Category: Journalism

Guided: Michael Pollan shrooming

UCal Professor and food journalist Michael Pollan writes in the New York Times about his first mushroom trip experience, with an underground professional guide:

I WOULD HAVE preferred to have my own guided psilocybin session aboveground in the reassuring confines of a medical institution, but the teams at Hopkins and N.Y.U. weren’t currently working with so-called healthy normals (do I flatter myself?) — and I could lay claim to none of the serious mental problems they were studying. I wasn’t trying to fix anything big — not that there wasn’t room for improvement. Like many people in late middle age, I had developed a set of fairly dependable mental algorithms for navigating whatever life threw at me, and while these are undeniably useful tools for coping with everyday life and getting things done, they leave little space for surprise or wonder or change. After interviewing several dozen people who had undergone psychedelic therapy, I envied the radical new perspectives they had achieved. I also wasn’t sure I’d ever had a spiritual experience, and time was growing short. The idea of “shaking the snow globe” of my mental life, as one psychedelic researcher put it, had come to seem appealing.

Michael Pollan

Inquire: A story of glitter

For deep knowledge’s sake, a sparkling New York Times article on glitter:

What is glitter? The simplest answer is one that will leave you slightly unsatisfied, but at least with your confidence in comprehending basic physical properties intact. Glitter is made from glitter. Big glitter begets smaller glitter; smaller glitter gets everywhere, all glitter is impossible to remove; now never ask this question again.

Ah, but if you, like an impertinent child seeking a logistical timetable of Santa Claus’ nocturnal intercontinental journey, demand a more detailed definition — a word of warning: The path to enlightenment is littered with trade secrets, vapors, aluminum ingots, C.I.A. levels of obfuscation, the invisible regions of the visible spectrum, a unit of measurement expressed as “10-6 m” and also New Jersey.

Humans, even humans who don’t like glitter, like glitter. We are drawn to shiny things in the same wild way our ancestors were overcome by a compulsion to forage for honey. A theory that has found favor among research psychologists (supported, in part, by a study that monitored babies’ enthusiasm for licking plates with glossy finishes) is that our attraction to sparkle is derived from an innate need to seek out fresh water.

Caity Weaver of the New york times


Legislate: AOC proposal to research psychedelics

Whatever you think of AOC, the New York Post reports:

“The progressive darling filed legislation Friday to encourage studies of psilocybin, ecstasy and other drugs that some believe could treat a range of ailments, from depression to headaches. Psilocybin is often referred to as magic mushrooms. The measure, an amendment to an appropriations bill that would fund the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services, would allow the feds to spend taxpayer money on the mind-blowing experiments.” link

Absorb: Some exceptional podcast episodes

Podcasts are perhaps the most accessible intimate artform, gaining your full attention. There are podcasts on most topics — no matter how obscure or ridiculous — I am currently listening to a podcast where each episode explores in-depth one minute of the movie My Dinner with Andre, called My Minute with Andre. I recommend that you probably don’t listen to that, unless that also happens to be your favorite movie.

Anyways, you probably should listen to some of Vulture’s recommendations of the 10 best Podcasts from last year. Their #10 choice is also one of my favorites, The Nod’s “Saving Grace”. Vulture describes it:

A woman, Autumn, recalls her childhood efforts to preserve her grandmother’s memory through The Sims, a video game. “Saving Grace” illustrates a distinctly modern iteration on the universal act of grieving, and though this isn’t a particularly new topic, this episode does successfully capture both the surreality and the earnest power of the process. Much of this has to do with the episode being presented as an act of remembering. As Autumn tells her story to producer Wallace Mack, we hear her hesitate, qualify, and oscillate between fleeting embarrassment and, unquestionably, burning pride.

Nicholas Quah on the podcast episode “Saving Grace”

Gonzo: Hunter S. Thompson on Letterman

The next reporter has been called the least factual and most accurate reporter working today.

David Letterman

Here are a couple videos where gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson appeared on David Letterman, 1987 and 1998. These interviews are wacky and unpredictable. The website Open Culture writes: “Do we find our current crop of journalists lacking in moral courage, righteous fury, death-defying risk-taking, gallows humor, literary reach, thoroughgoing independence of thought? The failing industry may be to blame, one might argue, and with good reason.”
Hunter S. Thompson on Letterman, 1987
Hunter S. Thompson on Letterman, 1988