Episode #928: Bad All Around
First Broadcast: 6/20/22
Did you catch that mini heat wave on Friday? Be thankful that it wasn't as hot here in New York as it was out West a few days earlier, when the temperature in Phoenix, Arizona, reached over 110° F during the day and was as hot as 90° F overnight. As the average temperature of the Earth continues to increase, heat waves like this will only become more and more common, which is bad for crops, the ocean, and people in general, no matter what a certain idiotic Congressmember has to say about it. Will anyone in the federal government do anything to counteract this trend while we still have time to act? Am I focusing on this to distract myself from all the evidence being revealed about the attempted coup on January 6, 2021? Or the oncoming rent hikes for rent stabilized apartments? Who knows anymore!
Episode #929: Unforced Error
First Broadcast: 6/27/22
Nothing like the largest rent hikes in 8 years to hammer home how bad inflation is now! Between that, the January 6 Committee hearings, the continued insanity of the "former guy," and the constant threats of mass shootings, creeping fascism, and climate change making the Earth inhospitable to humanity, is it any wonder that America's youth think they don't have much of a future in store for them? Noam Chomsky once referred to humanity as "biology's only experiment with higher intelligence." Are we getting to the point where no one will be around to remember that? I hope not!
Episode #930: Every Crime Imaginable
First Broadcast: 7/4/22
Even though this show is called Free New York, it feels a lot less free around here than it did a few weeks ago, before the Supreme Court issued a plethora of opinions that pushed federal interpretation of the law much further to the right than it had been for decades, not the least of which was the opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, which overturned the Roe v. Wade decision that for almost 50 years had guaranteed a federal right to have an abortion, now declaring in its new opinion, "The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled;" which almost instantly caused abortion to be outlawed in 5 states, soon to be followed by at least 8 others. On top of that, the court also ruled that New York State's century-old law requiring someone to "demonstrate a special need for self-protection" to receive a concealed-carry permit for a handgun was unconstitutional; a public school employee can lead a public prayer on public school property, even if students at that school feel coerced into praying; police officers can no longer be sued if they don't read a suspect their Miranda rights during an arrest; and states can now prosecute people for crimes committed on Native American territory, overturning almost 200 years of tribal sovereignty in American law. Those rulings (and others), combined with the recent testimony by Cassidy Hutchinson to the January 6 Committee that President Trump was aware that many people who showed up for his rally on January 6, 2021, were carrying weapons, and despite that he still wanted to join this violent, armed mob as they stormed the Capitol to prevent the peaceful transfer of presidential power to Joe Biden, altogether made it a very trying time for those of us who don't want to live in a fascist dystopia. Is it worth having hope that things can ever get better from here? I'm going to say yes, because the alternative is just too grim to contemplate.
Episode #931: Step One: Solve Nihilism
First Broadcast: 7/11/22
The latest mass shooting in the United States--this time in Highland Park, outside of Chicago, Illinois--occupies our thoughts in this week's episode. As Jeff Davis put it: "Mass shooting on the 4th of July. Way to stay on brand, 'Murica" And yet, this shooter who used an AR-15 type rifle to kill 7 people was captured alive by Wisconsin police who didn't fire one shot at him, only days after police killed an unarmed man in Akron, Ohio, by firing 60 bullets into his body. I wonder what explains the difference in these two responses? Can't we at least ban firearms like AR-15s after this, since they cause so much more damage than most other guns? After all, could the mass shooter in Las Vegas in 2017 have killed and wounded nearly as many people as he did if he wasn't armed with an AR-15? Does anything link these mass shooters together, other than perhaps pure nihilism? Will I have anything nicer to talk about in the next episode? I sure hope so!
Episode #932: On The Surface
First Broadcast: 8/1/22
Recent heat waves are most likely hotter than they would have been without climate change! How long have reporters been trying to fry an egg on the sidewalk? That might be easier to do on blacktop, which could reach between 140 and 160 degrees on a hot day! Or maybe on a car's dashboard, which could reach 157 degrees if it's parked in the sun! Can you believe it wasn't that long ago when the typical SPF range for "suntan" (not "sunscreen") lotions was between 2 and 6? The idea of someone being "tall, dark, and handsome" has been a popular trope for an even longer time. Go back even further, and suntans were viewed as a sign of poverty and immodesty, and the darkness of black people's skin (i.e., the ability to "bear exposure to the tropical sun") was given as a justification for slavery itself in Mississippi's confederate declaration of secession! Today, SPF 30 is probably the minimum anyone should use, and sun avoidance is probably going to be a growing trend in the future, as global warming sparks more wildfires, worsens droughts, and increases hurricane activity, among other things. As of 2021, we won't get Greek letters for hurricane names anymore, so I guess the Hurricane Alpha novel I thought I saw once is now firmly part of the past--although now I'm wondering if my mind is playing tricks on me, since I can't find any proof that this book ever existed! Is it possible to divert water from the Mississippi river to the Southwest? Maybe desalination combined with salt-water irrigation is an answer, using the excess salt to create sodium batteries? I'm exhausted! 'Scuse me while I stand in front of my air conditioner...
Episode #933: A Lot of Ocean
First Broadcast: 8/8/22
I know it's all one big ocean, but how many different oceans make up the one ocean now? What causes the illusion of an ocean appearing to be taller than sea level? Do you have thalassophobia? Will you have it after taking this quiz? What do you do if you get caught in a rip tide? Is Manhattan only an island if you look at it from the water? Have you ever been to the New York State Fair? Do you drink milk that isn't milk? Why is "Just Egg" allowed to call itself that when it doesn't contain any eggs? How would you define a hamburger? No more questions for today! I need a rest...
Episode #934: Wrong Man
First Broadcast: 8/22/22
This week, on the occasion of his 123rd birthday, we chatted about Alfred Hitchcock, his career in movies, his use of the "MacGuffin" plot device, his relationships with his actors, his themes compared to Orson Welles, and the status of his films on the decennial Sight and Sound poll, among other things! Saboteur is the film we happen to touch on the most, and it's worth checking out, but be sure to watch Psycho and Vertigo too, while you're at it!
Episode #935: And Then It Gets Weird
First Broadcast: 8/29/22
Repeated: 10/31/22; 1/23/23
This week, the first season of Nathan Fielder's show The Rehearsal occupies our thoughts, as we try to decipher one of the weirdest programs on television since Twin Peaks. Is it a way to prepare for various contingencies? Is it a way to explore alternate realities without access to a multiverse? Is it a way to achieve catharsis, or are we just witnessing a nervous breakdown? And now that the series has been renewed, what's going to happen in Season Two? Maybe get a look at it and see for yourself, because I have feeling there are many aspects of the show that defy description, so perhaps it's good that we only had 28 minutes to talk about it!