Ricardo happened to meet my pal Andrew (host of the Monkeytooth podcast) on the road, and Andrew thought we should hang. So we did. A few hours later, we were planning a motorcycle trip to Patagonia together. Trust me on this one. This dude is legit.
Organic, revealing conversation with fascinating, freaky folks.
Ever wanted to hang with a dominatrix, comedian, famous health guru, or Italian prince? Here's your chance. Tangentially Speaking is dedicated to the idea that good conversation is organic, revelatory, and free to go down unexpected paths.
Susan is a healer, therapist, and Zen buddhist chaplain. She is also the founder of Willow Farm Contemplative Center, where she works with people facing end of life issues.
Music: "Land of the Midnight Sun," by Jim Figora; "Alone Together," by the Robert Minden Ensemble.
If we don't grieve for the dead, are we necessarily cold-hearted? What's behind the collapse of the American empire? How to deal with the chaos and uncertainty of being young? How did disabled people fare among hunter-gatherers?
Music: "Rise the Moon," by Kate Vargas; "Stacia," by Mindel Band; "It Is What It Is (And That's All)," by Steve Forbert; "Big Jet Plane," by Tuku.
What is music, anyway? Does a Beethoven sonata elicit the same emotions if played for someone who's never heard western music? Do any other animals experience music? Is singing related to crying? To laughing? These are the sorts of questions an ethnomusicologist thinks about. I learned a lot from Steve, and suspect you will, too. Steve's site.
Duncan is qualified to receive your reverence. He deserves it, too. You could live many lifetimes without meeting anyone who combines as much humor, wisdom, and sincerity as this guy. I'm always happy when we find some time to hang out, and especially when we're both living such pivotal moments in our lives. Check out The Duncan Trussell Family Hour podcast.
Music: "Suffer Well," by Simon van Gend.
Adi Jaffe, Ph.D. is a nationally recognized expert on mental health, addiction and stigma. He lectures in the Psychology department at UCLA. He is passionate about the role of shame in destroying lives and aims to greatly reduce the stigma of mental health in this country. In this context, Dr. Jaffe has used his personal experience as an incredibly effective inspirational and motivational tool.
During his undergraduate career, Adi began struggling with drug issues himself, eventually leading to a 4 year hiatus from studies and into the Los Angeles drug-dealing world, where Adi's days looked more like a re-enactment of a beatnik novel or a Quentin Tarantino film than the life of an upper-middle class suburban kid. Following a SWAT team arrest in his apartment, and extended court case and a year-long jail sentence, Adi began rebuilding his life. This eventually led to his attainment of a Ph.D. from UCLA's doctoral program in psychology.
Music: "Ride," by Brett Newski.
Weston likes a challenge. He gets things done. At the moment, he's off on a month-long hunting trip in the Colorado Rockies. He took up falconry as a way to transition out of a hyper-vigilant war consciousness back into something more appropriate to suburban Boulder. Thoughtful, generous, tough. I like this guy.
Music: "I Don't Think You Understand," by Goliath Flores.
In his mid-20s, Seth took a look at his life and realized it made no sense. Rather than doubling down on a losing hand, he basically started over. He changed his life and lost half his body weight in the process. Ten years later, he's a very different man on a path with heart.
Music: "Hymn of the Big Wheel," Massive Attack.
Layne's research has been focused on extraordinary abilities in people with cognitive deficits. She's recently left a stellar academic career in order to consult directly with families facing the challenges an atypical child will generate. She has been featured on CNN with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, SiriusXM Doctor Radio, The Coffee Klatch – Special Needs Radio, and Rhode Island PBS ‘School Talk’. She is now based at Ghost Ranch, in New Mexico.
Music: "Treat Yo Mamma," by John Butler Trio.
Michael has devoted his life to the simple, radical notion that a home can provide the essential elements of a good life: shelter, food, water, waste management, and energy. His designs for Earthships provide all of this and more, as they're largely made from discarded materials: tires, bottles, cans, and so on. If your home can provide what you need, you've suddenly become free, revolutionary, and very dangerous. This is a very serious guy.
Patrick House explores the brain, how it works, what it is, and the tiny creatures that invade it and rearrange the furniture. This raises fundamental questions like: What are we? What does it mean to be alive? and How conscious are we of our consciousness?
Music: "Masterpiece," by Big Thief
Wanna help with the ebooks? TS1DRUGS@gmail.com / TS1SEX@gmail.com
From J's site: "Dr. Wallace "J" Nichols - called “Keeper of the Sea" by GQ Magazine, “a visionary" by Outside Magazine and a "water warrior" by AQUATICS International - is an innovative, silo-busting, entrepreneurial scientist, movement maker, renown marine biologist, voracious Earth and idea explorer, wild water advocate, bestselling author, sought after lecturer, and fun-loving Dad. He also likes turtles (a lot)."
Music: "Wade in the Water," by Eva Cassidy.
World-famous comic Jake Johannsen and I got together to catch up after his tours in Asia and Europe. We cover a lot of ground in this one, mainly focusing on how comedy works (or doesn't) in different cultures. Check out Jake's podcast, JakeThis, where this episode was co-released.
Raam's father was a prominent Iranian environmentalist who was arrested and interrogated for supposedly being a foreign spy. After he mysteriously died in prison, Raam and his brother decided to pressure the Iranian government for answers. Telling his story here is part of that pressure. Here's a video of Raam and his brother, Mehran explaining their situation to Christiane Amanpour, on CNN.
Music: "The Hunter," by King Raam.
Rayanne Irving is an accomplished kickboxer, writer, horse trainer, public speaker, and all-around badass. As a homeless teenager, she was drawn into prostitution in Vancouver, Canada. Her understanding of her own decisions and the behavior of the people who have crossed her path is one of compassion, forgiveness, and hard-won wisdom.
From Rayanne's website:
In the spring of 2015, my partner committed suicide in a horse barn. In a sense by doing so, he killed us both that day; turning my safe haven into an inferno of agony. The absence of his love and support stripped me bare of the two demential character I had been hiding behind for seventeen years. Naked of all attachments to the persona and life I had created as a cowgirl and horse trainer, what I discovered at the bottom of the rubble - was a promise I had made to the universe in the fall of 1998.
I was just a sixteen-year-old girl then, on the run from pimps, hookers, and gangs alike. During the days and nights when I should have been reveling in my youth, instead, I was hiding from the world in dark spaces. Both literally and figuratively. My attempt to reach out for support was met with fear and . Which only reinforced the fear conditioning I had been subjected to by pimps and police alike during my indenture to the streets. Mine was a pain that no one wanted to acknowledge. A pain that no one was prepared to understand - not even my family who turned their heads in denial, content to allow me to carry the burden of blame in silence.
The price of freedom for my young body, had come at a cost that was too steep for my child mind to bare. On the verge of running back to my enslavors, out of my mind in pain, I went to bed each night grasping a bloody chef’s knife in one hand and a box of chocolates in the other; begging a god I didn’t believe in for the courage to slice open my own veins.
Instead, a magazine found its way into my hands. In less than 800 words, a girl whose name I will never know, explained her decision to leave prostitution. Although her’s and mine stories were dissimilar in how we managed to escape the streets, she instilled me with a feeling of connection and hope. I knew right then and there, that someone else knew the truth about the terrors of being a hostage to another's greed and desires. I was not alone in my darkness. I made a promise, that one day - I would do the same for another.
Over the years and on the rare occasion the death or arrest of a child prostitute did make social media - I recognized, as I aged and healed, that their reporting accomplished little more than scratching the surface of a growing epidemic. Unintentionally social media was helping the pimps to glamorize the public myth of drug addled Lolita’s and the teenage succubus. (continue)
A powerful essay by Rayanne.
Music: "Wa Tye E Yoo," by MC Twitch. Help her fund music education in Uganda here.
Dr. Jim Fadiman
Dr. Jim Fadiman is considered America's wisest and most respected authority on psychedelics and their use. In 1974 he co-founded the Institute for Transpersonal Psychology, and has since continued to explore potential medical and creative uses of psychedelic drugs. In his most recent book, The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide: Safe, Therapeutic and Sacred Journeys (2011), he provides insight into safe and correct uses of psychedelic drugs. The book was inspired by his unique knowledge of psychedelic experiences and his desire to explain beneficial uses of those substances. He received his B.A. from Harvard University in Social Relations in 1960, and his M.A. and Ph.D from Stanford University in Psychology in 1962 and 1965, respectively.
As a professional big wave surfer, documentary filmmaker, and podcast host, Kyle Thiermann (28) possesses the rare ability to move seamlessly between intellectual and athletic circles and serve as a conduit between typically disconnected worlds.
With the support of his long-time surf sponsor, Patagonia, he created and hosted the YouTube series, Surfing For Change. While surfing building-sized waves around the globe, he created short-form gonzo documentaries about current environmental issues happening in the areas. In the series, Thiermann focused on the power people have to create systemic change through everyday decisions. His first documentary in the series detailed how money kept in multinational banks can be used to finance destructive projects all over the world. This video inspired people to move large amounts of money out of centralized banks and into local banks and credit unions around the world.
From 25-27 Thiermann worked as a correspondent for Discovery Digital Networks covering issues ranging from a little-known indigenous conflict in southern Chile, to the impact wild pigs have on coral reefs in Hawaii. Thiermann speaks at universities throughout the country and in 2011 gave a TEDx Talk in his wetsuit.
Angela came by to chat. Aside from the harassment we suffered from a very persistent insect, we had a great time talking about her roles as actor, producer, and director, the meditative and transporting qualities of sex, what it's like to be a wildly horny young woman in a world that both celebrates and denigrates you, and some of the hang-ups one has to face in order to have sex on camera. More about Angela from her site:
Angela White was still in high school when she entered the adult industry in 2003. As an adolescent, Angela openly identified as bisexual and was criticised for her uninhibited sexuality. She was motivated to become involved in pornography because she saw it as a space where her sexuality would be accepted, a space in which having multiple partners of any gender was encouraged and a space in which sexuality was celebrated rather than denigrated. Through performing in pornography, Angela has been able to explore her sexual desires in a safe environment with other open minded, sex-positive people.
Angela was inspired to enroll in a Bachelor of Arts degree upon hearing feminist critiques of pornography as degrading and exploitative of women. Not being able to pair these assertions with her own experiences of the industry, Angela conducted qualitative research into the experiences of female performers in the Australian pornography industry. The findings were vast and complex but did support the fact that pornography can be a positive and transformative space for many female performers. In 2010, Angela graduated from the University of Melbourne with First Class Honours in Gender Studies. The findings from her Honours thesis were delivered at the Erotic Screen and Sound conference at Griffith University in 2011.
Angela’s interest in gender politics led her to spend a year studying at the prestigious Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris (the Institute of Political Science in Paris, France) more popularly known as Sciences-Po. Subsequently, Angela ran as a political candidate for the Australian Sex Party in the 2010 Victorian state election, in which she publicly fought for the rights of sex workers. Angela generated media attention when she sent copies of her pornographic DVDs to the Attorney General in her campaign to relax regulations for X-rated films.
Peter Gorman is an award-winning journalist, former editor of High Times magazine (from 1986-1998), and pioneer in the understanding and use of psychedelic substances from the Amazon, such as Ayahuasca and Kambo. His most recent book is Sapo in my Soul: The Matsés Frog Medicine.