: Love Velma is a private 100 capacity jazz venue and nightclub located on the ground floor of The Mod House of Ellenville, a mid-century modern lodge and social club in Ellenville, NY — just ninety minutes north of New York City. A proper speakeasy with incredible sound, Velma’s monthly shows are packed with smartly dressed music and art obsessives. Run by drummer and music industry veteran Nick Gordon, artists are encouraged to come early and soak up The Mod House’s three acres of secluded land. 
12/1/2022

Episode 151: Trees — 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.
11/23/2022

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.