Growing up in Philadelphia in the 70s meant Bruce Springsteen was a part of my life. I’ll always remember a fan in a promotional radio b-roll clip from one of the classic rock stations saying excitedly, definitively, “He’s the best, he’s Bruce. . . He’s the Boss!” One of the earliest albums I bought was Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ. My high school girlfriend’s older brother saw every show of his he could. I loved the Beatles most as a kid, but I’ve come to appreciate Bruce more over the years. I don’t know anyone else who does anything like him, so raw, open, and honest, yet able to fill stadiums for weeks on end—not in music anyway. Maybe Muhammad Ali. If Woody Allen kept making movies at the Annie Hall level? Fellini? Malcolm X? I’m sure there are others that did the same but didn’t speak to me as personally. Billy Holiday? I didn’t know his show Springsteen on Broadway was on TV. I watched it and couldn’t believe what I saw—how touching, personal, and meaningful a rock star could make a show. He spoke and sang so personally, the performance defied what I could imagine anyone expecting. The New York Times review, ‘Springsteen on Broadway’ Reveals the Artist, Real and Intense, described it well so I won’t try. Besides, you can watch it. Wikipedia summarized critical reactions: The New York Times said “as portraits of artists go, there may never have been anything as real—and beautiful—on Broadway”. Rolling Stone noted “it is one of the most compelling and profound shows by a rock musician in recent memory”. The Guardian observed “there’s a fragility and a new light cast on the songs and his relationship with Scialfa, as if he stands in her emotional shadow”. Variety reported the show “is as much a self-made monument to its master’s vision and hurricane-force ambition as it is to his life and career, and it bears the mark of a self-made man who’ll write his own history”. On June 10, 2018, Springsteen received a special Tony Award for Springsteen on Broadway. In his words: I wanted to do some shows that were as personal and as intimate as possible. I chose Broadway for this project because it has the beautiful old theaters which seemed like the right setting for what I have in mind. In fact, with one or two exceptions, the 960 seats of the Walter Kerr Theatre is probably the smallest venue I’ve played in the last 40 years. My show is just me, the guitar, the piano and the words and music. Some of the show is spoken, some of it is sung. It loosely follows the arc of my life and my work. All of it together is in pursuit of my constant goal to provide an entertaining evening and to communicate something of value. Inspiration Why the title of this blog post: The Joshua Spodek Show? I’m writing in the throes of inspiration to stop holding back important parts of my life. People keep asking more about me, what motivates me so much to what they see as extreme, but seems normal to me. My paychecks from NYU and the corporate world kept me from sharing about the sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Meanwhile, the more I shared, in drips and drabs, the more people appreciated what I shared. Sharing intimate parts of my life led to more coaching clients seeking more rebirth and growth. I haven’t considered these hidden parts meaningful since I thought everyone lived their versions, but I loved hearing Bruce share his on Broadway and realized I loved hearing him share himself his whole life. Meanwhile, the virus decimated my speaking and workshop business despite it revealing the world’s catastrophic lack of environmental leadership. NYU’s culture of academic, theoretical, compliance-based education increasingly clashes with my active, experiential, project-based way of teaching they give lip service to but don’t practice. What have I got to lose? Restoring nature requires change on his scale. Can I do it? I don’t know, but not by holding back. Last year a couple volunteers who helped with my podcast persuaded me to change the podcast name to the Joshua Spodek Show. I held back because I considered the overlapping topics of leadership and the environment the foreground and myself the background. For that matter, I sat down years ago to tell my mom, sister, and others close to me about my partying, the girls, and how influential they were in making me me. Nobody had a problem. I still held back. Springsteen on Broadway led me to say fuck it and share myself. I’ll follow the advice of people who believed in me and the mission that’s swept me up and change the podcast name. I have to figure out how in WordPress and the podcast hosting site so it might take a while. I’m not sure if I’ll try to figure out how to start or just dive in and scuttle my ships like Cortes. I hope I don’t fuck up. Wish me luck. Here's the Risky Business scene on video.
I got a taste of what I believe leads people to tell me they can't avoid packaging or buying fresh, local produce. Living in a semi-rural area led me to shop in a large supermarket for the first time in a year or two. They carried only doof and stuff shipped from across the country and world. I share the story and the uplifting results. Here are the notes I read from: When I talk about taking over a year to fill a load of trash, people often say "You can but I can't." I'm staying outside the city and shopped with my stepfather in a supermarket for the first time in at least a year Onions Everything packaged, almost nothing loose Produce out of season, can't tell from where Pears from Argentina Bulk food section All doof Realized why people say they can't do it But I don't accept Plan to talk to manager about bulk foods Researched farmers market June start Emailed people, they responded Mom and stepfather knew one Visited Learned about Hub Ordered Hub yesterday Living by environmental values always leads to joy, community, connection If you just accept what they offer, you're bull with ring in nose Result is obesity, dependence,
Food is fundamental to our environmental problems. Most of what American restaurants and supermarkets sell looks like food but isn't by my definition. It makes us obese, diseased, fatigued, poor, dependent, and such, whereas food, like fruits and vegetables, bring us together. Many of us are addicted to salt, sugar, fat, and convenience. Yet people addicted to salt, sugar, fat, and convenience can point to addicts to other things, like alcohol or cocaine, and say, "they don't need their thing but we need to eat." But no one confuses Doritos with broccoli. But the terms "junk food," "fast food," and even "frankenfood" have the term food in them, leading people to confuse them with food. I introduced the term doof---food backward---to distinguish between doof and food. Doof is all the stuff sold to go in your mouth refined from food, usually designed and engineered to cause you to crave more of it, usually through salt, sugar, fat, convenience, or other engineering. Here are my notes I read from: What motivated the problem: reading about food, nutrition, health, and the environment My favorite food writers, and podcast guests, Drs. Joel Fuhrman and Michael Greger Their books Eat to Live, Junk Food Genocide, How Not To Die, and How Not To Diet Their videos The problem: the term "food" in junk food, fast food. Other addictions, like tobacco or alcohol, people say you don't need them, but they need food. Beer versus water versus Doritos versus broccoli Solution: New term One that isn't sticking as well: craving-oriented mouth filler One that people like: doof Sounds like doofus. Helps you not confuse doof with food, like you don't confuse poppy seeds with heroin. Next episode I'll share my story of shopping in a supermarket for the first time in years, nearly all doof. Michael Pollan's "Eat food, mostly plants, not too much." Doof clarifies. Won't confuse McDonald's, Gatorade, Starbucks with food since they don't serve it. Enjoy food. Avoid doof. Spread the word!
I don't normally post other people's material, but 1) I found this video the most valuable I've seen on pandemics and 2) a previous guest, Dr. Michael Greger, created it. It's an hour, so I summarize its highlights in this episode, but watch the whole video for the comprehensive view with full data and references. My summary covers What current media coverage includes---the urgent, important What it misses---the non-urgent, important Long-term pandemics trends Recent pandemics trends and why we are causing them to increase How we can decrease them
Attendees said my talks brought tears to their eyes. Technically I spoke at the UN last week and UNICEF this week, but virtually not physically there, and to Toastmaster groups organized by UN and UNICEF workers. Both talks were similar. I recorded the UNICEF talk. I spoke on A past New York City crisis---the 2003 blackout Lessons I learned from it How we risk not learning from the COVID-19 crisis How we can learn from it What I propose we learn from it Talks were limited to 5--7 minutes, so I could go to that depth.
An article I read about research into diversity asked about levels where different groups felt occupations became "sufficiently diverse." It looked at positions at tech companies, for example. I support diversity. I came across the article from the newsletter from Heterodox Academy, started by previous guest Jonathan Haidt, which promotes diversity, particularly of viewpoints. I would promote diversity in many places, yet there are many places I don't see diversity promoted or researched. Living in Manhattan, I see many doormen, building superintendents, building porters, takeout food deliverymen, construction workers, and so on. I know there are many people who work mines, deep sea fishing, and so on. I understand mostly men work these fields. I never see whites or women delivering food in New York by bicycle. Have you? Maybe I'm ignorant, but where is the push and research for diversity in these fields? I'm not asking rhetorically or to poke holes. I expect diversity in those fields would promote a healthier society for many reasons, including Physically dangerous fields dominated by men, when women entered them, became safer The more opportunities for whites in fields like delivering food, the more they'll be pulled from other roles and the more the roles where they're underrepresented will change to appeal to executives The more people promote equality in dangerous or low-paying fields, the more credibility they'll gain, so they don't just look like they're trying to help themselves only They may receive support from groups from whom they don't, like manual laborers who likely feel slighted People and society will rethink relationships between different workers and classes Martin Luther King, jr sought equality between all, not just to help some. Nelson Mandela learned Afrikaans to understand his captors. How much do people today seek equality across the board versus helping some groups but not others?
This episode puts together the most important and fundamental considerations about the environment: What works The basic cause contributing to all environmental problems Earth's carrying capacity An attainable bright future A means to reach it that has worked on a smaller scale It feels to me like a solid TED talk.
People are criticizing politicians and others over handling Covid-19. I don't blame or criticize people for not knowing how to handle particulars of this situation, but we can respond more effectively. Some parts of the situation are unique to Covid-19. Some are endemic to crises. We can learn from how people handled past crises effectively and ineffectively. Today I talk about John Kennedy learning from the Bay of Pigs disaster to lead through the Cuban Missile Crisis. Important urgent tasks like sourcing ventilators are important, but if we miss learning the important non-urgent things to prepare for the next situation, which likely won't require ventilators, we'll find ourselves here again.
My notes I read from for this episode: I chose to stay at my mom's outside the city Why? Read stories, saw difference between places with SARS and MERS experience versus not NY and US woefully underprepared govt, corps. People didn't get it Not worried about my health, but system Advice is distance What could happen Closer to Italy than China or Iran Talked to friend in medicine Talked to friend who had been following most US lacks central authority Why not? Mom is 76. Stepfather close. I could unknowingly bring disease Solution isn't possible for everyone. On the other hand, everyone who can slow spread should At first felt privileged But hard to find precisely Having mom? Having mom still alive? Her living outside the city? Many other situations doesn't help. That I can afford to go somewhere else? Normally couldn't but situation demands it. Like many, I can't afford. My largest source of income last year was corporate speaking, which is all disappearing In any case, able to relocate possibly for months results from work at pruning unnecessary, which anyone can do I don't have kids, which enables a lot, but a major factor in not having kids is not being able to afford them. Feels like the opposite of privilege, not being able to afford something Still, people have told me I'm privileged for it. Candidly, it feels that way, but I can't put my finger on it. My family isn't loaded. If middle class is privileged, I guess, but then everyone outside poverty is privileged. Back to Covid What made case for me was seeing scientific models that what we're seeing with minimal testing implies far more we haven't tested, which implies far more who can transmit but haven't shown symptoms, which could be you or me Biggest problem would be if we don't learn from it. Biggest lesson so far: can't not fly -> can not fly Because however big Covid, scientists have predicted pandemics based on overpopulation and over travel for generations They've also predicted a lot more to come. Best course beyond this pandemic is to implement globally what Thai people did: lowering birth rate globally to around 1, 1.5 children per woman. In the immediate, follow expert advice, of course