TS190613 - John Roderick

This show is hosted by Mike Tully from the penthouse of a partially completed commercial high rise in glamorous Hollywood-adjacent California from the studios of Sirius XM West, boasting an unobstructed view of one of LA’s leading cement factories. Joining him today is a singer/songwriter, a one-time political figure, but above all else a professional conversationalist, the host of not one, not two, not three, but four highly regarded podcasts, currently in the midst of a string of live dates for the Friendly Fire pod: John Roderick.

This is a socially awkward, the first time Mike ever he was on a blind date on the radio because they were introduced on Twitter 3 days ago, thanks to @King in Canada who said that John was going to be in town and he should come by. When they started talking on Twitter there were a bunch of people out in the periphery who were excited that they were talking. It is amazing that they are doing Punk Rock radio in a building on a floor that no doubt cost in the tens of millions of dollars. This place really feels like a spaceship, but it also feels like a warehouse, and John feels like he is at a party in 1984, except it sucks.

They had a little coffee chat at the weirdly exposed kitchenette in the lobby of this billion dollar building about about modern architecture and modernity.

John’s Bipolar medication (TS190613)

Mike asked John what he does for fun, but John may be incapable of having fun in that sense. One hand he is a professional funster and everything he does sounds pretty fun, he travels around, he does podcasts, he plays Rock’n’Roll, he hangs out in expensive hotels with his celebrity friends, but on the other hand he is a grouch and Bipolar and after years and years of not dealing with it because he thought it was part of his creative process to be mentally ill, and he is also an addict, but being bipolar or depressed the number one symptom of it is that you feel like you totally deserve it, or that it is wisdom. You both have a perspective above and beyond what normal people see and that makes you depressed, which is logical.

When he was in his 20s he thought that in your 30s you can't possibly feel like this and you must grow out of it, and then when he was in his 30s he thought this can't last forever and he was still a kid, which is why he had such a hard time getting started, and by the time he was in his 40s it started to become obvious that it was only getting worse and he finally entertained the possibility that he might be Bipolar, and what would happen next? A couple of doctors told him: "Well, it is real easy. We try and treat it!” - ”Sure, of course you do! You scam artists!”

They gave him a little pill and the psychiatrist was very up front and said they have no idea why this pill works because they don't even really know what Bipolar is, and there is a 1 in 1000 chance it will kill you and make your skin fall off, but it is the whole ”lick a frog in the Amazon”and it turns out to cure Psoriasis or whatever, they just happened upon this drug in looking for a drug that solved some completely unrelated problem, and it worked and now they are giving it to people.

That comports with John’s feeling about how drugs should be discovered, it was not some mad scientist who said: ”Let's take away all the fun things in his brain!” It was a seizure medicine medication and probably one person that had really bad seizures and also Bipolar was like: ”Wow, I feel better, too!” It is called Lamictal and it really did something John never could have expected, it lifted the ceiling on his depression, so he didn't feel like he was constantly in a cave, and it put the floor back too so he couldn't fall forever.

Mike has a very limited experience with antidepressants a very long time ago, which is why he will tell many people to just give it a shot. You are afraid of literally taking a pill that will be out of your system in three days if it doesn't agree with you. Maybe this is some irrational thinking, some weird defensive childish impulse that is telling you not to do that? It just gives you a basement! John had a passionate desire not to lose his creativity and his perspective on the world, especially when you think that depression is the only logical reaction to how messed up everything is. Why would you want to be free of that and walk around like a big smiley face. John is not a big smiley face still, he seems fairly curmudgeonly.

One of the things that happens with particularly Bipolar people, maybe manic people as well, is that the drugs work well enough that they convince themselves that they no longer need the drugs, but to John it was so obvious that he was walking around in a cloud he had been in for decades, and that nothing in the practical world resolved it. He had a child and his life was transformed by having a child, but his depression and mania were not. With drugs and alcohol, if you are wandering around in a fog of intoxication and you think you are going to get a new apartment or a new relationship or a new job or you are going to have a child, the most radical intervention, and that is going to cure you of your drug addiction but then you find you are still addicted to drugs and now you also have a child.

John was under-serving his baby because when he was manic he was up for 20 hours a day and when he was depressed he was up for 4 hours a day. Having a kid obviously blew his mind and he is still trying to navigate how to be the best mentally ill person he can. His daughter is 8 years old and they take a lot of attention. Just as when John quit doing drugs and alcohol, it wasn't long before he realized there was nothing waiting for him back there. He had milked that cow, he got everything out of being high and messed up, and to go back over there looking for something? There is nothing there! To stop taking his mentally ill pill in order to go back to being mentally ill? No, thanks!

At one point in the 1990s at the height of Prozac being a topic of conversation and a thing in the culture, some British music magazine got Bernard Sumner from New Order to try Prozac after Morrissey said no and Robert Smith said no, and Mike was reading this article that he agreed to do it for a month just for the magazine article and had the experience John did, like: ”Oh my God! I don't need to be miserable all the time!” and it coincides with Mike’s personal favorite New Order song Regret which is fully about a depressed person finally realizing: ”Oh my God! Life is actually… I am in fucking new order. This is amazing!”

John watched a lot of his friends in the 1990s go on Prozac looking for that solution and finding that it really disrupted their lives and they got a shroud over their eyes that you could see. It was like to imagine that you would do that to yourself because they got the idea that these drugs affected your creativity and that you would lose something. That is true of schizophrenia drugs, too where people do try to get off of them because they tamp down their amazing psychedelic, but still invigorating life, but John’s Bipolar drug just evened him out.

John went to his bandmates and said: ”The doctor says I am Bipolar!” and they all just laughed, fell out of their chairs, like: ”Oh really?” and then they started telling stories to each other, like ”Remember the time that he drove across the desert with the tank on empty because he was sure there was a gas station with better gas prices just up ahead in the fog?” and they all had a good laugh, but it was at the expense of what a miserable asshole John had been.

John experiencing the Seattle music scene in the 1990s (TS190613)

John has a musical background and he is a Seattle guy who came back to Seattle in 1990 and was right in the heart of the Seattle thing. He has seen so many clowns running around, but at the time he was also on drugs, which seemed when you are Generation X and when you are in Seattle in 1990 feels like being absolutely an appropriate response, but he was messed up, he didn't have an apartment, he didn't have a guitar, he couldn't have been part of the scene, he was too screwed up.

Kurt Cobain is just a year older than John and John came up in that in that universe, too, although he grew up in Alaska, but he was not somebody that was dedicated to anything or good at anything, he was just member of the scene. He was at all those shows, but as the guy in the back, that was: ”This band sucks!” and he was right about a lot of them, there were only 4 good bands and you have heard of them all. He never went to see Nirvana because he was too cool and Nirvana was for kids. He went to 5-6 shows a week because he worked in clubs and they had a reciprocal relationship that Punk Rock clubs all have, like: ”Oh, you work at The Off-Ramp, you can come into the show!

John didn't actually start his first band until the late 1990s when he got sober 24 years ago. John strike Mike as a person who has impeccable taste, which is a curse too as a creative person especially. David Sedaris pointed this out: The problem as a young person with taste is that when you start to make stuff you have enough taste to recognize that what you are making is bad because you know what is good already. Then you start to write or do poetry or make music and you know this is terrible and if you don't have the dumb confidence to push through that to actually develop skill your taste can be like a wet blanket on your creative life. There are a lot of bands like Oasis who are just convinced from the outset that they are amazing.

Mike is a really big fan of theirs. He finds Noel Gallagher fucking fascinating. Both of the brothers gave the greatest interview of all time to this day. The guy had an 18 month run of songwriting, which we can debate about how great it was, it was better than most people tend to think. Those guys fucking ripped off the Coca-Cola theme song on their first album and didn't even try to get it cleared. You have to take him at his word even though he does spin yarns, but he was a roadie for the band Inspiral Carpets. John loved them, but I as Grunge was happening around him he was fascinated by Britpop and Psychedelia.

John was actually in the Algarve and in Southern Spain in 1989 when all that Happy Mondays raver stuff was happening, so he did the whole trip-out and dance all night with glow sticks and dancing with people that were covered in Dayglo paint. That wasn't his scene either, but he liked a party as much as anybody else. The story goes that Noel Gallagher was a roadie for Inspiral Carpets and saw that they had a following and were making a living at it and he thought these guys are terrible and he knew he could at least do this.

He went home, wrote songs, and wrote Live Forever and one of the other big singles and he knew those were good enough. He was always transparent about The Beatles, The Who, and the Sex Pistols are the three best bands. Why isn't everybody just doing a combination of those three things? John doesn’t disagree. It went to their head in the most massive way and he is very candid about how it was good for him that their third album flopped otherwise he would have been wearing a cape everywhere and stuff like that.

John had the exact same experience. Every time someone points out that he has any commonality with Noel Gallagher he is furious at them and now we have done it again, which is that the thing that got John actually writing songs in Seattle was going to five shows a week and realizing that three bands a night were all terrible, that the only good bands in all of Seattle were Mudhoney, Gruntruck, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and Nirvana. That was it! Everybody else was terrible. John is not a Toad the Wet Sprocket man, although he loved the Melvins too.

He had that feeling that if these guys are all selling out these big Rock concerts and they are living this incredible life where it seems they are wandering around with nothing on but a scarf and their mom's velvet pajamas, John can do that, he can pick up a guitar and play songs this dumb, and that was what gave him the confidence. It wasn't his own talent as much as it was an anger and frustration at how bad everything else was.

It has been the animating force in anything Mike has ever done creatively, including music: He can't be as good as the good guys, but he can for sure be better than the bad guys. There is a line somewhere where there are a lot of bad guys that never get popular, but whatever that middle part of the Neapolitan ice cream is where they are terrible and popular, that was going to drive John. Mike is not aware of there ever having been a scene before or since where everybody got to deal. Hair Metal maybe, but it was not concentrated in one city in that same way.

At the time Mike was in suburban New Jersey, but commuting to a High School on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, two very different worlds that are about four miles apart from one another. He has always been jealous of people like John who have taste. There are certain parallels in both their lives and Mike read a story about John telling a Sub Pop guy: ”Let's talk turkey!” and putting his feet up on their table. Mike was at one point in a meeting with some manager who had a couple of platinum albums on the wall and decided he didn't like the cut of his jib, so he walked into his bathroom and urinated as loudly as he possibly could into the porcelain to make sure that he would hear it.

It is the exact same shit, except John was making music that was of the time and that people liked and people responded to because he had taste, while Mike was a Hair Metal guy who switched to Britpop because he was so anti-Grunge and it was the only way he could still wear silver leather pants and make music in 1993, and he always feels he has been victimized by the fact that the first album he ever loved was Invisible Touch by Genesis. He made music that was really good and really true to his roots, but his roots are terrible. ”Stone Pony in the streets, 90 seconds in the sheets”.

There were kids in the early 1990s in Seattle that were all about Britpop and nobody can argue with My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless. If you were in the Grunge scene you could have avoided it, but if you did hear it it had to blow your mind, it was a thing that encompassed everything everybody was trying to do. If you want to melt somebody's face, here it is! They will melt your face no matter what you care about, as long as you believe in guitars.

They were rehearsing one time at a place Mike to be, the little Sirius XM studios, and he was able to sneak into the room when they were out just to look at Kevin Shields’ pedals, he has four different pedal boards, all have 50 pedals on them. John also one time climbed up on the stage after their show and was just like: ”Come on, you got to be kidding me!”, but he seems to use them all, tap dancing up there. Eric Johnson is a guitar player who does the same thing. He is also an avid collector of guitars. John knows people in the guitar selling business and Eric Johnson comes up all the time as: ”Wow, this guitar is really nice and really expensive. Who do we sell it to? Eric Johnson!”

John being in town for a Friendly Fire live show (TS190613)

John was in town because he is making an appearance here on a string of dates with his Friendly Fire podcast, a podcast that just discusses war films. It started as a lark: ”Let's watch old war movies!” and you imagine that you are going to watch William Holden in some dive bomber movie about World War II, but as soon as you start exploring what constitutes a war movie, that is an interesting and valid question. Is Starship Troopers a war movie? It clearly is. There are a lot of Science Fiction movies that are war movies and there are a lot of movies about war that aren't. From Here to Eternity is one of the classic war movies, but it is a 02:30:00 movie and 02:15:00 of it are just about a love triangle between some soldiers in Honolulu before Pearl Harbor and the last 10 minutes of the movie are the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Is it a war movie? It is on the list of top war movies that have been made for the last 70 years, or Casablanca fits in that scene.

They started to include all these movies that are war-adjacent and started to discover: ”Why did we want to do this in the first place?” It wasn't just that they liked machine guns, but what are war movies doing for us as an audience? Why do we want to watch them? What are they telling us about war? Some of them are recruiting tools, some of them are interrogations of war which didn't exist until till after World War II were there were films that looked at war with a harder eye, with the one exception being All Quiet on the Western Front, which has been remade a couple of times. They watched it pretty early on in the show.

Even that movie is heavy-handed and it is fascinating that it is told from the German perspective, but it was a film made for an allied audience. It is about World War I made a little before World War II. The book was obviously pretty critical, but books had always been a vernacular that could be for a more intellectual audience, and movies were still a populist medium. Everyone in the movie is speaking with a very strange mid-Atlantic accent and it is a weird watch now, but we still talk about it because it was so groundbreaking.

You can watch the movie M*A*S*H, which in 1970 was an incredibly popular and biting satire and now it seems like a weird frat boy movie. There is a lot of misogyny in it and a lot of hijinx that don't really play, and it is as much a precursor to Porky's as it is to Apocalypse Now. It made Elliot Gould a sex symbol and John finds him very sexy with his big mustache. He ended up dating Barbra Streisand at the time, who was also a super-sexy lady in the 1968.

John’s co-hosts on Friendly Fire: John is now 50 years old, one of them is 40 and one of them is 30, so they get a generational argument, too. The youngest one is very smart and very woke and is looking at all this stuff from the lens of someone who grew up in a universe where a lot of things weren't tolerated. You didn't even take the time to wonder about them because they were just on the list of forbidden. Somebody like John who grew up as Generation X in this post-Baby Boomer hangover didn't really have any values at all. All of their values were just sarcastic.

They talk about that intergenerational difference in the way that they consume media and how you look at the historical context of when the film was made and also about what era the film was made. A lot of movies in the 1960s are made about the 1940s and are they trying to recapture the 1940s or are they trying to take a hard look at the 1940s? It is a really wonderful show and the purview has expanded over time. They watch a great variety of movies and look at them from a lot of different viewpoints.

This reminds Mike of the book Guns, Germs and Steel (by Jared Diamond), or Salt (by Mark Kurlansky), all these books that come along: ”Actually, if you think about it: there is one thing that you take for granted: the entire story of humankind!” and it is amazing that there were 50 of those written and they were all plausible. ”Oh my God! It all comes down to tap water. Holy fucking shit!” As soon as you tame one goat, you are on a path to build skyscrapers.

Liberalism and conservatism, what actual Democracy would look like (TS190613)

There is a reason that we have war movies and there is a reason we have war. It is seductive as a liberal to think that war is a pathology and something that we can and should and will one day eliminate, and it is entirely the province of sword rattling, flag waving, USA America Bad Guys and a capitalist enterprise that is there just to build missiles. From a leftist perspective, it is very easy to absolve yourself of any complicity in war because you can just put that blame on the side of the political spectrum that you feel is responsible for all evil.

But of course war performs an overarching role in the building and dismantling of different civilizations and the promulgation of culture and likewise the colonial enterprise, which right now is very fashionable to disavow in all of its tendrils. Colonialism equals bad. But of course there are a lot of things that fall under the rubric of colonialism, including vaccines. There isn't a black and white way of looking at war and the more that you delve into it and the more you see how we all benefit and are complicit in maintaining war as diplomacy by other means, the goal of the show is not to come out of every episode knowing full well what was good and bad, what was right and wrong about the war that is depicted, the time the movie was made, and how we feel about it now. It is much more to walk out of every episode thinking hard about all these complexities.

We are looking at it in a new light nowadays without ever really thinking about it. We did culturally swallow the war to end all wars, or at least the sequel, World War II, Mike felt like the story that we were following culturally was that we had a lasting peace forever as long as the Russians didn’t…, as long as we kept our nuclear warheads pointed at each other, but even at that, that the vast majority of the world, basically the right thinking, liberal-minded Rock’n’Roll Coca Cola loving people of the world vastly outnumbered the evil credence and it was just a matter of time until our goodness spread to the world and everybody lived happily ever after.

Thank goodness we are not any closer to like World War III nowadays than we were 10 or 20 years ago, but we can all see not just in America, but the rest of the world, how these sorts of situations get going as nationalism becomes an international flu. You never would have thought in 1990 that by 2020, except if you read George Orwell, that nationalism would be appealing to millions of people who have never lived under nationalism, but it will always cycle back, there will always be authoritarians, that will always appeal to people who think that the problem is we don't have order and if you can install order, then all of the instability that you feel in your life will be encompassed in a New Order, we hear that over and over.

The classic divide of liberalism and conservatism is that ”Things are fucked up, but we just keep pushing forward and we can fix them all!” and ”Things are fucked up, but if we just go back to the way they were, then we can fix them all!” We are finding even on the left a lot of ideas that are pretty illiberal. The left right now is promoting a very similar idea, we are not interested in understanding the rationale of the 52% of the population that we disagree with, we are just going to impose our worldview on them because it is better for them and they just don't realize it.

That is similarly illiberal. Liberalism always having been: ”Let's let's figure it out. The more education you have, the more dialog there is, the more people will naturally gravitate to justice!”, the original concept John grew up in in a Cold War world, and to think now that justice would be a thing that we just felt that we understood perfectly and could legislate, that you are just going to pass legislation and rub people's noses in the pee that they left on the kitchen floor, that is not going to work either.

Mike is contrarian by nature and he always thinks that everybody thinks it is Y, but it is really Z. He is wearing a Marquee Moon T-shirt in 2019, but it is still a wonderful album! The most optimistic positive way Mike can say what he is trying to say here is that humankind has not yet learned how to handle the responsibility of being able to talk directly to one another across states and nations without the mediation of a top-down media.

The worst possible way, which is the more likely scenario, is that we cannot handle the responsibility of… somebody, maybe Scott Ackerman just made a tweet one time that drew a direct line from enabling a comment section on a newspaper website to World War III, and when you read something and you are like: ”Oh, that is stupid!”, but it sticks in your mind for some reason!

That is why you don't go on 4chan, where John has spent years. It is a pure libertarian open forum where you are protected both by anonymity and by the fact that at least originally it was like Snapchat: at the end of the hour or after a certain number of comments a thread would just disappear and you had both anonymity and also no record. It developed a culture of its own that had its own moires, its own expectations, and a lot of those were culture jamming and aggressively amoral, not immoral, but: ”What can you get away with? What are the limits?”

Culture jamming is the perception that culture is either monolithic or driven by an ulterior motive, it is why conspiracy theories are so popular, the idea that things could be just happening by hook or crook. No one knows what is going on. Everybody just shows up to work and does stuff. That is not as appealing as the idea that there are some Jews somewhere in a windowless room who are deciding whether or not you get a promotion. Taking that to its furthest extent, if you can get in there and create misinformation, it is what we accuse the Russians of doing in the last election.

They didn't have a goal, they weren't trying to accomplish any specific end beyond just ruining our system. They didn't think Trump was going to get elected, they thought it would be Hillary, they just want to destabilize the United States. John was always there as a lurker, he was never a participant, and it was fascinating to watch a culture of people that were trying to make up a valid point, trying to do something in the world, trying to express a nascent worldview that they couldn't 100% articulate. What happened is that that website also got co-opted.

There are threads on there every day: ”Let's compare dicks!” and then there are a bunch of pictures of people's penises. Those threads are clearly being started by somebody in St. Petersburg who thinks: ”What would be the best way to undermine the confidence of a bunch of hackers who actually would have the skills to be dangerous? Let's just put a threat every day with a bunch of pictures of people with big penises and make it seem like they are just members of this anonymous community”

Every one of these 22 year old kids, that is a neck beard or an MRA or something see these threads week after week, thinking: ”My penis is so small!” It is the absolute most basic level of chipping away at the confidence of people that might pose a threat. 4chan is garbage now, but of course it always was. We have unleashed the It of humankind in ways that is Pandora's Box and Mike can't think of a clearer example in human history of the Pandora's box than the Internet.

We put such an imprimatur on the idea of democracy, which has been the American buzz word since our inception, it is the enlightenment buzz word: Democracy is the solution to Tyranny! We clung to that even as time went on and you realize that absolute participatory democracy all the old philosophers were terrified of it because it is mob rule, so there was always an oligarchy that mitigated democracy, that is the American or the British model. There is always a parliament, and democracy takes the form of: ”We will elect these people who will then represent us!”

Those will be members of a certain class who have spent their youth educating themselves in politics, they are a professional and in a lot of cases cultural class of people who are going to do our governing. Now we are very suspicious of that class because they are wealthy and homogenous, but they are also people who are professional rulers. We despise them for their private schools, their cultural hegemony, their racism, and whatnot, but they have made a lifetime study of governance in the same way that someone would learn to play the guitar.

We don't let anybody be a guitar player because people that are bad at playing guitar we don't like to listen to, but we have always maintained the idea that you could just pluck somebody out off of the street, a labor organizer or somebody with a good heart, and elevate them to Congress and they are going to do as good a job as a political science major who came up through the Democratic Party machine and has a law degree.

That is the farce of the American worship of what had always been potential democracy. The Internet has given us a look at what actual democracy would be, which is millions of people screaming at each other, people that have no idea in the world what they are talking about. Somebody down in a trailer park in Arizona who is spraying vinegar into the sky to counteract the chemtrails, his vote cancels yours out, and his Twitter account has 15.000 followers, so what are you going to do about it?

John’s run for office, how cities are run, the optimum size for a democracy (TS190613)

Four years ago John ran for Seattle City Council, which is a big job. Seattle has a very strong city council and he ran citywide, trying to get a couple of hundred thousand votes in a pretty big and progressive city and it was one of the most difficult things he has ever done. He is not naturally suited to running for office, he is a wonk about how cities are run and he was very excited to get in there and talk about sewers and the power grid and how we are going to plan for growth and all that stuff, but governing and campaigning are two distinct skills.

John was terrible at campaigning because he doesn't like to ask people for money and he doesn't typically want to stand up on a barstool and say: ”Everyone vote for me!” He would love to stand up on a bar stool and say: ”Everyone, here is how sewers work!”, but campaigning was hard. Seattle is a liberal city, there is not a conservative person in it that would raise their head, but within that culture there are two very distinct groups: There are the progressives and there are the moderates, and although they share a desire to create a liberal utopia there, they have very different ideas about how that should get done.

The moderates, of course, want everyone to buy in and the radicals don't care if you buy in. There are people that have been in politics their whole careers, and John’s idea that he was coming from Rock’n’Roll and would provide a valuable outsider perspective turned out in the course of interacting with all these people intimately that maybe it is not true. Maybe his outsider perspective would just be John sitting there trying to learn how to do a job that there were people who had been training their whole lives to do, a class of people that we are innately suspicious of: ”Oh, you were in the College Democrats? Then you are part of the machine. What we need is Joe the car mechanic who got Talk Radio wisdom who is going to shake things up!"

When you are talking about how cities are run, you don't want somebody shaking it up. You want a team of people that know how cities are run. It is a difference between whether you think of the world in terms of conspiracy or whether you think of the world in terms of everybody just trying really hard to do the best they can today and get home to their families.

You got a bunch of people meeting in a room and one of them says: ”People in my neighborhood are demanding sidewalks getting built because they don't have sidewalks.” and the person across from them at the table says: ”Well, the sidewalks in your neighborhood aren't going to make it into the budget this year because it turned out we had all these extra expenditures in dealing with the homeless encampment down by the football stadium!” and that legislator goes back to his neighborhood and says: ”It is another year with no sidewalks!” and the people in the neighborhood go: ”Compromiser! What special interests did you cave to, Mr. Corrupt Legislator?”

Mike says that Plato already said that the proper size for democracy was 10.000 people, and as somebody who culturally identifies pretty much as a New Yorker, it always felt like New York was just the right size. 10.000 people… per block! It is just small enough that if Mayor A replaces Mayor B and goes: ”Well, now we are going to do this instead of that!”, you see it and you don't have people 3000 miles away going: ”Well, let me tell you why that doesn't work!”, who have to come up with conspiracies and wild theories because they lack eyeball-initiated information.

That is the premise of the United States: We have states which are independent of the federal government, and those states are meant to govern themselves, cities have governments to govern themselves. A lot of the decisions and the power and the cultural things that we attribute to the federal government is really not them. They are not doing that. They are making big sweeping decisions because we have an Army, but you also see what happened when you let the states do whatever they want. Some of them decide that they are going to continue to have slavery and try to push it into the Western states.

We are seeing it here on the West Coast. The state of Washington is routinely rebelling against the federal government on immigration, on drug policy, on all kinds of social… Seattle declared itself a sanctuary city before they even had a term for it. Washington, California, Oregon are expressing a lot of autonomy that we are very proud of, but when Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana express that autonomy we are super-contemptuous of it and super nervous about it because what they perceive to be their autonomy and the expression of it in terms of legislation, that is not the United States that we hope for.

Of course, everybody feels defensive. Washington, Oregon and California pursue a progressive agenda because we feel under assault by the bad guys in the United States, but that is exactly the mentality that Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana have. Every single person in America is the persecuted minority and that is a side of of the ultimate participatory democracy of the Internet that we couldn't have anticipated. We live in a culture where no one says: ”I am in the majority!” anymore. Every single person is the persecuted minority

John still has hope that this is an unsustainable situation and every single person that leaves Twitter and takes Facebook off their phone is a patriot fighting for justice. We could never have anticipated this 10 years ago and where we will be 10 years from now we can’t extrapolate from where we are now.

SciFi is always about the present, the assumption of where we are right now and all the excesses that we see: ”What if they continue to their illogical extent?” Natural Born Killers comes to mind as someone who is like: ”That is right! That is where this is going! You got hard copy and Lorena Bobbitt and this is pretty soon the most famous person in America will be someone who goes around killing people!” and it ends up being this tiny little time capsule of the phobias of the time. Kids are still reading Fahrenheit 451, but the state isn't burning our books. We are burning them ourselves because we feel like we got it all on our iPads!


John gives a quick plug to the Omnibus podcast which he does with Ken Jennings, the once and future most winningest Jeopardy champion. It is a very different show from Friendly Fire. John can be found at @johnroderick.

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