Episode 53 - Pam Houston

Pam Houston’s most recent book is Contents May Have Shifted, published in 2012. She is also the author of two collections of linked short stories, Cowboys Are My Weakness and Waltzing the Cat, the novel, Sight Hound, and a collection of essays, A Little More About Me, all published by W.W. Norton.

Her stories have been selected for volumes of Best American Short StoriesThe O. Henry AwardsThe 2013 Pushcart Prize, and Best American Short Stories of the Century. She is the winner of the Western States Book Award, the WILLA award for contemporary fiction, The Evil Companions Literary Award and multiple teaching awards.

She directs the literary nonprofit Writing By Writers, is professor of English at UC Davis, teaches in The Institute of American Indian Art’s Low-Rez MFA program, and at writer’s conferences around the country and the world.

She lives on a ranch at 9,000 feet in Colorado near the headwaters of the Rio Grande. Here, we discuss the thin wall between fiction/non-fiction, the geometry of stories, and the importance of noticing in the process of living and writing.

Episode 52 - Bob Walter

Robert Walter is an editor and an executive with several not-for-profit organizations. Most notably, he is the executive director and board president of the Joseph Campbell Foundation (JCF), an organization that he helped found in 1990 with choreographer Jean Erdman, Joseph Campbell's widow.

In 1979, Bob began to work on several projects with Campbell, who subsequently named him editorial director of his Historical Atlas of World Mythology. Following Campbell's death in 1987, Bob served as literary executor of Campbell's estate, completing Volumes I and II of the Atlas and supervising its posthumous publication. 

With JCF publishing director David Kudler, he continues to oversee the publication of Campbell's oeuvre, including the video series Joseph Campbell's Mythos and the other works in the Collected Works of Joseph Campbell series, including the 2008 edition of The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

Prior to his work in publishing, Walter was a founding faculty fellow at the California Institute of the Arts; lectured widely on experiential education; and pursued a professional theater career, working for a decade as a director, production manager, and playwright. 

He has taken the Joseph Campbell Foundation to some wonderful places since Campbell's death in 1987. Here, we talk about what it's like to be responsible for the legacy of an intellectual titan, how recent discoveries in fields ranging from anthropology to neuropsychology have filled the gaps in the foundation laid by Campbell and how myth can be seen as living story, both individually and collectively. 

Episode 51 - Darlene Solomon-Rogers (Blacque Butterfly)

A Portland treasure and a voice of passion, wisdom and profound insight, Darlene Solomon-Rogers aka Blacque Butterfly is an entertainer, activist and event host. Her love for the arts has allowed her to explore several layers of her calling. Be it spoken word, motivational speaking, singing, theater or event promoting she has "allowed the Creator to use her ministry to inspire others to follow their calling."  

Blacque Butterfly is a native Oregonian, born and raised in NE Portland. She is the author of “Black girl can I comb your hair.”  She has also released a spoken word CD entitled Collide -A - Scope.  Currently she is working on her sophomore album slated for release by early 2017. Blacque Butterfly promotes and showcases local talent through her events “Blacque Butterfly Presents...”

Butterfly mentors troubled youth and single mothers and facilitates a youth based theatre troupe, where she allows youth at risk to use the arts as a tool for social justice. She is a motivational speaker for women and men who are survivors of domestic violence.  Blacque Butterfly believes in the philosophy that you can be the change that you want to see in the world. She assists homeless youth and displaced families in using the arts to empower themselves and share their stories with the world.  

Visit her at:
www.wix.com/blacquebutterfly/BBPDX

Artist site:
www.reverbnation.com/BlacqueButterfly

Social networking sites:

Episode 50 - Reverend Billy Talen

Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir is a New York City based radical performance community, with 50 performing members and a congregation in the thousands. They are wild anti-consumerist gospel shouters and Earth loving urban activists who have worked with communities on four continents defending community, life and imagination. Over the last 15 years of their "church," they describe the Devils that plague us as Consumerism and Militarism. In this time of the Earth's crisis - they are especially mindful of the extractive imperatives of global capital. 

Their activist performance and concert stage performance have always worked in parallel. The activism is content for the play.  They have won an OBIE Award, the Alpert Award, The Dramalogue Award and The Historic Districts Council's Preservation Award (for leading demonstrations to save Manhattan's Poe House), and half of their singing activists have been jailed, most frequently during Occupy Wall Street. Reverend Billy has been arrested about 70 times. 

Reverend Billy and the SSC employ multiple strategies, including cash register exorcisms, retail interventions, and cell phone operas. Outdoors, they have performed in Redwood forests, between cars in traffic jams at the entrance to the Holland Tunnel, on the Staten Island Ferry, at Burning Man and Times Square and Coney Island, and on the roof of Carnegie Hall in a snowstorm. 

The Stop Shopping Choir is a diverse array of economic, ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds and has members from every continent except Antarctica, which they're working on. Among them are scientists, teachers, artists, therapists, welders, cyclists, builders, developers, hairdressers, dog walkers, actors, truck drivers, tech geeks, scholars and executives. The Choir has toured in Europe, Africa, South America and throughout North America. 

Here we discuss what drives the Reverend's tireless activism, the development of his persona and voice, and what it means to be an earth evangelist. 

Episode 49 - Dimitri Mugianis

Born in Detroit, to a politically leftist Greek American family, Dimitri Mugianis began writing poetry, music, and also using drugs at a very early age. As a teenager, Dimitri formed a band called The Leisure Class. After several years of local success, the band moved to New York City in 1983. There, Dimitri found a home at the Chelsea Hotel, and quickly developed close friendships, notably Beat legends Herbert Huncke and Gregory Corso. 

His relationship with cocaine, heroin and methadone would last over 20 years. By 2002, Dimitri had a daily habit of $150-200 worth of heroin, plus cocaine and 100 milligrams of methadone. By forty, he was surrounded by death, including his pregnant, common-law wife. Resigned that his life was nearing an end, using the last of his will to survive, Dimitri turned to a radical solution: Ibogaine. 

In 2003, he sought out an Iboga treatment center in Europe. Initially he planned to visit his ancestral home in Greece to die after the treatment, but Bwiti and Iboga had other plans. Iboga ended his dependency to drugs (without withdrawal) and started him on a journey of spiritual and emotional recovery.

Returning home with an evangelical zeal, Dimitri sought out and met the father of the Ibogaine movement, Howard Lotsof, who quickly became his mentor. In an effort to bring the medicine that healed him to those without access, he attended to approximately 500 underground Ibogaine ceremonies and traveled to Gabon, West Africa, to become initiated into the Bwiti. 

In 2011, Dimitri was arrested by the DEA in a sting operation using a paid informant. After a protracted legal battle he was convicted with reduced charges. This experience was the impetus for his co-founding of the Universalist Bwiti Society, a state-registered religious institution. After six visits to Gabon, Dimitri opened a center in Costa Rica, IbogaLife. 

In addition to his work as an Ibogaine Detox Facilitator, performing hundreds of ibogaine treatment-ceremonies with desperate people, he currently works as an outreach counselor at the New York Harm Reduction Educators (NYHRE) in Harlem. 

His innovative group "We Are The Medicine" is propelling the conversation about spirituality and drug use. He also offers spiritual services and personal consultations with the culmination of his own training and practice. He is involved in numerous other projects including working on bringing Iboga to Afghanistan and Nepal. His is a story of profound transformation and recovery. The brokenness of addiction and the promise of the New Life that comes from an integrated, holistic healing model that is rooted in community, connection and deep spiritual practice are highlighted in his life and work. We are honored t have him on the program. 

Episode 48 - Ramez Naam

Futurist, scifi author and former Microsoft executive Ramez Naam has some definite ideas about where we are heading as a species. And it might be in a different direction than you think.  

Ramez was born in Cairo, Egypt, and came to the US at the age of 3.  He’s a computer scientist, futurist, angel investor, and award-winning author.  He spent 13 years at Microsoft, where he led teams developing early versions of Microsoft Outlook, Internet Explorer, and the Bing search engine.  His career has focused on bringing advanced collaboration, communication, and information retrieval capabilities to roughly one billion people around the world, and took him to the role of Partner and Director of Program Management within Microsoft, with deep experience leading teams working on cutting edge technologies such as machine learning, search, massive scale services, and artificial intelligence.

Between stints at Microsoft, Ramez founded and ran Apex NanoTechnologies, the world’s first company devoted entirely to software tools to accelerate molecular design.  He holds 19 patents related to search engines, information retrieval, web browsing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.

Ramez is also the award-winning author of five books:

Nexus, Crux, and Apex (fiction). This trilogy of philosophical science fiction thrillers look at the impact of an increasingly plausible technology that could link human minds, and the impact such a technology could have on society and on the human condition, for both good and ill.  

The Infinite Resource: The Power of Ideas on a Finite Planet (non-fiction), which looks at the environmental and natural resource challenges of climate change, energy, water, and food, and charts a course to meet those challenges by investing in the scientific and technological innovation needed to overcome them, and by changing our policies to encourage both conservation and critical innovations.

More Than Human: Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancement (non-fiction), which looks at the science of enhancing the human mind, body, and lifespan, and the effects that will have on society. Ramez was awarded the H.G. Wells Award for his work on More Than Human.

Ramez lectures on energy, environment, and innovation at Singularity University. He’s appeared on Sunday morning MSNBC, repeatedly on Yahoo! Finance, on China Cable Television, on BigThink, and Reuters.fm.  His work has appeared in, or been reviewed by, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, Slate, Business Week, Business Insider, Discover, Popular Science, Wired, and Scientific American.  

In his leisure, Ramez has climbed mountains, descended into icy crevasses, chased sharks through their native domain, backpacked through remote corners of China, and ridden his bicycle down hundreds of miles of the Vietnam coast. He lives in Seattle, where he writes and speaks full time.

Episode 47 - Dorothy Allison

Dorothy Allison grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, the first child of a fifteen-year-old unwed mother who worked as a waitress. Now living in Northern California with her partner Alix and her teenage son, Wolf Michael, she describes herself as a feminist, a working class story teller, a Southern expatriate, a sometime poet and a happily born-again Californian.

The first member of her family to graduate from high school, Allison attended Florida Presbyterian college on a National Merit Scholarship and studied anthropology at the New School for Social Research.

An award winning editor for Quest, Conditions, and Outlook—early feminist and Lesbian & Gay journals, Allison's chapbook of poetry, The Women Who Hate Me, was published with Long Haul Press in 1983. Her short story collection, Trash (1988) was published by Firebrand Books. Trash won two Lambda Literary Awards and the American Library Association Prize for Lesbian and Gay Writing.

Allison says that the early Feminist movement changed her life. "It was like opening your eyes under water. It hurt, but suddenly everything that had been dark and mysterious became visible and open to change." However, she admits, she would never have begun to publish her stories if she hadn't gotten over her prejudices, and started talking to her mother and sisters again. 

Allison received mainstream recognition with her novel Bastard Out of Carolina, (1992) a finalist for the 1992 National Book Award. The novel won the Ferro Grumley prize, an ALA Award for Lesbian and Gay Writing, became a best seller, and an award-winning movie. It has been translated into more than a dozen languages. 

Cavedweller (1998) became a national bestseller, NY Times Notable book of the year, finalist for the Lillian Smith prize, and an ALA prize winner. Adapted for the stage by Kate Moira Ryan, the play was directed by Michael Greif, and featured music by Hedwig composer, Stephen Trask. In 2003, Lisa Cholendenko directed a movie version featuring Krya Sedwick. 

I spoke with Dorothy recently as part of my college's "Mouths of Others" creative arts speakers series. She is full of fire and story and looks right through you in that simple, razor sharp way that only Southerns can. I think you will dig this conversation. I know her writing will undo you. Transformation in a lightning bolt, presented for your enjoyment. 

Episode 46 - Kelly Carlin

Kelly Carlin has always been curious about the big questions of life. Watching her father, George Carlin, be an iconoclastic comedy legend certainly didn’t hurt too.  Like him she loves to use humor to question the status quo, and she loves to seek out the unique angle into any subject she tackles. But unlike him, she brings a more personal and emotional tone to her work.  With her personal story, pathos, emotion and psychological insight she reveals the joy and challenges that comes with trying to live an authentic life.

As a child, Kelly explored her own creativity by writing skits and doing imitations (her Ethel Merman was quite good for an eight year old), but began her professional life in her teens working behind the scenes with her father and mother, Brenda, on various shows for HBO that continued into her twenties.

In 1993, at the ripe age of 30, she graduated from UCLA, Magna Cum Laude, with a B.A. in Communications Studies.  While at UCLA, Kelly discovered her voice as a writer, which led her to a career in writing for film and TV with her husband Robert McCall.  After her mother’s death in 1997, Kelly found her true calling – autobiographical storytelling– through her first one-woman show, “Driven To Distraction.” In 2001, Kelly wanted to explore the intersection of human storytelling and one’s inner psychological life.  She pursued her masters in Jungian Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate institute where she studied mythology, Jungian psychology and the nexus of art and the sacred.

Kelly explores the big questions and the intricacies of being human in her many iterations.  She is a public speaker, hosts both “The Kelly Carlin Show” on SiriusXM, and “Waking from the American Dream” on SModcast Network, tours her newest one-woman show, “A Carlin Home Companion,” and is now an author.  Her memoir “A Carlin Home Companion,” was published by St. Martin’s Press to great reviews and success. 

In this episode, we talk about her ever-changing relationship to her father and his legacy, her path to rebirth through the myth of Demeter and Persephone and how because of her last name, wannabe comedians like me are driven to try out their shoddy "material" on her to solicit a laugh from the family of comic royalty. 

Episode 45 - Howard Bloom

“I know a lot of people. A lot. And I ask a lot of prying questions. But I’ve never run into a more intriguing biography than Howard Bloom’s in all my born days.”

--Paul Solman, Business and Economics Correspondent, PBS NewsHour

Howard Bloom has been called “next in a lineage of seminal thinkers that includes Newton, Darwin, Einstein,[and] Freud,” by Britain’s Channel4 TV , “the next Stephen Hawking” by Gear Magazine, and “The Buckminster Fuller and Arthur C. Clarke of the new millennium” by Buckminster Fuller’s archivist. Bloom is the author of The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of HistoryGlobal Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st CenturyThe Genius of the Beast: A Radical Re-Vision of Capitalism, and The God Problem: How A Godless Cosmos Creates. And his book Global Brain was the subject of an Office of the Secretary of Defense symposium in 2010, with participants from the State Department, the Energy Department, DARPA, IBM, and MIT.

Bloom has founded three international scientific groups: the Group Selection Squad (1995), which fought to gain acceptance for the concept of group selection in evolutionary biology; The International Paleopsychology Project (1997), which worked to create a new multi-disciplinary synthesis between cosmology, paleontology, evolutionary biology, and history; and The Space Development Steering Committee (2007), an organization that includes astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Edgar Mitchell and members from NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Defense.

Bloom explains that his focus is “mass behavior, from the mass behavior of quarks to the mass behavior of human beings.” In 1968 Bloom turned down four fellowships in psychology and neurobiology and set off on a science project in a field he knew nothing about: popular culture. He was determined to tunnel into the forces of history by entering “the belly of the beast where new myths, new mass passions, and new mass movements are made.” Bloom used simple correlational techniques plus what he calls “tuned empathy” and “saturated intuition” to help build or sustain the careers of figures like Prince, Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, Bette Midler, Billy Joel, Paul Simon, Billy Idol, Peter Gabriel, David Byrne, John Mellencamp, Queen, Kiss, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, Run DMC, and roughly 100 others. In the process, he generated $28 billion in revenues (more than the gross domestic product of Oman or Luxembourg) for companies like Sony, Disney, Pepsi Cola, Coca Cola, and Warner Brothers.

Bloom also helped launch Farm Aid and Amnesty International’s American presence. He worked with the United Negro College Fund,the National Black United Fund, and the NAACP, and he put together the first public service radio campaign for solar power (1981).

His bio has like 10 more pages of this shit. Unbelievable. We are so glad to have him on the program. You might not always agree with him, but you are sure to find him provocative, engaging and an agent of transformation. Enjoy!

Episode 44 - Barbara J. King

Barbara J. King is Chancellor Professor of Anthropology at the College of William & Mary. In addition to her new book on animal grief, she has authored Being With Animals (Doubleday 2010), Evolving God (Doubleday 2007), The Dynamic Dance (Harvard University Press 2004), and a number of other books. A reissue of Evolving God is due out in 2017. 

Dr. King has studied monkeys in Kenya and great apes in various captive settings in Africa and the US. Her research has advanced the thesis that humans and animals have deeper emotional relationships than previously thought. She takes the work of our friend and colleague Dr. Chris Ryan in the other direction, examining the ways our anthropomorphic tendencies have robbed our non-human relatives of their dignity, emotional complexity and moral agency. 

Barbara is a popular guest on interview programs and recently appeared on the Diane Rehm Show and National Geographic Radio. Previously, she has been interviewed on radio programs in Canada, Austria, Germany, and Australia.

She is the recipient of numerous teaching awards from William & Mary and the state of Virginia. She is also associated with the Teaching Company which produces course material taught by America’s leading professors.

Together with her husband, she cares for and arranges to spay and neuter homeless cats in Virginia. 

In this episode, we discuss the danger of films like Finding Dory, the notion that the human religious experience is rooted in a primate sense of belonging, and how there are no Bonobo women.