Parallax Views w/ J.G. Michael
The British State: A Warning w/ Chris Nineham

The British State: A Warning w/ Chris Nineham

October 14, 2019

On this edition of Parallax Views, a founding member of the Stop the War Coalition and author of How the Establishment Lost Control (Zero Books, 2017), joins to discuss his new book The British State: A Warning (Zero Books, 2019). As the chaos of Brexit rages on, Chris and I discuss the mythology of the British state and its role in propping up the status quo. Chris begins by discussing how the mythology of the British state is underpinned by a belief in gradualism. This is to say that the state exists to slowly bring about progress towards liberal freedoms. Chris argues however that the British state, even viewed from a left wing perspective, has a darker history that has supported the Establishment by repressing dissidents, particularly the working class. From there we discuss a number of different topics from the Establishments maneuvers against the Labor government of Harold Wilson, the rise of neoliberalism under Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair and New Labor, why the Left needs to consider the role of the State even if victories are made by figures like Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders in the future, and much, much more.

 thebritishstate.jpg

THE BRITISH STATE:
A WARNING
AVAILABLE FROM
ZERO BOOKS

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Trials & Tribulations of a Low-Budget Horror Filmmaker w/ Todd Sheets

Trials & Tribulations of a Low-Budget Horror Filmmaker w/ Todd Sheets

October 13, 2019

sheetsofbonehill.jpg

On this edition of Parallax Views, it's Halloween season and that means horror movies are all the rage. Although until recently dismissed as "low-brow" entertainment by some segments of society, horror movies have proven time and time again to be huge profit-makers that can reliably make financial returns. In fact, Hollywood titans like Oliver Stone, Peter Jackson, Sam Raimi, and James Cameron first cut their teeth in filmmaking through the world of horror. And it shouldn't be any wonder why since audiences can't seem to get enough of a good ol' fashioned scare coupled with the fact that such films can be produced on tight budgets and even tighter production schedules.

Although low-budget horror has, due to it's financial viability, proven popular since the early days of cinema, an even lower-than-low-budget emerged in the 1980s thanks to the VHS boom. SOV (Shot-on-Video) horror are the fright flicks made on a micro-budget, sometimes for as little as a couple thousand dollars, that represent the underground of the horror genre.

SOV horror has developed a cult fandom since its heyday in the 1980s with VHS

What are the trials and tribulations that go into making movies on such a shoestring budget? And who are the people who make such movies? Joining us on this edition of Parallax Views to answer those questions is Todd Sheets, who has been making SOV horrors and micro-budget terrors for over 30 years. The conversation begins with Todd and I hashing out what constitutes a micro-budget movie and how Todd was mentored in the art of shoestring movie-making by the American-Canadian filmmaker David Decoteau. From there we discuss the difficulties Todd making what he considers his first "real" movie, 1993's Zombie Bloodbath. Specifically, he relates how he and his crew had to make the movie during the Great Flood of 1993 that devastated the Midwestern United States!

Todd Sheets' VHS-era terrors

From there, Todd and I discuss armchair movie critics. Specifically, Todd talks about some of the harshest, nastiest experiences he's had with critics and trolls over the years. On the other hand, Todd also notes that he has disowned many of his earlier efforts due to his belief that those movies don't meet quality standards. That being said, Todd argues that some critics go over the line into the realm of personal mean-spiritedness that lack basic human decency. In this regard, Todd relates a particularly callous trolling incident that targeted an actress, namely 80s scream queen Linnea Quigley, in one of his movies.

Todd Sheet & Scream Queen Linnea Quigley

From there we discuss the trials and tribulations of his two latest labors of love. We start by talking about last year's Bonehill Road, a throwback werewolf creature feature with practical effects and an inventive plot twist. Todd says that he'd always wanted to make a werewolf movie and how Bonehill Road marked his first foray into crowd-sourced funding through Indiegogo. Additionally, he tells us about some of the difficulties of making the film, how he achieved special effects, and how a company that thought the movie was Satanic almost kept Bonehill Road from seeing the light of day.

Bonehill Road Los Angeles Premiere Poster

Todd and I begin to conclude the conversation by discussing his latest wild feature, Clownado, which mixes the killer clown genre repopularized by the IT remake with elements from SyFy's so-bad-it's-good hit franchise Sharknado. Todd notes, however, that the origins of Clownado's script predate both by over a decade. And finally Todd illustrates the just how hard low-budget movie-making can be with the story of a exceptionally grueling night of shooting for the movie where everything that could go wrong did go wrong.

Killer clowns + a killer tornado may prove more deadly than Killer Klowns from Outer Space in Clownado!

We wrap up with the now almost mandatory "Parallax Views positive note" where Todd talks a little about why he keeps making micro-budget movies. During this final portion of the conversation Todd mentions some of his other features like Violent New Breed, House of Forbidden Secrets, and Dreaming Neon Purple. Despite all the trials and tribulations Todd has had both in life and in filmmaking, he says that the positive experiences he's had through filmmaking, the friends he's made along the way (including the legendary comedian Rudy Ray Moore aka "Dolemite"!), and the fans who've enjoyed his work have been a blessing.

Even if you're not a fan of the horror genre this is an episode of Parallax Views you won't want to miss as Todd discusses the highs and lows of micro-budget filmmaking!

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Poetry & Terror: Politics and Poetics in Coming to Jakarta w/ Peter Dale Scott & Freeman Ng

Poetry & Terror: Politics and Poetics in Coming to Jakarta w/ Peter Dale Scott & Freeman Ng

October 11, 2019

On this edition of Parallax Views, the American poet Louis Untermeyer once wrote that, "Poetry is the power of defining the indefinable in terms of the unforgettable." In the case Peter Dale Scott, however,  that quote may be worth modifying "the unforgettable" in that quote to "the unspeakable". Scott, a Professor Emeritus at UC Berkeley, is perhaps best known for his non-fiction prose which conceptualizes a parapolitics or deep politics that occurs alongside and parallel to everyday politics. For many decades now Scott has tirelessly investigated the nature of U.S. power as it relates to drugs, oil, and war. This has led him to write a number of thought-provoking articles and books that cast a critical eye on intelligence agencies, the American defense industry, and Wall Street among others. For some this may sound like an intellectualization of conspiracy theory and, indeed, Scott has played a pivotal role popularizing the now common parlance idea of the "deep state" for American audiences. Scott's approach to these matters, however, prove to be much more hard-nosed than the American right and Donald Trump's crude appropriations of these concepts.

Scott's interest in history and deep politics has not just been limited to his prose writing though. These issues also greatly inform his poetry, particularly Coming to Jakarta: A Poem About Terror which deals with the Indonesian massacres and U.S. involvement in said atrocities. What sets Scott's political poetry apart from his political prose is quite simple: the personal element. In a great number of ways Scott's work, in both poetry and prose, have been committed to what the Catholic theologian and social activist Thomas Merton referred to as "raids on the unspeakable". What does it mean to investigate the unsettling aspects of U.S. policy, particularly in relation to war? What kind of trauma does it incur to bear witness to history in its fullness? And how are we, as citizens living in the U.S., implicated in these matters? Scott's poetry, and especially Coming to Jakarta, may provide a few answers or at least the clues to them.

In this conversation, Professor Scott joins us, alongside Freeman Ng, to discuss their new book Poetry and Terror: Politics and Poetics in Coming to Jakarta. Peter discusses his family life, thoughts on deep politics, experiencing a dark night of the soul, and more in this thoughtful conversation.

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Climate Emergency & The Greta Thunberg Phenomena w/ Kollibri terre Sonnenblume

Climate Emergency & The Greta Thunberg Phenomena w/ Kollibri terre Sonnenblume

October 9, 2019

On this edition of Parallax Views, Kollibri terre Sonnenblume, author of Roadtripping at the End of the World, joins us to discuss the climate crisis and his recent piece "The Teachable Moment of the Greta Thunberg Phenomena", which responds to the provocative six-part report "The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent: The Political Economy of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex" by investigative journalist Cory Morningstar. This is not, however, an attempted takedown of Greta Thunberg or the phenomena she has sparked in regards to climate activism. Kollibri finds a great deal of inspiration in Thunberg, but argues that we must guard against her message being co-opted by those seeking to only make gestures about climate change and take half measures in response to it. Indeed, Thunberg herself seemed to express this same sentiment in her now famous "How Dare You!" speech delivered at the 2019 UN climate change summit in New York. Additionally we discuss politics, the environmental movement as a whole, the Green New Deal, generational difference between boomers, Gen X, and millennials, the media, and much, much more!

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America’s Secret Jihad: The Hidden History of Religious Terrorism in the U.S. w/ Stuart Wexler

America’s Secret Jihad: The Hidden History of Religious Terrorism in the U.S. w/ Stuart Wexler

October 7, 2019

On this edition of Parallax Views, Stuart Wexler, author of America's Secret Jihad: The Hidden History of Religious Terrorism in the United States (Counterpoint Press, 2015), joins us to uncover a far-right anti-Semitic movement known as Christian Identity and what he argues is its often overlooked role in stoking violent hate crimes and white supremacist terrorism across the United States for decades. 

First, however, Stuart relates an uplifting story about how students of his Government and Politics class at Highstown High School drafted The Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act. In this amazingly inspiring story, Stuart's student lobbied social media and Congress to the point that they gained enough support for the bill to end up on President Trump's White House Desk. President Trump then signed that bill into law. Put another way, these young students made history. 

Stuart Wexler and His Students

From there we pivot into a lengthy conversation about Stuart's excellent book America's Secret Jihad: The Hidden History of Religious Terrorism in the United States. Stuart details the origins of the Christian Identity movement and its peculiar interpretation of the Bible. In addition to noting its apocalyptic, millenarian nature, Stuart explains how Christian Identity's adherents believe in a variation of a discredited theory known as British Israelism, which argued that the English are the true descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. Furthermore, they hold that those generally understood to be Jewish by mainstream society are, in actuality, bearing false witness and belong to a "serpent seedline" they describe as "The Synagogue of Satan". Put in layman's terms, Christian Identity's adherents believe that Jews are demonic entities. 

Despite the admittedly fringe nature of these beliefs and the movement itself, Stuart makes the case that Christian Identity's extremist orientation has left a trail of violence in its wake dating back to the days of Civil Rights. He also describes how the movement eventually came under greater scrutiny in the 1980's through the activities of The Order (aka The Silent Brother or Bruder Schweigen) and The Covenant, The Sword, and The Arm of the Lord. Moreover, Stuart argues that Christian Identity's fingerprints and presence can be found in or around the periphery of historical events such as the Ole Miss race riots of 1962,the siege of Ruby Ridge, the Oklahoma City Bombing, and possibly even the Atlanta Child Murders. Stuart also argues that today the traces of Christian Identity extremism can be found in the recent Pittsburgh and San Diego synagogue shootings.

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Was Gilligan’s Island Communist? w/ Documentarian Cevin Soling

Was Gilligan’s Island Communist? w/ Documentarian Cevin Soling

October 4, 2019

On this edition of Parallax Views, a previously unpublished conversation with filmmaker Cevin Soling on his fascinating documentary The Gilligan Manifesto, which argues that Gilligan's Island acts as a depiction, inadvertently or otherwise, of Karl Marx's communist ideals. What's perhaps most interesting about Soling's documentary is that is neither a left-wing or right-wing polemic. Instead, The Gilligan Manifesto seeks to deal with philosophical issues related to utopianism, cooperation, and more through the lens of Gilligan's Island and the writings of Karl Marx. Cevin deftly argues that Gilligan's Island, despite it's reputation as a low-brow sitcom in it's time, is actually an extremely radical and subversive show and that it has a great deal to say about social relations built on a cooperative, as opposed to competitive, foundation. In the course of our conversation we cover the myriad of reasons that Gilligan's Island proves to be a subversive sitcom that challenges many of our ideas about capitalism, communism, and the concept of paradise. But will we get to the biggest question of them all? Namely, Ginger or Mary Ann? You'll have to listen to find out!

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Satanic Strippers 4 Bernie w/ Venita Estella

Satanic Strippers 4 Bernie w/ Venita Estella

September 30, 2019

On this edition of Parallax Views, what could possibly be scarier to America's Christian Right than a stripper, alternative model, and dominatrix who self-identifies as a Satanist and a feminist? Answer: A stripper, alternative model, and dominatrix who self-identifies as a Satanist and a feminist that also happens to be a huge supporter of Bernie Sanders! Our guest on this edition of the program, Venita Estella, checks all those boxes. Don't let the admittedly provocative title of this episode fool you, however. The conversation Venita and I have is not a Howard Stern-esque hour of shock jockery. Instead, we delve into a number of topics seriously while also having a bit of fun. Venita begins by explaining what Satanism, specifically what she calls "modern romantic Satanism", means to her as a member of the now Satanic Temple (whose prankster-infused activism fighting for the firm separation of Church and State has gained widespread media attention in recent years) and how it is different from both devil worship and the form of Satanism espoused by Anton LaVey's Church of Satan. From there we delve into Venita's experiences as a stripper, alternative model, and dominatrix. Additionally, Venita and I discuss sexuality as it relates to her spirituality, the changing dynamics of gender relations in 21st century America, internalized misogyny, and masculinity. Finally, we delve into how Venita became a Bernie supporter, how it changed her life, and why she is hopeful for a future in which people of all genders, sexual orientations, and races can be more free, equal, and prosperous.

Artwork for this episode kindly provided by James Curcio, author of MASKS: Bowie and Artists of Artifice

This Episode is Dedicated To

CULT MOVIE ACTOR
SID HAIG
RIP
(1939-2019)

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CLASSIC REPLAY: Summer Spooktacular ft. Ryan of The Museum of Death & the 13 O’Clock Podcast’s Jenny Ashford

CLASSIC REPLAY: Summer Spooktacular ft. Ryan of The Museum of Death & the 13 O’Clock Podcast’s Jenny Ashford

September 28, 2019

None

This edition of Parallax Views is a classic replay to ring in the Halloween season! This episode was a "Summer Spooktacular!" featuring interview with an employee of the Museum of Death in Los Angeles and paranormal/true crime author Jenny Ashford of the 13 O'Clock Podcast.

Original post here

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High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies w/ Erik Davis

High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies w/ Erik Davis

September 27, 2019

On this edition of Parallax Views, the mythology of 20th century counterculture, that zeitgeist in which rebellious youths experimented radically with sexuality and psychedelic drugs, began and ended in the 1960s. Scholar of esoteric Erik Davis, however, excavates the countercultural moment of the 1970s in his new book High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies (MIT Press) through the figures of sci-fi author Philip K. Dick, philosopher Robert Anton Wilson, and psychedelic explorer Terence McKenna. In this conversation Erik and I discuss the possible pitfalls of counterculture in the 60s/70s as well as how Erik came to take on the project of examining 70s counterculture. We particularly hone in on the work of Robert Anton Wilson and its similarities to the ideas of postmodernism that gained ground in continental philosophy around the same period Davis writes about in High Weirdness. Additionally, Erik and I delve into the concept of the Chapel Perilous, an experience which cause one to question his/her reality, in relation to Wilson, Dick, and McKenna and how we, as a society, may be experiencing a collective moment of High Weirdness and the Chapel Perilous in the 21st century.

HIGH WEIRDNESS:
DRUGS,
ESOTERICA,
AND
VISIONARY EXPERIENCE
IN
THE SEVENTIES
BY
ERIK DAVIS
AVAILABLE NOW
FROM
MIT Press

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A Dark Deleuze for the End of the World w/ Andrew Culp

A Dark Deleuze for the End of the World w/ Andrew Culp

September 25, 2019

On this edition of Parallax Views, the French continental philosopher Gilles Deleuze has had an impact that's moved from the halls of academia into places like Buzzfeed and even the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Deleuze is perhaps most well-known for either his metaphysical treatise Difference & Repitition or his seminal two-volume collaboration with Felix Guattari on Capitalism and Schizophrenia that began with Anti-Oedipus and concluded with A Thousand Plateaus. One key aspect, perhaps even what could be called the motivating force, of Deleuze's work is the cultivation of joy. In other words, a positive philosophy. However, our guest for this conversation, media scholar Andrew Culp, has sought to, through an engagement with this popularly imagined Deleuze, birth a new Deleuze. In other words, a monstrous child of the "Joyous Deleuze" that Andrew calls "Dark Deleuze". Andrew argues that in this current moment, when neoliberalism demands constant happiness from its subject, we must harness a "hatred for this world" that reacts to the global injustices of our time with a righteous contempt and rage (although not a crude misanthropy). All that and more on this edition of Parallax Views.

Dark Deleuze
by
Andrew Culp
Now Available
For FREE Reading
Online
@
University of Minnesota's
Manifold Project

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