Writer and cultural critic Erik Davis joins us to discuss his fascinating, often startling new book, High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies. By connecting the strange experiences of three psychedelic philosophers (Philip K. Dick, Terence McKenna, and Robert Anton Wilson), Davis offers a narrative of the 1970s that goes beyond disco and Jimmy Carter, showing us a world of occult prophecies, paranoid conspiracies, and often drug-induced spiritual fuckery. In this conversation, Davis discusses the origins of High Weirdness, his longer journey as a thinker and writer, and how the transcendent freakiness of California in the 70s produced eerie premonitions of the chaotic dystopias of the 21st century.
Timothy J. Lombardo is a historian who teaches at the University of South Alabama, and whose recent book Blue Collar Conservatism: Frank Rizzo’s Philadelphia and Populist Politics covers critical territory for those seeking to understand the Trump era. Using Rizzo’s political career as a jumping off point for a wider discussion of race, class, and identity, Lombardo’s work complicates some deeply-held myths about the “white working class.” In this conversation, he talks about the politics and culture that surrounded him growing up in 1980s and 1990s Philadelphia, and how he developed an interest in describing the contours of conservative politics in the post-industrial Northeast.